Liquid Telecom fiber network to spread to 39 out of 47 counties in Kenya at cost of $200m

   

Liquid Telecom is one of the Africa’s leading data, voice and IP providers. It has laid 4,200 kilometers of fiber optic network in Kenya alone. It is now intending to connect 39 out of the 47 counties at a cost of $200m. This in a bid to increase Internet access as government and private institutions expand their services to the counties.
 Demand for fiber Internet infrastructure in the counties is initially driven by customers expanding to new territories. Banks in particular are opening rural branches. Eighty per cent of the banks in Kenya currently on the Liquid Telecom fiber network linking ATMs as well as providing secure inter-office connections from rural branches to head office. 

The growing rural banking network is contributing to the high uptake of banking services.  This high uptake grew significantly from 13.5 per cent in 2006 to 29.2 per cent in 2013, according to the Fin Access National Survey. Telephone operators providing 3G services, many of which Liquid Telecom provides the bandwidth for, are also driving the network expansion to the counties.


“We believe that everyone has the right to be connected and so investing in the build out of infrastructure to the counties will help us in our goal to connect every person and business in Africa. Internet offers unprecedented opportunities for economic growth in developing countries. By providing access to information, connecting people to businesses everywhere, and opening up new markets, the Internet can transform the very nature of an economy and support economic development,” said Ben Roberts CEO of Liquid Telecom Kenya.

Roberts added that their main concern is a stable Internet connection that enables them provides swift services to the public through accessing information on the national database, allowing regional staff to process requests and make real time updates, and a fiber network is more reliable in these instances.

Government ministries as well as parastatals setting up regional offices have also brought a sharp surge in communication needs. This includes access to core databases, approvals of transactions, email and information sharing within ministries and sub counties across many locations.
 Liquid Telecom has connected 25 parastatals plus their branches across the country. It includes 25 centers for Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KALRO), 4 centers for the Kenya Water Institute, Kenya Industrial Property Institute, Kenya Ports Authority, as well as all the tea estates under the Kenya Tea Development Authority.

Extending Internet access in fast growing economies can raise living standards and incomes by up to $600 per person a year, and could lift 160m people out of extreme poverty, according to a report from Deloitte.

 

For government, the cost savings through moving service delivery online drives further economic gains. In Kenya, the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) has so far reduced its administrative costs from 60 per cent to 32 per cent by automating its claims processing to enable online pre-approval, enabling access of real-time data, and tracking of payment processes. The connection of counties is expected to further lower these administration costs. Liquid Telecom’s investment in the fiber network is driven by its commitment to delivering a positive economic impact through increasing Internet connectivity. 
 
“It is imperative to create an Internet infrastructure that will enable counties to access institutional intranet facilities, parastatals to provide services to the people, and business people to flourish. Internet is a key requirement for this to happen,” said Mr. Roberts.

His sentiments are supported by reports that 10 per cent increase in broadband use correlates to a 1.38 per cent increase in GDP growth, according to the World Bank.
 
Liquid Telecom is the leading independent data, voice and IP provider in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. It supplies fiber optic, satellite and international carrier services to Africa’s largest mobile network operators, ISPs, financial institutions and businesses of all sizes.
 
Multi-award-winning Liquid Telecom has built Africa’s largest single fiber network which runs from the north of Uganda to Cape Town, currently spanning over 18,000km across borders and covering Africa’s fastest-growing economies where no fixed network has existed before.
 
Liquid Telecom’s network provides connectivity onto the five main subsea cable systems landing in Africa; WACS, EASSY, SEACOM, SAT3 and TEAMs.
Working under various brands, the Liquid Telecom Group has operating entities in Botswana, DRC, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, UK, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The company was named Best African Wholesale Carrier for the last three consecutive years at the annual Global Carrier Awards.

How Kenya drives business reforms to woo investors

Those who intend to invest in Kenya can now get their business registered within 24 hours. It is also a bonus that they are able to file taxes electronically and access both regional and international markets easily. What a favorable business reforms. The country’s ease of doing business has improves considerably by a single digit from last year’s 137 to 136 this year. This is according to the 2015 Ease of Doing Business index report released lately.
 The government is aiming to expand power generation capacity by 5,000 megawatts (MW) by 2017. It is adding to installed capacity of 1,664 MW in a bid to tem high cost of power. The cost of power has swollen the cost of doing business hence scaring off would-be investors.
Speaking during the Kenya International Investment Conference (KIICO) held this month at KICC, President Uhuru Kenyatta said that his government is keen to see investors provided with clean and cheap energy.
The setup standard gauge railway project that aims at getting Kenya connected to other East African states is a huge baby step towards diversifying means of transport.. Apart from lowering the cost of transport, the bulky rail transport is industrial friendly as it provides direct link between industries and sources of raw materials.
 The first phase of the project will cover about 610 kilometers from the port of Mombasa to Nairobi. It will cost $3.6 billion which is Sh314.2 billion at today exchange rate. 90 per cent of the financing will come from China Exim Bank. The remaining 10 per cent gap will be filled up by the Government of Kenya.
A single window system and an electronic platform that will serve as a single entry point for shippers involved in international trade. It is hoped to start to operate in October next year. The system aims at speeding up the clearance of imports at Kenyan ports. This will be a cut on trade transaction costs, delays from bureaucratic procedures, and corruption in addition to improving space use at ports.
Kenya and East African states, are championing one network in communication sector that will see calling rates lowered. The initiative is good news especially for entrepreneurs in the region who have for a long time been affected by high cross border calling rates. The high cost of calling rate has limits their communication window which is a key aspect in the business space. The talk on one network comes barely a few months after successful launch of the East Africa Payment System (EAPS). The system has seen the cost of money transfer within East Africa lowered. The platform offers a secure and cheap money transfer mode especially for huge investors in the region.
Other reforms initiated by the government in a bid to woo international investors include opening of capital markets for foreign participant, abolishing of exchange controls, freeing of the Kenya shilling exchange rate to be market driven and removing price controls. The President has promised, his government’s commitment to signing a double taxation agreement that aims at exempting foreign investors from harsh tax regime. The decentralized form of governance also point investors to economic resources in all parts of the country.
 
In spite of all these measures, Kenya’s economic performance and level of global competitiveness remains low compared to global benchmarks. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, Kenya is ranked 106 out of the 144 countries evaluated. It is an indication of a relatively steady performance when compared to last year’s ranking of 106 out of 139 countries ranked. It is perhaps on this back drop that KIICO is assembling both local and international economic players to setting friendly investment windows in the country to reap from huge investment interests in Africa by International companies.
The President has assured investors of their security and the government’s commitment to create free business environment.

Alibhai Shariff Centre of Excellence established to build world-class skills among Kenyan artisans.

Kenya gets first state of development annual report


 The Kenya Property Developers Association and HassConsult today launched Kenya’s first ever annual report on the state of
development in Nairobi with a warning that the city was heading for extreme shortages in urban middle class housing and failed development goals, based on current trends.

The housing shortage in Nairobi is acute, and deteriorating, the report shows. The country’s aim was to be building 200,000 housing units a year in Nairobi to create a world class middle-income city by 2030. But in 2013, just 15,000 housing units were planned.

At the same time, sharp increases in land rates and the city council construction fees added increased financial disincentives to development. The construction permit fees were raised by between 200 times and 1,250 times their previous level. By the fourth quarter of last year, these newly increased charges generated Sh114m, or 23 per cent of the city council’s revenue.

At the same time, the gap between lending rates and the Central Bank of Kenya’s base rate further widened, impacting interest rates for the financing of both development and property buying.

“Nairobi has declared its intention to emerge as a world class city, but this depends on a sharp increase in construction, where current trends are instead slowing down the development industry’s rate of growth,” said Robyn Emerson, CEO of KPDA.

The report comes as the government and industry work to deliver a master plan for the city’s development, which may never be realized without a shift in gear: from exploitation of construction activity as a source of public revenue, to facilitation of a 13-fold increase in construction to reach the plan’s goals. KPDA Board member says, “We are keen to work with government

to come to workable solutions for development goal achievement and a better Nairobi, better Kenya for all.
Ongoing development is now reaching buffers in other areas too, the report found, with building densities rising – with more units per plot – and the availability of new land in the most heavily developing areas of the city now declining drastically.

 In Kilimani, which was one of the most heavily developing suburbs in 2013, the report found just 12 vacant plots remaining, compared with 470 in the much more static area of Runda.

The areas currently enjoying the greatest levels of development are Kilimani, Kileleshwa, South B and Embakasi, but land availability is now set to see attention shift to other areas with more space to develop.

The report, delivering the first such data gathered and compiled on property development in Nairobi, has been produced by KPDA as part of a strategy to increase the investor rating on Kenyan real estate.
The Jones Lang LeSalle Global Real Estate Transparency Index, used by investors globally to assess the safety and appeal of regional real estate investments currently rates Kenya at 67 of 97 countries for the quality of information on its real estate industry.

“The production of an annual report in this kind of detail and depth is a key plank in the criteria for getting Kenyan property re-graded as a transparent investment asset,” said Ms Emerson.

Airtel Africa team brightens up orphaned children in Mathare school

Airtel Africa’s marketing team, which drives the company’s brand in the continent, made a donation of Kshs 150,000 and other items including clothes, blankets and toys to the children. More importantly, the team interacted with the children, inspiring them with tips on how to build their budding potential while in school.


Airtel Africa’s marketing team, which drives the company’s brand in the continent, made a donation of Kshs 150,000 and other items including clothes, blankets and toys to the children. More importantly, the team interacted with the children, inspiring them with tips on how to build their budding potential while in school.
Mogra Star is located in Nairobi’s Mathare, a slum area situated three miles east of the city’s central business district, and considered one of the worst in Africa. Mathare is home to over 600,000 inhabitants occupying an area of two square miles.


Airtel Africa Chief Marketing Officer Andre Beyers, who led the team, said: “Airtel’s marketing team has been inspired by the story of Mogra Star and its indomitable spirit of the founder who has been selfless in nurturing the dreams of these children. Our team’s hope is to see the institution developed in order to secure as many lives out there in the streets as possible, and transform them into tomorrow’s leaders.”
Mr. Beyers said the marketing team’s philanthropic gesture is a part of the company’s larger corporate responsibility goal of supporting sustainable learning in schools, a model that Airtel has adopted for tens of schools across Africa.


Mogra Star Academy provides education at both primary and secondary levels and seeks to provide a better foundation for a brighter future to the pupils and students. The institution not only provides education but also food and shelter to the destitute children. 


The Mogra Project was founded in 1998 as an initiative of Mrs. Hanna Njoroge. Having been brought up in the slums, she was aware of the many children unable to go to school because of abject poverty with their parents also unable to pay school fees.

Mrs Njoroge realized the children not attending school engaged in petty crime, scavenged for food and were being forced into child labour. She set up a children’s home in Mathare which she registered as a charitable children’s institution. She then realized many children were unable to attend a school and so founded Mogra Star Academy to provide free education in the Mathare slum.
Airtel Africa’s ‘Our School’ programme involves tens of primary schools which have been adopted in rural areas of 17 African countries where Airtel operates. Working closely with the governments in these countries, the initiative seeks to improve the delivery of quality education to children, especially those from underprivileged areas. So far the schools under the programme are catering to over 16,000 underprivileged children.

About Bharti Airtel Limited
Bharti Airtel Limited is a leading global telecommunications company with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa. Headquartered in New Delhi, India, the company ranks amongst the top 4 mobile service providers globally in terms of subscribers. In India, the company’s product offerings include 2G, 3G and 4G wireless services, mobile commerce, fixed line services, high speed DSL broadband, IPTV, DTH, enterprise services including national & international long distance services to carriers. In the rest of the geographies, it offers 2G, 3G wireless services and mobile commerce. Bharti Airtel had over 289 million customers across its operations at the end of January 2013. To know more please visit, www.airtel.com

Global Warming May Lead to Poor Harvest in Europe and North America by 2030

Global warming may be detrimental to rice, maize and wheat harvest in Europe and North America, concluded a group of scientists from the UK, the US, Australia and North America according to the results of a meta-analysis of crop yield under climate change and adaptation.
The authors state that the global warming of only 2 C may negatively affect the harvests in temperate or tropical regions of the world by as early as 2030.
The research will be included in the Working Group II report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This document, which will become a part of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, is due to be published at the end of March 2014.
“Due to increased interest in climate change research, the new study was able to create the largest dataset to date on crop responses,” says the scientific work abstract published on the website of Leeds University, UK.
In the study, the researchers combined and compared more than 1,700 published assessments of the response that climate change will have on the yields of rice, maize and wheat, which is more than twice the number of materials that were available to analyze for the previous IPCC Assessment Report.
“Our research shows that crop yields will be negatively affected by climate change much earlier than expected,” said lead author of the study, Professor Andy J. Challinor from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds.
Earlier on, the scientists who worked at the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007 had reported that regions of the world with temperate climate, such as Europe and most of North America, could withstand a global temperature rise of a couple degrees without any noticeable negative effects, and even possibly benefit from a bumper crop.
However, the researchers’ point of view changed after they had analyzed new information.
“[The shift in consensus is] telling us that the impacts of climate change in temperate regions will happen sooner than later,” Andy Challinor explained.

According to him, harvests will become more and more unpredictable and will heavily depend on the weather.

 

“The impact of climate change on crops will vary both from year to year and from place to place,” the professor added.

Andy Challinor also emphasized that the overall picture will remain negative, and stressed the importance of continuing the research in this regard.

According to the results of the study, the negative impact of climate change will become noticeable in 15-20 years.

“The impact will be greatest in the second half of the century, when decreases of over 25% will become increasingly common,” the abstract says.
This estimate already accounts for minor adaptation techniques used to mitigate the effects of climate change, when the farmers have to adjust crop variety and planting date.
“Later in the century, greater agricultural transformations and innovations will be needed in order to safeguard crop yields for future generations,” the authors of the research concluded.

Sultan Hamud to host East Africa’s first aluminium cans manufacturing plant


 Kenya’s manufacturing industry is set to grow with the entry of GZ Industries, one of Africa’s largest aluminium can manufacturers, currently with factories in Nigeria. Expected to be ready in Quarter 1, of next year, the $100 million facility will have an annual production capacity of 1.2 billion cans per year.

As East Africa’s first aluminium can manufacturing plant, the GZI facility will be located on a 50 Acre plot in Sultan Hamud near Nairobi logistically well placed for the local beer & beverage industry and will start supply to the local market in early 2015. 
It will follow GZI’s successful model in Nigeria and will receive support from its shareholders whom are active widely across the region. The decision to invest in an aluminium can line follows a significant upturn in Kenya’s canned beverages market during the past two years and continuous demand from Kenya. Total annual production of sodas in the Kenyan market is reaching new highs, with a record 371.4 million liters in 2011.

Aluminium can packaging has also been growing in the beer market as  imported canned beer and soft drinks claim the interest of up-market drinks buyers. Kenya already leads other East African countries in the beer market with total production of 2.8 million hectolitres (hl).

“Fueled by the demands of our customers and in  line with the country’s vision 2030 of an industrialised economy, we mark our entry to the Kenya as a way of contributing to the growth of the manufacturing sector,” said the GZI’s CEO, Mr. Motti Goldmintz. “Besides developing the economy we hope to bring a new face to Sultan Hamud and its more than 20,000 residents.”

The technical skills to manufacture aluminium cans are very specific and are currently not available in Kenya, but expatriate employees will assist the local team in setting-up the plant and rolling out the training to ensure a fully skilled team of Kenyan staff and managers to take over the come running of the plant.

All the cans used in packaging canned beers and soft drinks are currently imported into Kenya and East Africa, creating a rising import need as the consumption of canned beverages increaes. The export of Kenyan beers is also being hampered by the use of bottles, which are bulky and prone to breakages. As the country now views more vigorous export growth its position as a leading producer is set to benefit from access to lower cost, domestically produced aluminium cans.

The Sultan Hamud based plant will also generate new exports of its own, catering principally for the Kenyan market but also for the growing demand from the other regional markets, including Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi.

With consumers becoming more aware of their impact on the environment and a growing trend of changing their lifestyles to reduce their carbon footprint, the average in-store consumer views a product’s packaging as the most important factor to consider, before purchasing the product.

GZI is at the forefront in developing aluminium can packaging technologies that are sustainable and cost-effective and appeal to consumers’ ethics and ecological concerns. The value of used aluminium cans is considerable – aluminium scrap is many times more valuable than steel and is able to be recycled at low cost.

About GZI
GZI Kenya Ltd was incorporated in March 2013 with the aim of replicating the success of the company in Nigeria. GZI is involved in the manufacturing of long, sleek cans currently used primarily for energy drinks, along with the 33cl and the 50cl beverage cans. The business will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, once production begins, and is set to employ about 200 employees locally as well as expatriates for specific skills set.