Over 200 delegates attended the inaugural Kenyan Diaspora Investment and Trade conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town from 21 to 22 November. The conference, an initiative of the Kenyan High commission in Pretoria attracted Kenyans living in South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland and beyond, officials from both the Kenyan and South African government and the private sector.
According to Kenyan Ambassador to South Africa, H.E. Jean N. Kamau, the objective of the Kenyan diaspora conference “was to bring together members of the Kenyan diaspora, Kenyan government officials, private sector and students with shared interests in the role and contribution of the diaspora.” It is estimated that out of the 3 million Kenyans living abroad, 60- 80,000 reside in South Africa.
During the launch of the Kenya Diaspora Policy and the Kenya Foreign Policy earlier this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta remarked, “given the abundance of skilled, knowledgeable and patriotic Kenyans outside our borders, it is now a matter of the highest priority to integrate the diaspora into our national development agenda.”
The 2015 Kenyan Diaspora Policy was a response to the urgent need for mainstreaming Kenyans living abroad into national development process in line with the aspirations and goals of the Kenya Vision 2030. Vision 2030 recognizes diaspora contribution to the growth of the Kenyan economy and in the achievement of the overarching vision of a globally competitive and prosperous Kenya by the year 2030. The diaspora account for significant share of the Kenyan GDP and according to the Central Bank of Kenya, remittances from the Kenya Diaspora in 2013 stood at over $1.3 billion in 2014, accounting to around 3% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In her welcome note, Ambassador Jean Kamau stated “Let us utilise the opportunity to build strong bridges to enable us to effectively play our role in the transforming the country to its rightfull position in the global arena.” An exhibition of goods, services and investement opportunites by Kenyan entreprenuers based in Kenya and South Africa ran in parallel during the conference. Kiambu, Nakuru, Bungoma and Laikipia governors were invited to take part in the forum and presented investment opportunities.
Day 1 (Saturday, 21 November)
Plenary session 1: Engaging Diaspora for National Development: From theory to practice responsive and effective citizenship
Moderator: KC Rottok
Panelists: Hellen Gichuhi, deputy Director, Diaspora& Consular Affairs Directorate Ministry of foreign Affairs & International Trade, Dr. Tim Murithi- Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Africa, Patric Kabuya-KEDASA Executive Committee Member, Frantz Celestin, International Migration Organization (IOM)
Plenary Session 2: Investment products specific to the needs of the Diaspora community
Moderator: Priscilla Muthui Motlhakop
Panelists: Sam Makome, MD Kenya Commercial Bank, Wilfred Musau, National Bank of Kenya, Liberty Group, Robert Githua, Cape Diaspora Investment
Plenary 3: Presentation by Higher Education Loans Board (HELB)
Presenter: Charles M. Ringera, CEO HELB
Concurrent Break Away sessions
- Business, Investment and Entrepreneurship Opportunities and challenges for returnee Kenyan diaspora: Insights from Kenyans who have returned to Kenya.
- Youth Leadership and Participation in the Diaspora, Political and Social Development in Kenya and South Africa
- Role of Diaspora Grassroots Organizations (home associations) in Social Economic Development (opportunities and challenges for maintaining the Kenyan identity and social fabric.
Plenary Session 3: Career opportunities for Kenyans in the Diaspora
Moderator KC Rottok
Panelists: Zeenith Ebrahim- CEO GE South Africa Technologies, Muthoni Kamuru- CEO E’manage, Cecilia Njenga-UNEP Pretoria
Day 2 (Sunday, 22 November)
Plenary session 4: Diaspora Role in Devolution and Development in Kenya
Moderator: Pat Muthui
Panelists: Nderitu Muriethi, Governor Kenneth Lusaka, Governor Joshua W. Irungu and Dr. Samuel Otieno-Kiambu County
Plenary Session 5: Effecting Diaspora Vote and Effective Consular Services
Moderator: Cecilia Njenga Kinuthia
Speaker: Ahmed Isaak Hassan-Chair Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission