Girlfriends are competing wives in receipt of monies from Kenyans living abroad, a Central Bank of Kenya survey has shown.

The survey that put mothers as the top recipients revealed that Kenyans are sending money to their female friends almost as frequently as their wives. Though 57 percent of respondents were married, they first send money to their mother, then wives and girlfriends.

The CBK survey shows that four percent of the respondents said they send money to their girlfriends while 5 percent send money to their wives mainly on a monthly basis.

The survey shows that 20 percent of Kenyans abroad send money to their mothers followed by sisters at 15 percent while brothers sit at 14 percent. It comes days after the government increased oversight on money being sent home by foreigners. In recent months, the government intercepted more than Sh210 million from a Belgian boyfriend sent to a 21-year old girlfriend on suspicion that it is proceeds of crime

The survey which was conducted between March and May 2021 reveals that 11 percent send money to support religious activities, debt repayment and real estate. Five percent remit cash to families and friends for farming while one percent did for recipients to travel abroad.

In 2021, Kenyans living abroad sent home Sh420 billion ($3,718 million) reaffirming the sector’s dominance in earning the country foreign currency.

The sector is in line to beat horticulture which had booked Sh145.4 billion in revenue in the 11 months to November last year and tourism which earned the country Sh146 billion. Mobile money operators topped the list of preferred channels to send cash at 32 percent, overtaking money transfers (31) which came second and banks (22).

The respondents revealed their most preferred service provider was M-Pesa by Safaricom which was selected by 20 percent of the respondents, followed by banks World Remit, Wave, Sendwave and Western Union.

On most dominant service providers, the cost of sending funds was in the range of 4-5 percent of the amount remitted. The report showed that the use of courier companies was the most expensive channel of sending money in 2019, costing 29.2 per cent of the value remitted.

Respondents cited that their main challenge in sending money to their relatives and friends was the cost of remitting which included hidden charges, fees and transfer time.

Transfer time was a challenge as many of the respondents were sending money to meet basic needs such as food, rent and medical expenses. The respondents also cited fraud, fake and misleading information, slow and unresponsive institutions made it difficult for them to invest in Kenya.

Inasmuch as the pandemic disrupted several economic activities across the globe, 76 per cent of the respondents were still able to send remittances in 2020, remitting an average of Sh452,000 (Usd 4000) in same period.

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