A delegation from the National Assembly and the Senate attending a Kenyan Diaspora forum in the United States has called on Kenyans living abroad to interest themselves and actively participate in the country’s development agenda.
Speaking during the opening session of the Global Diaspora One Voice Consortium (GDDF-OVC) forum, the legislators underscored the need for regular engagements with global market leaders from Kenya living in the diaspora, so as to incorporate their contribution in policy development,while providing an opportunity for them to create a footprint in the economic development of the country.
The MPs drawn from the Committee on Diaspora Affairs and Migrant Workers, and the Departmental Committee on Defence, Intelligence and Foreign Relations had been invited to the forum to engage with the Kenyan Business Community in the USA.
The 3-day engagement being held at the Hilton Rockville Hotel in Washington DC is geared towards connecting Kenyan businesses, policy makers and the diaspora community.
The delegation led by Gilgil MP, Hon. Martha Wangari appealed to the Kenyan Diaspora to take advantage of Kenya Kwanza Government’s goodwill towards the diaspora community to tap into the numerous investment opportunities in their constituencies.
The MPs also urged their constituents living abroad to come forward and engage them within the framework of constructive partnership so to accelerate development in their home counties.
They noted that although business opportunities for developing countries in Africa created by initiatives such as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) are abound in the United States, opportunities remain largely unexploited because of lack of information.
The legislators also decried that though some of the issues raised by the diaspora community in past forums had been addressed, the diaspora community had remained oblivious because of lack of feedback mechanisms.
Hon. Wangari cited the recent rollout of mobile registration for passports by the Kenyan Embassy in USA, which was a result of previous engagements between legislators and the diaspora community.
Members led by Hon. Wangari and Hon. Millie Odhiambo (Suba North) also called on Kenyans living abroad to interest themselves with the business of Parliament and to embrace participative governance, through petitions and submissions on Bills.
At the same time, the lawmakers have called on the Kenyan Missions across the world to scale up their efforts in sharing information on the existing policies and opportunities for Kenyans living abroad.
The call was made this morning when the delegation met the Kenyan Ambassador to the United States of America, Amb. Lazarus Amayo.
On his part, the Ambassador encouraged the legislators to upscale engagements with their counterparts in the Congress so as to unlock opportunities bogged down by normal bureaucracies that characterize government-government negotiations.
The diaspora community also called on the lawmakers to ensure that good structures for progressive engagements are set up to facilitate their participation in governance matters.
They noted that although the Government was quick to acknowledge the role remittances from the diaspora play in the growth in the economy, the diaspora remained largely excluded from the decision making table. They underscored the need to cut down on red tape so as to interest returnees who wish to participate in nation building.