An American structural engineer, Joseph Straus, once said: ‘Bridges are a monument of progress.’ This adage will soon hold true to residents of the Coast region, with the construction of the proposed Mombasa Gate Bridge across the Likoni channel.
Construction of the Sh46 billion bridge, to facilitate traffic between the city of Mombasa, the South Coast and Kwale, starts in 2021 and is expected to boost trade and tourism on the South Coast.
This bridge will also significantly complement the Dongo Kundu road bypass, which is almost complete.
These developments come hot on the heels of recent discoveries of substantial mineral deposits in Kwale and the unprecedented move by the national government to allow the Kwale county government to manage the fishing port of Wasini and a revival of the bixa farming.
Properly harnessing these resources can catapult Kwale into the league of the wealthiest counties in the country.
Economic development in this region has stagnated for years due to poor infrastructure. Over the years aging ferries have been the main means of travel across the Likoni channel.
There have also been cases of missed flights by tourists travelling from Diani to Moi International Airport, loss of lives and property caused by vehicles plunging into the ocean off the ferries or off the ramps from time to time and low property value due to investor apathy.
But there is some light at the end of the tunnel after Treasury acting Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani and the Japanese ambassador to Kenya, Ryoichi Horie, last month signed a loan agreement, paving the way for the construction of the Mombasa Gate Bridge to begin in 2021.
The concessionary loan is payable in 28 years with a grace period of 12 years.
By 2047, when the government is expected to start repaying the Japanese loan, the economic impact of the super bridge on the South Coast and Mombasa City will be self-evident.
The construction of the Mombasa Gate Bridge will also turn into reality the numerous promises made by the successive governments to link Mombasa City with the South Coast.
For many years, the government has toyed with the idea of either building a bridge, a tunnel or a cable car across the Likoni channel.
A cable car costing Sh5.5 billion would transport up to 80,000 people across the channel in a day while the ferries carry over 300,000 people daily.
A report presented to the Mtongwe ferry disaster commission stated that plans for the building of a bridge or a tunnel across the channel had been in the pipeline for decades, but had always been put off because of a lack of funds.
According to the report, the first serious study in an attempt to resolve the communication bottleneck across the 500-metre channel was initiated in 1983 through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The Japanese also built the New Nyali Bridge in 1980, the New Mtwapa Bridge and later the Kilifi Bridge, significantly opening Mombasa’s North coast all the way to Malindi for trade and tourism.
Before then, Mombasa Island was linked to the North mainland with a floating pontoon bridge, built in 1931.
Assuming that the same kind of comprehensive planning has gone into the Mombasa Gate Bridge, this project is likely to end up achieving for both Mombasa South Coast and Kwale, the same kind of benefit that the Thika Superhighway brought to Kiambu and Murang’a counties.
Property prices will rise. Urbanisation will be accelerated. Jobs will be created. And both tourism and trade will be greatly expanded through a huge “multiplier effect” of the improved infrastructure.
Sunguh is an independent journalist and a communication consultant based in Mombasa.
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.