Photo: Global Apparel Forum

7 interesting things that made the news this week (11th Aug – 17th Aug)

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.

Barclays Kenya doing great

Barclays Bank of Kenya posted 6% growth for the financial period ending 30th June, 2018. The success was mainly attributed to a 5% (sh.15.7 billion) growth in income. Customer deposits went up 15% (to sh.217 billion) and net loans grew by 8% (to sh.176 billion). This has been on the back of new products like Barclays Signature Credit Card and Timiza – which has reached 2 million customers in just 130 days. The bank is also comfortably in line with regulatory standards regarding capital adequacy and liquidity reserves. All the good work resulted in an after-tax profit of sh.3.8 billion.

Petrol price review

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) didn’t please Kenyan motorists with it’s latest price review. While diesel and kerosene went down sh.0.51 and sh.0.78, per litre, respectively, petrol rose by sh.1.53. This brought the price of a litre petrol to, sh.113.73, the highest it has been in 4 years. ERC attributed this to increase in price of super petrol. The increase is ahead of the 16% tax to be effected in September, as recommended by the IMF.

Kenya – Tanzania rivalry

So, Tanzanians are not polite. The way they talk is just a veneer. At least going by what made the news this week. Arumeru District Commissioner, Jerry Muro, effectively banned Kenyan carrots. He said, “By the power I have been given by the President, not a single carrot will be imported into the district.” Separately, concern remains over the fact that Tanzanian tour vans are free to access any town in Kenya while they not only limit but also frustrate Kenyan tour vans from accessing Tanzania. Their actions go against the spirit of the 2011 Common Market Protocol intended to open borders in the region – for labour, goods and capital. It’s no surprise that Kenyan traders, at the border, complain that their country is reluctant to retaliate or protect them.

EPZs barred from local market

And what’s wrong with that? After the so called super sale in KICC, a while back, EPZs expected the Government to keep its promise of increasing their local quota from 20% to 40%. Ms Betty Maina, Permanent Secretary for Industrialization, confirmed that didn’t happen. “The Government has stopped the sale of EPZ products in the local market.” This move is to protect local producers who already face great challenges compared to, favored, EPZs. The problems are familiar to all Kenyan manufacturers, who have been neglected for IT. They are even building a city from the ground-up. Kenya’s textile industry endures setbacks of costly electricity and lack of raw materials locally, among other issues. Ms Betty Maina promised that the Government is committed to expansion of cotton production, and has set aside land in 20 counties. We’ll believe it when we see it.

NSE companies sacked over 4,000 employees

In the latest of annual reports on NSE listed companies, it became known that 29 of the 57 firms exercised job cuts. 4,250 people lost their jobs in 2017. Commercial banks contributed around 50% of this figure as they close branches for virtual banking. Only 13 companies were confirmed to have employeed more people. Safaricom added 696 jobs and was one of the two NSE companies to employ more than 100 people in 2017. Job creation is a big indicator of an economy’s health. These job cuts could be attributed to a poor economy in 2017 and technology replacing the need for people. Anyway, MSMEs create the majority of jobs in Kenya – their performance is more important.

Kenya out to prove diplomatic muscle, again

Last time it didn’t go so well. Kenya failed to capture the African Union’s (AU) top job for her candidate. This raised questions, is Kenya really one of the big boys in Africa? Now, the country is setting her sights higher. Kenya wants to be in the UN Security Council for the 2-year period ending 2022. Elections for that slot will be in 2020. The UN Security Council is the big boys club. It consists of 5 permanent members, who get their way in this world (USA, Russia, China, France, UK) plus 10 elected non-permanent members. Kenya says, “Membership of the UN Security Council will enhance Kenya’s influence in international decision-making.”

Artificial grass in Mombasa

Mombasa has opted for artificial grass to beautify its streets. It’s good and bad. Bad, because we can’t maintain grass on a street. But it will leave the city better off. And residents seem receptive to it. The grass has, so far, been placed on the median strip at Nkrumah road.

It looks something like this:

Artificial grass
Photo: Prograss