Kenyans in diaspora play a big role in the development of the country and the government is committed to making sure that this role is mainstreamed in the politics and socio-economic welfare of the country, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa has said.
Speaking during the official launch of the three-day 6th Annual Kenya Diaspora Homecoming Convention that is taking place at the Ole Sereni Hotel in Nairobi, CS Wamalwa said President Uhuru Kenyatta has on different occasions reiterated his personal support for a more structured engagement with the diaspora.
This, he said, is because diaspora remittances have become key foreign exchange earner for the country, having surpassed the traditional foreign earners like coffee, tea, flowers and tourism.
“That’s why we now refer to the diaspora as our 48th county, which is the largest and most influential,” he said.
Mr Wamalwa said this year’s diaspora convention’s theme, which is ‘Diaspora and the Big 4 Agenda’, fits well within the devolved system of government.
He disclosed that the Ministry of Devolution is in the process trying to see how this can be structured so that counties can benefit from not only diaspora remittances but also investments.
“The diaspora policy is now operational. The money you are remitting is helping spur development in the counties. The Big 4 Agenda fits within the devolved system. We want to see how we can structure engagement between diaspora and the counties. The universal healthcare initiative started in Kisumu and Machakos are some of the initiatives where [there can be] more diaspora [participation],” the CS added.
He said Kenyans in diaspora should not shy away from taking part in the politics of this country because their investments can only be safeguarded if they participate in the political processes.
“We hope that you are making recommendations to the BBI team. Keep engaging the team so that whatever changes that are coming you are part of it,” he said.
The diaspora convention is organised by the Kenya Diaspora Alliance and the Diaspora Investment Club Limited.
The convention creates a forum for interaction between the diaspora and other stakeholders.
Among speakers at the launch were Dr Malcolm Beech from Washington, DC, Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua, and Danish Ambassador to Kenya Mette Knudsen.