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Bubbly Bob Collymore leaves rich legacy

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By PAUL WAFULA
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Bob Collymore was not an average chief executive in corporate Kenya.

Despite being in charge of the most successful company that has been minting billions of shillings in profits for its shareholders, he was one of the most approachable top bosses.

He was bubbly, warm and cared for the Kenyan community, championing programmes on the environment and for the vulnerable in the society even as he fought his own cancer battle privately.

In his most recent interview with this writer, a bubbly Bob said he had no plans of going anywhere and had accepted a one-year extension of his contract at Safaricom to compensate for the nine months he had been away on medical leave. He was scheduled to leave the telco in 2020.

On Monday morning, the company announced his demise at his home in Nairobi. 

Bob, a Guyanese-born British citizen, leaves behind a rich legacy, having steered the company to its best performance ever since taking over in November 2010.

The telecom made so much money that it gave its shareholders a bonus dividend, a rare occurrence in the region. 

Safaricom in March declared a record Ksh63.4 billion ($616 million) full-year profit, a 14.7 percent jump in the earnings it made the previous year.

It also declared a special dividend of Ksh24.8 billion ($241 million) in addition to the normal dividend of Ksh50 billion ($486 million).

Bob scored highly in promoting women at the workplace and today the ratio of women to men at the company is nearly 50:50.

The telco’s childcare programme for working mothers has also been lauded as a best practice that promotes career growth by the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The programme supports employees with children through on-site crèches, ‘bring your child to work’ policy, as well as additional paid maternity leave beyond the duration stipulated in the law.

“Bob Collymore was an astute business leader who led Safaricom, the industry and the nation to great heights. He will be fondly remembered for his commitment to transforming the lives of Kenyans through advocating for purposeful business in courageous areas such as anti-corruption, governance and sustainable business,” Nation Media Group CEO Stephen Gitagama said in his condolence message.

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) said Bob helped make M-Pesa, the world’s most developed mobile payment platform, and its associated products a core part of Kenya’s financial infrastructure.

“Through his leadership of the company at a crucial time, Bob helped position Kenya as a global leader in financial inclusion. His legacy will live on through all the people in Kenya and throughout the world whose lives have been changed by Safaricom’s innovations,” CBK Governor, Dr Patrick Njoroge said.

Under his leadership, Safaricom has embraced the slogan of ‘transforming lives,’ which has seen it take on various corporate social responsibility projects from water, schools, and entrepreneurship.

In him, the company saw a CEO that provided both stability and results.

The Kenyan media found him, one of the warmest CEO’s to interview. He interacted freely with journalists and hardly shied away from the difficult questions. He never resorted to underhand, dirty tricks employed by several CEOs whenever they are unhappy with the stories.

He would admit whenever the firm failed to achieve any of its targets. For instance, in the recent results announcements, he said its Masoko, its e-commerce site had not picked up as expected and that the company would go back to the drawing board to re-engineer it.

“I have hundreds of texts with Bob Collymore going back to 2011. He responded to each of the countless interview requests, banter and more recently, health updates. He lived a full, passionate life. So long, my friend,” posted former NTV journalist and current BBC editor Larry Madowo alongside an emoji of a broken heart.

When he returned from cancer treatment abroad, he chose to go public and share his experience, bringing cancer back to the national debate.

This has boosted awareness on the deadly disease that continues to claim more lives in the country.

“Bob was very brave in telling the country what he was going through. It’s not easy to reveal such personal details, but Bob did it,” Safaricom chairman Nicholas Ng’ang’a said on Monday.

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AfDB wars: Targeting an African man or an African bank?

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By AGGREY MUTAMBO

Dr Akinwumi Adesina was probably more known for working with rural agricultural communities than scandal. Now, as President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), he may be punch ball of a global political agenda pitting the US against African leaders, and maybe China.

Since last month, Dr Adesina has been fighting allegations of inappropriate acts that could ruin his career and roil a near-certain unopposed re-election this August. But his stay, or going, could punctuate relations between Africa and the US.

On Tuesday, some observers told the Nation the impasse over the credibility of the Bank’s President could ruin more than his career.

“The leadership crisis at the AfDB is too important to ignore, especially at this time when the lender is raising funds to shore up its capital base for onward lending to African countries, many of which are battling debt crisis and the corona pandemic,” Dr Peter Mwencha, a specialist in international political economy and CEO of the International Relations Society of Kenya said, referring to the Bank’s bid to raise more than $100 billion from shareholders.

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“From a geopolitical perspective, this issue has brought up concerns about allowing foreigners an outsized stake in African affairs. Africans are questioning why foreigners should have such a huge influence in such an important African institution,” he added, but challenged African leaders to consider raising their shareholding of the Bank.

Here is how: As Nigeria’s Agriculture minister, Dr Adesina was named Forbes Person of the Year in 2013, for ‘revolutionising’ agricultural policies in his country.

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There had been no scandal against him since he took over as President AfDB in 2015. In fact, he has led the institution, formed in 1964, on a campaign to steer clear of fossil fuel projects, dumping all dirty coal-related funding and instead focusing on powering rural homes using renewable energy.

That was until January this year when anonymous employees of the bank wrote to some directors alleging Dr Adesina had overreached his hand, awarding contracts to his cronies and relatives as well as using the position to enhance his personal stature.

When more allegations, anonymously, emerged in April about how he had paid employees who resigned mysteriously, the AfDB board endorsed an internal audit. That committee returned a report suggesting there had been no evidence linking Dr Adesina to the allegations.

But the US government wasn’t satisfied so Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wrote a letter rejecting the results of the internal audit. He argued the dismissal of all allegations against Dr Adesina will “tarnish the reputation of the institution,” according to a May 28 letter to the AfDB board.

One employee of the Bank, who wished to remain anonymous told the Nation AfDB has witnessed high profile resignations in the past five years, with the officials being paid handsome severance packages suspected to buy their silence. Dr Adesina denies any wrong doings.

But the US stance, to have Dr Adesina re-investigated, has seen African leaders, including Nigeria where he comes from rally behind their man.

Nigerian ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo rallied more than a dozen other former leaders to endorse an open letter to Washington, warning the stance would divert the Bank’s attention to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“At this critical time that Africa is battling with Covid-19, the Bank and its President should not be distracted,” Mr Obasanjo argued in a letter that was also signed by Mr Jakaya Kikwete, Mr Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Joachim Chissano, Ms Ellen-Johnson Sirleaf, Ms Joyce Banda, Mr Tandja Mamadou and several other leaders.

While the leaders called for respect for protocol, they raised a pan-African issue, indicating the Bank was the most important institution on the continent and that it was “the pride of Africa.

All African countries are members of the Bank, but it also has 27 members from countries outside the continent. It, however, lends exclusively to Africa.

Nigeria and the US are the biggest AfDB shareholders. The two command a 15 per cent share combined, but Nigeria has 9.1 per cent in the institution formed 55 years ago.

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Kenya’s single-use plastic ban in protected areas takes effect

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The single-use plastics ban in Kenya will take effect this Friday and according to the Trend Report, it is a logical next step in reducing the amount of unsustainably disposed plastics. 

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

The ban will be in effect in all Kenya’s protected areas including its beaches, national parks, conservation areas and forests.

According to a newly launched trend report by Sustainable Inclusive Business (SIB-Kenya), the ban is a logical next step in reducing the amount of unsustainably disposed plastics; after the 2017 ban on throw away carrier bags.

Results indicate an 80%success rate and reduced polythene bags along Kenya’s coastline, parks and drainages.

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Speaking about the launch of the report, the Sustainable Inclusive Business Director Karin Boomsma noted that “This comes at a time when we see an increase in single-use plastic products, and the ban will go a long way in encouraging the adoption of the refuse, rethink, remanufacture, recycle, and recover model of production”.

Plastic production is expected to double over the next 20 years, most of which will be single use packaging material.

The report provides more insights into the implications of the Kenyan single-use plastic ban on the economy, planet and people, and how businesses both small and established can prepare for alternatives.

The ban on single use plastics places Kenya among the first movers in a trend towards a cleaner and healthier environment globally.

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Other African countries in the frontline of eliminating the use of single-use plastics with combined total bans and levy on retailers include Rwanda and South Africa.

With Kenya being one of the fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, the landfill menace is expected to expand faster, posing both environmental and health risks to the country and its people.

If well implemented, the ban on single-use plastics will profit public health, tourism and agriculture, among others. This is by ensuring a cleaner environment with less plastic pollution, a factor beneficial not only to human health, but also to biodiversity and will make Kenya’s tourism destinations more appealing for both domestic and foreign travelers.

The report highlights three megatrends preceding the single use plastic ban. These include the need to shift towards the circular economy, the need for businesses to adopt a more holistic approach in their relationship with nature and the need to deal with externalities such as plastic waste pollution, emissions or the depletion of resources.

“Innovation will help us replace plastic with more sustainable materials, which requires new production and sourcing systems as well as new business models. Therefore, public-private partnerships will go a long way to ensuring businesses have access to sustainable alternatives to the banned items, which will also provide huge opportunities for the private sector to create new jobs,” added Boomsma.

Besides the trend report, SIB-Kenya has set up an online crash course available to the public, aimed at helping readers understand the plastic ban concept, policy overview, best practices from frontrunners as well as ways to deal with the ban in Kenya.

A recent expression of interest for suppliers of alternatives to the single-use plastics sent out by the organization, further aims to create a linkage with players in the hospitality, travel, tourism, and MICE industries.

The ban includes cutlery, straws, balloons, PET-bottles, cigarette butts, sweet wrappers, and other products containing polymers that are harmful to the environment when not properly disposed.

 

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Meet George Floyd baby mama, daughter – Nairobi News

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As the world struggles to recover from the cruel death of George Floyd in the hands of the Minneapolis Police, the deceased’s baby mama has made an emotional plea for justice, sobbing as she insisted he was a good man “no matter what anybody thinks”.

With her six-year-old daughter Gianna clinging to her, Roxie Washington said she wanted all four officers involved in Floyd’s death to pay for the death, which has sparked fierce protests across the US and the world.

“At the end of the day, they get to go home and be with their families. Gianna doesn’t have a father. He will never see her group up, graduate. He will never walk her down the aisle.”

She made these remarks during a news conference at Minneapolis City Hall.

“He loved her, he loved her so much,” she said.

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“I’m here for my baby. I’m here for George because I want justice for him because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks, he was good.”

Floyd, 46, died last week in Minneapolis after police officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on his neck for at least eight minutes while arresting him for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 note at a shop.

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