7 interesting things that made the news this week (16th Feb – 22nd Feb)

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Didn’t have time to catch up with all of the week’s news stories? Relax, follow Herbusiness summary and commentary of the most interesting things that made the news headlines in Kenya.

Kenya Somalia spat

What is that rule again? Don’t get involved in your neighbor’s or friend’s “domestic” situation. Kenyans follow the rules when they turn a blind eye to the friend cheating in a relationship. But as a country, we saw it wise to invade a neighbor. It will probably bite forever. One episode ran this week over, potentially, oil and gas blocks in the Indian Ocean. The two countries are trying to settle this territorial water dispute at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Even so, Somalia went ahead to present maps claiming these areas at an Oil and Gas conference in London. They allegedly plan to auction off prospecting and mining blocks. Kenya reacted. Monica Juma, of Foreign Affairs, said, “The Federal Government of Somalia is deliberately misleading the world.” Kenya showed how far it will go to defend its honour by expelling the Somali Ambassador. Yes, there was also an obligatory Twitter spat between Somalis and Kenyans.

Fishy business

Remember the cry against Chinese fish imports? The Department of Fisheries has quietly reversed the directive by the President to keep fish imports out of Kenya. An official, wishing to remain anonymous, was interviewed over this. He said, “we were forced to lift the ban to ease the shortage after a huge consignment of fish got stuck at the Port, impacting negatively on local supplies.” It’s dissapointing because Kenya is not close to realizing its potential of fish production.

Even Processors are showing preference for imports due to reliability of supply. And the fact that they can get half-processed fish with no bone or skin, versus the whole fish supplied by Kenyans. You want this opportunity? The demand for fish in Kenya is at 500,000 tonnes but production is only 135,000 tonnes.

MEST Africa Challenge 2019

Call for application was announced back in January. It’s an opportunity for startups to receive equity funding and benefit from incubation. 1000 applications were sent and, now, 50 regional finalists have been picked across Africa.The cities where 5 regional winners will ultimately emerge are Nairobi, Accra, Lagos, Cape Town and Abidjan. The 10 regional finalists to compete in Nairobi are:

  1. Baobab Circle
  2. Raise
  3. Tulaa
  4. Mosabi
  5. Asaak Financial Services
  6. Optimetriks
  7. Eko Biashara
  8. Tambua Intelligent Diagnostics
  9. Angaza Elimu
  10. Dawati
Huduma Namba

We mentioned Huduma Namba in our weekly news summary about a month ago. Well, Kenya Twitter finally got wind of Government’s plan to compile all your data and they went wild. Especially since it emerged that you’re being rushed to sell out to some Western corporation just so Kenya can get World Bank funding.

The justification is “millions of people…lack any proof of identity, barring the from receiving vital (public) services.” You can go through the Twitter thread by @kachwanya to get a step by step breakdown of the farce.

Useless courses? No

The media ran stories of how 133 courses, enrolled to by 10,000 students, were rejected by the Commission for University Education (CUE). They went ahead to dub them “useless.” Jumping the gun much. CUE CEO, Mwenda Ntarangwi cleared the air over what is going on. Yes, some courses have not been approved. Why? They are either duplicates or the universities simply don’t have capacity to teach them.

But, as Professor Ntarangwi said, “This is still an ongoing process and we are in consultation with universities.” No, students won’t be left stranded. He elaborated, “the Commission has worked with the relevant agencies to ensure that the compliance issues raised against the majority of the programmes have been addressed.”

HELB Bond

The Education Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed issued a warning to the 74,000 HELB defaulters with sh.7.2 billion of debt on their hands. HELB gives student loans. She revealed plans to work with police to “track down those holding jobs and yet are reluctant to…honor their debts.” HELB CEO board chair, Ekwee Ethuro doesn’t see the point of such high-handedness since many graduates also move abroad. He revealed that HELB will diversify its source of income by floating a sh.509 million bond in 2022 “subject to other players like Treasury.” HELB gets money from Treasury, loan repayments and grants from development partners.

Nakuru Teacher for sh.100 million prize

A teacher in Kenya is among the top 10 finalists for Varkey Foundation’s sh.100 million ($1 million) Global Teacher Prize. The award celebrates the importance of educators, who are not so well treated in this part of the world. Peter Tabichi is a maths and physics teacher at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School, in Nakuru.

He said, “I was aiming at gaining an experience on technology and modern teaching methods. But I learnt a lot through the application. I did not expect to win or emerge anywhere among the top 10 finalists. I just wanted the experience….I feel appreciated.”

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