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Blockchain Association of Africa (BAA), a South Africa based non-profit pan-African organisation, announced its strategic partnership with Afriplains Digital, Tanzania(AFD) and  Blockchain Worx, Singapore (BCW) to leverage synergies and further its efforts to equip the community and stakeholders in Africa with hands-on Blockchain education, acumen and tools to shape Africa’s future.

The partnership will focus on the common vision of driving technology evangelization, community outreach, capacity building and local talent building.

This will be targeted towards driving adoption, helping the implementation of this cutting-edge technology and bringing sustainable, unparalleled business-value to Africa. As a part of the alliance, the three parties will kick-off their collaboration by deploying Blockchain Worx’s Blockchain Innovation Centre across local chapters in South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda & Tanzania.

The Blockchain Innovation Centre is a digital centre of excellence, designed to explore possibilities, forge alliances and accelerate innovation within institutions and communities.

Blockchain is a native digital technology that is setting up the financial-services and other industries for significant transformation.

While most blockchain applications are still in their early days, distinct categories of use cases have begun to emerge, with numerous projects now moving beyond the ‘concept/idea’ phase. Blockchain use cases are often exciting to explore and research, however it’s important to also understand the gap between the potential and tangibility of implementation.

Read also: Konza Technopolis targets Kenya’s children for STEM Bootcamp

The Blockchain Innovation Centre is designed to help institutions – public and private, to understand and harness the potential of this emerging technology. With a well-rounded knowledge base, a bouquet of ready-to-use development tools and a select set of relevant PoC/demo applications, any institution can have its OWN Blockchain Innovation Lab in a matter of days.

These resources are carefully selected to ensure relevancy, aid with understanding the potential of the technology and help the organization develop and evolve applicable use-cases.

“Africa is no longer the dark continent, and everyone is looking at Africa now. Blockchain will ensure that Africans are now stakeholders in what the continent has to offer and it all starts with education,” says Yaliwe Soko, the Chairwoman for Blockchain Association of Africa. She further adds that “This partnership will ensure that upcoming generation is equipped with the right skills and expertise to move the continent further.”

“As the interest in Blockchain Technology gains momentum across Africa and people are able to see the true potential of the technology, beyond the obvious use-case of cryptocurrencies, it becomes imperative that we build the necessary infrastructure and ecosystem that can help create awareness, provide effective tools to develop skills and  talent locally and create innovative use-cases that are truly designed to solve the problems that we, as African Businesses and Society experience,” says Merlin Van Lawick, Director of Afriplains Digital, Tanzania.

“We are super excited to team up with Blockchain Association of Africa and Afriplains Digital to deploy our premier Blockchain Innovation Centre solution, across communities and local chapters in Africa. We truly believe that Africa has potential to lead the way for the rest of the world and showcase how to effectively leverage and make use of technological advances for sustainable and inclusive growth., says Sumantra Naik, Co-founder & COO, Blockchain Worx, Singapore.

Read also: MIT, Liquid Telecom partner for Inclusive Innovation Challenge

The post South Africans partner with Tanzania for Blockchain growth appeared first on The Exchange.

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NIC Bank Kenya has signed a Loan Portfolio Guarantee agreement amounting to Ksh 515,900,000  (USD5.1 million) with the African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

The partnership aims to unlock financing intended to facilitate the promotion, growth and development of SMEs in Kenya.

This comes in the wake of a continued credit crunch in the market, occasioned by the interest rate cap law in the country.

Since the law came into place in 2016, banks have been lending more to the government, shunning the private sector and individuals whom they term ‘high risk borrowers’.

READ:Why high risk borrowers , SMEs in Kenya could get easy loans

Speaking during the partnership launch, AGF Group Deputy CEO Jules Ngankam noted that the objective is to provide partial credit guarantees and capacity development to NIC Bank to stimulate financing of SMEs, thereby unlocking their potential to deliver exclusive growth in the continent.

“With this partnership, we are going to increase access to finance for more SMEs. This will mean more job creation and revenue generation which directly aligns with AGF’s mission of catalyzing economic growth and poverty reduction in Africa. AGF is proud to have partnered with a bank that has a vision for SMEs and believes in their potential to spur the growth of this country,” he said.

On his part, NIC Bank Corporate Director Ellie Chiuri reaffirmed the banks position in striving to be the leader in offering financing solutions backed by uniquely competent trade and relationship management experts, wide correspondent banking network and a unique ability to handle risk management.

Africa Guarantee Fund Group Deputy CEO Jules Ngankam (Left) exchange a signed MoU with Mr. Ellie Chiuri the Corporate Director at NIC Bank.

“We support our trade finance customers with innovative products and services and specialist expertise in sectors like agribusiness, manufacturing, trading, health, transport and communication, energy, government and education. We customize our products and services to meet our clients’ specific account management, payments, collections and liquidity management requirements,” Chiuri said.

SMEs in Kenya, like in other African countries face major challenges when seeking financing in order to expand and grow their businesses.

Recent studies have shown that SMEs in Kenya employ approximately 14.9 million Kenyans and contribute an estimated 28 per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product.

However, majority of SMEs in Kenya do not get to celebrate their third anniversary because 46 per cent collapse within their first year while approximately 400,000 die within their second anniversary, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics data indicate.

The partnership between NIC Bank and AGF is seen as a strategic move that will enable SME customers seeking trade financing, overcome the financing barrier.

The loan portfolio guarantee facility will see AGF share the risks envisioned by the bank in situations where the target SME clients are unable to meet collateral threshold requirements.

READ ALSO:Boost for SMEs as Invest In Africa regenerates entrepreneurs’ platform

The post USD5.1 million SME loan kitty unveiled in Kenya appeared first on The Exchange.

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Kenyan authorities have unearthed an ethanol smuggling ring at the country’s major Inland Container Deport (ICD), in the latest efforts to curb illicit trade.

 The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Customs and Border Control unit this week intercepted a consignment of smuggled ethanol declared as imported spaghetti at the Nairobi ICD.

The consignment, imported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with an assessed tax valued of more than Ksh15 million(USD148,372),had been concealed in four-20 foot containers that had arrived at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) operated ICD last month.

Speaking, when he confirmed the discovery, KRA Customs and Border Control Commissioner Kevin Safari said his officers on routine non-intrusive surveillance duties had successfully managed to identify and isolate the contraband ethanol shipment.

The 57,600 litres of Ethanol had been neatly filled in 288 drums before loading in the four shipping containers.

Using advanced Cargo X-Ray scanners at the ICD, Safari, said the team had noted some discrepancy leading to a physical inspection of the containers earlier today.

“The officers at ICDN near Athi River in conjunction with the team at the Integrated Scanner Management Solution command centre at our Time Towers headquarters positively identified the concealed goods in the containers,” Safari said and added, “The containers imported by Ms Erikan Holdings Limited had been masked with a total of 10,600 packages of spaghetti.”

Following the discovery, KRA officers in conjunction with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) have launched a probe against the importers and the clearing agent.

Ethanol is a principal ingredient in the manufacturing of alcohol, a product that is highly counterfeited in the country.

‘’Illicit alcohol has been our biggest concern in the alcoholic beverage industry,’’ Gordon Mutugi, Chair of the Alcoholic Beverage Association of Kenya (ABAK) said at an anti-counterfeit forum in the city.

READ:This is what alcohol manufacturers in Kenya want

As part of its corporate transformation, KRA has implemented an Integrated Scanner Management Solution which is part of the ongoing rollout of Integrated Customs Management System (iCMS), and interconnects all cargo scanners (at Ports of entry) to a Central Command and  Control Centre at Times Tower, the KRA headquarters; from where enforcement decisions are coordinated.

The implementation of the Integrated Scanner Management system is part of KRA’s Revenue Enhancement Initiatives (REI) geared at providing a 100 per cent  non-intrusive verification of Imported cargo,thereby ensuring faster clearance and intelligence-driven physical verification.

The post UAE smuggled ethanol impounded in Kenya appeared first on The Exchange.

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The Kenyan government has renewed its efforts to fight counterfeit goods and infringement of intellectual property, as counterfeiters continue to pose a threat to local manufacturers and traders.

In a new move, the country’s anti-counterfeit laws have been amended, putting in place new measures that will help fight the vice which takes up to USD300 million of local manufacturers’ market share annually, with the government loses USD80 million as potential tax revenue.

READ:Shocking counterfeit headaches crippling Kenya’s manufacturing sector

The State is also targeting proceeds of counterfeit trade mainly property, with top businessmen, politicians and high-net individuals being among the biggest perpetrators who could cross swords with the authority.

The Anti-Counterfeit Act, 2008 (amended) now extends the counterfeiting scope to include goods counterfeited outside Kenya, allowing for their impoundment.

This means that the Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA), formerly the Anti-Counterfeit Agency, now has the power to impound items counterfeited outside the country at the entry points.

This was previously limited to counterfeiting carried out in Kenya, according to ACA.

Consumers now also play a pivotal role in promoting the fight against counterfeit products as the end users of the product.

“A consumer may lay a complaint if they suspect an item is counterfeit with the ACA for investigations. Previously, only complaints from trademark owners could be investigated,” ACA Executive Director Elema Halake said.

The Act gives an Inspector the power to investigate any offence relating to counterfeit even when the same is not an offence under the Act.

This has been appreciated by industry players who felt they were not protected when there were grey areas

In regard to importation of counterfeits, the inspector now has the same power as that of a customs officer such as entry, examination, seizing and impounding of counterfeit goods, which now allows ACA to conduct more robust inspections at the ports and entry points.

‘’There have been some amendments to the Anti-Counterfeit Act, 2008 underscoring the government’s commitment to fight anti-counterfeit trade and promote bona fide manufacturers and intellectual property owners in line with the Agenda 4,’’ Trade Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo said  during a press briefing in Nairobi.

‘’The amendments are aimed at providing more protection for trademark owners and boost the fight against counterfeits,’’ the PS said.

Most counterfeited goods

 Fast-Moving Consumer Goods, also known as FMCG, are the most counterfeited products according to authorities.

These include mobile phones, alcohol and beverages, DVDs/CDs , bottled drinking water and pharmaceuticals.

Other products are food products, detergents, electrical gadgets, perfumes and cosmetics, cigarettes, computer software and hardware among others.

‘’Illicit alcohol has been our biggest concern in the alcoholic beverage industry, and we believe these amendments provide ACA with a robust legal mechanism to fight the menace. We now look forward to full implementation of these new amendments accompanied by a strong set of regulations to reinforce the changes,’’ Gordon Mutugi, Chair of the Alcoholic Beverage Association of Kenya (ABAK) noted on the amendments.

A recent study has revealed that 70 per cent of Kenyans have purchased counterfeit products where 81 per cent have bought these goods unknowingly.

19 per cent of Kenyans have however knowingly paid for this goods, a move the authority says is worrying as counterfeit goods are hazardous apart from their support for crimes.

Most counterfeit are cheap, a leading factor for purchasing by majority (49.6 per cent). Other factors are unavailability of original (17.3 per cent), unaware of risks (18.3 per cent) and other reasons (14.9 per cent).

ACA chairlady Flora Mutahi has warned that counterfeits and illicit trade remain an impediment to the achievement of the Big Four’s manufacturing arm.

“We want to tell members of the public please don’t buy cheap,” Mutahi said told Journalists at a recent event in Nairobi, even as she affirmed ACA’s commitment in the fight against counterfeit, with 58 new inspection officers expected on board to cover the country’s porous borders.

Counterfeit hotspots have been identified as Nairobi, Nakuru, Malaba, Busia, Kisii, Mandera, Embu, Kapenguria, West Pokot, Wajir, Isiolo, Garissa, Lamu, Isebania, Migori, Namanga, Kajiado ,Mombasa, Moyale, Lokichokio, Liboi,Malaba, Nyeri, Machakos, Kitale and Kitui.

 Previous achievements

The latest developments come amid a heightened war against counterfeits and illicit trade in the country where the government has successfully made inroads through a multi-agency taskforce commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in April last year.

Goods worth Ksh8.5 billion (USD84.1 million) were seized within the first six months.  ACA as an entity has nabbed goods worth Ksh2.1 billion (USD20.8 million) with Ksh612 million (USD 6.1 million) worth of the same being destroyed.

The fight has seen unscrupulous dealers change tact, moving their counterfeiting activities from warehouses to their home compounds.

ACA has however vowed to go after individuals in the homes with support from security officials.

“With the ongoing inter-agency crackdown, people have moved from go-downs to their homes. We are going after them in their homes,” Halake warned.

The government’s anti-counterfeit war has received backing from the international community and institutions.

Last year,Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) signed a financing agreement worth USD1.5 million with the Anti-Counterfeit Authority to support the fight against counterfeits in the country.

READ:Kenya to digitize war on counterfeits with US$1.5 million kitty from Trade Mark

ACA is expected to use the funds to develop an online platform that will improve the efficiency of tracing and seizing of counterfeit goods.

The private sector has since welcomed recent amendments in the Anti-Counterfeit Act saying they will make it easier to deal with counterfeiters.

The vice has been described as a hindrance to the growth of the local manufacturing industry, which could affect the realization of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big 4 agenda on manufacturing, as the government targets to increase the sectors GDP contribution to above 15 per cent from the current paltry 7.5 per cent.

Majority of the counterfeit goods are said to be originating from Asian countries, mainly china.

Huge consignments are either exported to Kenya directly or through neighbouring countries, before being smuggled into the country.

The long-stretch porous borders along the Kenya-Tanzania and the Uganda border have been blamed for entry of contrabands. Somalia and Ethiopia are also routes used by rogue businessmen to sneak counterfeits into Kenya.

READ:Is Tanzania,Uganda dumping counterfeits in Kenya?

The post How Kenya is arming itself to fight counterfeits appeared first on The Exchange.

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Kenya and the European Union (EU) have renewed their commitment to a stronger relationship that will enhance trade, support businesses and growth of their economies.

This came after President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday hosted a business dialogue meeting with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), the delegation of the European Union in Kenya and the European Business Council (EBC) at State House Nairobi.

On the side-lines of this meeting, President Kenyatta also met with ambassadors from the European Union countries to discuss trade related matters.

Besides fostering the relationship between the private sector in Kenya and their counterparts from the EU operating in Kenya, the meeting aimed at seeking investment commitments from the private sector in Big Four agenda and the Blue Economy sector, forging a formal dialogue engagement between KEPSA, EBC and the government of Kenya.

The business dialogue meeting between KEPSA and EBC was conducted in two sessions. The first session was a brainstorming session chaired by Kenya’s Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.

The second session was chaired by President Kenyatta and attended by the European Union Ambassadors where by key investments in the country by both KEPSA and EBC members were announced.

KEPSA CEO Carole Kariuki who made a presentation on the opportunities in Big Four and Blue Economy emphasised on the need for the private sector “to identify specific opportunities and make commitments in order to spur economic transformation for job and wealth creation.”

KEPSA Chairman Nik Nesbitt, in his presentation took note of the “need to sustain talks and vigour on continuous improvement of the business environment, to ensure a level playing field for all the players in the economy.”

READ:Business leaders converge to shape Africa’s future

During the forum, CS Munya said the government is keen to ensure growth of investments and creation of jobs, which will be achieved through a number of initiatives.

They include stepping up bilateral efforts to address Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and the Cabinet approval of the National Investment Policy that awaits gazettement and implementation.

The policy will create a framework for investment in Kenya and will be enjoined with amendments of the law on definition of the local content to include all companies that operate in Kenya regardless of the share of local ownership.

The CS has proposed for a quarterly dialogue for the KEPSA–EU Business Council meeting with the government with an initial working meeting in two weeks.

President Kenyatta’s meeting with the ambassadors focused on the areas Kenya can improve to facilitate business.

Speaking at the meeting, the President assured the private sector of his government’s commitment on improving ease of doing business and reducing the cost of doing business in Kenya.

READ:Kenya ranks 61 from 80 in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business

He re-assured the private sector of his continued efforts and focus on “scaling-up regional programmes and open up markets for Kenya products.”

“All businesses in Kenya need to have a level playing field regardless of whether local or international,” President Kenyatta noted, adding that “a conducive business environment should lead to commitment and in turn transformation the agenda of the country.”

The President observed that his government will continue promoting good business practices and will not relent the fight on corruption. The business environment should be transparent and fair, President Kenyatta said.

READ ALSO:Corruption threat to my “Big Four Agenda” President Kenyatta warns

Corruption in government has been driven by late payment to suppliers, according to the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), where suppliers have been forced to bribe to get paid.

Meanwhile, President Kenyatta has recommended the EU Business Council to join KEPSA so that they can be part of the quarterly Presidential Round Table meetings which he holds with private sector under the leadership of KEPSA.

The President has applauded the investment commitment made by the private sector, saying he hopes for more investment in Kenya.

The post Kenya-European Union foster stronger business, investment ties appeared first on The Exchange.

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Welcome to Jack’s world. Jack is a photographer based in Dar-es-Salaam who recently set up a sole proprietorship.

His dream is to grow into a visual interior design firm that furnishes affluent homes, office spaces, and restaurants with compelling imagery for their otherwise boring walls.

Every one of Jack’s hours is valuable to achieving his ambition.

Jack is not alone. East Africa is burgeoning with small businesses that are formalizing. With this formalization – setting up a company, relentless selling, and paying taxes – comes a heavy investment in time and a meticulous focus on prioritizing what matters most on any given day.

A popular misconception is that it’s easier today for small businesses to grow due to the plethora of digital marketing tools available.

From automatic logo generators and photo editors to website builders and social media schedulers, business owners are able to get things done faster. But this comes with a new definition of cost in terms of time and knowledge. This cost is challenging the Do It Yourself (DIY) culture against the resurgence of Do It For You (DIFY or D4U) acumen.

Time investment

Jack has been able to generate initial business because of his strong presence in social media. As his business grew, he signed up for a basic accounting tool in the cloud. With this tool, he is able to create estimates, invoices and receipts for his client on go from his mobile phone. But as he meets more international clients, he has been asked about his website, which he has not set up yet because the options seem too expensive or demand too much of his time.

After soliciting a few quotes from web designers (D4U), Jack found that it cost approximately $500 to get a professional website going for one year. And when he did the research on website builders (DIY), he found that his first year investment would need to be $60 in addition to the time he would spend putting the site together. He figured it would take roughly 10 hours to do a good job himself, which would see him lose about $1,000 in revenue from working at a shoot. It would seem in this case that Jack’s better option is to hire a web designer to get the job done.

Jack’s example is, again, not new. As much as DIY tools in digital marketing empower business owners to learn new skills, they also come at a cost of valuable time otherwise spent earning.

Learning investment

Good marketing is never automatic. Great campaigns come with thorough research, tireless creativity, and extreme focus on detail. These skills are not mitigated by digital marketing tools, especially not by tools that make you do the work. In fact, you would need to be really good at these skills to manage a DIY tool in order to create something that works for your customers.

A key variable that will help business owners like Jack decide whether they want to do things themselves, or have the experts do it, is on the level of learning they are willing to engage in.

Whichever way he chooses, Jack can produce a site today but be at odds with its relevance next year. The methods of marketing are likely to continue changing; from social media to augmented reality. What will always remain the same in marketing is relevance; we simply have a shortner attention span when it comes to stuff that’s not relevant to our individual lives.

This demands care for audience research – not just along one industry but several complementary industries – that not all business owners can afford because they have outweighed responsibility within their own sectors.

Doing things yourself has benefits, but so does having those things done for you. At the right price, digital marketing service providers can take care of important pipeline elements for business owners. What will matter is how much time and learning they demand of their clients.

Al-Amin Kheraj owns and operates Lateral Labs in Tanzania, the company behind a fully-managed subscription website service for small and growing businesses (w.co.tz).

The post DIY vs D4U: Shifting approaches to digital services in East Africa appeared first on The Exchange.

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Kenya has unveiled yet another beautifully crafted policy document to guide adoption of technology in the country.  The new digital economy blueprint was unveiled to investors and guests attending the Transform Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. The blueprint themed “powering Kenya’s transformation” moves to harness more uses of ICT to boost Kenya’s economy.

The blueprint was unveiled in the presence of over 4,000 participants among them government bureaucrats, policymakers, innovators and technology investors who are meeting to discuss how ICT resources can be harnessed to boost African economies.

Through the blueprint, the government aims at enhancing the contribution of ICTs to the economy through digital governance solutions, digitizing business processes, facilitating infrastructure delivery, innovation driven entrepreneurship and promotion of digital skills and values.

“We are the new frontier for trade and investment with estimates indicating that by 2025, business opportunities in Africa will be about US$ 5.6 trillion. More importantly, we have evolved platforms for driving this collective destiny of our prosperity,” said President Kenyatta.

Kenya has stood as a great driver of ICT growth in Africa with various initiatives driving economic growth and employment.

According to Cabinet Secretary of Information and Communication JoeMucheru, Kenya stands a great chance of harnesing the use of ICT to create new industries.

“New industries are being created a variety of new products and services, both for the Kenyan and the increasingly accessible global market. The adoption of new technologies is also creating well-paying jobs for professionals of diverse backgrounds, translating into improvement in quality of life, increased connectedness and other auxiliary benefits to citizens.”

This Blueprint relies on a much broader concept and defines the Digital Economy as “the entirety of sectors that operate using digitally-enabled communications and networks leveraging internet, mobile and other technologies”. Digital technologies have been deployed in different parts of national economies for decades, notably in communications networks, but it was the Internet and Internet Protocol (IP)-enabled networks that created a universal platform to form the foundation of the digital economy for all sectors.

Major technologies emanating from Kenya has been driven by private sector and innovation hubs present in the country but are guided by a strong policy framework that has supported innovation.

On electronic commerce, President Kenyatta noted that it would be very difficult to conduct business across Africa without the ability to pay remotely through digital channels. “Indeed, 39% of private enterprises in Kenya are engaged in e-commerce and 70% of all e-commerce payments in Kenya are settled through various mobile money payment platforms,” he said.

Read also: Challenge: Kenya’s smartest ICT students heading to South Africa

The post Evaluating Kenya’s new digital economy blueprint appeared first on The Exchange.

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Safaricom is in the spotlight again after the giant telco’s mobile money service, M-Pesa, experienced a massive outage less than six months after another outage crippled the service.

On Thursday, May 16, M-Pesa services were unavailable following the hitch which occurred at 1805hrs.

A message circulated online indicated that the outage had occurred at 1806 affecting all M-Pesa services.

This meant that users could not access all services including M-Shwari, Fuliza, Till payments and PayBills among others.

More than two hours later, Safaricom issued a press statement saying the service had been restored.

Investigating Safaricom

In December, Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru ordered the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to work with the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to establish causes of the outage.

The December service blackout left millions of Safaricom’s M-Pesa customers unable to transact.

At the time, the event was estimated to have cost the Kenyan economy billions of shillings.

The outage lasted several hours leaving users unable to pay bills, shop and to send or receive money.

CA does not accept interruptions of more than one hour meaning that Safaricom faces sanctions over the outage like it did in December.

M-Pesa services restored

The telco said on Thursday evening that it had restored the mobile money transfer service after the outage.

In a statement on Twitter, Safaricom apologised for the inconveniences caused blaming the breakdown on snags affecting its database.

“We have restored all M-Pesa services following an outage that occurred 1805hrs,” the terse statement said.

After the December outage, Mucheru said that his ministry expected remedial measures Safaricom would take to ensure that such an outage does not happen again in the future.

Interestingly, the outage began at about 1830hrs and persisted beyond 2330hrs and just like Thursday’s incidence, Safaricom attributed the hitch to a database problem.

History of outages

On Monday, April 24, 2017, Safaricom was hit by an outage that left millions of customers in a communication blackout.

The outage began at about 9.40 a.m. and persisted till 4.30 p.m. with the cause not yet made public by day end.

At the time, Safaricom subscribers could not make voice calls, send text messages or transact on M-Pesa.

CA cautioned that unless the shutdown was an “act of God”, Safaricom would be sanctioned.

The outage was so bad that CA Director-General, Francis Wangusi, said the agency had to “physically” send people to Safaricom just to get an idea of what was happening.

Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore said the operator had lost connectivity in its core network and the redundant path.

“This shouldn’t happen. It is unusual that both failed,” he said in a statement.

Another outage hit Safaricom in July 2017 putting the company under intense regulatory pressure.

Technological disaster fiscal risk for Kenya

In 2016, Treasury warned that a blackout on the M-Pesa platform could cost the government substantial losses in corporate tax revenue.

Treasury added that a technological disaster in the M-Pesa-dominated mobile money sector is a potential financial risk for Kenya.

Operators are required to provide redundancies for their networks by CA but the outages show that current safeguards may not be enough.

Kenyans rely heavily on mobile money transfers and network downtimes are negatively affecting financial transactions upsetting the entire economy.

Treasury’s 2016 report placing mobile money transfer systems in the ranks of potential threats to the economy.

As of June 30, 2018, mobile service subscriptions in Kenya stand at 45.5 million up from 44.1 million reported in March 2018.

Mobile money services remain dominant in the country’s economy with Kenyans transacting over KShs1.9 trillion between April 1, 2018, and June 30, 2018. This was effected in 727 million transactions.

Mobile money transfer subscriptions stood at 29.6 million with a total of 206,940 agents.

Person to Person transfers amounted to KShs675.5 billion with the value of goods and services transacted over mobile money platform amounting to Sh1.4 trillion.

How M-Pesa outage affects Safaricom, economy

In a mobile money transfer dominated market, any lag in M-Pesa services pushes customers to look for other options to conduct their business.

In addition, Safaricom faces the possibility of a fine leading to the telco facing significant losses.

Businesses that heavily use M-Pesa services also lose out during the outages.

M-Pesa agents, for instance, have to close businesses for as long as the outages last and end up losing both time and money.

While the market is skewed in favour of Safaricom due to its dominance and infrastructure, continued outages inviting competition.

The outages create opportunities for competitors to raid Safaricom for its M-Pesa customers.

To create a competitive market, mobile money interoperability in Kenya is now fully functional. This means that subscribers can move money across different networks.

However, M-Pesa still dominates the sector with over 80 per cent control of the mobile money market.

Read also:

The post Countrywide M-Pesa outage hits Safaricom, Kenyans again appeared first on The Exchange.

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The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) has taken enforcement action against individuals in Kenya who it says has been culpable for unethical undertakings in fixed income securities in the last fear years. The move is seen as CMA’s effort to instill proffesionalism in the securities trading in the country mainly through a scheme known as ‘Front Running’.

CMA has taken enforcement action against Mr. Rodrick Muhoro, a bond trader, following conclusion of investigations with respect to allegation of irregular trading of Government Securities in 2016 and 2017.

Consequently,  CMA has imposed a financial penalty of Kshs 208 Million being twice the amount of benefit Mr Muhoro received from irregular trading and banned him from conducting bonds trading for a period of 10 years.

“According to the investigations, Mr. Muhoro conspired with brokers to defraud investors in bond transactions undertaken between January 2016 and June 2017 through front running,”  a press stament from CMA noted.

The statement also notes that this happened when Mr Muhoro colluded with fixed income dealers at brokerage firms through creation of artificial arbitrage opportunities, thereby realising a capital gain of Kshs104 million by taking advantage of the price differential before the client orders were executed. The gains would later be shared between Mr. Muhoro and fixed income dealers at brokerage firms in contravention of provisions of the Capital Markets Act.

Front-running is a market manipulation scheme involving  an unethical and illegal trading practice in which a broker with advance knowledge of a specific market orders with price differentials of a financial security for  clients earns an arbitrage profit by placing an order for their own account or a person associated with the broker in advance of the client’s orders.

The Authority will refer the matter to the Director of Pubic Prosecution for consideration of criminal investigations on market manipulation; the Asset Recovery Agency to trace and recover assets allegedly bought with illegal capital gains; and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya for consideration of disciplinary action for professional misconduct.

The Capital Market Fraud Investigations Unit (CMFIU) was formed in May 2009 through collaboration by the Kenya Police and Capital Markets Authority (CMA) with a view of consolidating the investigations of all securities related fraud cases under one roof.

The Capital Markets Fraud Investigation Unit deals with matters which involve criminal aspects as per the examples set out above. Upon finalising investigations, the Capital Markets Fraud Investigation Unit pursues prosecution of identified suspects.

The standard of proof for sustaining successful prosecution of persons suspected of criminal offences is generally submission of proof beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecution. Penalties range from fines of up to Ksh15,000,000.00 or a jail term of up to 7 years.

Other matters involving failure to comply with the Capital Markets Regulatory Framework, for example failure to submit financial reports or breaches on rules of governance and conduct of business are handled administratively by the Authority. The Authority is empowered to investigate and undertake enforcement/regulatory action.

In respect of such breaches for a balance of probability for it to exercise its administrative mandate, the scope of actions include fines, censures and disqualifications of persons from holding positions in the industry.

Read also: Kenya’s CMA,Kenya Law publish capital markets case digest Also read: Kenya freezes idle share accounts at Nairobi Securities Exchange

The post Kenya’s security market regulator moves to tame fraud appeared first on The Exchange.

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Social enterprise firm Sistema.bio, the largest biogas company in Africa, has announced plans to impact 100,000 farmers in Kenya with biodigester technology over the next three years following a successful close of a round of fund raising.

The closure of Serie A Investment round worth KShs 1.2 billion is expected to drive its growth in Kenya. The round was lead by international investors ENGIE RDE, EU Electrifi Fund, AlphaMunid, Triodos-Hivos Fund, Dila Capital, EcoEnterprises and other impact and commercial investors. Sistema.bio Co-Founder and CEO, Alex Eaton noted that Kenya’s focus on food security within the Big Four Agenda creates great opportunities for agricultural investments and clean energy.

“Sistema.bio is assembling the bioidigester technology locally, creating employment opportunities for hundreds of Kenyans, while educating farmers on the use of organic fertilizers in their farms, directly supporting the SDGs and the Big Four Agenda,” said Alex.

With the concerns of rising fuel costs, customers are looking to green energy. This reduces carbon emissions and promotes recycling of waste amongst farmers. Kenya aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030, in line with its commitment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

In a country that is heavily reliant on agriculture, its 2018 to 2022 action plan identifies the rise in global temperatures as a major threat to poverty reduction and sustainable development. The awareness by farmers on the effects of global warming has driven an upsurge in demand for the Sistema.bio technology.

In 2017 the Sistema.bio Kenya office secured financing from the Kenya Climate Ventures, Factor[e] and the Shell Foundation to start up its Kenya operations. Sistema.bio Commercial Director Cedrick Todwell noted that since its launch the company has been able to positively improve the livelihoods of thousands of Kenyan farmers in 5 counties.

 “Globally, East Africa represents our fastest growing market. In the last one and a half years of operations in East Africa, Sistema.bio Kenya changed the lives of over 12,000 farmers in Meru, Kiambu, Kericho, Bomet and Eldoret,” said Cedrick.

According to the World Bank, farmers perceive higher crop yields, reduced fuel consumption, and better overall economic performance with the use of biodigesters.

Sistema.bio was recently nominated as a finalist for the prestigious Ashden Award for the best clean cooking solution of 2019. The highly prestigious Awards, a globally recognized mark of excellence in the sustainable energy sector, will announce the winners on July 3rd at London Climate Week.

The company operates globally with the potential to bring clean-energy and sustainable agricultural practices to 100M farmers. In Kenya the company aims to bring technology and service to over 1 million farmers.

Sistema.bio has also been listed as Finalist for the prestigious Ashden Award 2019.

Read also: Green Mini-Grid Programme to light 3 DRC cities

The post Social enterprise Sistema.bio secures USD 12 Million to drive Kenya growth appeared first on The Exchange.

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