Money service provider predicts ICT sector likely to boost diaspora remittances

A money service provider now says Kenyans seeking opportunities abroad in the Information Technology sector are likely going to increase the number of diaspora remittances.

Grey Regional Director for East Africa Fionah Umulisa said the latest trends show that more Kenyans with a professional background in the ICT sector are looking outside the country for job opportunities.

“More Kenyan professionals are looking outside for job opportunities. High literacy levels, excellent work competence and high IT savvy is making them more attractive to the international job market,” Omulusa said adding, “We expect therefore the number of Kenyan expatriates to increase in coming years,”.

She said the money lending company thus predicts this will likely push up diaspora remittances with a 10 per cent increase.

The revelations come even as the National Treasury is exploring modalities to further ease remittances by Kenyans living and working abroad as it eyes more cash flows into the country from the diaspora.

Kenyans in the diaspora remitted Sh523 billion in 2022, up from Sh460.41 billion in 2021.

The money has over the years maintained a growth trend, with diaspora remittances becoming the country’s largest foreign exchange earner, overtaking traditional exports such as tea, horticulture and tourism.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Nduing’u said there were plans to look into the cash transfer platforms that Kenyans abroad use to send money home as well as the cost they incur.

Data by the Central Bank of Kenya shows the US accounts for 51 per cent of these remittances, with new markets especially in the Middle East.

Kenyans abroad typically send money to help their families and to invest in projects like real estate.

According to data released by Bloomberg last year ranked Kenyan immigrants working in the US as the third most industrious foreigners.

They scored 73.4 per cent behind Ghanaians and Bulgarians who ranked first and second positions respectively with 75.2 per cent and 74.2 per cent.

Other African countries that featured in the report’s top 10 are Ethiopia (4th), Egypt (5th), Nigeria (8th) and Liberia (9th).

This makes Africans, in general, the most productive immigrants in the US ahead of those from Mexico and Central America, who constitute more than 70 per cent of foreign nationals in that country.

Omulusa said while Kenya is ranked relatively well in terms of academic prowess and skills, the high unemployment rate has for years seen a loss of talent to other countries across all sectors.

The data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that at least 30 per cent of Kenyans working abroad are in the technical field, especially construction, engineering and information technology. Even so, most of them occupy manual and blue-collar positions abroad.

In other labour markets, especially in the Middle East, the majority are homekeepers.

For instance, the latest data by NITA shows that 79 % of Kenyan ladies working in the UAE are housekeepers.

But Omulusa said the rising cost of living in countries like the US and in Europe on the back of costly energy, food and rent has been squeezing households and putting pressure on policymakers to bring the issue under control.