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Urban middle class may offer lifeline to rural Africa : The Standard

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The rise of an urban middle class across much of Africa is stoking demand for food that could curb hunger and cut poverty in rural outposts, a U.S.-based think tank said on Wednesday.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said rural communities were in “a state of crisis”, with high poverty rates and poor services driving hunger and malnutrition.
One in five people, or more than 256 million, are hungry in Africa, according to the latest figures from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
But there are opportunities too, the IFPRI said in its annual report.
In Africa, a growing middle class with higher purchasing power is fuelling a spike in demand for food – and with an interesting twist, said Ousmane Badiane, IFPRI Africa director.
“They are not just asking for imported food, wine, and cheese but to have a traditional staple on the tables. But they don’t want to eat them the traditional way,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Dakar, Senegal.
This has given birth to a large number of small agribusinesses that process, package and distribute such foods, creating jobs and opportunities for small farmers, he added.
In Senegal, new processing technologies led to a growth in ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat millet products and reversed years of low and declining consumption of the healthy, gluten-free grain, said the report.
Similarly, domestic brands of processed local dairy and grain products now have a significant presence in Ghana, Mali, and Tanzania, it added.
This sector is likely to grow further, with projections that most traditional staples such as millet and cassava would be consumed in processed form within 20 years, Badiane said.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement, expected to come info force in 2019, would also help, he said, by allowing farmers and businesses to tap into a market of 1.2 billion people across 55 countries.
Turning opportunity into reality needs technology and financing that would let locals innovate and compete, he said.
There should also be an investment in rural areas and access to energy and telecommunications, he added.
Nearly half the world’s population live in rural areas but represent 70 percent of the extremely poor, according to IFPRI.

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International Food Policy Research InstituteFood and Agriculture Organization



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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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