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Archive for May, 2011

One step ahead

31 May

As the Kenyan economy becomes more urbanised, the booming economy’s appetite for energy grows. One of the main issues facing the country at the moment is erratic, unreliable power supply and costs.

One does tend to wonder- bearing this in mind, if renewable energy is a viable option for Kenya; shouldn’t the government be working on ensuring that everyone has access to a reliable inexpensive source of power? According to research, a transition process toward renewable energy sources is essential so as to mitigate the negative effects of climate change and reduce the cost of power.

It has become imperative that the economy plans for a more sustainable power supply. With this sentiment at heart; a 310 megawatt (MW) Kenyan wind power project has received approval to earn carbon emissions credits under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism.  The power station project, which is set to begin in December, will be the fourth project in Kenya to get approval under the CDM.

Not that we need to hear this again, but renewable energy does actually save current energy consumption; something the manufacturing sector will appreciate as energy requirements have been increasing by 10% every year.

As the country takes a step ahead of most African courtiers, it looks set to cement its position as a regional economic powerhouse; Kenya has been racing against time to seek out new sources of energy to power its growing economic might in the region. Renewable energy is quickly proving to be one of the better options due to its lower costs and the availability of the natural resources needed for renewable power.

 
 

Keep it safe!

30 May

Sending money online using a payment card is considered very risky. A lot of people choose to be sceptical and would rather stick to traditional methods of payment which in many cases may prove to be more expensive or too inconvenient.

Here are a few tips on how to ensure that your safety is protected when using your debit/credit card on online.

  • Check the website:

Make sure the website address begins with https// as opposed to just http//. Make sure the website is legitimate, ask around and only use a website you have been referred to by someone else who has actually used the site before.

  • Check the bill:

Ensure that all fees are accurate; the advertised cost should match the amount debited from your account

  • Check the privacy policy:

If you are asked to give your personal information on a website make sure you read the privacy policy; how will your personal details be used? Who will have access to them?

  • Do not share your pin with anyone

Do I really have to say this? Well, just in case you need to hear this again, your pin is your own secret; do not give it to anyone under any circumstances!!

  • Use your common sense

You really do not need to give your ID number when making a payment online using your card; this, coupled with your card details could result in identity theft.

  • Finally, use your common sense!

Get the point? If it does not feel right ask questions and do more research. Don’t be lazy!!

So why not throw all scepticism aside and educate yourself. Making safe and secure payments online is actually not that difficult. Do your homework and you will find that using payment cards is actually cheaper and more convenient when making payments.

 
 

Exchange rates

27 May

You probably hear the financial reporter on the nightly news say something like “the Kenyan shilling fell against the pound today”, but what does that mean?

I, being the average citizen, am clueless when it comes to matters of money, so I have no idea what exactly affects the exchange rates and the value of currencies in the world.

National currencies are not always accepted in another country, so an exchange rate allows you to buy a different currency to allow you to trade in that country.

In lay man terms, a currency is worth whatever buyers are willing to pay for it. This is determined by supply and demand, which is in turn driven by foreign investment, import/export ratios, inflation, and a host of other economic factors. This is known as a floating currency.

A pegged, or fixed system on the other hand, is one in which the exchange rate is set and artificially maintained by the government. The rate will be pegged to some other country’s dollar, usually the U.S. dollar. The rate will thus not fluctuate from day to day.

A floating currency is suitable for countries with mature, stable markets whilst the fixed currency is perfect for countries that have immature potentially unstable economies.

 
 

China in Kenya

26 May

The relationship between China and Kenya has deepened in the recent years as the mutual social, economic and political trust has increasingly enhanced.

China’s presence has been specifically felt in the terms of investment made by the Chinese into this vibrant African economy. As china increases its footprint in the African country it has signed 10 bilateral agreements with Kenya.

Due to the many projects china has invested in, Kenya has become the largest beneficiary of Chinese aid and concessional loans.

Kenyan-Chinese trade stood at around $1.3 billion in 2009 with Kenyan exports to China almost negligible.

With few natural resources to attract China’s energy industry, Kenya is nevertheless considered an important access market and a regional cornerstone. The east African country has acquired new strategic significance for China through its proximity to the future state of Southern Sudan.

 
 

Nairobi; The place of cool waters

25 May

The name originated from the Masai phrase “Enkrae Nyirobi”, which translates to “the place of cool waters”.  Nairobi is however also commonly known as “the green city in the sun”.

With its population estimated at 3 million, Nairobi is the most crowded city in Kenya and is ranked the 13th biggest city in Africa. It is home to a lot of companies and organisations, including the United Nations Environment program and the UN office in Africa. The stock exchange is ranked 4th in terms of trading amount and competent of making 10 million trades a day.

The city originated as a transport hub and since then has expanded upwards and outwards to accommodate a population of over three million people! Its diminutive colonial buildings jostle for space with high-rises and concrete apartment blocks.

Culturally, the city is diverse, hosting a sizeable population of Asians, Europeans and a growing community of expatriates who have set up base in the city.

There are currently 44 licensed commercial banks, and 1 mortgage Supply Company in Nairobi. As a means of improving access to financial services, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) commenced measures to open up banking channels to non-bank agents. An amendment to the Banking Act (passed as part of the Finance Act 2009) allowed banks to start using agents to deliver financial services.

Nairobi is also one of a small number of pioneering city’s where financial services are starting to be offered by mobile network operators to people.  Mobile payment services are being used to send money to relatives, pay field staff their allowances and expenses. This obviously plays an important role in reducing the risk of theft, as there is reduced need of having to travel with cash.

 
 

Kenya at the turn of the century

24 May

Kenya entered the 21stCentury in the middle of what was arguably the worst economic crisis since the country gained independence in 1963.t With he GDP growth rate declining continuously from a peak of about 6.5%per year during the decade 1963 – 72, only about 1.5% per year during the 1990’s, Kenya’s economic and financial performance had really deteriorated .

The growth rate was about 1.1% in 2002 and inflation increased in 1999 mainly owing to increases in fuel and food prices

The poor economic performance was due to several factors, including prolonged drought that lead to power rationing, inadequate infrastructure, and low agricultural productivity.

Poor governance and corruption have also had a negative impact on growth as it made it very expensive to do business in Kenya.

In the 1970s, the national poverty rate was 29%.  Poverty has grown considerably in subsequent decades.  A recent study shows that the level of absolute poverty has increased to about 57% in 2000.  Between 1996 and 1999, the number of people living below the poverty line increased from about 11.5 million to about 15 million.  The two problems now facing the Kenyan economy are poverty and a high level of unemployment.  HIV/Aids, which now takes 710 lives per day, has further undermined productivity.  HIV/Aids have very far-reaching repercussions for the economy since it affects the most productive age groups, especially 15 to 49 year olds.  AIDS has also put great pressure on the government and the society at large in terms of caring for the sick, reduced productivity on the job, and the burden of caring for orphans.

 
 

Africa’s future;megacities

23 May

African cities are growing at an accelerating pace. This obviously puts a certain amount of pressure on the city’s infrastructure and resources. Most African cities are already currently facing water, energy and sanitation challenges which are being exacerbated as increasingly people move to cities in search of a better life.

New, “enabling” infrastructure is needed; infrastructure that will accommodate the massive growth rates and future opportunity. These cities will become incubators of innovation, attracting more foreign and domestic investment, thus resource efficiency is paramount and could become a competitiveness factor.

There is a huge incentive for renewable energy and “smart water” powered by technology.  This will help do away with the current problems caused by congestion in Africa

As these mega cities take shape, it is important to start planning the growing urban communities, not by coming up with mega-solutions but rather by customised solutions which are fresh and tailored to the specific rising needs and challenges of these cities.

 
 

The Nairobi stock exchange

20 May

Established in 1954, the Nairobi stock exchange is somewhat speculative and still very small. It is the fourth largest in Sub-Saharan, with just over 50 countries registered in 2010.

The products traded at the NSE are Shares and Bonds. Shares and Bonds are money or financial products. Another name for Shares is Equities, while Bonds are also known as Debt Instruments. Products traded at the NSE are in one name called Securities.

At the moment, there are over 50 different types of shares and over 60 of bonds at the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

What is the importance of this market to the economy?

For an economy to grow, money needs to shift from les to more productive activities. In other words, idle money and savings should be invested in productive activity for the economy to grow. The Stock Exchange makes this possible by:

  • Bringing the borrowers and lenders of money together at a low cost, thus enabling idle money and savings to become productive.  We therefore encourage savings and investments.
  • Educating the public about the higher profits in shares and bonds.
  • Facilitating good management of companies by asking them to give periodic reports of their performance.
  • Providing financial solutions to common problems.
  • Through shares and bonds; helping organizations raise money to expand their business activities, make a profit, create employment and generally help the economy to grow.
 
 

The mystery of the Gedi

18 May

It is one of Kenya’s unknown treasures, a lost city, and an archaeological puzzle that has engendered debate among historians. Extensive research and exploration has been done and still no one is sure of what really happened to the town of Gedi and its people.

Tucked away deep in the forest a long distance from the ocean and other trading centres, this settlement was quite sizable and complex; characteristics common in other trading outposts. Its location does however make it an unlikely trading centre.

Where they came from and where they went to are some of the big mysteries that you can unravel at these ghostly ruins of the Gedi. It is definitely a mysterious place to visit were you can lose yourself in the secrets of the past whilst taking walk through the Gedi architecture.

If you still needed convincing, this is yet another reason to visit Kenya…!

 
 

Kenyan Artifacts

16 May

Fascinating, unique and beautiful… these are some of the words that resound with every tourist who gets the opportunity to encounter Kenya’s culture through the hands of the ethnic groups’ sculptures.

Beautifully carved with exquisite detail Kenyan artifacts have definitely made a profound impact on foreign tourists as they sell very well both locally and abroad.  The most  popular Kenyan artifacts include colorful hand-woven sisal baskets, Maasai beaded jewelry, gold and silver jewelry, musical instruments, soapstone sculptures, tribal masks, figurines, paintings, prints, batik cloth, kangas and the beautiful traditional Kikoys (African sarongs).

All these form a central and very intriguing part of the Local ethnic groups distinguishing them from other African cultures.

Some of the more unique sculptures by the Kenyans have religious significance as they are used during traditional ceremonies. More than just being beautiful these artifacts say a lot about the local culture