Between 2016 and 2017, Lake Kenyatta –located in Mpeketoni in Lamu County — was literally on its deathbed.
The only freshwater lake in the county was drying up and fast disappearing following a prolonged drought.
The “sudden” drying up of much of the lake had hit the headlines — as it resulted in massive destruction of marine life and wildlife that it had supported for many years.
By then, tens of hippos, birds, water snails and other wildlife that depended on the lake for survival had died, leaving a pungent smell of decomposing flesh wafting from the vast surface that the lake had occupied.
That smell of carrion is no longer there today, two years later, and the water body named after Kenya’s founding president Jomo Kenyatta is breathing life again.
The lake is now full and is surrounded by a lush green and scenic environment of grass, swarming butterflies, singing birds, all indication of healthy life.
At its lowest point, water volumes at the lake — which more than 60,000 residents of Mpeketoni and neighbouring areas depend on — had dropped drastically from the normal 12 metres to 1.5 metres, with vast sections of the lake completely drying up.
But it is now filled to the brim, which has given hope to the residents, who are upbeat that Lake Kenyatta’s original status will be restored.
But is all really okay at Lake Kenyatta?
Conservationists and members of other environmental bodies interviewed by the Business Daily in the area on Monday said that nothing is normal at all.
Mr Kamau Githu, who is the chairperson of Save Lake Kenyatta Initiative (Salaki) and a member of the Mpeketoni Environmental Conservation and Beautification Initiative (Mecobi) revealed that the rate at which the water at Lake Kenyatta is evaporating is alarming.
Mr Githu said it is unfortunate that silting was taking place at a high rate, a move which has also tampered with the lake’s depth.
“Yes. The lake is full but what should be noted is that the water is very shallow and all this is attributed to too much silting. The original height of the lake is 12 metres when full.
“Today, one can walk across the lake. The water level is only between five to six metres. We are worried that the high rate of water which is disappearing to the environment through evaporation at the moment will lead to the lake’s drying up again by as early as March, 2019,” said Mr Githu.
He noted with concern that the shallow waters of Lake Kenyatta has made hippos that used to live there to run away to other places where they can find enough water to settle.
“Lake Kenyatta used to be fascinating since you could find all sorts of wildlife here. Today, despite the fact that there is water, most of the big animals that used to live here including hippos and those that used to come and drink water including buffaloes, zebras and gazelles have gone away.
“There are also a lot of herders coming with their animals to drink water here at the lake. This has made birds to vacate the area completely. We need something done urgently to restore the lake’s lost glory,” said Mr Githu.
Lake Kenyatta Water Resources and Users Association Treasurer Susan Gaitho said they were already in discussion with various stakeholders in a move to prevent the too much silting at the lake, which she said was mainly caused by human activities.
Farmers have farming on the banks of the lake while herders continue to bring their livestock to drink water directly at the lake on a daily basis.
Fishermen still fish there while sand harvesters are also reported to be harvesting sand at the lake’s bed.
“Intense human activity including fishing and sand harvesting play an integral part in the ever dropping water levels at the lake. Other activities like farming on the banks and herding also clearly strain the capability of the lake.
“We are happy that the lake is full again but our happiness might be short-lived since it will completely die out if prompt interventions to save it are not taken. We need to come together as stakeholders to find ways of rescuing the lake,” said Ms Gaitho.
She said her organisation is already creating awareness to locals on what they should avoid doing in the surrounding areas in order to conserve the lake.
Mr Samuel Muchiri, an environmental activist in Mpeketoni said the lake is a key attraction for nature lovers and revellers.
He called on the county and national governments to bring experts to the area to assess the situation and come up with ways that would ensure the lake’s status is maintained.
Lake Kenyatta is estimated to cover a stretch of 3.7 square kilometres when full.
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.