Posts tagged as: nairobi

Public Debt Crosses Sh4 Trillion Mark As State Eyes More Loans

By Brian Ngugi

Kenya’s public debt crossed the Sh4 trillion mark at the end of March this year, reflecting the Jubilee government’s sharp appetite for loans.

This has raised fears of the country’s future ability to repay the mounting credit.

The latest Quarterly Economic and Budgetary Review report released Wednesday by the Treasury shows that total public debt has now risen to an equivalent of more than half (52.6 per cent) of the gross domestic product (GDP), on the back of massive increase in borrowing since the Jubilee administration took power four years ago.

The public debt comprises 51.9 per cent foreign and 48.1 per cent domestic loans.

“The gross public debt increased by Sh782.3 billion from Sh3.26 billion as at the end of March 2016 to Sh4.04 trillion, equivalent to 52.6 per cent of GDP by March 31, 2017,” says Treasury in the report tabled in Parliament.

“The overall increase is attributed to increased external debt due to exchange rate fluctuations, disbursements from external loans and more uptake of domestic debt during the period.” The rate of increase in the debt load, however, does not correspond with growth in revenue generation, indicating the widening gap and mounting pressure on government’s capacity to repay loans.

The ability to generate and grow tax revenue is a strong indicator of future ability to repay debt.

The Treasury report shows that the government’s cumulative revenue collection for the period July last year to March this year amounted to Sh984.6 billion against a target of Sh1.05 trillion.

“This represented an under-performance of Sh65.9 billion mainly due to shortfalls in income tax, (fees, charges and court fines) collection, Investment Income and Imports Declaration Fee (IDF),” says Treasury in its documents.

The total external debt stock including the international sovereign bond stood at Sh2.1 trillion at the period ending March 2017.

The debt stock comprised multilateral debt at 38.4 per cent, bilateral debt at 32.8 per cent, commercial banks debt at 28.3 per cent including international sovereign bond and suppliers’ credit debt at 0.5 per cent.

Corresponding to the rising debt load, foreign interest payments rose to Sh38.2 billion in the period compared to Sh26 billion in the same period of the 2015/16 financial year. On the other hand interest payments on domestic debt totaled Sh145.8 billion, which was higher than the Sh122.6 billion paid in the corresponding period of the previous financial year.

According to the budgetary review, Kenya’s loan repayment to China stood at Sh18 billion over the period representing over half of the total bilateral loans (Sh32.8 billion) highlighting the country’s growing appetite for Chinese loans.

Kenya this week committed to borrowing additional billions of shillings to finance the ongoing construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR) line indicating that the borrowings could soon take the debt load past 60 per cent of GDP level.

On Monday the government announced it is seeking an additional Sh370 billion ($3.59 billion) Chinese loan to extend the SGR from Naivasha to Kisumu, pushing the construction cost to Sh847 billion.

The country has in the past four years borrowed billions of shillings to finance power generation and road construction projects.

In addition to Sh327 billion spent on the first phase between Mombasa and Nairobi and Sh150 billion that the emerging Asian economy extended recently for the Nairobi-Naivasha section, the Chinese will have pumped a total of Sh847 billion in the venture.

This excludes interest on the loans that would push the overall cost beyond Sh1 trillion.

Shoppers Snap Up Cheap Maize Flour

Photo: Francis Nderitu/The Nation

A couple at the Ronald Ngala branch of Tuskys Supermarket in Nairobi purchase a packet of maize flour on May 17, 2017.

By Nation Team

Kenyans in different parts of the country went into panic buying on Wednesday as the first batch of government-subsidised maize flour hit shop shelves.

However, for the better part of the morning and early afternoon, the Sh90, two-kilogramme packets were yet to arrive in some major supermarkets and in a number of towns.

In Nairobi, Tuskys supermarket outlets, which appeared to be the only ones well-stocked with the cheap flour in the morning, started running out of the commodity in early afternoon due to the high demand.

Nakumatt outlets did not have the flour for the better part of the day, but in the afternoon officials announced via Twitter that they had received supplies.

Sensing the desperation and restlessness, millers assured consumers that the flour would be available in all stores and supermarkets in major towns, and attributed the poor supply to logistics.

ADJUST DISTRIBUTION SCHEDULES

“Some of our members have had to adjust their distribution schedules to take the contractual obligations between our members and particular supermarkets,” chairman of the millers association, Nick Hutchinson, said in a statement.

“We would like to clarify that the lack of maize flour in some retail chains does not in any way reflect a lack of maize flour in the country.”

Mr Hutchinson said millers expected the cheap flour to reach other stores by tomorrow, and in small shops and supermarkets upcountry by Sunday.

In Nairobi, there were long queues at the stores that had the maize flour in the morning.

TAKE ORDERS

Mr Moses Mwangi, a manager at EastMatt supermarket, said retailers had rushed to make their orders with the millers.

“As a result,” he explained, “those of us who made our orders late have been pushed behind the queue, so we’re still waiting for deliveries.”

The chain only had old stock of the commodity and was selling the Oryx brand at Sh135 and Hostess at Sh189.

Tuskys, the only supermarket in the CBD that stocked the Soko brand, had to restrict the number of packets each customer could buy.

At their Kenyatta Avenue branch, customers were allowed two packets while at their Imara branch the maximum was three.

BUY SIX PACKETS

But, even then, customers tried to outmanoeuvre the retailer by going from one store to another. Ms Linda Omolo, a resident of Lucky Summer in Baba Dogo, told the Nation at the Imara branch that she had been sent by her aunt to buy six packets. “I’ll have to go to another branch to pick the rest,” she said.

Asked why she needed to buy so many packets, she asked: “What if another shortage occurs or the price increases?”

At Naivas supermarket in the CBD, Mr Joseph Gitonga said they were still waiting for the government stock.

Some customers, like Mr Richard Chege from Juja, bought wheat flour instead, unaware that just a few metres away Tuskys had already replenished the staple that has been missing from most retail shelves for close to a week.

SAVE MONEY

“We haven’t eaten ugali for a week in my house but chapati has been working just fine because then I save the money I would have used to buy bread for breakfast,” said Mr Chege.

In Nakuru, Tuskys sales coordinator Brian Kandie said they had reduced the price of old stock to Sh90, although they had not received any information or new stock from the suppliers.

“Normally, we get a credit note from the suppliers in case the market price suddenly changes. However, we are not sure whether that will happen,” Mr Kandie said.

However, other supermarkets, like Woolmatt and Gilani’s, had not lowered their prices. Mr George Ngugi, a manager at Woolmatt, said they had not received any communication from their suppliers.

In Mombasa, cheap flour had not hit the shelves by yesterday evening, and so the two-kilogramme packet was still going for between Sh140 and Sh150 in most supermarkets.

MORE EXPENSIVE

In Nyeri some of stores, such as Mathai Supermarkets, had the subsidised flour, but Naivas still had the more expensive stock which managers expected to clear in two days.

In Eldoret, cheaper flour was available in most outlets although high demand saw the shelves emptied before noon. Nakumatt, for instance, ran out of stock by mid-day.

“People have really bought a lot of Unga today and the number of shoppers is increasing since morning. We expect more to come,” an attendant at Tuskys said. The scenario was the same in Naivas outlets in the town.

Reporting by Pauline Kairu, Mohamed Ahmed, Reitz Mureithi, Marion Wambui, Irene Mugo, and Brenda Gamonde.

Mobile Clinics Still Not Used Over a Year Later

Photo: Laban Walloga/The Nation

Some of the container clinics at the National Youth Service yard in Miritini, Mombasa County on May 16, 2017.

By Mohamed Ahmed and Elizabeth Merab

The controversial Sh800 million mobile container clinics were yesterday still lying idle at the National Youth Service camp in Miritini, Mombasa, more than a year since they were brought into the country.

The 99 improvised clinics that featured in the Sh5 billion Afya House scandal have been at the yard since December 2015 when the first batch arrived.

They were imported from Guangzhou, China, by the Nairobi-based company Estama Investments.

Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa had ordered their removal from the premises in March.

On Tuesday, Mr Marwa said the process to remove the clinics from the camp had started.

CONTAINERS STILL INTACT

However, when the Nation visited the yard, the 99 containers were still intact.

“We have put in place all the plans and as we speak, something is being done to ensure they are taken to various areas,” Mr Marwa told the Nation.

The security chief’s immediate order to move the clinics was reportedly unheeded following intrigues at the Health ministry, according to a source.

The regional coordinator had directed officials at the camp to ensure the containers were evacuated to pave way for the putting up of a drug addicts’ rehabilitation centre.

Speaking in Mombasa on Friday, Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu said the mobile clinics are to be distributed to counties by the end of June. He, however, did not state the actual start date only saying it would happen “any time this month”.

LITTLE DELAY

“There has been a little delay which we recognise but it is our hope that by the end of June these clinics will be placed where they are supposed to be so that they can serve Kenyans,” he said.

The CS added: “These clinics are supposed to be placed in informal settlements and we are working with the respective counties to prepare the grounds for us.”

“Estama Investments Ltd, according to the contract, was supposed to supply, deliver and install the mobile clinics, thus the ministry has opted not to act,” said the source.

Estama failed to distribute the fully equipped clinics at their designated sites following a legal dispute with Kenya Revenue Authority.

Initially, the company had imported 100 clinics but one was taken to Nairobi for demonstration and two others put aside for use at Miritini camp in Mombasa.

BENEFIT FROM CLINICS

Council of Governors deputy chairman John Mruttu maintained that governors had no idea what was going on with the containers.

“We have little enthusiasm for the project because we do not know what it was intended to achieve,” said the Taita-Taveta governor.

Mr Andrew Mulwa, the chairman of the County Executives for Health Forum, said some of the counties to benefit from the clinics included Kisumu, Nairobi, Murang’a, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kericho, Nakuru, Nandi and Makueni.

In Nairobi, Health executive Bernard Muia said the county had been allocated 20 of the improvised containers but were yet to receive them.

“We are still in the process of identifying sites where we will install the containers. We also have to work on a number of modalities regarding how the container clinics will be operated as well as staff,” said Dr Muia.

Kenya: Mobile Clinics Still Not Used Over a Year Later

Photo: Laban Walloga/The Nation

Some of the container clinics at the National Youth Service yard in Miritini, Mombasa County on May 16, 2017.

By Mohamed Ahmed and Elizabeth Merab

The controversial Sh800 million mobile container clinics were yesterday still lying idle at the National Youth Service camp in Miritini, Mombasa, more than a year since they were brought into the country.

The 99 improvised clinics that featured in the Sh5 billion Afya House scandal have been at the yard since December 2015 when the first batch arrived.

They were imported from Guangzhou, China, by the Nairobi-based company Estama Investments.

Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa had ordered their removal from the premises in March.

On Tuesday, Mr Marwa said the process to remove the clinics from the camp had started.

CONTAINERS STILL INTACT

However, when the Nation visited the yard, the 99 containers were still intact.

“We have put in place all the plans and as we speak, something is being done to ensure they are taken to various areas,” Mr Marwa told the Nation.

The security chief’s immediate order to move the clinics was reportedly unheeded following intrigues at the Health ministry, according to a source.

The regional coordinator had directed officials at the camp to ensure the containers were evacuated to pave way for the putting up of a drug addicts’ rehabilitation centre.

Speaking in Mombasa on Friday, Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu said the mobile clinics are to be distributed to counties by the end of June. He, however, did not state the actual start date only saying it would happen “any time this month”.

LITTLE DELAY

“There has been a little delay which we recognise but it is our hope that by the end of June these clinics will be placed where they are supposed to be so that they can serve Kenyans,” he said.

The CS added: “These clinics are supposed to be placed in informal settlements and we are working with the respective counties to prepare the grounds for us.”

“Estama Investments Ltd, according to the contract, was supposed to supply, deliver and install the mobile clinics, thus the ministry has opted not to act,” said the source.

Estama failed to distribute the fully equipped clinics at their designated sites following a legal dispute with Kenya Revenue Authority.

Initially, the company had imported 100 clinics but one was taken to Nairobi for demonstration and two others put aside for use at Miritini camp in Mombasa.

BENEFIT FROM CLINICS

Council of Governors deputy chairman John Mruttu maintained that governors had no idea what was going on with the containers.

“We have little enthusiasm for the project because we do not know what it was intended to achieve,” said the Taita-Taveta governor.

Mr Andrew Mulwa, the chairman of the County Executives for Health Forum, said some of the counties to benefit from the clinics included Kisumu, Nairobi, Murang’a, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kericho, Nakuru, Nandi and Makueni.

In Nairobi, Health executive Bernard Muia said the county had been allocated 20 of the improvised containers but were yet to receive them.

“We are still in the process of identifying sites where we will install the containers. We also have to work on a number of modalities regarding how the container clinics will be operated as well as staff,” said Dr Muia.

Nyayo Stadium to Host Gor, Thika Kpl Match

[Capital FM] Nairobi -The Nyayo National Stadium which has been under renovation for the past six months will host Gor Mahia’s Kenyan Premier League home match against Thika United on Sunday, just a fortnight after opening its gates for the Mashemeji Derby.

Opposition Communication Director Attacked in Nairobi

Photo: Facebook

ODM Director of Communications Philip Etale in a ward at the Nairobi Hospital on May 15, 2017 after the attack.

By Stella Cherono

ODM Director of Communications Philip Etale has been attacked in Nairobi.

Mr Etale says unknown assailants attacked him using “highly concentrated pepper spray” on Monday night as he left a city restaurant for his home.

LIQUID

The attackers, he says in a Facebook post, were in a saloon car and they sped off immediately after unleashing the liquid on his face.

He was treated and discharged on Tuesday at 1.30am.

The attackers struck as Mr Etale walked to his car that was parked at the IM Building after dinner with friends at Ronalo Foods restaurant on Kimathi Street in Nairobi’s city centre.

“I was in the company of my friend Phelix G-cord and later joined by my other friend Eng Onyango Kevin and later by my old best friend Oliver Mugo,” he said in the post.

“I had a good time with my friends and decided to leave at 10:10pm for my house to rest for the day… I started walking towards CFC Stanbic Bank slowly so that I could catch-up with Phelix, who had already crossed the road.

“While in the middle of the road, a small saloon car drove by and I stopped to let it pass. I didn’t see the number of occupants.

SALOON

“All of a sudden, just in a split of a second, some pulled out, sprayed some strong substance on my face and directed into my eyes and the car sped off towards Total gas station on Kimathi Street,” he says.

Mr Etale says he is lucky to be alive.

“Last night’s ordeal was heartbreaking. At some point, I almost gave up on life. It was so painful and left me asking many questions,” he says.

“I have woken up still in shock and tears rolling down my cheeks, not that I am not a MAN but because of thinking of the motive behind the attack.”

The director says he is yet to comprehend the reason behind the attack.

POLICE

“I have not taken anyone’s anything, I have not eaten what doesn’t belong to me. God has been so faithful to me. I don’t know the intention of the people in that saloon car but God will reveal to me some day,” he says in the lengthy post.

“I feel pained. I feel harassed. I feel targeted. I feel so so BAD. But it is well. I don’t want to speculate but leave it to the Almighty God.”

Central Police Station chief Robinson Thuku said that by 9.30am on Tuesday, they had not received any report or complaint from Mr Etale to facilitate investigations.

Kenya

16,000 Aspirants Vie for Positions in August Polls

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Kenya: President Kenyatta Eager to Keep SGR Momentum Going

Photo: Kevin Odit/Nation Media group

China Road and Bridge Corporation workers proceed with the construction of an overpass for the standard gauge railway, on May 25, 2016, in Taru (file photo).

By Olive Burrows

Beijing, China — Two weeks to the launch of the Standard Gauge Railway, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday moved to hit the ground running on the Naivasha to Kisumu stretch of the line.

When he met with China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang, he argued for a fast tracking of the processing of the US$3.59 billion needed by the China Exim Bank “so as not to lose momentum,” his Spokesman Manoah Esipisu said.

The next phase of the line past Kisumu to Malaba and on to Kigali was also discussed with President Kenyatta informing the Premier that he had, prior to his trip to China, talked the matter over with his counterparts with the consensus that they send a joint team to China to negotiate the financing.

As for the maiden train ride from Mombasa to Nairobi which President Kenyatta will be taking in a fortnight, it was agreed that it being a “specialised security installation,” China would secure the line through surveillance until such a time as Kenya builds up the capacity.

President Kenyatta also made the case for the speedy release of US$161 million for the Nairobi Western bypass for which a commercial contract was signed last year.

Prime Minister Li committed to a further Sh19.2 billion in a grant to be used for agreed upon purposes over the next four years.

A gesture arising from the elevation of Kenya’s bilateral status to a “comprehensive strategic cooperative relationship” which Esipisu said is the highest possible diplomatic status.

The Chinese Government has also contributed Sh2.2 billion to the drought alleviation efforts and US$5 million to be used in the repatriation of refugees.

China on its part made a case for greater collaboration in aviation and security where counter-terrorism and cyber terrorism are concerned as well as in general defence.

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Identification of Gilgil Crash Victims Starts

By Aggrey Omboki

Six bodies from the Gilgil bus crash that were transferred to Chiromo Mortuary will undergo DNA test starting today.

At least 18 people died on the spot on Saturday when a 52-seater bus was involved in a pile-up with two trucks.

4 BODIES

One person succumbed to injuries at St Mary’s Hospital Nairobi while another 14 passengers were injured, seven of them critically.

According to National Disaster Management Unit deputy communication director Pius Mwachi, a number of bodies have been released to families.

However, he could not give the exact number, saying the official tally was still being worked.

He could only confirm that four bodies were lying in Gilgil mortuaries.

“Two are unidentified. One body is in St Mary Hospital Mortuary and remains unidentified,” said the official.

SURVIVORS

He said five survivors of the crash that shook the nation were undergoing treatment at St. Mary Hospital.

He refused to give a timeline for the DNA tests, saying the process was dependent on the results.

“Identifying the body parts will depend on the DNA results and this can take any period,” he said.

“We would like to appeal to the families of the deceased to exercise patience as we determine the identities of the deceased,” he said.

Mr Mwachi advised families and relatives to visit Chiromo Mortuary where he said they would be advised on how to provide samples to help identify their kin.

TRAUMA

He assured the families of the State’s determination to ensure the process is completed as soon as possible to avoid prolonging their trauma.

“Inter-agency stakeholders led by National Disaster Management Unit are working closely with National Police Service, Kenya Red Cross Society, Chiromo Mortuary, among others, shall offer all necessary services to the families and friends entering Chiromo and Gilgil mortuaries,” said Mr Mwachi.

He confirmed that a trauma counselling and psychological support centre had been set up at the morgues to assist families of the deceased.

He thanked Nairobi Senator and gubernatorial aspirant Mike Sonko for assisting families to transport their loved ones from Gilgil to Chiromo mortuary.

Kenya

Local Tea Scoops Top Accolades At Regional Quality Contest

Rwanda tea factories have scooped nearly all the awards in the regional best quality competition held in Nairobi, Kenya. Read more »

Community the Key As Kenya Gets Its Venice Pavilion

By Frank Whalley

Kenya has its own pavilion at the Venice Biennale, after all.

It opened on May 12, in a recently renovated school on the island of Giudecca, thanks to private sponsors who filled the gap left by the failure of the government to stump up its promised $1 million funding.

Leading the list of donors is Zuecca Projects, a Venetian cultural organisation that seeks “to merge cultural boundaries through exchange and educational practice.”

Called Another Country, after the novel by James Baldwin, the exhibition features six Kenyan artists: Peterson Kamwathi, Richard Kimathi. Mwangi Hutter (two artists who show as one), Paul Onditi, and Arlene Wandera.

As well as a traditional show of drawings, paintings and sculpture, the pavilion will spearhead interaction between artists, students and the wider community.

The commissioner for the pavilion, Dr Kiprop Lagat, the government’s Director of Culture, commented: “This remains the official pavilion for Kenya and something that Kenya supports.”

He added that the government had financed a reconnaissance trip to Venice in October last year and had also paid allowances to members of the pavilion team, including the curator.

Proposals to set up a secretariat to plan and organise future pavilions for Kenya have been put on hold, pending financial support, but Dr Lagat said the idea was important and he hoped it would eventually be realised.

One of the private sponsors, Carol Lees, commented: “We were delighted to help the team achieve their ambition to have a pavilion that truly speaks for Kenya.”

Director of the One-Off Gallery at Rosslyn, Nairobi, Lees added: “Hopefully this will be only the first step of many and the government will rally round in future and offer full support when they see what an excellent job Kenyan artists are doing for their country.”

Kenya

Local Tea Scoops Top Accolades At Regional Quality Contest

Rwanda tea factories have scooped nearly all the awards in the regional best quality competition held in Nairobi, Kenya. Read more »

Rwanda: Local Tea Scoops Top Accolades At Regional Quality Contest

By Peterson Tumwebaze

Rwanda tea factories have scooped nearly all the awards in the regional best quality competition held in Nairobi, Kenya.

According to a statement from the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB), Nyabihu, Rubaya, Muganza and Gisovu tea factories received awards during the 3rd African Tea Convention and Exhibition in Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday.

Teas presented by the four local tea factories scored highly, thanks to the quality.

NAEB said Nyabihu won the best sample accolade was also the first in the PD and BP1 categories , and second in the other two categories – D1 and PF1. The PF1 category was won by Kenya Tea Company while Muganza Kivu was third. Kitabi won the D1 category and Gisovu was third. Rubaya was second in the PD and Gisovu third.

“Rwanda tea is known for its high quality and is among the best in the world. This (high quality) has resulted in gradual increase in its unit price over the past years because our tea is highly valued and sought after at the Mombasa auctions,” NAEB said in a statement on Friday.

The export body said that Kitabi Tea Factory emerged the best in the black CTC tea category with top D1 tea grade and best BP1 tea grade, while Nyabihu Tea Factory had the best PD grade and Gisovu, which was third, scooped the best PF1 tea grade.

This year’s edition was on the theme, “Sustainable Tea Farming – an inspiring future for nature, health and rewarding livelihoods.”

The global is organised by the East Africa Tea Trade Association and aims at providing a great opportunity for tea value chain stakeholders to interact with global tea industry leaders and technology experts, industry experts, researchers and scholars, commodity traders, tea brokers, tea value adders and blenders and input suppliers, among others.

During the meeting, the latest trends and tea products were showcased by different exhibitors from all over the world. Rwanda’s tea production increased marginally last year, but its annual export earnings dropped, according to NAEB’s monthly report for December 2016.

Tea output rose by 1.82 per cent to over 108.3 million kilogrammes in 2016, up from 106.4 million kilogrames recorded in 2015. However, the sector’s export receipts declined to $63.42 million over the period, down from $72.86 million recorded in 2015, indicating a $9.44 million or 12.96 per cent drop compared to 2015 revenue.

Over 24.41 million kilogrammes of ‘made’ tea were sold in 2016 against 24.78 million kilogrammes in 2015. The beans cost $2.60 per kilogramme on the global market during the reporting period, down from $2.94 per kilo in 2015.

Total production of green leaf dropped to 43.6 million kilogrammes, down from almost 46.4 million kilogrammes in the same period the previous year, representing a decline of 5.85 per cent.

Improving quality

To enhance quality and make the tea sector more competitive, NAEB is implementing a new tea leaf handling model along the value chain.

The agricultural exports agency is also seeking new markets for the country’s tea to increase exports. UK buys 21.46 per cent of Rwanda’s total tea exports, with 21.16 per cent going to Pakistan, while 16 per cent goes to Egypt. Another 15.6 per cent is sold to Yemen, while 10.6 per cent is bought by Somalia.

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