Centum chief executive James Mworia.
Centum Investment Group has shut down its shared services division as part of its cost-cutting plan, which will see staff members sent home.
Centum chief executive James Mworia told the Business Daily via telephone on Friday afternoon that the affected workers would be fairly remunerated.
He said the layoffs came about after functions of its arm, Centum Business Solutions (CBS), were devolved to its subsidiaries, a move that would see the parent firm save up to Sh150 million in costs.
The firm said its business units have now attained full operational autonomy.
“As at 30 September 2021… the shared services division, the Centum Business Solutions Limited, that had been established will no longer be required,” Mr Mworia said in a statement released on Friday.
Centum listed finance, tax, legal, internal audit, risk management, information technology and company secretarial as some of the functions under CBS that were transferred to its other units.
“About five (staff will be affected),” Mr Mworia told Business Daily in the interview via telephone, without disclosing the cost of the separation.
“… staff who will transition out of the organisation will not only be provided with statutory separation packages but will, in addition, receive an ex gratia payment, extended medical support that appreciates the current global environment and bonuses in keeping with their performance,” he said.
Centum has been restructuring its operations to enable subsidiaries to borrow on their own without relying on the parent company to arrange or guarantee the obligations. – businessdailyafrica.com
The Bank of England warned on Friday that a sharp correction could be on the cards
The value of financial assets could be dealt a heavy blow if investors react harshly to signs that the economic recovery is weakening or that inflation is more persistent than expected, the Bank of England has warned.
Amid growing evidence of greater risk taking from investment banks, the BoE’s Financial Policy Committee said on Friday that ‘risky asset prices have increased’ and ‘asset valuations appear elevated relative to historical norms’.
Asset prices – including equities, corporate bonds and property – have been buoyed since the market shock of Covid-19 by central banks cutting interest rates and spending billions of dollars to shore-up economic activity.
An improved economic outlook globally has also contributed to market bullishness.
But the BoE warned that valuations ‘could correct sharply if, for example, market participants re‐evaluate the prospects for growth, inflation or interest rates’.
It added: ‘Any such correction could be amplified by vulnerabilities in market‐based finance that were exposed in March 2020.
‘This could have consequences for market functioning and financial conditions, and hence the real economy.’
Inflationary pressure on prices has continued for longer than the bank had first anticipated. It now expects the CPI rate to exceed 4 per cent by year-end – double its target rate.
The bank’s new chief economist Huw Pill told MPs yesterday: ‘The magnitude and duration of the transient inflation spike is proving greater than expected.
But he said the ‘inflationary pressures’ pushing prices higher ‘should subside’ as the economy recovers from the coronavirus crisis.
Economic growth has also been disappointing, with the BoE recently revising down its forecast for Q3 GDP growth to 2.1 per cent from 2.9 per cent.
These risks to financial markets, the BoE said, have been exacerbated by risks in leveraged loan markets, which ‘continue to build’ globally.
It added: ‘There are signs of continued loosening in underwriting standards and increased risk-taking in some investment banking businesses.
‘These risks can affect UK financial stability through the direct impact on banks and the indirect impact of losses spreading through other parts of the global financial system.’
Life continues as normal in the UK with no sign of any restrictions being reimposed
The UK has recorded 34,574 more COVID-19 cases and 38 deaths in the latest 24-hour period, government figures show.
That compares to 133 deaths and 34,950 infections yesterday, and 43 and 30,439 this time last week.
A total of 49,158,835 people have now had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine (85.5% of the population aged 12 and over), after a further 26,157 jabs were given yesterday.
Another 32,755 people have now had both doses, bringing the number of those fully vaccinated to 45,168,344 (78.5%).
The number of people in hospital with the disease is unchanged at 6,763, with 808 on ventilators.
Meanwhile, there are warnings of a “twindemic”, with both COVID-19 and flu circulating together for the first time this year.
Early evidence suggests that those who catch both are twice as likely to die.
Ahead of an uncertain winter, Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), also warned there could be multiple strains of flu.
Speaking to Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday, she said many people do not realise that flu can be fatal.
“Recent studies suggest that about 25% of us don’t actually understand that,” she said. “On average, over the last five years, about 11,000 people have died with flu-related conditions.”
She added: “The important thing about this winter is we are likely to see flu – for the first time in any real numbers – co-circulating with COVID.”
Somalian women carrying firewood. Somalia is facing another round of devastating drought, adding to the country’s security woes.
Somalia is facing another round of devastating drought, adding to the country’s security woes and indicating just how dangerous irregular climate is becoming to the Horn of Africa.
On Thursday, a spokesman of Somalia’s Jubbaland state almost wept in public while updating the country on the situation in southern Somalia.
Jubbaland, one of the three federal states in south of Somalia (which has five overall) had held an emergency meeting of the council of ministers that considered a bleak conclusion from the region’s ministry of agriculture on the fate of the rural people.
The regional government stressed that the scarcity of food, feed and water is despondently felt across the three regions of the state, namely Gedo, Middle Jubba and Lower Jubba.
Fear of clashes
To make matters worse, the report by the ministry indicated that pastoralists moving across the borders between Kenya and Somalia have had to jostle for the little water that is available, raising prospect for intercommunal clashes.
“Nomads from all parts are just looking for any place where they can find survival for themselves and for their animals,” the report said, mentioning extreme shortage.
The ministry had drawn a picture of pastoralists just overcrowding in parts of the Lower Jubba region to find whatever pasture is left in vegetated lands in Ras Kamboni, Kulbiow, Kuda’, Afmadow and Dobley locations and districts.
The vegetation is so dry and fragile and water so scarce, according to the ministerial report, that the herders are witnessing their animals dying right “before their eyes”.
“We are getting reports that families that had 300 livestock a short while ago are left with only three or four animals,” the statement said, depicting extreme death rate of the animals with carcasses and dry bones visible everywhere.
No drinking water
Jubbaland is reporting that food and feed shortage is coupled with almost nowhere to find drinking water for both humans and animals.
“Both humans and animals are surviving on the little liquids found on drying up ponds and wells,” the government said, adding that dirty waters is increasingly becoming a source of diseases and illness.
Animals are said to be dying not only for lack of pasture, but also due to water borne diseases.
“Both known and unknown type of illnesses are killing the animals in hordes,” the council of Jubbaland ministers reported, pleading for urgent intervention.
“We urge the local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the Federal Government of Somalia, the country’s international partners to act on this calamitous situation,” the statement said.
Call for help
All those who could help were openly invited to join a campaign promised by the Jubbaland government to deliver water where it can.
The state has assembled a committee to coordinate responses.
“What are urgently needed are water, food and feed,” the government implored, asking any capable person or agency to help.
On Saturday, Shire Abdi Mohamed, a member of Jubbaland State Legislative Assembly, told the media that the drought situation in Gedo region is getting bad, particularly if the current trend continues.
“Diseases are rampant because both animals and humans are fetching water at overcrowded ponds using whatever water is left, no matter how dirty and unhygienic,” Mohamed stated.
“If available at all, a drum of water is sold about US$8 and may soon reach US$10,” he added.
Similar scenario is reported from other places in Southern Somalia.
In Bakol region in the South West State, a water seller, Nur Abdullahi Mohamed, in Hudur town told Radio Ergo, a popular broadcaster on humanitarian and development matters in Somalia, that he could not find water at any of the wells in the town.
“The queues are too long. The situation is so dire, only those who have experienced it can talk about,” Ergo quoted residents saying. “We pray to God for rain.”
Hudur, like many other towns in Southern Somalia, has been under siege by the jihadist group Al-Shabaab for several years, worsening the situation. – nation.africa
Kenya and Somalia have been embroiled in a maritime boundary case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Kenya on Friday raised a pre-verdict storm against the International Court of Justice verdict due on Tuesday, saying the judges’ decision will be a product of a “flawed” process.
Nairobi announced it had withdrawn the compulsory Court’s jurisdiction, a principle in international law that means that each State that has granted the Court this type of acceptance has the right to sue other States and that it has agreed to appear before the Court if sued.
Kenya said it advised the court on this withdrawal on September 24. However, this decision will not affect the judgment of the court, technically, as rules or reservations don’t apply to already ongoing cases.
The move was announced in Nairobi by Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau as the ICJ prepares to announce the verdict of a maritime boundary case filed by Somalia.
Mogadishu had demanded a review of the maritime boundary in what could alter the ocean territory for both countries should the ICJ rule in favour of Somalia.
“The delivery of the Judgment will be the culmination of a flawed judicial process that Kenya has had reservations with, and withdrawn from, on account not just of its obvious and inherent bias but also of its unsuitability to resolve the dispute at hand,” PS Kamau said, suggesting the suit was seen from the outset as a threat to Kenya’s territorial integrity.
“For these reasons, and in addition to withdrawing its participation from the current case, Kenya, on the 24th September 2021, also joined many other members of the United Nations in withdrawing its recognition of the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction. As a sovereign nation, Kenya shall no longer be subjected to an international court or tribunal without its express consent.”
The Court of 13 judges, including a Somali, and presided over by American Joan Donoghue, will make its final verdict on Tuesday and is expected to issue instructions on what the two countries must do. Judgments by ICJ are usually binding between states and there is no option for appeal. – businessdailyafrica.com
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices in Nairobi.
A former tax enforcement officer at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has been accused of amassing properties worth Sh192 million from corrupt dealings during a seven-year period when he earned Sh11.6 million in net salary.
Jeremiah Kamau Kinyua, who resigned from the KRA in March this year, allegedly acquired a total of 19 parcels of land and homes, most of them in Ruiru in Kiambu, one in Laikipia County and one in Nairobi.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) says in a petition certified as urgent that its sleuths seized more than Sh1 million from Mr Kinyua’s home early this year. The seized money was in Kenya shillings, Chinese currency and UAE Dirham.
The court heard that the commission was investigating allegations of bribery suspected to have been committed while Mr Kinyua was working for the KRA.
The freeze is the latest move by the anti-graft body and the KRA to fight suspected corruption cartels and tax cheats denying the taxman revenues. Last year, some 40 employees of the KRA were arrested over claims of acting in cahoots with tax evaders to deny the government revenue.
They moved to the High Court and were ordered to deposit cash bail of Sh200,000 to secure their release.
On Thursday, the EACC obtained orders barring Mr Kinyua from selling or transferring the properties for a period of six months to allow the commission to complete investigations.
Justice Esther Maina also directed Mr Kinyua to hand over a logbook to a vehicle he owns to the EACC within seven days. Some of the assets have been registered under the name of his spouse and two companies — Cherya Enterprises Ltd and Bestline Enterprises Ltd.
“The applicant’s preliminary investigations have found a huge disproportion between the value of the 1st respondent’s assets and his known legitimate source of income and reasonably suspects that the 1st respondent has engaged in corruption and economic crime as a result of which he has unexplained assets totaling to approximately Sh192 million,” the EACC said in the application.
Court documents show that Mr Kinyua was employed at the KRA as a graduate trainee on January 28, 2005.
He was promoted to a supervisor, domestic taxes department, where he worked until he resigned in March this year.
His net salary between 2012 and 2021 was Sh11.6 million, according to the EACC.
But in just seven years, he acquired the 19 parcels of land in Ruiru, Kiambu County, Laikipia and Nairobi.
The parcels have been registered in his name, that of his spouse and a company that belongs to them. He also acquired a motor vehicle in the name of one of the companies.
The anti-graft agency moved to court arguing that he might dispose of the properties or transfer them unless stopped by the court. It says it is planning to file a petition to recover the properties.
“Consequently, the intended civil recovery proceedings will be rendered nugatory if the assets reasonably suspected to constitute the proceeds of corruption and economic crimes are allowed to dissipate,” the EACC says.
The EACC argues that the case will consume considerable amount of time given the number of assets and funds involved, multiple transactions in it and possible numerous illegal acts or offences involved. – businessdailyafrica.com
Nigeria gears up to launch the continent’s first central bank-backed digital currency, the eNaira
Many Nigerians are optimistic as Africa’s largest economy gears up to launch the continent’s first central bank-backed digital currency, the eNaira.
Authorities hope to tap into the popularity of cryptocurrency so it can better monitor digital currency transactions, curb black-market trading in the paper naira and also help integrate millions of Nigerians into banking. But critics say the digital currency will also give Nigeria’s central bank more control.
The launch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) digital currency, or the eNaira, was initially scheduled for October 1 as part of activities to mark Nigeria’s Independence Day – but was postponed by authorities. The CBN’s communications director, Osita Nwanisobi, did not disclose the new launch date in a statement released on the bank’s social media handle.
But local reports say the eNaira website recorded more than one million hits in the hours ahead of the initial launch – what blockchain experts like Janet Kaatyo say is a welcome development.
“It is going to make cross border payments easier and it is going to make it easier for the naira to be widely used and accepted,” said Kaatyo. “So, Nigeria is gradually getting to the point where cryptocurrency is seen as an unstoppable force.”
Kaatyo believes the eNaira will promote blockchain technologies like cryptocurrency, which Central Bank authorities banned in back in February, citing its volatility and investment risk for citizens.
The CBN then promised to provide a safer alternative – the eNaira. Authorities and experts say the eNaira will ease monetary transactions and improve long-term value for Nigeria’s currency, compared to its paper counterpart, which has hit its lowest value since 2003.
The CBN also says the eNaira saves on printing and distribution costs for cash. Digital strategist, Daniel Yerimah says the eNaira will also help address money laundering and corruption.
“Everything built on blockchain is very safe and secure. Another thing again is it’s universal, parts of the benefits they intend to achieve with the eNaira is it will be used for both international and local trade and also it’s going to be to fight corruption,” Yerimah said.
But some experts warn the emergence of the eNaira will cut off roles played by intermediary banks and give the central bank more control over citizens’ financial rights. However, blockchain analyst Jadel Chidi disagrees.
“There’s a direct link between the Central Bank and the individual who uses the eNaira but that will not put the other banks out of business,” Chidi said. “What I see is that the CBN will eventually create a portal where each eNaira user will be able to access their e-wallet through the database they already have with their bank.”
In recent years Nigeria has seen a move toward cryptocurrencies as citizens looked for alternatives to the weakening naira. Now millions are waiting to see if they can benefit from Nigeria’s digital currency. – observer.ug
“The NHS is already under pressure, so is likely not to be able to cope with these winter challenges going forward”
As many as 60,000 people could die from flu this winter, scientists have said as they warned that a combination of seasonal viruses and Covid-19 could mean that the NHS is “unable to cope” this winter.
Experts said that if left unchecked, the flu season could be particularly deadly this year but a series of measures could help mitigate the risks including the enhanced flu jab programme and rapid tests for flu.
The new report warned that a mix of Covid-19, influenza (flu) and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), could put severe strain the NHS this winter.
Scientists said that people who are sick should “stay out of the way” to avoid spreading flu and other winter viruses and stop the annual pressure put on the NHS.
Covid-19 restrictions meant that many respiratory viruses were kept at bay last winter.
But some experts have raised concern about what this could mean for population immunity to such illnesses and virologists have predicted that they will return this year as people socialise more.
The new report from the Academy of Medical Sciences states there is still high levels of uncertainty around the effect flu and other respiratory illness could have on the NHS over the winter.
The new report stats that flu and RSV hospital admissions and deaths could be twice that seen in a “normal” year and could coincide with an increase in Covid-19 infections.
Models suggest between 15,000 and 60,000 could die from flu this winter.
And due to the current wave of infections the NHS could face difficulties trying to catch up on the backlog of care – with more than 5 million people in England on the waiting list.
The report highlights other problems that the health service faces going into winter including staff shortages and reduced bed capacity.
On top of this, people putting off seeking help for illness could also lead to a rise in support needed for conditions such as asthma, heart attack and stroke this winter.
But experts said steps can be taken to reduce the risks, including the widespread flu campaign which is expected to take place later this year for over 50s.
They also called for the expansion of Covid-19 testing to also include tests for flu and RSV – for instance if GPs were able to quickly confirm whether a patient has flu they would be able to prescribe their antiviral medication sooner which means that the person’s illness would be reduced, and lessen the burden on the NHS.
More must be done to support people self isolate and the NHS needs a “boost” of staff, bed numbers and capacity, the authors said.
Meanwhile they called on the Government to give more accessible guidelines about the precautions the public can take to protect themselves and those around them from Covid-19, such as wearing face coverings in crowded indoor spaces, physical distancing and minimising transmission when infected.
Professor Sir Stephen Holgate, chair of the Expert Advisory Group which wrote the report, said: “There are four main challenges: firstly a surge in respiratory viruses could cause wide-spread ill health and put pressure on the NHS.
“Secondly, we’re dealing with a third wave of Covid-19 and multiple outbreaks and the NHS has got to catch up with the backlog that it has accumulated over the last 15 months or so, and that’s going to be a real challenge.
“Thirdly, the NHS is already under pressure, so is likely not to be able to cope with these winter challenges going forward.
“Finally the worse physical and mental health health within the UK population due to the pandemic.”
He added: “Society as a whole will have learned from the last 15 months that it isn’t acceptable that (we had) all these respiratory viruses washing around in the winter and nearly closing our National Health Service.
“If there are things we should do top prevent transmission we should do that. Even if it means wearing mas and respecting each other’s space.”
He added: “We really do deserve to have a change in the way we operate as a society to stop the annual continual pressure on the health service created by all these viruses and that just means a change in behaviour.”
Professor Dame Anne Johnson, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences and Expert Advisory Group member, added: “We’re not saying we’re about to have the worst winter ever, we’re saying we have got a bunch of uncertain things that could hit us in winter that we need to think about mitigating now.”
She added: “I hope we will take forward some of these behavioural changes as a society. When you’re sick, stay out of the way because that’s actually when you’re most infectious, get your test – if you have got Covid you need to continue with that careful self isolation.” – walesonline.co.uk