‘’NGO Board Director Fazul Mohamed says a huge salary disparity exists between Kenyan and foreign staff leading to a trend of career expatriates hoping from organization to organization. Starting Monday, the 21stof June,NGOs must satisfy a raft of requirements contained in a circular sent to the organizations “…International staff earn 4 times what a Kenyan earns for the same job, with comparable skills and qualifications,” said Fazul.

The NGO board has discovered that on average, an international staff based in Kenya is paid 2,430,000 shillings every year, while a local staff based here as well would take home about 628,000 shillings for the same duration and job; a 1.8 million shillings difference. Besides earning four times more than their Kenyan peers, foreigners are apparently enjoying house allowances in suburban estates, they would be allocated a car and their children would learn in high end international schools at the expense of the NGOs, that would not have the same granted to Kenyan staff… For those who have been in the country for more than three years, they will need to prove to us why they need more years around.’’ (Full article available online at: chttp://citizentv.co.ke/news/expatriates-in-kenya-to-enjoy-less-benefits-as-new-ngos-rules-outlined-130773/)

This article was published on the 18th June 2016 after a communiqué by the NGO Board. I am a foreigner living in Kenya. I am an Ivorian by nationality but have been living in Kenya for the past 14 years since 2002 to be more precise. My mum got a job in Kenya during the time my country was experiencing political unrest. We had no plan to come to Kenya. I remember having the discussion with my mother and retaliated that we would only come visit her during our school holiday. Unfortunately, the war took a disastrous turn and for safety reasons my sister and I were forced to join my mother in Kenya.

Fast forward. My mother has now left the country and so has my sister but Emmanuella chose not to. I now have 2 Kenyan babies and Kenya has become my 3rd home.

I do work for an International NGO so the decision does affect me but unlike what has been said: I do NOT earn 4 times more than what my Kenyan peers earn (funny enough, our salary differs probably by a few thousands shillings.), I do NOT enjoy house allowances (the house we bought came from GOD after one of the toughest times we had ever endured), I am NOT allocated a car, my children education are NOT paid by my company and as a result my children do NOT go to high end international schools. I would have loved those benefits to be honest but unfortunately this is not the case, I however do agree that some organizations could be enjoying the same. It is however important that the Board investigates this aspect further and classify the different NGOs accordingly.

Now I want us to think deeply of the repercussion this will have on the Kenyan economy as foreigners do not only work in the country but invest in it.

The tourism sector was the second largest source of exchange revenue in Kenya. Tourism earning dipped tremendously amidst the billions the Government invested in the sector to market the country as a preferred tourism destination. How much more damage will the exit of foreign expatriates have on the Kenyan economy?  By virtue of the experience, exposure and the fact that they live abroad, foreigners should be paid more. Kenyans have enjoyed the same benefits in other countries thanks to globalization.

Let’s look at some of the outcomes:

Kenya Airways

Kenya Airways has experienced many challenges over the years. For those who have invested in the company like myself, a glance at our current shares is enough to spoil our day.

Who are the customers of KQ? Our organization does not travel with any other airlines but Kenya Airways despite the fact that they are many other cost effective airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines. We travel, by virtue of our experience, every single month therefore reinvesting directly into the bottom line of the company.

Naikuni once said: ‘KQ, as it is affectionately known to its more than three million international passengers, is an airline whose 39 aircraft fly to over 50 destinations in Africa, Europe, Middle East, Far East and Indian Ocean Islands.’

By virtue of the position Kenya holds in the world, individuals and companies have invested heavily in the country therefore playing an active role in the economy of Kenya. Naikuni did share my thought:’ KQ is a member of Sky Team Alliance; a partnership that has brought about a lot of positives and synergies. Kenya Airways is also signing codeshare agreements with different partners. Together, these factors combined, will ensure that the airline stays ahead of the game and continues being the ‘Pride of Africa’ that it has always been. With the global economy on a rebound, Naikuni is optimistic that this will translate into moderately better times for the industry in 2013. Looking further ahead Naikuni says as an international operator, they have identified the lucrative trade that comes from business travellers. “They are becoming even more discerning and the onus is on the airlines to continuously improve their services, in order to keep this category of passengers. Business travellers need more convenience and short process while travelling.’’

Work permit

When I first came to Kenya in 2002 foreigners would pay Kshs. 100,000 for their work permit which was valid for 3 years. Today companies pay Shs. 500,000 (inclusive of the bond) for a period of two years.

Quick math: They are millions of foreigners currently living in Kenya; however we will use a figure of 1,000,000 for this assignment. 1,000,000 individuals getting a work permit at Kshs 500,000 amount to Kshs. 500,000,000,000 that goes back into the Kenyan economy from the issuance of work permit ALONE. Many foreigners also own businesses in Kenya and contribute to the Kenyan economy through tax.

 KRA Revenue

I drove to the village market some few months ago after many years and I was amazed by the variety of items available at Nakumatt. I was amazed because a number of those items are not available in their other outlets.

Most African countries (including my very own) still live under $1 a day. A drive towards Karen, Muthaiga, Gigiri and it is very evident who the target is. The houses are more expensive, the restaurants are more appealing and costly, the cars and lifestyle in general are no-ordinary.  How much revenue do you think KRA collects from expatriates?

Diaspora

The Standard newspaper wrote an article in January 2016 that looked into the remittances brought back to the country by the diaspora: ‘Kenyans in the diaspora defied the grim state of the global economy sending to their motherland a record $1.6 billion (Sh163 billion) in remittances, says a new World Bank report. Kenya was among the highest recipients of remittances in 2015. This is a 16.5 per cent increase from 2014’s Sh139 billion ($1.5 billion). The report also showed that Kenya was among the top 10 remittance senders with an outflow of about $0.2 billion (Sh20.4 billion) in 2015. As of September, 2015 Kenyans from the Diaspora had sent in about Sh116 billion, according to figures from CBK. The regulator notes that remittance inflows to Kenya in September 2015 increased by 0.9 per cent to $128.4 million compared to $127.4 million recorded in September 2014, but decreased by 3.4 per cent in relation to inflows in August 2015.
(Available online at:http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2000187898/kenya-s-diaspora-cash-hits-a-record-sh163-billion)

If the same policy is replicated in other countries, how will that affect Kenyans living abroad and the Kenyan economy in general? Well most Kenyans will be forced to come back to Kenya which will reduce the income they bring back into the cuntry every year.

‘Emmanuella, not everything is black and white,’ is a line I have been told countless of times for refusing to be flexible in my decisions and this fits perfectly the situation at hand.

I do agree that employability is one of the most rising and perturbing issue of our time. I have written several blogs on the same but the decision made by the NGO Board regarding foreigners living in Kenya will eventually create more damage than opportunities for the country.

This should be considered thoroughly and an alternative strategy developed.