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Archive for June, 2011

Why use a remittance company?

28 Jun

Ever wondered why it is better to use a remittance company whenever you send money to Kenya?

Whether you are buying a house back home, sending money for a once off payment, or just sending the usual small amount for your family’s daily sustenance, remittance companies offer exchange rates that are better than most banks. They know the currency market and unlike banks they want to get you a good exchange rate and help you use your market to your advantage.

Money transfer companies can offer the best exchange rates because they buy and sell such vast amounts of currency. They can offer great exchange rates and still make a profit because they are dealing with such big volumes. Using a money transfer company can help you save thousands of pounds and avoid steep commissions next time you send money back home. They also take the hassle out of international money transfers, offering you a relatively stress-free and painless experience.

So it only makes sense if you are sending money to Zimbabwe that you look for a company that sends large volumes of money there, because they will be able offer you a more reasonable rate.


Shaping the motherland’s destiny

27 Jun

Questions abound as to whether or not Kenyans in the Diaspora are contributing to the country’s economic, social and political development.

According to a World Bank study done in 2010, remittances sent to Kenya reached a total   of $1.9 billion. This is equivalent to 20 per cent of Kenya’s annual budget, making it a big contributor to development.

Among African countries, Kenya has the third highest level of remittances after Nigeria and Sudan.

At independence, there were only a few hundred Kenyans living abroad, mainly as students. However, the number has grown tremendously over the decades to more than 2.5 million.

They live mainly in North America, Europe, Asia, southern Africa and the neighbouring EAC states.

The largest Kenyan community abroad is found in the USA and Canada, occupying almost every profession and jobs as engineers, businesspeople, professors, doctors, nurses, technicians, factory workers, baby-sitters, and watchmen.

It is estimated that about one million Kenyans live in North America alone.

Kenyan students and professionals have also increasingly sought greener pastures in Australia due to its liberalised immigration policy, and diminishing opportunities at home.

About 50 per cent of those emigrants possess at least undergraduate degrees, making their career placement promising. The earnings of Kenyans abroad go chiefly to supporting family members to meet their basic needs.

On a different level, Kenyans abroad have been readily involved in the socio-political and economic discourse at home.

For instance, during the 2007 general elections, Kenyans raised funds and sent money to Kenya to support presidential and parliamentary candidates they presumed were predisposed to creating an enabling political culture that would guarantee good governance and economic advancement.

With the development in information and communication technology, some Kenyans have followed keenly what is going on at home, and contributed substantively to discourse via blogs and in newspapers.

The Diaspora also successfully fought for dual-citizenship to be included in the new Constitution.

The point I am really trying to make in a roundabout way is that Kenya’s community abroad is an important constituency which cannot, and should not, be ignored by anyone.


Kwale Hill

23 Jun

Kenya’s mining industry is dominated by production of non-metallic minerals encompassing industrial minerals such as soda ash, fluorspar, kaolin and some gemstones. Mining accounts for a very small part of Kenya’s annual GDP. Gold is produced primarily by artisanal workers in the west and south western parts of the country, on several small greenstone belts. Iron ore is mined from small localised deposits for use in the domestic manufacture of cement.

Clearly seen as one of the largest potential capital projects in Kenya, the Kwale Hill heavy mineral sands project is being developed along the country’s south-eastern coast.

This project is considered consider as being a world class advanced development project. All approvals, permits and licenses required for development are in place and a full definitive feasibility study has been completed. The Project, which is supported by the Kenyan government, is located just 50km from Mombasa.


Kenyan economy continues to grow

21 Jun

Experts say growth prospects remain firm and are projecting a 4.5 percent growth up. The forecasts are based on positive trends being witnessed among key economic segments.

Increased foreign investments, good rainfall and radical reforms in key socio-political and economic realms are some of the important factors that have driven meaningful economic growth in the country.

Good rainfall that was received across the country will result in good agricultural yields, while ongoing investments are injecting direct foreign capital into the economy as major reforms shake up governance. According to Renaissance Capital Kenya, this will in turn restore the country’s goodwill and confidence among strategic trading partners.

Kenya’s stuttering economic growth has been a causing a nightmare to its citizens, investors alike, who will certainly be relieved by these projections. The economy has shown resilience from the effects of the debilitating 2007/8 post election rukus which pushed it to the precipice.

Aftershocks of the global economic meltdown also trickled down to key economic segments occasioning cash crunch and liquidity challenges.

This, coupled with a prolonged drought recently made more than 10 million Kenyans depend on relief food and forced the government to seek international support to raise Ksh30billion for food.


Kenya Economy

20 Jun

Kenya is regional hub for trade in East Africa. The country has a market-based economy with a liberalized foreign trade policy; but with unemployment still above 40%, a substantial external rate, and an industrial production growth rate of a mere 2%, it is safe to say that the country still has a long way to go.

Some of the current problems that the economy is facing include:

Over reliance on agricultural production and tourism which makes the economy vulnerable to international market highs and lows.

Inflation is also a serious concern for the growth of the Kenyan economy. Since 2004, the inflation rate has consistently been above 9%. However, owing to the political instability and budget deficits, it reached 26.3% in 2009.

Corruption is the biggest impediment to Kenya’s economic growth. Following the 2005-06 foreign aid frauds, international agencies delayed fund advancements. The post-election violence in 2008 worsened the economic conditions. Thus, without the establishment of political stability, Kenya’s economic growth will remain volatile.


Kenyan remittance in numbers

17 Jun

Remittances to Kenya leapt 42 percent in January from a year earlier to $64.14 million, but were down slightly on the previous month, central bank data showed on Wednesday.

Remittances are the fourth-largest source of foreign exchange in east Africa’s biggest economy after revenue from tea, horticulture and tourism.

According to Charles Koori, director of research at the Central Bank of Kenya, the improved performance reflects continued economic recovery in source markets, and a favourable domestic economic environment.

Kenyans sent home a total of $65.62 million in December, capping a record year for remittances to the country where money sent home is typically invested in equities or property, or used to help pay routine bills and medical charges.

According to recent research done by Remittance Gateway, Kenyans living abroad sent home $124.9 million in the first two months of 2011, compared with $91.5 million in the same period a year earlier, the central bank said.

Official figures obtained from The Nairobi-based Central Bank of Kenya show that the amount of remittances in February surged 31 percent to $60.8 million as economic growth in source markets improved


Nairobi makes top five destinations in Africa

14 Jun

According to MasterCard’s Index of Global destination Cities, Nairobi should receive the third highest number of total visitor arrivals in 2011. Nairobi, together with five other African cities made the top ten rankings of the broader Middle East and Africa category.

Nairobi is also set to experience a 20.8% growth rate in visitor expenditure from last year.

Here are some attractions & activities that tourists can look forward to, not only in Nairobi but also in Kenya.

  • Wildlife & game reserves – EG; the Maasai Mara – Elephants, Rhinos, Lions
  • Coast Eg: Mombasa – White sand beaches and coral reefs
  • Stunning scenery – savannahs and plateaus – Eg: The Rift Valley
  • Mt Kenya –Africa’s second highest peak
  • Agreeable climate with temperatures over 20 degrees all year, lots of sunshine.
  • Relatively good roads, good rail links, air transport.
  • Motorised & walking safaris,
  • Beach holidays,
  • Balloon/air safaris,
  • Water sports,
  • Walking/climbing,
  • Cultural tours of local tribes,
  • Fishing

Besides creating jobs in the country, increased tourism provides a major source of income for foreign exchange earnings.  Helps to protect wild animals & scenery and develops facilities. It also promotes understanding of culture and finally helps improve other related industries and the infrastructure.


Kenyan Diaspora

13 Jun

To their families and loved ones, they are seen as providers; they are the unselfish, giving individuals who have travelled long distances across oceans to find jobs in order to sustain their families by sending money back home on a regular basis.

Their contribution however does exceed development on a personal level. They have aided the erection and are the backbone of NGO’s, political parties, health centres, etc. Remittances have become a powerful force for poverty reduction. It has facilitated concrete development in Kenya on both national and community levels although some of their efforts are unappreciated and without structural support.

Although the number of Kenyans living abroad has increased steadily over the years, it is disappointing to see that the unique strengths and added value of the Kenyan Diaspora have to date not been realised and effectively used.

The obstacles that they face in the Diaspora have adversely affected the volume and quality of contribution to Kenya, so it is only in the interest of the government to start acquainting itself and the Kenyan public with the depth, variety and achievements of the Kenyan Diaspora, as well as sensitizing them of their problems and their expectations from their homeland.


One big global city

08 Jun

Globalisation, International trade, exchange rates and immigration; these are just some of the phrases that tell you we are living in the global village. Our understanding of this term is relative to our circumstance and the context in which the phrase is used. For me it is a metaphor of the new media technology and the speed and ease it has brought to different aspects of our lives.

The phrase speaks of connectivity, speed and an awareness of what is happening half way round the globe- when it happens; all of which are important to anyone who is living thousands of miles away from their loved ones.

Enter Kenya’s new mobile-money system called M-PESA. It is really is changing the way Kenyans manage their money, by letting them borrow, save and pay for services more easily. M-PESA is a mobile money transfer service in Kenya offered by Safaricom, which has attracted more than 13.5m customers since its launch in 2007. Its services have been welcomed by thousands of Kenyans working abroad. According to the Central Bank of Kenya, Kenyans living outside their home country sent USD642m home in 2010 – up from the USD609m sent home in 2009.

This means that, if for some odd reason you were not yet a part of this global village, all you need is a mobile phone and you are officially in!


Dealing with exchange rates

07 Jun

When is the best time to send money back home?

I am sure that is a question that any remitter ponders on. With the unpredictable rates fluctuating every single day, one does not know how to predict or make a trend out of them.

So how do you make the exchange rate work for you?

Don’t waste time speculating!
An exchange rate is in a way like the stock market, unpredictable, and risky! So anticipating exchange rates is a loser’s game. Currency rates are affected by forces like GDP, inflation, and employment; of which, the average person doesn’t have the ability or information to predict which way a currency is headed.

Instead, use the investing technique of dollar-cost averaging to protect your money.

This basically means sending equal amounts of money home, say once a month, this will ensure that you  gain money when the exchange rate is in your favour; but you won’t lose as much when it’s not, because you won’t be sending that much money home. This technique won’t allow you to maximize your earning potential, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing you won’t be on the losing end of a bad exchange rate.

So in response to that question “When is the best time to send money back home?” I guess the answer to that is “small amounts regularly!”