During the two and a half years that I have served as Japanese ambassador to Kenya, two events stand out in my mind as memories that I will cherish for the rest of my days.
One is the experience of climbing Mt Kenya – an event which inspired me to write an opinion column on the glorious potential of Kenya’s tourism.
The second is when I received my Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, when he came to Kenya for the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development – (TICAD VI )– in August 2016. For it is always a great and unforgettable honour as an ambassador, to have your Head of Government visit the country where you are serving.
TICAD had in the past always been held in Japan. It was an exception and a tribute to Kenya’s significance within the African continent, that TICAD VI was held in Kenya.
If we are to include the side events which were held alongside TICAD VI, this historic event was attended by over 11,000 people. The participants included high-level representatives of 53 African countries as well as development partner countries; international and regional organizations; the private sector; and civil society NGOs.
Since that time, two follow-up meetings have been held here in Kenya. The first was in March this year in Nairobi when my embassy hosted a TICAD follow-up workshop. The TICAD Mini Consultative Conference was also held in September to review our progress.
Kenyans may well ask: So what exactly is this progress?
I would answer briefly by saying that a lot of the projects which were proposed at the TICAD VI conference, are very much aligned with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four national development priorities.
For whether you talk of Universal Health Coverage; or Manufacturing; or Affordable Housing; or Enabled Food and Nutrition Security; in some corner of this beautiful country, you will find that Japan, working in close partnership with Kenya, is doing something to help Kenya achieve these objectives.
To mention just two examples, Japan is supporting the creation of the Special Economic Zone in Mombasa, which will open the way to new investments in manufacturing industries. Japan is also involved in joint agricultural research in Mwea, which will boost the production of rice in the Mwea Irrigation Scheme in a major step towards achieving food security.
These projects are priorities of Kenya, which we are actively helping to bring to fulfillment, in our capacity as development partners.
For the essential guiding principle of TICAD has always been: African ownership; and international partnership.
On July 27 this year, the Japanese Cabinet approved the hosting of the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 7) in Yokohama from August 28 to 30, 2019. Furthermore, , we have a TICAD Ministerial Meeting held in Tokyo on October 6-7 in order to follow-up on the results of TICAD 6, and to prepare for TICAD 7 in 2019.
One of the key issues to be discussed, is how Africa can implement transformation of its national economies and respond to the urgent need to create jobs for its large youth population.
Attention will also be paid to the Blue Economy, which has been described as “a major contributor to continental transformation and growth”. The ministerial meeting will assess the efforts that have been taken to promote the Blue Economy, including the perspectives of enhancing maritime security and safety.
There is also the question of the unsustainable debt condition in some African nations, often resulting from the urge to close the infrastructure gap and promote inclusive growth. The meeting will seek answers to the question of how to facilitate a more healthy, transparent and sustainable debt structure which supports the self-reliance of African countries.
Africa has been defined as the 21st century’s greatest economic frontier. Japan has made a deep commitment to ensuring that African countries rise to take their place among the economically advanced nations.
The TICAD process is the mechanism through which the Government of Japan seeks to strongly support African development in order to bring increased economic growth to Africa.
TOSHITSUGU UESAWA, Japan Ambassador to Kenya.
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.