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DIAZ: Kenya should build on Africa’s growing wildlife tourism

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By CHRIS DIAZ
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Wildlife-based tourism is growing rapidly worldwide as the number of tourists continues to grow and as travellers seek out new and more enriching personal experiences with local cultures and wildlife. Wildlife tourism is a powerful tool, countries can leverage to grow and diversify their economies while protecting their biodiversity and meeting several Sustainable Development Goals.

While nature-based tourism, which includes wildlife experience, has been expanding rapidly in the last decade or so due to increased demand and opportunities, wildlife and biodiversity are increasingly threatened by habitat loss, poaching, global warming and climate change challenges, plastic waste in our oceans, and a lack of funding for protection.

Egypt best known as the Cradle of Civilization, has been the ranked top in Africa for having the most tourist’s numbers. Tourism in Egypt hit an all-time high in 2010 at 14.7 million visitors (for perspective, Paris had 8.2 million tourists in the same year.) The tourism industry, however, took another hit in 2015, when a chartered Russian plane crashed in the Sinai Peninsula in a purported terrorist attack, the following year, tourism fell to its lowest number in years: 4.8 million. But now, years later, the political situation stabilised, and visitors are already returning to Egypt. There were 8.3 million tourists in 2017, and the 2018 numbers were approximately higher.

South Africa on the other hand continues to be an attractive tourist destination for travellers from across the world, with figures showing quite a significant increase. Statistics South Africa released official tourism figures showing that South Africa welcomed a total of 8,589,778 tourists between January and October 2018 compared to the 8,444,652 tourists that visited South Africa during the same period the previous year.

Meanwhile, the efforts to market Kenya both as a tourism and investment destination seem to be finally bearing fruits. For instance, Kenya’s 2018 tourist arrivals grew by 37.33 per cent from the previous year to cross the two-million mark for the first time, posting a significant growth in earnings to Sh157 billion, as the tourism industry is Kenya’s third biggest source of foreign currency. The earnings are a 31.2 per cent improvement from the Sh119 billion earned in 2017, according to Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.  The latest statistics show there were 2,025,206 tourists arriving compared with 1,474,671 international arrivals in the previous year.

This is a significant growth as it is attractive to the market and showing result.

However, after being ranked by Brand Finance as the fourth best performing brand in the world, and third in Africa in its latest report of the most valuable nation brands, we should aim for a higher tourist arrival this year and at least hit a minimum of four million. Moreover, the report said the country was among the 100 most valuable brands at position 72, with an A+ rating after a GDP raking of Sh5.2 trillion in 2018 compared to Sh3.8 trillion in 2017. However, despite terrorism challenges the tourism industry shows growth and Kenya remains solid and a favourite tourist and visitor destination.

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Concerning wildlife in Africa, a scientist has sounded the alarm over declining wildlife populations in Kenya. The Thomson’s gazelle, warthog and oryx among others are under severe threat, and they have declined by more than 70 per cent. Numbers of Grevy’s zebra and waterbuck have fallen lower than 2,000, putting them among species whose future viability is under extreme risk. Not to mention there are only about 2,000 lions left compared to 2,280 in 2004, according to Kenya Wildlife Service.

Kenya, however, boosted its war on ivory trade by signing a petition calling on the European Union (EU) to ban ivory trade and close markets. The petition was part of a campaign aimed at asking European countries to close their ivory markets. China has long been one of the world’s biggest markets for ivory, but as of 2018 all trade in ivory and ivory products in the country was illegal. The move is being hailed as a major development in efforts to protect the world’s elephant population. Wildlife campaigners believe 30,000 African elephants are killed by poachers every year.

The EU however remains the world’s major exporter of legal ivory and presides over a booming trade. It exported 1,258 tusks in 2014 and 2015 alone, more than the previous eight years combined. While much of the demand for ivory comes from Asia, Europe also has a large market. The United Kingdom introduced a new ban on ivory sales in 2018 being one of the strictest in the world, thus allowing for only narrow exceptions. The new rules against ivory trade are expected to come into force by late 2019. On the other hand, Hong Kong ban is yet to come into effect in  December 31, 2021. “All Nations therefore should come together to ban Ivory trade and assist in stopping poaching.”

Tourism has made quite a significant economic impact in Africa. The continent recorded $43.6 billion in revenue. The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was $177.6bn (8.1 per cent of GDP) in 2017, and is forecast to rise by 4 per cent in 2019, and to rise by 4.2 per cent pa to $278.2bn (8.1 per cent of GDP) in 2028. According to the UK’s World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the international tourism sector now accounts for 8.1 per cent of Africa’s total GDP. Africa therefore, needs to heavily invest in technologies/marketing that can attract international tourists if it is to compete favourably on the global market. This influx of tourists means more money coming into the continent. And will greatly create employment and revenue needed by the African Nations.

Mr Diaz is a Brand Africa and EABC Director.



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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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