President Uhuru Kenyatta has applauded the role played by the Kenyan diaspora in economic growth.
The President said remittances from Kenyans living abroad hit Sh1.6 billion in 2015.
“Today, the Kenyan diaspora is contributing to our economy more than what tea and coffee are contributing to the exchequer,” President Kenyatta said.
He was speaking in New Delhi during a meeting with the Kenyan diaspora in India.
President Kenyatta said his administration has put in place a national diaspora policy that provides a roadmap for their involvement in the realization of the country’s development goals in line with Vision 2030.
“I consider the Kenyan diaspora as the 48th county of Kenya and my government is committed to ensuring that you fully participate in the development of our country,” President Kenyatta said.
He said the government will continue to facilitate them in their work in the countries they live in and make it easier for them to invest back home even while they are abroad.
But the President urged the Kenyan diaspora to be patriotic and represent their country well abroad.
“You are the frontline ambassadors of Kenya abroad. This means that you are the first line of promoting your country. If you behave and interact well with people of other countries, you will increase their desire to visit and invest in Kenya,” he said.
Responding to issues raised by students regarding their dwindling numbers in India, President Kenyatta said the Indian government has assured of increased slots for Kenyans, who wish to study for specialised courses that may not be available in Kenya.
He also told the students that they are eligible for loans from the Higher Education Loans Board.
Noting that many Kenyans go for specialised medical treatment in India, President Kenyatta said his government is working to improve medical facilities back home to provide the services Kenyans sought abroad.
“We appreciate that as much as India has provided us with great health services at relatively low cost in comparison to other parts of the world, it is still expensive and beyond the reach of [a] majority of Kenyans,” he said.
President Kenyatta disclosed that during his bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they agreed that India would support the building of a specialized cancer treatment hospital in Nairobi that would serve Kenya and the region.
He said Kenyatta National Hospital will partner with Apollo Hospitals of India on institutional capacity building especially in training of specialist doctors and paramedics.
After the diaspora meeting, President Kenyatta was hosted at a state banquet by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.