From the look of it, the BBI (Building Bridges Initiative) report is a great document that collates humble and sincere requests by Kenyans to correctly redefine and implement the Kenya that we need. There is an apparent sincere acceptance that all is not right, and that going forward it cannot be business as usual.
The document itemises the root causes of socio-political obstacles that have often made Kenya take more steps backwards than forward, at an age in our history when the population is growing fast with resources and opportunities remaining mostly static, unexploited, and often wasted. This is mostly attributed to absence of a cohesive and collective national socio-political vision, direction and purpose.
My assessment is that the issues analysed by the document can be grouped into three main chapters – governance and electoral process; national ethics and unity; and national economic modeling. Although these groupings are complementary and inter-related, they will however require different expertise to institutionalise into actionable policies, laws and strategies. It has to be a carefully selected blend of experts (economic, social, religious, political) to move the BBI to the next stage of review and synthesis. The changes should carefully balance needs of today and far into the future.
One very critical and defining statement from the report is “We need an economic revolution, to build an economy that can produce the jobs we need, urgently”. This is a wakeup call to re-model our economic instruments – including policies, strategies, governance, institutions, trade, investments, taxes, credit, value addition, technology, skills, among others – to correct known weaknesses while targeting inclusive and sustainable economic growth into the future.
Yes, a surgical economic review that removes the wasteful duplications and contradictions we have in many current economic policies, laws and regulations. It has to be an economic blueprint that harmonises the needs of today with those of future generations; that ensure equity in economic participation; that prioritises production and value addition; and accommodates private capital participation and entrepreneurship.
The overall target should be to maximise Kenyans’ opportunities for jobs and better incomes. Yes, the BBI presents an opportunity to re-engineer the “Economic Tiger’ that Kenya recklessly allowed to bolt away in the decades past.
Turning to the political aspects of the BBI report, I am not sure the proposed restructuring of the government to include the Prime Minister position will necessarily solve any of the perennial problems we encounter every five years. Political and ethnic homogeneity will only happen when it is sincerely and routinely demonstrated and practiced by top leadership.
When common national purpose and bipartisanship take priority over vocal competitive politics and cynicism, then we shall have begun the process of creating mature elective politics that accommodates others irrespective of their ethnic or social definition. It is a step by step process that must start and be demonstrated today not tomorrow. I believe the handshake on 9 March 2018 was such one critical step that involved personal sacrifices by the two leaders involved.
The BBI report demonstrates honest and sincere determination to unify Kenya and give it a new start.
I have voted in every election since the 1969 elections – though I skipped the 1988 Mlolongo elections – and it has always been a long journey of dashed hopes and missed opportunities. The BBI review should enhance electoral processes and ethics to ensure that every election adds value to the country. The “money factor” should be significantly removed from electoral processes, as this feeds the self-serving corruption cycle.
On devolution, any additional increase in budgetary allocation should be conditioned on counties meeting the 70/30 development/recurrent budgetary requirement, and meeting specific financial governance deliverables. Otherwise we shall be starving national projects without getting meaningful budgetary value at the counties level.
Going forward, I think the BBI report should be re-organised into actionable policy and legal instruments by experts. In the meantime, the 205 Articles of the BBI report should be abridged and made available to all Kenyans to read. I do not see any need for public political sensitisation before the experts have had a good look at the BBI outputs.
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.