7 interesting things that made the news this week (9th Mar – 15th Mar)

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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.

France generous

Kenya was graced by the first ever visit of a French President. Our President couldn’t help his French.

Emmanuel Macron, on an Eastern Africa tour, came to push for economic partnership between these two countries. A source from his camp said, “In Kenya, there is an economic opportunity and it’s within the President’s strategy to look at not just Francophone Africa but Anglophone Africa too.” French companies got guarantees to build a highway, a solar power plant and other projects. The clincher will be construction of a commuter rail linking JKIA and the CBD.

America not so generous

Conversely, the Americans are looking to cut back on what they give Kenya. Their President proposed budget cuts and one victim will be aid to Kenya. This will reduce to sh.4.35 billion ($43.5 million) from sh.10 billion ($100 million). They say they want to upgrade our relationship to a trade partnership and push us to “increase self-sufficiency.” Some of the areas that will be affected include HIV/Aids drugs and YALI (what is YALI?). Oh no, not YALI.

25% of the money to Counties

The issue of how oil earnings will be shared has now been settled. Everyone can let out a sigh of relief. Citizens from Turkana, where prospecting was successful, had already shown willingness to paralyze activities. The President signed into law the Petroleum Act. It guides that 75% of oil earnings will go to the National Government. 20% will be given to Counties and 5% will go to communities around the oil mining regions.

Cities and Towns

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The President has been overworking this week. He had to sign another bill into law.

This second one was an amendment on the Urban Areas and Cities Bill. It lowers the barrier on what gets to be called a city in Kenya. From now, any settlement with at least 250,000 people is a city. It was previously 500,000. Does it matter? Yes, raising the profile can attract more investment or partnerships. At least we hope. Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu will be joined by a handful of urban areas in being cities.

Government setting matatu fares?

How do you like the sound of that? Price controls are never a good idea. But the Government is “at advanced stage” to go ahead with that. The Transport Ministry will control PSV fares if things proceed as planned. The Ministry’s Chief Administrative Secretary, Chris Obure told a Parliamentary Committee, “The amendments will ensure effective regulation of fare tarriffs by the authority (NTSA) similar to the regulation of petroleum processes.”

Matatu owners decried lack of consultation. They also said they would only accept it if the fares are adjusted upwards (hehe). Matatu Owners Association chair, Simon Kimutai also added, “At one time, the Government liberalized the economy of this country and price controls were thrown out. We do not know the reason behind the re-introduction of the price control but I sense malice.”

Paid internship

Kimilili MP, Didmus Barasa had an interesting proposal. A plan to compel private and public employers to offer internship opportunities to Kenyan youth. This will supposedly brigde the gap in experience and employment opportunities. How will it be conducted if it became law? All firms with over 50 employees would have to take up interns “equivalent to 5% of the total employer’s workforce.” They would also have to pay the interns at least minimum wage salary. Lastly, there would be requirement to make an annual filing of compliance as is done with taxes. Running a small business is not such a bad idea now, is it?

Supa Modo

Kenyan film, Supa Modo, was featured at the New York International Children’s Film Festival. This is a step the film’s director hopes will lead to theatrical release in the USA. The director is Likarion Wainaina. The movie is about a terminally ill girl who imagines being a superhero. Check the trailer:

SPOILER ALERT: The ending is tragic. Don’t complain, I said spoiler alert.

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