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North Rift bloc almost dead as counties give it wide berth

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North Rift Economic Bloc
Governors Cleophas Lagat (Nandi), Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu), Benjamin Cheboi (Baringo) and Josephat Nanok (Turkana) during the North Rift Economic Bloc breakfast launch at a Nairobi hotel on October 27, 2015. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The once much-hyped North Rift Economic Bloc (Noreb) is almost dead, four years after it was formed to woo local and international investors to tap business opportunities in the agriculturally rich region.

Almost all the seven counties that formed the regional grouping have abandoned it for new alliances. Uasin Gishu is the only county that is yet to find a new home.

Governors have traded blame over failure to come up with guidelines to steer it and lack of public participation to enable it realise investment dreams in agriculture, mining, tourism and sports sectors after it rolled out multi-billion projects to transform the region’s economy.

The bloc brought together Uasin Gishu, Samburu, Baringo, Turkana, Nandi, West Pokot, Trans-Nzoia and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties.

They were focusing on high profile local and international investors to generate revenue to unlock investments in the region that is a gateway to the East and Central African countries.

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Nandi Governor Stephen Sang has admitted that Noreb is facing challenges in some of its flagship projects. He, however, maintained that the county has not pulled out of the economic bloc despite having joined the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) launched three years ago.

“We are still in Noreb because of the common investments in terms of agriculture and dairy production but LREB is our main market for such products,” Mr Sang said.

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos has refuted claims that Noreb is moribund.

“The Noreb constitution does not limit any county from joining any other economic bloc, neither does it mean the group is dead nor we have completely pulled out of it,” Mr Tolgos said through his director of communications, Kibiwott Koros.

Elgeyo Marakwet county has joined the Frontier Development Council (FDC) that brings together marginalised counties.

Governor Mandago, who has been the Noreb chairman since its inception, has come under criticism from North Rift residents over his failure to effectively steer the group to realise its investment dreams.

“We fail to understand why he has not convened any Noreb meeting since new governors were elected to office. This might have forced some of the counties to join other economic blocs,” said Mr Wilson Too, from Eldoret town.

“The body lacked a clear investment policy from the start. All they did is finance luxurious investment conferences which attracted little returns,” said Mr Joseph Kosgey, a micro-finance operator in Eldoret town.

However, Mr Mandago says counties are free to join more than one economic bloc.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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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.

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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.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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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.

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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.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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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.

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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.

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