It has been a mixed-bag of fortunes this year; several milestones were registered, but there have also been lows in the country’s sporting scene. The Business Daily reviews some of these moments
KIPCHOGE BREAKS MARATHON WORLD RECORD
The most memorable scene in Kenya’s 2018 sports was on September 16 when Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge shattered the marathon world record with a blistering run in Berlin, cutting an amazing 78 seconds off the prior best.
The 33-year-old ran an official time of two hours, one minute and 39 seconds — smashing Dennis Kimetto’s previous record that had stood since 2014.
“I lack words to describe this day,” said Kipchoge who in 2017 missed out on becoming the first athlete to run under two hours for the marathon by 26 seconds.
Kipchoge’s feat on that sunny day in the German capital was further crowned by another win for Kenya in the women’s race. The women’s race was won by Gladys Cherono of Kenya in 2:18:11.
HARAMBEE STARS QUALIFY FOR AFCON
Kenya is back to Africa’s biggest soccer showpiece after 15 years in the limbo.
Harambee Stars for years known for disappointing attempts to qualify for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) since the last appearance in Tunisia in 2004 finally made it back.
Convincing wins at home against fancied Black Stars of Ghana and the Walla Antelopes of Ethiopia and a hard-earned draw away in Addis Ababa saw Harambee Stars take at least second spot.
A win or draw in the last match in Accra will confirm them as group winners, earning Stars a chance to be seeded at next year’s edition.
Kenya has for decades struggled to make a comeback to the continental tourney since the glorious 70s and 80s.
GOR MAHIA MAINTAIN GOOD RUN IN CONTINENTAL CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP
Local giants Gor Mahia also returned Kenya to continental club championship by qualifying for the CAF Confederations Cup group stage, a feat last achieved three decades ago en-route to winning the then Nelson Mandela Cup in 1989.
The club missed out on a place in the quarters by a solitary point after a 2-1 loss away in Algiers against USM Alger.
Gor Mahia had, however, made a mark in continental club soccer and capped the year with a trip to Goodison Park where they lost 4-0 to English side Everton in the Sportpesa Cup.
The two were the highest points in the local soccer and brought back optimism after many years of dismal runs in both national and club tourneys.
Harambee Stars are back at Afcon while Gor Mahia took a big step towards an historic place in the lucrative CAF Champions League group. They stand to win Sh55 million if they make the group stage.
They thrashed Lobi Stars of Nigeria 3-1 on Sunday and hold a healthy lead heading to the return match in Lagos on Friday.
The national rugby Sevens side hit a historic 100-point per season for the first time at the London leg of the IRB Sevens. The then Innocent Simiyu-led charges achieved the feat after thrashing Argentina 42-10 to reach the Challenge Trophy final in June.
SEVERAL ATHLETICS STARS CAUGHT IN DOPING SCANDALS
Kenyan athletics has this year had embarrassing moments after several athletes were caught in doping scandals.
Renowned 1,500 metres world and former Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop was the biggest casualty in the drugs shame when he tested positive for the banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO) in November last year.
The three-time world champion is yet to make a return to the track and faces a potential ban by IAAF.
Sprinter Boniface Mweresa was expelled from the country’s team to the Africa Senior Championship in Asaba Nigeria after failing a doping test in July.
Former Commonwealth Games 10,000 metres champion Lucy Kabuu was suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) in August.
The agency, charged by IAAF to monitor doping among athletes said Kabuu tested positive for morphine during the Milan marathon in April that she won.
The four join a stellar cast of former three-time Boston City marathon champion Rita Jeptoo and 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics champion Jemima Sumgong serving provisional suspensions.
The country known for its dominance in the middle and long distance running ends the year amid doping controversy that has clouded Kipchoge’s stellar achievement.
Former 400 metres World champion Nicholas Bett died in August, a huge loss for local athletics. Bett died in a road accident in August in Sochoi area Nandi, robbing the country of arguably its best sprinter for years.
Bett won Kenya its first-ever sprinting gold during the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.
In May, former Kenya Under-20 international athlete Sheila Chepng’etich passed on. The 2014 World Under-20 1500m bronze medallist, who was serving a ban on a doping offence, died at Kericho County Referral Hospital.
Chepng’etich, who won silver in 3000m and bronze in 1500m at the 2013 Africa Under-20 Championships had been serving the four-year ban since 2014 after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substances during the Iris Lotto Cross Cup in Belgium on December 21, 2014. The 22-year-old also represented Kenya at the 2013 World Cross Country Championships in Poland, finishing eighth in Under-20 race.
In January, the gaming firm withdrew its more than Sh1 billion sponsorship to local sports after the government increased from 7.5 per cent to 35 per cent.
The top flight Kenya Premier League (KPL), both 15-aside and 7-aside national rugby teams were the biggest losers after Sportpesa withdrew its sponsorship worth millions of shillings over increased taxation by the government.
Football Kenya Federation(FKF), Kenya Rugby Union(KRU), Kenyan Premier League(KPL), AFC Leopards Football Club, Gor Mahia Football Club, Nakuru All Stars Football Club and the Kenya Boxing Association(KBA) were also big losers.
Sportpesa came back in April after government slashed the taxation rate to 15 per cent but did not renew its deal with KRU and rugby has since been experiencing new lows.
RUGBY SIDE BLOCKS BRAND KENYA LOGO
Players of the national Sevens rugby team, Shujaa, blacked out the Brand Kenya logo during the IRB Sevens leg in Paris in June to protest delayed payment from the Ministry of Tourism, highlighting the funding troubles at KRU.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.