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The biggest achievement Kenya made as a nation is the adoption of a new constitution. One of the major benefits of the new constitution has brought in advancing the goals of Diaspora diplomacy is dual citizenship and eligibility to vote. The constitutional guarantee now paves the way for Kenyan Diaspora to contribute to the economy and freely participate in national development and at the same time safeguard their foreign citizenship.
Kenya signed a new comprehensive labour agreement with Saudi Arabia that will guide the terms and conditions for Kenyans working in Saudi Arabia. The agreement is in response to rising cases of Kenyan migrant domestic workers distress calls in Saudi Arabia. The agreement is based on acceptable minimum conditions for the over 30,000 Kenyans working in Saudi Arabia. Later in the year, Kenya banned the export of labour to the Middle East over the alleged abuses of Kenyans working in the region.
In the past year, Kenya has also responded to calls for help from its professionals working in the United Arab Emirates who complained about difficulties in renewing their work permits. President Kibaki intervened directly during a visit to Dubai by urging the United Arab Emirates to relax work permits renewals for Kenyan professionals working in the Gulf nation.
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An estimated 40,000 Kenyans live and work in UAE.
Kenya Diaspora remittances
Kenyans living and working abroad have been sending money back home, making then a major source of foreign exchange for the country alongside tea, horticulture and tourism.
In 2011 Kenyans in the Diaspora sent home $891.1 million (Kshs75.8 billion), a 39 per cent jump from 2010. North America is a top source of remittances followed by Europe. The money helps families and fuels investment in various sectors, mostly real estate.
In recent years, they have also started investing in government securities targeted at them, such as infrastructure bonds and the Savings Development Bond.
Kenya Diaspora sacco Launched
Kenyans in the Diaspora have formed a savings and credit cooperative society, the US Diaspora Sacco Limited, to mobilize funds from the Diaspora to invest back home.
The cooperators will be channeling their savings into the country through the Cooperative Bank of Kenya.
The society’s captive pool of members will be the nearly three million Kenyans living in the US.
This is posed to enhance the visibility of Kenya sacco movement internationally.