Tuesday, 20 June 2017

‘We were sent to kill you’ Why the 2013 killings in Bungoma, Busia and Kakamega were planned

In 2013, as Kenyans went to the polls in March, the people of Western Kenya were hit by a wave of attacks they had never experienced since those of the tribal clashes of 1992.

The attacks came hot on the heels of the hotly contested 2013 elections with residents being ambushed during the night by gangs of machete, axe and other crude weapon yielding gangs who had only one massage ‘ we were sent to kill you’.

Could the killings have been vendetta and grudge held since the bungled 2007 presidential elections?

The killings started from Busia County and spread all the way to Bungoma, Kakamega and parts of Trans Nzoia County sending shockwaves across the country spreading fear of a recurrence of the 2007 Post Election Violence.

This was not helped with the brutal killings that erupted in Tana River and its environs where innocent people were killed and scores maimed, injured and others sexually molested.

Over 52 people were killed during clashes between members of the Pokomo and Orma communities in Tana River when militiamen from both sides raided homes and slashed villagers to death before setting their houses ablaze.

The communities are said to have been fighting over land, pasture and water with the police saying tension had been building between the two communities for long but there was no immediate warning on the night attacks.

Over 130 people were killed in 2001 in a string of clashes in the same region.

However, in the case of the Western killings, the police are yet to say the reasons.
The Kenyan security organs “Police utterly failed to effectively investigate the violence in Busia and Bungoma counties, and the government has failed to expedite reforms in the police service, including bolstering its investigative capacity the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released last week on Wednesday.

The report, We Were Sent to Kill You’: Gang Attacks in Western Kenya and the Government’s Failed Response,” based on Human Rights Watch research in the two counties, documents the little-reported attacks on nine villages in Busia and Bungoma counties by criminal gangs of armed young men from March to July 2013. The attackers, using machetes, clubs, and axes, killed a total of 10 people and seriously injured more than 150.

“Police utterly failed to effectively investigate the violence in Busia and Bungoma counties” said Leslie Lefkow, Deputy Africa director. “The police didn’t collect critical evidence, and completely ignored evidence that gangs carried out these crimes during and after the 2013 elections with support from political figures.”

This is similar to calls made by the United Nations (UN) Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Modibo Toure in May 2013 on the government to scale up its efforts in stopping the attacks that rocked Busia and Bungoma Counties.

In a statement he had said, "Cognizant of the recent security incidents in Tana River County, I would like to urge the government to take appropriate action to promptly stem the insecurity in Busia and Bungoma in line with applicable international and domestic standards on protection of civilians and respect for human rights."

"Tension in the area remains high and residents are apprehensive as the motive behind the indiscriminate attacks is unknown. Livelihoods and ordinary activities have been brought to a standstill."

According to HRW, despite there being history of politically motivated rebel activity in some parts of Bungoma County, gang activity has been on the low only until the bungled 2007 presidential elections.

The human rights body says politicians and business persons from the region recruited criminal gangs that were likely behind the attacks on political rivals in the lead up to the 2007 elections according to The Waki Report.

The report by the HRW says Busia County, until 2013, had not experienced any attacks but on the election day of the 2013 elections, gangs struck nine villages through to Bungoma County.

The government, the police, the locals and the international community to date has no clue what motivated the gangs to unleash such violence against the people of the former western province commonly referred to as ‘people of mlembe’ (peaceful people).

Due to the timing, pattern and from the little conversations between the attackers and the victims, it has remained difficult for anybody to comprehend the motive of those attackers.

“They occurred after polling and attackers did not target supporters of one particular party. However, the account of former gang members and recruiters, as well as the opinions of the victims themselves, strongly suggest the attacks are linked to the elections,” says the report.

Human Rights Watch found indications that the attacks were  organized and supported by proxies of politicians and businessmen who had supported PNU in the 2007 elections, and either Jubilee or CORD in the 2013  elections.

Ahead of the 2007 elections, businessmen in Bungoma had recruited young fighters between 20 and 30-years-old to defend the government and the property of businessmen says Human Right Watch report.

“They had offered to pay me Sh250, 000 if I helped to recruit the fighters,” one businessman told Human Rights Watch.

The recruiter told the human rights body he was paid Sh250,000 in batches of Sh50, after recruiting 60 young fighters, who were then taken to Naivasha for training in 2007.

This recruitment resumed in 2012 by businessmen and politicians where they were taken to camps for training that included use of knives combat training as well as physical combat.

On the other hand, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in its report, Impacts on inter-communal Conflicts,” reported that, between January 2013 - June 2013, at least 181 people had been killed, 217 injured and over 52,000 people newly displaced from their homes as a result of inter-communal conflict in Kenya.

The report cited that competition over political representation, land and resources with the most affected areas being the former North Eastern, Rift Valley and Western Provinces.

In April 2013, over 50 Kikwechi village residents within Kibabii location in Kanduyi constituency were left nursing injuries after they were attacked by unknown gang.

In May, a 63 year old man and a former care taker in the Office of the President Linus Otolim and a watchman Patrick Ojulo were killed with 17 others sustaining injuries.

Mrs Ann Otolim, the widow to the deceased while on her hospital bed, said the gang killed her husband by chopping off his head before they proceeded to Benga Village in Bukhayo North.

The Human Rights report says a woman who survived an attack at the Makutano area in Bungoma town said: “As one of them was hitting me, two of the gang members went for my husband. They started hitting him. After some time, I saw my husband lying down. Our children later told me that they saw one of the gang members grab an axe from another gang member and hack their father to death.”

“In both Busia and Bungoma counties the attackers injured, maimed, and killed men, women, and children with machetes, clubs, and axes. Attackers also raped and sexually assaulted women and girls. In some incidents the attackers demanded money and mobile phones from victims, but theft did not appear to be the primary motive of the attacks,” reads the report.

The Group interviewed 87 people, including victims, government officials, police, politicians, witnesses, and activists.

From the 1992 tribal clashes to the 2007 Post Election Violence and now the 2013 gang attacks, political influence cannot be ruled out.

Human Rights Watch, in its report says: “The attacks were not carried out for solely criminal reasons, but also had a political motivation.”

It further says the gangs were organized and linked to political officials and parties.
Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo told Human Rights Watch that police were aware that the attackers were hired by politicians, says the report.

 “That of you who have been down there and know what is happening in Busia and Bungoma also know that these attacks are political,” Kimaiyo is quoted as having said.
Mr Kimaiyo’s sentiments are corroborated by testimonies from people the HRW says were agents, members or recruiters of the gangs who all indicated it was the work of politicians drawn from all sides.

According to recruitment agents and gang members, recruitment of gang members was done by businessmen and politicians linked to the Party of National Unity in 2007 and Jubilee Alliance in 2013.

They told Human Rights Watch that some of the gang members recruited in earlier years worked alongside CORD when former local PNU candidates joined the CORD Alliance at the end of 2012.

In 2012 and 2013 some of the same men who recruited young men in 2007 again recruited young men to first increase their numbers and later replace those who had defected to CORD, according to information provided by former gang members.

One  recruiter told Human Rights Watch that he was paid Sh50,000 in three batches in February 2013 for recruiting the gang members, some of whom  he said were involved in the attacks in Bungoma.

Gang members who said they had defected from the gangs told Human Rights Watch that a group of businessmen in Bungoma, Busia, and Malaba, had financed the gangs, with support from influential individuals in Nairobi, Nakuru, and Eldoret.

A former gang member who participated in some attacks in Busia before withdrawing from the gangs in April 2013 told Human Rights Watch: “The reason was to use the boys because of the elections outcome. Kenyan politicians are behind it and they are working closely with some not very senior politicians in Uganda.”

Another former gang member told Human Rights Watch that in 2012 recruiters told him that their motivation was to generally punish the people in the region for having voted “badly”: “We were told that our mission was to revenge. There were areas that had not voted well even though a lot of resources were wasted there during campaigns. We were deployed in teams of three after combat training in Uganda. My team of three from the group was deployed to Busia to lead the attacks.”

The report further reveals that initial recruitment was done in October 2007 with the view to “defending” the government against violence after the declaration of election results.

Related: Why Kenya's Truth report remains a hot potato for political leaders 

This group was also directed to defend government property and attack any individual they would find protesting against the presidential results of 2007 while those recruited after March 2013 were ordered to protect property should violence break out and “terrorize” the region for not voting along expected lines.

According to residents who spoke to the Human Rights Watch, one suspect had in late 2012 and early 2013 been warning them of possible violence if they did not vote for the Jubilee Alliance.

The Human Rights Group says there is an urgent need for answers to the many outstanding questions about the attacks in western Kenya, including the police failure to properly investigate and respond to the violence.

They want the government to reopen investigations into the attacks and prosecute those responsible for carrying out and supporting the attacks by ensuring a full, impartial, and comprehensive investigation into the attacks on villages in Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega, and Trans Nzoia counties.

“Investigators should examine allegations of support for the gangs by politicians and business people in the region, and dismantle these gangs and prosecute gang members, their leaders, and those recruiting the gang members and financing them. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions should prosecute those responsible,” the report states.

David Indeje and Obed Muindi

Monday, 5 June 2017

Kenyan e-taxi drivers to benefit from K3 Retail's 'on board shops'

K3 Retail, a new digital shopping innovation in Kenya is giving e-taxi drivers a chance to own ‘online on board stores’, converting their passengers into customers for original brands sold on the platform at a reduced price.

Drivers are simply required to use android devices, preferably tablets to register as K3 store on go shop owners by simply installing the K3 Retail app on their devices.

Once verified and approved, drivers can allow their passengers shop on the K3 Retail using those devices.

“We figured in order to market our products, we needed a solid partnership arrangement. We are leveraging on the 10,000 taxi drivers that are already in existence who almost certainly don’t go without clients. So far, Uber and Little Cab have expressed interest with already 86 drivers signed up and a further 213 on the pipeline awaiting evaluation,”Basil Payakkatu Vagnier, K3 group Kenya Managing Director.
“The plan is to have all rides with a special tab with the K3 service so that customers aboard the taxis can easily go through the products on offer as they ride along to their destinations. Based on our intelligence survey, we have noticed that most drivers and their passengers hardly engage given professional nature of the business. The clients often feel ignored or bored and thus the new system tries to address that,” he adds.

How Does it Work?

Every sale made from the device is noted, verified and approved by K3 Retail managers. The item purchased is delivered to the customer within 24 hours, with the driver earning a commission on every purchase made.

The commission is remitted to the driver via M-Pesa immediately the product bought is delivered is paid for by the client, the passenger.

During the time when the E-taxi drivers are not busy they can also share the product links via social media to increase their target sales market, where the customer can access our K3 website on their mobile or computer, and purchase drivers shared product or any other product from the website, the system will automatically allocate that sales under driver’s account.

This innovative marketing gimmick by K3 Retail is set to revolutionize the expanding e-market in Kenya, giving e-taxi drivers an opportunity to make an extra coin while giving buyers a super convenient shopping experience and discounts.

It is also widening market for existing local and international digital innovations like M-Pesa, taxi hauling platforms in the market as well as connecting brands with local consumers.

According to Basil, the platform is also allowing foreign and local retailers penetrate the Kenyan market easily, cutting on huge marketing budgets.

Basil said that he is more curious to have local manufactures on board as vendors.

After successful pilot running with E-taxi drives in Nairobi, K3 is expected to expand into other towns across the country.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Relief for Traders, Manufactures as Kenya Parliament Suspend Ban on Plastic

The National Assembly on Wednesday demanded the immediate suspension of a Gazette notice that banned the production, importation and use of plastic bags beginning September. Parliament’s Departmental Committee on Environment and Natural Resources said the decision to back a petition seeking suspension of the Gazette Notice No. 2356 of 2017 on the ban, use, manufacture and importation of plastic bags, “Did not comply with the statutory Instruments Act, 2013. Even if, the issuance of the Notice had complied with the relevant provisions of the statutory Instruments Act 2013, the timeline of six months given in the Notice for companies to cease operation was unreasonably short.” For traders, manufacturers and other users of plastics, the suspension is an opportunity for holistic waste management solutions. Findings from the committee noted that, “The cost value of the plastic manufacturing sector is in excess of Ksh 88 billion and the direct employments created by the plastic sector is over 2.89 percent of the Kenyan employees which is approximately 60,000 personnel nationwide and their annual turnover is over Ksh 100 billion.” Thus, “The ban imposed by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment does not resolve the problem identified by the experts or create a sustainable approach to addressing the problem.” Experts in the Global waste management outlook for 2015, a report by the United Nations Environment Program UNEP and the International Solid Waste Association stated that: “Inadequate waste Management has become a major public health, economic and environmental problem with 7-10 billion tonnes of urban waste produced each year and 3 billion people worldwide lacking access to controlled waste disposal facilities fuelled by a population growth, urbanisation and rising consumption, the volume of waste are likely to even double in lower income African and Asian cities by 2013.” On February 28, the Environment secretary Judi Wakhungu published the legal notice announcing a ban on both domestic and commercial use of plastic bags from September this year. The committee argues that the notice is not in compliance with provisions of the Statutory Instruments Act, 2013, which requires parliamentary approval of any notices or regulations published by Cabinet secretaries. Further, it had noted that the ban had a direct, indirect and substantial effect on business. Despite this, no public consultations were held with stakeholders or an impact analysis developed the relevant Government agencies. Current statistics indicate the downward trajectory in the manufacturing sector over the last year in 2016. In addition, the country is suffering from widespread unemployment and there is need to protect employed workers. In 2016, the manufacturing sector recorded a real growth of 3.5 per cent compared to a revised growth of 3.6 per cent in 2015 attributed to reduced cost of production and increased volume output by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). 

Thus, “The proposed ban which stands to affect all the sectors of manufacturing will greatly affect the growth and inevitably the economic growth. Estimates confirm that there are 176 plastic manufacturing companies all-around Kenya and the value of the plastic sectors investment is over Ksh 105 billion,” observed the committee.

“The direct employment created by the plastic sector is over 2.89 percent of Kenyan Employees (approx. 60,000 employees). Indirect employment and dependents through retailers, wholesalers, recyclers, packers and outlets is over 1.2 million personnel nationwide,” it added.

Proper Waste Management practices

Economies around the world have resulted to creating waste markets to turn their waste into an economic resource and to enrich the livelihoods of many.

To ensure this is sustainable, parliament recommended that:  adequate consultations to be conducted and provisions of Statutory Act implemented and the revenue generated from the excise duty levied on plastic bag manufacturers should be ring fenced by the National Treasury to implement projects and programmes related to plastic waste control and management and to fund research and entrepreneurial initiatives geared towards production of alternatives to plastics.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM)  Waste Management Proposals In 2016-2017 proposes solutions to address polythene waste in line with global best practices.

For instance, they call for the inclusion of provisions to encourage use of bio-degradable products and recycling such as national fiscal incentives such as Green Levy Funds to address plastic waste management; tax incentives to promote manufacture and use of biodegradable packaging products; tax incentives for capital goods for recycling; tax rebates to industries promoting waste management; and imposition of penalties for littering in unlawful places to deter littering.

There is need to remove the existing Excise Duty (120/= Kg on Shopping bags) due to inefficiency to address plastic waste management and replaced with a waste management levy at one percent value of all raw materials which will be collected fund ensuring  that employment of opportunities are created and job losses are avoided and revenue is boosted.

Finally, the establishment of “The Waste Management Board Levy”, to be charged on all plastic at source (Point Of Entry) on CIF Value. The funds should be managed through a public private partnership by Government agencies that include, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, National Environmental Management Authority and National Treasury as well as private sector and non-governmental organizations.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Kenya needs to Re-think Agriculture and Climate Change in Addressing Food Security

"We all must understand that saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, and advancing economic growth are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security, and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all," said Ban Ki-moon former Secretary-General of the United Nations in 2011.

The former Secretary General further reiterates what most nations are currently facing that, "The global economy is generating pressures as well: rising joblessness, widening social inequalities, and the emergence of new economic powers."

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says, at the level of individuals, people living on less than US$1.25 a day may need to skip a meal when food prices rise. Farmers are hurt too because they badly need to know the price their crops are going to fetch at harvest time, months away. If high prices are likely they plant more. If low prices are forecast they plant less and cut costs.

The developing world's poor are experiencing the effects of higher commodity prices, and declining agricultural productivity growth is exacerbating the problem.
In Kenya, people depend on agriculture not just for raw materials but also for their food supply. Food is necessary to satisfy hunger and to provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

However, with the inflation rate estimated at 11.48 percent year-on-year in April of 2017, compared to a 10.28 percent rise in the previous month. The inflation rate remained the highest since May of 2012 mainly driven by rise in food prices as the country struggles with a drought. Inflation, according to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data.

Analysts disclose that food prices are likely to remain volatile.

“The rate of inflation is expected to be on the rise this year, driven by high food prices due to the ongoing drought, which according to the Meteorological Department (KMD) department will persist, as it projects below average rainfall in the March-May season, and high fuel prices following the revisions by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC),” according to CytonnInvestments.

“The food situation in the country has deteriorated and this has had a massive impact on inflation, as the food component of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which carries a weighting of 36.0% has been on a gradual increase over the past three months, clocking month on month changes of 1.2%, 1.3% and 1.7% in November, December and January 2017, respectively,” The add.

Kenya's peasants are migrating to the cities in huge numbers because it is becoming increasingly difficult to survive on their farms.

Why? In Kenya, farm inputs - fertilizer, quality seeds and the input placed in the cultivation of crops is more than what is received from the yield. The farmers get a raw deal in selling the produce.

Farmers are trapped into using inefficient technologies; average cereal yields have barely increased in 40 years and farm sizes are shrinking. Although Kenyan farmers are leaving the farm, far too few are finding productive jobs in the cities. Most are getting poorer, the cost of safety-net programmes is escalating and Kenya’s dependence on concessionary food imports is growing.

Cytonn is of the view that the country is still at manageable levels when it comes to import dependency.

“Kenya’s dependency on imported food has improved over the last five years, with the import dependency ratio on food products, vegetable products and animal products having declined by 0.8% points, 0.9% points and 0.3% points, to 28.3%, 31.7% and 0.8%, from 29.1%, 32.6% and 1.1%, respectively. The country’s ability to cater for its food needs without external assistance has also improved over the last five years, with the country’s self-sufficiency ratio on food products, vegetable products and animal products having risen by 0.6% points, 0.6% points and 0.1% points, to 75.2%, 72.1% and 100.0%, from 74.6%, 71.5% and 99.9%, respectively.”

“The Current import bill is at 35 billion dollars and it is estimated to be at 110 billion dollars by 2025,” Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

As the recent world food crisis has demonstrated, these trends can have catastrophic consequences for the continent's poor.

In an annual report produced by the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program and the U.N.'s International Fund for Agriculture Development  on the state of food insecurity around the world, the U.N.'s three food agencies urged governments to make good on pledges to share information about farm forecasts and food stock levels to avoid the price swings that resulted in food riots in 2006-2008 and an eight percent increase in the number of undernourished people in Africa.

"Changes in income due to price swings that lead to decreased food consumption can reduce children's intake of key nutrient during the first 1000 days of life from conception, leading to a permanent reduction of their future earning capacity and an increased likelihood of future poverty with negative effects on entire economies," the report said.

A question that begs for an answer is, should the government keep on banking the projections from the Meteorological department?

Long-term measures are required to secure Kenya’s food, energy and fuel supply through establishment of strategic national reserves.

This is not enough if no sound policies are formulated and implemented.

“We need long-term solutions to alleviate the adverse impacts of climate change and unpredictable weather patterns.

We must build the resilience of communities and invest in agriculture and rural infrastructure,” according to Siddharth Chatterjee, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya in an op-ed in the Huffing post

"Piecemeal responses to climate-related emergencies can no longer suffice. We need sustainable solutions to effectively tackle drought and its devastating impacts on Kenya’s most vulnerable communities,"He adds.

 Kenya must continue to build political institutions that generate dynamic stability. Internal security must be guaranteed to enable a stable civil environment that upholds security of persons, property, access to and equality before the law. Governments must build social cohesion, eliminate conflict and ease the paths to self-betterment for its citizens through equitable access to resources, services and opportunities that will improve earnings, consumer purchasing power, savings and investments.

Kenya must renew its efforts in fully investing into the agricultural sector through enough budgetary allocation.

Meager resources allocated to the sector has led to  the appalling state of rural infrastructure in many rural towns, it has not fully exploited its irrigation a reason why Kenyan farmers rely almost exclusively on rain-fed farming and face exceptionally high transport and marketing costs that makes a shift to more efficient farming unprofitable.

The government also need to invest heavily in agricultural research, irrigation, rural roads and power. They also need to provide direct policy support to their farmers by shoring up farm credit systems, subsidizing vital inputs like fertilizer, power, and water, and intervening in markets to ensure that farmers received adequate and stable prices.

This in return FAO says “Investment in infrastructure, marketing systems, extension and communication services, education, as well as in research and development, can increase food supply and improve the functioning of local agricultural markets, resulting in less volatile prices."

More importantly, increasing revenues for the agricultural sector and rural economies could attract investments in infrastructure and human services.

 FAO report proposes for "more information and better information” to allow transparency in trade on future markets.

“This would help ensure that governments and traders make informed decisions and avoid panic or irrational reactions," and it also reiterates the importance of safety nets in cushioning the vulnerable. At country level, governments can protect themselves from food price increases through a variety of financial arrangements such as call options, which would give them the right to buy food at a set price even months ahead, regardless of how the market has moved in the meantime."

Friday, 7 April 2017

Kenya to set up online portal for Investors seeking to Invest in the Country

Better access to information on investments opportunities in the country is going to strengthen Kenya as a preferred investment destination in Africa with the establishment of the One Stop Centre (OSC).

The center will be operational from April as announced by Henry Rotich, the Finance Minister during to parliament during the reading of the fiscal year 2017/18 budget.
Rotich also announced that the Government has established e-regulation and will soon be establishing the e-Opportunities to enable investors interested in Kenya to search for investment opportunities available in Kenya from the comfort of their homes.

“These initiatives, in addition to the existing Huduma Centres, will provide comprehensive information to investors on licenses, permits and approvals that are currently offered in a multiplicity of Government agencies located in different parts of the city, further sustaining increased FDI inflows in the country,” said Rotich.

For a long time, access to information on investment opportunities in the country has been inadequate especially to the Kenyan diaspora and investors who would want to invest.

However, Kenya wants to attract more investors after ranked third most reformed country in the world in World Bank Ease of Doing Business index by the Doing Business 2017: Equal Opportunity for All Report. The country was ranked 136 to 92, largely due to reforms in getting credit, getting electricity and ease of starting a business.

As result, Treasury reports that the foreign direct investment (FDI) has risen from about US dollar 0.514 billion in 2013, to at least US dollar 2.3 billion in 2016.

With a projected steady economic growth for this year at 5.9 percent in 2017.

In 2016, the real estate sector emerged as the best performing asset class delivering returns of on average 25.8 percent against an average of 8.5 percent for equities, 0.2 percent on the NSE FTSE bond, and 11.6 percent for the 364-day bill.

Further, economists, have projected impressive growth forecast across many key sectors in sub-Saharan Africa including power generation and infrastructure, mobile technology, financial technology, agriculture, welfare, insurance, banking and tourism.
Kenya through the Finance Minister says,:

“Our economy is growing at twice the pace of global growth and more than twice that of Sub Saharan Africa. We are also growing faster than both Nigeria and South Africa whose growth is projected at 0.8 percent in 2017 for each country.”

This is an opportune moment for the diaspora community to be motivated to invest in the country.

Kenya is set to significantly benefit by capitalizing on their links with its Diaspora with the effectiveness and implementation of the measures to design policies and legislation to create an enabling environment for the Diaspora to participate fully and contribute to the development of their country.

The number of Kenyans abroad is estimated to be about three Million and is continuously on the rise.

For instance, diaspora remittances have maintained an upward trend in the country over the recent past thus contributing significantly to the country’s foreign exchange inflows.

Most of the money sent by about half a million Kenyans living in the Diaspora, according to the World Bank, is used to fund investment projects, a move that has attracted local companies, especially in the banking sector.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Hopelessness among Kenyan youth a time-bomb

If you ask any youth now what they would want to become in the future, be sure to get a variety of replies, some strange and unbelievably outrageous at their age.

I asked one boy a similar question and I cocked my head to the side waiting for his response. He was only about 12, but he looked mature for his age. His face was firm and his lips looked parched. At one point, I wished I had a bottle of clean water to give him.

The slums of Manyatta in Kisumu city from where he was growing up, had limited supply of electricity and the sanitation services were not as good as the kind I grew up with. Dirty puddles of water in the middle of the roads, shanties patched by polythene and cardboards, the conditions were not even fit for a pauper to live in.

The murky sleepy slum with dilapidated infrastructure including a makeshift primary school was his world. But out there beyond the indistinct legal boundaries of this cursed people, there is another world, a world with better choices, a world where the likes of this boy, are not welcome.

I posed the question carelessly, expecting an answer a boy his age would give without a doubt, but his reply made me pause and wonder what was really going on in his head.

“I want to be like my dad,” he replied. He was serious. I knew the father fairly from the times I went off-beat in the slums, in fact he was one of my sources when I interned as a reporter with Nation Media Group. Besides tipping me when something happened in the slums, he was an unskilled, casual laborer who always smelled of cheap booze and was always hustling for people like me for some loose change.

Of all my thoughts at the moment I could only think of what in the world did this child admire in his father? And what was it that he wanted to emulate?

 The inference from the response was both disconcerting and tricky. The boy was looking up to the leader in his life; the role model who would effectively shape his future. I argued out that he was on the path that would lead him to become a riff-raff in the society and a foe to the ‘other’ world.

As innocent as he looked at the time, his face would soon change, hardened by the realities of deprivation. It will not matter that there is a new constitution that speaks of human dignity and promotes basic human rights like the right to life and liberty, the rights to a decent standard of living, the right to work and the right to education.

I wondered why the young boy was in such a dipshit and not me as I made my way out of the slums. I also wondered if I was in Peter Pan’s world to think that Kenya, on its own, will re-organize itself for the sake of the likes of this little boy and others like him growing up with no hope of ever enjoying the freedoms that some of know.

Is the new constitution really an anchor of safety and security for people like him? Or is it just another document for intellectuals like me to discuss and debate about in the office with my boss and colleagues?

I realized that something is amiss. Something is seriously wrong with a country that boasts of economic growth and celebrates almost 50 years of independence, and yet it does nothing at the pathetic situations the slum boy and his generation face, a generation of total despair and self-destruction.

Have you looked at the number of young adults reported to have succumbed from consumption of illicit brew i? It is mind-boggling. The same goes for slum dwellers and low income persons who died trying to siphon fuel from a leaking pipeline and tankers.

I do not mean to be mean but the likes of the little end up in places like Sinai, Kibera and Mukuru when they leave small slums like Manyatta to search for ‘greener pastures’. A dead end when they realize life is harder than where they actually came from.

No one can solve the problems of millions of disillusioned young people of this generation considering the high birth rate of children in poverty stricken areas. I cannot pretend to have a ready solution for the boy and his generation but my country does. The answer lies with the politicians, if they could change their attitudes, opinions and root for the best in the people who placed them in power.

Written by Robert Kondigo

Monday, 20 March 2017

What it Means to be a Cytonnaire - New Age Millonaire

When it comes to investing, I am reminded of Aesop’s fables about a miser who sold all that he had and bought a lump of gold, which he buried in a hole in the ground by the side of an old wall and went to look at daily.  One of his workmen observed his frequent visits to the spot and decided to watch his movements.  He soon discovered the secret of the hidden treasure, and digging down, came to the lump of gold, and stole it.
The Miser, on his next visit, found the hole empty and began to tear his hair and to make loud lamentations.  A neighbour, seeing him overcome with grief and learning the cause, said, “Pray do not grieve so; but go and take a stone, and place it in the hole, and fancy that the gold is still lying there.  It will do you quite the same service; for when the gold was there, you had it not, as you did not make the slightest use of it.” 

Indeed, the true value of money is not in its possession but in its use.

But, how does one amass wealth?

Smart investing is all about growth through diversification and informed decision-making.

Cytonn Investments has taken this deliberate approach in the investments it is making by launching its 2017 investment brand campaign as part of the company’s continued drive to be the business destination of choice.

The campaign, Cytonnaire.

This is about, 

“Individuals who are not measured by a figure in the bank, but by a mindset that sets them apart. They create wealth by thinking and investing sharp.

They look at property and  investments through the eyes of experts because they know that creating wealth is not a game of chance, it takes steady investment with the right advice,” reads the announcement on its Social feed.

Mr. Maurice Oduor,an Investment Manager at the company  says, “The current disruption  being witnessed in the financial sector due the Banking Amendment Bill that caps  bank interest rates at 4 per cent above the Central Bank Benchmark Rate, banks are laying off due to reduced profitability, the forthcoming elections which have forced some investors to hold back.

But, for Cytonn, we are taking a deliberate decision to investments that we are making.”

The Cytonnaire campaign will showcase the vast ways where investors not only go to Cytonn but where how people make investment decisions.

In 2016, the company had, ‘Sharp is the new smart’.

Cytonnaire campaign positions Cytonn Investments as the only brand that has coupled up real estate finance and real estate development onto one platform as the home of impressive and surprising creativity, expertise, innovation, quality with greater focus to its clients.

In the end, a true investor will not be like the miser who buried his gold, like other investors who don’t make mistakes in their life having a desire to change in to what is hype today, looking for high returns with low risk or putting all investments in one asset class but one who used their money to acquire things that offer the potential for profitable returns, either through interest, income, or the appreciation of value.
A true Cytonnaire follows the golden rules of investment, they invest first and spend later.”
First published on SokoDirectory