Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Community Solar Project Launched

YES Kenya News
Community Solar Project Launched!
Nairobi, Wednesday 31st March 2010
A partnership Project between YES Kenya and Solar Aid Kenya

The most talked about Solar Entrepreneurship Project finally came to being when the first two projects of the Community Solar Initiative were officially inaugurated yesterday 30th March 2010 in Kitui West Constituency, Eastern Province at St. Bridgits Syomunyu Girls Secondary School and Muvitha Secondary School. And now over 1000 families can benefit from the projects.
Kitui West Constituency is an electoral constituency in Kenya. It is one of four constituencies in Kitui District. The constituency was established for the 1966 elections.

After YES Kenya and Solar Aid agreed to work together during the Rework the World Meeting in Daresalaam it took close to one year before Solar Aid International Established its office base in Nairobi. It took two site visits, four meetings with Young Solar Entrepreneurs in both Kitui East and Kitui Central Cnstitutencies where the pilote Sunny Money Energy Kiosks are going to be established.

We also held a meeting with School and Clinic Heads who received application forms to apply for the institutional Soalar Pannels. The applications from the schools and clinics were brilliant and in two weeks record, the first two inaugural panels have been installed and ready to use. Each school is expected to set up a business social enterprise that will self sustain the projects and create revenue streams for the schools. The two schools will integrate Mobile Phone charging, hair cutting business and also small scale printing and photocopy services.

During the official inauguration ceremonies the community members were present, local leaders, youth and other stakeholders. The celebrations were mered with song and dance with the community happy that light had finally come closer to then and that the services they have been getting hundreds of kilometers away are now close to them.

In attendance was Mr. Jeremy Leged, the Chariman of the Board of Directors of Solar Aid and also Solar Century (UK), John Keane the Programs Manager for Solar Aid in Africa, Miguel Remirez the Project Manger for Solar Aid Kenya and the the Hon. Charles Nyamai the area Member of Parliarment.

All the leaders praised Solar Aid in Partnership with YES Kenya and the local leadership for starting up the project in the community. The Member of Parliament promised to subsidize the costs of the Solar Products for home Use by contributing an amount of 300 shillings per home that wil buy the products. He also promised to invest Kshs 5 Million for the Investment Projects that YES Kenya in partnership with other institutions will initiate in the Constituency to make it a Model Development Constituency in the region.

The Young Solar Entrepreneurship project is one of the Flagship projects of YES Kenya, that seeks to extingusish 1 million Kerosene Lamps in Kenya and create jobs for the youth as part of the Rework the world Initiative. This will be done through Entrepreneurship trainings, Renewable Energy initiatives, Solar Lamps Distribution Networks among others. The Pilotes are set to be Launched in different parts of Kenya the initial ones including Kitui, Bondo, and Western Kenya before July 2010.

YES Kenya would like to thank Solar Aid International for the initiative and would like to welcome other partners to invest in its ritch national Youth Network to create green jobs for the youth in the spirit of Reworking the World.

Kitui District- Position and Size 
Kitui district is one of the 13 districts of Eastern Province. It is located in the southern part of Kenya. It borders Machakos and Makueni districts to the west, Mwingi District to the north, Tana River district to the east and Taita Taveta district to the south. The district covers an area of approximately 20, 402 km2 including 6,90.3 km2 occupied by the uninhabited Tsavo National Park. The district is divided into 10 divisions 57 locations and 187 sub-locations. There are 4 parliamentary constituencies in the district. These are Kitui Central, Kitui West, Mutitu and Kitui South. There are two local authorities, namely Kitui County Council and Kitui Municipal Council. The total population of Kitui District is approximately 515,000.

Photos from the events will be posted in a short while.


YES…Every person is capable of leading and realizing their leadership abilities.
YES…The power of knowledge-sharing includes identifying, creating, disseminating, replicating, adapting, and learning successful practices.
YES…We must all be catalysts that inspire fresh and innovative approaches to human development.
YES…Youth are the creative change agents of today, and they must be helped in every way to drive this effort.



Adopt a change maker ...and be a part of the 5th Global YES Summit - Rework The World

Emmanuel Dennis Ngongo
YES Kenya Country Network
P.O. Box 8799 - 00200
Nairobi Kenya
Cell: +254 722619005

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Young Solar Entrepreneurs Program (News Updates)

So we have had two meetings for young entrepreneurs in Kitui West over the last month. We have met with over 15 Heads of schools and Clinics.

We held another meeting with 12 Young Entrepreneurs in Eastlands - Buruburu under the Auspices of the Emerging Leaders Initiative. Application forms were given and we hope to meet them yet again for the interviews in the coming week.

Wednesday 24th March 2010 marks a new twist in the Program, two schools have qualified to benefit from the Solar Installation. We are paying a visit to Kitui West Constituency to start the process of educating the school management on the importance of solar lighting. By end of the week on Saturday, the installations will have been done. Students in the schools will now enjoy extended hours of preparation for their exams. It is hoped that education standards will improve with students performance going up due to this very positive step.

As we travel to Kitui tomorow, I am proud that once again, another positive initiative, is taking shape, and that communities are going to be transformed due to this venture. 

We will finally rope in the young entrepreneurs next week as we oversee the progress of installations on schools. If this isn't a life changing story then I don't know what is.

An investment of Kshs. 900,000 will be going down to the community. The amount of time, in kind support and otherwise done here is immense, and I am proud to be associated with this initiative. 

Nairobi, Bondo and Western Kenya is coming soon.



Adopt a changemaker ...and be a part of the 5th Global YES Summit - Rework The World

Emmanuel Dennis Ngongo
P.O. Box 8799 - 00200
Nairobi Kenya
Cell: +254 722619005

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Awesome Africamp in Nairobi


Two days ago over 120 young people from over 24 African Countries arrived for the Africamp currently on going in Lukenya Getaway in Nairobi. The camp will be on until sunday this week. 

It is encouraging to see  a very high caliber of Participants who are involved in meaningful work in their communities coming together to form a strong community to promote open society ideals. First and second day of the Africamp have been very interactive, discussions on the African Youth Charter and the Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance were very well received. Most importanlty are the energies portrayed in the camp with the very enthusiatic youth promising to take on follow up activities to ensure rattiffication and implementation of the work by the African Union charters.

The sessions on New media, speed geeks, debates and open sessions have also been received very well. You can track the progress of the camp here where photos from the first sessions and the bush dinner have been uploded and tweeks from the participnts expressing their ideas very actively right here;

I am sure very interesting outcomes will be forthcoming and that some of the activities will be supported since the self drive of the participants is amazing. I will soon send you a snapshot of issues that will be standing out.

Emmanuel Dennis

Nairobi 16th March 5:16 PM

Debate Charges Day Two of AfriCamp

It is the second day of the AfriCamp and things keep getting better and better. After yesterday's entertaining Bush Dinner in which participants shade their activist seriousness and displayed their dancing, singing and rapping skills, the morning's air was rife with anticipation.

In the first session, experts from East and Southern Africa staged a model debate in British Parliamentary format. By the end of debate, the amount of energy in the room was so high that if someone had so much as lit a match, it would have caught fire!

The debate had been non-participatory and the participants were their chance to enter an argument or two. At the end , the panel of experts trained the participants in developing arguments, building them and how to present them.

Armed with newly found skills, the participants were now presented with a space to stretch their debating muscles in a public debate on the legalisation of  abortion. They were split into two groups depending on which side they believed in and once split, each side had to argue the side they were against. It was intersting how quickly the debate evolved and how easilyu people's attitudes were changed when they had to think like their opponets.

Day two- all gears are in motion and we are now going into the Open Space session

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Remittances update -- Africa General


Title: Remittances update
Author: edited by William Minter
Category: Africa General
Date: 3/10/2010
Source: AfricaFocus Bulletin
Source Website:

African Charter Article# 17: Every individual shall have the right to education, cultural life, and the promotion and protection of values.

Summary & Comment: This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from a press release on the October 2009 Global Forum on Remittances, facts and figures from IFAD on remittances in Africa, and excerpts from the report, Sending Money Home to Africa. WM

Remittances update

Editor's Note

A 2009 report from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) notes that some 30 million African workers outside their countries send home approximately $40 billion a year in remittances. But with only as many "payout" locations on the continent as in one Latin American country (Mexico), the process is expensive and dominated by two large money transfer companies which work primarily with banks. There are large untapped opportunities for lower costs, particularly for rural Africans, if more governments allowed and fostered the participation of post offices and micro-finance institutions in remittance transfers.

A 4-page newsletter, Financing Facility for Remittances, with a report on the 2009 Global Forum on Remittances is at:

For statistics on remittances to and within Africa, see:

For a previous AfricaFocus Bulletin on remittances, see:
"Africa: Sending Money Home," at
END editor's note

"Sending Money Home to Africa" - remittances hold immense untapped potential for the poor

An IFAD report explores how remittances could be catalysed through informed policy decisions. For this press release, as well as the full report, and links to statistical data and other reports, visit:

20 October 2009

African workers send home more than US$40 billion to the region each year but restrictive laws and costly fees hamper the power of remittances to lift people out of poverty, according to a new report by the UN's rural poverty agency, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). "Sending Money Home to Africa" [was] presented at the Global Forum on Remittances 2009, organized by IFAD and the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Tunis, Tunisia, on 22-23 October. Globally remittances top $300 billion per year, outstripping foreign direct investment and development assistance combined. But while transfer costs have declined significantly in Latin America and in Asia, sending money home to Africa is still expensive. Within Africa, costs can be as high as 25 per cent of the sum.

At the G8 summit in L'Aquila in July 2009, world leaders recognized the development impact of remittance flows and set a goal of reducing the cost of remittances by 50 per cent over the next five years, by promoting a competitive environment and removing barriers. The number of payout locations across the entire African continent is the same as Mexico, which has only a tenth of Africa's population. Between 30 and 40 per cent of all remittances to Africa are destined to rural areas where many recipients have to travel great distances to collect their cash. The report finds that simply by expanding the kinds of institutions able to conduct remittances services to include microfinance institutions and post offices, the number of payment points would more than double.

The IFAD report highlights how new technologies - such as cellphones - and existing infrastructure - particularly post offices or small retail outlets - could vastly increase the reach of remittance services. Algeria, where 95 per cent of remittances are paid through post offices, could be a model for other African countries. "Supporting this people-to-people money flow to rural areas of Africa is especially vital now because of the recession" noted IFAD Assistant President, Kevin Cleaver, before leaving for Tunis. The power of remittances can be catalysed by easing restrictions and making it less costly for African families to collect this money," he added.

Most money sent home by migrants is spent on daily consumption but research shows linking remittances to financial services for the unbanked - savings accounts, loans and insurance - allows even the very poor to save and potentially invest in the development of their community.

Notes to editors:

The Global Forum on Remittances 2009 is hosted by IFAD in partnership with the AfDB and in collaboration with the Inter-American Dialogue, from 22-23 October in Tunis. The 2009 Forum, will assess trends in remittances to Africa, amid the financial crisis, and identify policy solutions and will also host a Business Models and Technology Fair. IFAD's multi-donor Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR) was set up to support innovative cost effective and accessible remittance services. IFAD promotes partnerships between African microfinance institutions and financial institutions in the US to link remittances to other financial services. Ethiopian migrant families can access low cost transfer services and also be introduced to other financial products.

IFAD works with the Universal Postal Union to provide remittance services to rural areas using post offices, linking remittances to other financial services such as bank accounts savings and loans. ...

Data on Remittances in Africa

Source: IFAD Facts and figures


The African continent has over 30 million people in the diaspora. Of all the world's regions, however, Africa's predominant migration is the most intraregional. The fluid migration within Western Africa, for instance, is partly due to the region's status as a geopolitical and economic unit, but also to a common history, culture and ethnicity among many groupings. There is also significant international migration to former European colonial powers such as France, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Netherlands and Italy, among other countries.


Remittance flows to and within Africa approach US$40 billion. Countries in Northern Africa (for example, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt) are the major receivers in the continent. Eastern African countries depend heavily on these flows, with Somalia standing out as particularly remittance dependent. For the entire region, annual average remittances per migrant reach almost US$1,200 and on a country-by-country average represent 5 per cent of GDP and 27 per cent of exports.

Rural remittances

Remittances to rural areas are significant and predominantly related to intraregional migration, particularly in Western and Southern Africa. The mobility of Africans within these regions has been followed by the sending of regular amounts of money. Two thirds of West African migrants in Ghana remit to rural areas in their countries of origin.

Market and financial access

When compared with other regions, money transfers to Africa are among the most problematic, mainly due to the two major challenges faced by the continent: high rates of informality, particularly within the continent, and a regulatory environment that favours monopolies. Consequently, transfer costs are higher and remittance senders obtain less value for their money. Most African countries restrict outbound flows of money unless used for trading and money transfers to banking depositary institutions. As a result, informality emerges as a solution to the need to remit. Another effect, however, is the persistence of monopolies on transfers by banks and the few money transfer operators (MTOs).

In all of Western Africa, for example, 70 per cent of official payments are handled by one MTO, which demands exclusivity in money transfers of the banks. Nigeria is a case in point: nearly 80 per cent of transfers are handled by one MTO, which expects exclusivity and prevents other MTOs from contracting agreements with those banks that are the sole remittance payers in the country. Since banks are the only entities allowed to pay money transfers, all official flows end up being handled by a small group of financial institutions that rely on less than four MTOs. Migrants in South Africa are also faced with significant regulatory restrictions on sending money, and thus rely on informal networks.

Because regulatory environments often prevent other nonbanking financial institutions from making transfers, or restrict outbound transfers, financial access is also a casualty. As few institutions participate in the transfers, and banks do not cater to lower-income individuals, financial access among African senders and recipients is relatively low. In some countries, for example South Africa, barriers to entry relate to legal status, thus disenfranchising migrants. Other countries, for example Kenya, are seeking to increase financial access by leveraging remittance transfers through the use of mobile telephony.


Total number of emigrants: 32,808,000
Total remittances (US$ million): US$ 38,611 million
Central Africa: US$2,690 million
Eastern Africa: US$5,929 million
Northern Africa: US$17,614 million
Southern Africa US$1,979 million
Western Africa US$10,399 million

Indicators (weighted average)

Remittances per capita: US$44
Annual average remittances per migrant (unweighted average): US$1,177 Remittances as percentage of GDP: 5%
Remittances as percentage of exports 27%
Average share of migrants in total population: 3.7%
Average share of migrants in countries with a population under 1 million (unweighted average): 20%
Average share of migrants in countries with a population over 1 million
(unweighted average): 5%

Top 5 recipients by volume received (US$ million)

  1. Morocco: $6,116
  2. Algeria: $5,399
  3. Nigeria: $5,397
  4. Egypt: $3,637
  5. Tunisia: $1,559

6 out of 53 countries receive more than US$1 billion

Main migrant destination (and origin):

  • International:
    United States (Nigeria, Ghana);
    France (Senegal,
    Mali, Algeria, Morocco);
    the Netherlands (Morocco, Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  • Regional South Africa (Southern Africa);
    Cote d'Ivoire (Western and Central Africa);
    Nigeria (Ghana)

Cost range of sending: US$200 8 - 12%

Sending Money Home to Africa

October 2009



For the region as a whole, remittances far exceed official development assistance, and for many countries they exceed foreign direct investment as well.1 With investment and aid flows heavily under pressure as a result of the financial crisis, remittances remain a resilient and vital lifeline for tens of millions of African families. Nevertheless, despite the significant direct impact of remittances on the lives of recipients, these flows are not yet reaching their full development potential. This report outlines the main results of a study of regulatory issues and market competition in 50 African countries representing 90 per cent of remittance flows to the region. ...

High cost of African remittances ...

The cost of sending money to Africa, however, remains relatively high and subject to wide variations. Transfer costs from the United States are generally among the lowest, followed by transfer costs from Europe. The cost of sending remittances within the continent is far higher ... the cost of sending remittances from South Africa to other African countries is generally higher than sending money to Africa from abroad. These costs range from 12 to as high as 25 per cent of the amount sent. Remittances are particularly relevant - and particularly expensive - to Africa's underserved rural areas, which receive an estimated 30-40 per cent of all flows. Often these remittances are picked up far from home, and families must add substantial travel costs and time to the already high transfer fees. ...

Major findings

The African remittance market exhibits a low level of competition and has limited payout presence in rural areas. Two major money transfer companies control 65 per cent of all remittance payout locations. Effectively, 80 per cent of African countries restrict the type of institutions able to offer remittance services to banks. Exclusivity arrangements severely limit competition and create barriers to entry. More than 20 per cent of the people within the reach of MFIs receive remittances. Yet, MFIs currently represent less than 3 per cent of remittance payers. Post offices could potentially play a significant role in expanding remittance services.

Africa's remittance market

The formal market for money transfers to Africa is relatively young and faces the challenges typical of emerging markets. These issues include uncertainty about the volume of remittances, limited competition, high transfer costs and a lack of technological innovation (with the notable exception of mobile banking in Kenya and South Africa). A robustly competitive market is key to expanding financial access, because it drives market players to innovate and expand services to the underserved areas and groups. Competition drives technological innovation and reduces the cost of sending money home. ... these costs remain relatively high in Africa (especially within the continent) and are higher still in rural areas. ...

Remittance service providers for Africa: rule of money transfer operators

Money transfer operators (MTOs) dominate the market for transfers from the United States and European migrant destinations. There are fewer than 100 MTOs operating in the entire African marketplace, together comprising almost 90 per cent of all remittance service providers (RSPs). Of the MTOs, Western Union and MoneyGram are, by far, the most significant market players. As pioneers these companies were instrumental in creating the international network that has made remittance transfers possible. Both companies, however, have protected the returns on their initial investment by requiring that agents sign exclusivity agreements.5

These agreements effectively 'lock' more than half of all available payout locations. Because they apply to all agents - banks, foreign exchange bureaus and post offices, among others - an effective control of 65 per cent of the authorized payout market results. ... The continuing dominance of Western Union and MoneyGram is not a result of exclusivity agreements alone, however. Among the institutions paying out remittances there is also a lack of knowledge of the money transfer market. Many African banks incorrectly perceive Western Union and MoneyGram to be the only companies offering international money transfer services. As a result, banks are prepared to sign exclusivity agreements in return for guaranteed volume. ...

Remittance-paying institutions in Africa

Most regulations in Africa permit only banks to pay remittances. In most countries, they constitute over 50 per cent of the businesses paying money transfers. About 41 per cent of payments and 65 per cent of all payout locations are serviced by banks in partnerships with Western Union and MoneyGram. ... While non-bank RSPs play only a marginal role in most countries, there are alternative models that highlight the potential role of post offices, foreign exchange bureaus, retail stores and MFIs. Post offices, for example, constitute 95 per cent of the payers in Algeria, while MFIs constitute 29 per cent of the payers in the Central African Republic.

Money transfers paid by post offices

In Africa as a whole, post offices do not yet play a significant role in transferring remittances. The notable exception is Algeria, where the postal system is engaged in a partnership with the French postal system. Algerians sending money home from France have adopted the use of post offices as one of their preferred methods of sending remittances. While post offices have a strong geographical presence, they lack the capacity to pay remittances. Many cannot yet realize their full potential because they lack sufficient cash flow to pay transactions, effective communications infrastructure or properly trained staff. In total, about 20 per cent of all post offices in Africa currently pay remittances.

Post offices play a very significant role in rural areas: 74 per cent of all post office locations paying remittances are outside the capitals of their respective countries. The potential for increasing their market share is significant, especially in rural areas. There are also challenges, however, as 36 per cent of the post offices outside of Algeria are agents of Western Union and are bound by exclusivity agreements.

Money transfers paid by MFIs (micro-finance institutions)

In places where other non-banking financial institutions are allowed to transfer remittances, the participation of MFIs remains relatively limited. For the continent as a whole, only 3 per cent of payout locations are MFIs. But, as the example of the Central African Republic shows, MFIs can play a much greater role. ...

The role of non-bank financial institutions

Non-bank financial institutions such as credit unions or MFIs could potentially expand the reach of remittances and related services significantly. This is the case both in terms of geographical coverage and in terms of meeting the financial needs of the less wealthy client base. Regulations covering microfinance activities vary widely across Africa, in part because of the fact that virtually no microfinance legislation existed prior to 2007. In some cases, the only clearly regulated MFIs are cooperatives or credit unions, and in almost half the countries no specific MFI legislation exists. Even while several countries allow MFIs to carry out money transfer services, these organizations are faced with legal and institutional challenges. ...

According to the study, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Kenya are the only countries in which MFIs are allowed to carry out international money transfers. Even in these countries, however, their participation is limited by a lack of technical capacity enabling them to function as payers. Most countries prohibit MFIs from making money transfers. ...

Role of MFIs in remittance transfers and financial access ...

The role of MFIs is of particular interest, as these are present in more rural areas and specifically target market segments underserved by larger financial institutions. Expanding the role of MFIs could yield great benefits. The study shows, however, that two potential key changes would need to be addressed:

  1. First, regulatory frameworks need to be examined and streamlined to allow MFIs to play a greater role in money transfers and potentially in deposit-taking.
  2. Second, investments in the capacity of MFIs and their employees are needed to enhance their knowledge of new services, integrate new technology and ensure regulatory compliance. ...

Policy implications and recommendations

... this report advances several recommendations that can enhance financial access in Africa.

Improving information to improve policy decisions

As yet, relatively little is known about remittances to Africa. The key to both informed policy decisions and private-sector interest is the availability of timely, accurate information. As more information becomes available on a regular basis, governments, the private sector and the donor community are each better able to play their roles in maximizing the impact of remittances.

Pursue regulatory reform

Regulatory reform is central to leveraging the impact of remittances. There are a range of businesses that have the operational and financial capacity to conduct transfers, but that are not permitted to do so. When banks can perform transfers and MFIs can only act as sub-agents, both institutions suffer as they encounter barriers or lack incentives to enter the market. ... Allowing more actors to perform money transfers will expand the reach beyond banks and foreign exchange bureaus, allowing greater competition among RSPs. While there are eight banks on average in each African country, there are more than 15 MFIs, half of which are regulated, and at least three or four of which could compete as payers.

Africa has a very low number of payout locations. Mexico alone has almost as many payout locations as the entire African continent, despite having only one- tenth of Africa's population. Simply bringing MFIs into the market would double the number of payout locations.

Phase-out exclusivity agreements

Contracts that prevent agents from forming partnerships with other providers block competitors from entering the market. Given the fact that 60 per cent of payers in Africa are banks, and that 80 per cent of banks are already paying remittances, the opportunities for RSPs to enter the African marketplace are restricted. ...

IFAD Financing Facility for Remittances

IFAD's US$15 million, multi-donor Financing Facility for Remittances is funded by:

  • the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor,
  • the European Commission,
  • the Government of Luxembourg,
  • the Inter-American Development Bank,
  • the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, and
  • the United Nations Capital Development Fund.

The Facility works to:
(i) increase economic opportunities for poor rural people through the support and
development of innovative, cost-effective and easily accessible remittance
(ii) support productive rural investment channels; and
(iii) foster an enabling environment for rural remittances.

For more information, please visit:

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at: . Please write to this address to subscribe or unsubscribe to the bulletin, or to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. For a full archive and other resources, see:

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the AfricaFiles' editors and network members. They are included in our material as a reflection of a diversity of views and a variety of issues. Material written specifically for AfricaFiles may be edited for length, clarity or inaccuracies.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Questionnaire for Entrepreneurship curriculum

Dear Friends,

YES Kenya is conducting a survey among youth to find out the level of entrepreneurship training in Kenya. This information will enable YES Kenya to fine-tune a curriculum that will be piloted later this year.

It is anticipated that the training session will be nationwide, covering not just existing entrepreneurs, but all youths who aspire to one day venture into business.

Please take the time to fill out the survey and send it along to your friends. 

The link is with 10 questions that should take a maximum of 5 minutes to fill. You may also print out the questions and respond via email.


Emmanuel Dennis

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Treasury stares at the Noose

Treasury stares at the noose

Updated 13 hr(s) 5 min(s) ago

By James Anyanzwa and John Njiraini                          

Government operations could be paralysed as Parliament prepares to put Treasury to task for ignoring its directive.

As Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to table before the House the Supplementary and Revised Budget for the rest of the financial year some time this month, some MPs are incensed by what they called "a deliberate decision by Treasury to ignore a directive to institute a forensic audit on the budgeting process."

Eight months ago, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Finance and Budget compelled Treasury to undertake an independent forensic audit on the National Budget for the past three years following the infamous 'typing error' debacle that nearly exposed the public to a loss of Sh10.7 billion through the supplementary estimates.

Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and PS Finance Joseph Kinyua in a past media briefing. Photo: File

Although the directive by Parliament was adopted on May 13 last year, no move has been taken eight months down the line, something MPs interpret as arrogance by Treasury technocrats.

"I don't think anything has happened. There is no action that has been taken so far," a highly placed source who is a member of both the House Finance and Budget committees told The Financial Journal.

He said Parliament is preparing to put Uhuru to task to explain why Treasury ignored the directive as soon as he tables the Supplementary Budget for the remaining period of the current financial year.

This comes at a time when Treasury has embarked on the 2010/11 financial year budget preparation.

A fortnight ago, Finance PS Joseph Kinyua placed paid-up statements in local dailies inviting various stakeholders to submit their proposals for consideration in the 2010/2011 fiscal year budget in June.

Consult stakeholders

"In addition to compiling the annual Government estimates of revenues and expenditures for tabling in Parliament, the ministry similarly regards this period as important to consult stakeholders on key policy issues," he said.

The Financial Journal has established that the move is causing anxiety at the Treasury with fears that Parliament could delay the passing of the supplementary budget. This move now threatens to throw Government operations off track and affect the implementation of various development projects.

A supplementary budget usually introduces critical adjustments to the budget to reflect changed circumstances and allocate funds for immediate or emergency spending. This is because it contains major re-allocations within budgets of specific ministries.

Certainly, Uhuru will be seeking a Parliamentary approval to offset shortfalls in the

2009/2010 budget occasioned by unplanned spending on emergencies such as food, water and energy.

While it not clear how much money Uhuru will be asking Parliament to approve for spending, the Government cannot afford a protracted battle on the floor of the House that could result in any delay.

"I am yet to table the proposals before the Cabinet and therefore I cannot reveal how much we will be asking for," Uhuru was quoted saying last week.

The need for independent investigations became important after flaws were detected in the Supplementary Budget last year affecting 36 ministries.

Although Uhuru said the discrepancies were caused by a 'computer error', they expressed reservations about the budget making process and recommended that an external investigation be launched at the Treasury to find out if there have been anomalies in the last three budgets.

They also recommended that it must be established whether the discrepancies were as a result of computer software, malice or sabotage by Treasury officials and said officers responsible must be identified and punished.

However, investigations by The Financial Journal have established that while the audit was indeed crucial in restoring public confidence in the budget making process,

Treasury technocrats appear hesitant towards its implementation.

The decision by Treasury to sit on the directive and hope it would be forgotten has now come back to haunt the mandarins at Treasury Building.

Scuttle budget

Efforts to get comments from Treasury PS Joseph Kinyua failed as he was said to be in meetings while his phone went unanswered.

MPs are said to be plotting on how to corner the Minister by scuttling a quick passing of the supplementary budget.

Coming at a time when the House is hugely divided due to the manner in which the Government has been handling the war on graft, the move could prove costly to the economy.

The Government desperately needs funds to run its emergency programmes and complete ongoing projects.

Top on the list is a rescue package for a dairy sector teetering on the verge of collapse due to a milk glut that has resulted in thousands of litres of milk going to waste, and massive losses for farmers.

Co-operative Minister Joseph Nyaga has said he will soon petition the Cabinet to approve Sh1 billion for the industry.

Funds will also be required for resettlement and compensation of Mau forest settlers as the rehabilitation of the Mau Forest enters a crucial stage.

Also, Treasury will need to allocate funds for a referendum, as the constitutional review process enters the home stretch.

Besides, the Government will also be seeking to reduce allocations to various ministries after spending billions during the first half of this financial year on emergencies like importation of food due to a prolonged drought and addressing the energy crisis.

Though Treasury had hoped the directive to appoint an independent auditor to re-examine its financial activities would die a natural death, the inaction is now raising questions on Treasury's role, in as far as tackling corruption is concerned.

Since May 13 last year, several ministries have been hit with financial scandals, corruption and mismanagement.

The latest include the misappropriation of Sh100 million meant for the Free Primary Education programme, and the maize scandal that cost the country a staggering Sh2 billion.

While the two scams were investigated by independent forensic audits, critics believe a similar independent forensic audit of Treasury would have arrested the misconduct in the ministries at the centre of mega scandals.

Surprisingly, over Sh8 billion of the Sh10.7 billion identified in the flawed supplementary budget 'computer error' inquiry was actually in the budget of the Ministry of Education.

The Treasury audit was expected to determine and evaluate the objectivity, inadequacies, competence and due diligence of the institutions and persons engaged in the budget-making process.

-- ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
You can now collect and sign the petition for the forensic audit to Parliament here 

Petition Collection( Forensic Audit)

Dear Good Kenyans,
We are all set to have the petition collected country wide this week until Sunday the 7th March 2010.
For those who are willing to help in the collection of the petition are encouraged to get in touch with so that we can compel Parliament and subsequently the Treasury to execute the Forensic Audit as directed by the select committee and passed by Parliament. Noting from the attached piece for the standard Newspaper :Treasury Stares at the Noose

Monday, March 1, 2010

Kenya: Climate change a blessing? -- Ecology


Title: Kenya: Climate change a blessing?
Author: Pius Sawa, Lugari District
Category: Ecology
Date: 2/16/2010
Source: AlertNet
Source Website:

African Charter Article# 24: All peoples shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favorable to their development.

Summary & Comment: Western Kenya's Lugari district has long been a maize-growing area. But worsening drought, believed linked to climate change, has made the production of the region's once-reliable staple increasingly risky. "When I planted maize, the rains disappeared when the maize had reached knee height. The whole farm dried up, and I had nothing for food. My children could not go to school because I relied on maize as a cash crop also," said a farmer and a father of five. AB

Climate change 'a blessing' for western Kenya's farmers

Roselida Atieno, a farmer in western Kenya's Lugari district, weeds her young amaranth crop. The quick-growing, high-protein grain is replacing traditional maize crops in the drought-hit district and boosting income for farmers. Photo: Pius Sawa
Roselida Atieno, a farmer in western Kenya's Lugari district, weeds her young amaranth crop. The quick-growing, high-protein grain is replacing traditional maize crops in the drought-hit district and boosting income for farmers. Photo: Pius Sawa

Western Kenya's Lugari district has long been a maize-growing area. But worsening drought, believed linked to climate change, has made the region's once-reliable staple an increasing risk. "When I planted maize, the rains disappeared when the maize had reached knee height. The whole farm dried up and I had nothing for food. My children could not go to school because I relied on maize as a cash crop also," said Dan Asembo Shaban, a farmer and a father of five.

But farmers like Shaban have found an answer to their problems: Shifting to new crops that are both drought resistant and income-boosting. Shaban now has divided his one-and-a-half-acre farm into plots for sweet potatoes, grain amaranth, cassava and sunflowers. He also grows a variety of maize called Pioneer that matures in a quick seventy five days. A quarter-acre of sweet potatoes, he says, produces ten times as much income as the same plot of maize would have brought. Now he sells some of his crop at the nearest market, buys what maize he needs and uses the rest of his profits to pay school fees for his children. "I have been growing maize since 1964. But maize has taken me nowhere," he said.

Worsening drought has shortened western Kenya's maize-growing season. Five years ago, farmers in Lugari spent February preparing their land for the early rains. But now the rains come late. The land is dry, rivers run dry and life is hard for livestock and plants as well as people.

Staple maize becoming a luxury

Maize, once a staple, has become a luxury, its production so unreliable it cannot be a source of food and income, as it once was. But with help from researchers and funding from Kenya's government and international partners like the World Bank, other quicker maturing crops are now being adopted. Sweet potatoes, sunflower, grain amaranth, millet, and soybeans are some of the new crop varieties that mature within three months and now give farmers three harvests a year, up from two with maize. Sammy Tiego, one area farmer, has become one of the country's top small-scale producers and recently won an award as Kenya's best grain amaranth farmer. He is able to harvest 150 tons of the grain in a year from his three-acre piece of land.

Much of Kenya's amaranth crop is sold to processors, who mix it with other grains to make flour for bread and porridge. Amaranth is considered an immune-boosting food for people with HIV/AIDS because of its high protein content. Tiego now describes the changes in the rain pattern as a blessing, because grain amaranth is drought resistant and growing it has boosted his fortunes. "As you can see in my farm, the maize is struggling to survive, but the amaranths are celebrating," he said. Tiego says he was won over to growing amaranth, which is native to the Americas, after experimenting with a small plot in 2007, and reaping an overwhelming harvest, enough to pay his children's school fees for the year.

Amaranth is harvested three times in a year, and farmers can grow it using only farm manure from livestock and poultry as fertilizer. The grain is also productive in many ways, Tiego said. When young, the plant's leaves are eaten as a green vegetable. When mature, the grains are milled. After threshing, the remains are fed to animals. Marita Shikuku, another small-scale farmer and mother of three, says she now understands climate change as a measure of how much food she can produce from her small plot of land. She now grows cassava, sweet potatoes, and millet, producing enough to feed her children and bring in income for the family's other needs.

The new crops have brightened a once-dim outlook for the future in the area, turning a burden into a blessing, farmers said, particularly when combined with other climate change adaptation projects in the area, including tree planting, water harvesting and flood mitigation.

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