I opened the proverbial ‘can of worms’ recently at a pan-African conference held in Livingston, Zambia. I intended to initiate clever conversation with the lead French interpreter when I asked him what he thought about the speeches and the presentations that he had spent a week translating for our Francophone compatriots.
His answer came in the form of a question and was both blunt and damning.
“Why do you treat your Francophone neighbours like step children, as if their point of view is unimportant?” he asked. We were relaxing by the bar at the end of the day’s proceeding and he spoke loud enough to prick the ears of other French speakers nearby who proceeded to approach and participate in the ambush that he had initiated.
I was outnumbered, and in broken English with saturated French accents, they tore mercilessly at me with a wrath that should have been reserved for the Queen. In this case they singled me out as her sole representative even though we had split ways since Kenya had acquired its independence from Great Britain over 50 years ago.
Their point was simple. If we are to be equal partners while pursuing initiatives across Africa then we should always create an even playing field where philosophy, case studies and proposals can be shared by anyone irrespective of language group, and these should be easily understood by all.
Simply providing translation services for a conference that has been designed in English does not create an equitable environment.
They drove their point home like a heavy boot to the backside, and in stride with Saint Paul, the scales fell from my eyes.
I realized that in the boardrooms across the Anglophone countries, as companies considered commercial opportunities beyond their borders, we had erected sky high mental barriers that shielded us from the Francophone nations, and vice versa.
In a modern world fully equipped with Google Translate and other language apps, there is no reason at all not to target a country that has chosen to speak a different European language as a result of their colonial history. Business models don’t necessarily get lost in translation in the same way that humor does, however funny that might sound.
Africans may even go as far as pointing fingers and accusing one another of being a different type of European. I once found myself in that position when I pointed out that my Senegalese host was too ‘French’ because she didn’t offer me afternoon tea. She likewise emphasized that I was too ‘English’ for her tastes.
In another pan-African conference in Nairobi over ten years ago, one of the delegates, when asking a question during the proceedings, chose to make a meal of it and spoke eloquently in French for over 15 minutes. The majority were suitable embarrassed because we did not understand a word of what he said.
When the contents of his rant were eventually translated to us by the MC who coincidently spoke French, we were even more ashamed because he detailed the pains that the Francophone delegates had gone through to attend this conference and yet the organisers had the audacity not to make any arrangement to cater for the language differences.
As a group, they were declaring their intention to march out and return home. It is funny how money for interpreters and translation equipment can appear out of thin air when people yell out ultimatums in a ‘foreign’ language.
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.