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SEACOM acquires South African internet service provider

MacroLan manages an expanding fibre network serving a growing number of Cape Town’s commercial users

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SEACOM has announced its acquisition of Cape Town-based Internet service provider and managed services provider, MacroLan. The acquisition is in line with the pan-African telecom enabler’s strategy to extend the reach of its fibre network to more metropolitan areas across South Africa, as well as to bolster its managed services capability for business customers.

MacroLan will become SEACOM’s Cape Town regional office and will lead SEACOM’s expansion in the Western Cape market for fibre Internet access to the business-customer premises.

MacroLan manages an expanding fibre network serving a growing number of Cape Town’s commercial users. It also owns and manages fibre infrastructure and access at numerous commercial buildings, offering clients access to a range of fast, effective and well-priced business broadband services as well as value-added services.

Byron Clatterbuck, CEO at SEACOM said: “SEACOM has grown significantly following the successful launch of SEACOM Business which focuses on bringing broadband and cloud services directly to commercial business users. The MacroLan acquisition is a continuation of this story, through which we will grow the SEACOM family of talented staff and satisfied customers in the Western Cape.”

Says Paul Johnson, CEO at MacroLan: “This transaction gives us the backing of a major pan-African telecom partner, in turn offering us access to the resources and muscle we need to grow our business. Our existing customers will continue to experience the same high levels of service to which they are accustomed, with the added benefit that our network will now integrate directly into SEACOM’s African networks and submarine cable investments.”macrolan SEACOM acquires South African internet service providerRelated: Liquid Telecom fibre spreads to 39 counties

Adds Suveer Ramdhani, Chief Development Officer at SEACOM, said: “As an established, profitable business with a history of consistent growth and a strong focus on the customer experience, MacroLan is a valuable addition to our portfolio. This acquisition strengthens our on-net fibre reach into the Western Cape, giving us a great platform for further expansion. We will leverage MacroLan’s experience with fibre infrastructure deployment to further jointly develop our national network.”

The SEACOM Business division offers best-in-class connectivity and cloud services in South African metros, with Fibre Internet Access options ranging from 25Mbps up to 1Gbps. The offering for commercial customers and property managers leverages SEACOM’s abundant and scalable capacity on its undersea cable system and continent-wide IP-MPLS network.

Some of the benefits of SEACOM’s fibre network for property managers and businesses include an open access last mile and international network, a low contention ratio on the standard service as well as dedicated offerings with no contention, symmetrical upload and download speeds that enables users to download and upload data at the same speed and no fair usage policy or out of bundle charges.

Business Today is the leading independent online business website in Kenya. Started in 2012 by a veteran business journalist, it has a huge following both in Kenya and abroad. It covers various business and related issues. Email editor at: [email protected]

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Business News

Travel agents’ plea as poll impasse persists

Kenya Association of Travel Agents says they have lost Ksh 1.6 billion due to depressed business travel, which could double if current uncertainty is not urgently resolved

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Kenya’s travel agents have appealed to political leaders to find a solution to the current poll standoff, saying prolonged electioneering period is taking a great toll on business travel.

The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) said whereas the industry was able to withstand the aftermath of the August 8 General Election, the ongoing political uncertainty punctuated with violent protests is threatening to bring business to a grinding halt.

“Overall air ticket bookings from various booking channels by travel agents have dropped by about 10% from 1.7 million to 1.5 million for the period ending September compared to same period last year,” KATA CEO Nicanor Sabula said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

“It is highly likely that the last two months the drop has been more than 50%,” Sabula said.

He said travel agents have in general recorded a 30% drop in business as a result of cancellations or no bookings, and this could even be higher for agents that heavily rely on government business as with reports indicating drops of up to 50%.

Sabula said airlines are recording low bookings and high number of cancellations for conferences, meetings and leisure travel for December periods with a number of them grappling with high requests for refunds.

“We are therefore calling on all the major political players in the country to be cognizant of the impact the political impasse is having on the economy and business and find a quick solution so that the country can move on,” Sabula said.

Business travel is a key sub-sector of the tourism industry with estimated annual sales of Ksh 52 billion (US$500 million) and provides employment to thousands of Kenyans who work within the travel agencies across the major cities in the country.

The industry as any in the tourism sector is highly sensitive to uncertainty, safety and security and any threat to violence instantly destabilises business.

There have been cancellations of major events, meetings and conferences set to be hosted in Kenya among them the UNAIDS Global Prevention Coalition Meeting, the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) among other high level corporate meetings which are now being moved to neighboring countries.

“It is estimated that with average monthly ticket sales of about 50 million US dollars (Ksh 5.2 billion), the industry has in the last two months alone lost about 15 million dollars (Ksh 1.6 billion) worth of sales as a result of the ongoing political uncertainty. This could rise to over 30 million dollars (Ksh 3.1 billion) if the current impasse is not quickly resolved,” said Sabula.

Kenya’s capital, Nairobi is a key economic hub for the Eastern and Central Africa region hosting several global companies, UN agencies and Non-Governmental Organisations thus playing a pivotal role in business travel across the region.

“Political uncertainty and violence is affecting the decisions to travel. We appeal for the immediate cessation of the violent demonstrations and restrain from the security organs so as to redeem the global image of the country and instill confidence of visitors and investors,” Sabula said.

ALSO SEE: Political impasse hits tourist arrivals

The travel agents said the recent government ban on travel by government officials has greatly affected spending on travel therefore hugely impacting the sector.

“Government, like in any other sectors, is a big consumer of travel services contributing to more than 60 percent of business and therefore a blanket ban for all but essential travel is having a major toll on the business,” they said.

The government in September banned all civil servants from travelling outside the country without clearance from the president. But the travel agents called on the government to rescind the ban.

Sabula said the current period is usually high season for business travel as it is the time when many companies and organizations hold strategic meetings to budget and plan for the following year.

“This is the case also with government departments and agencies. However, bookings have significantly dropped therefore affecting domestic travel a great deal,” he said and appealed for calm among Kenyans even as the country goes through the current uncertainty.

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Business News

African Spirits woos consumers with new Glen Rock whisky

The whisky forms part of the company’s market penetration strategy, targeting to meet the current market demand by the mid-level market consumers

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Kenya’s leading indigenously-owned alcoholic spirits manufacturer, Africa Spirits Limited (ASL), has launched a new blended whisky targeting to capture the growing whisky market. The launch of Glen Rock Blended Whisky follows a two-year product development programme.

Speaking when she confirmed the launch of the new product, ASL’s Head of Marketing Nyawira Kariuki said that the new brand has been formulated under a collaborative venture with European-based Master Blender to offer consumers an inspirational, quality and great tasting Whisky.

“At ASL, we remain proudly Kenyan but globally focused with a commitment to continue producing high quality, safe and value for money beverages,” Ms Kariuki noted.

Glen Rock whisky forms part of ASL’s market penetration strategy, targeting to meet the current market demand by the mid-level market consumers.

Ms Kariuki added: “Glen Rock whisky targets the middle-market customers who are trading up to whisky and are looking to upscale their choices with a great tasting, quality drink.”

Established in 2004, ASL has played a key role in shaping the local alcohol beverage market, with its brands leading various segments of Brandy, Gin and Vodka. Its products include: Legend Gold Brandy, Blue moon Vodka, Blue Moon Vodka flavors (Apple, Mango & Ginger), Gypsy King Gin and The Furaha Range, among others.

Related: Legend Gold Brandy lovers to get free airtime

The company is part of the investment portfolio of businessman Humphrey Kariuki. His other interests include WOW Beverages, Dalbit Petroleum, The Hub Karen, Mount Kenya Safari Club, Great Lakes Africa Energy among others.

As a leader in the industry, ASL was the first local company to introduce non-refillable caps on its product in 2014, a safety measure that ensures the integrity of its products. This technology has now become an industry standard.

“Our consumer base is dynamic and that is why we are inspired to innovate and create products that they can trust. Our commitment to our loyal consumers is providing them with a quality alcoholic beverage they can trust,” said Ms Kariuki.

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Business News

KWAL moves to cement foothold on Mt Kenya region

Brewer terms opening of new depot in Meru as a strategic move, complemented by its growing business opportunities and strategic geographical position in the region

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KWAL’s Warehouse Manager Mr Philip Bartay shows Meru County Executive Committee (CEC) member in charge of Trade, Industrialisation, Tourism and Cooperatives Mr Maingi Mugambi some of the KWAL products available at the Meru depot. Looking on is the Meru County Liquor Board CEO Mr Samuel Muriithi and KWAL MD Mr Carlos Gomes

Kenya Wine Agencies Limited (KWAL) has launched its new depot in Meru county in an effort to grow and serve its Mount Kenya region customers better. The move to open the Meru depot comes at a time when the company is looking to grow its national market share in the alcoholic beverages market.

This launch comes barely a week after KWAL .The launch of the Meru depot comes just a week after the launch of the KWAL depot in Eldoret.

The depot is located within the Meru town central business district which is easily accessible to distributors from Embu, Isiolo and other towns within the region.

Present during the event was Meru County County Executive Committee (CEC) Member for Trade, Industrialisation, Tourism and Cooperatives Mr Maingi Mugambi who congratulated KWAL on the opening of their depot and the steps that they are taking to grow the grassroots economy by ensuring the adequate supply of their products in the region.

Also present during the event was the Meru County Liquor Board CEO Mr Samuel Muriithi, KWAL Managing Director Mr Carlos Gomes, KWAL National Sales Manager Mr Paul Odeyo, KWAL Supply Chain Director Mr Mwenda Kageenu.

Speaking at the launch event, KWAL Managing Director, Mr Carlos Gomes noted the move as strategic due to the business opportunities and growth of the region.

Related: South African spirits maker swallows Kenya Wines Agencies

“Meru was strategic move for us, complemented by its growing business opportunities and strategic geographical position in the region”, he further noted. “Our existing dealer network will ensure that KWAL’s premium products are enjoyed across the Mount Kenya region.”

Once fully operational the new Meru County depot will include a Commercial and Supply Chain function, capable of the highest standards of service and efficiency.

KWAL currently has its footmark in various towns such as Eldoret, Nakuru, Kisumu and Mombasa. Adding a Meru depot under its wing will ease the companies operations within the region, maintain and improve client relations while ensuring business growth and continuity across the board.

Meru County is among the top 20 wealthiest counties in Kenya, it’s also strategically located within the Mount Kenya region due to its access to other counties such as Isiolo, Kirinyaga, Nyeri and Embu. Meru is also home to other major corporate dealers and depots making it the perfect home for KWAL in the region.

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Business News

Naivas shuts down two retail stores

However, management says Old Ronald Ngala branch was adjacent to a new one while Githunguri branch’s output was wanting, adding no staffer would be affected

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Chain retailer Naivas Supermarkets has closed its Ronald Ngala branch in Nairobi (adjacent to Tuskys Supermarket) and relocated the Githunguri branch to Utawala in what they said was operational and management process aimed at cutting costs.

Speaking to Business Today, the Chief of Operations at Naivas Willy Kimani refuted claims that they feared competition from their rival, Tuskys Supermarkets, which seems to have been reenergised after they acquired a stake at the struggling Nakumatt. Tuskys has a branch adjacent to the Naivas one.

“We do not fear any competition at all. The stores’ operations were relocated to the new stores. The Githunguri store’s operations have been moved to Utawala and old Ronald Ngala to new Ronald Ngala branch. Ronald Ngala branch was adjacent to the new one and hence management thought it wise to merge the operations,” explained Kimani.

He added the retailer was concerned with the performance of the Githunguri branch, revealing that it performed below the expectations and hence the decision to move it to Utawala. “Githunguri store did not fit well with the company’s financial vision (hence we shut it down),” added Kimani.

However, Kimani noted that no staffer will be affected by the shut down and relocation, saying that, instead, they would still hire more people to man the Kericho and Old Barclays stores.

“All staff members were absorbed and also in the process of adding new staff members for Kericho branch and former Barclays Moi avenue store,” he assured.

Naivas joins Nakumatt, which has been downsizing in recent months, and also owes various landlords and suppliers millions of shillings. Some of their properties have been confiscated by the Thika Road Mall, which says it is owed Ksh 50 million in rent arrears.

Kimani also blamed the tense political duels to slowdown in business, especially on the high value items.

READ: Court allows closure of Nakumatt Junction
 Naivas Limited was started in July 1990 as a privately owned company by Peter Mukuha Kago, who died on 6 May 2010. It previously traded as Rongai Self Service Stores Limited, serving mainly in Rongai in Nakuru County. The company name was changed later to Naivasha Self Service Stores Limited, before re-branding to the current Naivas Limited, in 2007.

In August 2013, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Massmart, a subsidiary of retail giant Walmart, offered to acquire a 51% stake in Naivas at a cost of KSh3 billion, giving Massmart a controlling interest in the retail chain. The bid triggered a feud at family-owned Naivas, and some family members asked a court to block the sale.

In October 2013, Naivas management stated that they were no longer selling a controlling stake to Massmart. On 16 July 2014, Naivas opened a store in Garissa, making it the first major retailer to open an outlet in the town. This was Naivas’ 31st branch in Kenya.

Currently, Naivas has more than 40 branches across the country.

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