Jubilee keen on war against graft, says Attorney-General Githu Muigai
Updated Tuesday, August 6th 2013 at 23:14 GMT +3
Kenya: Attorney-General Githu Muigai has said the Jubilee administration is committed to fighting corruption.
The AG said that the recent steps taken by the government to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Corruption adopted by the General Assembly in 2003, and its subsequent domestication was a clear testimony to the resolve in the fight against the vice.
In a speech read on his behalf by Solicitor-General Njee Muturi during the opening of the Ethics and Leadership Workshop at the Mombasa Serena Beach Hotel, the AG added that the government had also enacted legislation to combat corruption.
“We have added to our armoury two key pieces of legislation – the Leadership and Integrity Act No 18 of 2012, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, 2013,’’ he explained.
In attendance are representatives drawn from the Anti-Corruption Commission, Public Service Commission, public institutions, county and national governments as well as the private sector and civil society.
Untold story of Kenya’s biggest mining contract
Updated Tuesday, August 6th 2013 at 23:21 GMT +3
|Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala. (Photo:Standard)|
Kenya: A director of Erad Suppliers seeking to auction assets of the cereals board over a Sh600 million debt owns shares in a mining firm whose licence was cancelled on Monday.
Documents in the possession of The Standard show that Mr Jacob Juma owns 30 per cent of Cortec Mining Kenya, a subsidiary of Canadian Pacifi c Wildcat Resources (PAW), a mineral exploration company.
Cortec Mining received the licence from the Government on March 26, the same day that the Supreme Court began hearing a petition by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga against the March 4 election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The licence was issued even as Kenyatta, then President-elect, ordered all ministers and Permanent Secretaries in the former Grand Coalition Government not to approve any contracts or licences on behalf of the incoming Jubilee government.
Cortec is among 31 mining firms whose licences were revoked by Mining Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala on Monday.
And it is now emerging that the discovery of niobium and rare earths in Kwale is at the centre of the cancellation of mining licences, The Standard has established.
Just a few days prior to its licence being cancelled, Cortec had announced the discovery of niobium and rare earths minerals whose value it estimated to be more than Sh51.2 trillion.
Managing Director David Anderson claimed the mineral find is the world’s sixth-largest reserve of the rare metal with a mine-life of up to 18 years.
Rare earths is used in modern technology including cars, phones, diode lights among others. Niobium is specifically used to make alloys for jet engines and to strengthen steel.
But Cortec has been in the crosshairs of government especially given its ownership structure and the nature of its licence.
A list of cancelled licences from the ministry singles out Cortec and another nondescript firm — Wanjala Mining Company Ltd — as operating under a special mining licence described as “the first of its kind.”
In documents filed with the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) and signed by Juma — and which are also in our possession — two UK firms jointly own 70 per cent in Cortec, while Juma owns the remaining 30 per cent.
This would put his share of earnings from the mine before statutory deductions at about Sh15 trillion, going by the value of the mine according to Cortes’s estimates.
The firm was issued with a Special Prospecting Licence (SPL), number 256, for about 610 square kilometres in Mrima Hill. It was initially issued for a two-year period from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2010.
The licence was renewed for two more years to March 31, 2012. However, in December 2011, the SPL was further renewed for a period of three years until December 1, 2014.
In announcing the cancellation of the licences on Monday, Balala noted that the months between January and May were a transition period and major policy decisions could not have been arrived at as Parliament had been dissolved, and there was no substantive Cabinet and Minister to oversee the licensing.
Balala also suspended Commissioner for Mines and Geology Moses Masibo on allegations he overstepped his mandate.
The production of rare earths is expected to average between 2,900 tonnes and 3,600 tonnes of niobium concentrate per year.
Cortec identified four potential sites for the construction of the processing plant in Kwale County, including Kiruku Hill, Mwanguda, Kikoneni near Ramisi and Mwabovo on the foot slopes of Mrima Hill Forest Reserve.
The company estimates that at a production rate of 60ktpm (thousand tonnes per month), the mine will last about 20 years.
World production of this mineral grew to 100,000 metric tonnes in 2009. According to the British Geological Survey, Brazil produces about 95 per cent of output, followed by Canada.
The Kenya Chamber of Mines says more than 300 local and foreign firms are now either prospecting for minerals or producing on a small scale, 10 times as many as three decades ago.
And most of the licences were issued under questionable circumstances to unqualified people and companies. The licences were allegedly awarded after the dissolution of the 10th Parliament, with Balala saying that there was no proper legal framework for the process.
Also revoked were all licenses of mining companies that are registered under the Export Processing Zone Authority. The companies were allegedly operating under the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) to evade taxes.
Balala also revealed that royalties on minerals have been increased from August 1, 2013.
Firms that have been affected include Carbacid to extract carbon dioxide gas in Uasin Gishu, Madini Mining Company to prospect for iron ore in Kwale and Anglo African Resources to prospect for industrial minerals in Kilifi and Kwale.
Others include Dangote Quarries Kenya, Nobis Company, African Live Transport and Mineral Ventures, M-Benisa Ltd that prospected for precious and non-precious minerals in Kwale, Julius Gatimu Waithaka prospecting for gemstones in Kwale, Potterman Enterprises for non-precious metals in Kwale and Robert Lee-Steere East Africa prospecting for all minerals in Turkana.
Four of the revoked licences were issued as “Mining Licence under Mining Locations” and the rest, “Exploration Under Special Licence”.
Company bosses grilled on dubious gold trade
Updated Tuesday, August 6th 2013 at 21:43 GMT +3
Kenya: Directors of two gold-exporting companies were hard put to explain where they get their commodity, with an MP claiming export payments amounting to millions of shillings are paid in Nairobi.
Mathira MP Peter Kinywa termed it a big joke that the two companies were allegedly given clearance by the Commissioner of Mines not to declare source of gold they export.
Mr Arvin Pattni, one of the directors of Ushindi Exports Ltd and Mr Gikonyo, a director of Skyhawk International, claimed before the Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Natural Resources led by Amina Abdallah they do not keep names and identification numbers of the people who supply them with gold.
He added: “Individual artisans tend not to have mining licences and their possession is illegal. That is why they avoid registering their identities.”
Ms Abdallah asked Gikonyo to prove the payment from gold exports are indeed from Dubai and not from a forex bureau in Nairobi, in a strategy to defraud the country of money. Gikonyo and Pattni promised to furnish the committee with the documents.
Gikonyo said the person who allegedly brings money from Dubai to pay and collect the gold often doesn’t leave the visitors’ arrivals lounge within the airport. “It is me who collects the money after getting clearance from Kenya Airport Authority.”
Kenya opposes plan to hand over Kismayu port
Posted Tuesday, August 6 2013 at 23:30
Capital FM (Nairobi)
Kenya: Uhuru Returns From Amisom Summit in Kampala5 August 2013
The summit, attended by Ethiopia's Premier Hailemariam Desalegn, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia, host president Yoweri Museveni and representatives from other member states, assessed the successes, challenges and the future of AMISOM.
At the summit, leaders protested the unfair accusations, deliberate distortion of facts and bad mouthing against AMISOM countries.
Statements appearing in the Kenyan and Somali media, attributed to the Somali delegation, said Kenya should withdraw its troops from the Horn of Africa country.
Following strong objections by Kenyan and other regional countries representatives, the Somali delegation at the Summit withdrew the statement.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the summit, regional leaders noted that Kenya's frontline role in peace initiatives in Somalia had led to major achievements, including liberation of the Port of Kismayu.
President Kenyatta told the summit that AMISOM's intervention in Somalia had made it one of the successful peace-keeping operations by Africa for Africa.
The summit chaired by President Museveni was organized to harmonize ongoing anti-Al Shabaab offensives.
Manhunt starts for accused Chinese nationalBy JULIET KIGONGO & DEAR JEANNE
Posted Tuesday, August 6 2013 at 01:00
The Deputy Police Spokesperson, Mr Patrick Onyango, said a number of officers were out hunting for the suspect and his sureties.
Justice Albert Rugadya Atwooki had cancelled Mr Yang’s bail despite paying a cash bail of Shs100 million and each of his sureties granted a bond of Shs100 million.
Kenyan soldiers aided illegal Somalia charcoal export - U.N
Posted Sunday, July 14 2013 at 12:15
"In fact, its shareholding in Kismayu charcoal, in combination with its (al Shabaab's) export revenues at Barawe (town) and its taxation of trucks transporting charcoal from production areas under its control are likely exceeding the revenue it generated when it controlled Kismayu," it said.
In the 1990s the Horn of Africa country imploded amid clan warfare after the overthrow of a dictator and became virtually lawless for two decades. AMISOM was created in 2007 to support efforts to restore order in Somalia, and today the mission's troops are mostly from Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Kenya.
Sabahi (Washington, DC)
Kenyan Civil Society Leaders Report Intimidation, Threats5 August 2013
"SMS threats have come to a number of us including myself and I reported to Kileleshwa police station on Friday," he said, according to Kenya's Capital FM. "We do not think it is helping to take that route. We think it is important for our leadership to give everyone a voice and assuring protection."
On behalf of civil society leaders, Odhiambo called on Kenyan leaders to ensure civil society leaders' safety and asked the Ministry of Interior to investigate the source of the messages.
"Targeting civil society organisations and individuals will not sort out the problems we have in this country," he said. "In fact, that will only compound the problem. Let everyone air out issues that are affecting this country freely."
How Kenya exports hundreds of jobs at the expense of unemployed youth
Updated Monday, June 24th 2013 at 15:13 GMT +3
Kenya: Kenya imports eggs from South Africa, millions of toothpicks from China and over 500,000 tonnes of vegetable oils.
While these products can be produced locally, the country has been importing them over years.
It is not that we lack a labour force to produce the products. There are thousands of unemployed people searching for work.
Interestingly, the country has more than five cement manufacturing companies, yet it allows Chinese firms constructing roads to import the commodity, thus outsourcing Kenyan jobs to China. On average, Kenya spends Sh100 billion per month on home use imports. This represents six per cent of the country’s Sh1.6 trillion total budget.
Last year, Kenya paid Sh50 billion to bring into the country maize, rice and un-milled wheat, all of which can be produced locally. Another Sh2 billion was paid for wheat flour while sugar, molasses and honey attracted Sh17 billion import bill.
Kenya has spent Sh74.5 billion to import paper since Webuye-based Pan Paper Mills closed down four years ago. This is eight times more than the debt the paper factory owes. The firm sunk into Sh9 billion debt before it went into receivership.
When Kenya Power switched off the paper firm over Sh100 million bill, more than 4,000 direct jobs were lost. Another 30,000 youths, who were employed indirectly, were also locked out of employment. The Government has looked away as thousands of jobs created along the value chain, including transport and hospitality fall on the wayside. Despite this, the appetite for importing paper continues to rise.
Pan paper is not the only company that has gone down. Several firms in textile industry have closed shop, making the country export most of the jobs to the west through second hand clothes.
Kenya’s import bill soared to Sh800 billion last year alone in a trend that has seen the country export thousands of jobs despite the unemployment crisis.
“There are Chinese companies importing cement to construct our roads, yet we have local companies like East African Portland Cement. This must stop,” Labour Cabinet secretary Kazungu Kambi told The Standard in an interview.
Former Industrialisation PS Nderitu Muriithi argued in an opinion piece published in local dailies that if Kenya can produce sunflower and cashew nuts more efficiently and in large scale, the sector alone can create one million jobs in farming and 500,000 in processing. Last year, the country spent Sh54 billion importing animal and vegetable fats and oils to manufacture edible oils and soaps. The fact that Kenya imports things it can easily make has seen the country import three times the value of goods it exports.
Players in the retail chain sector, who form the bulk of importers, have dismissed claims that imported goods have better margins on grounds that there are hidden costs along the line.
“It is just an imagination that when you import, you have better margins. We have done a cost study and this is why we have turned to locally manufactured goods. When you import, you have to look at other costs such as financing, insurance, freight, demurrage and customs,” Jonathan Ciano, Uchumi supermarket CEO told The Standard. Mr Ciano added that unless one is
bribing officials along the line to evade taxes or dealing in distress cargo, then locally manufactured are better.
“With the case of distress cargo, one will make more profits but risks ending up with expired goods on the shelves or goods that have no demand. But importing is not necessarily a bad thing, but we have to let it be done by specialists, who are local companies,” Mr Ciano said.
He argued that the country should instead import goods it has no capacity to produce while developing competencies on local production. By deliberately purchasing locally made products, manufacturers argue that gives them economies of scale and in turn lower costs.
Kenya’s major imports include petroleum products, machinery and transport equipment, electronics, motor vehicles, iron and steel, as well as plastics. The main beneficiaries of these imports are India, China, UAE, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, United States and Japan. Ironically, the country wants to become middle-income economy by 2030. This is in direct contrast to Asian counterparts, who have focused on exports, creating jobs for locals while travelling the same path.
Manufacturers have on numerous occasions decried Kenya’s love for imported goods at the expense of local industry.
“We can start with textiles and apparels for the army and prison officers. We can also do furniture, stationery and paper products,” said Betty Maina, CEO of Kenya Association of Manufactures (KAM), the industry lobby group.
“We can also assemble cars and produce basic consumables to increase the number of people we are employing,” Ms Maina said.