How I set up my university in Burundi

The government’s decision to introduce free primary school education brought with it mixed fortunes for many. For Samuel Irungu Njau, who was the proprietor of a private school in Nyahururu, he was forced to close it down in 2003 as parents moved their children to public schools.

He had to look for a new source of income. As a person who is passionate about education, he was keen on looking for greener pastures within and out of the country. An opportunity presented itself in Rwanda following the government’s decision to introduce English as language of instruction to increase access to the global economy.

Irungu decided to try his luck there. With only Sh7,500 he had as savings, he left Kenya in 2009 with a lot of uncertainty about how the life in a foreign country would be.

He used Sh3,000 for transport and the rest to cater for his accommodation. For three months he moved from one place to another without successfully securing a job and spent all he had. Luckily, a friend accommodated him, which came as a great reprieve.

In 2010, Irungu landed his first job as an English teacher in Nu Vision Secondary School. He also quickly got a part-time job at Masoro University. His prowess in the language attracted even government officials and landed him another opportunity: the Rwanda National Police Service contracted him.

Students outside the institute in Bujumbura, Burundi. COURTESY

He had over 600 officers to train, and he was overwhelmed. To fix this, he invited 16 teachers from Kenya to aid him in conducting the lessons. More doors opened and World Vision contracted him to teach English to all teachers in primary and secondary schools from two districts in Rwanda.

Stressed and bedridden

When Mt Kenya University established its branch in Kigali in 2012, Njau was given a job as a lecturer, but three years later, he was retrenched.

In 2015, Njau moved to Burundi, where he and two of his friends, a Kenyan and Burundian came up with a plan to establish an institution of higher learning, which they called International University of Equator.

However, two weeks into the operations, he opted to pullout.

“I realised that my partners were not interested in building the school, but in making quick money. I had injected about Sh4 million into this project and I lost it all,” he said.

He says the two friends went behind his back and incited other stakeholders in the institution to fight him. Due to stress, he developed health complications.

“Stress made me develop severe back problems and I was bedridden for eight months,” he explains.

After recovery, Njau went back to the drawing board, planning how he to start his own university. All this time, he did not have money to either buy food or pay his rent. Fortunately, like the first time, a good friend offered to accommodate him for a couple of months.

The beginning was stormy; Burundi was experiencing political unrest as the then-president was contesting for the seat for the third time.

“There were protests all over and at one time, I was nearly shot, but I was lucky to escape unhurt. My family and friends were asking me to return back home, fearing for my safety,” he recounts.

He started by renting a room in 2015, which he used for his classes, and as time went by more students came in and he was able to get more money to rent more rooms.

I had to sell some of my property to get money to facilitate other logistics to aid in establishing the university.

With the help of Kenyan Ambassador to Burundi, the approval for the university was expedited and the education officers also helped him in laying down the structures to run the institution. This is how Summit International University came about.

To date, the school located in Bujumbura has close to 1,000 students taking various courses.

Outsource talent Njau takes pride in having one of his architecture students win an international award for Miss Entrepreneurship East Africa in December 2019, where she pocketed Shlmillion.

He has also been able to establish partnership with two Japanese universities to expand the scope of courses in the institution.

“Our main aim is to empower the students by giving them entrepreneurial skills, which they can use to transform their country,” he adds.

The journey to success has, however, not been smooth sailing. Njau says due to high poverty levels in the country, many parents are not able to take their children to school, especially for higher learning. Getting qualified teachers is also a challenge and he has been forced to outsource them from Kenya or Uganda, which is expensive.

Njau plans to expand to Gitega, the new capital city for Burundi and later to Congo and Zambia as well.

QUICK FACTS

Samuel Njau was the proprietor of a private school in Nyahururu, which he had to close down following the introduction of free primary school education.

With just Sh7,500, he moved to Rwanda to teach English after the language was introduced in the curriculum.

In 2017, he set up the institute, which has about 1,000 students at the moment.

Ethiopia fills tomato supply gap

Traders in Nyeri have resorted to importing tomatoes from Ethiopia in order to bridge the deficit of the popular commodity.

Prices have shot up 63 per cent per kilogramme from Sh80 last month to Sh130.

Though the Ethiopian tomato is sold to traders at a low price, households are having to dig deeper into their pockets to buy the produce.

A kilogramme of imported onion costs between Sh100 and Sh120.

Traders say damp weather witnessed in tomato-growing areas in Nyeri and Kirinyaga have contributed to the scarcity of the produce.

“Too much rain is never good for tomatoes and that is why there is a shortage. More so, most areas that grow tomatoes are prone to flooding,” said Ms Jane Kellen Kuria, a trader at the Nyeri open air market.

For every imported 60-kilogramme crate, traders are parting with Sh4,000 as compared to Sh11,000 for the local variety.

“We prefer the imported tomato because it is round and firm compared to the local type, which is small and being sold at a very high price,” she added.

BY Daily Nation

Kenya’s rich are vacating their posh environs- Runda, Karen and Lavington

Nairobi’s Runda, Karen and Lavington suburbs registered the highest number of properties placed in the market in 2019, indicating a change in preferences among Kenya’s high net worth individuals.

Realtor, HassConsult’s latest survey shows Karen — revered with lush greenery and vast chunks of land — reported a 31.2 per cent share, mainly blamed on recent infrastructural developments, especially roads that have opened up the area to commercial development of malls, hotels and academic institutions.

The firm’s head of development consulting and research, Sakina Hassanali, yesterday said Runda, with a high expatriate community, had a 13.3 per cent share of properties on sale, indicating a changing on housing preferences from standalone properties to living in serviced apartments.

“Standalone houses are expensive to run with gardeners, cooks, security guards and utilities. They now prefer shared facilities that give them a benefit of shared costs and a sense of community,” she said in Nairobi.

The Hass Property Index (HPI) found Kitengela township reported the highest increase in land prices at 19.4 per cent, owing to ongoing investments in infrastructure and private industrial investments that have seen Kenyans move there in droves in search of jobs and less noisy residential areas.

Nondescript Limuru and Ngong towns enjoyed hyped interest due to ongoing road construction that has opened up the region for major residential investments.

Limuru saw a 9.5 per cent rise in house prices while Ngong reported the highest rise in rental charges at 18.6 per cent.

Medical facilities While Upper Hill remained the most expensive location at Sh539 million an acre, it experienced a 2.3 per cent drop, mainly blamed on poor access to the area that has in the past witnessed major multinationals relocate their regional offices to other Nairobi suburbs.

“Lang’ata is a mixed bag, where demand for rental properties propelled a 15.9 per cent rise in rental prices in the fourth quarter but a hushed need to dispose which reported a 3.9 per cent drop in property prices,” she said.

Karen, which now accommodates several high-end malls, elite schools, new five star hotels and a host of medical facilities, saw an acre selling at Sh62.4 million, while Lang’ata asked Sh65.7 million for an acre.

The realtor said Kenya’s capital is witnessing a resurgence of demand from global investors eyeing bargains in select high-end properties.

The investors, mainly from the Middle East, were salivating at handsome returns, unlike property prices in their countries now living in fear of an all-out war across the region.

“Kenya remains a favourite investment spot for foreign direct investments and the reduced property prices blamed on price corrections gives buyers a reason to smile. They are sure it is a good time to buy and wait for prices to rise for them to sell at a premium” she said.

By James Kariuki

US buys less coffee from Kenya

The US has fallen back to position three in purchasing of Kenya’s specialty coffee after peaking in the 2017/2018 season.

Latest data from Coffee Directorate indicate America trailed Germany and Belgium in purchases after leading in the last season in both quantities and price offered.

According to the directorate, the US bought 6.6 million kilogrammes of the beverage worth Sh3 billion, a decline from Sh7 billion realised in 2017/2018.

Interim head Isabella Ngoge says this could be attributed to competition from other growing countries as well as low global prices.

“We witnessed a scenario last year where both the volumes and value of the coffee sold to the US went down and this is mainly because of competition from other countries that are producing specialty coffee,” said Ms Ngoge.

Belgium reclaimed its top position in the review period purchasing coffee worth Sh4.1 billion, followed by Germany at Sh3.8 billion.

New York rents in the Sahara? Living in Africa’s most expensive city

Chad is one of the world’s poorest countries, but in its capital, N’Djamena, rents rival those of New York or London at upwards of $2,000 a month for a two-bedroom flat in the city centre. 

The dusty city on the edge of the Sahara was ranked the most expensive in Africa and 11th in the world this year by global consulting firm Mercer, which bases its annual index on the average cost of living for employees working abroad.

The ranking is aimed at expatriates, whose modern flats are a far cry from the tin-roofed shacks where many locals live.

But Chadians said that for them too the city is prohibitively expensive, with the price of housing and utilities in particular pushing many people out to neighbourhoods on the periphery with no roads, electricity or running water.

“Everything is expensive here,” said taxi driver Mahamat Tahir, who spends his days in a cloud of hot fumes on the city’s potholed streets, where roadsides are crammed with people selling peanuts and mosquito nets.

The minimum monthly wage is 60,000 CFA francs ($100) but Tahir estimated daily expenses to buy food and get around the city at about 5,000 CFA.A typical roadside lunch is 2,000 CFA, and bringing home a small chicken for dinner costs twice that.

The numbers don’t add up, said Tahir, and it causes constant financial stress.Chad’s landlocked location, oil-dependent economy and lack of infrastructure all contribute to the high prices, according to researchers. Nearly everything from food to clothing to furniture is imported and often by plane.

Although N’Djamena is at the far end of the spectrum on cost of living, it also exemplifies a problem across the continent, said Shohei Nakamura, an economist at the World Bank focusing on poverty and equity.In a study published this year, Nakamura and colleagues found that African cities are on average at least 20% more expensive than cities in other parts of the world with similar income levels.

Goods and services such as transport, communications and housing are especially pricey, he said – mainly because the supply of decent housing and infrastructure falls far behind demand.

Chad’s government spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

LUXURY PRODUCTS

Like many Chadians of his generation, Williams Deonodji Ngargoto has a good job but, in his thirties, still lives with his parents, siblings and cousins in the family home.It is tradition to live with your family until you are married, he said, but also a necessity due to the rising cost of rent.

Frustrated with their situation after university, Ngargoto and a group of friends in 2014 created the Association Against the High Cost of Living, for which he is now the spokesman.

They hold protests and press conferences, and try to pressure the government to introduce reforms.The group has had some successes, Ngargoto said, such as a reduction in the price of cooking fuel earlier this year and in 2017 the elimination of a tax on trucks entering N’Djamena market.

In May the government launched a “fair prices” initiative to reduce consumer prices for food products throughout the country, but Ngargoto said it has made little difference.The Central African nation has been weighed down by drought, a refugee crisis and a costly military campaign to combat militant group Boko Haram, which is based in neighbouring Nigeria but wages attacks across the region.

The number of Chadians living in poverty is projected to reach 6.3 million in 2019 up from 4.7 million in 2011, according to the World Bank. The population is about 16 million.On the U.N. Human Development Index, which measures health, education and quality of life, Chad ranks third to last in the world.In N’Djamena’s “European quarter”, as some locals call it, guards sit outside modern apartment buildings and restaurants favoured by expatriates.

In neighbourhoods further from the centre, the streets are unpaved and people pump water in dirt courtyards. This is where Ngargoto lives with his family, just within city limits where he said a room costs about 40,000 CFA francs ($68) a month to rent.

But even that is unaffordable for many, who instead live across a bridge where the landscape becomes rural, with small houses scattered through scrubland. This neighbourhood, called Toukra, is home to many middle-class commuters, said Ngargoto.

Alongside the one paved road, students and professionals walked in the sun hoping to hitch a ride into town.There is no water or electricity network here, so houses are powered with generators if residents can afford it.If not, they go without.

“Water and electricity have become luxury products in Chad,” said Ngargoto, who plans to build a house in this neighbourhood when he can afford it.GETTING WORSEChad’s expat population has grown in the last decade with the development of the oil sector, the military operation against Boko Haram and the humanitarian crisis that came with it, said Paul Melly, a consulting fellow at London-based think tank Chatham House.

These changes “put much more pressure on the available space that expatriate people would consider acceptable or secure,” he said, raising prices and pushing poor people further out.Private developers are generally keener to build luxury apartments than affordable housing if there is someone to pay for it, which expats are, said Nakamura.

“The formal housing supply is very limited in many African cities, so for ordinary people there is no chance to live in decent, non-slum housing,” he said.Transport can also become expensive because it is limited and inefficient in fast-growing cities, he added.“Without developing more adequate infrastructure, there’s no way cost of living can be reduced in the future,” said Nakamura.

About 40% of people in Africa live below the global poverty line of $1.90 a day, according to the World Bank’s latest figures, and the majority of the poor still live in rural areas.

But Africa is rapidly urbanising as people abandon the countryside in search of jobs, meaning that poorer citizens will start to shift toward cities where the pressure on transport and housing will only get worse, Nakamura said.“Without adequate actions, we will see a clear rise in urban poverty,” he said. “It’s not a negligible issue at all.”

By Reuters

Kenya dangles ‘Green Card’ to wealthy foreigners

Kenya is considering giving citizenship to wealthy investors in a new push to enhance direct foreign investment (FDI) flows.
Big-ticket investors, whose enterprises prove to have a high impact on new jobs and export earnings, will not be required to continuously live in Kenya for at least seven years to apply to become citizens.
Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) said yesterday the plan is to gift such investors with a permanent residence status after vetting, an equivalent of the Green Card in the US.
Immigration laws presently require a foreigner to continuously live in the country for at least seven years to qualify for citizenship by registration.
Moses Ikiara, KenInvest managing director, said the agency has held positive discussions with Interior Secretary Fred Matiang’i with a view to developing a framework to ensure the vetting is watertight and free from abuse.
Create impact
“If somebody has created an impact and you can see the jobs created,why do we extend an incentive to them and say we invite you to be our citizen in three, two years,” Dr Ikiara said. “Giving incentives to those people with a lot of money could be among the non-monetary incentives.”
The proposal is part of targeted interventions the country intends to implement under its first ever investment policy, unveiled Wednesday after nearly five years since the process of its formulation started.
Officials said the Kenya Investment Policy seeks to guide attraction, facilitation, retention, monitoring and evaluation of the impact of private investments at national and county levels.
Under the new framework, investors will be offered conditional incentives tailored at unique needs of their respective sectors, including land banks in partnership with the county governments.
Investment environment
This will be guided by the proposed National Investment Council to be chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta with representation from the private sector.
“This is the key document that contains the policy that brings certainty and stability in terms of investment environment,” Industry and Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya said.
“One of the chapters in this policy is … negative lists meaning that we are protecting particular sectors which will be left to local investors only,” he added.
The current minimum capital requirement of $100, 000 (Sh10.3 million) for foreigners will also be reviewed, Dr Ikiara said.
Direct investment
WHAT KENYA HAS SO FAR LURED
Kenya’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows rose 27.53 per cent in 2018 to hit a fresh high of Sh164.84 billion, according to the World Investment 2019 report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in June.

by Constant Munda

This man Rotich: For six years, he never saw a loan he could say no to

When President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed Henry Rotich to the plum position of Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury and Planning, his father was elated.

He was confident that his son, an A-student of economics who graduated from the University of Nairobi with First Class Honours, had what it takes to be the custodian of the trillions of shillings taxpayers put in public coffers.

“Henry Rotich was not the type of student who sends letters home requesting extra money for his upkeep,” recalled Rotich Kimatui.

In an interview with The Standard in 2013, the elder Rotich said his son could account for every single cent given to him, and put some aside in savings.

Criminal charges

But six years later, Mr Rotich has found himself in a situation that challenges any memory of his frugal youth.Along with his former Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge, Rotich faces multiple criminal charges, including abuse of office, conspiracy to commit economic crimes, single-sourcing for projects, and approving payments contrary to the law.

It turns out that contrary to his father’s opinion, Rotich was a poor custodian of public finances, at least according to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The former CS is among 10 officials the DPP said flouted procurement rules and abused their oath of office by defrauding the State.

Rotich the student may have known the importance of living within his means, but Rotich the Finance minister was never satisfied with what the country generated. He ravenously borrowed to fill a bottomless spending hole that has seen the country’s debt rise to more than Sh6 trillion.

As a result, his critics speak of him as Kenya’s most profligate Finance minister a condemnation that is open to argument.

They also blame his version of economics for the country’s current woes where, despite year-on-year growth in the value of what Kenya produces, the benefits of this increase in gross domestic product (GDP) have failed to trickle down to the ordinary citizen.

However, Jibran Qureishi, Stanbic Bank’s East Africa economist, says this situation is neither new nor unique to Kenya.In five years, Rotich had borrowed upwards of Sh3 trillion, an amount higher than what his 14 predecessors combined borrowed.

And as of last year, repaying this ever-increasing debt was gobbling up about 57 per cent of tax revenue.The country has low sources of revenue and high spending on non-development projects, a recipe for financial disaster.

Cash crunch

Additionally, the country is facing a cash crunch, which has led to aggressive tax collection that has run some companies out of business, while a host of others are fighting in courts to dispute abnormal tax bills slapped on them.

The Kenya Revenue Authority hopes to recover Sh15 billion, mostly through plea bargaining, where suspects agree to give money in exchange for amnesty.

This liquidity crisis has not spared the ordinary mwananchi. One in three Kenyans live below the poverty line, and the bulk of the country’s population of 47 million is struggling to make ends meet.On the stock market front, the past three years have seen large decreases in prices, reflective of a tough business environment.The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) continues to experience a listing drought, while several businesses that went public either register losses or sharp profit drops.

The NSE 20-Share Index was at 2,733.5 on Friday. This benchmark index has gradually fallen from an all-time high of 6,161.46 in January 2007, under President Mwai Kibaki’s tenure.And just this year alone, close to 20,000 people have been sacked in an economy where an average of one in 10 people hold salaried jobs.

However, under Rotich, foreign exchange reserve holdings performed positively, with the country holding enough dollars to cover import costs for six months. And the shilling has been largely stable.But his successor at the Exchequer, Acting CS Ukur Yatani, is frantically trying to get rid of the larger fiscal mess Rotich made.

Mr Yatani has made no secret of the fact that his biggest challenge currently is restructuring the country’s debt profile, including controversial loans like the Eurobond.“We are planning to retire most of the commercial loans and replace them with concessional ones,” Yatani told The Standard in a past interview, but warned this would take some time.

Yatani comes across as an honest, sober and firm administrator. While it may be too early to celebrate, especially because he may still be auditioning for the job, the acting CS’ quest for fiscal hygiene has appeared unwavering. And he has been forthright about the situation Kenya finds itself in.Unlike Rotich, who said the country was broke only to backtrack less than 24 hours later, Yatani has been steadfast in his convictions.“If the debt is left as it is, we’re going to crash,” he told senators last month.

In an effort to stem the bleeding, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are expected to cut back on extraneous spending, which will see officials lose most of their travel perks, per diems, newspaper subscriptions, advertising budgets and tea.Yatani has also sought to inject some transparency in the manner in which the country’s debt is managed.

Already, the National Assembly has approved his proposal to amend the Public Finance and Management Act so that the country’s debt limit is not pegged to GDP, which he describes as a “moving target”.Currently, the country’s stock of debt is not supposed to be more than 50 per cent of GDP in present value terms. But Rotich breached this when he borrowed Sh770 billion in the last financial year.

Dismal science

They say economics is a dismal science, always getting its projections wrong, something Rotich could be said to have illustrated practically. Except in his first financial year, 2013-14, his spending has always been off tangent, forcing him to borrow more than he had budgeted for.When he took office in 2013, Rotich noted that the fiscal deficit – the difference between what a country spends and what it collects in taxes –between the financial years of 2009-10 and 2011-12 was lower than what was budgeted. This was not good, he said.

“While this may indicate a somewhat strong fiscal position, it happened against a backdrop of lower execution of the Budget, which does not bode well for growth and poverty reduction,” Rotich said then.He would soon push spending to new heights, with the peak seen in the 2016-17 financial year. The country’s fiscal deficit as a percentage of the size of the economy hit a high of 9.1 per cent.

Rotich had promised a fiscal deficit of 6 per cent of GDP, but that was an election year. It is a no-brainer that at such a time, the government needs to reduce its spending because this is when the private sector hibernates, reducing critical tax revenues.

But politicians desperate for re-election would not have this on their priority list; they go on a spending spree in their hunt for votes.For instance, between June 2016 and June 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto’s domestic travel budget rose from an average of Sh500 million to Sh700 million.

The run-up to elections comes with other spending pressures. Teachers, doctors and other civil servants know this is the best time to agitate for higher pay.Further, maize farmers, mostly well-connected politicians who had imported the grain, took this opportunity to push for better prices for their products.

Meanwhile, a crippling drought pushed the price of maize flour through the roof, making life hard for a majority of voters who survive on the critical staple.Afraid that the clamour for an ‘Unga Revolution’ would be hijacked by the Opposition, Rotich hastily put together a shambolic subsidy programme, where he allowed the unfettered importation of duty-free maize from as far as Mexico.

Local farmers are still smarting from the effects of that decision to date.Rotich watched as President Kenyatta kept throwing good money after bad.

The President pumped a billion shillings into a sugar miller that needed more than Sh10 billion for its machines to start roaring.It was bad economics overseen by a good economist – the move was akin to trying to resuscitate a patient in the Intensive Care Unit with a painkiller.

Thanks to election-related expenditure pressures, Rotich ended up borrowing Sh787.7 billion, much higher than the Sh528 billion that he had budgeted for in June 2016.And even after public coffers ran dry, Rotich kept borrowing to meet Uhuru’s insatiable appetite for mega projects.

Rotich insists that he sunk most of the borrowed cash into capital-generating infrastructure projects, including highways, energy projects, ports and a modern railway.

But according to his critics, Rotichnomics – which is what the economic policies and ideology associated with the suspended CS have come to be called – has turned out to be voodoo economics.Most governments and companies take loans for posterity.

And Rotich insisted that, in the long run, debt-funded infrastructure projects would help the current generation’s children and grandchildren move around easily, enjoy uninterrupted electricity and Internet connectivity, and have better crop yields that they can get to market faster. Increased earnings, he added, would lessen the burden of debt repayments.

Cash-strapped taxpayers

However, rather than future generations reaping the benefits and bearing the cost of Rotich’s infrastructural projects, the current crop of cash-strapped taxpayers are the ones servicing most of these debts.

In the year to June 2019, for every Sh100 the country earned from taxes, non-tax revenues and grants from donors, Sh57 went into servicing debt. Six years ago, the Treasury paid out Sh25 from every Sh100 earned.“This is money that would have gone into critical public services,” said Jeff Gable, head of research at Absa.To make matters worse, some of the mega projects Kenyans are paying for, valued at more than Sh300 billion, have stalled.

Two such projects, the Arror and Kimwarer dams, have come back to haunt Rotich.So, while the economy continues to report growth in GDP, on the ground, things are different.For instance, bad loans as a fraction of total loans have increased, hitting a high of 12 per cent. Businesses are reporting lay-offs, others are relocating over high production costs.

As a result, income taxes as a fraction of GDP have reduced.Credit to the private sector has grown the fastest at 6.3 per cent in August – but this pales in comparison to 25 per cent growth in 2012.Maybe Rotich would have been as frugal and pragmatic as his father knew him to be when he was still in school if his employers, the President and his deputy, were more careful about how they spent tax shillings.If that is the reason, then Rotich did not fail for lack of scruples, he failed for lack of guts; a yes-man who could not look straight into the king’s eyes and tell him he was naked.
When the king realised that one of his most trusted courtiers had been watching him walk around baring it all, he was furious. So when fate came calling, the king just watched his servant sink in ignominy.

by standard.co.ke

‘This is my company’, Michael Joseph hints at extended stay at Safaricom

Safaricom’s interim CEO Michael Joseph has dropped the biggest hint yet at an extended stay at the helm of the giant telco.

Mr. Joseph was re-appointed to the post on an interim basis in July following the demise of Bob Collymore.

“Personally, this is really my company. I really want to make sure nothing happens to this company and will stay on for as long as is necessary,” Michael Joseph told a news conference on Friday.

“What happened was really unfortunate. However, how long I stay as interim CEO, I don’t know,” he added.

The South African-born American served as the first Safaricom CEO for 10 years.

During a past interview with Business Daily, he intimated that he had acquired Kenyan citizenship and that ‘Kenya is his home’.

When his tenure ended, he was appointed as Maseno University Chancellor and most recently as the Kenya Airways Board Chairman.

The Board had already commenced a hiring process after Mr. Collymore indicated that he would leave in 2020.

However, his demise thrust the Safaricom Board into turmoil forcing them to reach out to the former CEO.

According to Mr. Joseph, the succession process is in the final candidate selection phase.

“The next appointee may not necessary be from a telco background and therefore there is a likelihood of staying on longer on an interim or advisory post as the new appointee amalgamates to the role,” Mr. Joseph told Citizen Digital.

He further recalled the telco’s infancy days when its subscription base was less than 20,000 customers.

Currently, Safaricom has over 46 million subscribers.

Mr. Joseph has maintained oversight in ‘his company’ through a non-executive director role that he took up in September 2008.

By Citizen Digital

‘How I Built my Retirement Investment’

A lush green façade adorns Convent International Hotel in Nairobi’s Lavington, built by Abednego Kimuyu and his wife Alice. The two are pastors and their hotel only caters for non-alcoholic customers.
For the Kimuyus, the hotel is an early retirement investment that they envisioned when they were still employed.
Abednego worked as a banker for 28 years before he took an early retirement in 2011 to concentrate on his business while Alice kept her job at the Ministry of Agriculture before following suit later.
“Once you are hired, know that one day you will leave that employment to concentrate on what you love most or confront misery in its true form — poverty in your twilight years. It is up to you to decide early what you want to become or howyou will spend your ‘free’ time,” says Abednego.
He adds that retirement is never a surprise but an eventuality that should enable one to utilise experience learnt during their working life, savings made and realise the dream of re-inventing themselves afresh.
“It must be a time to enjoy and must never be a struggle,” he says.
“Work to invest, gain experience and get exposure for better networks as well as raise capital via savings. Spend all your employment years identifying your next business after retirement,” says Alice who is 61 years old.
Abednego bought a half acre plot in Lavington where he planned to build a home but changed his mind in 2009 and constructed a one storeyed non-alcoholic hotel with 10 rooms.
“It was soon overwhelmed by client demand and we took a loan that added with part of our savings to expand the hotel. We now have five conference rooms, a restaurant, an open garden party area as well as an executive boardroom,” he says.

Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 10.31.43 AM

Abednego and Alice Kimuyu. PHOTO| COURTESY


Succession
Abednego studied Mathematics and Computer Science and later pursued a Master’s degree in Business Administration majoring in entrepreneurship at Massachusetts University in the US.
He worked at KCB Group for 28 years in various sections, including general operations, mortgage financing and credit risk management.
“Despite the years of expertise in the financial sector, I could not start a bank because it requires a lot of capital. I wanted to build an enterprise that revolves around people. I opted for a hotel that rides on Christian values which gives me an avenue to continue serving people,” says the fatherof-three.
For a retirement investment to pay off, Abednego says, it has to be professionally run.
“We have retained architects and a landscape architect as well as tree and flower nursery operator.
This ensures everything is planned for. Any expansion is informed by a demand- need. Do not get into a business just because your friend has succeeded, study and venture on your personal path,” he adds.With clear structures that enable the hotel to run even without their close supervision, the Kimuyus can easily engage in their passions like travelling and attending church meetings across the world.
“Our children are not in the business.
Their role is first to pursue their education and later join in. The experience they gain out there is crucial to take this business to the next level. One works in a bank in Australia, another works as a finance officer in a non-governmental organisation while our last born just graduated as a lawyer,” Abednego says.
“Allowing children into a business quickly portends a disaster since they have no work ethics but raw power and access to finances. Wielding enormous power erodes the corporate culture needed to drive a business to another level,” he adds.
Married for 36 years, the couple says their sojourn in Nairobi will be short-lived as they are currently concentrating on a farm that also supplies fresh foodstuff to their hotel.
“Old people have no place in a fast lane Nairobi. Will motorists tolerate an old man who slowly crosses the road? As one gets older, you need to return home where you will enjoy utmost respect among your community as an opinion leader,” he says.
Early investment
Retirement is a puzzle that many Kenyans struggle to solve.
According to Octagon Africa Financial Services, the lowest one should save for retirement is Sh100 a day or between Sh3,000 to Sh4,000 a month which will give one up to Sh3 million in pension savings upon attainment of 60 years.
Avoid instant gratification in favour of a pension’s plan that will offer long-term gain, says Fred Waswa, the Octagon Africa chief executive.
“If you want to enjoy your free time travelling the world to see wildlife, swim in oceans and attend global or regional cultural activities annually, then set aside
an extra Sh100 a day or Sh3,000 a month for that purpose. Set aside more money for the fun things you plan to do upon retirement as the pension’s kitty should remain intact for one purpose — sustaining your livelihood,” he says.
Hosea Kili, the managing director of CPF Trust Fund Group adds that upon retirement, expenses usually reduce by 30 per cent but the retiree has to figure out how to cater for 70 per cent of their monthly expenses.“Savings for retirement will then come in handy. Each individual’s expenses are different and this should inform the savings’ plan one should have,” he says.
But Hosea advises retirees not to venture into investments that they are not very conversant with. Remember, the essence is to have a relatively hassle-free business that will finance your sunset years and hobbies.
By James Kariuki, Business Daily

Pain of tourists in hands of fake agents

Con artists posing as tour agents have swindled hundreds of tourists from various parts of the world, threating Kenya’s image as a tourist destination.

The con men use fake online campaigns, complete with sweet reviews and budget tourism packages to lure foreigners who make advance payments before they are abandoned in Kenya once they arrive and pay the rest of the cash.

The Sunday Nation has also learnt that the cartel, which runs deep in the industry, has perfected the art of evading law enforcement officers by changing names, staff and tourist vans before resurfacing during high seasons to mint millions from helpless tourists visiting the country.

One of the latest victims of such a scam is Mr Chen Dong Yuan, a 51-year-old Chinese engineer from Changsha, who could not have been more excited to take advantage of the direct flights launched by the China Southern Airlines in June to visit Kenya.

Kenya had lauded the airline’s bi-weekly flights from Changsha and back to Nairobi with its 330-200 Airbus planes, added to the non-stop flights to Guangzhou, as one of the biggest boosts to its tourism sector with prolific tourists from China, ranked by United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) as the world’s top spender on tourism in 2017.

Mr Chen had no idea what awaited him and his five friends in Nairobi after planning and paying 50 per cent deposit to Kenya Walking Survivors Safaris Limited for the eight nights in different tourism spots around the country.

That was in early July.

Their plane touched down on the morning of July 31 and what was their lifetime dream to take a nine-day tour of Kenya began with a driver from the company promptly picking them from the airport.

“We went to their officers where I paid $2,820 (about Sh295,000), which he insisted should be in cash. We then set off for Amboseli for two nights as per the itinerary. We had the vehicle but the driver changed outside Nairobi. On our way back, the driver told us the company that handed us to him had suddenly closed and our trip could not continue unless we made fresh arrangements,” Chen told the Sunday Nation , beginning his tragic tale of tourists in the hands of con men.

In a foreign country and in the middle of a tour, a sudden stop was unimaginable. Their online guide (Mr Otieno Lysaniash) who also received the money when they arrived, had switched off his phone and true to the driver’s words, the office located at Vision Plaza was closed.

Mr Chen chose to complete the trip when the driver suggested that if they paid more, he would take them to the Maasai Mara, Naivasha and Nakuru as per the previous plan. They agreed and paid, doubling their tour budget and turning an otherwise happy trip into a struggle to beat the cons and survive any other attempt to fleece them. The driver, Stanslaus Ongeri, told the Sunday Nationthat he was only hired as a freelancer by the firm and did not know the whereabouts of its owner, Mr Otieno, who he also claims made him to lose Sh25,000 in unpaid expenses.

The con victims had only Mr Ongeri after they were abandoned. Given the limited time they had and the shock that came with the first attempt to scuttle their trip, they had little choice but to rely on him even to report the matter to the police, despite the mistrust they developed towards him for having been part of the company that swindled them.

In Maasai Mara, they met another group of tourists who immediately identified the driver and attempted to beat him up.

They had been swindled by the same company and it took Mr Chen’s group to protect their driver from the angry tourists, an experience Mr Ongeri admitted but again claimed to have been an innocent freelance driver. It was getting worse and they could not trust him again.

“We hardly slept and every time we had to leave the car, we took the car keys so that he doesn’t abandon us. It is very sad that so many other tourists could be going through such an experience. The Kenyan government must save this situation because it will dampen the desire among those coming to visit the country. We are going back to China very bitter,” Mr Chen, whose case was booked at the Industrial Area Police Station under OB65/2/8/2019, said.

True to his words, many people have suffered under the travel agency, which seems to have mastered the art of swindling foreigners, closing shop and re-emerging only during high season.

The plot involves creating attractive packages and engaging foreigners online in a manner  suggesting good customer service. Once they are in the hook, the tourists, who in many cases have fixed schedules and have no other contact people in the country, are abandoned sometimes at the border crossings between either Kenya and Uganda or deep in the game lodges to find their way back and travel to their home countries.

The con men also change the key contact people once the tourists arrive, including a different driver to cut links before leaving them stranded.

Travel sites have already blacklisted the firm with its reviews, which are said to be doctored to mislead tourists.

“TripAdvisor has grounds to investigate that individuals or entities associated with this property may have attempted to interfere with traveller reviews and/or the Popularity Index for this property. Please take this into consideration when researching your travel plans,” the travel site flagged on its website this week.

The Sunday Nation could not reach Mr Otieno as his Mombasa Road office remained closed as adjacent shops either feigned ignorance or were too scared to talk about the firm.

Online, tens of tourists from around the world complained of bitter experiences after their trips were cancelled just before their departure dates while dealing with Kenya Walking Survivors Safaris Limited.

Some of those affected from Canada, Argentina, Taiwan, India, US, Brazil and the United Kingdom have reported the cases to the police with little action taken.

“Our honeymoon trip is in three days and we just received an e-mail that the company has technical problems and therefore cannot give the required services. Mr Otieno just wrote that we will receive the funds between 45-90 working days. I’m really panicking,” a couple from the US wrote on Friday.

Kenya received some 2.1 million tourists in 2018, with the US remaining the top source. China, which was ranked sixth, sent 81,709 representing a 4.03 per cent growth from the previous year.

Attempts to reach Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala on the happenings that are now a big threat to tourism in Kenya were futile as it emerged he had accompanied President Uhuru Kenyatta on a tour of  Jamaica.

By Edwin Okoth, Sunday Nation

Softa closes shop after two decades

Thousands of businesses collapse every year, but few have had the same impact like the Softa Bottling Company, the only Kenyan firm that took global giant Coca-Cola head-on and almost succeeded.

Friday marked the end of the road for the firm, after the registrar of companies struck it off the register in Kenya.

“It is notified that at the expiry of three months from the date of this gazette, the names of the undermentioned companies shall, unless cause is shown to the contrary, be struck off the register of companies and the company shall be dissolved,” the notice in the Kenya Gazette on Friday read in part.

The notice was issued by Ms Alice Mwendwa on behalf of the registrar of companies. It was dated July 30, which means the company will seize to exist from October 30.

Mr Peter Kuguru, the man behind the firm, told the Daily Nation that every business has its challenges and there are always lessons to be learnt.

“We have been in many businesses, some succeed and others fail. But we never give up,” he said in an interview on Friday.

The firm had shown so much promise in its formative stages that he wanted to raise money through a bond to be listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

It also had eyes on the export market and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the neighbouring Somalia.

Before it stumbled and fell, its annual turnover had grown to over Sh700 million. It had two manufacturing plants: a Sh40 million plant put up in 1997 had a capacity of producing and a Sh115 million plant bought in 2003.

“When a business is not making the returns as required, you can always invest elsewhere. My spirit is not dampened,” he says.

Mr Kuguru says that not all the assets have been disposed and what is left of the plant is now owned by Kuguru Foods.

Mr Kuguru hopes the plant will one day come back into operation when the government bans the plastic bottles that have been linked to cancer and replace them with glass.

Currently, Mr Kurugu has put his money in the milling and real estate sectors. He is currently the chairman of the millers association.

He has interests in Cateress Milling firm, which produces maize flour and Just Real Estate, a housing company. But as he holds onto hope, in three months, his Softa brand will be gone, for good.

Mr Kuguru was forced to close shop due to financial difficulties after he failed to secure a joint venture partner.

Before he threw in the towel, his products among them the Softa soda, had started gaining acceptance, especially among low-income consumers in its two-decade operation.

by Paul Wafula nation.co.ke

The secret lives of betting billionaires

Kihingo Village in Nairobi’s upmarket Kitisuru Estate is a step back to the pristine view that suddenly appears after a lonely drive on Peponi Road where horses occasionally compete for space with vehicles. Its rustic yet modern houses with brown exteriors give the gated estate a modern yet classical look that epitomises luxurious living.

Among those who call this estate where rent figures start from Sh500,000 per month and houses go for upwards of Sh150 million are a governor and wealthy businessmen.

Every morning, a famous tenant in the estate leaves in a black Range Rover Overfinch with customised number plates and a black chase car in tow.

The two cars that are easily noticeable on the Waiyaki Way traffic snake their way to Chancery Building on Valley Road, which houses the headquarters of betting giant SportPesa.

If betting could be described as a way to riches the way gamblers perceive it, then SportPesa’s Chief Executive Officer Ronald Karauri is the poster boy of this wealth.

As other directors of betting firms in the multi-billion-dollar industry prefer to remain reclusive, Mr Karauri, who has grown SportPesa from an unknown entity to the global behemoth it is today, lets his flamboyance open for all to see.

Flamboyant life

His social media pages are photo albums of a man leading a flamboyant life which a majority in the betting community can only dream of. After all, the son of the former Tigania MP Mathew Adams Karauri, who incidentally does not bet but has said in the past he plays poker once a month, has made big gambles in his life, which paid off.

“I am actually a college dropout. That is the only gap in my CV. Everybody knows I didn’t finish campus but you know in life sometimes that is where it takes you so long as you are successful,” he said during an interview with K24 TV in December 2017.

Mr Karauri dropped out of an engineering class at the University of Nairobi to try his luck at Kenya Airways and ended up as a pilot for 11 years. He tried his luck in the entertainment industry and was part of the ownership of the once popular Skyluxx Lounge in Westlands before quitting. He then sold off a piece of land he had bought for Sh2 million at a cool Sh25 million in order to buy shares in SportPesa, which was just starting.

That was in 2014 and mobile phone betting was still unchartered territory. Apart from casinos, the only other widely accepted form of gambling then was the Kenya Charity Sweepstake in which people bought raffle tickets hoping to get matching winning numbers. On Friday, British newspaper The Guardian said Sportpesa made Sh100 billion in revenues last year, a figure the company has vehemently denied before.

“No one even thought it could go anywhere. I remember asking some guys, ‘Do you have some cash to put into this thing?’ They would tell me ‘Boss, what..is this? You’re talking about gambling. It can’t work,” Mr Karauri told Business Daily in a past interview.

It is however one of the speakers on the night SportPesa was launched on February 1, 2014 who gave the Sunday Nation a peek into the convoluted underbelly of a giant industry the government is now fighting hard to rein in.

“It is very unusual for a politician to maintain old friendships. But I value my friendship with Gero, Genata and the whole team. I am very proud that Gero, who is one of my best friends, is the engine of this team,” said Bulgarian Politician Slavcho Slavi Binev during the launch of SportPesa in 2014.

Different mission

Mr Binev was referring to Gerasim Nikolov, SportPesa’s global Chief Executive Officer and 21 per cent shareholder. Mr Binev himself was in a 2005 WikiLeaks cable described by former US Ambassador in Bulgaria James Pardew as the head of an organised criminal enterprise called the MIG Group.

“The group’s business interests also include construction and tourism; it operates a travel agency as part of its Cool Place entertainment complex. The group’s criminal activities include prostitution, narcotics and trafficking stolen automobiles,” said the cable.

Mr Nikolov on the other hand moved to Kenya just before 2,000 and launched the famed Toto 6/49 which was a replica of a similar Bulgarian lottery. Toto 6/49, which was run by First Lotto Limited was licensed to challenge the monopoly of the Kenya Charity Sweepstake on the basis of its support for people with disabilities and the destitute.

The company halted operations on February 28, 2011 amid claims that it had run short of gaming tickets without ever dishing out its Sh20 million jackpot.

Mr Nikolov then went under for three years before partnering with 10 other shareholders to start SportPesa, which is currently in trouble with the State alongside 27 other firms.

Like Mr Nikolov who came to Kenya for other ventures before joining the gambling industry, Italian Leandro Giovando came to Kenya to join his relative Nico Giovando. Nico Giovando was born in Nyeri in 1954 and though he lived in Europe as he grew up, upon his return to Kenya, he started Almanara Luxury Resort.

Located just five minutes’ away from Diani airstrip, the hotel is a favourite for very deep-pocketed individuals, business moguls, international celebrities and politicians.

In July 2010, renowned Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho spent three weeks at the facility with his family. After winning the 2013 elections, President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto spent a couple of days at the property.

In 2017, Betin, which had operated in different countries in Africa under GoldBet Group, which has other markets in Europe, badly wanted a pie of SportPesa’s success after seeing it branch to England and even sponsoring Hull City in 2016. Goldbet partnered with Domenico Geovando and Leandro Giovando to set up Gamconde, which currently operates as Betin.

Back to the battle by the operators to regain their licences, on Thursday, High Court judge Weldon Korir refused to reverse the cancellation of Betpawa’s licence.

“I do not find it just and proper to issue interim any orders, let parties file and serve their responses for the matter to be heard on the July 26,” ruled Justice Korir.

Betpawa through its parent company Nanovas International sued Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) under a certificate of urgency, seeking orders to be allowed to continue operations without interference.

Nanovas is majority owned by Nikolai Barnwell who, like Sportpesa’s Nikolov, came to Kenya on a different mission but ended up in the betting industry.

Mr Barnwell’s private seed fund, 88mph, catapulted him to fame in 2011 by providing much-needed finances to upcoming ICT prodigies. 88mph in 2011 invested Sh50 million in seven start-ups in Kenya followed by a Sh100 million investment the following year.

But Mr Barnwell concentrated more on his other love – Betpawa.

On Thursday, the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) opened investigations on the bank accounts of the 27 betting companies whose licences are currently suspended with the aim of establishing whether the accounts are being used to launder money.

This is after the BCLB wrote to the FRC asking them to investigate their bank accounts.

The banks had on Tuesday morning started to freeze the accounts which are thought to hold billions of shillings following an order by Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) on Monday night.

Tax haven

Among the issues currently being investigated is whether a well moneyed senior politician is among the shareholders of one of the big suspended firms through a company registered in a tax haven which is being used to launder money stolen from public coffers.

 

By Vincent Achuka, Sunday Nation

Influx of twilight girls worry Thika traders and residents

Thika town residents and traders have raised the alarm over an influx of sex workers in the town.

Traders say that the twilight girls now operate outside their shops during the day thereby scaring their customers away.

Thika Business District Association chairman Alfred Wanyoike lamented that most businesses along Uhuru Street are on the verge of closing as the sex workers harass customers.

“Most traders are counting losses and are contemplating abandoning their businesses. The sex workers are notorious for hurling abuse at customers,” he said

There have been incidents where the sex workers have accused passersby who of failing to pay for services and screaming, demanded money from them, Wanyokie said.

“No customer would ever go back there,” Wanyoike said.

The chairman said that couples passing by the route are not spared either as the sex workers insult the men accusing them owing them money. “We are fed up and we’ll force them out of the town. They better take their filthy trade to their homes,” he said.

Wanyoike called on the Kiambu government to intervene and save the genuine traders who operate licensed businesses in the town.

He said traders are being forced out of the town by the shameless sex workers who are operating in the town 24 hours a day.

“Give these people funds like the Kiambu Jijenge funds or the wom- en funds so that they can start their own businesses,” he said.

A trader, Daniel Mwangi accused the twilight girls of urinating and leaving used condoms outside our shops. “This has really affected us

since our customers have since left. We plead with the relevant author- ities to take up the matter and flush them out,” Mwangi said.

Mwangi said that some selfish landlords in the town encourage the sex workers to advance their trade by renting out rooms for as little as Sh100.

Residents who patronise night clubs also accuse the twilight girls of spiking drinks with drugs and stealing money and other valuables from them.

Thika sub-county deputy police commander Bernard Ayoo said that police have been conducting swoops day and night in the town.

“We have been arresting the sex workers in our raids and we will continue to do so until we get rid of them from the town,” Ayoo said.

He said it was difficult to prefer charges against the sex workers be- cause most of them are arrested on the streets and not in the act.

Source:John Kamau, The Star

What killed Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore

Safaricom chief executive officer Bob Collymore has died at his home early Monday morning.

According to a statement by the telecom’s chairman Nicholas Ng’ang’a, Mr Collymore has been down with Leukemia and his condition worsened in the recent weeks.

He has being treated at the UK and in different hospitals here in Kenya, the latest being Agha Khan University Hospital. He was married to wife Wambui Kamiru and has left three children.

The Guyanese-born British citizen took a medical leave in October 2017 to fight cancer.

Below is the statement from Safaricom’s chairman Nicholas Ng’ang’a, announcing Mr. Collymore passing on.

Smart investors advised to put money in BAT shares

Cigarette manufacturer British American Tobacco shares are the units to buy now, a financial advisory firm has advised.

According to AIB capital analysis, BAT share is likely to shoot in price from the current KShs. 506.0 to KShs. 643.36 in the next one year representing a 27 per cent increase.

“We issue a Buy Recommendation on BAT  with a 12 months target price  of  643.36,” stated AIB Capital in its valuation for BAT KENYA  PLC on Friday June 28.

“This is mainly informed by the possibilities of increased  competition from the possible entry of Philip Morris international  into the Ken­yan Market, reduced disposable income amongst Kenyans as well  as  increased turmoil among their Key export markets,” it added.

US firm Philip Morris International, the world’s largest tobacco company by sales, is in negotiations to buy a majority stake in Mastermind Tobacco Kenya.

Mastermind Tobacco is owned by tycoon Wilfred Murungi who died on June 7 after being ill.

Former Mastermind Tobacco Limited boss the late Wilfred Murungi . PHOTO: DICKSON MWITI STANDARD

The deal will see Mastermind upgrade its factory to start producing Philip Morris’ products such as Marlboro – the world’s leading cigarette brand.

Mastermind’s brands include Supermatch, Rocket and Supermatch Menthol, which could be expanded to include Philip Morris’ Marlboro, Parliament, Bond Street and Chesterfield.

The entry of Marlboro into the market will therefore rival their premium BAT’s global brands including PallMall, Dunhill, Benson & Hedges as well as Rothmans.

Philip Morris is expected to acquire 51 percent shares of Mastermind, giving it a firm footing in the region’s multi-billion-shilling cigarettes business.

Marlboro is known for its strategic marketing communications. Initially, they were an all women brand. They then decided to venture into the male market carving out the Marlboro man who is well known for his well chiseled looks. This led to an increase in its market share from less than 1% to the 4th best-selling brand

The deal if successful is expected to eventually shake up the 70 per cent market share held by BAT.

British American Tobacco (BAT) is Kenya’s biggest cigarette maker while Cut Tobacco is third.

Philip Morris operates in seven African countries – Algeria, Egypt, La Reunion, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia.

The latest Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Economic Survey data shows that exports of cigarettes and semi-processed tobacco leaf hit a peak of Sh21.9 billion in 2014 before declining steadily to Sh17.7 billion in 2017.

According to AIB, rampant illicit trade still poses a threat to the cigarette business. BAT in its annual report of 2017 revealed that illicit trade stood at 12.4 per cent.

In 2018, it rose to 14.1 per cent and if expected to continue to rise if no tangible action is taken.

Political unrest in Sudan, a key export market that has been undergoing tense political instability will also affect tobacco business in East Africa

” The environment is a little harsh for business which could affect their top line significantly. The same applies to other markets that they export to,” states AIB.

Tightening regulations both within and beyond Kenya are expected to increase pressure on the cigarette’s manufacturer’s sales.

“The operating environment is quite hostile with increased regulations both in Kenya as well as the export markets. These ultimately leads to reduced sales for the tobacco manufacturer.”

Kenyans are also going tough times with a reduced household income and this is expected to decrease the volume growth within the Kenyan market.

Increased inflation leading up to increased food prices has reduced the out of pocket expenditure for Kenyans.