Kenya – First Standard Gauge Rail Cargo Train Arrives in Nairobi

Kenya Standard Gauge Cargo TrainThe first standard gauge railway cargo train arrived in Nairobi on Monday at the ultra-modern inland container depot which was launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta a fortnight ago.

The arrival of the cargo train is in line with President Kenyatta’s promise to reduce the cost of doing business in the country. In his New Year message, President Kenyatta said the new commercial cargo train would cut costs and delays in trade for Kenyans and its neighbours.

The President said the delivery of a world-class railway on time and within budget, would attract world-class manufacturing and value-addition investments, which are critical to creating jobs and business opportunities.

The cargo train carried 104 containers, which is almost equivalent to the trucks operating daily on the Mombasa-Nairobi highway.

According to the Kenya’s Ports Authority head of Inland Container Deports Symon Wahome, the new commercial cargo train will revolutionize the transportation of cargo in Kenya.

While the meter train used to carry twenty to thirty containers, the standard gauge train will carry 216 containers. Four trains will operate daily and later increased to eight cargo trains. Source: The Daily Nation (Kenya), 1 January 2018.


Bumper year for Kenya-destined FDI

Kenya_flag_mapfDi Markets that even without the data for December, it is already clear that Kenya enjoyed a major increase in inward investment in 2015 when compared with 2014.

Greenfield investment monitor fDi Markets has tracked a bumper year for Kenya-destined FDI. Excluding retail, the monitor has recorded 78 projects between January and November 2015, a 36.84% increase compared with the whole of 2014. FDI entering Kenya during the 11 months of 2015 (for which data is available) has already surpassed that recorded for 2013, the previous multi-year high. fDi Markets is set to record 2015 as witnessing the highest number of inward FDI projects for Kenya since the it commenced tracking data in 2003.

fDi Markets has tracked the upward trend as beginning in 2007, with FDI levels increasing year on year between then and 2011. In the period between 2011 and 2014 a period of consolidation occurred in which inward investment fluctuated, with decreases recorded in 2012 and 2014. Between 2007 and 2015, fDi Markets has tracked a 766.66% increase in project numbers and a total capital investment of $14.04bn.

Kenya’s FDI resurgence in 2015 is further illustrated when compared with the rest of Africa. During 2015, Kenya attracted 12.58% of all FDI entering Africa, with only South Africa, a long-time powerhouse, attracting more, with 17.1%. This is further compounded by Nairobi attracting the most FDI on the continent at city level in 2015, beating Johannesburg, which has held this accolade since 2010.

With December’s data still to be recorded, Kenya is set to surpass previous years as a favoured destination for investment in Africa. With the implementation of proactive FDI legislation scheduled to be ratified during 2016 by Kenya’s government, further consolidation in 2016 is unlikely. Source: fDiMarkets

Nairobi Airport gutted by Blaze

A small fire at Kenya‘s main airport swelled into a roaring inferno Wednesday that destroyed part of East Africa’s largest aviation hub and hampered air travel across the continent. Firefighters were desperately short of equipment in an area where the county government apparently lacks a single working fire engine. Crews needed hours to get the flames under control and at one point resorted to a line of officers passing water buckets.

The early morning blaze gutted the arrival hall, forcing authorities to close the entire airport and airlines to cancel dozens of flights. The flames also charred airport banks and foreign exchange bureaus. No serious injuries were reported. Michael Kamau, the cabinet secretary for transport and infrastructure, said the fire began at 5 a.m. in the immigration section of the arrivals hall.

The fire broke out on the 15th anniversary of the bombings by al-Qaida of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, in neighboring Tanzania. No terror connection to the fire was immediately evident, but the blaze revived long-standing safety concerns about Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Kenya’s anti-terror police boss, Boniface Mwaniki, said he was waiting for more information before completely ruling out terrorism. Authorities last week shut down several duty-free shops at the airport, and some Kenyan media reports speculated that disgruntled parties from the forced closings may have had motive to carry out an arson attack. No government official made such an accusation Wednesday.

International airlines, including South African Airways, Etihad and Emirates, cancelled flights to Nairobi. Qatar Air said its Nairobi flights were being rerouted to the Kilimanjaro airport in Tanzania. No U.S. carriers fly direct to Nairobi. Delta Air Lines, based in Atlanta, tried to open such a route in 2009, but the Transportation Security Administration rejected the plan because of security concerns.

The domestic and departure terminals, which are separated from the arrivals hall by a road, were undamaged. By the end of the day, the airport re-opened for domestic and cargo flights but remained closed to international flights. Officials planned to convert a domestic-flight area into an international terminal for the time being.

Nairobi County does not have a single working fire engine, the Daily Nation, a Nairobi newspaper, reported last month. One engine, the paper said, was auctioned in 2009 because the county had not paid a $100 repair bill. An Associated Press reporter at the airport Wednesday saw uniformed officers line up with buckets in hand, apparently to battle the blaze. Many of the units that battled Wednesday’s fire were from private security firms and had to fight airport traffic to get there.

Nairobi is the capital of East Africa’s largest economy, but public-sector services such as police and fire departments are hobbled by small budgets, corrupt money managers and outdated equipment or a complete lack of equipment. A top government official at the scene of the fire said an initial assessment shows that a complacent response helped a small fire grow into an uncontrollable conflagration. Some airport fire engines were not filled with water and others did not have personnel to drive them, said the official, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to release details of an ongoing investigation.

Inbound flights were diverted to the coastal city of Mombasa, he said. Other flights were diverted to Dar es Salaam, the Kenyan cities of Eldoret and Kisumu and Entebbe, Uganda, according to Kenya’s Red Cross.

Kenya Airways, the country’s flagship carrier, diverted five flights to Mombasa and said all of its passengers in transit were being moved to hotels. The airline reported that one passenger and one employee suffered from smoke inhalation. Source: The Huffington Post

In for a Penny, In for a Pound

An armed Somali pirate sits along the coastline of Hobyo town in northeastern Somalia on January 7, 2010. (Mohamed Dahir-AFP-Getty)

An armed Somali pirate sits along the coastline of Hobyo town in northeastern Somalia on January 7, 2010. (Mohamed Dahir-AFP-Getty)

Are ‘Somali Pirates’ Real? Some may only be acting. According to Channel 4 the “fixer” offers journalists the opportunity to interview real live pirates – for a fee of US $200. Touting his local knowledge, he promises to reach parts of the community a western journalist never could. He then follows an elaborate scheme to convince journalists that he is legitimate.

The video opens in the slums of Eastleigh, a sprawling suburb of Nairobi in Kenya and home to ‘the fixer,’ a man who the UK’s Channel 4 claims has duped countless western journalists. But it’s a scam, one that has fooled the readers of many top media organizations including Time magazine. Watch the video above for the full details.

Somali pirates have kidnapped hundreds of people and cost millions in ransom payments. Jamal Osman finds journalists keen to interview them do not always get what they bargained for. Click this link to watch the video:


Kenyan importers to be penalised for delays

Nothing like giving stakeholders fair warning of impending fines. Given that the authorities appear to have agreed on ‘all details’ except the cost, lets hope the latter aspect does not come as a nasty surprise when the single window system becomes operational. One would think that price/cost would be one of the first criteria for consideration and approval, not the last.

The government plans to impose penalties on importers who fail or delay to lift their cargo from the port in Mombasa in the ongoing reforms to de-congest the port. Transport minister Amos Kimunya said this is part of the measures being drafted to ensure the port operations are not slowed down by deliberate delays by importers.

“This will encourage people to quickly remove their cargo from the port as soon as it cleared by the authorities” Kimunya told the KPA annual summit in Nairobi on Wednesday. He said this is aimed at reducing the 40 per cent extra cost to consumers, caused by inefficient flow of goods from ports of entry.

The penalties come ahead of the single window system which is expected to facilitate fast and easy flow of export and exports through a seamlessly interconnected platform. According to the chairman of Kenya Trade Network Agency Joseph Kibwana, the single window implementing agency, all the details of the project have been agreed on, except the cost.

Implementation of the first phase for sea and air manifest will start in June 2013 to be followed by the second and third phases in six months intervals. Source: The Star (Nairobi)

KRA – Customs to be removed from revenue authority

The government has proposed a separation of the customs department from the Kenya Revenue Authority in a bid to facilitate faster movement of goods.

Despite efforts by the revenue body to reform its operations especially through technology the finance minister Njeru Githae proposed creation of an autonomous Customs Services body.

This comes as the country moves to fully implement the East Africa Common Market Protocol. “To realign the operations of our Customs with this Protocol and to mainstream its critical role of trade facilitation and border controls, the Kenya Revenue Authority will be rationalised with a view to establishing the Customs Services as an autonomous entity on its own,”said the minister in his budget speech yesterday.

He said the Government will soon commence a process to consolidate all existing cargo related standard enforcement agencies into one single entity expected to reduce bureaucratic inefficiency in cargo clearance.

Deloitte tax expert, Andrew Oduor lauded the move saying customs has been a very problematic area in the country with the systems inefficient. “it hoped that establishment of the autonomous entity is going to help streamline the operations and that is going to resolve this issues,” he said. Source: The Star (Nairobi)

Comment: In effect, this seems no more than a move to create an autonomous border management agency. Unfortunately consolidating various agencies is not going to make customs any more efficient. As seems to be the case elsewhere across the globe where this method of ‘consolidation’ has been introduced, deep-seated discontent has often arisen with the former ‘ areas of expertise’ of individual authorities being lost forever. What results is a mongrelised agency fit more for political expedience rather than improved ‘efficiency and facilitation’. Good luck anyway.

Why Tanzanians are afraid of the Regional Federation

The following article by Tony Zakaria is a candid look at the socio-economic environment of the Tanzanian people. Enjoy.

Why is Tanzania so afraid of the EAC political federation? We seem to shy away from signing any significant document that commits Tanzania to a marriage with Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Have we been using land and security issues as a way to hide other fears unmentionable?

Some Tanzanians fear Kenyan women for being too aggressive and well educated. Those madams drive flashy Mercedes Benz cars and have no shortage of vijisenti or spare change. Upon federation country borders will be wide open and then anything can happen. These macho gals may move over to grab available single or bonded men from the land of the Kilimanjaro to play football in Kenya like all those African football stars in Europe for Man U and C, Chelsea FC, Marseille and Real Madrid clubs. Tanzanian men are among the most handsome in Africa.

If you don’t believe me, take a fresh look at Tanzanian men today. From top bosses in government to ordinary farmers in villages they ooze with quiet charm. A little smile from Bongo men can charm an eagle chick off a tree branch in Limuru. Nairobi and Kampala ladies will not be able to resist.

So why are men in the nation of Serengeti and Zanzibar resistant to political and economic union when they could conquer the whole territory? Tanzanian gals may be among the prettiest on planet Earth alongside the Abyssinians in the former kingdom of Jah Haille Selasie but would be no match for slender necked, doe-eyed Banyarwanda mademoiselles.Bongoland women worry their men might start an African exodus to Kigali if we become the United States of East Africa.

Surviving the 1994 genocide elevated Rwandese women to be among the strongest-willed in Africa. Tanzanian madams have enjoyed easier lives and eternal peace from womb to tomb. Can they compete effectively with Hutu and Tutsi damsels? Tanzanian madams will their wealth too; given away to those more willing to use their talents profitably.

 When borders cease to exist, Muheza and Bombo farmers will not only be losing fruits from their shambas to more enterprising Kenyan traders, they will be losing Eves, Aminas and Marias from their Garden of Eden.Nairobi will be a local bus trip away and Ketepa tea will be universally available at village markets in Bagamoyo and Kilombero at a fraction if its current cost, not a gourmet item in selected supermarkets.

Who knows what else may transpire? Investors from the current Kenya would set up factories to extract and package affordable branded juice from fruit grown in Tanga, Dodoma and Iringa. Mwanza and Dar-es-Salaam residents will enjoy Bongo flavour orange and apple juice passionately, knowing it is made in East Africa instead of Africa south of the Zambezi River.

I can’t see local traders dancing with joyful abandon to celebrate the entry of other bulls in the business kraal. Traders make profits regardless of the origin of traded goods. Manufacturers want to enjoy monopoly in a market protected by import, sales and other taxes and tariffs.Take for example juice made in Kenya using fruits sourced from Tanzania. From Tanzania the fruits are VAT and export taxed. The packed juice is taxed in Kenya for sale and importation. Those taxes only hurt the final consumer, making it unaffordable for ordinary folks.

Why do male-female relationships work fine during the courtship period and marriages fall into boring routines? The possibility of losing a mate to a competitor is such a strong incentive to keep being at a person’s best behaviour, appearance and treatment of a mate. That is when relationships are conducted with business-like efficiency.

Tanzanian businesses fear competition from a supposedly more powerful Kenyan business fraternity. Enterprising Kenyan operators buy tomatoes and onions from Arusha during the day. By evening they are delivered in Kenya factories. At night the veggies are sorted, graded, cleaned, packed and labelled.

By the following morning, the veggies are awaiting airlift to destinations in the Middle East. With added value, Kenyan entrepreneurs make huge profits. Vegetables, fruits and fresh flowers could be processed in Arusha and airlifted straight from Kilimanjaro airport instead of Nairobi.

After federation Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Tanga natives would freely move agricultural produce to what is now Kenya and Uganda while making good money from goods sales and transportation. Wachagga, Waarusha and Meru men and women are pretty aggressive businesswise. They can beat Kenyans at their own game.

Having made mega profits, some Tanzanian traders can entice nice looking Gikuyu and Akamba chicks to settle permanently on the slopes of Mount Meru or the Kilimanjaro Mountain of greatness. Tourists can visit the snow-capped mountain near the Equator in East Africa without crossing the border twice. Some amorous traders can fully practice family planning by spacing their children between Moshi, Arusha, Nairobi and Entebbe. They will just strategically place mothers in each city.

Tanzanians fear their Any Time Cancelled wings of the Kilimanjaro with one borrowed plane will be swallowed whole by the bigger Kenya airways. The pride of Africa has already spread its wings from Lagos to Beijing. This is genuine fear arising from fake premises. If we are one block, the stronger airline will belong to all of us.

The federal states will pool pilots, cabin and ground crew, airports, buildings, planes and vehicles to create the strongest airline in Africa like the old East African Airways that was a real pride for Africa.We have to overcome our genuine and misplaced fears and take the needed steps to make EAC a reality. Uniting our many resources is the only way our grandchildren can survive in the competitive global village. Source: Daily News (Tanzania)