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PERSONALITY OF THE WEEK: Charles Kahuthu

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By PETER MUSA
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Mr Kahuthu is a private sector development specialist, a public private partnership (PPP) expert and is an experienced policy analyst having participated in several task forces facilitating the review of public policy at national and regional level.

He has previously worked with UNIDO and UNDP as a programme adviser. He has also carried out several consulting assignments in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, South Africa, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Latin America, Belgium and France.

He is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, where he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree (Business Administration option), with emphasis in international marketing and economics. He has an MBA degree from the University of the Free State (UOFS), in South Africa.

What is the mandate of EACCIA?

EACCIA was established in 2005 by the national chambers of the countries which were members of the East African Community. These were Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KNCCI), Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture (TCCIA) and Uganda National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (UNCCI). Since then, more chambers have joined the EACCIA.

Our mission is to strengthen the private sector in East Africa through influencing policy at the national and regional levels, supporting national chambers and strengthening cooperation and partnerships between the public and the private sectors in East Africa.

We also focus on SMEs growth in the region and promote Public Private Partnership (PPP) in projects’ development.

How many member countries are there?

We currently have six member countries which have joined the EAC, including Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

The Federal Democratic Republic of Somalia has requested to join as well. EACCIA also collaborates with Ethiopia, Djibouti, Mozambique as well as Somaliland chambers.

What is the potential of EACCIA in creating opportunities for the youth?

EACCIA has been able to direct a reasonable number of young entrepreneurs to where they can receive support. It is our hope to formalise this at some point as a regional youth programme.

One member of our board of directors is running a programme that is targeting regional youth to embrace agriculture as a business and has been invited to visit Uganda by their leadership to help set up the initiative.

As EACCIA, we will soon be teaming up with banks, such as KCB, to develop regional initiatives tailored for the youth.

What challenges does the region face in trying to improve the business environment for the youth?

Unemployment and being able to turn their innovative ideas into businesses. Lack of capital and the regulatory frameworks are just not right to enable them go to banks and borrow. Programmes which countries like Kenya have set up are not quite addressing it effectively.

More lobbying and advocacy work needs to be done by our sister chambers to level the business environment in favour of the youth though.

What bottlenecks affect smooth running of equitable business in the member countries?

I believe that we are still very far from achieving the Common Market for East African Community member states, even if all of us have signed the Protocol which brought it into being.

Both EACCIA and the East African Business Council (EABC) are collaborating to have the issues hindering its smooth operationalisation resolved.

EACCIA is sometimes called upon to intervene when two of the countries that neighbour each other, and trade with each other regularly, decide to block other country’s goods from entering their country. This is against the letter and spirit of the EAC Common Market Protocol.

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What is the vision of EACCIA towards creating a vibrant EAC business environment?

Developing policy proposals that will assist in removing constraints facing the business, industrial and agricultural communities, promoting unity within the private sector and collaborating closely with governments to make the East African Community more attractive to investors.

Which sectors are going to grow the EAC economically?

Generally, EAC member states’ economies are driven by a very vibrant agricultural sector. Others are ICT, service sector and oil and gas sectors.

What motivates you as a CEO?

Giving a full day’s job to my organisation gives me the satisfaction I need. When I assist somebody, it makes me happy.

I am also quite proud of my contribution in the ongoing implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agenda through the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI).

I have been the EAC private sector focal point for that agenda and I have great satisfaction to see that it shall become a reality soon.

Do you have precious memories that drive you?

Between 2004 and 2006 while working as the Latin American Economic System (SELA) Africa region representative, I led two African delegations to Latin America (Uruguay, Chile and Brazil) as well as frequenting Caracas, Venezuela, the headquarters of SELA.

During these visits, I realised how unrepresented Kenya was, yet Latin America had over 11 fully fledged diplomatic missions in Kenya.

I made a proposal to Mwai Kibaki’s government which resulted in Kenya establishing its first mission in Brazil.

In addition, as a programme adviser with UNIDO, I was involved in preparing the 9th National Development Plan which focused on “Industrial Transformation to the Year 2020”. The plan contained useful lessons which Kenya could have used to move the country forward and I feel very disappointed every time I look at that Plan. I still have a copy in my home library, just in case somebody would need to preview it.

What advice can you give the young generation regarding jobs opportunities and career choices?

There are more opportunities in the non-formal employment sector where our youth could create jobs for themselves. They undertake very general degree courses which the industry may not be in need of. Kenya is going to start being an oil and gas producer but we have very few skilled labour force in that area.

What would you do better were it possible to go back in time? Is there something that makes you wistful?

I would use time more productively. I made many mistakes in the past – I would correct some of these mistakes and impact more Kenyans. Yes. I wish Kenya could return to the good old days of early independence when professional standards were upheld.

We had an organised public transport system and a city that was sparkling clean. All this is now like a dream when you look at the state of Nairobi and the rest of our country! Kenya should dust off its professional database, people who are ready to impact their knowledge and experience to benefit others.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I enjoying relaxing with my wife and some of my close relatives. I also like reading professional books and novels for relaxation. I miss being with my church members, mostly because I am out of the country attending to official duties.



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General

Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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