Kenya’s northern half appears to have missed out on the infrastructure development wave other parts of the country experienced over the last decade.
The vast majority of the population in the counties in the north has no access to basic roads. A new report shows that less than three people out of 10 live within two kilometres of any form of road in all counties in Northern and Eastern regions.
Being kilometres away from the most basic of roads means that the residents have difficulties accessing amenities including hospitals or even sending distress calls.
This is in comparison to other regions, such as Central and Nyanza, where almost all residents (80 – 100 per cent) are within two kilometres of decent roads.
The State of Our Roads report by the Kenya Roads Board (KRB), which assessed investment and road conditions over a 10-year period since 2009, noted that road access indices in the northern and north eastern counties had access indices ranging between 11 per cent and 30 per cent.
“Counties like Nairobi have an access index of 95 per cent, which means that almost everybody in Nairobi has access to an all-weather road,” said KRB Executive Director Jacob Ruwa during the launch of the report yesterday.
“But you find marginalised areas with an access index of as low as 20 per cent, meaning that only 20 per cent of the general population in those counties live within two kilometres from an all weather road.”
“For the populace, access to facilities such as health, education and other social amenities becomes extremely difficult. The report will help government in determining where to put resources in terms of balancing out between where access is high and where access is needed.”
Counties along the Northern Corridor, according to the report, had the highest access indices ranging between 72 per cent and 100 per cent, while those on the lower side of the northern corridor and tending towards the coast recorded indices of 34 per cent and 64 per cent.
The report also noted that the country will need to invest Sh1 trillion between now and 2022 in road maintenance to guarantee that the newly built as well as old roads do not waste away.
The money might not be readily available and the government is evaluating new mechanisms to raise funds, which will include infrastructure bonds as well as new levies to grow the road maintenance kitty.
Road maintenance is currently funded through the road maintenance levy – which is charged at Sh18 per litre of fuel – diesel and super petrol.
KRB raises Sh60 billion annually from the fuel levy but this has not been adequate to cover all the needed maintenance work and has resulted in backlogs.
The largest share will go towards upgrading 6,700 kilometres of gravel roads to bitumen (Sh314 billion) while another Sh180 billion will be used on maintenance.
KRB said it is exploring other mechanisms to raise funds including infrastructure bonds and new levies for motorists.
“The government through KRB is considering alternative road maintenance financing mechanisms such as incorporating long-term infrastructure bonds, public private partnerships, and introduction of new road user charges such as motor vehicle inspection fees and annual motor vehicle licences,” said the report.
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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.