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Alfred Mutua vows to speed up passport processing for Kenyans abroad

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua says the government is keen to fast track the renewal of passports and provision of other services to Kenyans based abroad.

He made the announcement in Sydney during a meeting with Kenyans living and working in Australia.

He said: “Kenyans in Sydney are a vibrant lot with ideas on how to improve their lives and how to change our country. We discussed consular services and my goal in the near future is for identity cards (IDs) and passports to be printed at our embassies and issued chap chap (immediately) to deserving Kenyans,” Mutua said.

Kenyans based abroad have to wait for months to renew their travel documents considering the bottle neck laced process in which the passports are shipped to and from Nairobi.

“We also looked at the challenges faced by Kenyans in getting their visas, their nursing permits and how to transmit funds back home”.

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Incidentally, the subject of delays in processing of passports has affected Kenyans locally, forcing Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki to personally intervene to handle the matter.

Furthermore, the meeting delved into challenges faced by Kenyan nationals living abroad, including visa applications, nursing permits, and remittance of funds to Kenya. Mutua, who formerly worked as government spokesperson and Machakos Governor, pledged to address these issues.

It is estimated about four million Kenyans live and work abroad, most of them in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Uganda, Australia and countries in Europe.

These Kenyans have in the recent time played a significant role in improving the country’s economy through sending remittances back home.

In 2022, Kenya was ranked third in sub-Saharan Africa, behind Nigeria and Ghana, in the list of countries whose residents based abroad sent money home. In that year, Kenyans sent about $4 billion (about 550 billion) in the current exchange rates, to their friends and relatives.

This amount has since toppled tourism and sell of tea and coffee to become the country’s top format for foreign exchange.

A recent report indicated that mothers and girlfriends are top on the beneficiaries of these funds, most of which is channeled towards development and other family needs such as school fees.

In a bid to harness this potential, President William Ruto had created a department of Diaspora Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs aimed at taking care of the interest of Kenyans based abroad.