About 1.1 million people are set to benefit from the Sh4.7bn Kenya-Off-Grid Solar Access Project (KOSAp) project launched Tuesday by the Ministry of Energy and funded by the WorldBank.
The Project is aimed at spurring the private sector to provide viable solar and clean cooking solutions million the 14 marginalized counties of West Pokot, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir, Garrisa, Tana River, Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta and Narok.
Speaking during the launch of the project at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Ministry of Energy PS, Dr Eng. Joseph Njoroge said the project will ensure that people living in marginalized areas also enjoy access to electricity which stands at 75 per cent in grid and off-grid options.
“The country has made great strides in achieving connectivity with access to electricity standing at 75% through both grid and off-grid options," Dr Njoroge said. "However, access to electricity is low in the 14 marginalized counties, which represent 72% of the country’s total land area and 20% of the population. The dispersed settlements in the marginalized counties make off-grid solutions the only viable alternative for access to electricity,” he added.
The Results-Based Financing (RBF) and Debt Facilities under the KOSAP are financed by the World Bank and implemented by the Ministry of Energy alongside the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) and the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC).
“Inadequate electricity services pose a major barrier to socio-economic welfare,” said Helene Crasson Rex, Program Leader for Sustainable Development, WorldBank.
Adding that, “In short we know that real transformation cannot happen without energy and the importance of electricity access for human and economic development and the need to move away from business as usual has led to shift in strategic focus of electrification.”
The project targets 277,000 households and will be realized through the construction of about 151 mini-grids in the target counties as well as the installation of stand-alone solar systems.
“The World Bank is committed to supporting the Government of Kenya in achieving the universal access goal laid out in the Kenya National Electrification Strategy and is partnering with the Government to ensure that nobody in the target counties is left behind in accessing modern energy services,” said Patrick Thaddayos Balla, World Bank K-OSAP Task Team Leader.
Digital lending is on the rise in Kenya. It started about five years ago and has grown in leaps and bounds to see over forty companies join in to share the market stake. Tala and Branch are some of the household names in this sector but many more are steadily coming up.
"Since we launched 5 years ago, digital lending has now grown in tremendous speed," says Ivan Mboa, East Africa Growth,Tala. "When we fist came in it essentially was Mshwari that had come in first, simply followed by TALA, but now we are looking at 45, around, over 47 digital lenders."
More digital lending apps have seen the number skyrocket as the demand for credit by Kenyans continue to rise...and rise. It is estimated that about seven million Kenyans are currently accessing mobile loans out of the 46 million Kenyans who own mobile phones.
Zenka loan app is one such company. Founded just about six months ago, but has made inroads into the fin-tech market as explained by Robert Masinde, Zenka chief executive officer.
“What we have done is try to provide access to them (customers) in a way easy and user friendly without the intimidation that they have to go through when they have to get a bank loan,” says Masinde.
Zenka app also offers its first time borrowers interest-free loans. This means that those who borrow for the first time will pay back the exact amount borrowed.
“We are bringing people who otherwise would have been stuck in the periphery of financial inclusion and migrating them to a position where they can access fiancé in the formal sector by starting them at a level they can manage,” adds Masinde.
But there is a challenge posed by the rapid growth of the sector, catapulted by high demand and appetite for quick cash. Regulation is one such issue that stakeholders are grappling with, alongside transparency among practitioners in the sector. So, what will be the impact of regulating the sector?
"I must mention here that regulation is necessary to protect Wanjiku, to ensure consumer protection issues are addressed to ensure that the consumer is not exploited by service provider," says Habil Olaka, Kenya bankers association chairman.
But is the sector totally unregulated? Phyllis Kamau, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya who specializes in fin-tech and policy opines that there is self regulation in the sector.
"There is a lot of regulations that regulate mobile payment systems where this payment is happening," she says.
Adding that, "There are regulations around anti-money laundering that will by extension apply to those who are not licensed by any institution."
Digital lending has indeed taken the the country by storm. It is the new thing, here to stay as stakeholders admit that despite the challenges, it has bridged a wider gap that existed before.
“What digital lending has done is that it has improved financial inclusion in the latest fin-access survey by FSD Kenya, which reported an increase in financial inclusion,” says Phylis Kamau.
“It means that the people who have not been able to access banking services have now been brought into the formal borrowing industry,” she adds.
Beneficiaries also share their varied opinions about the new wave. Francis Kimani, a vegetable vendor in Nairobi's Ngara estate narrates the importance of mobile loans an how they have helped him boost his business.
"Long time ago, accessing loans from banks was a difficult task," says the 42-year-old. "But now small scale traders like us can access loans all thanks to mobile loans, the process is quite simple."
While most of them admit that mobile loans have helped them boost businesses, others are concerned about being listed a the Credit Reference Bureau (CRB).
"The way these lenders share details of those who owe them with the CRB is not good and they can share your details without your approval," says Edwin Asila, a borrower in Nairobi.
You can also watch The Chamwada Report show on this topic in the video embedded.
KISUMU COUNTY- Lake Victoria is the second largest fresh water lake in the world, after Lake Superior of North America. It also stars as Africa’s largest lake and the largest tropical lake in the world. The lake has a surface area of 68,800 square kilometers, which matches the size of Republic of Ireland. Lake Victoria is located in East Africa whereby It serves Kenya- 6%, Uganda-45% and Tanzania 49%.
The lake, a major resource to the East Africa has a lot of benefits to the region, currently suppressed by the jeopardy, water hyacinth. “Under the blue economy, maritime transport would be the low hanging fruit that we have,” Dr. Ali-Said Matano, Exec Sec EALBC
Economic activities around the area feed the hyacinth. Industrial effluent, farming activities and soil erosion, contribute to the detrimental development of the harmful weed. This urgently calls for control of the feeding factors.
"Motorboat engines screech, worse still going off if the boat is not strong," lamented Philemon Haruni, assistant captain.
Mbita area in Homa Bay county, however, prides itself of clean water with no hyacinth. Residents of Siaya and Homa Bay Counties and Takawiri, Rusinga Mfangano islands Luanda and Kotieno islands are happy beneficiaries of steady water transport. Two water buses cruise through the area, serving fast yet safe and convenient transport through the lake. People of this region use motorboats as an alternative means of transport.
Ironically, to the hapless people of Kisumu the experience in Mbita is just but a dream due to the water hyacinth menace that hinders transport. Water hyacinth is occasionally swept by currents, depending on their direction.
Alarming statistics according to The Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, indicate that the area covered by the weed increased from 6,142 hectares on February 11 to 7,583 hectares on February 15th this year.
Restoration of transport on Lake Victoria is underway as a flagship project spearheaded by the Lake Region Economic Bloc t revive the vast, yet dwindling resource.
“We have a directive from the governor, right honorable Raila Odinga and the President that all agencies including the regional bloc and counties must now think together. Our only term of reference is to rid the lake of the hyacinth and to dredge, that is all the principals want to hear,” Dr. Mathew Owili, Deputy Governor of Kisumu affirmed.
Bigger reliable machines are expected in at most 3 months and with a time frame of 15 months to complete the entire process of harvesting the water hyacinth, and thereafter dredging process to allow time for the construction of the new port awaiting the arrival of SGR.
The 14-Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Busia, Homabay, Bomet, Kericho, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Kisii, Nyamira, Bungoma, Kakamega and Vihiga -counties within the lake region economic bloc, parastatals directly linked to Marine transport are key stakeholders of the revamp process. Governments of the EAC members too are expected to take part.
Professional skills are a yardstick for the success of the project. “We need more marine vessels, we need more people to train in the marine industry so that we work in a professional way,”AnkolMwakazi, Captain, Water Bus.
Lake Victoria holds a fortune that is yet to be utilized and this will only happen upon its reclamation.
“The Kenya Pipeline has built a huge tank in Kisumu, the tank is ready to pump oil into big ships that can carry even 4 million liters of oil to Uganda and Tanzania Uganda consumes 4 million liters of oil in one day under the old way of transportation.
The big ships will be able to easily transport oil from Kisumu pipeline to Uganda and it will find its way to Rwanda, Congo and Southern Sudan and Mwanza and Musoma. That is a major milestone for the port of Kisumu… Abala Wanga, CEO, Lake Region Economic Bloc
Safety in transport is key and this could not have been overlooked. The inland port will bank on railway transport for the delivery of goods from Mombasa to the lake front and distribute to the respective counties through the lake. This is also expected to ease traffic and save time. Water transport and railway transport in sync is expected to bring a significant boost to economic growth in the lake region.
The reclamation plan comes with safety concern of those marine operators. “We have gazetted a number ‘110’ where a fisherman will be able to sound an alarm and we will be able to respond immediately,” ascertained Dr. Ali-Said Matano, Exec Sec. EALBC
Ronah Saada contributed to this article.
KAJIADO COUNTY- Off to a first world country, and nature throws a curve ball. It appeared promising until he set foot. Then he had a brush with reality, the sad reality that university graduates can actually work as cleaners. With no canopy, to Shield him from the brassy situation, George Mathenge, present day principal of Brookhurst International School settled for the little or worst yet, that came his way.
He was overly excited since all looked promising- he knew his life was headed for the better times.
After all he had read about how lives of those who flew to developed nations made fortune. He foresaw the Prestige. But no one had prepared him for the tough life that awaited him.
He longed to pursue a masters degree, just not in Kenya so he chose to explore academics and life at large, abroad, the urge that informed his decision to travel to the United Kingdom. With him was Ksh 60,000 only, as his security, and a bachelor’s degree in Education - science - from Kenyatta University. He had no alternative but to roll up his sleeves for the dirty work that was going to save him from lack. Undeterred he gave it his one hundred the effort that paid off.
The menial jobs ordinarily meant for the uneducated or less fortunate are the hope of a Kenyan abroad. He later managed to pay his fee for a Master of Science in Bio-medical Science. The milestone that presented a beam of hope. Having had taught during his undergraduate years, he had gained vast experience in the field. That way he secured a job as a teacher upon accomplishing his Msc. A white color job, eventually.
Mr Mathenge's experience is over the top and he attributes this to the degree of exposure he gained in the UK. He got to learn how to relate well with students. To date, students find him approachable. He also adopted favourable conditions that enhance proper learning is schools such as reaching out to each student individually, upholding dignity and making them feel respected.
"If you have taught in London, then you can teach anywhere in the world, " he indicated.
He also recalls how wild students were and how tasking it was to tame them. The experience in teaching saw him secure the position of a principal in a renowned international school.
Culture shock too was evident. The culture was not appealing to him, consequently he would not have started a family, at least not in an environment he could not have raised children in. He prefers African culture to European which he deems to be rather 'artificial' due to their closed off nature.
"You know here in Africa we are social, tukikutana kwa mat tunabonga.. (when we meet in a bus we can strike a conversation..)" he said, appreciating how open and social Kenyans come across, compared to the closed off people he had had to put up with.
Five years later the 36 year old would sit down with himself and agree that his heart was home, not in the foreign land.
"I would like to provide an international curriculum with Kenyan discipline. I don't want to teach the culture, " Mathenge intimated.
He therefore resolved to return home to settle then start life. It took him a year to get himself a job at his current place of work, Brookhurst International School as a principal.
"If you have started a good life, my friend, just continue. If you have an opportunity to go there and improve yourself, do it, just know it is not easy," Mathenge reiterated.
Feature written by Ronah Saada
NAIROBI- Celebrated Kenya Airways pilot Joseph Kinuthia has retired. Captain Kinuthia retired on Tuesday, bringing to an end his 42 years of service at the national carrier, registering 24,000 hours of flight as a pilot.
The 65-year-old was the lead pilot during the launch of the historic KQ inaugural flight from Nairobi to New York on October the 28th, 2018.
His retirement coincided with his last flight from New York to Nairobi on Tuesday 19th February 2019 and an emotional Captain Kinuthia said the retirement opens a whole new chapter in his life.
"I had to shed a tear because this means that it is a complete change from what I have been used to, to new ground which I am not clear of yet," said Kinuthia.
His colleagues at Kenya Airways were also full of praise of him, saying his experience helped nurture other aspiring and other practising pilots.
"I have done around five flights with him and I must say he is one of the best trainers we have in the airline," said Patrick Kipsambu, First Officer with Kenya Airways.
Watch the full story on the video attached.
DUBAI, (UAE)- This week's The Chamwada Report brings you a special gift to commemorate this year's Valentines Day, a day on which loved ones share special moments. The show focuses on one special commodity that will surely exchange hands on that day and at some point in life. It is the flower.
A common commodity in Kenya, but rare in some countries. While everyone in love shares the red roses, the white flower is equally important. And so tonight's show gives special focus on the white rose flowers as Alex Chamwada traces the commodity from a farm in Kenya all the way to Dubai. To find out why Kenyan flowers are in high demand in international markets.
"While nothing beats red roses in saying I love you on Valentine’s day, the white rose on the other hand symbolizes purity, chastity and innocence," said William Gwaro - Production Manager, Black Petals Ltd. "White flowers can be used to convey sympathy or humility."
Statistics from the Kenya Flower Council indicate that Kenya's market share in the European Union (EU) stands at 38 per cent thus making her the lead exporter of flowers. Although there is growth in direct sales, 50 per cent of the Kenyan flower exports is still sold through Dutch Auctions.
Further KFC stats indicate that over 500,000 people, including 100,000 flower farm employees depend on the the Kenyan flouriculture industry, making an impact to the lives of more than 2 million people. Kenyan flowers are sold in 60 countries across the world. But it is not all about the red roses for Valentines. The show focuses on the ever popular white roses.
LONDON, UK- Macharia Gakuru is one Kenyan who's been to hell and back, quite literally. A busy man, who's love for bio-medical engineering saw him traverse the world, at one point almost lost it all.
He fell ill, unsure of the exact ailment, but he was ill. So ill that he had to be flown to London from Darfur to seek medical attention. That was the beginning of a whole new journey. A new chapter. One of resilience, determination, a bit of lost hope and resurgence, nonetheless.
"I was told I was very ill, I was not urinating and was going into a state of a coma, I lost appetite, symptoms of kidney failure, one morning the doctor told me it has been confirmed you have kidney failure, so you have to go on dialysis," Gakuru opens up to Daring Abroad.
Also on Daring Abroad: How Joseph Warungu cheated death while working in war-torn Congo
Having studied biomedical engineering, Gakuru flew to the United Kingdom with determination to further his studies. Before pursuing further studies Gakuru had gained some exposure here through exchange programs in the medical field in the early 90s which made him marketable upon his return to Kenya.
On the show, Macharia Gakuru narrates to Daring Abroad how kidney failure changed his life, how he dealt with it and what he has been doing from then on. This was in May 2008.
"I was very ill, unable to urinate and was going into a state of a coma, I lost appetite," narrates. "These are the symptoms of kidney failure and one morning the doctor confirmed I had kidney failure so I had to go on dialysis."
Despite all these and all thanks to her sister who donated a kidney to him, Gakuru soldiered on, seeing an opportunity to help other people affected by the same. That back at home, victims of kidney failure deserve a second chance
"In this life, people have different callings, for me I want to see transformation of kidney transplantation in our country," he says. " I would not want those who have kidney failures to die but to travel my path," adds Gakuru.
Macharia Gakuru's inspiring story aired in last week's Daring Abroad that aired on both KTN and KTN News channels. In his life as a daring Kenyan , Gakuru has dared so many things; including vying to be a councilor in the UK in vain. He went to the UK in 1995 for further studies and later became a publisher, writer and broadcaster all in one.
So how was he able to juggle the many responsibilities?
"The whole purpose of coming here was not really to learn about medical engineering but the learn about the culture and the people of this country," he tells Daring Abroad. "I wanted to integrate, I wanted to learn how they do things and take them back to the Kenya I love."
It is a condition in which the kidneys lose the ability to remove waste and excess water from the bloodstream. As waste and fluids accumulate, the other body systems get affected, potentially leading to complications. Kidney failure is divided into two categories: chronic kidney disease which is a longstanding disease of the kidney leading to renal failure and acute renal failure, a condition in which kidneys suddenly cannot filter waste from blood.
"Funny thing about kidneys is that if they fail, they fail both of them, when they work, they work both of them," says Gakuru. Adding that, "That is why kidney transplantation has nothing that would disable the donor, if you want to donate a kidney to your sister or brother there is not danger in you doing so."
ISTANBUL, TURKEY- This week on The Chamwada Report, we sought to dig deep into the Israeli-Palestine war that has been going on for decades and counting. The genesis of these findings was a media conference which was held in Turkey's capital, Istanbul, late last year.
The conference, whose theme was to focus on the future of Palestine in global media, brought together journalists (including Chams Media's Elijah Mwangi), leaders and other stakeholders from across the world, to identify the challenges that media faces in covering the civil war pitting Israel and Palestine.
To identify the loopholes and or biasness in coverage and ultimately, to address the most modest way through which to disseminate the right information to the world. Nothing but the truth. But why is there war in the first place?
Historian Saleh Halewani told Chams Media that the war is between two factions who accuse themselves of invading one another's land.
"The Palestinians considered the Jews who came here as emigrants, as people who took their land and are trying to kick them out of here," said Halewani. "It goes back to Abraham, when God promised this land to Abraham," he added.
You will remember that the Israeli and Arab Palestinians have been fighting for a long time now and the major bone of contention is nothing short of history between the two countries.
The Jewish people settled in Palestine, a country they considered their own home but little did they know that this would rub the Arab inhabitants the wrong way. And they would not take it lying down.
So what exactly is this war and why has it been going on? And can the global media play a role in stopping the war?
Watch the full story in the video attached.
And here are some of the responses from our viewers...
This is an exclusive interview conducted by KTN Kenya's Lifestyle segment which featured Chams Media founder and chief executive officer Alex Chamwada. The story focuses on Alex as a person, journalist and family man.
It also answers the many questions including why Alex left the newsroom to start his own production company. Was it worth it? And why didn't he want to become a senior editor in one of the TV stations he worked for, "I have always wanted to grow horizontally and that is not possible in the newsroom," he says.
Watch the full interview and be inspired.
LUTON, ENGLAND- The Daring Abroad UK edition continued last week as we featured another Kenyan entrepreneur who has gone an extra mile to establish a shipping business in Luton Town, England.
Morris Njuguna went to the United Kingdom in 2003, a year after he graduated from the University of Nairobi with a degree in Economics and Social Studies. Ideally, he flew to the UK to further his studies, and that ambition gave birth to Kenya Exports Limited.
Also on Daring Abroad:
Like any other determined entrepreneur, Morris juggled studies, hustle and distractions with an aim of making ends meet, quite literally. And despite being holder of a Masters Degree in Accounting, he still had to fight lack of opportunities and ended up losing the war thus resorting to business.
"By 2007 , I came out with a Masters and in 2008 I was working on projects.. later on found out I had nothing to do that is why I went into business," tells Daring Abroad.
His small savings helped him put his fast foot forward to start the Kenya Exports Limited company that helps Kenyans in the UK and other parts of the wold in shipping their goods to Kenya.
"Kenya Exports Limited offers solutions to Kenyans who live in the UK or who live anywhere in the world and would like to ship anything from UK to Kenya," Njuguna further narrates.
Adding that, "We handle all the preparations, inspection, booking of containers or airline, space and we ship them to Kenya."
With his background in economics and further experience from Shiefiled Hallam University where he studied accounting, Morris Njuguna narrates to Daring Abroad the factors to consider when starting a business, cost implications and what to do when things seem to be going south in business.
"When I started this business I was in London, I used to live in one bedroom flat, that is where I started my business," he says.
"I looked for storage, with time family grew, we were constantly looking for somewhere knowing how London is I had to look for somewhere else for parking place for my business, looking was suiting me better, space and cost."