Business

Kenyan accountants want errant counterparts punished

NAIROBI, KENYA: Flawed procurement process, irregular hiring of public officials and poor management of public funds have the risk of grinding Kenya’s economy to a halt. These happen at both the national and county government levels. Accountants now warn that the disregard of the law by public officials at both levels of Government could have dire effects on the economy. This in addition to its own internal problems is still susceptible to external shocks like volatile oil prices and the Eurozone crisis. Chairman, Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya (ICPAK) Benson Okundi, now wants new mechanisms to scrutinise procuring entities within ministries, departments and corporations put in place. This, he notes, will guard it against grand corruption that seems to be on the rise. Similar scrutiny should also be undertaken at the county level. “ICPAK is concerned that prudency and responsibilities are not being applied in the management of our scarce resources,” he said at a conference on the economy organised by the institute. “Recent reports from both the Auditor General and the Controller of Budget paint a dismal picture of our economic outlook. Persistent issues of under-development; high unemployment rate, increasing inequality, poverty and high inflationary pressures continue to impact negatively on the economy,” he said. He lobbied for the need to establish instruments to assess the performance of procuring departments and ensure compliance to set procurement rules and procedures. “We contend that public procurement audit and inspection is essential in improving accountability. This must be done at all levels of the procurement cycle. We recommend speedy amendment of public procurement and disposal of assets law to put in place punitive measures for non-compliance,” he said. The NSSF saga where it was alleged that over Sh5 billion was approved without the necessary due diligence and procedure is a case in point. The procurement processes for the standard gauge railway and the laptop projects have raised pertinent questions in meeting constitutional provisions. By MACHARIA KAMAU, The Standard

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World Bank funded youth project reaches final phase

NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) has embarked on the final phase of a four-year Sh5.2 billion project meant to raise the skills of the youth in Kenya. World Bank HQ The Kenya Youth Empowerment Programme, which started in 2010, was funded by the World Bank to the tune of Sh5.2 billion ($60m) and had different components that were implemented by Kepsa and the Government. Kepsa has been implementing an internship component with funding of Sh1.3 billion while Government agencies implemented the other components. The programme will by the end of this year have provided work experience and training to over 10,000 Kenyans aged between 18 and 29. This is in addition to providing labour intensive job opportunities to unemployed youths in the initial year of its implementation. And Kepsa has now called for applications from young people that will form the final batch to go through a training programme and internship in private sector firms operating in select economic sectors in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa. “This training and internship programme targets vulnerable youth that do not have opportunities available to them (presently or in the near future) such as opportunities to advance their studies and short term or long term employment,” said Kepsa in a statement on Friday. It said the programme focuses mainly on six growth sectors of Vision 2030, that is, energy, finance, tourism, manufacturing, ICT and micro and small enterprises (MSEs). The plan aims at improving employability of the youth. By MACHARIA KAMAU, The Standard

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Mumias lays foundation for next phase of growth

NAIROBI, KENYA: Mumias Sugar Company has suspended all major capital expenditure as it prepares for the next phase of growth that will be exemplified by the coming on board of a strategic investor. The Western Kenya-based sugar miller which is currently consolidating the operations of its diversified lines of business is now set for growth through joint ventures rather than the company’s own resources. Joint ventures require more funding than can be provided by internal sources. Chief Executive Peter Kebati said the company has so far achieved its internally generated growth by expanding productivity and enhancing the sales of its diversified range of products. “We have completed what we needed to do. We have increased our production capacity with our installed capacity currently standing at 270,000 metric tonnes of sugar per annum,” he said. ORGANIC GROWTH “We have also completed our cogeneration, ethanol and water plants. These projects need time to stabilise and start generating sufficient revenues for our organic growth,” Mr Kebati told The Standard. He said the next phase now is the Tana and Athi River Development (Tarda) sugar project along the coastal region. “This is going to be a different type of business model.  We are looking for potential partners, strategic partners who have experience in large scale irrigation schemes,” he stated. He said the company is set to diversify the risks inherent in its organic growth. Mr Kebati disclosed that the company is shopping for a strategic partner to inject fresh capital and provide technical expertise towards the development of the integrated Tarda sugar project. The miller, which formed a partnership with Tarda, is looking at the Greenfield project as an opportunity for long term growth and risk diversification. By JAMES ANYANZWA, The Standard

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Rwanda: NGO donates motorcycles to farmers

Heifer International Rwanda, through its project East Africa Dairy Development (EADD), has donated motorcycles worth Rwf 30 million to farmers in the districts of Gatsibo, Nyagatare and Rwamagana. Heifer officials and Eastern Province Executive Secretary Jean Marie Vianney Makombe hand over a motorcycle to a farmer. Stephen Rwembeho In Rwanda since 2008, EADD project aims at boosting the household income of dairy farmers through integrated interventions in production and marketing of milk. Dr Charles Kayumba, Heifer Country Director, said that the motorcycles will be used by extension services providers to facilitate farmers in farm management. “We are happy that our efforts were rewarded…the farmers we trained have reached a stage where they can live on their won. The modern techniques they posses in farming, makes them very competent…they have cooperatives that are well managed,” he said. He further said that Heifer International would in addition support the district of Bugesera to embrace modern farming. “The motorcycles we have given farmers actually mark the end of our first phase of farmers’ support. We are however coming up with another phase that will include Bugesera district… another five-year project is in pipeline”. Charles Mushaija, the chairman of Terimbere Mworozi, a farmers’ cooperative based in Nyagatare District, commended the support saying it increased milk production. “We are a step ahead in modern farming…hygiene in the process of milk production is good. The quality of milk is no longer an issue. We know how to do timely artificial insemination, cross-breeding, all done by farmers themselves”. Meanwhile, Celestin Nyambi, Rwanda Agriculture Board Coordinator in Eastern Province disclosed that pasture management in indoor farming was no longer a problem. He however added that farming in general was still hampered by the problem of drought and trans-border diseases. “Heifer’s trainings solved the issue of quality milk production, pasture management, etc. Now that transport is being offered, the dairy sub-section in Rwanda will reach its target. Transport was a great challenge,” he said. At least 40 per cent of the country’s population of cattle are found in Eastern Province. By Stephen Rwembeho, The New Times

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Microsoft unveils Africa advisors

Microsoft has presented the first four-member board of the Microsoft 4Afrika Advisory Council, an external board of advisers tasked with guiding strategic investments undertaken by the company in Africa. The board that was officially announced in October last year and features a Rwandan, Akaliza Keza Gara, an entrepreneur and founder of a multimedia company, was presented in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Tuesday. The youthful board will be tasked with presenting issues facing Africa’s rural and urban youth, including unemployment, education and access to technology. The initiative will facilitate Microsoft’s active engagement in Africa’s economic development. Akaliza Keza Gara, who represents the East African region, said that she would use the opportunity to share opportunities in the use of technology to impact people’s lives. “I hope that I will be able to represent my region well by sharing the unique needs and opportunities that exist. My role involves sharing my own experience working in the tech industry in East Africa, and the stories of youth in my social and business circles, to help the initiative better understand the region and inform them about the existing activities promoting ICT for development.” Tayeb Sbihi, a Moroccan entrepreneur who is also a board member, said that the diversity of the board was an advantage that would create different insights as well as bring out a range of ideas. “Our skills complement each other, and we bring different insights, be it technological, political, environmental or social. We represent a good mix, and we will work together to do something good,” he noted. Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, the chairman of Microsoft 4Afrika Advisory Council, said the youth are playing a big role in presenting solutions in various sectors through ICT which has helped create employment opportunities. “The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) field is not only redefining how we conduct our major businesses on the continent, it is increasingly improving the efficiency of critical support services such as education, health, and disaster mitigation and management,” Mkapa said. “Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative will be critical in defining a framework that other global and indigenous organisations in the ICT space can adopt to leverage this emerging space and promote economic development in Africa. We are excited about the induction of the new 4Afrika Advisory Council youth members because it helps the initiative stay true to the spirit of youth, enterprise and innovation”. By Collins Mwai, The New Times

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Kenya tour operators now welcome to Tanzania

NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenya has finally resolved a long-standing dispute with Tanzania, which initially restricted her tour operators from dropping off tourists to sites within the neighbouring country. East African Affairs Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie (front right) with her counterparts from Uganda and Tanzania The breakthrough was realised by East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie during a two-day stakeholders meeting in Arusha, Tanzania. While Tanzanian operators have been dropping off tourists to Kenyan towns, including the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, the Tanzanian authorities had restricted their Kenyan counterparts to dropping off their tourists in Arusha, Dodoma, Moshi, Musoma and border towns of Namanga, Isebania and Lungalunga. During the talks which were concluded on Thursday, Kenya and Tanzania agreed to fully implement a bilateral agreement signed between the two countries in 1985. The agreement spells out how tour operators will conduct their business across the borders. The agreement also outlines among other things the drop and pick up points for tourists visiting both countries. The two countries however agreed to hold a bilateral meeting in the coming months in order to update the agreement to incorporate emerging issues. Kandie has hailed the progress, terming it “a win-win situation for all”. “The arrangement will encourage private sector to private sector partnership between the operators in the two countries. This is timely and in accordance with the introduction of a single regional visa.” On the sidelines of the meeting on “Issues on Tourism and Wildlife Management”, Kenya and Uganda held exploratory talks to prepare grounds for a proposed bilateral meeting which will lead to the signing a bilateral agreement on tourism and wildlife management. By OSCAR OBONYO, The Standard

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MOTV sues UCC over out-dated decoders

Digital satellite television service provider, MOTV Africa Limited, is demanding sh14.6b compensation from the regulator of broadcasting and communication services, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) for financial loss over outdated decoders. MOTV Africa dragged UCC to the Commercial Court accusing it of dishonesty. It contends that it pioneered digital terrestrial broadcasting in Uganda, and introduced DVT-B standard, after getting certification from the Government to embark on the project. The UCC, according to the complainant, changed the technology to DVT-B2 standard without consulting stakeholders on the implications of the move. The case was filed in court by Byenkya, Kihika and Company Advocates on February 12. MOTV Africa says the unilateral decision by UCC to change the technology from DVT-B to DVT-B2 was contrary to the declared government policy and consequently unlawful, null and void. MOTV Africa complained that the change in technology made its technology obsolete and irrelevant to consumers. The particulars of damages amounting to sh14b include loss of capital equipment, pre-operating expenses, operational expenses and projected profits, the digital TV company said. July 2011 had been set as a switch-on date for digital television services and December 2012 as a switch-off date for analogue TV broadcasting. But the position for digital migration has since changed, with UCC setting December this year as the roll out of digital migration to replace analogue television transmission. The implication is that analogue television transmitters will be shut down and only digital television signal will be accessible. The global deadline for digital migration is June next year. Television set owners are expected to acquire compliant decoders to enable them access digital television services. In its summary of evidence, MOTV claims it relied on Government policy when making its investment in the technology that has now been rendered obsolete by UCC’s actions. The regulator has not yet responded to the accusations. The hearing date of the case is also yet to be set. By Andante Okanya, The New Vision

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