Last weekend was brightened up by a golf tournament sponsored by Magical Kenya, the official destination website of Kenya Tourist Board. The tournament is part of the prestigious European tour. It was the first time such a tournament was held in Kenya and broadcasted live on Supersport and other channels.
The European tour was established in 1972. It is the most colourful golf event held in Kenya so far. Among the key players who competed in the tournament were Justin Hardin and Shubanker Sharmar. The tournament, in addition to attracting elite players, now has higher prize money courtesy of sponsors, including the State.
The venue of the tournament was Karen Golf Club established in 1937. It was named after Karen Blixen whose pen name was Isak Dinesen. She was known to have been a friend of WWI German General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck.
Do not ask me for more…
Does holding this tournament in Kenya mean golf has finally come of age in the country?
I think not. We are yet to get our Tiger Woods or Dustin Johnsons. We are yet to give South Africa a serious challenge in this game that still echoes elitism. Our local golfers’ scores in the tournaments mean there is room for improvement. Only two Kenyan professional golfers – Simon Ngigi and Justus Madoya got the cut to the third and fourth rounds and are thus assured of some pay.
It is not that we do not have good golfers. It might be about exposure and psychological preparation. And to say in whispers, age. Our golfers on average are older. One of the biggest catchment areas for young golfers happens to be universities and colleges. Yet, it is unlikely that any professional golfer has ever come from the University of Nairobi’s Upper Kabete campus which shares a fence with Vetlab Golf Club which was established in 1923.
Without blowing my own trumpet, I learned to play golf at Kentucky State University where it was taught as an undergraduate unit.
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We hope with the new curriculum, such games will be taught all the way from primary school to university. Many schools have enough land to build small golf courses. The greatest beneficiary of this tournament is tourism. The tournament will showcase Kenya as a golf destination, beyond the Big Five and safari. We need more of such tournaments in every golf club streamed live to the world.
Mr Muchau Githiaka, former Kenya Golf Union chair suggest that our junior golfers play at the level of this tournament.
He says a golf academy is long overdue. More tournaments like this would uplift the standard of golf and improve the pockets of golfers, he added.
Apart from the shortage of funds and young talent, there is also lack of enough championship golf courses. Luckily, we can build new ones. This is one area where counties with lots of lands could rebrand themselves.
Imagine a championship course on the shores of Lake Turkana.
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Why not new courses overlooking Mt Kilimanjaro or Mt Kenya? What of one hugging the Indian Ocean or in the middle of a tea plantation?
Why should countries where winters close to golf courses do better than us in golf tournaments with our endless summers? Golf in Kenya has taken a giant step forward but it would take a Great Leap Forward if it was demystified with more people playing it. Who said a course must have 18 holes and par three, four or five?
One secret behind golf success in South Africa is its devolution to the grassroots.
I once played on a par 29 course near Knysna. Taking golf to the hustlers will tap more talents which are normally distributed. The big question is who will invest in the golf talents.
Is it the private sector or the government? Golf is more expensive compared with say athletics. It needs lots of expensive equipment. However, investing in golf as Tiger Woods and others have shown has high returns. The 2019 Magical Kenya Open should be a watershed, making golf one of the tourist attractions, the source of income for our talented youngsters and rebranding of our country as the land of games beyond athletics.
After upgrading the country to middle-income status through the Big Four or Vision 2030, we need new status symbols like golf. Golf will nudge our youngsters to aspire for greater ideals beyond soccer and the English Premier League.
Golf could be a better addiction for Kenyans, better than Kumi-Kumi or weed.
And why can’t golfers learn from the English Premier League and the way it introduces young boys to football? To the winners of Magical Kenya Open, congrats. To others, there is always tomorrow. Maybe I will test my handicap 11 in the tournament next year…
-The writer teaches at the University of Nairobi
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.