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Kenya gets ‘breathing space’ after repaying $2bn Eurobond debt

Successful debt management strategy through the partial repayment of the Eurobond has improved the country’s rating

The government’s successful settlement of part of the 2 billion U.S. dollars Eurobond debt eliminated the fear of default, lifting the country’s profile in the international markets. The debt falls due in June 2024, and there were fears that the country would default on repayment especially after it missed a promise made by President William Ruto that it would be repaid in December 2023.

President William Ruto said that the government used the 1.5 billion dollars it had raised on February 12 in a buyback issue to settle the debt.

The buyback offer received strong demand, according to Treasury, with investors making orders exceeding $6.2 billion. The Eurobond issuance was priced at 9.75 percent and would be due in 2031.

The buyback plan strengthened the maturity profile of the 2024 Eurobonds and helped the country proactively manage its debt liabilities.

“The successful execution of both the buyback and the new bond demonstrates strong investor confidence in Kenya through the international capital markets and a vote of confidence in the government’s overall debt management strategy,” President Ruto said. Kenya had been rated negatively by global credit agencies, what had for long hurt the country’s chances to attract cheaper loans from international markets.

In July 2023, Standard&Poor cut Kenya’s ratings outlook from stable to negative while Moody’s assigned Kenya a B3 with a negative outlook.

Similarly, Fitch had in February 2023 rated Kenya at B with a negative outlook. The country’s credit ratings had remained stable in 2021 and 2022 before the downgrade. But with the successful debt management strategy through the repayment of the Eurobond, the country’s rating has improved.

President Ruto said the debt strategy, coupled with the general economic management policies and the tightening of the monetary policy, investor confidence in the country has grown.

This has, therefore, resulted in the appreciation of the shilling against the dollar from 162 to 142. The President attributed the recent steep decline of the shilling to “adverse developments in the international monetary system and disruptions in the global supply chains”.

The strengthening of the shilling against the dollar, according to the President, has reduced Kenya’s overall debt by Sh722 billion (4.95 billion dollars) and also cut the debt service costs by 1.33 billion shillings over the next six years, saving the country a total cost of 6.29 billion dollars.

Central Bank of Kenya data indicates that the East African nation’s total debt stood at 76.1 billion dollars at the end of 2023, with external debt comprising 41.7 billion dollars of the amount.

Why digital technology is at the centre of government’s development agenda

The digital economy is growing at the rate of 2.5% faster than the physical economy

The government is optimistic that the push to use digital technology to create jobs, enhance delivery of services and collect revenue will enable the country fast-track economic growth. Mr Eliud Owalo, the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications and the Digital Economy, said that the benefits of digitalisation are already being seen and felt across all sectors and the government is building upon them to enable the country have a fully-fledged digital economy.

“Our aggressive push towards digitalisation has not only transformed the service delivery landscape, but also led to a substantial surge in revenue collection from Sh60 million daily to an impressive Sh1 billion over the past year,” said Mr Owalo, who was speaking at a Digital Summit on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Naivasha.

Some 12,692 government services have been on-boarded fully to the E-Citizen platform, while work to ensure the remaining ones are on the platform is ongoing.

The digitilisation of services has bolstered efficiency and transparency in service delivery, with the government working to bridge to digital divide through expansion of the fibre cable network and provision of free public Wi-Fi to ensure every citizen has access to the internet.

In the last one year, the Government has set up 1,261 free public Wi-Fi hotspots, facilitating communication and business. Further, it has installed 8,419km of fibre cable in partnership with private sector players, as part of the 100,000km five-year target and set up 247 digital hubs across the country.

And as part of efforts to enhance Universal Health Coverage, some 46 hospitals have been connected to the national fibre optic cable and the Hospital Health Management Information System (Afya KE) that is expected to deepen access to health services is being piloted in selected facilities.

“The government is committed to bridging the digital divide through the automation of services, creating digital jobs and the laying of 100,000 kilometres of fibre cable,” stated the CS.

CS Owalo has reiterated government’s commitment to digitise its processes as ICT is a critical enabler of the Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda

To enhance the enhancement the deployment of digital technology at the grassroots, Parliament passed an amendment to the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF) Act allowing 3 per cent of allocations to be used in construction and paying for utilities, costs and maintenance of constituency digital hubs.

This change will revolutionise connectivity and access to digital services, particularly in underserved regions, said the CS, noting that ICT is one of the five pillars of the government Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA).

He added that the government is enhancing digital skills of the youth and linking them to jobs through Ajira and Jitume programmes, which provide training and enable the youth to work and earn a living online.

“So far, we have managed to setup and operationalise 116 Jitume digital centres across the country to support the government’s initiative of creating employment opportunities for over 1,000,000 youth in three to five years’ time,” noted Mr Owalo.

The Jitume programme is being implemented in partnership with Technical and Vocational Education and Training Institutes (TVETs), which are being equipped with 23,000 digital devices.

The 116 sites have been connected and supplied with 11,400 Virtual Desktop Devices. Over 390,968 youths have been trained under both Jitume and Ajira programmes and 119,462 jobs created.

Eng John Tanui, the PS for ICT and Digital Economy, noted that the ongoing digital transformation provides a fundamental change in the way the government serves citizens, promotes efficiency and transparency and enhances cost-effective service delivery.

“The government is enhancing connectivity, linking institutions, enterprises, homes and markets to create equal development enabling everyone to tap into digital opportunities,” said the PS.

According to Mr Owalo, the government is keen on using artificial intelligence to enhance service delivery across various sectors.

“The ministry recognises the transformative potential of AI in improving service delivery and revolutionise existing systems by enhancing efficiency, accuracy, and accessibility,” said the CS. He said there are three key pillars guiding Kenya’s efforts in fostering synergies in digital transformation and the use of AI.

The first is inclusive digitisation, which aims to ensure that the benefits of digital transformation reach every segment of society, including the marginalised communities. The second is collaborative Innovation, which emphasises the promotion of public-private partnerships, academia-industry collaborations and cross-sector engagements to drive innovation.

Lastly, there is the ethical use of AI and data governance, which underscores the importance of transparency, fairness, and accountability in AI development and deployment.

“The government is actively engaging in an open, interdisciplinary conversation to assess risks stemming from frontier AI, delineate the roles of different actors in responding to these risks, and explore the considerable opportunities that AI presents and international collaboration is crucial for managing these risks and fostering opportunities arising from frontier AI,” noted the CS.

Community health promoters receive Sh3 billion incentive


DP Rigathi Gachagua has appreciated the potential of the CHP programme assuring the country that the national government is invested in ensuring ease of access to healthcare for all

Some 107,000 community health promoters will start receiving their monthly stipends after the government started the process to pay them, furthering the primary health care agenda.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said the Sh3 billion stipend reimbursement programme will help promote service delivery.

“Today we make a key milestone in our health sector as we launch payment of Sh3 billion stipend to the 107,000 Community Health Promoters (CHPs),” he said.

The initiative, a joint effort between the National Government and its partners, marks a pivotal step towards improving healthcare accessibility and advancing Universal Health Coverage (UHC). It further underscores the critical role played by frontline health workers in transforming service delivery across the nation.

In his address, the Deputy President expressed gratitude to the CHPs for their unwavering dedication over the past four months, emphasising their pivotal role in reaching 2.7 million households since the launch of the Community Health Programme (CHP) in October of 2023. Gachagua hailed these individuals as “Health Heroes,” highlighting their instrumental contribution to extending personalised health services to over 13.5 million Kenyans, representing a 25% reach in a remarkably short timeframe.

“As the National Government, we are honouring our commitment of contributing 50% of the stipend to these great men and women. On behalf of our President, Dr William Ruto, we honour you for your vigour and valour, which is changing service delivery to the People. You are our Health Heroes,” noted the DP.

The success of the CHP Programme lies in its personalised approach to healthcare delivery. Through the distribution of CHP Kits containing essential screening tools such as Blood Pressure Machines and Glucometers, over 1.56 million Kenyans have been screened for diabetes, with 24,000 referrals made for urgent medical attention.

Similarly, over 1.1 million individuals were screened for hypertension, leading to 50,000 referrals for further care.

Additionally, 54,000 expectant mothers underwent screenings, with 24,000 referred to healthcare facilities, ensuring timely interventions and reducing maternal and neonatal mortality rates.

“It is a pragmatic approach by the Ruto Administration to achieving Universal Health Coverage. For the first time, most Kenyans at the Bottom of the socio-economic pyramid can see a health service provider in their homes. We are on course to delivering on Universal Health Coverage as envisioned under the Kenya Kwanza Plan,” added the DP.

The holistic impact of the CHP Programme extends beyond healthcare provision. By investing in community and facility-based primary healthcare, the government aims to address the root causes of health-induced poverty while promoting economic prosperity.

“We know that Primary Health Care is a People-centred approach for promotive, preventative, curative and rehabilitative services. With early detention of diseases and other health conditions, Afya Nyumbani is putting our Nation on the path to reducing the cycle of health-induced poverty,” added the second in command.

The DP emphasised the importance of ensuring universal access to quality healthcare to prevent families from falling into poverty due to exorbitant medical expenses noting, “We want to stop Kenyans from sinking into poverty because quality healthcare is unaffordable to low-income households in a country where only about one in four people have a health insurance cover. It is also estimated that our people are spending over Sh150 billion in out-of-pocket treatment.”

However, the realisation of UHC requires collaborative efforts from both the National and County Governments. The DP called upon counties to fulfil their obligations in sustaining the CHP Programme, reiterating that quality healthcare is not merely a privilege but a constitutional right that must be upheld through joint endeavours.

As the nation continues its journey towards a healthier and more prosperous future, cooperation between government entities, stakeholders, and communities will be paramount in realising the shared vision of accessible, affordable, and high-quality healthcare services for all.

New State-backed initiative to curb waste menace

Eng Festus Ng’eno, PS Environment and Climate Change has called for a collaborative approach in sustainable waste management in the country

Tens of small businesses are set to benefit from a government-backed programme that seeks to enhance sustainable management of waste. The programme launched last week in Nairobi and dubbed Sustainable Waste Innovation for a Future in Transition (SWIFT) targets small businesses in the country to foster green entrepreneurship and promote a circular economy.

The $5.1 million (Sh767.6 million) initiative is expected to increase investment in nature-based waste management solutions in efforts to safeguard the environment. Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC), which implementing the programme, following funding from IKEA foundation said the initiative is a significant step in promoting the circular economy.

The initiative targets five counties namely, Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu and Uasin Gishu, in the inaugural phase. Under the programme, the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will receive tailored business support, including advisory services, technical assistance, mentorship, and financing.

“This programme presents a significant opportunity for Kenya to showcase its leadership in sustainable waste management on the global stage,” said Eng Festus Ngeno, the PS for Environment and Climate Change.

He observed that by pioneering innovative solutions and fostering collaboration between government, private sector, and civil society, Kenya will position itself as a regional hub for sustainable development and environmental stewardship.

“Together, we can demonstrate to the world that a cleaner, greener future is within our reach,” said the PS.

Launch of the Sustainable Waste Innovation for a Future in Transition (SWIFT) programme that happened in Nairobi, Kenya

He noted that the initiative leverages strategic partnerships involving the government and counties to drive policy reforms and regulatory enhancements conducive to sustainable waste management practices.

“The SWIFT programme represents a significant milestone in our collective efforts to address the pressing challenges of waste management in Kenya. With estimates showing that our country generates between 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes of waste per day, the need for innovative solutions has never been more urgent,” said the PS.

At least 110 enterprises nationwide will benefit from a comprehensive support to catalyse the development of innovative waste management models aligned with circular economy principles.

“The dual role of the programme in addressing environmental concerns and unlocking economic opportunities through innovation is critical. I have a vision of a future where waste becomes a valuable resource,” said Joseph Murabula, the CEO of KCIC.

The project promises to create job opportunities, economic growth and a clean environment. Projections show it will generate over 6,000 direct and indirect jobs and improve the livelihoods of thousands of households boosting socio-economic advancement.

It is expected that the project would generate some Sh1.5 billion from waste management activities that accelerate the transition to a circular economy and drive inclusive green economic growth.

These activities will be aligned to the country’s climate goals as outlined in the Kenya Nationally Determined Contributions as well as the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. In the first year of the initiative, 55 MSMEs, particularly those led by young people and women, will be supported.

The other 55 small businesses will be on boarded onto the programme in the last two years.

Patrick Obonyo, the programme manager at the IKEA Foundation, said collective action will help in addressing waste management challenges and advancing environmental sustainability.

His added that there is need to accelerate Kenya’s transition towards a circular economy.

“It is imperative that we adopt a collaborative approach that brings together government, private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders. Only through concerted action can we overcome the complex challenges facing our waste management sector and create a future that is clean, healthy, and sustainable for all,’’ said Ngeno.

Insights from SWIFT will be used to scale-up the initiative and improve the approach to supporting MSMEs in waste management. Applications for the SWIFT programme remain open to eligible enterprises, said Murabula, as he asked waste management entrepreneurs to take up the opportunity and contribute to the country’s goal of attaining sustainable waste management.

According to the National Environmental Management Authority, improper management of waste leads to degradation of the environment and fans climate change.

This is because waste is one of the contributors of greenhouse gases, which lead to global warming and thus climate change.

‘’It is for this reason that as a country, we should develop sustainable waste management technologies and initiatives to curb this growing global challenge,’’ the agency notes its solid waste management strategy.

The various wastes generated in Kenya can be categorised as domestic, municipal, industrial, hazardous and e-waste.

Ruto’s Sh350bn Japan deals to boost manufacturing, energy and transport sectors

Signing of the framework that will boost vehicle manufacturing, energy and trade

The government is set to intensify investments in the energy, transport and manufacturing sectors following President William Ruto’s visit to Japan, where he secured various agreements worth Sh350 billion. The signing of the agreements do not only foster bilateral ties but are expected to propel economic growth.

The bulk of the funds – Sh260 billion – will be injected into infrastructure projects such as the Dongo Kundu and the Mombasa Gateway Bridge at the Coast. These initiatives are expected to enhance connectivity and spur regional development. Additionally, Kenya and Toyota Tsusho Corporation of Japan sealed a significant framework agreement aimed at fostering collaboration in vehicle manufacturing and renewable energy development. Under this agreement, Toyota Tsusho Corporation will establish a vehicle manufacturing plant within Kenya’s borders.

The corporation has pledged an initial investment of Sh800 million in the Kenya Thika vehicle manufacturers. President Ruto, who witnessed the signing of the agreement in the presence of Toyota Tsusho Corporation of Japan President Ichiro Kashitani, emphasised the importance of achieving a balance between imported and locally manufactured vehicles. He stressed the need for affordable locally made vehicles to discourage the importation of used cars. Kenya’s vehicle assembly industry has seen an average production of 12,000 cars annually in recent years, falling short of meeting market demand.

Toyota’s investment is poised to enhance Kenya’s manufacturing capabilities, thus bridging this deficit and improving the quality of locally made vehicles. The partnership positions Kenya as a strategic market for the automobile industry, granting Toyota Tsusho Corporation a competitive edge in the African continent. Notably, other African countries hosting major Toyota manufacturing plants include Egypt, Ghana, and South Africa.

A substantial allocation of Sh15 billion will be allocated to the Olkaria Geothermal Development Project, underscoring the mutual commitment to sustainable energy solutions. Moreover, Japan pledged Sh1 billion towards enhancing medical oxygen production, a critical resource for healthcare facilities across Kenya.

These funds will come at a time when Kenya is rolling out the new Social Health Insurance Fund, meant to ensure universal healthcare for all.

Beyond financial commitments, both nations solidified their cooperation across various sectors through Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs), spanning ICT, healthcare, finance, and security. Notably, these agreements include provisions for bolstering the capacity of institutions like the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) to effectively manage pandemics, with an investment of Sh3 billion.

In a strategic move towards enhancing defense capabilities, Kenya became the first African nation to formalise a Defense Cooperation agreement with Japan, strengthening the longstanding partnership between the two countries. Furthermore, Kenya secured an additional KSh30 billion from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, designated for the acquisition of heavy machinery and mechanised assets, essential for advancing key infrastructure projects. President Ruto expressed gratitude for Japan’s unwavering support towards critical projects such as Phase II of the Mwea Irrigation Scheme and the National Rice Masterplan, underscoring the significance of international collaboration in achieving shared developmental objectives.

Overall, the financial commitments and collaborative agreements forged during President Ruto’s Japan visit mark a significant stride towards advancing Kenya’s economic agenda and fostering enduring partnerships on the global stage.

How SHIF will change access to health care

Health CS Susan Nakhumicha notes that public participation is key in proper implementation of SHIF.

The Government’s actualisation of the new Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) is expected to radically change the provision of health care services, making them not only accessible but also affordable to all. SHIF, which is one of the flagship initiatives of President William Ruto’s bottom up economic transformation, is expected to replace the 57-year-old National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha notes that the new scheme will ease the financial burden associated with seeking health care services for many families.

“The government recognises the hardship faced by families who lose their only properties and savings to a single case of illness in the family. SHIF is a comprehensive approach that legally marshals the entire country to share the healthcare burden — a departure from traditional and What’s App harambees,” said the CS.

SHIF, which will be run by a Social Health Authority, will bank on digital technology to secure patient information and revolutionise the tracking of supply chain processes, therefore, curbing corruption that have plagued its predecessor. “The transparency afforded by this digital system will ensure that resources are allocated efficiently, instilling public trust in the healthcare procurement process. The new system is a response to the urgent need for accountability, prudent spending and prevention of pilferages,” said Nakhumicha. Under SHIF, all salaried workers will contribute 2.75 per cent of their incomes towards the health fund.

Those who earn Sh20,000 will be pay Sh550 while those whose salary is Sh50,000 will contribute Sh1,375. On the other hand, earners of Sh100,000 will be deducted Sh2,750 and those who take home Sh200,000 will pay Sh5,500. Top earners; those who take home Sh500,000 will pay Sh13,750 while those getting Sh1 million and above will pay Sh27,500. “Those who can’t afford the contributions will be covered by the government,” said the CS. This includes those who are categorised as vulnerable by the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection. Unemployed individuals and casual workers who want to self-pay will contribute Sh300.

Every citizen will be expected to contribute making the scheme mandatory for all adults seeking any services form the government. The new health law also makes it compulsory for any foreigner visiting the country for over a year to enlist and contribute to the insurance scheme. Under the new law, the government is required to build at least a health facility for every 5,000 people as part of the attainment of Universal Health Coverage. The good thing with SHIF, according to the CS, is that it covers beyond basic health services, including screening, drug rehabilitation, mental health support, physiotherapy, CT scans, MRI, PET scans, X-rays, brachytherapy, outpatient and inpatient services, HIV testing, cancer screening, family planning, maternal and child clinics, surgeries, emergencies, including ambulance services, cardiac arrest, accidents, and even transplant procedures. The transformation of the health sector is backed by three laws, the first which is the Social Health Insurance Act establishes three new funds, that is the Primary Healthcare Fund, the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF) and the Emergency, Chronic and Critical Illness Fund.

The regulations introduced will ensure coverage for screenings, transplants, and post-transplant medications

These funds are designed to cover various levels of healthcare services, from primary to emergency and chronic care, ensuring that no Kenyan is denied emergency medical treatment, as enshrined in Article 43(2) of the constitution. The Primary Healthcare Fund will cater for services at levels one to three; the Social Health Insurance Fund will cover services at levels four to six, and the Emergency, Chronic and Critical Illness Fund will handle costs once social health insurance is depleted. “This tripartite structure not only fulfills constitutional mandates but also addresses the practical aspects of healthcare delivery, ensuring a seamless and comprehensive coverage system,” said the CS.

The second law is the Facility Improvement Financing Act, which will address underfunding in public health facilities, a persistent challenge that has hindered the quality of healthcare services. Through the law, the government aims to enhance the capacity and capabilities of public health facilities, providing better services to all citizens by collecting, retaining, and planning for use of revenues generated from facilities.

Lastly is the Digital Health Act, which entrenches into law the use of technology in health care services provision. It aims to establish and maintain a comprehensive integrated health information system for better health services provision. By leveraging on technology, the government seeks to enhance data sharing and resource utilisation, creating a more efficient and responsive healthcare system.

“The digital transformation aligns with global trends seeks to ensure that Kenya’s healthcare infrastructure is not only robust but also capable of adapting to future challenges,” said the CS.

The Ministry of Health is currently undertaking public participation on the Social Health Act, which anchors SHIF into law. “Our projection is that by March 1, we should be able to start registration of everybody into the Social Health Authority,” she said. Dr Ruth Masha, National Syndemic Disease Control Council (NSDCC) chief executive officer, said at a public participation forum that SHIF guarantees Kenyans access to essential medical services. “A major ingredient of the Fund is that it comes with huge financial relief to families. Medical expenses exert substantial financial pressure, tipping many families into poverty. The government seeks to lessen this by scattering the cost of healthcare across the population,” she said.

Kenya to host second Oracle regional data centre in Africa

The regional data centre will drive the digital transformation of government, public institutions, businesses and start-ups in Kenya

Kenya is set to host American technology giant Oracle Corporation’s regional data centre. This will be Oracle’s second facility of its kind in Africa. The announcement came following a meeting between a high-level Kenyan delegation led by President William Ruto and CS Ministry of Information and the Digital Economy, Eliud Owalo, and a delegation from Oracle, led by Senior Vice-President Scott Twaddle.

President Ruto highlighted the significance of Oracle’s investment, stating, “This announcement underscores Oracle’s commitment to Africa and is aimed at driving the digital transformation of government, public institutions, businesses, and start-ups in Kenya.” The move aligns with Kenya’s strategy to enhance its digital infrastructure, create digital job opportunities, and digitise government services, further solidifying Kenya’s position as a prime destination for international IT companies.

“We are delighted to see Oracle planning such an important investment in Kenya. I am excited to see major technology companies like Oracle investing in Kenya and bringing state-of-the-art technologies like AI and cloud applications that will benefit Kenyan citizens, especially in the creation of jobs,” noted President Ruto.

During the meeting, Oracle reiterated its dedication to aiding Kenya in achieving its economic objectives and fostering transformation through the deployment of cutting-edge cloud technologies. Leveraging Kenya’s robust renewable energy sources and advanced digital infrastructure, including extensive submarine and national connectivity, Oracle aims to position Nairobi as a pivotal hub for its cloud services in Africa.

Oracle’s decision to establish a data centre in Kenya follows the successful launch of its first facility in Africa in 2022, located in Johannesburg, South Africa. This expansion aligns with Oracle’s global strategy to enhance its Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) presence, with plans to open 44 such centres worldwide by the end of this year. The Johannesburg data centre marked a significant milestone for Oracle, positioning the organisation alongside industry peers such as Microsoft and Amazon, who also operate facilities in South Africa.

“There is a possibility of further cloud regions, including West Africa. The move to establish a hub in Nairobi underscores our commitment to expanding our footprint across the African continent. This decision is driven by the region’s growing demand for cloud services and digital transformation initiatives,” noted Cherian Varghese, Oracle’s regional managing director for the Middle East and Africa. By facilitating the digital transformation of the Kenyan government, public institutions, enterprises, startups, universities, and investors, Oracle seeks to catalyse innovation and growth.

The announcement comes amidst Kenya’s burgeoning tech ecosystem, with recent developments including the launch of Amazon Web Services’ development centre in Nairobi last October. President Ruto lauded this milestone, emphasising its potential to create job opportunities for the youth and boost Kenya’s competitiveness in the global tech landscape. He reiterated the government’s commitment to investing in education to nurture Kenya’s human capital, fostering an environment conducive to attracting investment from leading tech companies like Oracle and Amazon.

“We are delighted to extend our commitment to helping Kenya accelerate the digital transformation of its government and private sector. OCI is leveraged by governments and companies across the world as a scalable and secure platform for mission-critical workloads on which to drive innovation and transformation. We already have a strong business in Kenya, and the upcoming public cloud region in Nairobi represents a significant next step forward in helping support the country’s economic goals,” noted Scott Twaddle, Senior Vice President of Product and Industries at Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

With OCI’s distinctive cloud architecture, Oracle is poised to deliver a comprehensive suite of over 100 hyperscale cloud services. This technological prowess presents immense opportunities for both the government and the private sector to enhance the ease of doing business and spur economic development.

“Oracle’s initiative will directly drive Kenya’s Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda. This agenda, focusing on digital transformation, private sector development, agricultural transformation, housing development, and healthcare modernisation, aligns seamlessly with Oracle’s vision for the region,” explained Eliud Owalo, Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy.

John Tanui, the Principal Secretary, State Department of ICT, also emphasised the pivotal role of the data centre in bolstering Kenya’s digital infrastructure and facilitating the government’s digital transformation agenda. He emphasised the importance of connectivity infrastructure and job creation, underscoring the data centre’s potential to fuel Kenya’s technological advancement.

New Cashless System Set to Raise Revenue Collection in Kisumu County

The new ICRMS platform will be cashless allowing for better accountability and transparency

The County Government of Kisumu has partnered with Safaricom to implement a new Integrated County Revenue Management System (ICRMS). The county management hopes that they will be able to acquire their target of Sh.2.2 billion in revenue collection thanks to the new system. The system will be cashless.

“We have co-created the platform with Safaricom to provide a seamless and user-friendly experience for Kisumu residents and county officials to contribute to the overall efficiency of revenue management,” noted Prof Nyong’o the Governor of Kisumu County.

The platform promises to be a one-stop shop for residents to access and pay for various county services. The hope is that the new, integrated, and automated system will enhance accessibility and transparency as well. County staff have already received proper training on the platform to ensure that it runs smoothly and efficiently. Further, the platform is available on several platforms such as Safaricom App, Mobile App, and WhatsApp, USSD (*427#), the MyKisumu App, and a web self-service portal.

“The innovative platform will support various revenue services, including parking, cess, markets, advertising, property rates, and approvals, among other revenue services reducing queues and wait times at the county offices,” affirmed Cynthia Kropac, Safaricom’s Chief Enterprise Business Officer.

The system, which is Kenyan-made and locally-made, ensures real-time integration with payment channels like MPESA and banks for accurate reporting and reconciliation of transactions. This will enable enhanced visibility and control are provided through dashboards accessible to executives, enabling effective monitoring of revenue performance and operations.

The county is also set to launch the Ushuru Centre, which will serve as a call centre connecting county revenue staff with the public. The call centre will be significant in assisting and resolving issues related to revenue in a fast and seamless manner.

“The system has GIS Data Integration Capability which is intended to help the County Government Map all its revenue sources and resources to ensure enhanced service delivery and to make revenue collection easy and more organised, especially for the structured revenue streams,” assured Governor Nyong’o.

The platform offers real-time verification of transactions and payments, which has been made possible using QR codes. Further, there is real time reporting of all transactions across all departments ensuring accountability and transparency. Impressively, the smartphones used for data entry of revenue collection are installed with technology allowing them to connect to the platform both online and offline.

The pilot test done in December 2023 showed that the system works seamlessly. Some of the revenue streams that have already been rolled out include markets, cess, parking and stock rings.

“At Safaricom, we are committed to leveraging our technological capabilities to drive positive change in communities across Kenya. The implementation of the ICRMS system in Kisumu County reflects our commitment to driving digital transformation for efficient service delivery, making services more accessible and convenient for all, and furthering our mission to connect, empower, and improve the lives of Kenyans,” noted Kropac.

State distributes free cotton seeds as sector revival gains pace

State distributes free cotton seeds as sector revival gains pace

Industry PS, Dr Juma Mukhwana, said the goal is to distribute 27 metric tonnes of Hart 89M cotton seeds and two metric tonnes of Bt cotton seeds in each of the 24 growing counties across the country.

“The core objective of this collective effort is to harness the potential of the cotton industry and significantly hasten production,” said the PS during the distribution of cotton seeds to farmers in Kitui County.

He noted that increased production of cotton is crucial to ensure steady supply of raw materials to both the public and private sectors as the rejuvenation of the industry gains momentum.

“This initiative aims to stimulate economic growth, create employment opportunities, and ultimately strengthen the overall cotton value chain,” Dr Mukhwana added.

Kitui deputy governor Augustine Kanani said the distribution marks a significant step towards revitalising the sector and improving the lives of cotton farmers in the county.

He said Kitui ranks fifth in national cotton production. “The county government plans to enhance production by offering support to cotton farmers, including extension services, farm inputs, subsidised tractor plowing, market linkages, and value addition,” Mr Kanani added.

He said the distribution of seeds is part of the county government’s efforts to diversify agricultural activities and provide farmers with alternative sources of income.

“Cotton farming has the potential to transform the livelihoods of farmers in Kitui. This distribution of seeds is a significant step towards achieving this goal,” he said.

Cotton is grown in some 24 counties, particularly those that are semi-arid, for its fibre and its byproducts are used for making oil and animal feeds.

Production declined from a peak of 70,000 bales per year in 1986 to about 5,000 bales annually.

The government is banking on the Bt variety, which is genetically modified, in bid to revive the sector and support up to 200,000 farmers from the current 40,000 and thousands of other people across the value chain.

Besides Kitui, the government has also distributed seeds to farmers in western and Nyanza.

– Additional reporting KNA

Media Council installs taskforce on use of emerging technologies in the industry

Media Council installs taskforce on use of emerging technologies in the industry

The Media Council of Kenya (MCK) has inaugurated a team that is expected to develop guidelines on the use of emerging technologies in the industry.

MCK chief executive officer David Omwoyo said the Technical Working Group on Development of Media Guidelines on use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data and Social Media, would prepare a policy advisory on usage of the technologies in the sector.

“This will ensure appropriate and ethical integration of the three in professional journalism in Kenya,” said Mr Omwoyo, adding that the team has three months to do the task.

He observed that innovations like AI that prioritise audiences and aid in navigation of new market dynamics will ensure the media industry survives for the next decades.

“But when using them, issues to do with ethics and data protection come up. This is what the team has to look it and develop guidelines,” he said.

Ms Immaculate Kassait, the Data Commissioner, noted that the development of the guidelines would give clear rules on data protection and usage in media houses.

“Since we fined some establishments that were using photos of their clients without approval, some people think we are killing photography, but that is not the case, it all has to do with data privacy. We need to prepare ethical working guidelines that support AI innovations and data protection in relation with media operations,” she said.

The use of AI in media houses has grown significantly, with firms using the technology to maximise on audience segmentation and preferences leading to stabilisation of ratings and credibility.