By Seth Emmanuel
Kenyans working abroad sent home a record amount of remittances in the first quarter of the year – 27.1 percent higher compared to the same period last year.
According to data from the Central Bank of Kenya, foreign remittances in the first three months of this year amounted to $ 290.8 million, compared to $ 228.8 million sent March 2020 – the highest amount sent in any quarter.
The US remains the largest source of these inflows, accounting for 55.9 percent of remittances in March 2021. The other top source countries are the United Kingdom (UK) which accumulated 11.2 percent of the amounts sent by Kenyans in the first three months of 2021, Saudi Arabia with 4.0 percent, and Canada at 2.9 percent while Australia stood at 2.9 percent.
This comes even as the Central Bank yesterday announced additional data on remittances, showing the amounts received from individual countries.
“In addition to this broad grouping, CBK has now introduced a detailed breakdown of the remittances by individual countries from which they were sent,” it said in a statement.
For the last 14 years CBK has been publishing a monthly data on remittances grouped into three broad regions of North America, Europe, and the Rest of the World and rolled out an anonymous online Kenya Diaspora Remittances Survey which took off in March 19 and is expected to end in May 17.
“The Survey focuses on the costs and efficiency of sending remittances, the difficulties encountered in sending cash or non-cash remittances, how remittances are used by the recipients, and the availability of information on investment opportunities in Kenya,” it said.
CBK is partnering with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the Survey. KNBS will be responsible for the collection, compilation, analyzing, publication and dissemination of official statistical information and its custody while the foreign ministry will provide information and data of Kenyans living in those countries.
The banking regulator aims to boost remittances using the information obtained from the survey would help guide policies intended to boost the role of remittances in supporting the economy and livelihoods –urging Kenyans living abroad to take part.
Remittance inflows continue to provide a stable source of foreign exchange for Kenya and a key support for many households, totaling USD 3,094 million in 2020. The inflows rose to the highest level in 2020 of $3.094 billion, surpassing World Bank’s predictions of a decline in remittances to third world nations.
Foreign remittances are a major support to Kenya’s economy and particularly the low-income families who continue to rely on their families abroad for their survival especially during this pandemic period with most Kenyans out of work.
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