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Shilling hits historic low of 119 against the dollar ahead of polls
The Kenyan shilling has for the first time crossed the Sh119 mark against the dollar. The Kenyan shilling has for the first time crossed the Sh119 mark against the dollar, triggering costly imports and higher international debt repayments ahead of Tuesday’s general elections. Central bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows the shilling traded at 119.13 units against the bullish dollar on Monday. The Kenyan currency has been on the back foot since mid-May last year when it stood at Sh106.40 on the combination of weak inflows and strong dollar demand across sectors. The shilling has depreciated 1.47 percent since the beginning of the year and analysts project worse performance in the coming weeks due to post-election jitters as well as runaway oil prices. “Looking ahead, the currency is set to continue losing ground against the USD on the back of election-related uncertainty, a wide current account deficit and eroded foreign exchange reserves,” analysts at Barcelona-based FocusEconomics wrote in a report. A depreciating shilling means that importers will be spending more on bringing in goods such as petroleum products and raw materials for factories, raising the cost of inputs for firms that normally pass the additional expenses to consumers. The volatile shilling also looks set to increase electricity prices through higher forex levy on power bills, reflecting the impact of the strengthening dollar on household budgets. Exporters of agricultural products such as tea, coffee and horticulture who are largely paid in dollars are however set to benefit from the weakening of the Kenyan currency as they will end up earning more. Official data shows imports rose 20.87 percent year-on-year to Sh194 billion in January compared to an 11.21 percent rise in exports to Sh60.41 billion. Kenyans receiving money from relatives abroad are also counting forex gains on the greenback which they exchange for shillings before spending locally. – nation.africa
More than 13,000 people have crossed English Channel into the UK
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel. Picture date: Monday August 8, 2022. More than 13,000 people have crossed the Channel since the Rwanda deportation scheme was announced, new figures show. No one has been sent to the central African country since the policy was announced on 13 April by Home Secretary Priti Patel. Since 14 April, 13,016 people have crossed the English Channel in small boats – with five vessels totalling 176 people making the journey last Sunday alone, the Ministry of Defence has said. The total number of people to have crossed this year now stands at 18,284. Some 28,526 crossed in small boats in 2021; 8,466 in 2020; 1,843 in 2019 and 199 in 2018. On Monday, photographs showed another group of migrants – wearing life jackets and face masks – being brought into Dover by Border Force officials. A number of children and babies were among those moved from the vessel on to a waiting bus. According to analysis by the PA news agency, 1,885 people have been brought to the UK so far in August – more than half of the 3,053 people rescued in August last year. Both candidates to be the next prime minister have committed to continuing the policy. The singular flight scheduled to take people from the UK to Rwanda was halted at the 11th hour following a legal challenge. A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel. Picture date: Monday August 8, 2022. The government has not ruled out leaving Europe’s human rights framework after the last-ditch legal rulings. People smugglers in Iraq have told Sky News that they are following what happens – and that some people may be discouraged from making the journey due to the policy. “People were scared of going to Britain and being deported to Rwanda, but I think this decision is halted for now so migration started again,” one smuggler said. “If the Rwanda policy is applied though, I think people will back out from travelling to Britain and go to Europe instead. They would not go to Britain.” Court documents have revealed that Ms Patel was advised against enacting the scheme by officials, including the UK’s High Commissioner to Rwanda. In February 2021, they raised the fact the country “has been accused of recruiting refugees to conduct armed operations in neighbouring countries”. In April, Ms Patel hailed the Rwanda deal as a “world-class” plan that provided a “blueprint” for other countries to follow. “The UK asylum system is collapsing under a combination of real humanitarian crises and evil people smugglers profiteering by exploiting the system for their own gains,” she said. “This has devastating consequences for the countless men, women and children who have tragically lost their lives or loved ones on perilous journeys. “A global leadership is required…
Win for UDA as Court of Appeal suspends use of manual register
UDA scored a win on Monday evening after the Appellate court temporarily suspended a decision directing IEBC to use manual register concurrently with the electronic register, pending the determination of an appeal the party has filed. The bench of three judges stated that the electoral body will use the directions in the case by NASA in 2017 where the court ordered that IEBC to use the printed register of voters only in instances where the KIEMS kits completely fail with no possibility of repair or replacement. – nation.africa.
Banks, staff on the spot for clients’ money fraud
Central Bank of Kenya. CBK has cautioned that rising fraud in banking and mobile money services risks eroding customer confidence, turning the spotlight on banks and their staff. Rising fraud in banking and mobile money services risks eroding customer confidence, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has cautioned, turning the spotlight on banks and their staff. In a banking sector stability report released yesterday, the CBK said money lost through cybercrime and phone fraud remained high in 2021. “Rapid adoption of mobile money has been categorised as disruptive in the financial services provision. It has, however, come with new risks and raised consumer protection issues, with implications on financial stability risks,” it said. The report said customers who reported to have lost money through cybercrime accounted for 6.1 per cent for mobile bank users, 25.9 per cent for mobile money users and 6.8 per cent for bank account users. Money lost through fraud was reported at 7.5 per cent and 53.3 per cent of mobile bank users who attributed the loss to internal (from the provider) fraud and phone-related fraud respectively. Implications On other hand, 34.5 per cent and 25.9 per cent of bank account holders attributed the loss to internal fraud and phone-related fraud, respectively, with “implications on consumer confidence and overall financial stability,” CBK warned. The rapid adoption of digital financial services has come with increased cyberattack threats, as captured in reports by the National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team Coordination Centre, which is mandated to coordinate response and manage cybersecurity incidents. The centre detected 158.4 million cyber threats as of June 30, 2021, up from 110.9 million in 2020. This surge directed at local targets was due to increased Internet penetration, uptake of e-commerce and cloud-based services to support remote working and increased social media use. New customers The CBK data shows that new client uptake of mobile money accounts eased towards the end of 2021. By December, mobile money providers had 27.1 million active customers, up from 25.7 million in 2020, or a 5.3 per cent annual growth in new customers. In total, 1.9 million new mobile money customers were registered in the 12 months to December 2021, down from 3.6 million new customers registered between January and December 2020. – nation.africa.
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Second-hand vehicle dealers opt for short-term rentals
Some second-hand car dealers have resorted to renting out vehicles for events due to low sales attributed to the global supply chain woes hurting imports. Kenya imports most second-hand vehicles from Japan and other Asian countries, but the Covid-19 pandemic slowed down the production of new vehicles, which has had a spiral effect on prices. Most new car buyers overseas have been holding onto their vehicles much longer resulting in fewer units being available for resale in developing markets. With a drop in sales due to the rising prices, dealers have crafted new sources of revenue through car hire services. “The economic crisis has affected us. During the pandemic, there were no weddings and we were out of business, however, now it’s picking up,” said Mr John Ndwati, a sales manager at an auto dealership in Nairobi. He says the weddings and other pompous events are coming back hence some of the vehicles in the dealership are hired out. “This limousine [pointing at a parked goldish black limo] goes for Sh20,000 per hour,” he said. Weddings and ceremonies in Kenya are typically lavish functions hosting hundreds of people. The car hire business has started picking among second-hand vehicle dealers since last year. Some merchants however still remain in the sales business strictly. “At our auto shop, we strictly sell vehicles and not rent them out,” said Ms Terry Mwihaki, a used car dealer. The Kenyan wedding industry was among the hardest hit sectors of the economy during the pandemic. – businessdailyafrica.
KQ headache as Schiphol extends passenger limits
Kenya Airways (KQ) will have to cope with reduced revenue on the European route as Schiphol International airport extends passenger caps to October. Schiphol has advised airlines that it will be extending the limits on outbound passengers from the facility to October, from the initial August date, which it had issued. The move implies that KQ and other carriers will not be allowed to operate at full capacity out of Schiphol. In June, Amsterdam capped the number of passengers that the national carrier can carry from Schiphol to Nairobi to 78 percent of its capacity on every flight, meaning that the airline is flying empty seats out of the Netherlands. “Schiphol will set a maximum number of passengers per day for the months of September and October as well after consultation with airlines. In September, there will be a maximum of 67,500 local departures per day,” said the airport on its official website. Europe was the second-highest revenue earner for the airline last year raking in Sh11.3 billion and the latest development meant that the carrier’s earnings will be impacted negatively. Kenya Airways suspended the sale of tickets from London to Nairobi last month, as airports in Europe continue to grapple with a shortage of manpower. The move follows a directive by Heathrow Airport instructing airlines to freeze outbound bookings until September, as it contends with a surge in the number of passengers using the facility amid a shortage of manpower to manage the situation. Major airports in Europe have been grappling with a sharp rise in the number of passengers on the back of a shortage of workers, as the airlines and airports struggle to recruit back after cutting jobs at the height of Covid-19 in 2020. Heathrow and Schiphol are the busiest airports in Europe as airlines use them as transit hubs to other regions across the world. – businessdailyafrica.com
Children’s home director jailed for 100 years for defilement
Stephen Nzuki Mutisya, 29, was handed down the long jail term by Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Zainab Abdul who said the act was beastly and inhuman. The director of a children’s home who was convicted of defiling boys under his care has been jailed for 100 years. Stephen Nzuki Mutisya, 29, was handed the long jail term by Milimani Senior Principal Magistrate Zainab Abdul, who said the act was beastly and inhuman. Mutisya defiled the boys at a children’s home in Utawala estate in Nairobi between 2010 and 2016. “Boys and girls of tender age need to be protected by the court with all its mighty from such unkind human beings,” ruled Ms Abdula. The magistrate said courts are empowered by the law to protect the vulnerable by issuing severe sentences against such men to serve as a lesson to those bent on violating the rights of children. Mutisya, the court noted, had been entrusted to care for and guide the boys properly and impart good values as he had held himself out as a practising Christian. “The accused is a wolf in a sheep’s skin. His actions have betrayed him. He misapplied and misquoted the holy scriptures to woo the victims into believing what he was doing to them was godly,” ruled Ms Abdul. As a result of misleading the boys by quoting the Bible and abusing them sexually, the magistrate said, he went against his initial calling as a model for the boys from poor backgrounds. Mutisya was found guilty of defiling the minors between 2010 and 2016. Sentencing Mutisya, the magistrate considered the recorded views of the victims, who had urged the court to impose a deterrent sentence. “The court has considered the victims’ impact report which was filed before this court. The victims were grateful to the court, which convicted the accused,” Ms Abdul. She added: “The victims asked this court to hand down a harsh custodial sentence.” She said the sentence should act as a lesson to deter others from such an offence. When she convicted the accused late last month, the magistrate said Mutisya took advantage of the children while quoting Bible verses to them in a bid to convince them that his illegal acts were allowed in the Bible. Ms Abdul said the rapist was positively identified by the victims during the trial. The victims were below 10 years old. The offences were committed at (Scream Africa Child Home and Vijiko School) in Utawala, Nairobi County. Mutisya used to take the boys to his residence, serve them with food and drinks and share Bible stories before violating them. They were defiled at different times between 2010 and 2016. – nation.africa.
New travel rules for Spain: what documents you need and other Covid requirements this summer Spain continues to enforce Covid-related entry rules, despite an ever-increasing number of countries scrapping all restrictions. Arrivals must prove they have either been vaccinated against Covid, have recently recovered from the virus or show evidence of a negative test. On the ground, face masks are now only required on public transport or in healthcare settings. However, there have been calls to reinstate them in indoor public settings amid rising infection rates. Last month, Spanish health minister Carolina Darias recommended people wear face masks inside and similar announcements have been made by local authorities in Catalonia and Madrid. And it’s not just Covid regulations which have the potential to confuse travellers in the coming months. A new Brexit quirk has emerged which suggests UK travellers to Spain must be able to show evidence that they have enough money – £85 a day – to support themselves during their visit. However, it seems unlikely travellers will actually be forced to prove this. Find out more, here. Can I travel to Spain? Yes, but there are still Covid-related entry requirements. Travellers need to provide one of the following: 1. A certificate of full vaccination: Proof of being fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to arrival in Spain. If more than 270 days have passed since your second dose, proof of a booster vaccination is also required, except for teenagers aged 12 to 17. 2. A certificate of recovery: Proof of recent recovery from Covid. Recovery certificates issued by the official authorities will be valid at least 11 days after the first NAAT diagnostic test or positive antigen screening test, carried out by qualified personnel. The certificate shall be valid for 180 days after the date of the first positive diagnostic test result. 3. A negative test certificate (this can either be a PCR taken no more than 72 hours prior to departure, or an antigen test taken no longer than 24 hours prior to departure). Children under 12 are exempt from these requirements. Watch: Europe must act or risk tougher COVID rules, says WHO Scroll back up to restore default view. Do I need to take a test before travel to Spain? Fully vaccinated travellers (administered at least 14 days prior to arrival) are not required to take a test. Unvaccinated travellers can show proof of a recent negative test or a certificate of recovery (dated within the last six months). Children under 12 are exempt from these requirements. Do I need to fill in any forms? It depends. Children under 12, those travelling to Spain with an EU COVID passport or equivalent (including NHS COVID travel pass) or proof of recent recovery from Covid no longer need to complete the Health Control Form (FCS in Spanish) prior to arrival. However, those who aren’t fully vaccinated and can’t show proof of recent recovery must fill in the Health Control Form. What are the rules for children? Double-jabbed children can show a…
Woman who smuggled firearm from Somalia gets 30 years in prison
Ms Jamila Eymoi at the Mandera Law Courts on January 19, 2022. She was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison after being found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. Early last year, Ms Jamila Maalim Hussein Eymoi fell in love with a military officer in Somalia and crossed the border to settle with her newfound lover in Bulahawa, a town conjoined to Mandera town. She did not follow immigration laws when she crossed the border. This is simply because it is not normal for anyone to ask you about your travel documents when crossing into Somalia or returning to Kenya. There is no official immigration point, let alone immigration officers, except police officers purporting to guard the border as they collect Sh50 from anybody crossing into Bulahawa or into Mandera. “You don’t really need anything like a passport because nobody will ask you about it at the border. You only need Sh50 for the police officers,” a regular traveller between the two towns said, requesting not to be named. Bulahawa in Somalia, Mandera in Kenya and Suftu in Ethiopia are so connected that a local can wake up in Mandera, have breakfast and cross into Suftu for lunch and then into Bulahawa for supper before deciding where to spend the night. “We have people with wives housed in each of these three towns and they keep just going round and it has become a normal life for them,” our source said. On an unspecified day in April last year, Ms Eymoi crossed back into Kenya from Somalia and just like any other person, she paid her “immigration fee” to the police officers and her luggage was not checked. She proceeded to her uncle’s house at Busley estate with Mandera town. She told her host that she had come for treatment at Mandera County Referral Hospital and that she would travel back to Takaba in Mandera West immediately after she was treated. Mr Hussein Nunow Sheikh, her uncle, handed her ‘sick’ niece Sh200 for transport to the hospital. Ms Eymoi had managed to trick her uncle to believe that she had indeed travelled from Takaba and that she was sick. On April 20, 2021, Mr Sheikh was shocked to return home in the evening to find well-armed security officers in his compound. The officers were with Ms Eymoi, who had gone for treatment. Mr Sheikh told a Mandera court that the officers and his visitor entered his house and seized an item under a bed that his niece used. “I was summoned to go to the Mandera Police Station, where I was informed that the item found in my house was a firearm,” Mr Sheikh told the court. Mr Sheikh said it was Ms Eymoi who lifted the mattress on the bed and removed an item. According to police, Ms Eymoi crossed the border with the stolen firearm and went to hide it at her uncle’s house, where she spent a night. She left Mr Sheikh’s home,…
Username Investment Diaspora Team will be at KWITU Grand Reunion 2022 in USA as from 4th to 6th August, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. Venue: TBA. For more information please contact: Lukas Gacheru +1 630 656 3565 or email: lukasgacheru@username.co.ke.
Taiwan: Nancy Pelosi trip labelled as ‘extremely dangerous’ by Beijing
Watch historic moment Nancy Pelosi lands in Taiwan, the first visit by such a senior US official in decades. China has branded a landmark visit to Taiwan by US Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “extremely dangerous”. It accused Ms Pelosi, the most senior US politician in 25 years to visit the island China claims as its own, of “playing with fire”. “Those who play with fire will perish by it,” Beijing warned in a statement. Ms Pelosi said her visit “honours America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy” and did not contradict US policy. As her plane touched down, Chinese state media reported that its military jets were crossing the Taiwan strait. Taiwan denied those reports at the time – but later said that more than 20 Chinese military planes had entered its air defence zone on Tuesday. China – which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province which will one day reunite with it – has previously warned that its armed forces “will not stand idly by”. Within an hour of the plane’s arrival, it announced that the People’s Liberation Army will conduct a series of live-fire military drills in the air and at sea around Taiwan later this week – warning ships and aircraft not to enter the affected areas. It follows days of escalating tensions ahead of the visit, in which Chinese warplanes had already ventured out as far as the median line, the unofficial dividing line separating China and Taiwan in the waters between them. In her statement, Ms Pelosi said: “America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy.” And in an article published in the Washington Post newspaper at the same time, Ms Pelosi also wrote that Taiwan’s “robust democracy… is under threat”. “In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) accelerating aggression, our congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom,” she said. After her arrival, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that the trip was consistent with the US’s longstanding policy towards China and did not violate the country’s sovereignty. “There’s no reason for this visit to become a spurring event for a crisis or conflict,” he said. While Ms Pelosi’s visit had been the subject of vast international speculation for days, it had been shrouded in secrecy up until the last minute. When she set off on a tour of Asia on Sunday, there was no mention of Taiwan on her official itinerary, which included Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. The White House has been open in its opposition to any such trip, and President Joe Biden said the military assessed it as “not a good idea”. But after Ms Pelosi landed, White House spokesman John Kirby told CNN this visit was similar to previous trips by other officials. “There is no reason for…
British Airways suspends Heathrow short-haul ticket sales
Domestic and European flights withdrawn from sale until Monday as airlines deal with airport’s passenger cap British Airways has suspended ticket sales on short-haul flights from Heathrow until 8 August after the London airport’s decision to cap capacity and tackle widespread disruption and cancellations. The airline said the sales suspension on domestic and European destinations was designed to allow existing customers to rebook flights when needed. Airlines and airports across Britain and Europe have struggled to cope with the rebound in post-lockdown travel, with many failing to recruit enough staff to handle check-ins and baggage. Heathrow, like Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, has told airlines to limit the number of tickets they sell over the summer, after it capped the number of passengers flying from the hub at 100,000 a day to limit queues, baggage delays and cancellations. Heathrow said last week that the cap had delivered a marked improvement in punctuality and baggage handling. “As a result of Heathrow’s request to limit new bookings, we’ve decided to take responsible action and limit the available fares on some Heathrow services to help maximise rebooking options for existing customers, given the restrictions imposed on us and the ongoing challenges facing the entire aviation industry,” BA said in a statement. However, one industry expert argued that it was positive news for consumers because it would allow the airline to make sure that people who had confirmed bookings would still be able to fly on schedule. Julia Lo Bue-Said – the chief executive of the industry body Advantage Travel Partnership – told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It is positive news for consumers. In one respect it sounds quite counterintuitive that an airline would be reducing seats at a peak period, but absolutely it’s all about building resilience, making sure there’s less disruption,” and less risk to those who have booked. The company earlier responded to Heathrow’s cap on passenger numbers by announcing it would cancel 10,300 flights until October, with a million passengers affected. While the move stops BA’s access to the lucrative last-minute flight market during peak season, Lo Bue-Said argued it was a short-term solution to meet consumer demand while minimising disruptions. “It enables them to kind of scale up in a way,” said Lo Bue-Said. Responding to the news on Twitter, one user asked: “Shouldn’t short-haul flights be banned anyway on environmental grounds as well as reducing pressure on airports?” Emirates last month rejected Heathrow’s order to cancel flights to comply with the cap. The airline accused the airport of showing “blatant disregard for consumers” by attempting to force it to “deny seats to tens of thousands of travellers”. A Heathrow spokesperson said at the time it would be “disappointing” if any airline “would want to put profit ahead of a safe and reliable passenger journey”. Virgin Atlantic also criticised the airport’s actions and claimed it was responsible for failures that were contributing to the chaos. Airlines on 21 July were accused of “harmful practices” in their treatment of passengers affected…
Uber loses $2.6 billion, but its stock soared anyway
The ride-hailing company released its second-quarter results before the stock market opening Tuesday Uber reported a $2.6 billion loss but outperformed Wall Street’s expectations in the second quarter, sending its stock price up more than 10 percent in early trading Tuesday. The net loss was mostly related to the company’s investments in three mobility start-ups: Aurora, Grab and Zomato. Aside from those losses, the company saw a surge in growth, compared with 2021, as travel continued to return to a state of normalcy. The company’s gross bookings grew 33 percent year-over-year, while revenue jumped 105 percent to $8.1 billion in the second quarter. Chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi highlighted what he called the company’s balanced growth and $382 million in free cash flow, “all on a platform that’s larger than ever, with the number of consumers and earners using Uber now both at all-time highs.” Investors cheered Uber’s results despite the financial losses, sending Uber stock up 13.6 percent in premarket trading. Investors thought the results were going to be much worse, says Wedbush senior equity research analyst Dan Ives. “[Wall Street] was expecting a debacle from Uber with inflation eating into profits and demand softening consumer appetite for ride sharing,” Ives said in an email. “The quarter was a stark contrast, and Uber delivered a strong quarter across all metrics, which will give investors confidence this turnaround story is alive and well with Dara & Co. leading the way.” The ride-hailing company’s positive results cut against broader fears of an economic downturn, which has resulted in layoffs, a slowdown in hiring and corporate belt-tightening in the tech sector. Uber drivers have been faced with challenges related to the economy for months, such as rising gas prices and cost-of-living increases associated with inflation. The economic pressures led the company to add a fuel surcharge, of 45 cents to 55 cents per ride, to customer trips beginning in March in an effort to offset driver costs. You may be paying more for Uber, but drivers aren’t getting their cut of the fare hike Since going public in 2019, Uber has been locked in a pattern of steep financial losses, ranging from the billions to hundreds of millions of dollars on a quarterly basis. Its business worries were further exacerbated by the pandemic that sharply cut into its rides, and a driver shortage that emerged on the heels of pandemic restrictions. More recently, however, the company has reported a rebound in ridership that has bolstered its revenue, driven by customers returning to the app. – washingtonpost.com
Ayman al-Zawahiri: Al-Qaeda leader dies in US drone strike – reports
Zawahiri took over the leadership of al-Qaeda following the killing of Osama Bin Laden in May 2011 The US has killed the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a counter-terrorism operation in Afghanistan, American media are reporting. They say he was killed in a drone strike carried out by the CIA in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Sunday. There is no independent confirmation of this at present. However, the White House says that President Joe Biden will give details of the operation in Afghanistan in the next few hours. CBS News said three sources had confirmed the killing. The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN also quoted unidentified sources identifying the victim. Zawahiri took over al-Qaeda after the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011. He and Bin Laden masterminded the 9/11 attacks on the United States together, and was one of the US’s “most wanted terrorists”. Profile: Ayman al-Zawahiri A senior US official earlier confirmed there had been a “successful” operation against a “significant” al-Qaeda target in Afghanistan. The operation took place over the weekend and there were no civilian casualties, the official added. At the same time, a Taliban spokesman reported that a US drone strike had taken place on Sunday in a residential area of Kabul. He described it as a clear violation of international principles. “Such actions are a repetition of the failed experiences of the past 20 years and are against the interests of the United States of America, Afghanistan and the region,” the spokesman added. Zawahiri, an eye surgeon who helped found the Egyptian Islamic Jihad militant group, took over the leadership of al-Qaeda following the killing by US forces of Bin Laden in May 2011. Before that, Zawahiri was often referred to as Bin Laden’s right-hand man and the chief ideologue of al-Qaeda. He is believed by some experts to have been the “operational brains” behind the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States. Ayman al-Zawahiri was the ideological brains behind al-Qaeda. An Egyptian doctor who was imprisoned in the 1980s for involvement in militant Islam, he left the country after his release and became involved in violent international jihadist movements. Eventually he settled in Afghanistan and joined forces with a rich Saudi, Osama Bin Laden. Together they declared war on the US and organised the 11 September 2001 attacks. It took a decade for Bin Laden to be tracked down and killed by the US. After that, Zawahiri assumed leadership of al-Qaeda, but he became a remote and marginal figure, only occasionally issuing messages. If his death is confirmed, the US will herald it as a victory, particularly after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, but Zawahiri held relatively little sway as new groups and movements such as Islamic State have become increasingly influential. A new al-Qaeda leader will no doubt emerge, but he will likely have even less influence than his predecessor.
Uhuru officially commissions Nairobi Expressway, revamped Eastern Bypass
President Uhuru Kenyatta with Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Zhou Pingjan during the officially opening of the Nairobi Expressway. President Uhuru Kenyatta officially commissioned the Nairobi Expressway on Sunday, saying that the 88-billion-shilling project has not been financed through debt or government funds. Speaking at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport(JKIA) toll station along the Expressway, President Kenyatta praised the project, saying it has reduced congestion and strengthened Kenya’s position as a regional economic hub. “This project has not been financed through debt or Government funds. As the first Private Partnership (PPP) road project in Kenya, Nairobi Expressway marks the Kenya Government’s pivot towards leveraging private capital to bridge our infrastructure deficit,” said the President. He explained that China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), which was tasked with executing the project, designed, financed and built the expressway, and will continue to maintain and operate it for 30 years, before transferring its ownership to the government. During the concession period, the company will collect toll charges from motorists using the road, from which they will regain their investment. “The contractor will also revamp the parts of Mombasa Road, Uhuru Highway and Waiyaki way that are adjacent to the expressway, at no additional cost to taxpayers. This project is, therefore, a prime example of what can be achieved when the public and private sectors work together,” said the President. He added that the completion of the project took half the projected time of 18 months instead of 36, owing to implementation of an accelerated construction program. “Since we opened the road for public trials in April, it now takes between 15 and 24 minutes to drive from Mlolongo in Machakos County to Rironi in Kiambu County. Before the expressway, that journey would take at least three hours which is the equivalent of flying to Addis Ababa and back,” he said. While declaring the official commissioning of the revamped Nairobi Eastern bypass, President Kenyatta said its renovation was conducted to distribute traffic, reduce congestion in and out of Nairobi, and to boost connectivity within the Nairobi Metropolis. The Nairobi Eastern Bypass connects the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway with the Nairobi-Thika Highway. The traffic, he stated, resulted from sprouting of businesses along the bypass, which in turn, made the road an unreliable link to JKIA. “The Government has expanded the Eastern Bypass into a four-lane dual carriageway so that it can serve as a reliable alternative link to JKIA, and to the eastern parts of Kenya. The expressway and the bypass road will address the nightmare of traffic gridlocks in Nairobi estimated by experts to cost the nation over five billion shillings annually in lost productivity time and wasted fuel,” said the President. Kenyans, said the president, can now enjoy a better business environment, emergency response for all those in need of critical care and better commuter movement and relief for those traveling to and from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. “This singular project secures Nairobi’s status as the region’s capital and economic nerve centre and, therefore, strengthening Kenya’s…
Competition amongst East African ports heats up
An aerial view of a section of the Port of Mombasa. Tanzania, Somaliland and Mozambique are investing heavily in expanding and rehabilitating existing ports as they roll out newer facilities in a race to become the most preferred trade gateways in East Africa. Kenya’s Mombasa Port, on the other hand – the largest and busiest facility in East Africa – is experiencing lower investor activity as delays, congestion and poor management impact operations, according to GBS Africa, a UK-based consultancy firm, in its Africa Ports Report 2022. The investments being made to upgrade port infrastructure elsewhere in the region are increasing the vibrancy and diversity of East African trade routes, but also piling pressure on Mombasa Port to up its game. “The traditional dominance of the Port of Mombasa is being challenged by other regional facilities that are attracting more investment and are less resistant to reform, while entirely new deep-water seaports are being constructed to diversify regional trade and shipping routes,” according to the report. Even Kenya’s recently commissioned Lamu Port is tipped to give Mombasa a run for its money. “If Mombasa does not soon attract fresh investment, it will lose its ranking to Chinese-operated Lamu port and other regional facilities,” said GBS Africa. The World Bank’s global Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) 2021, ranks the Port of Mombasa at position 293 and Dar es Salaam at position 362, out of a total 370, with the low rankings linked to delays, congestion and mismanagement of the facilities. The regional upstart is the Port of Berbera, in Somaliland. Since 2016, the port has benefitted from 442 million US dollars in investments, following an agreement signed between the government of Somaliland and Emirati multinational logistics company, DP World. When complete, the Port of Berbera is expected to handle up to 3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) annually, triple the current capacity of regional heavyweight Djibouti, which has a capacity of one million TEU annually. By 2050, Berbera is projected to handle 18.1 million tons of cargo. Ethiopia is among the strategic investors in the port and has committed to developing infrastructure to build what is known as the Berbera Corridor into a major regional trade gateway, thereby offering land-linked Ethiopia with the option to diversify its supply lines away from Djibouti’s congested port. In 2021, Tigrayan rebels disrupted supply lines to Djibouti, pushing the Ethiopian government to speed up the development of alternative trade routes – with Berbera and Eritrea’s ports of Assab and Massawa emerging as top options. A deal with Eritrea is yet to materialise. Djibouti currently handles up to 95 percent of all of Ethiopia’s inbound trade, according to the report. “The revamped port of Berbera now offers an alternative to Djibouti as a gateway to lucrative trade routes through the Suez Canal,” read the report in part. The report describes Somaliland’s port as a “game-changer” for the Horn of Africa country that to date has hardly been recognised on the international trade scene. By 2035, the…
The refurbished Nakuru Railway Station was recently launched by President H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta.
Karoney bows to pressure, unlocks land deals worth billions
Lands CS Farida Karoney, CAS Gideon Mung’aro and Prof Mutahi Ngunyi look on as Stella Chemutai a data Clerk officer takes them through a session during a tour of the Central Registry at Ardhi House. In a deal signed with the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and the Institute of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) on Tuesday, Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney said search results for the 100,000 land assets will be available immediately while feedback on another 74,000 parcels would be provided within 14 days once they are fully authenticated. “The Ministry will activate the application for searches on Ardhisasa. For the 100,000 verified properties, searches will be issued immediately. For the 74,000 that are still undergoing the process of validation, applicants will get a prompt on the reasons for the rejection within 14 days,” read a pact signed by the Ms Karoney, LSK President Erick Theuri, and his ISK counterpart Abraham Samoei. The deal followed a crisis meeting after the lawyers’ lobby threatened to stage a demonstration on Wednesday over transaction delays on the National Lands Management Information System commonly known as Ardhisasa. The system is supposed to streamline land transactions. Information relating to survey, physical planning, land administration, registration, valuation, adjudication, and settlement is supposed to be obtained and processed digitally. Sluggish processing Users including bankers, lawyers, and surveyors however decried sluggish processing of property search results on the platform. The Kenya Bankers Association earlier this year said the hiccups have put on hold transactions worth Sh102 billion, while the LSK Nairobi branch said last year that multibillion-shilling land transactions had stalled. The ministry however insists that the process has been slow due to the rigours involved in cleaning up land data and cautions taken not to transfer weaknesses of the old land records. The ministry also says land owners on most of the properties that have been verified and uploaded on the platform are yet to register and list the properties- a key step to unlocking the properties to be transactional. “The meeting acknowledged the achievements in the digitisation of land records, conversion, and implementation of the Sectional Properties Act, 2020. This has been a rigorous process involving data cleaning, coding, and scanning of records,” Ms Karoney, Mr Theuri, and Mr Samoei said in a communique following the Tuesday meeting. Data from the ministry shows that, between April 2021 and April 2022, a total of 510,945 Kenyans visited the platform, and 46,746 users registered, including professionals such as advocates, surveyors, and bankers who deal with land transactions daily. A total of 86 charges, 34 transfers, 26 sale of plans transactions, and 54,804 land rent payments have been completed through Ardhisasa over the past year, the data shows. – nation.africa.
Puzzle of Murang’a cattle thieves using alcohol, anesthesia to steal animals
A probox carrying stolen cows. Livestock thieves in Murang’a first make them drunk with alcohol and after they black out, carry them off to slaughter them in the bushes or sell them to unscrupulous meat traders. So vicious is this racket that it is recorded in the county’s 2021/22 financial year security report as costing area breeders an average of Sh5 million per week. Besides giving them alcohol, the targeted animals are also sprayed with surgical anaesthesia drugs that make them pass out for easier stealing, police say. In most cases where rustling has occurred, empty bottles of highly potent alcoholic drinks have been found, said Hassan Aden Ali, a board member of the county community policing support initiative. “In other incidents, we find wet pieces of clothes that upon analysis have turned out to be doused with anaesthesia,” he said. The most targeted animals in this scam are chickens, cows, goats, pigs and donkeys. As a result, area security agents have banned transportation of animals and meat at night. “It is the law that meat and animals be transported between 6am and 6pm. We will not entertain transportation during the night,” said Gatanga County Police Commander Peter Muchemi. He said his area is used as a transit zone by rustlers operating in neighbouring sub-counties as they transport the loot to the Kiambu and Nairobi black markets. Murang’a South sub-county Police Commander Alexander Shikondi said the same meat business sanctions will apply. “We want all meat transporters to be registered and adhere to public health guidelines on how it is packed and transported … This habit of some characters packing meat in sacks and covering it with leaves will stop,” he said. All slaughterhouses will also be registered, he said. “We want to be sure. When we get you transporting meat, you should be in a position to take us to the slaughterhouse the meat originated from,” he said. In Kandara, police boss Michael Mwaura said vigilance had been heightened following attacks by rustlers. “The rustlers are our local people who conspire with outsiders to steal cows, goats and pigs. Others steal hens. With security agents overwhelmed, we must remain alert,” he said. He said the gangs collude with some pharmacists, who sell them the sedative drugs, and liquor outlets that provide strong concoctions to knock out the animals. “We also have transporters who rent out their motor vehicles and motorcycles to be used in the racket. Consider yourselves as living dangerously since we are after you,” he said. He also warned area chiefs that he said keep quiet even when they know about the areas in their jurisdictions that are used to slaughter stolen animals before the meat is packaged and transported to the market. Two private slaughterhouses in Kandara are being monitored after they were cited to be used by rustlers for ‘meat laundering’, with stolen animals slaughtered there for the mainstream market. “We want cooperation with these slaughterhouses. The owners must put in place measures to minimise…

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