By Chris Wamalwa in USA
Top Kenyan scholars based in the US are among thousands of Kenyans living in North America expected to attend an Investment Conference organised by the Kenya government through its Embassy in Washington, DC Professor's Ali Mazrui, Ngugi wa Thoing'o, Calestous Juma and Makau Mutua are some of the leading Kenyan 'brain power' abroad who have already confirmed participation in the Kenya Diaspora Conference scheduled for October 8-9, 2011.
Others who have already confirmed participation are Mugo Kibati of Vision 2030 delivery secretariat, PS David Nalo of EAC, Ambassador Arun Singh, Embassy of India, Tirop Kosgey, PS ministry of Housing and Michael Kamau, PS ministry of roads. Also attending are Cyrus Njiru, PS ministry of Transport and Mzalendo Kibunja, Chairman National Cohesion and Integration Commission.
They are expected to lead some illuminating and insightful discussions in the two-day conference on the Role of the Kenyan Diaspora in Kenya's development, in view of a Diaspora friendly new constitutional dispensation. In the past few years, the Kibaki administration has expended a lot of time, resources and energy in wooing the Diaspora since they became the country's biggest donor with remittances exceeding Foreign Direct Investment and Official Development Assistance. The housing industry in Kenya is currently booming partly because of the Diaspora money.
The conference, whose theme is VISION 2030 AND BEYOND: SHARING THE VISION will be held at the Washington Marriot Wardman Park 2660, Woodley Road NW Washington, DC 20008. Registration is going on at the www.kenyaembassy.com. Ambassador Elkanah Odembo and his team at the Embassy told The Standard on the phone that Kenyans living in the US are registering in large numbers. While urging those who have not already registered to do so, they said they have targeted between 400 and 700 attendees.
According to a press release sent to The Standard by the Kenyan Embassy in Washington, DC, the conference is being held to facilitate the growth and development of productive networks and linkages of the Diaspora with Kenyan institutions, organizations and firms, in different areas for national development. It's also meant to highlight and encourage the achievements of Diaspora in US in different fields and to explore how their resources, knowledge, skills, competences, technology, among others, can be harnessed systematically for Kenya's political, economic and socio-cultural development.
"Most importantly, the conference is expected to launch partnership between Kenya government, civil society and private sector with the Diaspora in implementing Kenya's Vision 2030 and ensure that the Diaspora remains engaged in the development of Kenya from remittances to investment and entrepreneurship," Said the statement in part. Official estimates indicate that the Kenya Diaspora is about three million. In the US alone, it is estimated that there are about half a million Kenyans. This number could go as high as a million since there is an equal, if not more number of the so-called undocumented Kenyans.
In the last few years, the Diaspora has played a huge role in national development through their remittances to Kenya. Remittances have continued to increase on a yearly basis and in April 2011 they increased by 33 percent to $70.1 million from 2010 as the economic recovery continued in Europe and North America. Remittances surged to $266.5 million in the first four months of 2011, compared with $196.
5 million in 2010.
56% of the remittances in April came from North America while 26% was from Europe. The government argues that, time has come now for the Diaspora in partnership with government, to leverage the remittances and also to move beyond them to do bigger things that will develop the country.Last Edited: Thu 08th September 2011 at 07:21:59 AM