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Empowering consumers to be agents of change

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Empowering consumers through provision of information is one of the strategies to push them to act and call for positive change in the society. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Code4Africa, a Kenyan non-governmental organisation, is currently monitoring Nairobi’s air quality using internet of things (IoT) enabled sensors.

This will allow them to relay information to consumers in a bid to raise awareness of the toxicity levels in the city.

The air quality sensors that were deployed in August last year as the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that the level of fine particulate matter in Nairobi is 17 micrograms per cubic metre, which is 70 per cent above the recommended maximum level.

This pollution is due to car emissions, open burning of plastics, rubber and litter as well as the construction boom that has emitted dust. Studies have linked these emissions cancer, impotence, allergies, heart and lung damage, and affect our mental faculties.

“Code4Africa is using civic technologies and open data to build digital democracies that afford consumers timely and unrestricted access to actionable information that enables them to make informed decisions and that supports civic engagement for enhanced public governance and accountability,” said Code4Africa.

The NGO is seeking to reduce health implications that are likely to occur in Nairobi with its gadgets. From its website, sensors. Africa, consumers are able to see the level of air toxicity, which is updated every day.

They have been deployed along Nakuru-Nairobi highway near Gitaru, Ruaka, Kabiria, Westlands, Hurlingham, Jamuhuri and Langata Road among other locations.

The sensors use IoT network provided by Liquid Telecom to communicate and receive data which is relayed to the Code4Africa headquarters in Off Ngong Road, Nairobi. They monitor air, water and sound pollution to giving consumers information about their areas.

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Empowering people through provision of information is one of the strategies to push them to act and call for change.

In a case study released in 2011 conducted by environmental science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Dara O’Rourke on the strategies NGOs use to influence global production and consumption, he found that they launch campaigns that appeal to their concerns.

“NGOs are no longer waiting for green consumers to emerge or hoping for a sea change in consumer lifestyles. Instead, they are advancing new strategies that use existing concerns of consumers to influence producers, and simultaneously working to expand and deepen these consumer concerns to demand greater improvements in products and services,” reported O’Rourke.

He studied a group of NGOs comprising Press for Change, Global Exchange, Sweatshop and Oxfam Community Aid Abroad, and United Students Against Sweatshops among other NGOs in 1997 that launched an anti-sweatshop campaign that sought to expose the poor conditions of clothes’ factories in Asia.

However, in a bid to give their campaign more traction and appeal to consumers, it targeted Nike, which at the time was the number one merchandiser of sports shoes globally with over $10bn in annual sales.

The NGOs then started monitoring factories in the producer countries and transferred the information to consumer countries so as to increase public awareness in the United States and Europe.

They called for a boycott of Nike products by consumers and lobbied government bodies to require Nike to change its practices.

For fear that the campaign would lead to sales drop, Nike created a recycling programme called reuse-a shoe in all its factories globally and agreed to meet the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration air quality regulations in all its factories around the world.

It also reduced the organic solvent content in its shoes by 95 per cent, phasing out polyvinyl chloride and is currently involved in investing in developing alternative, more environmentally sustainable products.

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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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