Nairobi News

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Nairobi to host remittances secretariat

Nairobi will be home to another diplomatic institution that will monitor money sent from the diaspora after African Union executive council’s endorsement.

Under the AU Commission (AUC), the African Institute for Remittances (AIR) is expected to commence its operations next year, further cementing Nairobi as preferred headquarter choice to foreign organizations and multinationals seeking continental appeal.

The decision to select Kenya was made during the 24th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council which met from 27 to 28 January 2014 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Other countries that had expressed interest in hosting the AIR institution are Djibouti, Egypt and Mauritius.

The AUC collaborated with World Bank, the European Commission (EC), African Development Bank (AfDB), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and member states to launch the continental body in June 2010.

“The establishment of AIR, the first of its kind in the world, is a cornerstone in harnessing diaspora resources for social and economic development in Africa”, said Dr. Mustapha S. Kaloko, Commissioner of Social Affairs of the African Union Commission.

AUC has set up Sh234 million for the AIR Secretariat in Nairobi, of which Sh196 million is a grant from the European Commission.

The move is expected to leverage the untapped development potential of remittance flows to the African continent.

Over the years, there has been exponential increase in diaspora remittances, but due to high transfer costs, and under-estimated volume, their full potential for economic and social development is restricted.

Last year Kenyans living abroad sent Sh110.76 billion compared to Sh100.4 billion in 2012, a 10.2 per cent rise.

The World Bank estimates there are 39.16 million Africans in North America, Latin America (112.65 million), Caribbean (13.56 million) and 3.51 million in Europe.