Kenyans living and working abroad have called on the National Treasury to consider diaspora bonds as an alternative means of raising funds for development projects.
Kenya Diaspora Alliance (KDA) chairman Shem Ochuodho says diaspora bonds would help the government bridge the huge budget deficit and reduce reliance on borrowing.
“It is an innovative way to tap the huge resources held by Kenyans in the diaspora,” says Ochuodho.
Ochuodho, whose alliance represents 44 diaspora associations in various countries says Kenyans abroad can finance projects such as the Sh1.2 trillion Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (Lapsset).
“Let Treasury build the buy-in for the bond,” he adds.
Remittances from Kenyans abroad have edged out tea, coffee, and tourism to become Kenya's highest foreign income earner in the past few years.
Diaspora inflows hit Sh197.12 billion ($1.95 billion) in 2017, a 13 percent growth from the Sh174.30 billion remitted the previous year, data from the Central Bank of Kenya shows.
Last week, Ochuodho said plans are underway for Kenyans abroad to set up their own micro-finance bank to help them drive their investment in Kenya.
“We intend to collect at least $10 million dollars (Sh1 billion) through the scheme before embarking on taking the micro-bank route,” Ochuodho notes.