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Diaspora seminar at Serena Hotel highlights bilateral links

Patrick Obath (left) and Dr. Shem Ochuodho

Patrick Obath (left) and Dr. Shem Ochuodho

The Diasporas contribution to Kenya’s economy has been remarkable. Over the past decade, remittances are estimated to have on average topped at least US$ 1 billion per year.

At a recent meeting held at Serena Hotel convened by the Kenya Diaspora Alliance, stakeholders converged to discuss issues aimed at steering the community ahead and cement existing links with the government.

Government officials, formerly presidential aspirants and their running mates, influential members of the diaspora bloc among other members united together in the meeting dubbed ‘Diaspora Social and Business Networking Cocktail’.

The hosts, Kenya Diaspora Alliance (KDA) and its affiliate Diaspora Investment Club (DIC) organized the event perceived as a linkage forum between strategic, influential members to share views on collaborative KDA and DIC concerns.

Erastus Mwencha, deputy chairperson of Africa Union Commission and the Guest of Honour emphasized on the importance of the diaspora agenda to the African Union (AU).

He also hinted that AU has incorporated the Diaspora as its 6th Region (after East, West, Central, North & South Africa) and also drafted 5 prime project areas for action.

“Following resolutions of a top level Diaspora meeting attended by, among others presidents from Latin America of African descent, AU identified five project areas, including tapping into intellectual property of Diaspora experts and facilitating technology transfer back to Africa, including Kenya,” said Mwencha.

Furthermore, the forum also intended to generate involvement and enthusiasm among members and local government officials.

Peter Kenneth, who represented last year’s polls presidential aspirants, expressed his concerns on the challenges faced by individuals while trying to access travel permits.

“Government representatives should facilitate the fast tracking of legislation affecting the Diaspora,” urged the former Gatanga Member of Parliament. Some of the set-backs mentioned include dual Citizenship, a dilemma which compels children born in Diaspora without Kenyan passports, to apply for visas to enter Kenya.

Some of the Kenyans in Diaspora during the seminar

Some of the Kenyans in Diaspora during the seminar

Also present at the forum was Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma and Nairobi Deputy Governor Jonathan Mueke (also the Deputy Chief Guest). Both County leaders invited all Diaspora residents to participate in development/investment opportunities in the Great Lakes and undertaking to formally engage in various activities which will be called upon.

They also assured members that the County Governments are committed to engaging and facilitating for the Diaspora in investment opportunities which will be mutually beneficial.

Mr. Ndung’u Gethenji, Chairman Defence & Foreign Relations Committee of Parliament, assured the audience of his committee’s readiness and availability to cooperate in evolving appropriate Diaspora supportive laws.

KDA Convener, Dr. Shem Ochuodho, mentioned that the Housing Investment Projects which are underway focused on future possibilities for inclusion in the Stock Exchange market.

He also expounded to the forum on the new products and services in KDA including m-kura, an application which allows individuals to participate in voting wherever they are using an application available in android phones.

The gathering also facilitated Diaspora members to interact – serving as a wakeup call for acknowledgement of their roles.

Kenya Diaspora Alliance is a Federation of Kenyan Diaspora organizations around the world with a mission to integrate, harmonize and synchronize different actions and programmes aimed at promotion of the welfare and aspirations of the Kenyans in the Diaspora.

FM

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