We Should Not Ignore Kenyans in the Diaspora
They do all sorts of jobs. Some are in careers where they interact with the best and brightest from across the world. Others are just as happy to wash dishes or sweep the streets and just get by. Regardless of the job they hold, many are devoted to their land back home, sending money that helps build hospitals, schools and educate their siblings.
Sometimes, the relatives eat the money and send pictures of fake houses, projects that haven’t even started as though they were in progress. It is estimated that about one million Kenyans are spread around the globe. Some went abroad due to persecutions during the Kenyatta and Moi regimes while others left for education, economic advancement or just plain curiosity.
Apart from the money, they bring skills, expertise and exposure to advanced economies. Examples from elsewhere on the continent point to startling success of the few brilliant African minds that have gone abroad and invested back home. Ghanaian Patrick Awuah, who left Ghana while still a teenager, was lucky enough to get a full scholarship to Swarthmore College, one of the elite private colleges in the US. He went on to work at Microsoft, and was one of the thousands of millionaires churned out by Microsoft.
With his money and fundraising from some of his colleagues at Microsoft, he raised enough money to set up Ashesi University, a private college in Accra, Ghana, which has grown to attract students from the region. He wants to create a liberal Arts university, which he believes fosters creativity and innovation and is instrumental in training the next generation of African leaders.
In Kenya, US educated Ayisi Makatiani, realised early on that the internet craze was hitting Kenya and with his colleagues, he helped found Africa Online to capture this growing need. He has remained an active participant in raising capital for start up companies. The recent trend has been towards diaspora bonds, and where remittances are often sent in response to family and community needs, and are meant for consumption, diaspora bonds are a direct investment in the economy at the national level. The message is quite simple, “Continue to send the remittance, but also participate in the economic growth.”
This article was originally published on The Star.
By Collins Mabinda
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