African hotel chain CityBlue is relocating its headquarters to Nairobi in the first quarter of 2019 as the chain targets continued expansion in the continent.
The hotel chain, whose headquarters are in Dubai, operates establishments in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda with a new property slated for Zambia.
“We are tapping into Kenya as the hub for East Africa. The local talent has understanding of the local markets within and beyond its borders,” said Kenyan-born Jameel Verjee, founder and chief executive of CityBlue during the Africa Hotel Investment Forum 2018 in Nairobi yesterday.
The chain brand debuted in Kenya last year after taking over CityBlue Creekside Hotels and Suites in Mombasa, previously managed by BestWestern under the Plus brand.
It opened the first hotel under its brand in Rwanda in six years ago.
CityBlue is one of the few brands with international presence to venture into the Coast, as international brands shy away from the area.
The hospitality chain has been taking over and branding existing properties as opposed to building their own.
“We take up leases no less than 20 to 30 years or management contracts,” said Mr Verjee.
This lowers the capital needed to run get the hotel up and running compared to building.
CityBlue will expand into Nairobi in 2020 and also increase its presence Mombasa.
“Our target is to set up small and mid-scale hotels,” said Mr Verjee.
Four Points by Sheraton and Best Western chains have also refurbished and rebranded properties in the country, taking over management.
Four Points by Sheraton last year took over a hotel in Hurlingham in Nairobi previously under the Best Western Premier brand, while Best Western rebranded Meridian Hotel in the city centre to a Best Western Plus.
Kenya topped key sub Saharan Africa rivals Nigeria and Tanzania in the count of global chain hotel brands presence.
According the Knight Frank 2018 hotels report, growth will be increasingly concentrated in the large cities of sub-Saharan Africa such as Luanda, Lagos, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi and Addis Ababa between 2015 and 2030.
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.