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SPONSORED: Safaricom: contributing for innovation and development

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SPONSORED: Safaricom: contributing for innovation and development

 

More Kenyans living in remote areas have reduced long trips to mountain tops and tree climbing to make crucial calls to loved ones and complete business transactions.

It is now possible for more than 400,000 residents in some 78 sub-locations to browse the internet, connect with friends and families over the phone and complete transactions through local M-pesa Agents.

They are now reaping the dividend of investments made by telecommunication service operators who have been making an annual contribution of 0.5 percent of their revenues since 2013 to put up base transmission stations through a dedicated kitty, the Universal Service Fund.

While the initiative was mooted in 2009 the Operators started active remittance of the USF levy in 2013 and within five years to 2017, a total of Sh5.3 Billion had been collected.

So far more than Sh7.1 billion has been raised for the USF from the 0.5 percent revenue tax remitted by telecommunication operators and internet service providers.

Giant Telco, Safaricom has played a critical role through consistent contribution and active participation in battling for the tender to install the infrastructure in areas where mobile phone subscribers have found it difficult to make calls.

Safaricom has made significant contributions to the fund since its inception, with a commitment to put more resources along the guidelines set by the funds council and its aspirations to transform lives of Kenyans through robust and reliable communication services.

The telco announced its plans to invest between Sh35-38 billion in infrastructure expansion, to meet rising demand for high speed data as it strives to transform lives across the country.

Out of 202 sub locations tendered in fiscal year 2017-2018, Safaricom picked 50 while Telkom Kenya picked 28 sites. A total of 78 sub locations are now complete.

By picking more sites, Safaricom affirms its commitment to ensuring that all its subscribers get seamless connection both in urban and remote setting and reach out to disadvantaged communities.

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A 2016 Study found out that there are 348 sub locations across the country that were not covered by mobile voice services.

The study had identified more than 3.5 million Kenyans were still not able to enjoy mobile voice services due to a lack in Base Transmission Stations with the radius of their residential areas.

A deliberate effort initiated by the Communication Authority domiciled Fund, USAC supported by Mobile service providers raised Sh 2.4 Billion that has currently made significant headways to boost connectivity in the country.

So far, Sh 1.24 Billion has been invested in installation for provision of mobile voice service, while Sh 830 million used to expand broadband connection to schools in the selected sub locations.

Universal Service Advisory Council (USAC) has its eyes fixed on installation of Base Transmission stations where there is no coverage and ensuring high Schools in these areas are connected to a maximum 5Mbps broadband.

The task also entails set up of systems with 1Mbps uplink Internet connection in 896 Secondary learning institutions that were selected based on their e-readiness.

More than 120 schools from Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu, Murang’a, Kakamega and Nandi counties have so far benefited from this initiative.

Additional funds totalling Sh3Billion will be availed for the second-round implementation of the project to see more sub-locations connected with broadband and voice infrastructure.

While there is tremendous growth reported so far in terms of connecting more sub locations and transforming lives by building small global villages, the Communications regulator says Sh 75 billion is required to sufficiently address the voice access gap. Another Sh250 billion is needed to bridge the broadband access gap.

It is envisaged that by the 2021-2022 fiscal year, a total of Sh 10.4 Billion will be spent on USF implementation projects to close existing gaps in voice and broadband connectivity.

The infrastructure built under the USF levy are exclusively owned by the financing Operators for a maximum period of 12 months after which they are required to operate them on a sharing basis. Under the model a regulated fee is charged to other operators who might want to ride on the infrastructure to expand services in the previously underserved regions.

Apart from Safaricom and Telkom Kenya, Internet service providers Xtranet Communications Limited, Liquid Telecommunications Limited and Commcarrier Satellite Services, are also playing a critical role to boost connectivity in remote areas.

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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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