Until last year, Rosemary Moraa, a parent, used to part with Sh10,000 per term for her two children to be picked and dropped from a school about two kilometres from her residence in Nairobi’s Donholm.
She used to pay Sh6,000 for her daughter, translating roughly to Sh100 per day for a short trip to and from school.
The charges had been increased by Sh1,000 in the last four years, she says. On the other hand, her son who in kindergarten in the same school used to billed Sh4,000 per term.
This year, Ms Moraa moved to a house barely 500 metres from the school and decided to be walking her children to school before she heads to her work station in Nairobi’s central business district. “Honestly what kept me paying was that I wanted my children to feel the excitement of hopping onto a school bus just like their friends. It’s also convenient and safe for them,” Ms Moraa says. “But then it brought a bit of inconvenience on my part because I had to wait until 7.15am for the children to be picked by the bus. By that time, traffic to town (Nairobi CBD) has built and there was risk of running late.”
She now walks the children to school well before 7am before heading to work.
The transport charges at the Donholm school may seem quite low for a typical average school in Nairobi.
Across the other side of the Nairobi, at Braeburn Imani School, a parent who did not want to be named says she would be paying Sh32,700 for a distance that she approximates at six kilometres.
She has two children at the school and even after moving closer, she still finds the transport costs unaffordable. She has now opted for private transport.
“If my children used school transport it would cost me almost Sh70,000 per term yet my house is about 15 kilometres away. Now I drop them off in the morning on my way to work. In the evening, I pay some private transporter Sh500 to pick them. In a week, I spend Sh2,500 and for three months which is basically the length of a term, I end using about Sh37,500 which is half of what I would have paid for school transport,” she says.
“I have also noticed a trend in schools where the difference in cost between two-way bus transport and one-way is so minimal that it makes no economic sense paying one-way,” she adds.
Another school in Nairobi’s Lang’ata, a middle-income estate, charges Sh9,000 per term for a pupil in Class Three. A father, who requested not to be named in this story, says the school is a 10-minute walk from his house but he has no option of not paying for school transport.
“The school insists that the bus helps in bonding and eliminates class wars among children,’’ he says.
Their story is a reflection of the struggles most parents go through to ensure their children get to school and back home safely and more conveniently.
This also mirrors a dysfunctional and largely chaotic public transportation system due to years of neglect by successive governments that have left the key sector in private sector hands.
Many Kenyan parents now face the headache of finding the best means to transport their children to school.
Parents have the option of using official school bus and privately-owned transport services that are relatively more convenient, but in most cases there is the risk of overloading or accountability.
Some parents consequently prefer to drive their children to school while others opt for carpooling that helps them make some savings on fuel compared to the former option.
Still, there is the option of public transport that is cheaper but largely inconvenient and unreliable.
Whereas official school transport — typically a non-core service in learning institutions — stands out as the safest and most convenient when it comes to time management, there are question marks bordering on charges.
Some parents see the charges by some of the schools as exorbitant.
“Some of these charges are big contributors to the high school fees,” said one parent.
A few of the disgruntled parents who talked to BDLife said while their pre-occupation was to find a well-performing school for their children with affordable tuition fees, they were shocked on learning the charges for non-core services such as transportation, lunch and club activities.
A spot-check of transportation charges in some of the prestigious schools, which have published them on their websites perhaps to enhance transparency, shows parents in high-end schools part with as much as Sh100,000 per term.
Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA), which says its mission is to co-ordinate, mobilise and regulate private learning institutions to provide holistic and quality education, says schools factor in many costs in calculating the transportation.
Mutheu Kasanga, the KPSA chairperson said some of the considerations before arriving at the charges include varied distances from schools as well as cases where the buses usually come back empty for every trip they make.
“The service is a luxury because essentially when (public) schools used to work all children used to walk to school because there was a school nearby and that school worked … performed (academically),” Ms Kasanga, also a director at Lukenya Schools, said.
“That’s not the case today and parents are moving their children long distances to put them in schools where they have a chance of succeeding (academically).”
Charges for return transport at Hillcrest International School, for example, range from Sh54,300 to Sh100,400 per term depending on its zoning based on distance from school.
Braeburn School charges Sh155,400 annually for transport from designated pick-up points, translating to an average of Sh51,800 per term. This is for children in play group, nursery, reception and those in Year 1 to Year 13.
The school has the option of door-to-door transport which is billed at Sh275,700, an average of Sh91,900 per term.
Parents with children at Crawford International School pay between Sh45,000 and Sh58,000. At Kianda School, transportation charges per term range from Sh13,500 for children in the neighbourhood such as sprawling Kangemi and leafy Loresho to Sh25,500 for those in far-flung residences along Mombasa Road and far end of Eastlands.
“In many schools, parents drop off their children and those who can’t opt for the bus because their personal schedule cannot cope,” Ms Kasanga said.
“There is the element of safety because once you hand over your child to school you know the child is safe as compared to using public transport because ever since Kenya Bus died, Nairobi doesn’t have any public transport that’s favourable for students,” the KPSA chairperson said.
The schools give the parents the option of one-way transport, with parents who fail to pick up their children beyond the stipulated time facing fines to cater for overtime fees for the caretaker.
Despite parents’ concerns over the high charges, Ms Kasanga said some schools are not able to recoup all costs they incur in providing transport and have to hire out their buses to cover some of the costs.
BCCI: The bank ‘that would bribe God’
“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.
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).
East Africa celebrates top women in banking and finance
The Angaza Awards for Women to watch in Banking and Finance in East Africa took place Online via Zoom on 8th June 2021.
The event was set to celebrate the top 10 women shaping banking and finance across East Africa. The 2021 Angaza Awards, which will be a Pan-African Awards program, was also announced at the event.
Key speakers at this webinar were Dr Nancy Onyango, Director of Internal Audit and Inspection at the IMF; and Gail Evans, New York Times Best Selling Author of Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman and former White House Aide and CNN Executive Vice President.
Dr Nancy Onyango advised women to deep expertise in their fields, spend time in forums and link with key players in that sector.
“Gain exposure with other cultures by seeking for employment overseas and use customized CV for each job application,” said Dr Onyango.
According to Gail Evans, women should show up and be fully present in meetings and not be preoccupied with other issues.
“Be simple and avoid jargon. Multi-tasking only means that you are mediocre Smart people ask good questions in a business meeting. Most women face drawbacks due to perfectionism, procrastination and fear of failure, said Evans.
She advised women to play like a man and win like a woman, be strategic, and intentionally make their moves to get to the top.
“For us to pull up businesses that have been affected by effects of COVID-19 pandemic, we need to re-invent business models, change the product offering and make more use of digital platforms,” said Mary Wamae Equity Group Executive Director.
Mary Wamae emerged top at the inaugural Angaza awards( East Africa) ahead of other finalists.
While women continue to excel in banking and finance, the number of that occupies top executive positions is still less.
“There is a gap for women occupying C suite level and it continues to widen in the finance sector. At entry level, there is still an experience gap for women,” said Nkirote Mworia, Group Secretary for UAP-Old Mutual Group.
She said that at the Middle Management level, women do not express their ambition. For this reason, UAP-Old Mutual has developed an executive sponsorship program to help women get to the next level.
Mworia added that most women hold the notion that top positions in management have politics and pressure.
“One needs leadership skills and not technical expertise to get to the top,” said Mworia.
According to Catherine Karimi, Chief Executive Officer and Principal Officer of APA Life Assurance Company, women need to focus on the strengths and natural abilities that they already have.
“Take risks and raise your hand to get to the high table. Find mentors along the way and develop your own brand and not compare yourself with others Focus on your strengths because it will make you move faster in the career ladder,” said Karimi.
Lina Mukashyaka Higiro, a Rwandan businesswoman and chief executive officer of the NCBA Bank Rwanda since July 2018, has three lessons for women who want to excel in banking and finance.
“Always spend at least 20 minutes each day reading, seeking genuine feedback from other staff members and widen your network,” Higiro told the webinar.
Women picked for Angaza awards
Mary Wamae, Executive Director, led this year’s Top 10 Women in Angaza Awards, Equity Group (Kenya)(2)Catherine Karimi, Chief Executive Officer, APA Life Insurance Company (Kenya)(3)Lina Higiro, Chief Executive Officer, NCBA Bank (Rwanda)(4)Elizabeth Wasunna Ochwa, Business Banking Director, Absa Bank (Kenya)(5)Joanita Jaggwe, Country Head of Risk and Compliance, KCB Group (South Sudan)(6) Millicent Omukaga, Technical Assistance Expert on Inclusive Finance, African Development Bank (Kenya)(7)Emmanuella Nzahabonimana, Head of Information Technology, KCB Group (Rwanda)(8)Judith Sidi Odhiambo, Group Head of Corporate Affairs, KCB Group (Kenya)(9)Rosemary Ngure, ESG & Impact Manager, Catalyst Principal Partners (Kenya) and(10)Pooja Bhatt, Co-Founder, QuantaRisk and QuantaInsure (Kenya).
The Kenyan Wallstreet, a financial media firm, partnered with Kaleidoscope Consultants to raise awareness of seasoned women shaping and influencing the sector through their organizations.
The Angaza Award criteria included assessing the applicants’ area of responsibility and contribution to firm performance. Professionals in Banking, Capital Markets, Insurance, Investment Banking, Fintech, Fund Management, Microfinance, and SACCOs were invited to submit their applications or nominations via the Kenyan Wallstreet Award Web page.
IFC in New Partnership to Develop Affordable Housing in Mombasa County
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 14 – International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, has signed a new deal in support of affordable housing in Kenya.
The corporation has partnered with Belco Realty LLP, to develop a mixed use affordable living complex that will consist of 1,379 residential units and over 4,500 square meters of retail and commercial spaces in Kongowea, Mombasa County.
Together with the Kenyan firm, IFC says the partnership will help meet surging demand for housing in Kenya.
Under the agreement, IFC will help identify suitable international strategic partners to invest equity of up to $12 million, or Sh1.3 billion in Belco and to provide the company with the necessary technical support to develop the project.
The development, known as Kongowea Village, will be developed to foster inclusive and affordable community living within the city.
Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa says the project, which will be located on eight acres within the heart of Mombasa city, will aim to be a catalyst for wider city regeneration.
The project will be developed to meet IFC EDGE certification requirements and will incorporate the latest technologies in passive cooling, energy efficiency and water conservation to support sustainable urbanization.
Kongowea Village is expected to create 1,160 jobs and business opportunities during the three-year construction period and many more after completion of the project within the themed retail arcade.
“Access to quality housing is a growing problem in Kenya and across Africa,” said Jumoke Jagun-Dokunmu, IFC’s Regional Director for Eastern Africa.
“Developers often target the high end of the market, but this project is aimed squarely at the lower-income bracket. Helping Belco identify the right partners for this project is expected to attract more developers to Kenya and other parts of Africa to help meet rising demand for housing.”
“IFC‘s engagement with Belco will help Kenya support its rapidly growing and urbanizing population by increasing access to affordable housing. The problem is similar across most of Africa, where population growth and demand for quality housing are combining to outstrip supply. We are pleased to partner with a company such as Belco that is committed to contributing to solving this challenge,” said Emmanuel Nyirinkindi, IFC‘s Director for Transaction Advisory Services.
IFC’s partnership with Belco is part of its broader strategy to support better access to affordable housing in Kenya.
In 2020, IFC invested $2 million in equity in the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company (KMRC) to help increase access to affordable mortgages and support home ownership in the country.