The Lake Victoria Environment Management Project (LVEMP) is on the spot over suspected irregularities in the procurement of a Sh76 million dredging machine.
The machine that is meant to remove the invasive water hyacinth from the lake lies idle as the weed spreads.
Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko and LVEMP project manager Fransisca Owuor had a hard time yesterday when they appeared before the Regional Integration Committee of the National Assembly to explain why the machine acquired in 2016 is not in use.
LVEMP is largely funded by the World Bank but has been unable to deal with the intrusive weed about 21 years since it was established.
The MPs have also raised concerns that the LVEMP project has received over Sh4 billion from the World Bank for tree planting among other projects, but the impact is yet to be felt among the local community.
But it emerged that LVEMP procured the dredging machine well aware that it did not have the right specifications to deal with the weed that has made transportation of goods and fishing expeditions in the second largest fresh water lake in the world difficult.
The lake covers the three East African countries — Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
The failures at LVEMP forced the government to acquire another dredging vessel owned by a Ugandan firm, Mango Tree Group, which was unveiled by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila early this year. The machine is 70 metres long and weighs about 4,000 tonnes.
Though the supplier is demanding more to fix the unused dredger, the World Bank has given the implementing agency until April 30 to resolve the standoff with the ministry even as it suspended all projects in the lake basin region for stock-taking on the return on investments.
It also emerged that payments of up to 90 percent of the total cost were made to United Kingdom (UK) based Unit Export Limited, which supplied the machine even before it certified fit for use.
This was despite an inspection and acceptance committee voicing concerns that the machine failed to meet the specifications of the bid.
According to Mr Tobiko, the supplier had accepted there were flaws but made an about-turn after being asked to take remedial measures so that the machine can be put to intended use.
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.