Kenyans Abroad Defy Covid to Send Home Sh123 Billion

Kenyans living and working abroad sent home Sh122.69 billion ($1.13 billion) in four months to April, defying the economic weigh-down of the coronavirus pandemic that continues to be felt globally.

The inflows rose for the second consecutive month to hit Sh32.53 billion ($299.3 million) in April, helping to propel cumulative four-month inflows by 23.3 per cent above the Sh93.37 billion that was received in a similar period last year.

"The United States continues to be the largest source of remittances into Kenya, accounting for 57.2 per cent of remittances in April 2021," said the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).

North America's remittances hit a four-month high of Sh19.54 billion while that of Europe rose to Sh7.01 billion--the highest in 27 months.

The April remittances is the second all-time high, only dwarfed by last December's Sh32.56 billion ($299.56 million).

Pandemic concerns

The latest figure means Kenyans living and working abroad were sending in Sh7.67 billion weekly on average, up from Sh5.84 billion in the previous similar period.

This continues the growth trend in remittances, muting earlier fears that economic disruption that had hit countries such as the US and UK would halt the rise.

CBK had at the onset of the pandemic last year tipped diaspora remittances to dip but this was offset by economies striking a balance between economic activities and lower infections.

Recoveries in major economies abroad, coupled with the availability of multiple channels to send cash including straight to the recipients' mobile phones, have boosted remittances.

The continued growth also defies the fact that remittance costs for many African countries remain high when compared to the United Nations' recommendations that costs should not exceed three per cent of the total value of money being sent.

The growing remittances cement Kenya's top position in eastern African on diaspora remittances.

Diaspora remittances constitute the single largest source of foreign currency for Kenya ahead of tourism and major crops such as coffee and tea.

Diaspora remittances offer key support to the shilling that has been under pressure from the reduced flow of foreign currencies since the onset of the pandemic in mid-March last year.

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