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Archive for July, 2011

KENYA CHOSEN TO BE KEY OIL BUSINESS PARTNER AS SOUTH SUDAN GETS INDEPENDENCE

South Sudan plans to build a link to a pipeline in Kenya to export its oil after breaking away from the north today, a minister revealed to InsideKenyaToday on Wednesday.

The south will control 75 percent of the African country’s 500,000 barrels a day production beginning today.

Map of Sudan showing the oil rich areas and pipeline

So far, the underdeveloped south will have to rely on northern facilities such as its refineries and the only port to sell the oil, the lifeblood of north and south.

The announcement caused concern in Khartoum which was counting on the south at least paying it fees to transport southern oil through northern pipelines — to cushion the blow of losing the southern oil revenues.

Anthony Makana, minister of roads and transport, said the south was in talks with several oil firms to build a 200 kilometre long link to the existing South-Eldoret-Mombasa pipeline in Kenya.

“To build a pipeline is a very easy thing for us,” he told reporters in the southern capital Juba, putting the cost at a “few million dollars.”

He said such a pipeline would help the south to export its oil to African neighbours such as Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Makana also said some oil fields contained more gas than oil, making it “economically viable to extract gas and then oil from some fields.” He gave no further details, including how long such a project might take.

The government has said in the past it was interested in finding new routes for its oil but so far failed to give concrete details.

Oil rich Abyei area that has been the source of conflict between the northern and the southern

Fractious relations in Sudan are set to be tested further as the now independent South appears to have chosen Kenya as a trade partner for its rich oil reserves.

The apparent pledge to hook up to a Kenyan pipeline may cause major disruption to oil production from today when the world gets its newest country.

South Sudan will break away from current day Sudan today following a referendum months ago in which the southerners declared to be independent and autonomus from the north.

Sudan’s President, Omar Bashir, recently threatened to turn the taps off on oil production from the South if it did not accede to demands to guarantee the North a cut of future oil revenues, or payment for using its downstream infrastructure.

The idea of exporting oil from the South through Uganda and Kenya has been floated, as has the idea of routing a pipeline through neighbouring Ethiopia and on through Djibouti.

Under the terms of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war with the north, South Sudan keeps half the revenues from oil drilled in its territory. However, as the deadline for secession draws near, the north is anxious to hammer out a deal to secure its financial future.

“I give the south three alternatives for the oil,” Bashir said at a rally in Khartoum in late June.

“The north is to continue getting its share, or the north gets fees for every barrel that the south sends to Port Sudan. If they don’t accept either of these, we’re going to block the pipeline.”

Sudan began exporting crude in late 1999. In 2009 it was estimate to be producing 486,700 barrels per day, putting it at 31st in the world in terms of producing countries, according to CIA information.

It has proven oil reserves of 6.8 billion barrels as of last year placing it number 20 on the world list, according to the CIA. Proven natural gas reserves last year stood at 84.95 billion cubic metres, according to the data.

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Corruption Puts Kenya’s Educational Funding at Risk

Woman sitting next to posters dislaying need for Education Minister's step down amid 4b scam

WITH tens of millions of dollars already missing in Kenya’s Ministry of Education, the corruption scandal currently rocking Kenya’s schools threatens to cost the country millions more.

With efforts to reform Kenya’s notoriously corrupt public sector ongoing, 2011 has already seen its share of scandals ripple through Nairobi and the halls of the country’s parliament.

A group of activists have been camping outside the Education Ministry’s gates with placards chanting the resignation of the Minister, an effort that has been disrupted severally.

According to Okiya Omtata, an activist the group is determined to throw out the sitting officers out of office however long it takes.

“We have declared to camp here till the officers implicated step out of office and we get new replacements to spear-head the vital ministry,” Omtata told InsideKenyaToday.

Lawmakers have been accused of trafficking narcotics, illegally importing vehicles and overpaying for foreign embassies abroad in various cases of graft. But in a country where political corruption is commonplace, a new scandal has Kenya’s politicians running for cover like never before.

In parliament, Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta presented the results of an internal investigation which found that over 4.2 billion Kenyan shillings – about $46 million – was missing from the Ministry of Education.

More specifically, Kenyatta revealed the money had been stolen from President Mwai Kibaki’s landmark initiative to provide free primary education for every Kenyan.

With the stigma of stealing from Kenya’s children too great to bear, blame is being passed quickly by Kenya’s lawmakers. The heaviest criticism has thus far fallen on Education Minister Sam Ongeri, who has been forced to deflect a barrage of criticism in Kenya’s parliament.

Education minister Sam Ongeri in a recent press conference

“My conscience is free and clear because I have done my duty to the best of my ability,” said Ongeri.

He added, “I realize that this being an election year, some people would like to engage in smear campaigns.”

Ongeri was lambasted by Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who said the amount stolen was actually as high as $50 million.  The findings, though controversial are not actually new. The missing funds were first reported in November of last year by the a section of media.

Those involved in the Ministry of Education have maintained their innocence, but critics such as anti-corruption chief Patrick Lumumba, say they have done nothing to rout out the thieves in the months since the charges were made public.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education James Ole Kiyiapi, who oversees the ministry’s day-to-day operations, has had to defend himself against similar calls for his resignation.

“I have nothing to resign over,” said Kiyiapi.

“It is not even an issue.This is an issue I should not have ever had to explain. I am the PS who came in to help sort out the mess. I didn’t come in because I was part of the mess.” added Ole Kiyapi.

The education scandal threatens to become more than a typical Kenyan corruption case, as the release of the official report has prompted international involvement. The United Kingdom – which initially contributed about $77 million to Kenya’s free primary education program – has demanded a refund of its money.

According to Elimu Yetu Initiative, the $46 million reported missing from the Ministry of Education would be enough to cover one year of school fees for the nearly 4 million Kenyan children currently out of school.

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THE 426 MILLION BRIBE WAS DESGNATED FOR A POWER STATION

A Sh426 million bribe was paid for the construction of a power station in Kenya, according to foreign investigations.

This is one of the 53 charges facing Nambale MP Chris Okemo and former Kenya Power and Lighting Company boss Samuel Gichuru, who the foreign authorities want extradited to face trial.

Chris Okemo (left) and former Kenya Power and Lighting Company boss Samuel Gichuru

Kenya’s Attorney-General Amos Wako on last Friday confirmed receiving files from authorities in Jersey on the warrants of arrest against the said former top government officials

Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko on Wednesday 6th ordered to start proceedings which could lead to their extradition following  ‘voluminous documents’ the AG Amos Wako received from Jersey that had asked  Tobiko to constitute a team to attend to them.

Mr Wako described the files as complex and voluminous, and directed Mr Tobiko to “immediately constitute a high level team, if he has not done so already, to study and analyse the supporting documentation and deal with the matter soonest”.

Mr Okemo, who is currently the member of parliament for Nambale Constituency, served the Moi regime as a Cabinet minister in the energy and finance portfolios. Mr Gichuru was a long time chief executive of the state electricity utility firm Kenya Power and Lighting Company.

Detectives established that £3 million (Sh426 million) was paid to Winward Trading Ltd, a company associated with Mr Gichuru, in regard to construction of Kipevu II power project at the Coast.

Kipevu II power station destined to be constructed by the said lost millions

“The said payments were corrupt payments made for the benefit of Mr Gichuru, Mr Okemo and others with intent to cause benefit to themselves and prejudice to KPLC,” reads part of charges presented to a magistrate in the Island of Jersey, United Kingdom (UK).

The charge adds the payment was meant to “award and approve contracts relating to the construction and operation of the Kipevu II power station.

Jersey authorities accused the two of concealing the payment, made by Wartsila NSD Nederland, a company in Finland, as “consultation fee.”

The offence is alleged to have taken place between May 6, 1997 and October 19, 2001, when Kenya was liberalising power generation and using independent power producers to boost KPLC supplies.

Scrupulous Corrupt payments

Another charge against Mr Gichuru reads: “(He) falsely defrauded KPLC by representing the price for a contract to John Brown Engineering Ltd comprised only legitimate charges when they were in fact inflated to meet the cost of corrupt payments.” That offence was allegedly committed in 1997.

Mr Gichuru faces 40 counts and Mr Okemo 15 counts relating to fraud, money laundering and misconduct in public office. Mr Michael Denis Kinyanjui, a former senior manager of Finnish energy developer a, Wartsila Ltd, is also mentioned in the cases but has not been charged.

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YOUTH FUND TO BE TRANSFORMED INTO YOUTH BANK

The government is in the process of transforming youth fund to a youth bank through pilot project of the Grameen model of banking, the youth fund Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mwatata Juma Mwangala has disclosed.

Youth Fund CEO Juma Mwangala addressing journalists

The Kenyan government introduced the Youth Enterprise fund as a key tool to fighting youth unemployment 6 years ago, a rotating fund that has seen many youth form groups and benefit out of the fund through self initiated projects in different parts of the country.

Speaking in Kisii during a stockholder’s forum, the CEO said the government will select 8 counties for a start depending on the poverty index before spreading all over the country depending on the outcome.

Grameen bank is a microfinance and a community development bank which was started in Bangladesh to alleviate the poor and uplift the youth to transform themselves. It makes small loans to the impoverished without requiring collateral

He said the youth fund will be piloted in the next financial year by Grameen pilot projects which will be doing much of the work currently done by other financial institutions.

Kenyan Youth engage in pay-footbal table

“It will be a big step because the banking institutions charge high rates to groups thus discouraging the youth from accessing the government funds to boost themselves,” Mwangala told InsideKenyaToday

He said his office is consulting widely so that it can meet the required conditions set by the central bank adding that they have carried out a lot of studies in countries that have succeeded in areas of financial banking such as Bangladesh.

He observed that by so doing the government will have transformed youth fund from just being a Parastatal to a youth bank which will finance not only short term but also long term finances to develop industries in each county. Mr. Mwangala called on local authorities to partner with the youth groups and give them land to develop facilities for business adding that at the moment the fund has partnered with Muranga, Meru and Mavoko local authorities.

He said in Kisii, a total of Ksh 100,000,000 million has been disbursed the Youth Enterprise Fund and Ksh. 19.5 million through the constituent loan since the programme started 5 years back.

The CEO disclosed that Ksh. 3.6 billion has been disbursed nationally saying his office is moving all over the country to involve stakeholders including the provincial administration and grass root leaders who will sensitize the youths on the funds.

He noted that through the stakeholders it will be easier to access the youths who are not informed on the projects the government is undertaking throughout the country.

The Kisii forum was the third nationally after Embu and Muranga. The CEO said learning institutions like colleges, village polytechnics and universities will be involved to reach the youths.

He called on youth officers to advise the groups on how to apply for loans and write proposals adding that the government is urging financial institutions to set conditions that are youth friendly to encourage more applications.

“Women can access the loans from youth and women funds and actually they are the best in repayment but a few have applied for the same,” he told InsideKenyaToday.

He however said that individual persons will not get access to the funds and called on those willing to be in groups and visit offices to be able to get the loans to enable them move forward.

Mr. Mwangala said in the next financial year, there will be in every county to bring the services closer to the youths noting that currently there is a shortage of offices countrywide making it a challenge in managing the funds.

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DROUGHT HIT KENYA’S ARID AREAS

Animals claimed by scotching drought in El-Wak

The scotching drought situation in Kenya is ravaging lives of both people, plants and livestock in the greater arid areas of the country.

Successive poor rains coupled with rising food and fuel prices are leading to a worsening food security situation with alarming levels of acute malnutrition being recorded in drought affected parts of Kenya, mainly in the north of the country.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 2011 is the driest period in the eastern Horn of Africa since 1995 “with no likelihood of improvement until early 2012”.

“From the nutrition point of view, it is possibly the worst we have seen in the last 20 years,” Noreen Prendiville, chief of nutrition at the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Kenya office told InsideKenyaToday, noting that increased global acute malnutrition rates of over 35 percent are being seen in some drought-affected areas.

“In less serious situations, one would hear so many requests for assistance with livestock or water, but just now, the number one request is food and the need is substantial and urgent.”

While past droughts have been longer, such as the 2008-09 one, “the current drought is severe, and its impacts have been exacerbated by extremely high food prices, reduced coping capacity, and a limited humanitarian response,” said the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

“The high food and fuel prices have affected the capacity of the very poor to buy food and to access basic services… The international response has been affected by the global economic crisis,” Prendiville said. “The problem of insecurity too has caused a lot of displacement.” she added.

The predominantly northern pastoral region is often the scene of resource-based clashes leading to the displacement of some communities. In May alone in Turkana, 16 armed livestock raids took place with thousands of heads of livestock stolen, according to data compiled by the UN.

Failed harvests

According to UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), two consecutive below-average rainfall seasons have resulted in failed harvests, depletion of grazing resources and significant livestock mortality in the Horn of Africa region. In Kenya, FAO added in a statement, the food security situation is expected to further deteriorate as milk production in the drought-affected areas has collapsed and will not recover until October when the short rains are expected to start.

In the northeastern Garissa region, the food scarcity has led to an increase in the number of people relying on food aid. “Most farmers have lost their livestock. The situation is moving from bad to worse,” Garissa District Commissioner Samson Macharia told InsideKenyaToday.

The price of many basic foodstuffs has soared Macharia said the number of food aid recipients in Garissa County, excluding those in the Ijara area, had risen to 116,850 – up from 101,600 in March. This total represents about 40 percent of the county’s population.

A planned food security assessment is expected to further increase this number, he said.

Food prices have shot up in Garissa, like elsewhere, with a kilogramme of meat selling at about 400 shillings (US$4.7) compared to 250-300 ($3-$3.5) in 2010. The price of a litre of milk has also almost tripled to 80 shillings (95 US cents) over a similar period, Garissa trader Hassan Ali Ibrahim, told InsideKenyaToday.

“There is no milk, no meat. The livestock have died or migrated to Somalia,” said Ibrahim. “The children are emaciated and having diarrhoea. If you are human, you would be affected by the situation here.”

According to FAO, wholesale maize prices in Kenya in May in the main urban markets of Nairobi and Mombasa were 60-85 percent above the levels of May 2010.

Its a worrying trend that the issue of food insecurity is a thorn in the flesh of many Kenyans who for one are voiceless for a long time but there could be hopes of the government to curbing the situation.

Welcome to InsideKenyaToday

PREAMBLE

Kenya as a republic located in the Eastern Africa region is home to several cultures. Dynamic to its several culture is also the overtones of its political arena that keeps on varying as it advances in its maturity in multi-party democracy.

Location of kenya

InsideKenyaToday will shade light to the political, social-economic and cultural aspects of of the now one among the fast growing economies in Africa.

On Kenya’s culture, we will prioritize the inherited positive culture as well as the perverted culture that has raised discussions in the national agendas of the On the political arena, Kenya has emerged an example in the rest of Africa to embrace the aspect of a coalition government that saw the end of tribal clashes that was witnessed in the last general election of 2007/ 08 orchestrated by a disputed election result.country.

The Agricultural phenomenon being a key income earner in Kenya will be another point of interest as the natives and other settlers now nationals own huge tracks of land for commercial agriculture in some areas.

We will be focusing on the voices of the voiceless and human rights discussions where we will spot focus on human rights violations that need to be given an highlight.

The sports factor is another side of the coin we will be checking into,as the country is rich in more especially the athletics platform.

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