A think-tank says reduced production and high costs of rice have seen a huge chunk of its consumers turn to cheaper alternatives.
Consumption of rice has nosedived over the past seven years, increasing dependency on maize as the staple, new data shows.
This has, in turn, fueled food insecurity. According to analysis by Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), every Kenyan on average ate 121kg of rice in 2012, before substantially coming down to 20kg in 2016.
IEA, in the analysis released yesterday, noted that the reduction was due to stagnation in production that had not kept up with population growth, rising cost of the commodity as well as tough economic conditions that had eroded the spending power of many Kenyans.
During the period under review, there were reports of “plastic rice” from China on the shelves of some retail outlets, which may have also prompted consumers to shun the grain.
IEA, a think-tank that provides a platform for informed discussions in order to influence public policy in the country, also noted a dip in consumption of maize, largely on account of high costs and a decline in production, pushing Kenyans to embrace alternatives that are relatively cheaper and readily available.
In the analysis, IEA noted that per capita utilisation of maize among Kenyans had gone down to 58.2kg in 2016 compared with 64.9kg in 2012.
The institute attributed the drop to declining maize production and the subsequent high prices of maize and maize flour. Other foods such as potatoes are also slowly taking over the prized place that maize and maize flour occupied in Kenyan households.
“One of the main causes of food insecurity is the decline in food production. For instance, production of maize was 39 million bags in 2014 and 37.1 million bags in 2016, which was in both years below annual average of 40 million bags,” said IEA Assistant Programme Officer, Regulation and Competition Policy Programme Stephen Jairo.
He spoke in Nairobi at a food security forum organised by the institute.
Demand for maize in the country stands at about 42 million bags, with the balance usually bridged through imports.
While other crops such as rice and wheat are largely produced for human consumption, maize is also used in the production of animal feeds, creating a kind of competition between livestock and humans.
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.