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VW prepares for planned regional vehicle market

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By ALLAN OLINGO
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Automotive giant Volkswagen seems to be quietly plotting a takeover of the East African market, positioning itself for the lucrative saloon car business as the region moves towards integrating the sector.

In its latest move, last week, the Germany-headquartered automaker signed a memorandum of understanding with Ethiopia to establish an assembly plant in the country and produce automotive components.

Volkswagen also plans to introduce mobility concepts such as app-based car-sharing and ride-hailing, and open a training centre.

Thomas Schaefer, head of Volkswagen in sub-Saharan Africa, described Ethiopia as the ideal country to advance the firm’s development strategy on the continent given its population, ranked second on the continent.

“Volkswagen intends to tap into existing expertise and strategic resources in Ethiopia to establish a thriving automotive components industry,” said Mr Schaefer.

Ethiopia is the third country in sub-Saharan Africa to sign an MoU with Volkswagen in the recent past, after Ghana and Nigeria in August last year.

In Ghana, Volkswagen will establish a vehicle assembly and conduct a feasibility study for an integrated mobility solutions concept.

In Nigeria, Volkswagen implemented a phased approach of vehicle assembly with a long-term view to establishing the country as an automotive hub in West Africa.

In June 2018, Volkswagen opened its plant in Rwanda, adding to the one in Kenya where it has an assembly line for the Polo Vivo hatchback.
VW also has a vehicle assembly line in Algeria.

“We are focusing on new up-and-coming markets, and sub-Saharan Africa plays an increasingly important role. Although the African automotive market is comparatively small today, it has a bright outlook,” said Mr Shaefer.

For VW, the timing could not be better as the East African region starts shifting towards newer vehicles with lower emissions.

The EAC Heads of States 20th Ordinary Summit in Arusha on Friday was expected to endorse the establishment of the Regional Automotive Industry Platform of East Africa (Raipea).

Raipea is expected to create a single, “integrated automotive market” and serve as an incentive to attract global car manufacturers in the region for assembly and component manufacturing.

Once operational, the new platform, will see the region save more than $2 billion annually in car import costs even as the summit considers pushing for harmonised guidelines.

The region hopes to mirror the success of countries like South Africa, Nigeria and Morocco, which have managed to develop their own automotive sectors through strong and extensive coordination both at national and regional level.

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It is expected that by the end of next month, EAC partner states will have rolled out mechanisms to establish national automotive industry platforms and technical working groups to co-ordinate the sector at national level, and provide a mechanism for interfacing with the regional automotive platform.

The Secretariat is now expected to factor in the cost of undertaking a feasibility study on affordable vehicle manufacturing in the region, in the EAC budget for the 2019/2020 financial year.

Once operational, this new initiative will be supported by the entry of the likes of Volkswagen into the region’s market, and will be expected to boost new vehicle numbers as EAC begins to cut down on used vehicle imports.

Already, Kenya has indicated that starting July, it will effect a planned phase-out of used vehicles, only allowing those that are five-years-old and below, as it targets a total close down by 2022.

Imported second-hand vehicles account for 85 per cent of Kenyan car purchases, totalling 86,626 units in 2017, and gobbling up precious foreign exchange estimated at about Ksh60 billion ($600 million) a year.

Two countries in the region have been given until October this year to finalise their national positions on setting age limits for imported used vehicles.

“The Council directed the Secretariat to develop a harmonised regional standard for pre-shipment inspection and standards of practice for inspection of imported used vehicles,” an EAC communique says.

In 2017, the region reactivated talks on the harmonisation of age limits for imported vehicles and on setting up assembly plants, having put them on hold following recommendations of a study by the EAC Committee on Industrialisation.

It warned against the sudden implementation of the harmonisation process without reducing the number of vehicles imported into the region.

The indecisiveness of the two countries is said to be holding back the region from adopting a common position on the matter, and a one-year deadline given to them, which expires in October this year, is meant to bring the entire process to a close.

Currently, Kenya has an eight year age limit for imported used cars, with Tanzania having a 10-year limit, while Uganda has a 15-year limit.

Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan, will be the most affected given that they do not have age limits for second-hand cars imported into their market.

“Used vehicle imports account for 70-85 per cent of the EAC total market. The lack of a harmonised policy for the importation of used cars leads to trade diversions, loss of revenues, and risks related to road safety and environmental health risks,” the technical experts said in their report.

Vehicle assembly seems set to become the new manufacturing frontier in the region.

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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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