7 interesting things that made the news this week (4th Aug – 10th 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 “SMEs in Conversation” program

Barclays has launched a program that will benefit 9000 small and medium-sized businesses. The initiative will involve engagement forums across 7 counties (Meru, Nyeri, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisii, Kisumu and Mombasa). The forums will be centered on 4 pillars; Business Performance Management, Access to Market, Business Skills and Knowledge, plus Mentorship and Networking. Workshops and coaching sessions will also be part of the Barclays “SMEs in Conversation” program. It will complement similar Barclays efforts like the Barclays Business Club, which has “connected 7000 members to trade opportunities in over 10 countries” says Ms Susan Situma, Barclays Head of SMEs.

Logistics Performance Index 2018

Economies need supply chains to connect to markets in the best possible manner. It eases business and lowers cost of goods, relative to incomes. The Logistics Performance Index, sponsored by the World Bank, measures how well countries perform on logistics metrics. The measure is based on customs, infrastructure, international shipment, logistics competence, tracking and tracing plus timeliness. 160 countries were ranked in 2018, how well or bad does Kenya perform?

Kenya is ranked 68th globally and makes the top 5 in Africa. The four ahead of us are South Africa (33), Ivory Coast (50), Rwanda (57), and Egypt (67). Morocco (109) and Nigeria (110) trail further back. The number one country in the world in terms of logistics, in 2018, is Germany. China is ranked 26 and the US, 14.

13 counties get World Bank grant

Thirteen counties got to share World Bank’s, Level II, sh.1.9 billion grant. The money is based on performance over aspects like public finance management, public participation and human resource management. Busia received the biggest share at sh.553 million, while Mandera got the least at sh.6 million. Baringo, Kajiado, Kirinyaga and Kisii are some others that received a share of the Level II grant. There was a Level I grant, in which the 47 counties shared sh.2.1 billion. They had to meet set standards to qualify for the second disbursement. This fund is part of World Bank’s Devolution Support Programme.

Kenya to open more diplomatic offices

In an interview, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Monica Juma revealed that Kenya intends to open some 12 diplomatic offices in the next 3 years. India (Mumbai) and China (Guangzhou and Shanghai) are some of those planned. There will be an emphasis on expanding North and West of Africa, probably in response to the Africa Free Trade Agreement. 37.7% of Kenyan export goes to African countries. As Ms Juma said, “you cannot deepen any relationship if you do not have an imprint.” She added, “Our policy is Pan-African as we believe Kenya is inextricably tied to the destiny of this continent.” Kenya has diplomatic offices in only 20 of the 54 African countries. In comparison, South Africa is present in 47 countries.

Mauritius willing to return Kenyan graft money

One of the biggest problems in the world today is tax havens. They enable the richest people and companies to pay less tax than they should. In our case, they also allow illegally obtained wealth to be stashed safely no questions asked. Mauritius is one of these places. But their Foreign Affairs secretary, Dwarka Canabady, came out this week saying the country would be open to returning graft money. “I know it is difficult to come up with such a pact. However, nothing is impossible. All Kenya needs to do is ask for such an agreement and we can discuss.” Lip service? Anyway, Kenya could recover billions.

Kenya leads in Real Estate transparency

Don’t be too shocked, it’s only an African ranking. Kenya and Nigeria are rated as the best African countries when it comes to real estate market transparency and data sharing. This is by a Jones Lang LaSalle, an investment company, study. Transparency improves the confidence of industry players and data sharing allows them to have greater insight. A recommendation is that all African countries can improve by utilizing better tools such as “blockchain” for “land registries and transactions.”

Nema not so toothless, apparently

Nema made good its threat to reclaim riparian land by demolishing property established in said areas.

According to Nema, 4000 buildings have been constructed on riverbeds and riverbanks.They have promised to clear these areas in a 2-month exercise. Only this week, we got excited to see people who know people suffer some consequences with Southend (Langata) and Ukay (Westlands) Malls getting demolished.