Kenya says it is agreeing to normalise relations with Somalia as the “first step” of addressing their differences over the maritime borderline, which is already before the International Court of Justice.
The change of tune for Nairobi emerged Wednesday evening after Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma met with the Somali Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ahmed Isse Awad.
The meeting was a first between high-ranking officials of the two countries in almost a month, as Nairobi seeks to soothe Mogadishu over an alternative means to resolve the dispute.
It also came after high-ranking Kenyan diplomats held a series of meetings at the UN and key western allies seen to have an influence on Mogadishu.
In the weeks that followed, Kenya also incidentally turned screws on the security front, pulling its troops from the interior of Somalia, where they are part of Amisom, and towards the shared land border, which may well leave villages exposed to Al-Shabaab takeover.
Dr Juma Wednesday said Kenya’s Ambassador to Somalia Lucas Tumbo and his Somali counterpart to Nairobi Mohamoud Ahmed Nur will be returning to their work stations although she did not give timelines.
“We reaffirmed our strong desire to normalise relations and agreed, as a first step, to have our ambassadors return to station,” Dr Juma wrote on her Twitter page after meeting Mr Awad in Nairobi.
The meeting with the Somali top diplomat, a former envoy to the US, was said to be on “outstanding issues between Kenya and Somalia, in particular concerns arising out of the London conference of 7th February 2019,” a reference to the event where Somalia was accused of auctioning oil blocks in an area contested by Kenya.
Since the public spat, Kenyan officials have increased their ante, meeting with global leaders and publicly accusing Somalia of violating the need to a wait for the dispute to be determined by the International Court of Justice.
The announcement of “normalised” relations by Nairobi came nearly a month after Mogadishu announced the same after a brief meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somalia’s Mohammed Farmaajo and with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Nairobi.
President Farmajo’s spokesman Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed said then that the leaders agreed to allow back their respective envoys.
“Their Excellences President Mohammed Farmaajo and President Uhuru Kenyatta agreed on strengthening diplomatic ties between the two countries.
“They also agreed to have their respective ambassadors return to each country’s mission to resume their important duties, cooperation and partnership,” he indicated on Wednesday afternoon.
That meeting on March 7, an initiative of Dr Ahmed as Igad chairman, was never formally commented on by Nairobi and diplomatic sources then indicated it had not unlocked any solutions on the maritime border row.
In fact, at the time, both Dr Juma and Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau were out of the country on other official duties.
In 2014, Somalia sued Kenya at the International Court of Justice, seeking to claim an area about 100km2 in the Indian Ocean by redrawing the boundary as an extension of the land border.
And despite Kenya’s contest that an alternative means to resolve the dispute existed, the ICJ ruled it had jurisdiction and will be hearing the case from September this year.
Despite the case being in the ICJ, Kenyan diplomats have been putting pressure on Mogadishu to accept an out-of-court settlement which Nairobi sees as cheaper to implement.
As ICJ decisions are binding between state parties involved, it means a verdict in Somalia’s favour will see Kenya lose the oil blocks.
As it stands, an alternative means to the dispute can only be legit if Somalia pulls the case out of the ICJ.
However, both sides have continued to do battle out of the courts.
In February this year, Somalia had a conference in London, where it presented data obtained by consultancy firm Spectrum Geo, and offered potential investors lucrative deals should they take up the bid by September.
Kenya protested the move, arguing that Mogadishu had auctioned oil in its territory.
PS Kamau announced he had summoned the Kenyan ambassador to Somalia back home “for consultations” and ordered Mr Nur to head back to Mogadishu.
Somalia, through Mr Awad, denied auctioning oil, vowing to wait for the ICJ decision, even though it did not deny offering the data to investors at the London conference.
The Ethiopian PM had proposed that Nairobi and Mogadishu isolate the maritime boundary issue so that they can continue cooperating on other issues.
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.