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Special cells for female terror convicts at Langata Women’s Prison

Langata Women’s Maximum Security Prison in Nairobi.


Langata Women’s Prison has become the first penal institution in Kenya to host a separate holding block for female terror convicts.

This is after the facility, which has the capacity to hold 12 people, was officially handed to prison authorities by the British Council and a United Nations agency on Wednesday.

The holding block is meant to separate criminals convicted of extremism-related charges, who are considered high risk, from the rest of the general population in efforts aimed at curbing radicalisation at the facility.

It also comes with two guardrooms, and will accommodate the convicts as well as their children.

The block will soon be surrounded by a perimeter wall backed up by two watch towers to ensure maximum security.

The new facility was built after a manual from Kenya’s strategy on countering violent extremism, first launched in 2016 by President Uhuru Kenyatta, recommended separating terror suspects at correctional facilities across the country.

The manual recommends their separation be done in a manner that does not dehumanise the convicts’ rights as human beings.

As a strategy, this requires careful handling to ensure that violent extremist prisoners do not get to form exclusive groups behind bars, while also ensuring there is no discrimination.

The booklet was produced after the national strategy on countering violent extremism identified prisons and remand centres as hotspots of radicalisation in the country.

Other hotspots include educational and religious institutions, the internet, media and refugee camps.

According to prison officials, the country is currently holding less than 100 terrorism and violent extremism-related convicts in its 129 penal institutions.

Speaking during the handing over ceremony on Wednesday, Deputy British High Commissioner to Kenya Josephine Gauld said the facility was built by the British Council through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at a cost of Sh10.7 million.

“This is very important because we do not want these convicts who have already been radicalised in a range of different settings getting to radicalise other vulnerable prisoners once detained. So we want to keep them separate and run a rehabilitation programme to help them understand what they have done and really think about the consequences of their actions,” she said.

Commissioner General of Prisons Wyclife Ogallo said the block will help with rehabilitation of high risk offenders and called on prison staff to uphold integrity while handling them.

“We’d rather they be hosted where they are not able to radicalize the general population,” said Mr Ogallo.

UNODC also helped with construction of the Kahawa Law Courts, Kenya’s first court dedicated to handling terrorism offences, in partnership with the Kenya Prisons Service. –

Dubai is making its own fake enhanced rain to beat 122F heat

The monsoon-like downpour drenches a busy highway, causing tricky driving conditions for the stream of SUVs. Sudden waterfalls appear on the side of the road.
It would be a common sight in parts of Southeast Asia, but this is the United Arab Emirates, in the height of a summer heatwave which has seen temperatures regularly surpass 120F.
And according to the UAE’s National Center of Meteorology, the precipitation was enhanced by cloud seeding operations to increase rainfall in the Gulf country.
On Sunday, the UAE’s national weather service released video footage of the heavy downpours.
Its cloud seeding operations are part of an ongoing mission to generate precipitation in the Middle East country, which has an average rainfall of just four inches.
The enhanced rain is created using drone technology that unleashes electrical charges into clouds in order for them to clump together and form precipitation.
The National reported the heavy rainfall caused waterfalls to appear in the city of Ail Ain and made driving conditions hazardous.
In an effort to curb the country’s sinking water table, the UAE invested $15 million in nine different rain-making projects in 2017.
To find out what others are saying and join the conversation scroll down for the comments section or click here for our most commented on articles
The current system being used to change the electrical charge of the clouds is being led by researchers at the University of Reading in England. Professor Maarten Ambaum, who worked on the project, told the BBC in March that the UAE has enough clouds to create conditions conducive to rain.
The project tries to get the water drops to merge and stick when they receive an electrical pulse, “like dry hair to a comb”.
“When the drops merge and are big enough, they will fall as rain”, Prof Ambaum told the BBC.
Applying electrical shocks to clouds is preferred as it doesn’t require the use of chemicals.

Record number of migrants cross Channel in one day

A second boat load of 42 migrants, some of which are children arrive onto UK shores onboard the Dungeness RNLI lifeboat after being intercepted by Border Force off the coast.


Humanitarian groups have warned that Priti Patel’s new asylum legislation will do nothing to address the root causes of dangerous Channel crossings, following a record-breaking day of people arriving in Kent in small boats.

The Home Office said that at least 430 people made the crossing across the Dover Strait on Monday, a new daily record.

In Dungeness, also in Kent, about 50 people, including women and young children, were seen arriving on a beach after crossing the Channel in a single dinghy.

The previous daily high for arrivals was in September when 416 people arrived in the UK from across the Channel.

Patel, the home secretary, pledged to make the crossing “unviable”, but people have continued to make the dangerous journey this summer.

Patel’s flagship asylum legislation, the nationality and borders bill, which had its second reading in the Commons on Monday, has been branded the “anti-refugee bill” by critics.

But refugee charities have said that as well as being cruel the bill would not solve the issue of Channel crossings.

Tim Naor Hilton, the chief executive of Refugee Action, said: “The government’s relentless desire to raise the drawbridge without creating more routes to safety leaves desperate refugees with little choice than to put their lives in the hands of people smugglers.

“And the cruel and unworkable anti-refugee bill is pure political theatre that makes no attempt to improve our asylum system or address the root causes of Channel crossings.

“Ministers must throw out this extreme bill and instead design an effective and just asylum system that creates more routes to safety, such as family reunion, and a long-term resettlement programme that welcomes 10,000 refugees a year.”

Beth Gardiner-Smith, the CEO of Safe Passage International, said: “In the last year this government has presided over the closure of nearly all safe routes to the UK for refugees in France and other countries, so it’s no wonder smugglers are exploiting those who are faced with no other option to reach family and safety.

“Now instead of opening safe routes the government plans to rip up refugee rights, and criminalise and punish those seeking protection with their Nationality and Borders bill.

“The government must ditch these inhumane and unworkable plans and open safe routes to save lives. This would prevent Channel crossings and break the business model of smugglers, whilst reuniting separated families and offering hope to child refugees stranded and alone in Europe.”

The bill would make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally, and people could face up to four years in prison. It also includes clauses that would allow the UK to send asylum seekers to a “safe third country”.

Eight boats carrying 241 people arrived in the UK on Saturday, and, to date, nearly 8,000 people have reached the UK this year, according to analysis by the PA Media news agency.

The dinghy that reached Dungeness is believed to have left northern France or Belgium earlier in the day before crossing the 21-mile Dover Strait. It was watched by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution as it approached before landing at about 1pm. The migrants included children who were too young to walk, and some of the people needed help as they walked on to the beach.

Despite the surge in such crossings, the UK continues to see far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.

At least 44,230 people have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea so far this year, according to data from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Despite the sharp rise in small boat arrivals on the UK south coast, asylum applications in Britain fell in 2020 to 29,456. This was significantly lower than the 93,475 asylum applications made in France and the 121,955 in Germany.

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With no shareholders or billionaire owner, we can set our own agenda and provide trustworthy journalism that’s free from commercial and political influence, offering a counterweight to the spread of misinformation. When it’s never mattered more, we can investigate and challenge without fear or favour.

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Homophobia is unAfrican, gay Kenyan says after winning UK deportation suit

By Gabriel Otach
Kenyan rugby player Kenneth Macharia, who emigrated to the UK to escape homophobia, has won a five-year legal battle with the British Home Office which tried to deport him to Kenya where he feared he would be persecuted because of his sexuality.

Macharia recently learned that the Home Office will no longer be pursuing its case against him and that his asylum appeal has been allowed by an Immigration Judge.

Without refugee status, he feared he would be sent back to Kenya where the UK Government warns travelling British citizens against hostile laws and attitudes towards lesbian, gay and bisexual activities.

Now, the 41-year-old, who was born in Kenya but has lived in Britain for over a decade, has a message for the more than half of African countries that have anti-gay laws.

“There’s a misconception that homophobia is African. It’s not…Allowing the truth to be told will help end homophobia,” he told Nation.Africa.

In 2019, a High Court refused to scrap colonial-era laws criminalising gay sex. It upheld criminalisation of gay relationships on the basis that the 2010 Kenyan Constitution, which defines marriage as between those of the opposite sex, would be undermined if gay people could start living together.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), more than half of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa have anti-homosexuality laws, although others have moved towards legal tolerance.

Asked what he would tell Kenyan legislators and leaders regarding the anti-gay law if he had a chance, he says: “Those are harmful laws that should not exist anywhere. These laws make the life of people like me difficult. These laws allow police to abuse me. They also make it impossible for me to get help from law enforcement authorities if I am being harassed by some members of the community.”

Legal battle

Macharia arrived in the UK in 2009 as a student, renewing his visa under successive work permits as a qualified mechanical engineer until October 2016. Fearing persecution upon return to Kenya, he applied for asylum in May 2016 prior to his work visa expiring.

In 2019, Macharia was told his asylum claim had been rejected despite a petition to stop his deportation that had amassed over 180,000 signatures. However, after the case was reviewed, the UK Home Office has now granted Macharia permanent asylum.

In a statement released by his lawyers, Mr Macharia said: “When I tell people close to me the news, they are jumping with joy and excitement, I put on a smile and pretend to share the same level of enthusiasm. It’s been a very long struggle, since 2016. I have had my hopes crushed too many times. I can’t help wondering what will go wrong.”

In the ruling, a judge found that Macharia’s human rights would be breached and he would be at risk of serious harm as a gay man if he is sent back to Kenya where homosexual activity is illegal.

Although the #KeepKenHome social media campaign attracted both national and global media attention, his case had to be won based on law in both countries.

UK’s Home Office was relying on state protection in Kenya should Macharia be deported. His legal team, however, argued that laws in Kenya were anti-gay.

While in the UK, he joined Bristol Bisons RFC, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) rugby team as a photographer and later as a player.

In 2018, his club, protested when the Home Office issued a removal notice and detained him while deportation plans were made.

In a statement on Twitter, his teammates said he was “an integral part” of their group.

“His commitment to the ethos of rugby and inclusive gay rugby is second to none. We are at risk of losing one of the herd,” the statement continued.

Mr Macharia had contacted members of the team for help via text messages while being detained at Colnbrook immigration centre, near Heathrow Airport.

Mr Macharia was granted bail from an immigration centre in November 2019, after more than 180,000 people signed a petition to stop him from being deported. –

China is pumping money out of the US with Bitcoin

Chinese authorities seem to be putting things in order rather than declaring war on crypto, aiming to further weaken the U.S. economy.


The ongoing United States-China trade war is in its fourth year. Former U.S. President Donald Trump saw different results from what he initially expected: America has taken a hit from higher tariffs and sanctions against Chinese companies and hasn’t benefited from it nearly to the same extent. It has cost the country up to 245,000 jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce calculated that the situation puts the exports of each state at risk. For example, the damage to Florida’s exports alone has already reached $1.9 billion.

At the same time, China was taking a smarter approach: It not only imposed reciprocal sanctions and exported its products through intermediary countries (Vietnam, Taiwan and Mexico), but also made the U.S. pay for unsecured and poorly regulated assets — cryptocurrency.

Hidden billions

The United States annually inject billions of dollars into the Chinese economy without even suspecting it. The reason is that the majority of Bitcoin (BTC), which is exchanged mainly for U.S. dollars worldwide, is mined in China. It hosts 65% of all mining farms.

To earn Bitcoin rewards, powerful computers solve complex math problems 24/7. Part of the newly mined coins goes directly to crypto exchanges, while the rest can be kept in the miners’ crypto wallets, but is eventually sold to dollars. On average, 900 BTC are mined every day, and the total daily revenue is about $31 million (as of the end of June). That means that in just a year, the miners have earned over $10 billion.

Taking into account China’s share of mining farms, the local miners have earned about $7 billion since last summer. If both the price of Bitcoin and its popularity keep increasing, the revenue will double or even triple each year. In one way or another, the money will circulate throughout the country’s economy: It will be spent, saved or invested.

Under the Party’s control

The Chinese government is well aware of the volume and significance of U.S. dollar investments through cryptocurrencies. Despite the heavily increasing regulation, the authorities are obviously not going to ban Bitcoin.

China restricted crypto transactions for banks and payment companies back in 2013. In 2017, the authorities also shut down local crypto exchanges and blocked access to foreign platforms. That said, locals could legally own cryptocurrency all this time. What we see now is essentially a reminder of the previous restrictions imposed on financial institutions instead of the introduction of new ones. On one hand, the Chinese authorities want to prevent the “transmission of individual risks to the social field,” and on the other hand, they leave the door wide open for foreign investors.

At the same time, the Chinese authorities have begun to restrict mining, which concerns many people on the market. The official reasons are excessive energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions that prevent the country from achieving carbon neutrality by 2060. But the real situation is a bit different from official statements.

First, the Chinese miners already source cheaper hydroelectricity, which is highly developed in southern provinces, and only switch to fossil-based fuel during the dry winter season when they migrate to the north.

Secondly, the authorities have fully banned new mining projects and the existing ones in three regions: Qinghai, Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang. Other provinces that are rich in hydropower resources, like Yunnan or Sichuan, are in no hurry to impose a total ban. While Yunnan was planning to shut down only illegal BTC mining farms “with a campaign against misuse of electricity,” later in June it was reported that all mining farms in Yunnan Province were shutted down.

Chinese authorities seem to be putting things in order rather than declaring war on cryptocurrencies. The technological limitations of the Bitcoin supply are to work in China’s favor: It allows the country to influence the price of the crypto while keeping it in miners’ possession and without selling it on financial markets. However, if the restrictions keep tightening, the mining power may be redistributed between other countries. The Chinese mining equipment manufacturers — BTC.TOP, Huobi and HashCow — announced that they are suspending domestic sales and expanding their international presence, including to North America.

Who will pick up the idea

At face value, the possibility of Chinese miners moving to North America seems beneficial to the United States. But experts pointed out that the continent doesn’t have a lot of idle energy capacity. Besides, moving countries takes time that competitors can take advantage of.

The idea of taking control over not only crypto transactions but also Bitcoin mining is quickly gaining traction in developing countries. In Iran, mining has become one of the most accessible industries amid tough U.S. sanctions. The Iranian government is taking almost the same path as China: The authorities are to ban the use of cryptocurrencies generated abroad, but they allow paying for imported goods with domestically mined coins. Over the past year, Iran earned more than $400 million from cryptocurrency mining, with the United States’ revenue being only twice as much.

Another country planning the development of mining projects is El Salvador — the first country to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender — that U.S. President Joe Biden refused to visit. El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele is considering capitalizing on “very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable” energy from local volcanoes.

In this context, Kazakhstan seems to be the most politically neutral country. Here, a huge mining center by Enegix with a capacity of 180 MW, and up to 50,000 mining rigs will start operating in September. What’s more, Chinese manufacturer of mining equipment Canaan has set up a new service center in Kazakhstan.

China might exploit the export of their crypto farms as a means to further weaken the U.S. economy, while the U.S. government has no significant leverage to stop the dollar outflow caused by crypto transactions. Imposing a crypto ban for Americans would simply be undemocratic.

The only option for the U.S. government is to weaken the appeal of Bitcoin through every possible means. This would explain why Elon Musk, the owner of some of the largest American companies, Tesla and SpaceX, suddenly switched from supporting Bitcoin to criticizing its environmental impact.

The same thing happened to Greenpeace, which no longer accepts crypto donations, even though it had been doing so for the past seven years. It seems that the escalating campaign against Bitcoin has more to do with politics rather than the environment.

UK hits highest rate of daily COVID cases in world as restrictions are lifted

Crowds of people in restaurants and bars in Soho, London, where outdoor seating is allowed following a lift in COVID restrictions.

The UK has hit the highest daily rate of COVID cases in the world even as most remaining lockdown restrictions have been lifted in England on “freedom day”.

England’s coronavirus lockdown measures were eased on Monday, with nightclubs, theatres, pubs and restaurants now able to reopen without any caps or restrictions.

There is also no longer a legal requirement to wear face masks, while limits on social gatherings have been scrapped and work-from-home guidance has ended.

But as measures ease, the UK reported there were 47,848 new coronavirus cases on Sunday – the highest number of new infections that day of any country in the world, according to Our World In Data.

The figure is a 1,087% increase since 28 May, when the UK reported just 4,030 new cases.

The increase has been attributed to the Delta virus variant, first detected in India, which continues to spread across England.

Crowds of people in restaurants and bars in Soho, London, where outdoor seating is allowed following a lift in COVID restrictions. (Belinda Jiao/SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Indonesia had the second highest number of new daily cases and India the third, with 44,721 and 38,164 cases reported respectively on Sunday.

Case numbers in the UK have been predicted to rise as high as 200,000 later this summer as measures are lifted.

Critics are continuing to express concern that the government is coming out of the lockdown too soon.

Boris Johnson has urged the country to proceed “cautiously” after the unlocking.

In a video posted on Twitter, the prime minister said: “If we don’t do it now we’ve got to ask ourselves, when will we ever do it?

“But we’ve got to do it cautiously. We’ve got to remember that this virus is sadly still out there. Cases are rising, we can see the extreme contagiousness of the Delta variant.”

On Monday, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted the government was “doing the right thing”, despite the current case numbers.

He told Sky News on Monday: “It is a step forward, an important step forward – there is no perfect time to take this step, this is as good a time as any as (Professor) Chris Whitty has said, with the summer holidays and schools being out, which will hopefully bear down on the R number, the transition rate.”

He added: “So I’m confident that we are doing the right thing.

“I think the vaccination programme has allowed us to take this step, to take it cautiously with this wall of protection among adults in the United Kingdom.”

Professor Neil Ferguson – whose modelling led to the first lockdown in March 2020 – said daily cases could reach 200,000 before the current wave of the pandemic finally peaks.

He said that could result in 2,000 hospital admissions a day, leading to “major disruption” and further backlogs in NHS services.

As cases rise, thousands of people are being forced to miss work and self-isolate after being “pinged” by the NHS COVID app as part of what’s been dubbed the “pingdemic”.

Businesses have been pressing for the app to be overhauled and made less sensitive due to concerns that staff shortages mean firms cannot operate effectively.

Johnson’s spokesman said on Friday that the app was “working as it is designed to do” amid reports that there are no plans to change its sensitivity.

The PM and chancellor Rishi Sunak are is currently self-isolating after being notified by the app following a contact with health secretary Sajid Javid, who has tested positive for coronavirus.

They both initially tried to get round the requirement to quarantine by saying they would join a daily workplace testing programme being trialled by the Cabinet Office.

However, they were forced into a hasty U-turn amid widespread public anger at their “special treatment”, which would have come while tens of thousands of people were being forced to miss work or school and stay home.

UK Home Office’s mass deportation flight plan criticised as ‘grubby’

Plans for chartered plane to Zimbabwe risks delivering activists to political persecution, say campaigners
Plans for the UK Home Office’s first mass deportation flight to Zimbabwe have been criticised as “a grubby operation” that risks “delivering democracy activists to political persecution”.
For decades, the Zimabwe government has not accepted people being forcibly returned from the UK, meaning Zimbabweans who sought asylum in Britain were left for decades, starting families and having children.
Its position has shifted in recent years and British and Zimbabwean officials met on 23 June to agree a deal on returns.
Many of the Zimbabweans in immigration detention with tickets for the charter flight, planned for Wednesday, say they fled their home country as a result of having campaigned for human rights in the southern African country and against its former leader Robert Mugabe.
The Guardian understands the Home Office is hoping to deport 50 Zimbabweans on Wednesday but far fewer are likely to be onboard as a result of a number of high court challenges against the removals. The supply of escorts to remove people has also been disrupted after dozens of workers from the contractor Mitie were understood to have been told to isolate amid soaring Covid cases.
The Zimbabwe flight is the first in a series of long-haul mass deportations the Home Office hopes to run in the coming weeks, with flights to Jamaica, Vietnam, Nigeria and Ghana also planned.
The Home Office said it had deported about 700 foreign national offenders so far this year, a substantial drop on previous years. With some travel restrictions easing, it is hoping to increase the numbers removed.
Several Zimbabwean detainees at Colnbrook immigration removal centre near Heathrow said they were terrified of being forcibly returned to their home country. It is understood that people with criminal convictions and those who have overstayed visas have been chosen for the flight.
One man, who has convictions for fraud and driving offences and has been in the UK since 2005, said: “All the Zimbabweans who fled to the UK opposed the government. The UK government does not care what will happen to me if I’m sent back home. I was very politically active against the government there. I’m well known to the authorities because of this and I will really be at risk on return.”
Bella Sankey, the director of the charity Detention Action, condemned the planned charter flight. She said: “Priti Patel’s programme of secret mass expulsions and this particular flight risks delivering democracy activists to political persecution. Detention Action is supporting several people due to be deported in this grubby operation. All have been here for decades and many have several children.”
Annie Viswanathan, the director of Bail for Immigration Detainees, said: “We’re really concerned that the government is determined to go ahead with this flight despite the situation in Zimbabwe. One client who came to the UK feeling political persecution told us they fear for their life if they are deported.”
A spokesperson for Mitie said suitable precautions against the spread of Covid were being taken. They said: “The safety and wellbeing of our employees and detained individuals is always our top priority and we have robust measures in place to ensure a safe environment for all. This includes detailed risk assessments and procedures which have been developed in line with the latest government guidance, as well as the use of PPE such as face masks.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We make no apology for seeking to protect the public by removing serious, violent and persistent foreign national offenders. We have removed more than 700 criminals this year, with a combined sentence of more than 1,500 years in prison.” – Guardian, London

UK retains ban on travellers from Kenya

President Kenyatta meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Travellers from Kenya remained banned from entering the United Kingdom following Britain’s fresh update, dealing a blow to Nairobi’s efforts for review of the travel embargo.

The UK last week updated countries on England’s “Red List” amid concerns about the spread of new Covid-19 variants.

Kenya remained on the travel ban list where it was first included in April, triggering a tit-for-tat travel blockade from Nairobi.

The UK travel ban comes amid fears that the highly contagious Covid-19 Delta variant may spark the fourth wave of infections in Kenya over the next two months.

It also signals that reconciliatory talks initiated in mid-April to review the travel restrictions between Kenya and the UK, which threatened bilateral trade, economic and security relations, have not prompted England to downgrade the movement limits.

The UK ban has added weight to the decision of more than 50 countries to deny access to Kenyans in the global race to protect nations against new variants of coronavirus.

In May, Kenya lifted the ban on flights between Nairobi and London and eased restrictions imposed in retaliation to its inclusion in the red list.

The UK has segmented countries into a green, amber and red lists, each carrying different degrees of restrictions for arrivals back into the UK.

A British citizen travelling from a Green List is not required to undergo a mandatory quarantine.

Travellers arriving in the UK from countries on the Red List will be denied entry, while returning Britons must submit to 10 days of mandatory quarantine in hotels.

Kenya has relaxed punitive requirements that it had imposed on British citizens that required them to be isolated for 14 days before they can be admitted to the country.

In mid-June review, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said the British nationals and non-citizens travelling through London are required to self-isolate for only seven days.

The UK claims its decisions are based on scientific evidence on the incidence of deadly and highly contagious Covid-19 strains. The rapidly transmissible Covid-19 Delta variant, first identified in India, is dominant in western Kenya, where it was initially detected in the country.

The government imposed restrictions on movement in the region to try and stem it from spreading nationwide.

Most countries are preparing to sign off on plans for unrestricted travel for people who have had both jabs.

About 1.61 million people have been inoculated so far in Kenya, of which 581,003 got their second doses.

The government expects to receive 13 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses from August and targets to inoculate more than 10 million people by the end of December and the entire 26 million adult population by the end of 2022.

Kenya had 192,435 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 3,760 deaths as of July 17, with a positivity rate of 10.5 percent.

The UK decision has delivered yet another devastating blow to tourism not only in Kenya but across the continent. With a number of Middle East and African countries on the Red List, Nairobi has been the last major hub for connecting flights into the UK.

Britain is one of Kenya’s main trading partners and in 2019 accounted for the fourth largest arrivals through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with 181,400 visitors.

Tourist arrivals from the UK stood at 16,264 in the first half of this year from 42,341 in the same period last year, representing a 62 percent drop.

Besides the UK, Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Portugal, Denmark, Bulgaria and Singapore top the list of countries that have banned or placed restrictions on holders of Kenyan passports. Others are Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Chile, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Cameroon, which Henley & Partners lists as the only African country to place restrictions on Kenya.

The Henley Passport Index made the revelations showing how the virus has hurt travel. –

Wanjui, tycoon pocket Sh3bn in UAP share sale

Mr Joe Wanjui

Businessmen Joe Wanjui and James Muguiyi have completed the sale of a combined six percent stake in insurance firm UAP Holdings to South African multinational Old Mutual Holdings for R437 million (Sh3.2 billion).

Old Mutual announced in August 2018 that it would buy a total of 12.7 million of the insurer’s shares from the two shareholders but only started the purchases last year, according to disclosures in UAP’s latest annual report.

It acquired 2.8 million shares from Mr Muguiyi in the year ended December and purchased the remaining 9.8 shares earlier this year.

The transactions raised Old Mutual’s stake in the insurer to 66.7 percent from the previous 60.7 percent. “The registration process [for the shares] was delayed and spilled over into 2020. That was the delay but they have been paid,” Arthur Oginga, UAP’s chief executive, said.

Mr Wanjui retired as the company’s chairman on June 22 after serving on the board for a total of 35 years.

The businessman started making money trading food coupons near Nairobi’s Khoja Mosque in the 1940s when he was 11 years.

He later credited his success to receiving an American education and a successful career that saw him rise to executive positions at Unilever East Africa and Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC).

The State-owned ICDC helped create most of the post-Independence billionaires by funding their ventures in pursuit of the policy of Kenyanisation of the economy.

“Quite a bit of it was luck, but a lot more came through very hard work. Even where luck and circumstance play a role, as they do in any situation, every chance they provide must be pursued and grabbed with both hands,” he writes in his book My Native Roots.

“I took advantage of the many breaks that came my way. Those I missed, I lived to regret. All of us get such breaks –but some people do not recognise them.”

Mr Wanjui was one of the most powerful figures during the administration of Mwai Kibaki who appointed him as Chancellor of the University of Nairobi in 2003.

Mr Muguiyi previously served as UAP’s chief executive from 1988 and 2012. He has interests in several other companies, some of which he has owned jointly with the late business magnate Chris Kirubi.

Mr Muguiyi remains a non-executive director of UAP, which is in the process of merging with the Kenyan units of Old Mutual.

The exact number of shares sold to Old Mutual by each of the two investors was not immediately clear but they were to tender a combined 12.7 million units to the multinational.

Mr Oginga said they both retain minority stakes in the insurer, adding that they did not sell an equal number of shares to Old Mutual.

Before the deals were concluded, Mr Wanjui held 43.25 million shares, equivalent to a 20.4 percent stake through his investment vehicle Bawan Limited.

Mr Muguiyi on the other hand directly held 12.6 million shares amounting to a 5.9 percent stake.

The duo is the latest to reap large profits from UAP following an earlier lucrative exit by Mr Kirubi and a group of institutional investors.

Old Mutual acquired its initial 60.7 percent stake in the insurer in 2015 when it paid Mr Kirubi, Centum Investment Company, private equity firms Africinvest, Abraaj and Swedfund a total of Sh20.4 billion.

This represented a premium of more than 100 percent of the value of their stakes based on the company’s book value at the time.

Mr Kirubi sold his 9.58 percent stake for Sh3.2 billion while Centum disposed of its 13.75 percent equity for Sh4.6 billion.

The PE firms traded their combined 37.33 percent stake for Sh12.5 billion. The Kirubi group sold their UAP shares at a price of Sh180 each.

Mr Wanjui and Muguiyi negotiated a higher buyout price to take into account the passage of time since the initial exit from their fellow shareholders.

“The put option exercise price is equal to the initial price (paid by Old Mutual plc in acquiring its current holding), increased by the Government of Kenya Treasury one year bond rates and reduced by dividends declared by UAP,” the multinational said in earlier disclosures.

“The settlement amount equates to R437 million (Sh3.2 billion), reflecting the contractual discount unwind and the movement in the Kenyan shilling to the rand over the period.”

Old Mutual acquired UAP to boost its market share in the local financial services market. The multinational already owned subsidiaries engaged in investments, insurance and banking, including Faulu Microfinance Bank.

The multinational has been merging its earlier insurance subsidiaries with those of UAP to simplify the business, lower costs and build scale.

Old Mutual Life Assurance Company, for instance, is being merged with UAP Life Assurance Limited in a process expected to be completed by December. –