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Archive for November, 2014

How to Invest in Kenyan Stocks

27 Nov

Historically in order to to start huge businesses, which no single merchant could raise alone. It therefore became inevitable for them to come together, pool their savings and start these businesses as partners or co-owners. The contribution of each partner to the enterprise was to be represented by a unit of ownership. This was the precursor to what we call shares. And through this, ‘joint stock’ companies were born.

In Kenya, dealing in shares and stocks started in the 1920s when the country was still a British colony. However, the market was not formal as there did not exist any rules and regulations to govern stock broking activities. Trading took place on a ‘gentleman’s agreement.’ Standard commissions were charged with clients being obligated to honour their contractual commitments of making good delivery and settling relevant costs. At that time, stock broking was a sideline business conducted by accountants, auctioneers, estate agents and lawyers who met to exchange prices over a cup of coffee. Because these firms were engaged in other areas of specialisation, the need for association did not arise. In 1954 the Nairobi Stock Exchange was then constituted as a voluntary association of stockbrokers registered under the Societies Act. Since Africans and Asians were not permitted to trade in securities, until after the attainment of independence in 1963, the business of dealing in shares was confined to the resident European community. At the dawn of independence, stock market activity slumped, due to uncertainty about the future of independent Kenya. 1988 saw the first privatisation through the NSE, of the successful sale of a 20% government stake in Kenya Commercial Bank. The sale left the Government of Kenya and affiliated institutions retaining 80% ownership of the bank.

The Nairobi stock exchange

The Stock Market is therefore a market, which deals in the exchange of shares of publicly quoted companies, and government, corporate and municipal bonds among other instruments for money. The Kenyan stock market; the Nairobi Stock Exchange, which was formed in 1954 as a voluntary organization of stockbrokers, is now one of the most active markets in Africa. It is located on 1st Floor,Nation Centre on Kimathi Street, in Nairobi. As a capital market institution, the Stock Exchange plays an important role in the process of economic development:

It helps mobilize domestic savings thereby bringing about reallocation of financial resources from dormant to active agents. Long-term investments are made liquid, as the transfer of securities (shares and bonds) among the participating public is facilitated. The Exchange has also enabled companies to engage local participation in their shares ownership, thereby giving Kenyans a chance to own shares of reputable firms. Companies can also raise extra finance essential for expansion and development. To raise funds, a company (issuer) issues extra shares; an issuer publishes a prospectus, which gives all pertinent details about the operations and future prospects of a company, while at the same time stating the price per share of the Issue. A stock market also enhances the inflow of international capital. Stock markets also facilitate government’s privatization  The first step when buying securities (shares/bonds) is to decide what company to buy in. When selecting a company to invest in, one should make sure the company is in a strong industry, and/or that it is strong or growing. Choosing the company to invest in is no easy job, and there are many different methods people have come up with to select one. These include: Fundamental analysis; which is a method, in which you study the company’s current management and position in the market. Technical analysis; this is a method which is totally based on charts, in which you identify trends the company has, and invest accordingly. After one decides what company to invest in, you need to select a stockbroker/investment bank to use. The two are the only ones that can make an order to buy or sell securities. Potential customers contact stockbrokers/investment banks either by mail, telephone, personal visits or regional agents and give their buying or selling orders. When one gives a stockbroker/investment bank an order, they relay the order to the floor traders. The floor traders do all the actual buying and selling, since they hold a seat on the stock exchange. After one finds a stockbroker/investment bank and buys the securities, the stockbroker/investment bank does the rest of the work to seal the transaction.programme.

While the Nairobi stock exchange is has not been a great performer for the years it is still a buyers market so there are massive bargain opportunities. Factors that include a weakening currency (which has finally begun to stabilize), escalating fuel prices, a surge in local liquidity prompted by heavy bank lending to the private sector, and food inflation caused by the region’s persistent drought make it ideal frontier market. It offers foreign investors exposure to the Kenyan economy, and — because many listed firms have expanded beyond Kenya’s borders — it also serves as an entry point to the regional economy. In the short term, foreign investors can capitalize by investing in the weak shilling and seek exit points as it strengthens against the US dollar.

 

 

 
 

Towards a Cashless Society

24 Nov

When the first credit card was introduced in 1946, and the debit card in 1978, the world began its transition to a cashless society. Fast forward to today and the use of these cards has grown significantly.Today, 15 per cent of transactions carried out worldwide are cashless, pointing to the increasing popularity of pre-paid, debit and credit cards as an acceptable means of payment in day-to-day transactions. Cash has long been a mainstay in business transactions dating back to the days of gold and silver coins, way way back in time. Wealth was associated with the amount of gold one possessed, which still holds true but who would actually want to move around with 300 ounces of gold coins chingling in an awkward pouched tied to your waist like an uncut umbilical cord. The world evolved from there, the gold was too much to carry, the weight was burdensome and so we had cash. Pieces of special paper that took the place of that heavy metal and made us feel supreme. We stored the gold away in vaults and safes and other places unimaginable and we had this thing called cash. Cash and carry it was, light and easy it was to drop and not feel a thing. Wallets and purses then became popular. This continued for the best part of 2 centuries, with all the hiccups, torn money, dirty money, eve dirtier money, lost money, not enough money and the dreaded rapid inflation resulting in tonnes of worthless notes being used to buy a loaf of bread. The poor people of the Weimer Republic and those poor souls in Zimbabwe who carried bags of cash to buy the smallest of groceries. This cash thing has got to go. Is there really a need to be flaunting cash that can easily be relieved of your company by unscrupulous individuals brandishing balaclavas and stolen police issued pistols. We are moving towards a society where we do not have to carry cash, which will increase safety of citizens tenfold. Face it it will be a long time coming before robbers target our cards and phones. Indications are there, they started early. For Kenya’s middle and upper classes, the reality of a cashless society is something that has become part of everyday life, as evidenced by the results of a survey by the Central Bank of Kenya indicating that cashless transactions grew 83 per cent to Sh386 .6 billion in the first half of 2012 from Sh211.2 billion recorded during the same period in 2011. This is the future, a cashless economy is one in which the purchase of goods and services and the payment of debts and remittances are done through electronic money media, either through credit and debit cards, direct transfers from one account to another, smart cards, mobile payment systems, and other technologies. Now 27 per cent of Kenyan consumers prefer to pay for goods and services using electronic payment methods as opposed to the traditional cash payment system. According to a MasterCard Survey, consumer preference and programs aimed at encouraging electronic payment systems will make Kenya more attractive to business people. This is the new scenario where a husband working in Nairobi can send money home to the countryside with a couple of taps on his mobile phone. His wife can cash out at the increasingly ubiquitous shops with M-Pesa agents—the number of agents across the country increased 40 percent in 2013to more than 65,000—and she can also leave the money on her device to make digital payments with the hundreds of businesses who accept them. Kenya is on the road to becoming a cashless economy through use of electronic payment systems. MasterCard Worldwide has partnered with Equity Bank to issue five million chip enabled debit and prepaid cards for use as a way to pay for goods and services as opposed to using cash.

 

 
 

Kenya to Power Up

21 Nov

East Africa’s largest economy is struggling with ageing energy infrastructure and the government has said it plans to add 5,000 megawatts (MW) to the existing 1,664 MW of generation capacity by 2017. Kenya Power owns and operates most of the electricity transmission and distribution in the country, its mandate is to plan for sufficient electricity generation and transmission to meet demand, building and maintain the power distribution and transmission network providing electricity to the country’s citizens.

In Kenya, electricity is mainly generated from Hydro, Thermal and Geothermal sources – with wind generation accounting for less than 6 Megawatts of the installed capacity. Currently, hydropower comprises over 40 percent of the installed capacity in Kenya and is sourced from various stations managed by the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen). However Kenya is suffering from lack of adequate supplies to accommodate its energy needs. Kenya has been facing severe power shortages, putting pressure on the country’s economic growth and its efforts to improve the day-to-day lives of Kenyans. Only 25 percent of the population has access to electricity, and rural grid access is only about 5 percent. Scaling-up access to electricity and ensuring reliable power supply are key elements of Vision 2030, the government’s national development strategy to promote economic development, growth and competitiveness, and create jobs. The government has an ambitious goal: to achieve 40 percent energy access by 2030 by increasing electricity generation capacity to 11,510 MW by then from the current installed capacity of 1,473MW.electric

Efforts to finance the upgrading of the energy producing and distribution of electricity in Kenya has proven to be difficult with private sector investors concerned about the security of a return to their investments. Efforts have been made to allay those fears when the World Bank came up with a US$166 million series of Partial Risk Guarantees was put in place to reassure commercial financiers concerned about the state-owned electricity utility and its obligations towards them. The benefits are already starting to show with news that National electricity distributor, Kenya Power, has contracted a USD190 million (Shs.17 billion) long-term loan from the Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) to implement infrastructural development projects. The funds will be channelled to support the on-going power expansion and system upgrade projects being implemented in various parts of the country in readiness for the expected additional generation capacity of 5,000 MW. Kenya Power will use the funds to make huge investments in acquisition of additional transformers and other construction materials in the next one year. These materials will be used to construct new substations and power lines while at the same time upgrading others to enhance capacity of the power network and improve quality and reliability of power supply to customers. This will allow for 1 million new customers and this will include both commercial and domestic users of electricity.

The Kenyan government in its ongoing quest to electrify the whole of Kenya established the Kenya Nuclear Electricity board with a mandate to fast track the development of nuclear electricity generation in Kenya. It will be an alternative energy source that is safe sufficient and reliable and this is part of the Vision 2030 programme.

 

 

 
 

Mobile Commerce making strides

07 Nov

The balance of power within the money transfer market has tilted further in favour of mobile service providers following the launch of a number of new services that will allow mobile subscribers to send and receive money from any bank in the world  using their mobile phone.Mobile service provider Zain has enhanced its mobile money transfer product, Zap, to allow any of its five million customers within the three countries where the service is active – Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania – to transfer money in seconds using the mobile phone platform.

Users can now receive money from anywhere in the world directly to their mobile handsets as well as send funds directly to their bank accounts. This means a relative in New York for example can send money from their bank account to a Zap customer in Nakuru who will receive it almost instantly.The evolution of Zain’s mobile commerce product into an international money transfer service will have several implications for players in the global telecommunications and financial industries.

The likely casualties of Zain’s move are expected to be formal banking institutions and traditional money transfer agents such as PostaPay, Western Union and MoneyGram.Inter-bank transfers can account for up to 20 per cent of a bank’s profits, costing anything from Sh500 upwards to send money to foreign accounts.Within Kenya, traditional money transfer providers like Western Union and MoneyGram were already beginning to feel the effects of M-pesa, Safaricom’s mobile money transfer solution as it is cheaper and faster.

Eighty per cent of Kenya’s population and ninety-five per cent of Tanzania’s and Uganda’s populations currently do not have access to banking services.This has the potential to transform banking in Africa and will help overcome many of the obstacles presented by providing banking services to remote and rural communities who are now able to access global funds swiftly.

Kenya leads in the revolution. It is the world leader in mobile commerce. 73% of Kenya’s 30 million mobile subscribers currently use their handsets to pay for products and services compared to just 15 per cent worldwide. The numbers have been driven by a large number of M-Pesa, Airtel Money, Orange Money and yuCash subscribers who use their mobile phones in money transfer and banking services. Driven also by the growing amount of foreign remittances through remittance companies like Mukuru.com, mobile money services are key in provision of safe, secure and cheap financial services in a country where many people have no access to formal banking systems.

 
 

Get that Job

04 Nov

The unemployment problem is global and presents a particularly difficult labour market experience for youth. In Africa especially, unemployment and underemployment continue to be major obstacles to the full utilization of human resources despite relatively strong growth in the region over the last decade. Unemployment stalks Kenya’s youth. The youth are experiencing much higher unemployment rates than the rest of the Kenyan population. The youth in the urban areas are more at risk of social ills associated with unemployment.

Good news is that the Kenyan economy is rapidly expanding. Kenya has turned out to be the regional economic hub in Eastern Africa. Coming with this positive expansion is the need for human resources. Kenya’s institutions of higher learning are turning out high quality graduates year in and year out so competition is stiff and imagine if you add the number of expat students coming back for a piece of that “proverbial” pie.

It is imperative that you stand out as a candidate, and avoid hitting that wall of silence, i.e when you apply and apply for jobs and you do not even get a reply. Renowned Human Resources analyst Kunjan Zaveri has a few tips in order to get at least an interview when you apply for jobs:

 

1. Quality over quantity: For starters — and this might seem counter-intuitive when you’re feeling desperate to land a job — be selective. “No one should be applying for ‘thousands’ of jobs. Or even hundreds,” said Mary Ellen Slayter, a career expert at monster.com. “You’re setting yourself up for disappointment.” Instead, focus on whether you have the right skills and training for the jobs you actually want.

2. Peppering doesn’t work: Many people make the mistake of simply peppering their CV or resume with keywords, thinking that will be enough to get them through the applicant tracking system (ATS) software that 75 per cent of large companies use to screen applicants. But keywords alone won’t work, according to Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass, a career analytics company. Newer search technology offers a more “holistic evaluation” of your resume or CV than in the past. Therefore, your resume should not be a list of facts but rather a narrative that tells a story. “A narrative resume is essentially what every resume should aspire to be, that is, something that tells the story of your professional life in such a way that it’s clear that this new job is the next chapter in that story,” Sigelman said.

3. Do your homework: Mary Goldsmith’s biggest pet peeve when she was an executive recruitment consultant was applicants “who didn’t bother to edit their resume to reflect the needs of the organisation, or role requirements, even when a comprehensive position description was available.” Not taking the time to customise your resume gives a really bad first impression.Research the company before you complete your application for clues on how to develop your application. Check employee profiles to get an understanding of the type of people they recruit and what they value.

4. Name dropping: If you have experience at a well-known company, take advantage of it, suggested Steven Yeong, a recruiter coach. And send your CV to all of the direct competitors of the company where you worked.

5. Always a better way: No matter how well you craft your resume or CV, it still can’t beat a personal contact who can recommend you to a hiring manager or recruiter. “As everything changes in job search, some things remain the same,” said Wendy Enelow, founder and director of Resume Writing Academy. “Networking is still the number one way to find a new position.”

 

 

 

 
 

Getting married in Kenya

01 Nov

 

Africa, with its many nations and tribes, is very rich in different wedding traditions. An old African proverb says, “A man without a wife is like a vase without flowers.”

Traditionally in Africa, year end marks wedding season and Kenya is no exception. I am not sure why the last few months of the year see a peak in wedding ceremonies but I guess its our “thang” or maybe due to the festive nature of year end. December is for celebrations, year end parties, graduation parties, Christmas and yes the big new years party. Weddings blossom this time of the year and the cultural diversity that is exhibited in these celebrations is truly a marvel. A traditional Kenyan wedding will differ from culture to culture within the country. These practices are what were doing historically in Kenya traditions when it came to weddings. In today’s modern world, things have changed but some practices may still be re-enacted for traditions’ sake.

The are a quite a number of interesting traditions that are exhibited by different tribes. Among the Pokot, the groom is required to pay a bride price. During the wedding ceremony, the groom circles the bride’s wrist with a leather wedding band. Members of the Samburu tribe cross wooden sticks during the wedding ceremony, this symbolizes that a marriage will grow deep, have lasting roots, and maintain the strength and natural life force of trees. Among the Rendille, a man will send beads to the girl whom he is interested in. If she accepts the beads then they will proceed to become engaged. Her parents will demonstrate their acceptance of the man by having the girl’s mother place a wooden ornament over the beads. Prior to the official marriage ceremony, the girl’s earlobes will be pierced and she will have some tattoos applied to her body. The groom will give the girl’s family and relatives some camels. The Masai have an interesting procedure, the father of the bride blesses her by spitting on her head and breasts. Then she leaves with her husband. While walking to her new home she never looks back as she believes that she will turn to stone. That is very interesting.

The Kikuyu are the largest ethic tribe in Kenya. For the Kikuyu tribe, paying the ruracio is a strictly adhered to practice. So much so, that a woman may not feel properly married if her bride price was not paid. According to Kikuyu tradition, every Kikuyu girl’s bride price is 99 goats. It is never 100 as the 1 is left in the groom’s family to raise another herd. In modern day Kenya, the amount is converted into a cash amount per goat and that amount is what is negotiated by the families. The negotiation can be based on the current market price of a goat or can be slightly higher or lower. The idea is to find a middle ground where the groom does not feel harassed and the bride’s family does not feel that no value or little value is placed on their daughter.

With the advent of Christianity and westernisation weddings have changed dramatically over the years. With the global village getting smaller many Kenyans have moved to different countries for various reasons and some have moved to Kenya for their own too. Inevitable relationships develop. Here is a little information for our would be brothers and sisters in law. It is a common Kenya Wedding Tradition for the bridegroom to pay the bride price before the wedding ceremony although this is not strictly the case at the moment. The wedding ceremony can still take place in some communities and the bride price can be paid later. The bride price can be in form of cattle or goats but nowadays most people pay in money form. The paying of the bride price is always like a small ceremony of its own as the groom and his friends and probably his father and brothers go to the home of the bride to officially deliver it.Most Kenya wedding traditions are usually better known by the older members of the community who must always be present when a couple wants to get married. Some communities will have a series of ceremonies as tradition which may take two to three days. Usually, the older women in the community have to talk to the bride and offer advice on married life.