Why Kenyans Are Fleeing to These 3 Countries

A photo collage of the JKIA terminal in Nairobi County taken on June 3, 2023 (left) and a plane taking off from a runway (left).
A photo collage of the JKIA terminal in Nairobi County taken on June 3, 2023 (left) and a plane taking off from a runway (left).

Kenyans have doubled their travel overseas in the last six months in comparison to the same period in 2021 as they seek better opportunities such as jobs, education and business.

According to a report by VFS Global, one of the world's largest specialists for governments and diplomatic missions, there has also been an increase of 80 per cent in foreign travel in 2023 in comparison to last year.

Among the top leading stations for Kenyans include Canada, Australia and China.

Countries in the Schengen region, such as Italy and the Netherlands, were also identified as key travel destinations for Kenyans.

Immigration offices in Canada
A photo of the Immigration offices in Canada.

Notably, Visa applications processed in 2022 also tripled in comparison with applications done by Kenyans in 2021.

VFS Global indicated that reopening the borders following lockdowns imposed during the pandemic further enabled Kenyans to travel more.

"The industry is witnessing peak ‘revenge’ travel with tourism, family visits, and educational as well as business trips being the common reasons for outbound travel from Kenya,” Hariprasad Viswanathan, VFS Global head in Sub-Saharan Africa, stated. 

"Seeing the surge in demand for outbound travel in the initial part of this year and with limited appointment slots available, we encourage our applicants to apply for their visas as early as possible like their flight and hotel bookings," Viswanathan added. 

Therefore, Kenyans seeking to travel abroad were advised to apply for Visa on time owing to the increase in applications witnessed in the last few months.

The 2023 Henley & Partners Report ranked the Kenyan passport 67th globally, up from 73rd in January. It also moved one step up in Africa, from 8th to 7th. 

Domestic Factors

Other key domestic factors that have contributed to the trend include financial hardships in the country. This is majorly attributed to the high cost of living and unemployment rate, which currently stands at 5.5 per cent.

The increased taxation, including President William Ruto's administration's introduction of the Housing Levy, has also prompted more Kenyans to look for opportunities outside the country

As of September 9, Kenyan workers will part way with 1.5 per cent of their salary in addition to 30 per cent of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) for both July and August after the tax was backdated to July 1. 

The taxes, according to the government, must be submitted by the employer before the 9th of the succeeding month. 

President William Ruto speaking during a stopover in Nayri County on August 7, 2023.
President William Ruto speaking during a stopover in Nyeri County on August 7, 2023.