Business News

Tomato prices continue increasing as deadly pest spreads

Published on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 17:00

Tomato prices may not come down any time soon following an attack by the deadly leaf miner which affects productivity and quality of the crop.

The dangerous pest, Tuta Absoluta, allegedly originated from South America and is believed to have come into Kenya from Ethiopia.

Currently, a single tomato is selling at Sh10 at the Nakuru wholesale market, the price of four tomatoes a few months ago.

Mary Akoth, a buyer at the market, says that she rarely uses tomatoes in her meals after the prices more than doubled following the pest attack.

“I only use onions then add spices in most of my meals. When I use tomatoes, I can’t use more than one in my food,” she said.

John Wanderi, a trader at the market, says a crate of tomatoes was costing between Sh2,500 and Sh3,000 a few months ago but now they are buying the same at Sh6,500.

Wanderi said, “We are getting our tomatoes from Loitotok and Loita. The cost of transporting the tomatoes is increasing the tomato prices, making it expensive for most buyers.”

Researchers at Egerton University say the pest is a huge threat to the tomato sector, which is Kenya’s fourth horticultural crop, contributing Sh14 billion to the country’s economy annually.

Lillian Jeptanui, a researcher, said that Nakuru is the country’s largest tomato producer and is one of the counties most affected by the pest.

Jeptanui said other counties affected are Isiolo, Meru, Embu, Garissa, Wajir and Marsabit. She said that the pest destroys the crop at the flowering stage.

“The country has received reports of huge losses since last year due to the pest attack. More than 70,000 farmers who earn a living from tomato farming have incurred huge losses,” said Jeptanui.

Jeptanui added: “The pest is quickly spreading to almost all the counties because it is a migratory pest. There are fears that it might spread to other tomato-growing areas in South Rift Valley.”

The researchers said that the migratory pest wipes up to 100 percent of the crop in days and it thrives on other host plants like potato, night shade among others.

Pyrethrum growers threaten court action over PBK rebranding

Published on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 11:57

Pyrethrum farmers in Nakuru County have threatened to take legal action against Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei for excluding them in the current changes in the subsector.

The county’s Pyrethrum Growers Association (PGA) chairman Samuel Kihiu says the current changes and rebranding of the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya properties to Pyrethrum Regulatory Authority (PRA) is not according to the law.

“Pyrethrum Act Cap 340 subsection 2 clearly states that, if the board is wound up, all monies received on the sale or disposal of its property and assets shall, subject to the prior satisfaction of any liabilities of the board, be distributed to the growers,” Kihiu said.

He noted that during the whole transition period, the growers were put aside and kept in darkness since there has been no active management board since 2010.

“In 2013, growers went to court to stop the then CEO from selling the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya (PBK) properties under the instruction of CS Felix Koskei. We are not yet tired of going to court even at this time to stop the changing of PBK properties to PRA,” Kihiu added.

Kihiu was backed up by Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri, who said that regulation and processing should be separated and farmers should be left with the processing as the industry remains theirs.

“Farmers have suffered a lot and PRA should stop messing up with PBK properties that belong to growers,” Kimani said.

He added that PRA’s role is to oversee policies and licensing of future investors in a liberalised economy but their current behaviour is suspect and aimed at denying growers their right and properties.

“As we write this petition, growers’ assets such as PBK headquarters, factory, vehicles are labelled PRA which gives the impression that PRA owns these properties, which is illegal,” Kihiu stated.

The growers called upon the Ministry of Agriculture to convene an urgent meeting with them in order to end the stalemate before they seek the court’s intervention.

Celeb turned farmer; real wealth is in getting dirty

Published on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - 10:49

Most young people in Kenya today are doing all sorts of things in order to become “celebrities” due to the lure of a good and easy life.

And as the craving for the media’s spotlight grows every other day, many are putting their values and personal dignity on the line.

Most people are in their current jobs just to get their bills paid and not because they are passionate about them. But, given a chance, these same people would exhibit extraordinary skills and productivity if they were given an opportunity to pursue their interests.

For one Caleb Karuga, the story has been different. From being a full time journalist to becoming a full time farmer would sound odd in a ‘celeb’ status hungry nation, but he ditched the microphone for the hoe.

Karuga says that everyone has the power to change their current situation if they really wanted to.

Speaking during a farmers training at his farm at Gikambura in Kikuyu sub-county, Karuga said that poultry farming has made a name for him more than journalism ever did.

He said that before venturing out, he ran the idea by several of his friends to see if they could be interested but to his shock, most of them shot the idea down. They accused him of thinking like an old man about to retire but this never killed his passion.

Karuga says that most young people, unfortunately, tend to think that the only way they can be relevant in their peer groups is by being what their friends think and want them to be. This, he said, in most cases has left them with inverted priorities.

If he had succumbed to his friend’s comments, Karuga would not have followed his passion and would not be the man he is today. He would still be working that 8-5 job to pay his bills and keep his bosses happy and yet that is not where his heart would.

He added that there are so many job opportunities especially in agri-business and other areas as well where the youth can be productive.

Karuga said that young people have to learn how to be their own bosses, be responsible and take charge of their own lives in order to achieve development.

He, however, cautions that the youth should not be lured by the money but rather be passionate about what they do because that is what brings the returns.

Farmers get advice on countering maize disease

Published on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 - 16:22

Farmers in Githunguri sub-county have been advised to diversify farming and stop the overreliance on maize production.

The call comes after the discovery of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND) that has led to poor maize production, occasioning huge losses to farmers.

Speaking during a seminar at Waruhiu farm, agricultural officer Moses Kuria told farmers to take up potato farming since MLND and overreliance on maize is causing a competition between humans and animals.

“The disease has left many farmers devastated and facing huge losses. Some have even opted to turn their farms into real estates since it is more profitable than farming,” the officer, who is based training centre, said.

Kuria said that they are adapting to growing maize for animal feeds while potatoes are being grown for human consumption since they are both energy-giving foods.

He also emphasised that weather patterns are no longer predictable, which is why they are advocating for potato farming since the crop takes only 67 days to mature.

He added that potato farming requires small pieces of land unlike maize faming.

The officer, however, said that farmers should not stop planting maize completely since it is a staple food for most families in Kenya.

Nakuru, DHL sign courier services deal

Published on Monday, August 25, 2014 - 15:30

The Nakuru County government has partnered with international courier company, DHL Express, in a deal that will see the courier export fresh flowers and import goods directly to the county.

Speaking to the press after paying a courtesy call on Deputy Governor Joseph Ruto over the weekend, DHL country manager Allan Cassels said the move will boost trade in the county.

He said Nakuru is a fast growing county that has business potential for both local and international investors.

“We are happy to partner with the county government to export and import goods. This will make it convenient for traders in the county as they seek growth,” he said.

Cassels further stated that the move will open up other opportunities that will enhance trade and boost social-economic development.

Ruto said the county is committed to promote and enhance local and international trade.

He indicated that more trade opportunities will be created which will in turn address the rising unemployment cases.

“The county government is committed to improve the living standards through trade. We are working to make it as smooth as possible so that businesses can thrive,” he said.

Livestock market to be built in Solai

Published on Friday, August 22, 2014 - 09:22

The county government of Nakuru is planning to build a livestock market in Solai in the next financial year, an official has said.

Nakuru County executive in charge of agriculture and livestock Dr Stanley Chepkwony said his ministry is working closely with area leaders to identify a site where the market will be constructed.

Chepkwony said the county government has identified Solai as the best region to put up the market due to the large number of livestock in the area.

“This area is doing well in livestock farming,” the county executive said.

“That is why we want to bring the market close to the livestock farmers.”

He added that the completion of the market will open up the area for other investments including value addition plants.

The officer called on area residents to intensify their livestock farming and embrace modern livestock farming methods in order to keep up with the competition.

The agriculture boss was speaking when he presided over a livestock vaccination exercise in Solai.

Embrace technology for better yields, farmers told

Published on Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 09:45

Nakuru farmers have been challenged to adopt technology in their farming to realise better yields.

Speaking in Nakuru town, East African Grain Council chairman Bernard Otin observed that incorporating technology in agriculture would improve production.

He said that technology has made work easier and farmers stand to reap much more benefits if they embrace it.

“I want to urge Nakuru farmers and those across the country to adopt use of IT in agriculture. Things become much easier to do when IT is incorporated in agriculture,” he said.

The official, however, raised concerns over the emergence of crop diseases and pesticides which he indicated have lowered production.

He said that the region is experiencing a sharp rise of crop diseases and called for urgent measures to address the problem that might affect food security.

Otin challenged the government to invest more in research institutions as mitigation to curbing emergence of crop diseases and pests.

Just recently, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) invested Sh34 million to fight the Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (MLND) that is affecting farmers in the country.

Luca Alinovi, FAO country representative, said that the money will go into research and training of farmers.

Deadline for bar owners to renew licences

Published on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 17:27

Bar operators and owners in Nakuru town have been given up to September 1 to get new licences or face closure.

National Authority for Campaign against Drug Abuse (Nacada) chairman John Mututho said that most bars in Nakuru town were operating without licences and warned them that they risk being closed if they do not get the permits beginning next month.

“Sixty percent of bars in Nakuru have no licenses. We are giving them up to September 1 to get the licences or they be closed down,” said Mututho.

Speaking in Nakuru town on Monday evening when he met the bar owners and alcohol brewers, Mututho also warned those selling illicit brews that their licenses would be revoked.

He blamed the police for failing to enforce the alcohol control laws, saying that most of them were cooperating with bar owners and brewers to get the illicit brews into the market.

“There are some rogue officers who work with brewers and bar owners to allow the sale of these illicit brews. We are warning them that their days are numbered,” he added.

Last week, alcohol brewers in Nakuru County called for a single licencing body to address what they termed as delays in the issuance of licences.

Strawberry farmer earns from greenhouse venture

Published on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 15:28

As greenhouse farming picks up in Kiambu and countrywide, Dorothy Mwaura is already reaping from the agricultural practice, which is transforming landscapes.

The 58-year-old mother of four is a strawberry farmer who started producing them against what was the norm.

“Instead of planting flowers as the norm, I decided to plant strawberries,” said the grandmother of five.

“I got into strawberry farming in a quest for the best fruits that could work for my stomach problem and also to keep my family healthy. Strawberries serve as flowers and fruits. People often asked me what flowers I had planted but they were amazed once they saw the berries.”

Five years down the line, she grows strawberries in a greenhouse for commercial purposes at her home in Kiambu. She is one of the successful strawberry farmers in Kiambu, influencing others to try the nutritious berry.

Mwaura says that a quarter kilogramme of strawberries costs between Sh80 and Sh100 depending on clientele. She is specialising in seed production and is the main supplier of strawberry seeds to farmers in Kiambu.

“One split costs between Sh30 and Sh35. If only 25 out of 100 splits mature, a farmer must not be discouraged,” she added.

Most strawberries go for as long as three seasons and after that you plant new seedlings. Each harvest is, however, different and it tends to reduce each year.

Her advice to farmers is: "You cannot invest when your family is hungry. The first market is your health, anything else you sell is and should be the excess. That is how we reduce poverty in our country as envisioned in the Vision 2030 blueprint."

Photo of the Day: The re-launch of Tupendane Sacco

Published on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 07:24

Tupendane Sacco Limited re-launching as as Uni-County savings and credit co-operative society limited.

Full story:

Tupendane Sacco rebrands to Uni-County

Published on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 06:15

Tupendane Sacco Limited has re-launched as Uni-County savings and credit co-operative society limited with a call for many to join the institution.

Speaking during the launch, Nakuru County government’s agriculture executive Dr Stanley Chepkwony urged county workers to join the Sacco to see their fortunes grow.

“The rebranding is the beginning of a new chapter.  Uni-County Sacco joins other co-operatives and societies who have already rebranded to offer better services,” Chepkwony added.

Chepkwony called upon the Sacco board management to adopt new growth strategies such as individual and group lending, embracing new technology and other financial and banking innovations to reduce the traditional systems risk.

Uni-county Sacco chairman Jared Otieno requested the office of the governor to sensitise county employees to embrace Uni-County as a Sacco of choice.

“I urge all the county workers and business community across the county to remain loyal and be good ambassadors of the co-operative movement,” Chepkwony said.

Among those joining the Sacco are Nakuru County government employees, Nakuru Water and Sanitation Services Company (Nawassco) employees and others from corporate institutions and entrepreneurs.

The Sacco offers services such as banking, savings and loan products, among others.

Groups urged to write laws to end rows

Published on Friday, August 15, 2014 - 10:45

Self-help groups in Ruiru sub-county have been urged to make viable constitutions before asking to be registered.

Social development officer Mercy Kinoti said constitutions enable groups to grow with their members by abiding by the laws set by members themselves.

Kinoti said many groups seeking registration or even renewal of their certificates were forced to go back to make a constitution that incorporates all members.

“Different groups have been reporting people who have refused to pay their pledges and debts to the group on time,” the officer said.

“If the clause on servicing debts or even subscription fee is not in the constitution, then it becomes very difficult to convince the party to comply,” she said.

She advised the groups to keep updated records to ensure accountability and enhance accounting knowledge to the parties involved.

Kinoti added that those holding certificates from the defunct Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development should take them back to her office for replacement. The cost of replacing the certificate is Sh1,000 and Sh500 for renewal.

She praised some of the groups which have complied with her directive and urged others to follow suit.  She advised the groups to replace the certificates as they could be invalidated, making it hard for the groups to transact business.

Farmers warned over extreme pesticides use

Published on Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 16:38

Tomato farmers in Nakuru have been cautioned against using excessive pesticides on tomato fruits which may be harmful to consumers.

Speaking to the press in Naivasha town, agricultural extension officer Teresia Karanja observed that pesticide residue left on tomatoes fruits can affect consumers which may cause disease or cause a loss of market for the produce.

Karanja asked farmers to spray their tomatoes with the stipulated amount of pesticides to curb cases of poisoning consumers.

“We want to urge tomato farmers and others to follow instructions on using pesticides. Farmers should use the right amounts of pesticides on their crops to make their produce competitive,” she said.

The official also urged farmers to use chemicals and farm inputs that have been approved by government agencies.

She said that some individuals and companies have invaded the market with fake farm inputs which have caused poor agricultural production.

Greenhouse farming changing arid Kiambu

Published on Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 13:15

Horticultural farmers from Ndeiya ward in Limuru sub-county are reaping immense benefits from greenhouse farming.

The farmers in the rain-starved area of Kiambu west have taken up greenhouse farming to counter the effects of the inconsistent rain in the region.

District agricultural officer Pauline Koimburi said: “Our office has recorded a lot of success with the introduction of greenhouse farming, especially in Ndeiya. The technology has considerably raised the standards of living of horticultural farmers in the area.”

Moses Mwaura, a small-scale horticultural farmer in the area, said that greenhouse farming has helped him increase crop yields while also protecting the environment at the same time.

He adds, “I am able to produce more on my three acres. In open field farming, I could not manage the flow of chemicals such as fungicides and pesticides but with greenhouses, I can control this.”

A small greenhouse of 240 square metres can make up about Sh250,000 per produce.

Koimburi said that her office decided to help horticultural farmers in Ndeiya to cope with erratic weather by introducing greenhouse farming that shields crops from the changing climatic conditions.

Her office has been involved in campaigns and demonstrations and so far many self-help groups and small-scale farmers are coming up in the area and are using the technology in their farming.

From teacher to billionaire poultry farmer

Published on Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 12:08

One of Kiambu’s greatest poultry farmers is a teacher who quit his job to pursue his hobby.

Nelson Muguku, a trained carpentry teacher, quit teaching in 1967 at the then Kabianga teachers college, currently Kabianga high school in Kericho to further his passion in rearing poultry.

“When I told the principal that I was resigning, he thought I was crazy for I had a stable job. But I was determined. I quit all the same and armed with only a bicycle and scanty furniture, I left Kabianga by train for my Rukubi home in Kikuyu,” he said.

He lightly adds: “My parents thought some bolts in my head had loosened. They were almost convinced that somebody was misleading me.”

The entrepreneur says that his empire started with a few chickens which he reared as a pastime.

“It all started as a hobby during my days as a teacher. I had two chickens and a cock that I reared at a corner of my school house. The principal requested me to bring some eggs for his hens to brood on condition that when they hatched we would share the chicks. That is how it all began,” recalls Muguku.

The father of six now owns and runs Muguku poultry farm in Kikuyu, estimated to be worth more than Sh3 billion. It is one of the largest hatcheries in the country with a capacity to hatch 200,000 chicks a day.

Nakuru brewers want single regulator

Published on Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 09:48

Alcohol manufacturers in Nakuru County are calling for the establishment of a single body of licensing alcohol brewers.

Speaking at Nakuru town, the brewers said they were finding it difficult securing licenses because there is no single body tasked with the responsibility.

Nakuru County Alcohol Manufacturers Association chairman Mike Gaitho said that they are being forced to secure different licences from the county government, the Kenya Bureau of Standards, Kenya Revenue Authority as well as the National Authority for Campaign against Drug Abuse (Nacada).

Gaitho said that securing licenses from the different agencies was hectic and called on the State to establish a single body comprising of representatives from the different bodies to be issuing licences.

“We need a single body to give us licences as moving from one office to the other is tiresome. The government should move with speed and form a licensing body,” said Gaitho.

He added that the delay in issuing the manufacturers with licences was slowing their businesses they cannot manufacture alcohol without the necessary licenses.

“It is illegal to operate without the license. However, the governments must also work faster to licence us,” he added.

Gaitho was accompanied by Nakuru alcohol manufacturing company directors.

Thika youth urged to apply for funding

Published on Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 08:15

Youths from Hospital ward in Thika sub-county have been urged to utilise the Uwezo Fund created by the government to empower themselves.

Speaking at Makongeni in Gachagi slums on Wednesday, area MCA Mwangi Wamwangi said the ward was lagging behind in youths registering for the funds. He said other wards like the Township had registered the high numbers.

“This money is yours and we have provided the easiest way of applying. If you people do not apply who will and how will you benefit?” posed Mwangi.

He added that the county is on the forefront to create jobs for the youth as one of the Jubilee agenda to women and the youth to improve their lives.

“We promised to create a favourable environment for job creation. We cannot provide jobs for everyone so you need to apply for these funds to improve your lives,” he added.

The MCA was accompanied by the Kiambu County youth affairs executive Machel Waikenda.

Brokers warned against exploiting farmers

Published on Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 07:00

Molo Member of Parliament Jacob Macharia has warned brokers and middlemen against exploiting potato farmers in Molo and Njoro constituencies.

Speaking when he issued Constituency Development Fund (CDF) cheques for various projects in his constituency, Macharia said that brokers were taking advantage of the lack of a ready and stable market for Irish potatoes to exploit farmers.

He cautioned farmers against being too quick to sell their products and asked them to form societies which will in turn help in marketing their produce.

“If you can form unions, it will be easier for you to get markets and sell your potatoes at good and profitable prices,” said the MP

He called on the county government to enforce the law governing the packaging of potatoes which was recently passed by the county assembly. Macharia also called on the farmers to diversify their farming and stop relying on a single crop saying that changing weather patterns were unpredictable and unfavourable.

“We should try other crops apart from potatoes. Let us not rely too much on potatoes because other crops can also do well in this area,” he concluded.

Kiambu farmers reap big from dairy goats

Published on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - 16:08

Susan Wangeci is a 41-year-old mother of four girls who is embracing a different kind of farming in Kiambu.

For a long time, she was a conventional dairy farmer but when profits dipped, Wangeci adopted goat rearing and has managed to reap the benefits.

“I had been in dairy cattle farming for a long time but for the past five years, I have been trying goat farming. Profits from this new venture surpass what I was getting from cattle farming by far,” she said.

Wangeci is among a group of dairy farmers in Kiambu who have switched from cattle to a new cash cow – the dairy goat.

Farmers in Gatamaiyu area within the county have been trying their hands on dairy goat farming, which they say is much more profitable than cattle mainly the venture is less costly.

Benson Kinuthia is another small-scale farmer from Kamuchege village.

“I want to sell my four cows because I have found a new love in dairy goats. The goats are easier to feed and one earns more from them. We sell the milk in Nairobi but the demand is very high,” added Kinuthia.

He said that the demand for goat milk has surpassed supply and the few goat farmers cannot supply the milk to everyone. With a kilo of goat milk selling at Sh60 compared to Sh20 for cow milk, Kinuthia said he will soon switch completely to rearing dairy goats.

Already, the over 30 local people have registered the Kamuchege Dairy Goat self-help group to meet the demand and challenges ahead.

Kenya Power upgrades Thika supply in mega project

Published on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - 16:17

Kenya Power has launched a Sh55 million project to upgrade service delivery to clients within Thika town centre and the industrial neighbourhood.

This is in the recently introduced ‘Operation Boresha Stima Viwandani’ which aims at improving the quality of electricity supply and minimum power disruptions.

The programme was launched on Monday at the Thika Kenya Power grounds and was graced by the principal secretary for Energy and Petroleum, Joseph Njoroge.

Speaking during the launch, Njoroge said: “Kenyans will enjoy a 47 percent decrease in power costs since the company is embarking on generating electricity from cheaper sources.

“Prices will significantly decrease once the additional 5,000 Megawatt project is completed.”

Njoroge added that huge power consumers like factories will experience a significant drop from an average of 15 US dollars to 9 US dollars.

The programme launch was heralded by change in the power supply lines and re-laying of the electricity poles.

The campaign, which involves master repair works like replacing old poles, old wires, rehabilitation of jumpers and realignment of high tension lines has been successful in 10 towns, including Nairobi, Mombasa and Machakos. 

Thika becomes the 11th town to benefit from the power upgrading initiative.

Karuturi bosses risk jail for ‘ignoring’ court orders

Published on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 - 11:15

Four managers of a Naivasha-based flower firm risk a six-month civil jail term after they allegedly disobeyed orders issued by a Nakuru court.

Kieran Day, Ian Small, Patrick Maina and Chris Shaw, who are receiver managers of Karuturi flower company, have been summoned by the Nakuru industrial court following allegations that they failed to comply with orders issued by Justice Byrum Ongaya on July 30.

Justice Ongaya had directed the flower company to stop terminating contracts and subsequent eviction of its employees from the company premises pending hearing and determination of a suit they had filed.

However, the firm’s management is said to have failed to obey the orders.

The more than 100 workers of the company had moved to court seeking to block termination of their employment, arguing that it was irregular as they never received letters for their layoffs.

The workers claimed that they were discriminated against and that their employer did not give them a fair hearing before dismissal.

“The management should put on hold the eviction of the employees pending an inter-parties hearing of the matter,” said Ongaya in his ruling.

The workers further claim that since their contracts were terminated they have not been paid their terminal dues, something they say has subjected their families to untold suffering.

The management is said to have sent the workers notices, urging them to vacate them because a recent audit had shown that they were illegal occupants.

The union urged the court to restrain the management of the firm from evicting them from the company houses and to have the managers compelled to pay the employees terminal dues they owe them.

The matter will be heard by a duty judge on August 13.

The farm, which produces 580 million roses per year from its operations in Kenya, Ethiopia and India, was dubbed the world leading producer of roses when it was at its peak. The flowers it produces in Kenya are shipped to Europe through a subsidiary in Dubai.

Ruiru groups ready for Sh17m Uwezo Fund

Published on Monday, August 11, 2014 - 06:14

Approximately 365 groups have been vetted by the Ruiru Uwezo Fund board to enable them receive the Sh17 million allocated for the sub-county.

Angelica Mueni, the Ruiru sub-county youth development officer, said that the board has addressed all the issues to ensure accountability. She added that they have also given the required advice to make sure those receiving the funds invest them in viable projects.

She said applicants are focusing on agribusiness and other similar projects to enable them become self-reliant and financially independent.

Mueni advised the youth to take advantage of the government’s interest-free loans to create more jobs.

She said that applicants have to, however, fulfill all the requirements which has led to some hopefuls being sent back to comply with the set regulations.

Mueni assured that her office will assist all the applicants to benefit from the loans to the maximum.

Government focused on serving Kenyans, President Kenyatta says

Published on Sunday, August 10, 2014 - 15:44

President Uhuru Kenyatta has said the government’s focus on serving Kenyans through implementation of its manifesto will not be derailed.

Speaking when he and Deputy President William Ruto attended thanksgiving prayers for Mosop MP Stephen Bittok at Kaiboi Technical Training Institute grounds in Nandi County, President Kenyatta said the government has embarked on fulfilling the pledges it made to Kenyans and will not look back.

He said: “No disruption will make us lose focus. Our interest is delivering the pledges we made to the people of Kenya. For example, we promised free maternity – we are providing it. We said we will provide capital for the youth to start businesses –we are doing that through the Uwezo Funds.”

President Kenyatta called on all Kenyans to unite in developing the country instead of dwelling on divisive politics.

At the same time, Deputy President William Ruto urged county governments to play their role fully in taking development to the grassroots as the national government fulfills its part at the national level.

“We have allocated a lot of resources to the counties. They should ensure they focus on utilizing those resources for the benefit of Kenyans instead of engaging in activities that will retard development,” the Deputy President said.

During the occasion, President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto helped to raise more than Sh11.4 million in aid of 33 churches in the constituency. The President donated Sh2 million while the Deputy President gave Sh1 million.

Nakuru youth welcome e-procurement

Published on Saturday, August 9, 2014 - 11:15

Nakuru County youths have welcomed the launch of e-tendering which they say will be fair to all.

The youth say that e-tendering is a good way to curb procurement corruption in counties and the national government. The process will be done online and the tenders will be posted on the respective government websites.

Jane Kamau, who runs an event management company, said, “Online tendering would ensure transparency, accountability to citizens. It also incorporates all the benefits of transacting on the internet.”

E-tendering will officially be launched on August 13 and this will incorporate both national and county governments.

Nakuru County youths representative Irene Chebichi said that the process will cut down on the public sector's biggest tender processing cost.

“The advertising costs will be reduced significantly and the youths will save a lot,” said Chebichi.

She added that for one to access the service, they need to have internet connection and email address.

“The internet has revolutionised business access to information. This will make other tendering firms like mine to have a 24-hour internet connection and know how to use the internet,” said 68-year-old John Kamau, a Nakuru resident who owns an errand service.

“E-procurement has the potential to limit corruption. Most youths lack the money to bribe for the tenders, so going online is favouring us,” said Erick Kipruto, a fourth year engineering student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Nakuru.

Kipruto added that automating the process could reduce the cost of procurement transactions.

After the launch, service providers will have a chance to seek information for tenders online, submit tenders, maintain and communicate information on their goods and services via the internet.

They will also have chance to receive orders, invoice buyers and receive payment electronically.

Equity Bank automates alcohol payments

Published on Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 17:15

Equity Bank has launched a new plan to automate payments for bar owners and alcoholic drinks dealers from all over the country.

The dealers can now pay their distributors easily and at an affordable price.

In Githunguri sub-county, Equity Bank business relations manager Simon Karumba said the initiative is to move businesses from cash transactions, which are usually at risk.

He said the programme requires one to register with the bank and will be issued with an ATM-like card but which can only be used to purchase beer and alcoholic products from licensed dealers.

Karumba revealed that each transaction will cost Sh27 regardless of the amount of money being paid.

In the programme, customers can get a three-day loan which can be taken as an overdraft. This will enable the business people to purchase beer even without money in their accounts. Karumba revealed that the loans can be repaid at the end of the weekend with some interest.

He said the programme aims at reducing losses occasioned by robberies or lost cash and also eliminating the risk of unethical practices by unscrupulous businessmen.

KenGen injects 25MW to grid, targets more

Published on Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 16:06

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has added 25.6 Megawatts (MW) to the national grid generated through its mobile geothermal well heads.

The wellheads, a first of its kind, are part of the company’s strategy to increase the amount of electricity produced for national consumption.

KenGen CEO Albert Mugo said the company will complete the final tests on the 14 mobile geothermal wellheads in December next year. This is expected to add 75MW to the national grid, a move expected to reduce electricity costs in the country.

He added, “The only challenge we have faced is the lack of an evacuation line for one of the well heads but we are working on this with partners.”

Speaking during a media tour of the Olkaria Geothermal power plant, Mugo said that the innovative technology will help Kenya tap into its geothermal resources faster to reduce the cost of power. He said that more power will enhance the country’s energy stability.

“We intend to cut costs by introducing wells that are not diesel operated. This will help us in the proper generation of electricity,” he said.

Geothermal well heads are quick to deploy units that allow the tapping of geothermal wells almost immediately after drilling. This is in comparison to the four or five years it takes to build a conventional power plant.

“It cost more than Sh400 million to drill a well. This means we have to wait for long to recover the colossal costs, some of which is borrowed.”

The government of Kenya is currently pursuing an ambitious programme seeking to add 5,000 MW to the national grid by 2017.

Currently the total national electricity output stands at slightly over 1,700 MW.

Naivasha gains from Mombasa’s declining tourism

Published on Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 06:55

The hotel and tourism sector in Naivasha town continues to flourish as tourists move from the coastal region circuit due to insecurity concerns.

Enashipai Spa and Resort hotel manager John Wambugu said if unchecked, insecurity will cost the government the much-needed revenue from the hospitality industry.

“There is a huge problem facing our tourism business. Both terrorism and travel advisories issued against Kenya will continue hurting us and this will make the government earn less from the sector,” Wambugu said.

The improved business in Naivasha, Wambugu said, can also be attributed to different recreational activities that the sub-county has to offer.

Wambugu cautioned that the government should take the insecurity threat seriously as no visitors would want to visit an area marred with insecurity. He said insecurity concerns are robbing the coastal region the visitor numbers.

He further condemned travel advisories issued to the foreign visitors, saying that they have been hurting the tourism sector.

Wambugu added: “Generalising the state of security in the country is not only going to scare the visitors but also contribute towards increment in insurance cover prices. This will further impact the sector negatively.”

Crater Lake Game sanctuary’s Solomon Kenga said the close proximity of Naivasha to Nairobi has worked to their advantage. Visitors are streaming in from the city, contributing to a thriving business.

Nakuru County, US state to sign partnership deal

Published on Tuesday, August 5, 2014 - 10:45

Nakuru County and USA’s North Carolina state are set to sign an agreement to establish a partnership to utilise each other’s best practices in research, technical assistance and development.

This was reached after several meetings held on Monday between the Nakuru County delegation and several institutions based in North Carolina.  Governor Kinuthia Mbugua initiated introductory meetings and dialogue to share potential partnership components that would form the basis of the agreement.

The validation of the agreement will see Nakuru County partner with key institutions that showcased a number of opportunities to be explored for partnership, including business investment, university to university partnerships, agriculture and economy co-operation.

In research, the focus will be mostly on cancer, which recently claimed Nakuru MCA Damaris Mbuthia and Gladys Wanjiku, christened the ‘Molo cancer girl’.

The institutions in the agreement include the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and North Carolina Central University – a leading research centre ranked as one of the best in the world.

Governor Mbugua said: “We will tap into these resources we have been presented with and I believe this will transform into development for Nakuru County.

“We are very impressed by the opportunities which we think are vital for our development agenda in Nakuru County.”

He added that the partnership will also result in improved standards of living for the people of Nakuru County. He said the partnership will also provide a forum for economic development, international trade and increased global understanding.

Mbugua was hosted at the North Carolina State Capitol where he met chief of staff Thomas Stith, who represented State Governor Patt McCrory.

The agreements will be signed after formulating the working plan in liaison with the respective government offices.

Egerton closure slows down business

Published on Monday, August 4, 2014 - 16:09

Business around Egerton University in Njoro has reduced significantly due to low student population.

This semester, only about 4,000 students are present compared to the usual 15000.

The most affected businesses have had to close down within the area while most groceries at Njokerio market open late. The hotels and cafeteria around Tatton close by 4 pm with traders opting for mechanisms to avoid losses.

Some of the traders have reduced their stock while others have resorted to not stocking goods that don’t sell better.

Evans Omondi, a tailor at Njokerio centre said, “There are few customers and I would rather do other things instead of waiting for customers who do not turn up.”

The low business has its effects on the institution as the JF Kennedy cafeteria is closed down.

On Sunday, shops within the JCR had not opened by 7.30am, an unusual scenario as the shops open earlier with the normal student population.

Business is expected to return to normalcy with the reporting of students who are on long holiday being early September. Additional first year students will also join the population, raising expectations for business operators in the area.

Mwalimu Sacco launches Nakuru branch

Published on Monday, August 4, 2014 - 13:25

Mwalimu Savings and Credit Co-operative Society (Sacco) over the weekend opened Nakuru branch offices, becoming the top savings group in the country, after it grew its loans book by Sh2.7 billion.

Speaking during the launch, commissioner of co-operatives Patrick Musyimi applauded the Sacco for its achievement of solidifying its position as the top lender in the country.

“I congratulate the top management and the membership of the Sacco for the rapid achievements aimed at realising economic growth in the country,” commissioner said.

“The move by the Sacco to open its doors to spouses of its members is also commendable as it is a sure way of bringing tailor-made services to all members to ensure growth.”

He said that Mwalimu Sacco, whose membership is mainly constituted of teachers, increased its membership to 57,277 from 54,664 a year earlier.

Musyimi added that the Sacco’s corporate governance training is a good step towards enhancement of decision making and accountability.

Mwalimu Sacco chairman Shem Motuka said the Sacco’s assets increased to Sh22 billion.

“Mwalimu’s growth is because of the large catchment areas that they have, all secondary school teachers, most of whom have stable incomes,” said Motuka.

He said the Sacco is planning to provide insurance brokerage to its customers in order to diversify Sacco income streams. Motuka also revealed that the Sacco, through its Child Hope Foundation initiative, awarded 50 scholarships worth Sh3.1 million this year to needy orphaned children.

He urged teachers and their spouses from across the country to invest in the Sacco as a way of eradicating poverty and grow the economy.

“The average savings per individual is Sh316,354 and I encourage you to prepare for your retirement through investing in the Sacco,” he said.