Despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis that has hit the global economy, remittances from Kenyans abroad sustained their uptrend in 2020 to hit Sh337 billion up from Sh305 billion recorded in 2019, according to the data from the Central Bank of Kenya.
In a statement made available online, the Central Bank of Kenya said: “This remarkable growth of remittances has been supported by financial innovations that provided Kenyans in the diaspora more convenient channels for their transactions.”
Furthermore, December inflows were at Sh32.5 billion – the highest recorded for the year, and this was primarily attributed to supporting festivities and preparations for re-opening of schools. Declines in remittances were only recorded in April and May 2020 but mostly recovered later in the year and this was due to the lockdown measures that rendered many jobless at the beginning of the pandemic.
The release of the official figures comes after the Central Bank of Kenya drew up a plan to introduce a diaspora remittance survey in partnership with the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and others stakeholders.
The Central Bank of Kenya explained that the survey, to be conducted in February and March, aims to collect valuable information on remittances to Kenya, efficiency and cost of alternative fund transfer channels.
It added that the survey would also help inform Kenyans in the diaspora about investment opportunities in the country and the use of remittances received.
Remittances are a significant source of disposable income among Africans, as the money sent home provides for food and their loved ones’ daily needs. This boosts household spending and supports economic activity, which has slumped due to local lockdowns.
By source, Nigeria remains the largest recipient of remittances in sub-Saharan Africa and is the sixth-largest beneficiary among low- to middle-income countries, with an estimated $23.8 billion (Sh2.5 trillion) received in 2019.
Ghana and Kenya came in at a distant second and third in the region, with $3.5 billion (Sh374 billion) and $2.8 billion (Sh299 billion) received up to September 2019.