Central Bank of Kenya Governor Dr Patrick Njoroge has urged the communities of Kenyans abroad to focus more technology transfer for innovation as opposed to being transfixed to lamenting over the amount of remittance the diasporas sends home every years.
Delivering an inaugural speech at the Kenya Homecoming Diaspora Convention 2016 at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa, the CBK governor while acknowledging the approximately 2 billion US Dollars of annual remittance from the Diaspora, said it concerns him that this is largely the main concern being advanced by Kenyans abroad but which should progress in something more sustainable and transformative like technology transfer as an import commodity.
“We are too stuck on the money side. As the Kenyan Diaspora, it is for us to learn meaningful things and bring them back to the country for the good of the country. The multi-million foreign direct Investment and multi-nationals explore this technology transfer opportunity. You as the Diaspora must see the uniqueness of the great opportunities out there and aspire to innovate some more back home,” he urged.
“I hear the song on the remittance and it is indeed a worthy point to note, however we must realize that it is not just about the money. It is also about mentorship of our youth – our people who may not have the capacity to develop. We are out there in a place where we can export all sorts of technologies that can be very useful to our country,” he added.
Dr Njoroge, who is a former Diasporan, told the convention that one of the greatest challenges he has encountered since taking up governorship of the CBK of which he is turning into an opportunity has been the reality of the many young people in the country desperate for some form of mentorship to kick-start their careers. This, he said, is an area where the Diaspora can fully tap into and contribute to some significant changes.
“At the CBK we currently have nine young people on internship. When we advertised for these slots, we were shocked to receive about 24,000 applications a majority of them young people seeking mentorship. They were so many that when we actually set out to do the aptitude tests our system shut down because of the large numbers of applications,” he narrated.
“My advice therefore to the Diaspora is that do not only bring in the money. Do not only be an ATM. Bring in the wisdom and the innovation from out there so that our people can benefit. This is how we make our Diaspora contribution impactful and significant.”
Addressing the same convention, the Executive Director of the Kenya Human rights Commission George Kegoro called on the government to enhance its capacity to address Diaspora rights and needs including their right to vote and to actively participate in the governance and development of the country.
“The Constitution affirms the participation of the Diaspora including in the electoral processes. The government must therefore work towards its state weakness to instigate the progressive realization of these rights including the rights of the Diaspora to vote,” said Mr Kegoro.
The Kenya Diaspora Alliance that is organizing the Kenya Diaspora Home Coming Convention has persistently pushed for the recognition of the Kenya community abroad and is specifically advocating for the rights of Kenyans in the Diaspora to be allowed to vote from wherever their bases abroad are.
The KDA, under the global Chairmanship of Dr. Shem Ochuodho is also calling on the government in its financial processes to infuse a system of incentives to encourage more Diaspora remittance from Kenyans living abroad.
“If tax incentives and tax holidays are given to non-Kenyans in Foreign Direct Investments then we demand the same for Kenyans in the Diaspora who bring in 2 Billion US Dollars every year,” said Ochuodho.