Progress, whether for an individual or people, is not an accident. It is deliberate. It starts with a desire for something better than the current. This is then followed by a decision to pursue this and sustained efforts towards making the dream a reality.
Just over 102 years ago, my father came to Kenya. Armed only with vernacular education acquired in India, he could barely speak, read or write in English or Kiswahili, the country’s main languages. He would later venture into business, running a shop, but always leaned heavily on others for help with official correspondence, conducting bank transactions and other errands that required reading or writing. My mother, on the other hand, was illiterate.
It is from their background that my parents decided that if the future of their children had to be any different than theirs, they had to be educated. No effort was spared and eventually, all his children not only went to university, but also went on to build and run a successful family business.
It is from this foresight of investing in our education that we were able to transform the small Mombasa-based family business that employed only 40 people into a behemoth employing about 40,000 people, with operations in 40 countries. It all started with my parents’ strong desire to make the lives of their children better than what they had.
Similarly, about a decade ago, Kenya took a deliberate decision to improve the quality of life of its people. Coming just after the unfortunate post-election violence that led to loss of property, destruction of property, and a general economic slump, the country wrote up what would become Vision 2030 to do more than just restore it to its heyday.
The desire was for a newly industrialised, upper middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030 in a clean and secure environment. I had the honour of participating in the development of this vision, together with other individuals from the public and private sectors, with the happiness of our people as our driving force.
It was about the private sector becoming partners rather than adversaries with government, in order to deliver a greater good. The first step, flowing out of the creation of a National Economic and Social Council (NESC) just as it is in other emerging economies, was instituting a longer term national development blueprint, as opposed to the then five-year plans. This was critical even for the private sector, because once a decision is made on a policy direction, businesses can plan and invest, safe in the knowledge that all is stable and predictable.
It was thinking about the future of our children and how to make it better; considering the future population and how to look after it by delivering amenities, such as education and health. It was imagining the lives of children born in 2008 and the years to come, creating what we desired for them as adults, and planning for it in a manner that guaranteed them a better future.
It was ensuring that these children do not go to bed without food, do not live in slums and are also able to attain their aspirations. It was making sure that every Kenyan could earn a decent enough living to take care of their families.
A decade later, huge strides have been made towards delivering the Kenya that was envisioned. We probably would not be where we are if we neither had a dream, nor aggressively worked towards achieving it. Progress is the difference between doing something to improve the lot of our children or doing nothing. If my father had not thought of the future of his children and pushed himself to work towards it, we probably would have ended up like him.
Progress does not happen overnight – and neither will Kenya’s economic transformation. The vision had to be planned for, thought about, borne, and steadfastly implemented. So much has been achieved over the last ten years, and a lot more still remains to be done.
Most importantly, we need to cultivate local industry by fixing its challenges and ensuring that it is big enough to feed and look after all Kenyans by creating job opportunities for them. We need to bring back the cobblers and tailors who previously dotted the streets to fix shoes and clothes. This change can only happen if people are effectively doing something that cumulatively adds up to national progress.
Thankfully, the foundation to facilitate an economic take off has been laid over the last ten years of implementing Vision 2030. We are inching closer to delivering this Kenya that we want to our children.
Manu Chandaria, industrialist.
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.