- The government can pay our teachers, lecturers, engineers, doctors, and nurses decent salaries were it not for corruption.
By JOSEPH LISTER NYARINGO
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Kenyans in the diaspora play a pivotal role in the growth of the country’s economy.
According to statistics from the Central Bank, the diaspora sent home through inter-bank transfers $209 million (Sh20.94 billion) and $245 million (Sh24.55 billion) in January 2018 and January 2019 respectively.
These figures could be even higher if remittances through MoneyGram, Wave and Western Union are included in the estimates.
Despite their significant contributions, the government has not taken this key constituency seriously. The question, therefore, is, why is the diaspora given a raw deal in Kenya’s governance?
Unlike Kenya, many African countries are tapping their diaspora for nation-building.
The diaspora feel they are not appreciated by Kenya’s government and embassies abroad but only used as cash cows.
Recently, Kenyans in Germany demonstrated against poor services at the embassy in Berlin. Services such as renewing passports are very poor.
To add insult to injury, no logistics have been put in place for the diaspora’s Huduma Namba registration.
Kenya has vibrant doctors, engineers and technology gurus. However, Kenyans seek medical treatment in India, and we employ the Chinese to build roads and bridges and Cuban doctors to serve in local hospitals.
Kenyan professionals serving abroad should be encouraged to come home. What is Dr Shem Ochuodho and Dr Matunda Nyanchama doing in South Sudan and Canada respectively?
Recently, Dr Tom Motari, a psychiatrist in the US, told me that the number of certified psychiatrists in Kenya, a country of over 40 million, is about 100.
While Western countries like the US and Canada are aggressive in admitting skilled immigrants, Kenya disincentivises its professionals.
Developed nations are poaching professionals because they know how expensive it is to train them.
Frankline Onchiri, a Kenyan doctor working at a top children’s research institute in the US, says: “We love our country and would want to apply our knowledge and skills to serve our people. However, the utility of specialised skills is demeaned when politicians with mediocre education earn Sh1 million (USD 10,000) per month while doctors are imprisoned for demanding better pay and working conditions.”
The government can pay our teachers, lecturers, engineers, doctors, and nurses decent salaries were it not for corruption. People with dubious academic degrees hold leadership positions in our richest counties.
Whilst many African countries have put up mechanisms that enhance voting rights for their citizens abroad, Kenya has not. This is despite the right to vote being explicitly captured in the Constitution.
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