Kenya lifts ban on key Somali money transfer company

american dollarKenya has lifted anti-terrorism restrictions on the biggest money transfer company working in Somalia put in place after April’s Garissa university massacre, the company said Monday.

“We are delighted to resume our services in Kenya,” said Abdirashid Duale, chief executive of Dahabshiil, the biggest of 13 companies banned more than two months ago.

After decades of conflict Somalia has no formal banking sector. Money transfer companies that enable the quick and easy movement of cash in and out of the country keep many families and businesses afloat.

President Uhuru Kenyatta promised last Thursday to lift restrictions on the 13 remittance companies as soon as the Central Bank of Kenya had issued new guidelines for regulating their operations.

It was not immediately clear if restrictions had been lifted on the other companies, nor whether the much smaller companies would be able to comply with the new rules.

The money transfer companies were on a list of 85 entities proscribed by Kenya days after gunmen from the Somali-led Al-Qaeda group, Shebab, killed close to 150 people in an attack on a university in the town of Garissa.

The restrictions were aimed at choking off Shebab financing, but aid agencies criticised the shutting down of transfer services, warning it would hit the poorest hardest and jeopardise their operations.

With no formal banking system in the poverty-stricken country, diaspora Somalis use money transfer services to send cash back home to support their families, sending some $1.3 billion (1.1 billion euros) each year, dwarfing foreign aid to the country.

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