Foreign remittances are a key source of income for many low-income households in Kenya. Kenyans living abroad sent home $278.4 million in January 2021, a 7.3% improvement from the $259.4 million sent in January 2020, according to data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).
Despite predictions of a decline in foreign remittances to developing nations in 2020, inflows into Kenya maintained steady growth in that period. The cumulative inflows in the 12 months to January 2021 amounted to $3.113 billion, a 10.8% improvement from the $2.811 billion cumulative inflows in the 12 months to January 2020.
Diaspora remittances into Kenya reached the highest level ever recorded, $299.6 million, in December 2020. Financial innovations and increased access to convenient money transfer channels are some of the factors that contributed to the sharp growth in foreign remittances into Kenya in the past year.
In addition to providing livelihood to most Kenyan families, foreign remittances are an important source of foreign currency for the country. On January 15, 2021, the Central Bank of Kenya announced the first-ever Diaspora Remittance Survey, with the aim to collect valuable information on remittance inflows to Kenya. The survey will be conducted online and in two phases targeting the remitters, the source countries and the recipients of the inflows.
Through the survey, CBK hopes to create policies that “will boost the role of remittances in supporting the economy and livelihoods”.