There will be Huduma Centres in All the 47 Counties by End of Year, says Secretariat Head

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There are now 40 Huduma centres across the country as the Government races to fully digitise its services, Head of the Huduma Kenya Secretariat Dennis Mutuku announced Sunday.

Mutuku further announced that each of the 47 counties in the country will have a Huduma centre by the end of this financial year, with the latest beneficiaries of Huduma services being Nyamira, Kwale, Makueni, Kibra and Thika.

The 40 centres are located, among other places, in Nairobi (GPO, Nairobi City square, Makadara, Eastleigh, Kibra) GPO Mombasa, Bungoma, Siaya, Kitui, Embu, Kisumu, Kisii, Kakamega, Kajiado, Machakos, Meru, Isiolo, Wajir, Turkana, Nyeri, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kwale, Makueni, Nyamira and Thika.

Our customers experience the same efficient services whether they are in Wajir, Nairobi, Kwale or even Turkana. However, delays may sometimes occur in regional centres arising from documents verification but we always find solutions to deliver in good time," says Mutuku.

Read more: There will be Huduma Centres in All the 47 Counties by End of Year, says Secretariat Head

Kenya Power Urges Local Traders to Bid for Supply of Materials For Last Mile Project

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The Kenya Power company has said it will give priority to local manufacturers and suppliers of electrical equipment in the implementation of the multi-billion last mile connectivity project that is meant to accelerate access to electricity locally.

In a notice published Tuesday, Kenya Power urged local traders to bid to supply materials needed for the project which include treated wooden poles, conductors, cables, insulators, bolts and nuts.

"The company wishes to take this opportunity to support local industries and manufacturers by encouraging them to prepare to supply some of the items required by the contractors for this project," read the notice.

The last mile connectivity project targets to increase the country's access to electricity from the current 40 per cent to 70 per cent in its first phase and eventually lead to universal access in subsequent phases.

In December 2015, the company signed contracts with 11 companies that are tasked with the implementation of the first phase that will run for a period of 18 months at a cost of Sh13.5 billion funded through a loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB).

It will involve connecting 314,000 households within a radius of 600 metres from a transformer to the power grid at a cost of Sh15,000 each.

Read more: Kenya Power Urges Local Traders to Bid for Supply of Materials For Last Mile Project

Kenya Growth to Hit 5.7pc on Mega Projects

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The World Bank expects Kenya's economic growth to rise marginally to 5.7 per cent this year spurred by government infrastructure projects.

The bank forecasts that the economy will only pick up to 6.1 per cent growth in 2017 and 2018 as the standard gauge railway (SGR) and the Lamu Port come into operation.

Kenya's economy continues to be fuelled by large infrastructure projects with some key formal private sector areas like manufacturing performing poorly.

"Despite pressure on the shilling, Kenya is expected to grow at a robust pace, supported by large scale infrastructure projects, including the expansion of the railway system, which should help boost domestic trade, and a new port," the World Bank said in a new report, "Global Economic Prospects", released Wednesday.

Read more: Kenya Growth to Hit 5.7pc on Mega Projects

High-Speed Rail Will Be an Economic Boost to Kenya

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With the laying of rail tracks set to be complete by December, the completion of the Standard Gauge Railway is going to be one of the big stories this year. The modern railway is expected to open to first commercial traffic in June 2017.

Transport CS James Macharia is already sounding optimistic, lauding the progress made so far and noting that big impact on the economy will be recorded this year even as the tracks are laid on the 500-kilometre railway.

"The laying of the tracks in itself will have a huge impact on the GDP even before completion of the project," said Mr Macharia, adding: "local businesses are expected to contribute up to 40 per cent of all supplies whilst more than 50,000 Kenyans will be employed either directly or indirectly by the project."

The Sh400 billion infrastructure investment links the Port of Mombasa to Kenya's capital Nairobi. Plans are underway to extend it to the landlocked Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. Once complete, it is expected to cut the cost of transport in the region and stimulate industrial growth.

The plan to construct the SGR began in 2009 through a memorandum of understanding between Kenya and Uganda to connect Kampala to the coastal port city of Mombasa.

However, it took a regional approach in 2013 when Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda signed a tripartite deal committing to fast track the construction of the railway to their respective capital cities. Later, South Sudan joined.

The Kenya Railways Commission project manager in charge of the SGR Eng Maxwell Mengich told Smart Company that 65 per cent of the civil works are complete.

Read more: High-Speed Rail Will Be an Economic Boost to Kenya

Comesa countries seek harmonised standards to strengthen maize trade

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Restrictions faced by traders moving their maize across eastern and southern African markets will reduce after six countries agreed to recognise one another's quality certificates.

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Mutual Recognition Framework (C-MRF) signed recently in Kampala, Uganda, seeks to eliminate multiple testing by both the exporting and importing countries. The six comprise Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, where the framework will be piloted. Rwanda mainly imports its maize from Uganda, and Tanzania.

For conformity assessment, the C-MRF will be adopted by the member states through Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs).

Among the C-MRF key components are common grading criteria, proficiency testing for aflatoxin analysis and a risk-based sampling protocol.

The MRAs will entail member states accepting each other's conformity assessment and grading systems to avoid subjecting maize products to unnecessary and overlapping conformity assessment and grading procedures.

Read more: Comesa countries seek harmonised standards to strengthen maize trade

EAC Set for Major Trade Boost in New Cargo System

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Trade within East Africa Community will receive a boost this year with the implementation of the cargo pre-clearance system at the port of Mombasa by the Kenya Revenue Authority.

The system which came in place yesterday allows importers to clear goods before they arrive in the country, a move expected to improve port efficiency and delivery of imports in the region.

Under the system, importers can now lodge clearing documents and process them up to seven days before arrival of a vessel.

It is expected to reduce container dwell time currently averaged at 5.1 days against 3.6 days in 2014.

Read more: EAC Set for Major Trade Boost in New Cargo System

China to Sharpen Agro-Processing Skills of Small-Scale Farmers in Kenya

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The incomes of small holder farmers in Kenya are set to grow after China offered to help them adopt modern production methods as well as value addition equipment at subsidised costs.

Despite calls for Kenyan smallholder farmers to embrace new technology, the high costs of special equipment have for years stood in the way, consequently crippling production.

Chinese Technology Companies, who spoke at a China-Kenya conference on agriculture cooperation in Nairobi, however, said they would cooperate with Kenyan farmers to promote the uptake of modern irrigation technologies alongside the development of a home-grown agro-processing industry at low costs.

The general manager of Sino-Kenya Agriculture Technology Company Zhu Weicai said the plan would also see agriculture companies from China collaborate with smallholder farmers in Kenya to enhance food production.

"China has increased its yields and enhanced its food security and this can be replicated in Kenya," said Dr Zhu.

Read more: China to Sharpen Agro-Processing Skills of Small-Scale Farmers in Kenya

New Entity Set Up to Register Companies

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The State Law Office has been stripped of the powers to register companies after Attorney-General Githu Muigai published a list of directors to run the Business Registration Service Board on Monday.

This means that the Business Registration Service Act, which removes the function of business registration from The State Law office, will now come into effect with the appointment of the board.

It is envisaged that the new authority will fast-track the registration of businesses, whose delay has in the past been blamed for low foreign investments in Kenya.

Ms Carol Musyoka has been appointed to head the board and will work with Michael Mugasa, Shallah Sheikh, Irene Wamakau and Ben Gaithuma as directors for three years.

The service will be headed by the registrar-general who will be responsible for the overall operations of the entity and its staff.

Read more: New Entity Set Up to Register Companies

WTO Members Conclude Landmark $1.3 trillion IT Trade Deal

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WTO members representing major exporters of information technology products agreed today (16 December) at the WTO's Tenth Ministerial Conference, in Nairobi, on the timetable for implementing a landmark deal to eliminate tariffs on 201 IT products valued at over $1.3 trillion per year.

Negotiations were conducted by 53 WTO members, including both developed and developing countries, which account for approximately 90 per cent of world trade in these products. However, all 162 WTO members will benefit from the agreement, as they will all enjoy duty-free market access to the markets of the members eliminating tariffs on these products. The list of 201 products was originally agreed by the ITA participants in July 2015.

"I am delighted to mark this breakthrough here today at the Ministerial Conference", said WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo. "This is a very significant achievement. Annual trade in these 201 products is valued at $1.3 trillion per year, and accounts for approximately 10% of total global trade. Eliminating tariffs on trade of this magnitude will have a huge impact. It will support lower prices — including in many other sectors that use IT products as inputs — it will create jobs and it will help to boost GDP growth around the world".

This breakthrough follows months of intensive negotiations among the ITA participants. Their review of "draft schedules" involved a process whereby each of them indicated over what timeframe and how they intended to implement the elimination of duties on these products.

For every product on the list, ITA participants have negotiated the level of reductions and over how many years it will fully eliminate the tariffs. As a result of these negotiations, approximately 65% of tariff lines will be fully eliminated by 1 July 2016. Most of the remaining tariff lines will be completely phased out in four stages over three years. This means that by 2019 almost all imports of the relevant products will be duty free.

Read more: WTO Members Conclude Landmark $1.3 trillion IT Trade Deal

Just How Important is The WTO Ministerial Conference to An Ordinary Person?

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Exits Pope, enters the 10th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC10). The first of its kind to be held in Africa. WTO is the sole global international organization that deals with the rules of trade between nations. It's main objective is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business of trade in global markets fairly.

Highly publicized but least understood, Ministerial Conference is where the business of WTO is conducted. Ministerial Conference is the highest decision making body of WTO. The last Ministerial Conference was held in Bali, Indonesia in 2013 where the ministers in attendance adopted the "Bali package" which is a series of decisions aimed at not only streamlining trade but also allowing developed countries more options for providing food security, boosting least-developed countries' trade and fostering general development of member states.

Africa's hope will lie in the successful conclusion of the Doha Round, the so called Doha Development Agenda (DDA), if only the round will deliver credible development outcomes.

Why DDA? First, because it is in Doha where trade negotiations aimed at lowering trade barriers began. The intention was to reduce trade barriers around the world and thus facilitate increased global trade. Due to capacity constraints experienced in both developing and LDC's, the initial objective of DDA has not been achieved. These countries suffer supply side constraints that can be addressed through negotiated Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT) mechanisms.

Read more: Just How Important is The WTO Ministerial Conference to An Ordinary Person?

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