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Upbeat Kirubi roots for Kenya as top investment spot

Business guru hits at journalists not to be grave diggers by always telling the negative side of the story and, instead, aspire to inspire through positive stories

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Businessman Chris Kirubi greets former US President Barack Obama when he toured Kenya in 2015. Looking on is First Lady Michelle Obama, among others.

Kenya remains the best investment hub in Africa despite the World Bank projecting a decreased GDP growth of 5.5 per cent down from six per cent recorded in 2016.

Speaking at a policy breakfast at a Nairobi hotel where business journalists had converged to discuss the story of Kenya’s current economic climate under the topic “The Future is Kenya”, Brand Kenya chairman the country boasts of so many activities that are yet to be exploited and hence would continue to be a focal point for investors.

“I am an investor and I will candidly tell you that Kenya is the best investment place in Africa and even in the world. We have so many opportunities which have not yet been utilised. We have gold, the best soil for farming and even better climate than Israel, who do their farming in the desert. We need to start looking at our country positively if we shall attract investors,” asserted Kirubi.

The business guru faulted the media for always presenting the negative side of the Kenyan economic story, which discourages investors.

“Everybody’s future lies in his/her own hands, but the future of Kenya depends so much on you (journalists). Do not be grave diggers by always telling the negative side of the story. Always aspire to inspire through positive stories,” said Kirubi. “Every time, I flip through newspapers looking for a business story, but the only story I find is about gambling, which is robbing Kenyans their hard-earned money.”

On politics, Kirubi said that it is only the flourishing business climate and entities that can turn around any political duel and the story of a politically unstable nation.

However, Kirubi’s positive outlook comes at a time investors have expressed concern over the charged environment surrounding the forthcoming General Election with some putting their plans on hold.

Kenya has also witnessed mixed results on the economic front with several companies laying off staff, retailers struggling to stay afloat and multinationals relocating even as others arrive to set shop in the country.

The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report ranks Kenya 92nd out of 190 countries in the 2017 edition of the report, up 21 places from the previous year trailing only Mauritius, Rwanda, Botwana and South Africa in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This was attributed to increasing innovation in Kenya, thriving business environment as well as rising middle class.

The meeting was sponsored by Business Advocacy Fund and the Strathmore Business School as part of a campaign dubbed ‘Why the future is Kenya.’

The initiative is aimed at helping Kenya hit the Kshs9.5 trillion GDP level by 2020 as predicted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The campaign draws business leaders from the financial, technology, service and hospitality sectors in a bid to open up under-developed areas of the country by continued investing that will provide access to jobs for more than 40 per cent of Kenya’s population and bringing in investments equivalent to five to eight per cent of the GDP.

Editor and writer at BUSINESS TODAY, Muli has a passion for human interest stories that have a big impact on economic development. He holds a BSc in Communication and Journalism from Moi University and has worked for various organisations including Kenya Television Service. Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

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Bt Intelligence

GDC CEO gets mixed up in hiring of senior manager

Johnson Ole Nchoe is embroiled in an internal cold-war with a section of management who see him favouring one candidate for communications manager position

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Johnson Ole Nchoe, CEO, Geothermal Development Corporation: Said to have contracted the communications manager after she resigned.

Tension is brewing within the Geothermal Development Corporation (GDC) boardroom as the company scouts for an in-house communications and marketing manager.

The company’s CEO, Mr Johnson Ole Nchoe, is embroiled in an internal cold-war with a section of the board and management who see him favouring a former GDC communications manager, Ruth Musembi, who left two years ago.

The post of corporate communications and marketing manager fell vacant in March 2015 after Ms Musembi resigned under unclear circumstances, claiming to have done so under duress. She even requested the human resource office to release part of her pension.

Her resignation letter dated March 16th 2015 indicated she would cease being a GDC employee on 30th April, 2015.

“I have tendered my resignation effective today,” she wrote in her resignation letter seen by Business Today, which was sent to human resources general manager Irene Onyambu and copied to the managing director and the general manager for corporate affairs.

“I will serve one and a half month notice and utilize my outstanding 30-day for the rest of the notice. Please, organize my final dues. I would like to access the portion that is permitted under the law.”

Ruth-Musembi-GDC GDC CEO gets mixed up in hiring of senior manager

Ruth Musembi: Resigned from GDC in 2005 and set to make a comeback.

SEE: CNN reports on geothermal energy in Kenya

Four months later, in August 2015, she was back at GDC after being rehired under a one-year contract without competitive interviews being conducted.

The contract was silently renewed in 2016, according to insiders at GDC, in breach of the company’s hiring policy.

Meanwhile, after returning on board on contract, Ms Musembi, who worked earlier for NEMA as communications manager, is said to have immediately hired a PR agency linked to her to manage the company’s communication needs, at a time the communications department was seen to be overstaffed yet underworked. This elicited protests from the staff who collected signatures in a petition to denounce the act.

These so-called whistle-blowers were reportedly punished by being transferred to different departments. “The then general manager Christopher Leparan and the CEO Johnson Ole Nchoe desperately invoked the transfers as a mechanism to punish the staff,” said the source. “The transfer allowances paid to the staff ran into millions of shillings.”

SEE ALSO: Disabled man losses his Sh3 million bus to auctioneers

Two and a half years after resigning, Ruth Musembi is set to make a comeback as to GDC’s payroll, if the CEO has his way.  Her contract ended on 31st August 2017, in a move that is likely to cause uneasiness in the board as well.

In June 2017, GDC advertised the post internally. The advert, which read as if crafted to suit Ms Musembi, a former teacher, required a minimum of 12 years of experience as a manager among others, in what was seen as a ploy to lock out younger managers in the department who would be interested in the job.

Ironically, when GDC advertised for the post of General Managers, a more senior position, it asked for only five years’ experience. The staff union protested against the internal advert, and it was silently pulled down.  The company then advertised externally in the newspapers but reduced the number of years of experience from 12 to 10, with 5 as a manager.

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Bt Intelligence

Machine that lets you make your own beer at home

The company has agreed on delivery of Sh13 million portable breweries to Russia and it is in negotiations in Thailand, Tanzania and other countries

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Workers of Smart Brewery Well Service move a brew kattle into a standard shipping container. Credit: Reuters

For beer lovers who dream of brewing their own pint, a portable brewery from the Czech Republic may be just the thing — if they have Ksh13 million (US$124,000) to spare.

Fitting into a standard shipping container, the “Smart Brewery” made in Prague by the Well Service company can produce up to 525 hectolitres of beer, or 2,000 pints a week.

“We wanted to make a brewery that would be mobile, possible to deliver anywhere in the world, with a simple use and not space-demanding,” Pavel Pozivil from the Well Service said.

“You can put it anywhere on a solid surface, link to water and electricity sources and you can start brewing,” he said.

Related: Diageo investment hits Sh30b with launch of Kisumu plant

Well Service has already agreed on delivery to Russia and it is in negotiations in Thailand, Tanzania and other countries.

By capacity, the Smart Brewery ranks far below even the mini-breweries that have sprung up in dozens of Czech towns in recent years. But it could suffice as an additional offer on tap, as it does for the owner of the Gourmeta pub in Prague.

“When you follow the procedure and you have a good recipe, then it is no problem to brew an excellent beer,” said Radek Spacil, a co-owner of Gourmeta, which completed its first brew with the Smart Brewery on September 2.

Winery that uses condoms to produce fruit wines

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Bt Intelligence

Kenya’s highest paid CEO earns Sh1 million per day

Business Daily blow-by-blow explanation proves that indeed, James Mworia, earned Ksh375.6 million in the year ended March 2017

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Centum Investments CEO James Mworia is best paid CEO in Kenya.

Everyone wants to earn lots of money, yet not many get the chance. The select few who are lucky or work hard enough to deserve seven-figure salaries often prefer it to remain a secret.

That’s why when Business Daily unzipped his wallet for all to see yesterday, Centum CEO James Mworia’s first instinct was to deny and trash the figures.

According to the Business Daily report, the young CEO, in his thirties, earned Ksh375.6 million – yes Ksh375.6 million, or Ksh1 million per day – in the year ended March 2017, a surprising 87 per cent increase from Sh201.1 million the year before. In total, Mr Mworia has earned nearly Sh1 billion for the last eight years.

The new pay strengthened his position as Kenya’s highest-paid CEO, which is equivalent to Ksh31.3 million per month, according to disclosures in the company’s latest annual report quoted by BD, way above Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore’s Ksh10 million.

READ: List of highest paid Kenyan CEOs

But Mr Mworia, in several tweets yesterday, dismissed the Business Daily article.  Mworia, through his Twitter handle, termed the figures as sensational and inaccurate, explaining that the remuneration was for the entire management team. Business Daily has defended the accuracy of its article with the backing of Centum’s financial reports and disclosures.

Business Daily: Why we stand by our story on Centum CEO pay

The Centum Investment CEO James Mworia, in several tweets Wednesday, challenged the accuracy of our story headlined: “Centum CEO sets new record with Sh375.6m CEO pay.”

We indicated, in our response to the tweets, that we stand by our story which is based on the company’s disclosures in its latest annual report.

Here are the reasons why we stand by the story:

Their annual report tabulates key management compensation, which includes pay for executive directors and senior management. This was given as Sh614.9 million and Sh711.5 million for the years 2017 and 2016 respectively, at the group level.

SEE ALSO: How to get a high-paying job without going back to class

There is additional disclosure of the management team remuneration, now narrowed down to those who are executive directors. This is given as Ksh375.6 million and Ksh201.1 million for the years 2017 and 2016 respectively, again, at the group level.

James-Mworia-Centum-salary Kenya’s highest paid CEO earns Sh1 million per day

Page 231 of the Centum annual report note 12.1 iii).

Mr Mworia is the only executive director at the group level at Centum, and the amounts above are attributable to him alone going by the presentation in the annual report.

“The board has only one executive director to prevent conflicting roles between the Management and the Board of Directors,” Centum says in its 2017 annual report.

SEE: Meet Chris Kirubi the billionaire farmer

Centum chairman Chris Kirubi has said repeatedly that he believes in rewarding his young managers as long as they deliver. While it may not come as a surprise to Kirubi and his board, it has shaken corporate Kenya, where many CEOs earn below Ksh5 million per month.

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Bt Intelligence

South Sudan customs official in tax evasion syndicate at Mombasa port

Chief Customs Officer Arop Deng Kuol denies Kenya millions in taxes by under-declaring and classifying Kenyan goods as South Sudan-bound to escape KRA dragnet

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He has so far allowed into Kenya 67 luxury cars and 24 cars beyond the seven year limit set by the Kenyan government by classifying them as destined for South Sudan.

Kenya Port Authority (KPA) management is in a dilemma on how to handle the head of port clearance representing South Sudan at the Mombasa port, who is accused of engaging in underhand deals that are costing Kenya millions of shillings in tax revenues.

South Sudan’s Chief Customs Officer Arop Deng Kuol and his deputy, Emmanuel Sukole, are involved in a racket of tax evasion by under declaring of goods, and helping some Kenyan importers to cheat the taxman by classifying their goods as South Sudan bound to escape the Kenya Revenue Authority dragnet.

This year alone Mr Deng, who has been at the lucrative station for the past two years, has so far allowed into Kenya 67 luxury cars and 24 cars that are over the seven year limit set by the Kenyan government by classifying them as destined for South Sudan, according to investigators following the matter.

Investigation into his lifestyle paint a picture of a very rich man, but a frugal spender whose monthly income from the racket ranges between Ksh2.5 million and Ksh5.8 million every month. March 2017, was particularly good month for Mr Deng who made $52,000 (Sh5.2 million) million from the racket by allowing 17 Land cruiser vehicles, four Range Rovers of different models, one 2015 Jeep, and 16 containers that were labelled as containing rubber slippers.

SEE ALSO: Car owners to pay for using highway

“There’s a cartel in Mombasa that specializes in smuggling of goods across the borders. This group is being facilitated by South Sudanese custom officials. The two custom officials arranged for diversions and changing of destinations using South Sudan name. This arrangement enables smugglers to sell their products in any market without paying taxes,” said someone close familiar with the matter, who shared the sensitive report commissioned by an inter-agency task force between Kenya and South Sudan.

“In return the two gentleman are paid what would have been the tax for the governments across the borders,” added the person.

Mr Deng can’t be touched because “he is close to some powerful people in Juba”.  The two officials also make money in port clearance. Once goods come in, container go through the Container Freight Station (CFS), but the two officials circumvent the process by working with agents to clear the goods from the port.

READ: How to move to a high paying job without going back to school

“Kenyan port authorities can’t do anything because the goods are declared as headed to South Sudan, and so their hands are tied because they can’t meddle in the affairs of another sovereign state,” the person said.

Sources within the inter-agency task force say the South Sudan embassy in Kenya is aware of the problem and looking for ‘diplomatic ways’ of dealing with the errant officials at the Port of Mombasa.

Mr Deng denied any involvement in the racket, saying he is currently on leave and is in Juba, though sources said he had been sent on forced leave. “I have heard such stories from people,” he said in a phone interview, “but they are just jealous and they want my position.”

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