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Cruise traffic falls as terminal delays

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Mombasa cruise traffic falls as terminal delays

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A cruise ship at the port of Mombasa last year. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The cruise traffic to the county last year fell, with only four vessels docking at the Mombasa port, even as the government announced a third delay in the completion of a Sh350 million cruise ship terminal.

According to the 2018 port performance data for the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), the country received 2,333 cruise passengers last year, a marginal drop from 2,342 the previous year.

The traffic has been on a low, from a high of 5,072 passengers on six vessels in 2015, before dropping to 2,298 a year later after a series of travel advisories, and terror incidence on the coast.

Last week, it emerged that the construction of the Sh350 million terminal was initially set to be completed in August this year has been pushed to November.

The works are at 40 percent.

“The terminal is currently 40 per cent complete and will further boost cruise tourism when it is fully operational by November this year,” Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary (CS) Najib Balala, said during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inspection of the construction at the port of Mombasa.

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The works on cruise terminal, which began in December 2016, was expected to be completed in August 2017, but was pushed to 2018 then later this year “due of unavoidable circumstances.”

In 2017, Mr Balala blamed the contractor for the delays, saying the government had laid a strategy in developing cruise ship tourism.

“I am disappointed and this is not acceptable, because the schedule was supposed to be August 2017; it did not take place, it was moved to November and then I am told it is being moved to August (2018),” Mr Balala then said

In February, the sector suffered a blow when the country lost estimated 2,000 tourists in two cruise ships destined for the Port of Mombasa getting diverted to other destinations following a security alert raised by the US government, on the aftermath of the Dusit Hotel terror attacks in Nairobi.

Terrorists killed 21 people in the Dusit attack, but security response was hailed as one of the best.

The US government had issued an alert that Westerners might be targeted by extremists in Nairobi, Naivasha, Nanyuki and the coastal areas.

It cautioned its citizens in Kenya to be careful about terror threats when visiting parts of the country.

Mr Balala said two cruise ships operated by Oceania Cruises were to dock at the Port of Mombasa between February 3; another was expected by the end of March, but they were diverted following the caution.

“But I have raised these issues with the Foreign Affairs and I am disappointed with the US embassy because they have blown the situation out of control; it has scared two of our cruise ships to divert to other destinations,” Mr Balala said then.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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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.

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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.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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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.

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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.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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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.

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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.

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