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US denies underhand tactics in Sh300b road project

Embassy says deal formed part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries when President Barack Obama visited Kenya in July 2015



The United States has denied any underhand deals in the award of the Ksh300 billion contract for the construction of a speed expressway between Mombasa and Nairobi.

Reports in a section of the local media had described the deal signed between the government and US company Bechtel International Inc. three days to the August 8 General Election as a “thank you gift”, adding it had sparked fresh controversy.

The deal to construct the 473-kilometre thoroughfare was negotiated between the contractor, the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) and the Ministry of Transport, and inked away from public glare unlike similar mega projects in the past.

According to The Standard, eyebrows were raised when a press release on the signing of the contract was sent to media houses at 1.30pm on Saturday, August 5, as all eyes were trained on the final presidential campaign rallies.

It did not also disclose how much the project was to cost with the paper likening it to the Standard Gauge Railway project that was approved and singed days to the March 4, 2013 polls only for it to be renegotiated and the cost inflated.

However, the US embassy in Nairobi said Wednesday the contract signing was aboveboard and that the project formed part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries when President Barack Obama visited Kenya in July 2015.

“US private firms (bound by US anti-corruption laws) investing in Kenya’s future bring jobs, tech transfer & development. As part of US-KE MoU signed in July 2015, Nairobi-Mombasa hwy is example of how US firms can use USGov financing to support Kenya’s nationally important infrastructure projects. This expressway has been under development & evaluated for 2 years to bring best value, intl standards, local jobs & sustainability. The USEmbassy does not and will not give political favors for commercial deals,” it said on Twitter.

Related: China set to construct a Silk road in Kenya

The embassy further denied Washington was backing any candidate or political party in the 2017 elections. “On Kenyan election 2017, we’ve been & will continue to be strictly neutral. No favored party, candidate. We support Kenyan Constitution,” it said.

In the August 5 release, KeNHA Director General Peter Mundinia said express highway will allow uninterrupted speeds of 120 kilometre per hour – a move that will reduce the travel time between Nairobi and Mombasa from 10 hours to four hours.







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]e

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Business News

KQ recovery takes off as losses shrink

Chief Executive Sebastian Mikodz attributes the improvement to decreased costs



The national carrier's revenues remained flat in the period under review due to election jitters.

Kenya Airways (KQ) has posted a Ksh3.8 billion net loss for the six months to September, a 20.5 percent drop from the same period last year when it recorded a Ksh4.78 billion loss.

Chief Executive Sebastian Mikodz attributes the improvement to decreased costs as fleet costs were lower by 21.9 percent while overheads decreased by 8.9 percent. However, the national carrier’s revenues remained flat in the period under review slightly impacted by the election period.

“During the period we have seen our business decline by 52 percent, November is flat but the bookings for December have gone up by 6 percent compared to same period last year. We will see the full; impact in our full year announcement,” Mikodz said.

Cabin factor went up by 5.4 percent to 76.9 percent, passenger numbers up by 3.3 percent to 2.3 million while Intra Africa traffic increased by 6.7 percent. Operating profit grew by 52 percent to Sh1.4 billion while total asset hit Sh142 billion down two billion compared to 2016.

ALSO READ: Trading in KQ shares suspended

Focus over the next few months is to grow a profitable network, winning in key markets and improving revenue structure. “Launching the Kenya Airways New York route is a strategic initiative that will require significant investment and will be the longest flight in our network,” Mikodz said.

The firm has just completed its capital optimization plan that has seen both banks and the government turn their debt into equity reducing the airlines’ debt by 36 percent.

“The journey to turnaround KQ will be over six to 12 months, and there is a strong management team now in place to drive that ambition,” said KQ Chairman Michael Joseph.

SEE: Things you should know before insuring your car

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Business News

Betway introduces free betting with Airtel

Interaction on the Betway site using data will be zero-rated for all Airtel Money customers



L-R Betway Chairman Kiprono Kittony, Airtel Managing Director Prasanta Das Sarma and Betway Kenya Country Manager Wanja Gikonyo during the launch of Betway Sare.

Betway, the sports betting firm, has partnered with Airtel Kenya to launch a new integrated betting platform dubbed ‘BetwaySare’. This new platform will give betting fans who are registered with Airtel Money the opportunity to place bets and withdraw or transfer their wins while on the Betway platform at no extra charges.

Interaction on the Betway site using data will be zero-rated for all Airtel Money customers. BetwaySare, which will automatically be accessible on all mobile platforms, will greatly reduce data usage and mobile money transaction costs for fans, allowing them to bet on 1000’s of games across major leagues and tournaments housed on the Betway platform.

Recent survey statistics by Geopoll indicate that over 76 percent of Kenyans are involved in some kind of betting or gaming; with sports category topping the list of favourites. Further, 78 percent of the youth place bets using their mobile phones.

Speaking during the launch today, Wanja Gikonyo, Betway Country Manager said the new platform offers a great opportunity for both Betway and Airtel customers to fully enjoy betting and win more for less. “This integrated experience powered by Airtel is a win-win for all our users. We believe zero-rated data is what has been missing in taking gaming in Kenya to the next level,” she said.


> Betway manager on how betting firms can change the game
> How betting firms are changing fortunes for Kenyans

Ms Wanja said the integration and partnership with Airtel speaks to the company’s vision to enhance gaming that is powered by technology. Betway has established itself as the foremost online and mobile sports betting platform in Africa. The brand is internationally recognized as a quality-driven provider of sports betting across the world, supplying simple-to-use technology to passionate fans.

Lauding the partnership, Airtel’s Managing Director, Prasanta Das Sarma hailed the partnership. “As a company we are delighted to work together with Betway to introduce a gaming platform that will not only make betting more affordable but will also drive towards financial inclusivity through easy access of finances via Airtel Money.”

“BetwaySare is definitely going to be a game changer in the market as it will offer our consumers more benefits for less,” said Sarma.

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Business News

Siemens sets base in Ethiopia, seeks to expand footprint

The company, which has been active in the region for 157 years, says it intends to support sustainable development with solutions and projects in Africa for Africa




East Africa’s huge opportunities in renewable energy have increased the demand for efficient and sustainable infrastructure in energy sector in the region.

According to Siemens Eastern Africa Chief Executive Officer, Lukas Duursema, the opportunities especially, in wind, thermal and hydro if well-developed can support skills development, create jobs and grow a more inclusive economy.

In a press statement, the CEO said Siemens has been active in the region for 157 years, and intends to support sustainable development with solutions and projects in Africa for Africa.

Duursema said: “We aim to contribute to local value creation and play a constructive role in shaping Africa‘s sustainable development through tangible and meaningful engagement.”

 “We are in Africa as an investor, employee and supplier of efficient technologies and helping to increase the reliability of energy supply through an interconnector being built between Kenya and Ethiopia,” he added.

Announcing the company’s plan of setting up and expanding the East African footprint by making Ethiopia the headquarters of its operations, Duursema said Ethiopia and Kenya are taking the lead, as Tanzania and Uganda reinforce the emerging regional cluster of more than 300 million people.

The Siemens Country Manager for Kenya, Mr Johan Helberg said the high-voltage, direct current (HVDC) transmission link is one of the largest infrastructure measures in East Africa.

“The roughly 1,000 kilometres-long direct current transmission line, known as the Ethiopia-Kenya Power Systems Interconnection Project, will transmit environmentally friendly hydroelectricity from Ethiopia to Kenya,” he said.

READ: Tsvangirai flies back as Mugabe handover imminent

In May this year, during the World Economic Forum, Siemens signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Uganda to cooperate in the areas of power supply, industry, transportation and healthcare and to focus on infrastructure investments and partnerships between public and private sectors.

In November 29-30 this year, Future Energy East Africa, in collaboration with the ministry of Energy and Petroleum, will host the region’s leading energy decision makers in the upcoming ‘‘Future Energy East Africa’ conference and exhibition in Nairobi.

The event will bring together stakeholders within the power value chain, which includes governments, power generation companies, transmission and distribution companies, off takers, developers, investors, equipment manufacturers and providers, technology providers, legal and consulting firms.

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Business News

Relief for home owners as Equity lines up solar energy loans

Lender has partnered with Orb Energy to provide tailor-made credit ahead of Energy Regulation Commission (ERC)’s November 22 deadline for installation of solar water-heating systems



Equity Bank and solar energy company, Orb Energy, have expanded their partnership to offer tailor-made loans that will enable homes, institutions and industries to acquire solar water heater systems – a renewable clean energy alternative to electric water heating.

This agreement comes just before the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC)’s November 22 deadline for households and institutions that consume more than 100 litres of hot water per day to install solar water heating systems in accordance with the Energy (Solar Water Heating) Regulations 2012.

Through the Equity Bank loan product, Kenyans will be able to acquire solar water heaters that will see them save up to 60% of the money spent on their electricity bill. Orb’s Sunstream solar water heating systems caters for residential and buildings that consume over 100 litres of hot water a day as well as industrial facilities that consume up to 13,000 litres per day or more.

Speaking on the initiative, Equity Bank’s Director of Operations and Customer Experience, Gerald Warui said, “Equity is committed to promoting the use of clean energy products and has so far helped 16,000 households – equivalent to an estimated 70,400 individuals – benefit from these products. The partnership with Orb Energy now allows us to avail to our clients a more enhanced product offering.”

The partnership with Orb Energy is also in line with the Group’s mission to offer inclusive customer-focused financial services that socially and economically empower communities, thus complementing government efforts to offer decent livelihoods and promote the adoption of green energy.

READ: Stanbic unveils unit for the super-rich

Mr Ramin Nadimi, Orb Energy’s Vice President for Africa, said his company is committed to ensuring customers can afford and have easy access to solar water heating and solar power products by partnering with like-minded financial institutions such as Equity Bank. He also added that the move is part of Orb’s objective of providing a range of high quality solar energy solutions to Kenyans, helping families to save money and enhance their quality of life.

In the deal, customers will be able to access free site surveys from Orb Energy that includes free technical and financial assessment by Orb technicians. Orb also takes care of all installation and after-sales service countrywide. The product has a five year warranty and the repayment period is approximately 24-36 months based on savings generated by switching to solar water heating options.

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