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How Sh6 trillion mining licence was given to a Canadian firm for a song

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At the burial of Jacob Juma — everyone thought he was a whistle-blower and an astute businessman. His critics thought he was a vicious smart alec, corrupt and a busybody.
Jacob Juma had friends in high places: On his speed dial were politicians Raila Odinga, Moses Wetang’ula, Cyrus Jirongo and businessman Jimi Wanjigi among many others. They spoke positively about him — after Mr Juma was shot dead by unknown people in Nairobi.

ARDENT CRITIC
Mr Juma was an ardent critic of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government and his twitter handle @Kabetes displayed his anger — a no holds barred salvo on lawyers, magistrates and politicians who blocked his path.
In the world of business, Mr Juma was not very clean. He was restless, boisterous and litigious.
But how this businessman left high and dry a Canadian firm that had given him a colossal 30 per cent shareholding in the international mining company was a story that would emerge later after the firm lost a licence it had acquired through dubious means to mine niobium in Kwale County. That was this week.

RADIOACTIVITY
Before Jacob Juma came to the scene, David Anderson, the managing director of the local subsidiary of Canadian Pacific Wildcat Resources, had been told by a Mr Robbie Louw, the CEO of a South African mining company of a Kenyan hill which was rich in niobium and rare earth minerals.
It was not a discovery as such for students of geology had since the 1960s read a paper by P.M Harris on the discovery and recovery of niobium from Mrima Hills. Also, the department of Mines and Geology had in 1966 published a comprehensive report titled ‘The Mrima Hill Niobium Deposit, Coast Province, Kenya’ and which was authored by F. W. Binge and Pieter Joubert. It was also reported that there were traces of radioactivity in the area — meaning that the area could have had minerals such as thorium, actinium, and uranium.

NON-EXISTENT FIRM
He then proceeded to incorporate a Kenyan company, Cortec Mining Kenya Limited (CMK), to start prospecting and was advised by the Commissioner of Mines Lojomon K. Biwott to appoint Harie Ndungu as the agent for the company.
Why the mining commissioner would be the one advising a company on the agent is not clear. But court records indicate that on May 15, 2007, Mr Ndungu applied for a prospecting licence for a company that was not yet incorporated and on the same day he applied, Mr Biwott gave him the licence. That was fast, for a prospector!
While individuals are normally given prospecting permits, they cannot be agents of a non-existent company such as CMK, as it was then. Thus, Mr Ndungu could not have transferred this right to another company.

SEDIMENTARY ROCK
The problem was that Mrima Hill had been closed in 1997 to mining by a previous mining commissioner, Collins Owayo, after it emerged that construction companies had exposed locals to high radiation levels after they built a road using material from the hill.
A University of Nairobi geophysicist Jayanti Patel, who had studied Mrima Hill for long, had published a 1990 study on the hill’s dangerous radioactivity and concluded that radiation levels on some areas of the hill were more than 50 times higher than what scientists consider safe. He warned that the sedimentary rock from the hill should not be used for either building homes or road constructions.

KAYA FOREST
That was the place that Cortec said it had “discovered” niobium — or rather it wanted to prospect for minerals. Cortec would later call a press conference and tell the media that since 2008 it has drilled 7,897 metres on Mrima Hills at a cost of over Sh200 million, with analysis of the drilling leading to the identification of niobium and rare earth deposits.
Cortec said it had engaged a South African geologist, Mike Saner, to conduct the initial prospecting and exploration work at Mrima Hill on its behalf.
But nobody, including prospectors, was allowed inside Mrima Hills because this was designated in May 1989 as a nature reserve which gave it extra protection — more than a forest reserve. It was also gazetted in January 1992 as a national monument for it was a historic Kaya forest, a sacred grove for the Digo community.

NATIONAL MONUMENT
With these designations, it was hard for a commissioner of mines to reopen the forest for prospecting and could not remove the protection given to Mrima Hills as a national monument. The only areas he could give prospectors were those outside the Mrima boundaries. A nature and forest reserve can only be re-opened by the ministry in charge of forests while the authority to mine must be received from the National Museums — in the case of a national monument.
So connected was CMK that even before its application for a prospecting licence was issued, it had been allowed by Mr Biwott to conduct “preliminary prospecting and reconnaissance surveys.”
A day after their agent, Mr Ndungu, received a Prospecting Right No 8258 from Mr Biwott, he got a consent letter from Kwale County Council to proceed, dated May 17, 2007, but CMK either ignored a rider that excluded Mrima Hill Nature Reserve — or decided to use political influence to get it.

nation.co.ke

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#EyesOnTheCommunities by Optiven Foundation

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Kitengela, Nairobi County.
For 3 months ,John Kabue Ndegwa, has battled with a spine problem causing him paralysis, a devastation that robbed him of his mobility.

In September 2020, John found hope through the Optiven Foundation’s campaign #MobilityThatBringsASmile. He became a beneficiary of a brand new wheelchair, a gift that was comfortably delivered by his brother, pictured below.

Our goal is to reach and impacting more lives. You can be part of this cause by making a donation to Optiven Foundation via Paybill 898 630, Account name: Mobility

For more info, call us on +254 718 77 60 33 or info@optivenfoundation.org
www.optivenfoundation.org

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Business

This enemy called average

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Do you realize there is a lot of potential in each one of us? Do you also realize that not all of us get to maximise our full potential?

The problem is because we settle on a place called AVERAGE! Join me https://www.facebook.com/georgeoptiven this Friday 2nd October from 4pm, as we discuss on how we can exterminate this enemy called average.

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Business

The Sh180,000 cat breeders

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People love their pets, but how often do they think about the costs?

For years, Kenyans have been splurging cash on expensive cars, houses, fine wine and whisky, art pieces, and jewellery, but there is a new breed of young wealthy people buying expensive cats.

These cats are rare and their bloodline is documented.

“Human beings like class and social status. Because the rich do not want to remain in the same class with everybody in regards to pet ownership, they are going for Persian, Siamese, and Scottish fold cats,” says Dr Charles Muriuki of Jingi Vet clinic in Nyali, Mombasa.

Considered the ‘Ferrari of cats’, the Persian cats are highly sought-after and admired for their long and thick coats. And they do not come cheap.

“Right now you can get a Persian for about Sh50,000 but a few years ago it cost around Sh100,000, then you add the freight charge, you pay Sh150,000,” says Dr Muriuki.

Pablo and Nura are Persian cats and some of the few in Kenya whose every whim are indulged by their owner Mohamed Shurut.

At his house, during the interview, Mr Shurut says things like ‘let the furry bosses come to you instead of picking them up’, ‘never wake a sleeping kitty.’

To him, the Persian cats are feline royals.

“They are classy, loving and loyal companions. They do not like to be held so much. Give your Persian cat time as it expects you to treat it like a royal,” he says.

Every day, he spends more than an hour brushing their fur. “The fur knots very easily and it’s what makes the cat stand out. I have to groom them every day,” he says, adding that they are best kept indoors but they can be let out on a cat leash.

Many pet lovers scoff at talk about expenses to avoid being judged.

“Sometimes I fend off unwanted questions. Some people do not like pets so they ask me why I waste money on cats. I do what I feel is best for me. I love my cats,” he says.

PERSIAN1509C

A Persian cat owned by Mohammed Shurut. PHOTO | EAUNICE MURATHE

So how much did he spend on the cats?

Between Sh50,000 to Sh100,000 for each of his cats, minus the daily expenses of keeping them happy.

“In a month, you’re probably looking at spending between Sh8,000 to Sh10,000 depending on what kind of cat food you’re buying. I give them fish oil. You also have to factor in the veterinary bills, grooming, litter and multivitamins,” he says.

Another seller

As the exotic cat market is thriving, and supply rarely meeting demand, Mr Shurut found a niche in supplying pet owners with prized breeds.

The 26-year-old now runs an online shop, Persian Cats Kenya, a breeding business.

 

“I used to see social media posts of the Persian cats owned by foreigners. I had a dream of owning one but it is not easy to find them in Kenya,” he says.

After a long search, he bought a kitten from a friend whose Persian cat had given birth.

“He had imported the cats from Egypt. He opted to sell me the male kitten and remain with the parent stock. I started shopping for a female one. I imported a female cat from Egypt,” he says.

He never imagined the cat hobby he casually picked up would end up becoming a business.

“This year I noted that many people were looking for Persian cats. I had many inquiries, especially on social media. I decided to start importing and breeding the cats,” he says.

Mr Shurut sells two-month-old kittens imported from Russia and Egypt for Sh150,000.

“The common ones are the Doll Face Persian Kittens and Punch face Persian kittens. My female cat is also pregnant and I am hoping to get kittens. The price is fair. Someone who truly values them will get them at any cost,” he says.

Another cat owner Juliet Muchira from Kiambu imported a Persian cat after seeing it online.

“I have always loved cats. I owned my first cat when I was six years old. Four years ago, as I was researching more about cats, I came across the Persian breed and I was interested. I tried finding one locally but didn’t find it. That’s when I thought of importing,” she says. The Persian cat gave birth and she decided to breed them.

She has been doing the business for almost three years now. Her cattery, Juliepaws is registered under The Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), the World’s Largest Registry of Pedigreed Cats.

The cost of owning a Persian cat differs, she says, with the needs of a client. The most expensive cat she ever sold cost Sh180,000.

“I sold it to a family in Mombasa a year ago. I have never sold a cat outside Kenya, but I hope to. But I have sold so many kittens locally, Mombasa, Nairobi, and Kiambu. My cattery is the only registered cattery in Kenya,” she says.

The cats come with a registration certificate.

“My cats are all imported and I get them from certified and registered breeders who know their bloodline,” she says, adding that what makes them expensive is their distinctive face, tiny ears, gentle temperaments, and being a pure breed.

Pet love

Traditionally, dogs and cats were working animals than pets. A cat kept the mouse down, a dog guarded homes, and so on. But now, lots of people are latching onto the craze for buying and sharing their homes with pets and choosing to take care of them in ways that our parents did not.

Over the past 10 years or so, human-pet relationships have grown closer, says Dr Muriuki.

“Most people now are embracing the pet culture. They are keeping them as companions, taking care of them. We socialise with pets differently. For example, one cat was coughing and sneezing because the owner had changed her cologne to one that was not cat-friendly. At my clinic, she called her friends, told them that the cat was unwell, took videos and photos as one would do with a child,” he says.

Exotic cats are a huge amount of work and a considerable investment, fuelling an increasingly thriving cat product and service market in Kenya.

However, Dr Muriuki says, the downside of buying the exotic breeds, is that some breeders import male and female cats from the same parents, they inbreed and they start selling inbreeds.

Inbred pedigree cats end up suffering from life-threatening diseases like cancer and deformities.

by Business Daily.co.ke

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