Qatar Airways will take a 60 per cent stake in a new $1.3 billion airport to be built in Rwanda and which is set to rival Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as the main regional aviation hub.
The move follows a deal between Kigali and Doha, which will see the Qatari government invest in the airport located outside Kigali that will ultimately handle 14 million passengers annually, double JKIA’s current capacity.
The partnership, likely to be closely watched by the struggling Kenya Airways, will involve building, owning, and operating the new Bugesera International Airport as it seeks to expand its capacity, initially to seven million passengers a year.
“The agreements signed today mark a key milestone in the development of Rwanda’s vibrant aviation sector, in the context of the excellent bilateral relationship between Qatar and Rwanda,” said the statement.
“The new airport is being redesigned to accommodate seven million passengers per year, with a second phase for 14 million passengers a year expected to start by 2032”.
According to economist Toni Watima, JKIA will now have to strategise and align itself with developments going on in the region if it is to maintain its competitive edge as a leading aviation hub.
“JKIA remains a major hub, but that depends on how it will reinvent itself to maintain its competitive edge,” he said.
One of JKIA’s advantages is that many multinational businesses, international agencies and non-governmental organisations have their regional headquarters in Nairobi.
This week, the capital was ranked by international civil servants and expatriates as the best city to work in Africa, ahead of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Lagos.
Nairobi is also preferred as a hub for cargo and analysts have opined that the Kenya Airports Authority should look for a strategic partner to revamp the cargo wing.
At $1.3 billion, Kigali’s proposed airport will be more than double the investment that Kenya would have invested in the now cancelled Green Field Terminal at the JKIA, which was meant to strengthen the country’s position as the leading aviation hub in the region.
Transport Secretary James Macharia cancelled the Green Field Terminal in 2016, saying there was no value for money and that the existing capacity was enough to handle an increase in the number of passengers.
At the moment, JKIA has a passenger capacity of 7.5 million following the renovation of its two terminals. The airport handles 6.5 million passengers annually.
Rwanda has been seeking category one status to enable its national carrier, RwandAir, to fly directly to the US and it is likely that with the new investment, this will increase its chances of getting the approval.
This means that Qatar Airways would use the airport as its East African regional hub where it can connect passengers to other destinations such the US and Europe, without necessarily having to fly back to Doha as is the case now.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Qatar Airways is keen on operating some of its flights from Kigali, a move that will save the carrier operational costs given that it has to cover longer distances to Doha following an air blockade by four Middle-East countries.
The move will pile pressure on regional carriers, including Kenya Airways, which might have to cut their prices to remain competitive in the market, considering that most of the Middle-Eastern carriers, such as Qatar, are highly-subsidised.
Bugesera will be the country’s third international airport after Kigali International Airport and Kamembe International Airport in western Rwanda.
Countries in the region have in recent years been expanding their aviation sector.
Ethiopia and Tanzania have been expanding airports, whereas Kenya seems to have stopped further expansion of its own main port of entry. Uganda Airlines has also revamped its operations.
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.