Kenyan Diaspora Connects, Engages, and Advocates for Change
Yesterday 20 October 2023 on a beautiful evening in the heart of Paris, more than 100 Kenyans gathered on a boat for a memorable celebration of Mashujaa Day. The event was organized by the Kenyan Embassy in Paris in collaboration with the Kenyan Diaspora Department and was generously sponsored by the Kenya Commercial Bank. Distinguished guests, including Ms. Roseline K. Njogu, the Principal Secretary of the State Department for Diaspora Affairs, Mildred Ming’ala, Chargé D’affaires of the Kenyan Embassy in Paris, Simon Miruri, Head of Chancery, and Richard Bosire, Kenyan Ambassador to the UNESCO Paris Delegation, graced the occasion.
The event also witnessed the participation of prominent Kenyan diaspora leaders, such as Loise Mukami, President of the Kenyan in France Umbrella Association (KIFUA), Sarafina Sang, leader of the Students Association, Ivia Mutethya representing the Maison Kenyan Association, and Shem Ochuodho, Chairman of the Kenya Diaspora Alliance, among others.
Key Requests for Change
During this celebration, the President of KIFUA, Loise Mukami, made a heartfelt plea for Paris to be considered as a diaspora voting center and a Kenya national identity issuing center. She also emphasized the importance of recognizing the role of next of kin for diasporans investing back in Kenya. Mukami stressed the need to enhance bilateral agreements with France, especially concerning visa applications for Kenyan parents and individuals traveling to France for business, forums, or tourism.
Sarafina Sang, the Students Association leader, advocated for dedicated embassy staff to handle student-related issues, the establishment of an emergency call number for students in distress, and a government partnership with French counterparts to facilitate student internships in France.
Ivia Mutethya showcased how the Maison Kenyan Association is actively working to support Kenyan fans who will be attending the Olympics in 2024 in Paris.
Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) used the platform to present their tailored products for the diaspora, including bank account opening, mortgage loans, and investment opportunities in Kenya.
Ms. Roseline K. Njogu Addresses the Diaspora
Ms. Roseline K. Njogu, the Principal Secretary of the State Department for Diaspora Affairs, delivered a comprehensive speech addressing various concerns and challenges faced by the Kenyan diaspora community. She acknowledged the significance of the Diaspora and the need to create systems and structures to protect their rights while integrating them into the nation-building process. Key points from her speech include:
- The State Department for Immigration and Citizen Services is working to enhance service provision for various mobile consular services, even those processed in Nairobi, including the issuance of police clearance certificates and authentication of birth and academic certificates.
- The State Department is collaborating with the Central Bank of Kenya and commercial banks to address challenges related to diaspora remittances, aiming to reduce the associated costs.
- Efforts are underway to streamline legal issues affecting Kenyans in distress and those in conflict with the law, including the possibility of solemnizing unions at embassies.
- A comprehensive review of tax policy is being conducted to address double taxation and make Kenya more investment-friendly, with a focus on creating diaspora-specific products.
- Plans are in motion to expand the number of voting stations for the Diaspora in the upcoming election, ensuring that every diaspora member can exercise their right to vote.
- The State Department is working to review the Diaspora Policy and will involve the diaspora community in the policy-making process.
Ms. Njogu encouraged the diaspora to actively participate in dialogues, webinars, and public consultations organized by the Ministry and other departments to voice their concerns and contribute to policy changes. She also highlighted the importance of organizing investment-oriented groups and Saccos, emphasizing the potential for the diaspora to contribute to Kenya’s development.
The Principal Secretary assured the diaspora that the government is committed to protecting their welfare and rights, as evidenced by the evacuation of Kenyans from various countries in times of crisis. She also urged the diaspora community to report any Kenyan in distress and encouraged them to work together in support of their fellow Kenyans.
In conclusion, Ms. Njogu reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to engaging with the diaspora to drive socio-economic development, create positive change, and strengthen the bonds between the diaspora and Kenya.