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Archive for October, 2012

We learnt to pay attention

17 Oct

As someone who sends money to Kenya on a regular basis, you are probably now quite familiar with some remittance related jargon that at some point seemed like “jibberish” to you.  You find yourself glued to the screen every evening, keeping track of money markets and foreign exchange rates.

More importantly if you are like me you have probably become more aware and interested in politics, economics, and all that boring geeky stuff that is … well, “absolutely irrelevant to the average person”- but then again, you are not an average person.

You see we have learnt the hard way, to not only listen but be critical when the Reserve bank governor gives his budget at the beginning of the year. Apparently government spending has a ripple effect on all sectors of the economy, whether you are in the private or public sector, rich or poor; a decision by the governor to spend less on civil servants’ salaries actually has some, if not a lot of bearing on salaries paid to anyone in both the private and public sectors.

For example, a teacher in the private sector expects to be paid much more than a teacher in the public sector. If the government decides to give teachers an increment, that will push the salaries of teachers in the private schools up; inevitably that will push school fees up, and we all know that that will put pressure on every other sector to keep up with the spiralling costs.

The point I am trying to make is that we all learnt, (the hard way) to pay attention to politics and financial news; to those boring debates on how many more millions (or less) to spend on education as opposed to public service simply because, it will all come back to haunt us!

So instead of being reactive when the economy back home is finally thrown into turmoil thanks to a few senseless decisions made by a few unintelligent men who we have trusted with the future of our beloved country, it actually helps to pay attention!


Here’s to you, the sefless giver

09 Oct

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.

Their efforts, although not noticeable to the vast majority of the population is definitely much appreciated


Role reversal

04 Oct

We always talk about sending money to Kenya, which is very understandable because that is the primary reason why most of us are in the Diaspora anyway. With the Kenyan economy beginning to recover, the idea of sending money from Kenya to the UK has become a real possibility and in fact a reality that many of have had to consider as the economic situation in the first world has faced a lot of challenges of late.

First world immigrants have long been propping up family members back home (and by extension, developing-world economies) with remittances. Now they’re asking for the favour to be returned. A new phenomenon of “reverse remittances”—cash flowing backward from developing countries to immigrants in rich nations—is on the rise.

Maybe it is time money transfer companies started focusing on providing a more sustainable service for these immigrants as these remittances are most likely serving as a lifeline to family abroad