tea plucking machine

7 interesting things that made the news this week (5th May – 11th May)

Didn’t have time to catch up with all of the week’s stories? Relax, follow HerBusiness commentary of the most interesting items that made the news headlines, every week.

Dam tragedy

Patel dam caved in to rain and, at last count, 41 people were confirmed dead. The dam was in a private farmland in Solai, Nakuru County and was said to be used primarily for irrigation and fish farming. The incident occurred in the night and residents gave recounts describing it as an “explosion” that swept away hundreds of homes – leaving 2,000 homeless even as search and rescue continues. It was pretty shameful to hear some of the relevant authorities, only now, bring up the issue of checking other private dams.

Are you ready for the end of jobs?

Do you think technology will end jobs? First time out, technology ended agriculture jobs (in developed countries, at least) but people​ went to factories. Another response was that the work week was reduced to the 8-5 we now consider normal. The Kenya Plantations​ and Agriculture Workers Union (KPWAU) mentioned that is in support of banning tea plucking machines. Counties like Nandi Hills and Kericho are grappling with this issue between productivity and the welfare of their people. “They should be banned until when living standards in Kenya have improved. Kericho and other towns whose economies rely on tea farming will become ghost towns since circulation of money will reduce,” KPAWU Deputy Secretary General Thomas Kipkemboi said. We like Nandi Hill’s suggestion to tax their use. One of our contributors gave her take on automation.

Traction camp

The invite to apply for Traction camp saw 27 startups chosen by iHub and InfoDev (World Bank). 16 of them were from Kenya. This accelerator program looks to help startups improve on their business models, human capital and other management things. 5 more Kenyan startups were selected from a pool of 180 applicants. These are paybobby (SME back office), m-shule (mobile learning), Majik Water (access to clean water), SaveKubwa (insurance) and FarmIT (info to farmers). You want opportunities like this? Check out our Opportunity Page everyday!!

How interest rate cap law will change

Change to the interest rate cap law is imminent. The latest disclosure is that banks will be allowed to add a risk premium on top of the flat loan rate. Banks will assess your probability of default and charge you against that. Treasury Chief Administrative Secretary, Nelson Gaichuhie said, “Banks know their customers (and) they shall be able to put a small margin on the flat rate. We want to come up with a flat rate and risk-based component,” How different is this from what was “done away with?” How is what Kenyan banks were doing not usury? Some Members of Parliament and the Consumer Federation of Kenya (cofek) have expressed their opposition to the intended change.

How will you retire?

Death is the second best retirement plan. Data from The Treasury is raising alarms over a pension crisis in Kenya come 2020. The pension bill will increase to sh.104 billion (GDP still growing at some 5%, GDP per capital barely growing otherwise govt would talk about it). A skills shortage could also hit the public sector since most of the retirees hitting age 60 are in senior management and in technical roles. Mentorship of junior staff has not gone well. The Government has also been blamed for being slow to introduced a contribution scheme that would ease cost to tax payers. Some 10% of, or 60,000, civil servants are set to retire by 2020.

Blockchain registry for land deals

Cabinet Secretaries for Information Technology (IT) and Land, Mucheru and Karoney respectively have expressed support for digitization of the land registry in Kenya. Blockchain could be a tool for this as it would enhance “security, efficiency and transparency.” In Kenya, the land issue is plagued by lots of problems including squatters, land grabbers and corrupt public officials. Digitization could go a long way against them, especially blockchain. The Law Society of Kenya has opposed intended changes. Allen Gichuhi, LSK’s president, said: “They are putting the cart before the horse.” According to Gichuhi, digitising all land documents at this point could invalidate the thousands of land ownership cases that are currently pending in courts because contested titles could be deemed authentic once they are digitised. Mhhh, don’t you just hate conflict of interest?

Kenya space program

Africa is facing challenges nobody has ever faced. We are hoping for an Agrarian Revolution but also looking to manage against the negatives of Automation – as you read with tea plucking machines. Turns out we are also equipped enough to have a space program. University of Nairobi (UON) benefited from Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) act to support developing countries get to space. Italy’s Sapienza University was also part of the collaboration. The output was ‘First Kenya University Nano Satellite Precursor – Flight’ (1KUNS-PF). This is a 10cm cube satellite that will be used for a range of functions like weather forecast, wildlife mapping and many more. Do you see what Kenyans can accomplish? Imagine if Moi wasn’t there for a quarter of a century, haha. UON has organized for a public viewing of the Satellite’s launch to space, from Japan, at the UON grounds from 1pm on Friday 11th May, 2018.