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Equity Group Holdings Plans Trans-Africa Expansion with USD $100 Million (Ksh 11 Billion)

Equity Group Holdings Plans Trans-Africa Expansion with USD $100 Million (Ksh 11 Billion) Loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB)

· The facility will support Equity’s expansion in East and Central Africa and ensure

MSMEs have access to capital to recover and thrive in a Post COVID-19 Environment

· The Kshs 11 Billion loan comes on the heels of an additional USD 50 Million (Kshs 5.5 Billion) Loan Facility from the African Guaranty Fund.

Nairobi, Kenya: March 23, 2021 – Equity Group Holdings (EGH) has signed a USD $100 million loan (Ksh 11 Billion) facility to support its expansion across Eastern and Central Africa, enhancing its ability to serve small and medium enterprises (SMEs as it grows.

In addition to operating in 7 African countries – Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia – the Group has recently expanded its operations in the DRC by merging its existing operations of Equity Bank Congo with its acquisition of BCDC to form EquityBCDC, now the second largest financial services company in the country.

At the signing, Dr. James Mwangi, Managing Director and CEO of Equity Group Holdings said, “Together with the African Development Bank Group, Equity Group will be strongly positioned to support MSMEs to keep their lights on during the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic that has slowed down the economy impacting on the cashflows of enterprises. By extending credit to them during this period, Equity demonstrates its commitment to walk with its customers, and to empathize with their social economic situation brought about by the pandemic.” Dr Mwangi added, “We have seen the impact of pumping oxygen to our MSMEs during this period. They have been able to re-imagine, repurpose and retool their enterprises and emerged more resilient thereby protecting jobs and creating more job opportunities through venturing into more innovative initiatives such as manufacturing of internationally certified quality PPEs.”

The loan, a tier two facility with a seven-year maturity, is expected to promote EGH’s ability to offer bespoke products to MSMEs, strengthen its balance sheet and optimize its capital structure across the continent with a special focus on women and youth entrepreneurs.

“EGH has a strong track record of designing products suited to the needs of SMEs as well as emerging corporates. The timing of the facility’s disbursement could not have been more appropriate especially as businesses seek to remain operational in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic that is causing financial havoc,” said Stefan Nalletamby, AfDB’s Director for financial sector development. “We are very pleased to collaborate with EGH in playing a countercyclical role during this pandemic.”

Equity’s prudent approach to conserving its cashflow and supporting MSMEs through the COVID-19 crisis has provided more comfort to lenders across the continent and its partnership with the African Development Bank will now facilitate further financing of MSMEs.

This is the sixth tranche for Equity Group after having signed a $50 million USD (Kshs 5.5 Billion) loan facility with IFC in September; a $100 million USD (Ksh 11.0 Billion) from Proparco in October and a EUR 125 million (Kshs 16.5 Billion) loan facility signed last week with the European Investment Bank, a US $100 Million (Ksh 11 Billion) Credit Facility with Leading European Development Banks DEG, FMO and CDC-UK and a USD 75 Million (Kshs 8.25 Billion) Loan Facility with the African Guaranty Fund to fortify credit flows and liquidity to MSMEs totalling Kshs 63.25 Billion.

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Covid: £5,000 fine for people going on holiday abroad from UK

Beachgoers in Cascais, Portugal last summer

A £5,000 (KShs. 760,000) fine for anyone in England trying to travel abroad without good reason is due to come into force next week as part of new coronavirus laws. The penalty is included in legislation that will be voted on by MPs on Thursday. Foreign holidays are currently not allowed under the “stay at home” rule which ends on Monday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “too early” to set out new foreign travel rules for the summer. Mr Johnson told a Downing Street news conference he hoped for more information by 5 April. He said: “A lot of people do want to know about what’s going to happen on the holiday front and I know there’s a great deal of curiosity and interest.” From next week the ban on leaving the UK will become a specific law, backed up by the threat of a fine. Under the current plan for easing restrictions, the earliest date people in England could go abroad for a holiday would be 17 May. It comes as another surge in Covid cases in continental Europe, as well as the slow rollout of vaccines across Europe, casts doubt on the resumption of holidays abroad.

The PM’s announcement on travelling abroad from England will be made sooner than expected – a taskforce looking into the issue had been scheduled to report back by 12 April. But it is understood the timings in the roadmap for easing lockdown – including the 17 May date – will remain unchanged. Government adviser Prof Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One border measures should be relaxed more slowly than domestic restrictions. He said: “I think conservatively, and being risk averse at the moment, I think we should be planning on summer holidays in the UK not overseas.” Prof Ferguson also criticised the exemptions that currently permit foreign travel and suggested everybody should be subject to mandatory testing when arriving into the UK. Legally-permitted reasons for foreign travel currently include work, volunteering, education, medical needs, and to attend weddings or funerals. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said restrictions on travelling abroad for leisure were necessary to guard against the importation of large numbers of cases and new variants which might put the vaccine rollout at risk. Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said Labour supported measures to keep the UK’s borders secure and avoid the importation of new variants but criticised the government’s “slowness to react”. Airlines UK, which represents big carriers, called for a “tiered system, based on risk” and confirmed airlines were working with government to restart international travel safely from 17 May.

HABARI KWA UFUPI SIKU YA LEO – News in Brief Today

Colorado supermarket shooting: President Joe Biden calls for all-party support for assault weapon ban
Budget experts have faulted the National Assembly for passing the 2021 Budget Policy Statement (BPS) without conducting the mandatory public participation
Prince Harry gets job at BetterUp: Duke of Sussex takes up role at California coaching and mental health business
Uganda Wildlife Authority (Uwa) on Monday offered Ush10 million (about USD2,857) cash rewards for information leading to the arrest of killers of six lions at Queen Elizabeth National Park in the country’s western region.
Sassou Nguesso, ‘Emperor’ of oil-rich Congo, wins election
Clampdown on UK tax loophole for thousands of second homes registered as holiday lets
The number of people in payrolled employment in UK has risen for a third consecutive month despite further lockdown misery for the economy, according to official figures.
A house that exists only in cyberspace has been sold for $500,000 (£360,000) in cryptocurrency. It’s not any kind of spectacular Minecraft construction, either. Instead, it’s the latest sale of a non-fungible token (NFT) to take place on the web. The ‘digital home’ is set within a Mars-like landscape.
Laboso’s sisters accuse her husband of disinheriting them. They say Abonyo illegally
listed extended family’s property as belonging to Laboso and got grant of administration

Court orders city residents to clean Nairobi after flouting Covid rules

Court orders city residents to clean Nairobi River, markets after flouting Covid rules. Police in Nairobi arrested more than 50 people over the weekend in renewed operations against breach of Ministry of Health directives on prevention of coronavirus. The 57 lawbreakers were held at the Kilimani Police Station before they were arraigned at the Kibera Law Courts. They were released on community service order. “They are expected to report at 8am to 5pm for the entire week for their services including clean-up of Marikiti and Muthurua markets, Globe, Nairobi River, as will be assigned,” the order read. Those who will skip their sentence, will be rearrested and arraigned in court for a stiffer punishment, officials said. Some of the offenders were found drinking in bars beyond stipulated curfew hours, others were found without masks while traders were found not adhering to social distancing rule. – nation.co.ke

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These are the only reasons you can legally leave the country from 29 March

Travellers arrive at Heathrow airport. (PA)

 

The government has published new COVID regulations that will come into force from 29 March, when current lockdown restrictions end. The new regulations, released on Monday, include laws that will make it illegal to leave the country without a “reasonable excuse”. The government document also says no one will be allowed to travel to or be present at an embarkation point – for example an airport, ferry or train station – with the purpose of travelling to a destination outside the UK. Anyone who tries to travel without one of the approved reasons could be fined £5,000. It is currently already illegal to leave the country under the government’s “stay at home” orders, which end on 29 March.

But human rights barrister Adam Wagner has pointed out that a ban on travelling for holidays was merely assumed under the “stay at home” order and had not actually been formalised into law. He said: “Previously, the ‘holiday ban’ which the government had advertised was assumed rather than explicit – because going on holiday wasn’t a reasonable excuse, it was assumed you couldn’t be outside of your home to do so. But now it is explicit.” Under the new regulations, the government has provided an extensive list of what counts as a “reasonable excuse” – and it does not include going on holiday. If someone has a reason to leave that’s included on the list, they must fill out a travel declaration form. Here are the only permitted “reasonable excuses” for legally travelling out of the UK under the new regulations.

Reasonable excuses to travel from 29 March

To travel anywhere inside in the common travel area – the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man and Channel Islands

To travel for work that cannot be done from the UK

To carry out voluntary or charitable services that cannot be done from the UK

To attend a course of study that cannot be done from the UK

To return to your home country for a vacation between 29 March and 29 April if you’re a foreign student studying in the UK

To travel for training or competitions if you’re an elite sportsperson

To fulfil a legal obligation or participate in legal proceedings

To complete certain aspects of a property purchase

To seek medical assistance, attend a clinical appointment, avoid illness/injury or to escape a risk of harm

To attend an expectant mother giving birth at the mother’s request

To visit a person receiving treatment in a hospital

To stay in a hospice or care home

To take someone to a medical appointment under certain circumstances

To provide care and assistance to a vulnerable person

To provide emergency assistance to any person

To visit a friend or family member who is dying

To attend a funeral

To get married or attend a wedding/civil partnership ceremony

To meet family members who live in a different country where a child is involved in various circumstances

To partake in certain aspects of child adoption

To vote in an election or a referendum where it’s not possible to vote from the UK

To leave if you’re in the UK on a temporary basis/are not resident

If you’re the child/dependent of a person who has a reasonable excuse to travel and no alternative care arrangements can be made.

KTDA fights Uhuru order on elections in court row

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation from State House, Nairobi on March 12, 2021.

Kenya Tea Development Agency Holdings Ltd (KTDA) has sued the government after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the election of directors in tea factories before May 12.

In a case filed before the High Court, KTDA argues that President Kenyatta has no powers to order the polls of a private company.

President Kenyatta through an executive order of March 12 directed the Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) to conduct elections in all tea factories within 60 days.

The President also ordered the AG Kihara Kariuki “to conduct an inquiry into the alleged statutory and regulatory compliance breaches allegedly committed by KTDA and its directors.”

This, the President says, include “potential price and auction manipulation, abuse of dominance, insider trading, wastefulness and breach of directors’ fiduciary duties.”

KTDA has hit back at Mr Kenyatta’s order, saying the decision was made without offering KTDA a hearing.

“The President has no iota of justification in law and or fact in seeking to interfere with the Petitioner’s lawful business, affairs and internal management,” KTDA said through its lawyer Benson Millimo.

He said the national government has no powers in law and fact to sanction and preside over the elections of directors of KTDA, its subsidiaries and shareholders.

KTDA emerged from the 2000 privatisation and is now owned by 54 tea companies, which, in turn, have more than 600,000 small farmers as individual shareholders.

The government is considering a takeover of the KTDA and have it revert to a State corporation, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has disclosed.

Mr Munya told Senators that more than 70 percent of KTDA assets were acquired at a time it was a State corporation.

The State has previously taken over the New Kenya Cooperatives Creameries (KCC), Kenya Seed Company and Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) from private hands and returned them to public management.

KTDA reckons a government-sponsored election of directors would result into the companies, including the agency, having two parallel sets of directors given the existence of board.

Mr Millimo said the move is an intention to take over, control and destroy the management, structure, operations and business of KTDA, its subsidiaries and its 54 corporate shareholder tea factory companies.

KTDA says it is an abuse of power for the Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to direct the police to ensure that the elections are held.

Justice James Makau directed the lawyer to serve the Attorney General by close of business Friday and the case to be heard by Justice Anthony Mrima on March 23.

KTDA services cut across the entire value chain, and include inputs and agri-extension, transportation, warehousing, processing, marketing and financing.

In the Executive Order, President Kenyatta lamented that “KTDA’s network of subsidiaries, which includes offshore subsidiaries, are locked in inherent conflicts of interest and are also misaligned with the interest of tea farmers.”

The President ordered Mr Munya, the Attorney General and Cabinet Secretary for Industrialisation and Trade to take “immediate remedial measures to ensure that each of the subsidiaries of KTDA has separate governance structures, and that the profits from each of the subsidiaries, is reflected in farmers’ incomes.”

The inquiry will look into KTDA’s activities and those of its subsidiaries, including KTDA Management Services, Chai Trading Company, Kenya Tea Packers (Ketepa), Majani Insurance Brokers, Greenland Fedha, The Tea Machinery and Engineering Company, KTDA Power Company and the Dubai-based KTDA DMCC.

Another observation is that the setting of tea prices in Kenya “remains an opaque and exclusionary process that is sharply dissimilar from the process in other comparative jurisdictions. – businessdailyafrica.com

WHO chief condemns countries like UK over ‘self-defeating’ vaccine rollout

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization. (Reuters)

The head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched an extraordinary attack on vaccine rollouts in wealthier countries, branding the race to protect their entire population at the expense of those in poorer countries “grotesque”. Speaking at a press conference on Monday, WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was “shocking” how little rich countries have done to avert a “catastrophic moral failure” that he previously warned of in January.

It comes as richer countries have been buying up huge vaccination supplies through bilateral deals with manufacturers and are racing to vaccinate their entire populations. The UK has so far administered the first jab to nearly 28 million adults out of a population of around 66 million. Meanwhile, countries like Timor, Sierra Leone and Yemen have not been able to vaccinate anyone — not even healthcare workers or vulnerable people, according to Our World in Data. Tedros said: “We have the means to avert this failure but it’s shocking how little has been done to avert it.” “The gap between the number of vaccines administered in rich countries and the number of vaccines administered through COVAX is growing every single day and becoming more grotesque every day. “Countries that are now vaccinating younger, healthy people at low risk of disease are doing so at the cost of the lives of health workers, older people and other at-risk groups in other countries.

Warm weather is on its way – just in time for lockdown easing

Temperatures could climb as high as 18C in the week after people are allowed to leave the house again. The easing of lockdown on Monday may coincide with a period of sunny days and higher-than-average temperatures. It’s good news for lockdown-weary Brits who will finally be allowed to meet up with friends and family in outdoor spaces and private gardens from March 29. Gatherings are being restricted to six people or two households but it will be the first time many people are able to see loved ones again since before Christmas. ‘Stay at home’ rules are being replaced by ‘stay local’ guidance, meaning people are allowed to go out without an essential reason. Long-range forecasts show it could be 18C on both Tuesday, March, 29 and Wednesday 30 in London and the south east. Picnics and barbecues could be on the cards throughout the first weeks of April as well. The Met Office forecasters said, in the period after the Easter weekend, ‘high pressure may spread northwards through early April, which will bring a period of settled conditions for most.’

They added: ‘Following this, drier than average and brighter conditions may prevail, with areas away from the far northwest of the country receiving below average rainfall.’ Before the sunshine, the rest of March may still see some unsettled spells but also a fair degree of sunshine. The Met Office’s Becky Mitchell told The Sun: ‘It’ll remain fairly dry across much of the UK over the next two days. ‘There are sunny spells around, particularly across much of England and Wales. ‘In the best of the sunshine, it’ll be a little bit above average of this time of year. ‘However, going ahead, it’ll be a bit wetter across parts of the country, and a band of rain across Scotland and Northern Ireland will gradually move further south.’ The Easter weekend itself is likely to be dry, with some sunshine, but not exceptionally warm, according to Ms Mitchell. Outdoor sports are also set to resume from March 29, while hospitality businesses will be allowed to operate outside again from April 12. – metro.co.uk