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President Kenyatta launches mega housing project in Mavoko

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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday launched the Habitat Heights, one of the projects of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and their partners that will see the delivery of 8,888 affordable housing units to Kenyans when complete.

Speaking at the launch of the mega project in Mavoko, Machakos County, the President said the project which will inject an estimated 5 billion dollars into the economy is an affirmation that Kenya is a worthwhile, secure and facilitative destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

“This is a happy moment for me. I say so because for the past one and a half years, we have been working diligently to formulate an implementation plan to usher Kenya into an era of affordable and decent housing and, indeed, I see the light at the end of the tunnel,” President Kenyatta said.

The mega housing project is the first of many similar initiatives lined up by UNOPS and their partners to be implemented in the country leading to the delivery of 100,000 affordable housing units. 

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President Kenyatta pointed out that development of the 100,000 housing units follows a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) he signed with UNOPS last year in New York.

“To bring this MOU to effect, I have just witnessed the signing of a development agreement which will see us produce another 100,000 units beyond the first 8,888 units that are here at Habitat Heights,” the President said. 

The President also unveiled the country’s roadmap for the development of a further 200,000 units through joint efforts between the government and its strategic partners.

He urged those implementing the housing projects to ensure that locals benefit in terms of jobs and business opportunities.

“The national endeavour under the affordable housing programme will not only provide Kenyans with decent housing but it will also provide them with opportunities to integrate into the Manufacturing Pillar of the Big Four Agenda.

“It is a requirement in our planning that, as far as possible, the inputs of affordable housing projects be sourced locally and especially from Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs),” the President emphasized.

The Head of State highlighted a series of measures that his administration has implemented over the last 18 months to address some of the systemic issues that have made housing unavailable and unaffordable in the urban and peri-urban areas.

The measures include the decision to make national and county government land available for grand housing and bulk infrastructure projects. 

“We realized that the affordability of homes was affected by high costs of land and horizontal infrastructure, which can add up to 60% to the cost of development,” the President said.   

To further enhance affordability, the government has been working with various stakeholders to identify suitable tax incentives that would have a positive impact on the cost of construction. 

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“Through the Finance Act 2019, we have provided VAT exemptions for all inputs in affordable housing development schemes. We have also continued to provide a 15% corporate tax rate for developers with projects producing at least 100 affordable housing units; which is half the normal corporation tax rate,” the President said.

President Kenyatta also announced that first-time homeowners will be exempted from paying stamp duty under the affordable housing arrangement. 

“We have also waived NEMA and National Construction Authority fees on constructions, and we are seeing various counties the following suit by waiving their county government development fees in order to further reduce the cost to ordinary citizens,” the President pointed.

On the progress of several ongoing housing projects, the Head of State said the government will soon be allocating the 1,370 units of the first flagship affordable housing project at Park Road in Nairobi County.   

He disclosed that the next flagship projects in Shauri Moyo and Starehe in Nairobi will break ground in early 2020 and bring onboard another 8,000 units when fully implemented.  

“These projects are part of the larger Eastlands Urban Renewal master plan, which will bring online an additional 168,000 units.  By replacing the decaying and dilapidated colonial-era units, we will be able to generate modern 177,000 units from the existing 43,000 units,” he said.  

On the social housing side, the President said the resettlement of Kibera Zone B residents to allow for the implementation of the redevelopment is well underway.  

The project will give decent homes to approximately 4,400 households who have already been enumerated.  

President Kenyatta added that the government is currently in the process of selecting a suitable investor who will bring to fruition the plans for decent homes for Kibera B residents.

During the occasion, the President witnessed the issuance of strategic partners certificates and the execution of a development framework agreement between the State Department of Housing and Urban Development and Sustainable Housing Solutions organization as well as the handing over of the East Africa Portland Cement title deed to the CS for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development.

Other speakers included Transport CS James Macharia, Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua and UNOPS Executive Director Vitaly Vanshelboim.

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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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