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Kenyans returning from overseas countries with left-hand-drive vehicles will be allowed to bring in right-hand-drive models duty-free.
Kenyans returning from overseas countries with left-hand-drive vehicles will be allowed to bring in right-hand-drive models duty-free.

Kenyans living and working abroad have also been assured that they will take part in the 2017 General Election.

These were some of the gifts President Uhuru Kenyatta dished out to Kenyans in the US on Wednesday night during his first meeting with the diaspora since he took office last year.

He ordered the ministries of Transport, Finance and Trade to scrap duty for citizens who would sell vehicles with the steering wheel on the left side and buy the ones with the steering wheel on the right side to comply with Kenya’s transport rules.

“Those who live in countries where people drive on the wrong side of the road should be allowed to sell that car that drives on the wrong side of the road, buy a vehicle that drives on the right side of the road, and be able to bring that car into Kenya duty-free,” he directed.

Kenya is among 76 countries and territories in the world that drive on the left, and the scrapping of the 25 per cent import duty and 20 per cent exercise duty is a big relief for car-owing Kenyans in over 160 countries that drive on the right like the US and Russia.


The Jubilee government, Mr Kenyatta said, would support the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to register and conduct polls in overseas countries with large Kenyan populations such as the US and the UK.

The Court of Appeal in June ordered the IEBC to enable Kenyans abroad to take part in elections. Only Kenyans living in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi took part in the March 4, 2013 polls — voting at the presidential level only.

To facilitate this plan, Mr Kenyatta intends to open more consulates and missions in several countries, starting with the US, to issue national IDs and renew passports, among other services.

He is scheduled to open new consulates in Texas and Minnesota to add to those in Los Angeles and New York. The move is aimed at enabling the Kenyan embassy in Washington, DC to reach and serve more Kenyans in the US.

Staff numbers, which has been a major handicap in service delivery, will also be boosted, the President said.


Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed said a Diaspora Policy that would address most of the issues affecting Kenyans abroad was ready.

The new regulation, she said, would focus on diaspora diplomacy by improving welfare, negotiating labour contracts with foreign governments, boosting Kenyans’ security and streamlining their investment and contribution to Kenya’s economy.

“An interactive diaspora Web portal will be opened at the ministry to link consulates and missions abroad,” she told the 1,200-person forum at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.

While noting that Kenyans abroad remitted over Sh113 billion last year, Ms Mohammed said they were engaging banks and other financial institutions to provide cheaper cash-remittance services to the group.

“We are also planning to launch an investment management service to help you avoid fraud while investing back at home,” she said while urging the community to continue using mobile money transfer services in the meantime.

The ministry also plans to set up the National Diaspora Council of Kenya to improve policy and institutional arrangement for engaging Kenyans living abroad.

Kenya’s acting ambassador to the US, Jean Kamau, said Kenyans in the US were ready to partner with their brothers and sisters back home in investments.

Ms Kamau hailed the contribution of the diaspora in Kenya’s development, and urged them to continue being Kenya’s good ambassadors.

Present at the event were 10 Cabinet secretaries, Deputy National Assembly Speaker Joyce Laboso, Members of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee, MPs, senators, heads of state corporations and departments and a host of private sector leaders.

Dr Laboso said the House was keen to debate and pass a law that would enable Kenyans living and working abroad to take part in elections.