Kenyans living abroad sent almost $2 billion (Sh200 billion) to their families and others in their homeland in 2017, a US data-analysis group said.
The estimate by the Pew Research Centre is based on statistics developed last year by the World Bank.
“The total amount of money sent is likely much larger than current estimates because only funds sent through formal channels such as banks are included,” the Pew Centre noted. Untracked sums may be especially large in the case of Sub-Saharan Africa because only 40 per cent of people in the region use formal financial services, Pew added.
The United Kingdom was Kenya’s single-largest source of remittances, with $663 million sent home in 2017. Kenyans living in the US, which ranked second, sent back $584 million.
Tanzania was third on the list of countries with the largest amounts of money remitted to Kenya.
Kenyans sent home a total of $143 million from Tanzania, followed by Canada ($123 million), Uganda ($107 million), Australia ($75 million) and South Africa ($51 million).
Kenya was among four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa receiving the most remittances in 2017, the latest year for which data is available.
Nigeria, the most populous country in the region, was by far the largest recipient of remittances. Nigerians in the diaspora sent $22 billion home in 2017 — 11 times the amount remitted by Kenyans.
Ghana and Senegal each accounted for about $2.2 billion in remittances.
Money sent by immigrants to their home countries in Sub-Saharan Africa totalled $41 billion in 2017, a 10 per cent increase from the previous year and the largest annual sum so far recorded by the World Bank.
Strong economic growth in the US and in some European Union member-states enabled Africans living in those parts to send larger amounts of remittances, the Pew Centre noted.
It calculates that nearly one-in-four migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa are living in Europe and the US.
About $357 million was remitted in 2017 to the homelands of immigrants living in Kenya.
India, with $86 million received, was the largest beneficiary of remittances from Kenya that year.
Uganda ($77 million) ranked second among countries with the greatest amounts of remittances from Kenya, followed by Tanzania ($42 million), Egypt and Nigeria (both estimated at about $15 million).