Kenyans abroad have set a new all-time annual record for diaspora remittances after sending home $3.718 billion (421.6 billion shillings) in 2021.
Inflows were up 20.2% from the $3.094 billion (350.9 billion shillings) paid in the previous year, according to the latest data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).
December saw the highest remittances in the 12-month cycle, with Kenyans living and working in the diaspora sending home $350.6 million (39.8 billion shillings), a new monthly record. December remittances were 3.5 billion shillings higher than the 36.3 billion shillings ($320.1 million) sent in November, representing a 9.5% increase.
The United States remained the main source of remittances, accounting for 63.2% of diaspora inflows last year.
Other key source markets include the UK, Germany and Canada, as well as Gulf States including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain. The main African source markets for remittances to Kenya are Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa.
Remittances from the diaspora remain the main source of foreign income for the country ahead of income from tourism, tea and horticultural exports. The CBK conducts a monthly survey of diaspora remittances through formal channels such as commercial banks and other authorized international remittance service providers.
A 2021 survey by non-profit organization Pangea Trust showed that nearly 50% of diaspora remittances are for support of family and friends, which takes 49 shillings out of every 100 shillings sent. . 17% of remittances go to charities and religious groups, while investments, including support for business start-ups and the purchase of real estate, account for around 15% of flows.