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[VIDEO] Corporate chiefs speak of 2019 plans, prospects

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The year 2018 has presented a bag of mixed fortunes for local captains of industry. Many of them are however forecasting a year of good tidings in the new year and have shared their views as below:

1. Dr. Anastasia Nyalita, Chairperson, Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industry(KAPI)

 The year 2018 has been a remarkable one for the local pharmaceutical industry as we have managed to be more involved in revolutionary conversations ranging from laws regarding parallel imports, to regulation of the industry all tied to the government’s goal of ensuring access to affordable healthcare to all citizens.

As we usher in 2019, we at KAPI remain committed to continue being the voice of the industry and to advance our conversations on key pharma issues with the relevant stakeholders.

This will include the government, as we seek to explore partnerships that further our agenda for a well harmonized and regulated industry. This agenda dovetails with the overall Big Four Pillar on health and universal health coverage.

2. Phyllis Wakiaga, Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) 

2018 has been a good year for the manufacturing sector, despite a few hiccups, we have ended the year on a strong note. The declaration of manufacturing as a top priority investment area for the country to drive economic growth has seen manufacturers and the government engage more towards this goal.

The year 2019 promises to be a strong year for the sector, specifically if predictable and stable business environment can be guaranteed in policy formulation and implementation. The SME support accorded by Government will play a major role in strengthening the manufacturing sector’s contribution in 2019.

Additionally, we’ll continue to engage the government on the main cross-cutting challenges affecting the growth of the sector, possible solutions and sector-specific interventions to unlock growth potential.

3. Dan Githua, Group CEO Tusker Mattresses

The year 2018 has seen the rebirth of the local retail sector, as a major shift in customer and supplier confidence has been experienced. The local players have asserted themselves in this competitive space.

It is good to see home-grown retailers adopting global benchmarks and maintaining the edge against the multinational players who have recently entered this market.

For Tuskys, the year 2018 has been a truly defining one for us, and we have had to make adjustments and investments that are aligned to the needs of our customers to ensure that we bring value to them with every purchase made.

As retail sector players, we have to take up the challenge to continually innovate in order to give our customers services that suit their ever evolving preferences.

Looking into 2019, I am optimistic that the sector will continue improving in performance, and if this year’s uptake of the various campaigns launched is anything to go by it will only get better.

We are looking forward to doing great things in 2019 as we continue to pursue a corporate strategy guided by a clear vision to be the leading regional retailer and perhaps even make our debut at the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

As we have continued to grow and spread our tentacles to various other parts of Kenya and Uganda, so have we continued to expand our desire for a better future for the company which consequently drives us to give the best customer experience to all our customers.

4. Ronald Ndegwa, Managing Director, Savannah Cement 

The year 2018 has been a relatively difficult year for the local building and construction industry. The impact of the credit rates capping has affected projects that are reliant on credit resources from local financiers.

Consequently, the consumption of cement products has been slower this year compared to the previous years. For example, according to the September edition of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Leading Economic Indicators report, Consumption of cement dropped from 466,909 MT in August 2018 to 456,473 MT in September 2018.

Save for the month of March when consumption rallied to 482,910MT against a production of 476,730MT, the other months have registered slower consumption than production capacities.

Looking ahead, we are forecasting a vibrant 2019 as the underlying factors begin to correct. We have seen many projects begin to access funding and financing in the last quarter. This, provides a subtle indication that many major projects will soon be back on track. All indicators also point to faster growth from the retail market which has been the volume driver in 2018.

The retail market largely caters for dwelling unit developments’; mostly by individual builders. This segment has been enjoying steady growth and we expect almost a volume doubling in the new year.

The Affordable Housing Programme (AHP) project under the Government’s Big Four agenda with plans to deliver more than 500,000 affordable homes in the next five years is also expected to create demand for cement products.

Spearheaded by the State Department for Housing and Urban Development, this is a very noble project geared at ensuring that the low and middle income households have access to decent and affordable housing units.

At Savannah Cement, we have enhanced our delivery capacity at the factory level and forged partnerships with delivery partners such as Alliance Concrete to provide ready mix concrete in Nairobi and its environs.

Projects such as the Affordable Housing Programme will require a supply of consistent quality bulk cement at the project sites and we are well positioned to deliver against the project delivery needs as we have done with the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Project.

5. Margaret Mbaka, Managing Director, Janus Continental Group (JCG)

At Janus Continental Group, 2019 holds promise for budding partnerships across various sectors of the economy and a favourable environment for expansion in the countries we operate in including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique and Zambia.

We have aligned our delivery capacity to serve players undertaking Big Four power projects by offering total energy project solutions and will continue to amplify this line of service towards the achievement of the national agenda.

In our commitment towards global best practices and market trends, it will be a year of increased investment and infrastructure towards sustainable business initiatives for shared prosperity across our business, our people and the communities we operate.

We are also keen to increase our efforts towards supporting the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETA) through partnerships with training institutions that integrate the youth empowerment agenda into our business as a key pillar of talent development and capacity building.

Focusing on skills on welding, masonry, plant operation and related engineering artisans for economic growth.

6. Patrick Tumbo, Group Chief Executive Officer, Sanlam Kenya 

2018 has been a challenging year for the industry, however, we have remained steadfast to ensure we deliver on our promise to our stakeholders and finish strong. Against the backdrop of tightened regulator policy and turbulent investment returns, the insurance industry remained on course to accelerate economic growth in general business segments.

As Sanlam Kenya, our centennial celebration this year served as an opportunity to reflect on milestones we have achieved thus far, challenges we faced and opportunities to grow the business. 

We have set ourselves apart as a leading non-banking financial services company and set off on a new strategic path in an effort to fulfil our promise of supporting people live their best possible lives.

Looking ahead to 2019, Sanlam Kenya is hoping to reap benefits arising from recent business interventions geared at fine-tuning our general and life insurance business operations.

Strengthening our distribution network and paying special attention to growing our relationship with our partners has been the focus for 2018, and this will continue into the future. 

We are confident that leveraging on advanced technological innovations and data analytics to understand our continuously evolving customer needs, will help us to offer an even broader range of services as well as exceptional customer experience that will see our market share grow even more.

7. Carole Kariuki, Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA)

 When we kicked off the year in 2018, our focus was to ensure recovery of the economy to the level it was in 2016 i.e. 5.9% growth or higher, and by 2nd quarter of 2018, the growth rate had improved to 6.3%, compared to 4.7% in Quarter 2 of 2017.

Through our partnership with all arms of government, development partners and other stakeholders, we have continued to work on targeted policy and business regulatory reforms that have improved Kenya’s ranking in the Ease of Doing Business 2019 report to position 61 globally and the third best in Africa.

The improvement in the ranking will ensure a stable, secure and enabling business environment where all businesses large and small, domestic and foreign can start, grow and thrive.

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As we usher in 2019, we aspire to leverage on the momentum gained so far, work in partnership with all stakeholders and focus on the country’s ambitious development strategies e.g. the Big-4 Agenda to stimulate further growth and development. 2019 is our ‘Simba Era’ period, a moment for us to look ahead and plan for the next 15 years as well as deliver on the Vision 2030 development goals and turn Kenya into a rapidly industrial, medium income economy that delivers a high quality of life for all its citizens.’

8. John Njiraini, Commissioner General, Kenya Revenue Authority

The previous year was great and KRA is optimistic that continued implementation of the Revenue Enhancement Initiatives (REI) programme, will increase collection in the coming year.

So far, KShs51.352 Billion has been realised from the programme. KRA remains committed to making taxpaying experience better for everyone who seeks to interact with us through provision of a courteous and professional service.

This we shall do through focus on Revenue Enhancement Initiatives (REI) such as Data driven compliance, Resolution of tax disputes, Enhanced scanning to detect concealment, roll out of the ICMS, Implementation of Regional Electronic Cargo tracking to tackle transit diversion, Real Estate Initiative, Implementation of new debt strategy, Tax base expansion and Enhancing investigations capacity to support revenue collection.

9. Engineer John Tanui, Chief Executive Officer, Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA)

This year has been an exciting 12 months for innovators and the innovation community. Konza Technopolis take off became real as phase 1 Horizontal Infrastructure and Development of a Research Institute entered critical implementation stage.

Also, Konza Technopolis hosted its first innovation Forum and Kids boot camp bringing the home of silicon Savannah alive. The launch of a hub at Machakos University in collaboration with various partners, also marked the beginning of the Konza innovation ecosystem initiative journey, which is aimed at being a support platform for Kenya’s innovation ecosystem, adding to the already existing efforts to give opportunities to our innovators and researchers to advance Kenya’s knowledge economy which has undoubtedly changed how we live, do business and communicate, impacting lives positively.

As we usher in a new year, we are confident that 2018 gains will see us achieve greater milestones to keep the dream alive. Our core agenda is for Konza Technopolis to make key contributions to Kenya’s knowledge economy and innovation ecosystem, not only for Kenya, but for Africa. We shall continue to learn from some of the world leading innovation and science parks such as Skolcovo in Russia, Research Triangle in North Carolina in the USA, the Silicon Valley, the great story of South Korea transformation within one generation among many others.

Their journeys inspire and teach us critical foundations that need to be in place, as well as the patience and strategic initiatives needed for Konza Technopolis vision to be realized. Our priority focus for 2019 is to successfully implement ongoing projects, attract both local and foreign investors and bring Konza Technopolis to live, by playing our role in the innovation ecosystem geared to showcase Kenya’s capability to spur a global hub of innovation ecosystem.

10.  Stone He, Chief Executive Officer, Huawei Technologies (Kenya) Company Limited

2018 was a landmark year for Huawei with the completion of phase 2 of the government fiber-optic cable, the smart traffic lights system in Kileleshwa, ongoing roll-out of 4G and the first installation of innovative new mobile towers such as the RuralStar and the TubeStar with our customers.

Our Y9 mobile phone has exceeded expectations, and we have significantly expanded our University partnerships, training and internship programs for youth across the country.

At Huawei we understand the contribution of ICT to the economic advancement of a country, and that is why together with our various partners including the government of Kenya, we have invested heavily in skills transfer programmes such as the Presidential Talent Development programme (PDTP) and Seeds for the Future whose aim is to transfer ICT skills; in an effort to bridge the digital divide.

In 2018 we signed MoUs with more than 15 local Universities, and in 2019 we look forward to working with many more to enhance local skills and address the jobs challenge. In 2019 we will also be working closely with our partners and customers to expand the fibre optic cable to more sub-counties connecting more hospitals and government offices. We remain steadfast in our commitment to improve rural broadband coverage, expand high-speed fibre networks to homes in urban areas and provide the most innovative smartphones around.

11. Tonny Tugee, General Manager, SEACOM General Manager Eastern, North Africa (ENEA) Region

The year 2018 has seen an increase in the incorporation of technology-based processes and services into a variety of industries, particularly the agricultural and health sector, two of the government’s key pillars.

This gives a glimpse of the vast opportunities technology has to offer not only for the country but the continent at large. Global technology trends that will be critical to the industry will include market demands as drivers for development, with consumers demanding for more from providers in the way of data and connectivity at the most optimum price.

The year 2019 will also be the year we will see a greater shift of processing power to the cloud as organizations seek to maximize the efficiency with which they operate and a proliferation of smart devices and spaces as the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more interwoven with consumers’ daily habits.

SEACOM will be keen to continue advocating for the adoption of internet technology by enterprises both in the public and private sector. This is geared to enhance the use of smart technology, which will subsequently translate to growth in the industry and economy as a whole.

12. Bob Collymore, Chief Executive Officer, SAFARICOM

 As we approach the end of the year we look back at 2018 as the start of recovery from the electioneering period. However, in spite of the quietening of political noise and a positive economic outlook, consumers continued to grapple with the impact of high inflation and higher taxes such as those levied on financial and telecommunications services, which created a challenging environment that forced many businesses – large and small – to maintain a delicate balance.

Despite these challenges, we are encouraged by the sustained growth of the ICT sector, which continued to be a vibrant, innovative contributor to the economy. We are also confident that current events within the sector, such as new entrants and increasing competitiveness, will keep things exciting in 2019 and beyond, with the greatest beneficiary being the consumer.

Overall, we expect that next year will be better for business and consumers. Our optimism is driven by the renewed confidence we are seeing in the economy, which the World Bank projects will grow 5.8 per cent in 2019 and 6 per cent in 2020. Additionally, renewed efforts to fight corruption, as well as the Government’s commitment to implementing its Big Four Agenda, serve to give us hope for a brighter future.

Overall, we expect 2019 to be the year in which businesses, and the economy as a whole, will once again begin to enjoy real, sustainable growth and one that will trickle down to wananchi.

We have spent the last few months addressing concerns raised by our customers, including the cost and depletion of data bundles.

In response to multiple requests to give our customers more value in the face of increasingly strained consumer budgets, we introduced more affordable data bundles and packages for both our prepaid and post-paid customers, and complemented these with offers such as Tunukiwa, and 18-For-18, which has been extended to allow our customers to enjoy cheaper voice, data and SMS for a longer period of time.

In an effort to put more power over the consumption of data bundles in our customers’ hands, we also made it possible for them to not only monitor their usage, but to manage their subscriptions as well as to recover expired data bundles.

For 2019, we intend to maintain our focus on putting the customer first, delivering relevant products and services and enhancing operational excellence. We are excited about the possibilities for growth offered by new revenue streams such as e-commerce, which we are tapping into through our online shopping platform, Masoko; the digitalisation of agriculture, which we are driving through our m-agribusiness solution, Digifarm; and the growth of our mobile and fixed data propositions.

Looking ahead, we see great opportunities for innovations and partnership with a positive impact on our customers making it possible for them to conduct financial transaction anywhere in the world and also open up our country to the global marketplace through e-commerce proposition such as Masoko.

We are already deriving great value from our partnerships with PayPal and Western Union, both of which are opening up the global marketplace to both enterprise and retail customers.

We remain committed to our purpose of transforming lives, to reflecting the innate goodness and resilience of the Kenyan people through a strong Kenyan brand; to putting our customers first, and to walking with them every step of the way as we promised during our 18th anniversary celebrations: Tuko Nawe Kila Wakati.

 

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

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Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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