The Business Daily covered diverse stories that shaped conversations in 2018. In the year under review many stories captured the readers’ attention with some triggering public uproar especially after the newspaper uncovered rampant corruption, and interest where articles demystified issues of public concern.
With the year coming to a close, here are some of our widely read stories from the year.
Betting Boss Who Doesn’t Gamble
Gambling is a multi-billion shilling business in Kenya and it is for this obvious reason that most locals are hooked to the vice; minting profits for investors in the process.
It is not surprising that the Betting Boss Who Doesn’t Gamble story was the most read article of the year, with most readers, who gamble, visiting the page to learn more about Wanja Gikonyo, Betway Sports country manager, who doesn’t partake in what the business sells.
Men who gave Africa its tallest building
The tallest building is coming up in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area and the public anticipation is evident given the interest generated by the story about the two investors behind the skyscraper. The story of the 255-room Hilton Hotel, a luxury residential housing, shopping mall, health spa and entertainment centre; a monstrous dream was borne in the oddest and remotest of places, in this case in the hearts of two friends in the hinterland of Northern Kenya: Abdinasir Ali Hassan (executive chairman, Hass Petroleum) and Mahat Mohamoud Noor (White Lotus Projects). The story takes the readers through the duo’s journey of getting a dream team for the execution of the project.
M-Pesa users to reverse wrong transactions on SMS
Millions of Kenyans rely on mobile money services. The dependency is so high that the economy comes to a halt especially when the biggest player M-Pesa has an outage. It is not surprising that news that touches on user experience is widely read.
Atul speaks: How debt took down my Nakumatt Empire
When the giant that was Nakumatt Holdings begun to crumble closing a store every so often, people were left wondering what had befallen the once big brand. About two years after the retailer begun its way down the founder for the first time spoke about how debt took down his empire. The story delved into the once successful business that is now unable to pay its suppliers, bankers and creditors, people whose businesses once fed off the retailer’s runaway success.
KRA releases new rules for ‘Nil’ returns
Issues about filing tax returns get the public’s attention. This story was about a new digital form that makes it easier to track down people trying to evade taxes by filing ‘Nil’ income tax returns.
The story most likely caught the attention of Kenyans who have over the years tried to cheat the system. The new form requires filers of nil income tax returns to explicitly declare that they do not have any other source of income. Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in this latest effort is trying to seal loopholes as desperation to meet tax collection targets grows.
Kenyans who own private islands
In a world where privacy is rapidly becoming an unattainable luxury, hiring or renting your own private island is the way to go; at least for those who can afford it. This is a feel good story, it lets the readers into the world of the super-rich.
What KCB pays its top executives
News about what executives earn always gets the attention of the public and this case was not different when the Business Daily uncovered how much KCB top executives earned in 2017.
The bank’s financial report with a comprehensive account of its directors’ remuneration, made it the first bank to comply with the new reporting demands. The story revealed that the bank’s chief executive, Joshua Oigara, was paid Sh256 million as compensation for 2017, raising his pay by 14 percent from Sh224 million in 2016, the bulk of it in bonuses.
KRA suspends processing of nil income tax returns
Again, matters about filing income tax returns will always get the attention of Kenyans. Kenya Revenue Authority’s suspension of processing of nil income tax returns story preceded the one mentioned earlier, which set the pace for the unveiling of a new system that is meant to nab tax cheats.
Man’s unique furniture draws customers
It is a unique feel good story about a furniture “open-air” business Nyali in Mombasa. The furniture is made using curvy roots, tree branches and trunks, making it not an everyday story, likely why the story attracted a lot of readers attention.
Carole Wainaina: My Marriage Never Failed, It Ended
Not every day that people holding influential corporate positions open up about their personal life as candidly as Carole Wainaina did. In this story, she talks about her failed marriage, her daughter’s struggle with depression and just general parenting tussles being a mother and a corporate who requires travel every so often.
The interview also showed the fearless side of Carole, a corporate leader with a midas touch.
Kenya to import mitumba after coronavirus pandemic
Kenya is set to lift the ban on imports of second-hand clothes once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, the Industry, Trade and Co-operatives Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina has said.
The Cabinet Secretary last Wednesday announced an immediate temporary suspension of the importation of second-hand clothes as a measure to stop importing the SARs-Cov-2 virus that causes Covid-19 disease.
Ms Maina said the action taken is in line with the conditions as set out by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs).
“The government has suspended importation of second-hand clothes with immediate effect to safeguard the health of Kenyans and promote local textiles in the wake of coronavirus,” said Ms Maina.
“Most of the Mitumba imports come from China and Pakistan, countries which are the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision is intended to safeguard Kenyans against the spreading of the coronavirus and is therefore a health issue,” she said.
In an interview with the The EastAfrican, Ms Maina said the Kebs will enforce the suspension as we wait for the situation to improve.
“It is a requirement by the Kebs to take such an action in times of an epidemic like the Covid-19,” she said.
A recent study by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the virus can stay longer on different surfaces, including clothes.
Ms Maina, however, said the temporary ban will not in any way affect the policy on Mitumba imports from the US.
Under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, Kenya sold about Ksh40 billion ($400m) worth of textiles and clothing to the US.
“This does not in any way affect our policy on our imports from the US. The decision is strictly an urgent measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus,” added Ms Maina.
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.