By May Wahito
Nairobi, Sep 20-Standard Chartered Bank has unveiled a new system where customers can now withdraw cash from Automated Teller Machines (ATM) without using cards.
Customers can either withdraw for themselves or they can generate a voucher to a third party who can withdraw the cash from any Standard Chartered Bank ATM at no cost.
The card-less withdrawal function has been introduced on the mobile banking application following a successful piloting phase and has been enabled on the Bank’s entire newly upgraded ATM network.
According to the Head of Retail Banking, David Idoru, for one to access cash, a customer will be required to generate a voucher number via the StanChart mobile banking App, which will then be inputted into the ATM to authorise the withdrawal.
“As soon as a client generates a voucher it is valid for two hours. If the Voucher number is not utilised within the two hours, the transaction is reversed and the amount credited back to the client. The service will attract the same charges as the current ATM Debit card withdrawal charges,” said Idoru.
Standard Chartered has spent over Sh200 million to upgrade its entire ATM network converting the machines to advanced Cash Deposit Machines (CDMs).
The rollout of the machines is part of the ‘Digital by Design’ business model, through which Standard Chartered Bank Group is investing $1.5bn to revamp its technology globally over three years.
The Bank is targeting to migrate over 80 percent of transactions to non-branch channels by 2020.
By May Wahito
Nairobi, Sep 18- Caritas Microfinance bank has been recognized for its use of technology in delivering services to its customers.
The bank scooped two awards – the Best microfinance Bank in the Use of Digital Solutions to Enhance Customer Experience and Best Microfinance institution in e-services in Kenya during the 2nd Digital Inclusion Awards held last Friday.
The recognition comes barely six months after the micro lender was feted as the best microfinance Bank in Kenya during the Think Business Awards ceremony.
Caritas, whose key shareholders are various institutions in the Catholic Church, was granted a nationwide license by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in June 2015 becoming the twelfth microfinance bank in Kenya.
Currently, about 80 per cent of customers’ transactions are done on the mobile banking platform and other Alternative Business Channels i.e. agency and internet banking.
“These awards are an affirmation of our concerted efforts to ensure we continuously improve the customer journey whenever they interact with us at any of our outlets’, said Mr. George Maina, Caritas CEO.
The awards come at a time when technology and banking are converging to facilitate provision of ever convenient services to consumers.
Nairobi, Kenya, July 5-More than 3.2 Million Kenyans file income tax returns as deadline closes More than 3.2 Million Kenyans filed their 2017 income tax returns as the filing period officially closed on Saturday 30th June, 2018.
The improvement is significant with a 60% growth over last year, which saw two million Kenyans file their returns by 30th June; the number has grown by more than a million this year.
This is attributed to efficiency of the iTax platform and the increased awareness campaign undertaken by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), encouraging early filing of returns as well as on-site filing support extended to organizations countrywide.
“We value you as a taxpayer. Thank you for being among the more than 3.2 Million responsive Kenyans who filed their annual income tax returns and all others who complied in other tax obligations. KRA recognise your contribution towards making the country self-sustainable,” said Commissioner of Domestic Taxes Department, Mr Benson Korongo.
Various stories abound of Kenyans in the Diaspora who made elaborate plans to invest back home, and, trusting in relatives or friends to get the job done, ended up ruing the day they made that decision.
Kenyans have powerful cultural ties that they never seem to give up. We love our families and extended families such that even while working in other parts of the world, we always keep an eye on what is happening back home.
The statistics bear us out.
Data released by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) showed that diaspora remittances reached $222.55 million (Ksh 22.25 billion) in March 2018, a growth of 51% per cent compared to $147.52 million (Sh14.75 billion) the same month last year.
Information from the report shows that remittances as a share of GDP stabilized at 2.3 per cent over the 12 months to March 2018, underlying the fact that Diaspora remittances have become a key support of the shilling which is under pressure due to low export earnings.
It is important to recognize that the diaspora community is a major enabler towards economic growth and a critical driver towards the achievement of our overarching vision of an economically sound East African community.
The East Africa region receives about $ 3.5 Billion annually. This is a big contribution which we believe will continue growing substantially in the coming years on the back of continued investments by the government and institutions like us to facilitate the Diaspora communities. In Kenya, remittances account for 4% of GDP.
Over the past few decades, the Diaspora population has become more prominent on the world stage. This puts it at a very unique position to contribute to boosting the economic growth and prosperity of our country. With our growing consumer markets, the consciousness of return and the synergies for growth, dignity and freedom, we are poised to enter into the league of the Asian Tigers.
Kenya is working to ensuring that Kenyans in diaspora can efficiently invest back at home. A few years ago, the government launched a Diaspora Policy that guides us in harnessing the wealth and expertise of Kenyans in the diaspora to our development efforts. The policy is pegged on five pillars – economic diplomacy, peace diplomacy, environmental diplomacy, cultural diplomacy and Diaspora diplomacy. The core of the economic diplomacy pillar is the search for a robust and sustained economic growth as envisaged by Vision 2030.
With the booming real estate industry, this is usually the first point of call considering the opportunity that comes with the surge in urban development and population growth. Funding from the diaspora has spurred rapid growth in the real estate sector, making it one of the fastest growing sectors according to the latest Economic Survey from the government.
The rising remittances have provided a useful source of foreign exchange for the country, helping raise reserves as well as maintaining the stability of the shilling.
Research has found that increasing remittances lead to reduced poverty, enhance human and economic development since it provides income for households, education, health care, housing, small businesses and farming. Recipients of these remittances tend to put more money into these sectors than those who do not receive any.
Additionally, technological advances have made remittance transactions faster, cheaper and more convenient, making it possible to reach even the “last mile” of many remote areas.
As people continue to cross borders seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families, financial investments back home have been made easier by improved communication technologies.
The infrastructural development such as the Standard Gauge Railway play a significant role in alleviating poverty in their domicile countries and beyond.It also offers a chance for individuals to become an integral part of transforming Africa.
Our economy flourishes from billions of shillings remitted each year by Kenyans either working or studying abroad owing to Kenyans’ enhancing their connection with what happens on the ground back home.
To leverage the impact of remittances for both the individual families and their communities while curbing skepticism that may limit their prospects in making investments back home, the banking industry is providing solutions that facilitate secure and profitable investments effortlessly with guidance from experts.
There are mortgage propositions for example that coveraccess to property developers and agents by linking interested home owners with vetted property developers and agents to ensure that the journey to home ownership is stress-free. Additionally, there are multi-currency home loans with added value in the form of project management of construction projects atreasonable costs.
Spurring development in the country is a prerogative of all Kenyans and this is being enabled by expanding access to the financial system, thereby providing recipients with more options to save, invest, and use their remittances productively.
Indeed, the realization has now hit that diaspora remittances can have transformative effects on their livelihoods and communities, with well-invested funds stimulating employment and income generating opportunities.
Partnerships hold the key to realizing the growing scale and potential impact of diaspora remittances by reducing costs and saving time while creating a gateway to financial inclusion.
Annastacia Kerich Kimtai, KCB Group, Retail Director
South Africa’s fashion brand, Mr. Price, is set to take full ownership of its outlets in Kenya after buying out Deacons franchise operations in East Africa that started in 2007.
Deacons were previously the exclusive local franchise holder of the Mr. Price clothes brand and Mr. Price Home.
Mr. Price is now set to take full control of the subsidiary, setting the stage for complete autonomy from Deacons.
“We had a franchise agreement that has worked extremely well over the years. Going forward, Mr. Price will now be an independent brand run by MRP in Kenya,” said Deacons Chief Executive, Muchiri Wahome.
Deacons will be compensated for ceding control of the franchise. Proceeds from the sale will go towards funding ongoing operation, launching an e-commerce platform, launch of a Deacons house brand and store expansion of the other international brands in its portfolio.
Mr. Price’s plans for Kenya’s fashion market are not immediately clear, but the multinational is now expected to develop and run its own local retail outlets.
“The future is positive for Deacons as we will continue to bring relevant brands to market. The Directors have also decided to relaunch the Deacons label in order to have more control in its supply chain and focus on penetrating lower segments of the market. This coupled with an imminent launch of an e-commerce platform will ensure sustainable growth for the group,” Mr. Muchiri added.
While Mr. Price has focused on selling its line of clothes and home products in Kenya, taking full ownership of the local subsidiary might see it expand its product range. For Deacons, the sale of its franchise rights ends its distributorship of Mr. Price products, which served the middle class.
After ceding Mr. Price, Deacons will concentrate on its other international brands, which include F&F, Adidas, Deacons Kids, Bossini, 4U2, Truworths, and LifeFitness. These brands have received good uptake by the East African consumer as they offer good value-for-money lifestyle solutions and customer service.
Deacon’s remains committed to growing its customer base by offering lifestyle solutions to East Africa through its 30-store footprint. In Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
We have a new baby in the market: Isuzu mu-X, the new SUV Model launched Isuzu East Africa (Isuzu EA) is the name of the baby and comes with great features that any motor vehicle enthusiast will salivate for.
Launched at a colorful ceremony in Nairobi this week, the seven-seater vehicle with an intuitive 5-speed automatic transmission will retail at Ksh 6.6 million. ‘quite pocket friendly!
Speaking at the event, Isuzu EA Managing Director, Rita Kavashe, said the mu-X will target the urban lifestyle segment that has experienced rapid growth over the last few years.
“We are delighted to introduce the Isuzu mu-X to the SUV market. This is a vehicle designed for the urban lifestyle professional, and people who love travel and adventure,” said Rita.
“Customers will find that the Isuzu mu-X is a sporty vehicle that comes with extra attitude, a versatile comfortable cabin and excellent all-terrain performance. While offering a premium passenger car experience, the mu-X has been developed to stand out and stand apart in every aspect,” she explained.
The Isuzu EA MD explained that the mu-X builds on the Isuzu brand’s dependable heritage and fantastic legacy of reliability, performance and efficiency in this market. Rita described the Isuzu mu-X as the ideal SUV for the modern family, and the vehicle of choice for anyone looking for a sophisticated, stylish vehicle that meets their lifestyle needs.
“The mu-X brings with it exciting features such as mobile phone connectivity, to enable our customers remain in touch with the world while driving safely. It also boasts seamless multi-media integration to the infotainment system that includes a built-in video screen for passengers’ entertainment during long trips,” noted Rita. “With its good ground clearance and protected underbody, our customers will enjoy superb off-road capabilities while traveling,” added Rita.
Speaking on safety, Rita described the vehicle’s impressive features that guarantee the highest safety standards for customers.
“The mu-X comes with various safety options such as the Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electric Brake-force Distribution (EBD), and Brake Assist (BA) features providing great control on any terrain,” she said.
For maximum road grip during acceleration and high-speed cornering, the vehicle is equipped with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Traction Control System (TCS). The Isuzu mu-X has been awarded a 5 Star Rating by Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) safety body.
The Chief Guest at the mu-X launch, Mr. Kimitoshi Kurokawa, President Isuzu Motors International Operations (Thailand), shared his excitement at the introduction of the vehicle to the Kenyan market.
“This is the first time we are introducing this outstanding vehicle to the African market. Plans are on-going to also launch the mu-X in South Africa later this week. So we can say that Kenya is the first country in Africa to start marketing the Isuzu mu-X! The vehicle has done very well in the Australia, New Zealand and Asian markets, and we are confident it will be equally well received in the African markets,” stated Mr. Kimitoshi.
To ensure customers enjoy a stress-free driving and ownership experience, Rita announced a 3-year service maintenance package as part of the introductory sales offer in the market. The new vehicle will be available on retail at Isuzu EA’s dealership network across the country, and in their Kampala and Dar es Salaam dealerships where customers will access professional servicing and quality genuine spare parts for the vehicle
By Jackie Newstead, Hogan Lovells
New technologies have the potential to transform how we think about and use real estate property as well as create efficiencies or change the way it is monetised. From blockchain to solar energy, here are a few disruptors that have the potential to transform the real estate landscape in Kenya.
Blockchain technology provides secure evidence of the ownership of assets and make transfers of or encumbrances on those assets. It allows every property to have its own digital address where all information relating to it may be stored, in a universal system on a national or international scale. This includes ownership and financial information, taxes, bills, liens, easements, building performance, physical characteristics and the transaction history relating to the property.
Access to such information is either made available to anyone or encrypted with limited access.
Blockchain technology provide for fast, efficient and secure transfers of real property interests, and it can be used to enhance the efficiency of the mortgage finance sector to track ownership of borrower payments, covenant compliance and other ban activity, with smart contracts working to enforce obligations and identify defaults, potentiality reducing mortgage servicing costs and due diligence costs.
Autonomous vehicles have the ability to transform how we think about and use real property, the same way that roads, waterways, railways and airports influenced the creation of cities and suburban centres. The possibility for a revolutionary change in the location, use and design of buildings cannot be understated.
People’s choice of where to live could be less dependent upon access to fixed public transportation networks and more disbursed. Children’s schools choice could be less dependent on location and bussing.
Car parks could be redeveloped for other uses or allow for more efficient use of total space as car parks are transitioned into developed property, as cars will move to less density populated areas to “wait” for their owner, or more likely take on other activities, such as delivery of packages or driving others as an Uber car.
The need for appropriate logistic hubs for long-haul truck shops and logistics will change too, affecting many commercial and industrial properties as well.
The use of internet auction sites and data rooms have been exploding over the past few years to help monetize real property and reach the largest group of potential purchases quickly and easily.
We see this as useful for “commoditized” real property – simply to understand. However, for more complex transactions with larger price tags, its use may be years away, and will likely require a strong blockchain infrastructure.
Energy efficiency is something that developers strive for in their building as it helps their bottom line. Its primary benefit will be in suburban areas, schools, shopping centres, factories, warehouses, where the roof space is significant compared with the building density.
As the cost and efficiency of solar panels increases, they will become a common fixture in the landscape. In addition, buildings that generate solar power may be able to use similar contracts and blockchain technology to facilitate the negotiation and sale of this power into the national grid, enhancing the productivity of an investment.
Mobile applications – the great disruptor
Mobile applications and the ability to work remotely will affect the need for how we use office space. We already see companies that use hoteling to allow their workforce to work flexibly and other companies like WeWork that create a sublease shared office environment that are competing with traditional models. This age of flexible work environments will change how offices are designed and used, and owners will need to adapt to keep their assets financially viable.
We may also see applications using augmented reality (such as the recent hit Pokémon Go) start to affect the real estate sector as well.
The path of progress
Although everything and everyone uses real estate (weather to live, shop, work, play, commute, house our electronic “cloud” or transmit our energy etc.) how we use it will be changing as technology advances, until we leave this planet.
By Things Kenya Writer
Internet connectivity has been on the rise in Africa and across the world in the last decade, with data by Internet World Statistics revealing a 21,564 percent growth in internet penetration in Kenya between 2011 and 2017 and an 85 percent penetration rate.
It has been reported that 88 percent of the population that has access to the internet in Kenya, do so via their mobile devices owing to the affordable data plan options available; a situation that has led to Kenya being ranked as one of the top countries in Africa in terms of internet penetration.
However, despite these remarkable milestones that Kenya has made in that front, a gap still exists in the connectivity of rural Kenya that makes up approximately 74 percent of the total population in the country according to data released by the World Bank in 2016. This number goes to show that rural Kenya forms a significant part of the general population and hence they cannot be ignored on the internet connectivity front if the country is looking to improve its economic and social growth and development.
A white paper released by Huawei Technologies and African Telecommunication Union (ATU) shows a direct effect of internet connectivity on the quality of lives of the people living in rural areas.
The White Paper which was launched at the Mobile World Congress hosted in Barcelona further shows that 0.4 billion of the African population has no network coverage.
Speaking during the unveiling of the white paper, ATU’s Secretary General Abdoulkarim Soumaila said that all people must be able to access the Internet. “ATU is privileged to be part of this gathering in view of our role to ensure the development of ICTs in Africa. For this to be achieved, all stakeholders must cooperate and develop smarter strategies”, He added.
Huawei Technologies Vice President of the Wireless Product Line Cao Ming re-affirmed his firm’s commitment towards the provision of network coverage in Africa. “Huawei is committed to connecting unconnected with an efficient business solution. We will keep innovating specialized solutions and cooperate with other stakeholders,” he said.
The white paper further analyses African nations’ ICT plan and demographic and geographic features, revealing the political, social, economic and technical challenges of extending rural coverage.
It proposes a number of solutions that would go a long way in ensuring that this goal to connect Africa is achieved. These include:
- Proactive rural coverage standard, healthy business ecosystem and encouraging private investment
- Infrastructure sharing and scenario-oriented would go a long way towards addressing the challenge of cost.
- The other solution proposed is coverage enhanced tower sites for suburban scenarios and cost-efficient solutions like a site with 2 sectors and simplified infrastructure applies to big villages or towns along the county highways.
- As for rural areas, targeted coverage solution with extremely low-cost solutions like Huawei RuralStar, which is already underway in Kenya and other parts of Africa is recommended.
The Ministry of Health and the World Food Programme (WFP) have today released an assessment report on adolescent nutrition in Kenya.
The report prepared in collaboration with Unilever and the Ministry of Health has proposed best practice solutions to help guide the country’s nutrition sector to design adolescent-focused evidence-based interventions.
The report highlights the risks faced by girls as pertaining to their nutrition, health and education status with adolescent girls being particularly nutritionally vulnerable due to a number of factors: adolescent pregnancy, menstruation, traditionally lower education attainment, and higher level of physical demands.
Drawing on a wealth of evidence and consultations with 10 to 19-year-olds around the country, and various stakeholders who are implementing adolescent programmes across sectors such as health, education, social protection, nutrition, governance in the country, the report also brings together a full spectrum of issues affecting adolescents. These include HIV, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, and violence.
“From the findings of the report, we have noted that many data gaps in terms of evidence have been hindering effective strategies to addressing nutrition challenges in adolescents and adolescent girls in particular. As WFP, we recognize the opportunity to support the government in meeting the needs of the adolescents in Kenya through health, nutrition, education and economic empowerment,” said Brenda Behan, Senior Deputy Country Director, WFP Kenya.
In Kenya, the proportion of the total population that is adolescents is 22% indicating the sheer need of this population in requiring more investment in their health, nutrition, education, livelihoods and participation.
“We can only achieve higher nutrition standards by embedding good nutrition habits into consumers’ daily lives,” said Dr. Myriam Sidibe, Global Social Mission Director, Unilever. “Efforts to scale up nutrition must be supported by the private sector and we are committed to being the private sector of choice in strengthening strategies in adolescent nutrition,” she added.
Highlighted in the report, micronutrient deficiencies are highly prevalent in Kenya, particularly zinc, iron, and vitamin A. From the data, iron deficiency was the highest contributor to the high anemia rates among all highlighted vulnerable groups, pointing to poor dietary iron intakes among these populations.
“Access to essential nutrition planning increases the potential of adolescents in the country to grow, learn, earn and lead,” said Judith Kimiywe, PHD in Nutrition and Professor at Kenyatta University. “From the report, there is a clear indication on the need to devise innovative ways to better reach adolescents with essential information in order to end the cycle of poor nutrition in the country.
The Kenya Assessment Report on Adolescent Nutrition was developed through the support of World Food Programme and under the stewardship of the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Dietetics Unit and the Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health Unit.
“This report is timely as we are at a time when the country is deciding on the best way of holistically addressing the nutrition needs of the adolescents. We want to encourage all stakeholders to engage in discourse, coordination and leverage opportunities in understanding this research to comprehensively address the needs of adolescents, said Ministry of Health Adolescent Health Programmes Manager, Dr. Christine Wambugu.
The report is in line with efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2, End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. It touches specifically on target 2.2 which aims to, by 2030 end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving by 2025 the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women, and older persons.
The release of the report follows the World Health Day celebrations held every year on 7 April under the leadership of World Health Organisation (WHO) to create global health awareness.
This year’s theme was Universal Health coverage which cuts across all of the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and brings the hope of better health and protection for the world’s poorest.
By Warren Beech
Africa is home to about 30 per cent of the world’s mineral reserves, 10 per cent of the world’s oil, and eight per cent of the world’s natural gas. Extractives form a critical part of mineral rich economies in Africa and contribute directly to the GDP.
Understanding the present, securing the future, and yet extracting the continent’s vast natural wealth remains a high-risk gamble for many investors. This is especially due to a seemingly insatiable thirst from Western consumers. So what is the current state of the mining industry in Kenya and across the continent?
Kenya’s nascent mining industry is bolstered by the production of cement and soda ash, in addition to oil, which is being explored by companies like Tullow Oil, among others. In February 2017, UK firm, Acacia Mining discovered an estimated 1.31 million ounces of gold in Kakamega, one of the highest deposits in Africa. The newly elected Cabinet Secretary for Mining, John Munyes, has expressed optimism in the sector’s growth, especially following the ongoing mapping exercise of minerals in the country.
Boosting the infrastructural framework is a key priority, given the Ministry of Mining’s long-term plans to pipe oil from Lokichar to Lamu. Communities will need to be engaged to support the extractive sector, especially by highlighting long-term benefits.
To maintain this trajectory, a balanced regulatory framework is important to eliminate the risk of slowing development and to deploy favourable and progressive policies. The importance of such a protective policy framework is evident in what has been happening in neighbouring Tanzania. The Tanzanian mining ministry in January passed regulations that will now make it compulsory for foreign-owned mining groups to offer shares to the government and local companies.
The Kenyan Government thus finds itself in an interesting conundrum – trying to create a conducive environment for foreign participation and investment, while also protecting the interests of the communities where exploration is to take place.
Opportunity to create lasting benefits for Kenya
Kenya has real potential to become a regional hub for mining, as it is for financial services. Currently, the country exports most of its mineral wealth in raw form rather than processing it locally. This is because of a lack of sufficient technical expertise and industries to process the minerals.
It would therefore be of great benefit if policy makers visualized and moved towards a future that will create an enabling environment for mineral processing.
Kenya could benefit from mining firms setting up in the country if the draft Mining Local Equity Participation Regulations is signed into law.
According to the draft regulations published by the Ministry of Mining in December 2017, firms investing at least $100 million (Sh1billion) in Kenya’s mining sector must have 24 per cent local shareholding through the stock exchange within three years of operations.
The regulations are set to strengthen the Mining Act 2016, which advocates for the protection of local companies with provisions for equity participation in large mining operations. The Act also provides for the prioritization of local procurement of goods, services and workforce.
Yet even with Africa’s huge mineral wealth, unemployment levels are among the highest around the globe, especially among the youth. In Kenya, the unemployment rate is at 40%. There is an opportunity for Kenya’s youth to derive value from the active mining and extractives industry.
This requires reflection on why current levels of participation are where they are – could it be a lack of skills and knowledge on the extractives value chain?
Kenya is among five African countries bidding for the hosting of the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), currently hosted at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa. Winning the bid to host the Centre will further boost the sector and consequently create more jobs in the country.
The writer is a Partner at Hogan Lovells