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Why your favourite imported brands are not on the shelves

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Consumers are set to face rising commodity prices as a result of delays in the clearing of goods at the Mombasa port

Confusion at the port of Mombasa, as well as insider sabotage designed to topple efforts to remove counterfeit goods from Kenyan shelves, is the reason some of your favourite imported brands constantly go missing from shops.

The multi-agency team charged with cleaning up operations at the port has imposed a 100 per cent verification process on imports.

Consumers are also set to face rising commodity prices as the resulting delay in clearing goods makes some products scarce.

The delays, which result in expensive demurrage charges on the imports, are then passed down to the consumers, who will have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for the goods.

Major manufacturers like Coca-Cola, which imports industrial sugar, and East African Breweries have previously reported the delays, which stakeholders say can be minimised if not avoided entirely.

Although senior Trade ministry officials were not available for comment on the practicality of the process and how it could be managed to minimise the market inconveniences it was causing, their juniors involved in the verification said some forces were out to make the process messy and allow for an influx of illicit products.

“We have planned to sample only certain products classified as high-risk but some people resorted to sampling everything and taking time to verify them, which is not good for the market. As a result, there is a public outcry on insufficient supply. They hope to use that to justify their opposition to the verification,” said an officer, who requested anonymity.

Efforts to get comment from Deputy Head of Public Service Wanyama Musiambo, who also heads the multi-agency team on illicit goods, were in vain as he did not answer text messages and calls.

However, the delays are avoidable because Kenya appointed inspection agents in the regions where the goods are imported from in 2005.

Under the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity to Standards, goods are assessed in the country of origin to ensure their compliance with the applicable Kenyan standards.

Last week, Trade Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya applied breaks on destination- inspection of goods entering the Kenyan market without a pre-export verification.

“I have granted the last authority for destination inspection. All importers are notified that with effect from today, January 23, 2019, no requests for destination inspection will be received by the minister,” Mr Munya said.

Kenya appointed Bureau Veritas S.A, Intertek International Limited, China Certification and Inspection (Group) Inspection Company Limited (CCIC), Cotecna Inspection S.A and Swiss-based SGS, stationed in various parts of the world, to carry out the inspection on behalf of Kebs.

The pre-export verification was meant to facilitate the smooth flow of commodities into the country and has been lauded for increasing efficiency and curbing tax evasion.

Mr Munya’s directive, which should essentially hasten the clearing of goods at the port, will however worsen the delays when the goods are subjected to fresh inspection upon arrival.

Importers are allowed up to four days to clear goods from the port, beyond which one begins to be penalised via demurrage charges.

The verification process, which takes up to 30 or 40 days in some cases, is said to have caused losses. Some consumer products are said to be expiring at the port.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers has been vocal in calling for an extension of the free days’ allotment, to allow for the extended clearance period.

“The four days’ free period should be increased to 15 days or aligned with cargo clearing agency service charters. The current cost of demurrage is very high as a result of failure by agencies to perform within their service level agreement. Today, the private sector has been left exposed and bears all costs [caused] by intervening agencies’ inefficiency. In [the] event of delays, the response agency/party should take responsibility,” KAM said in a statement.

Source: Daily Nation

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Anxiety high over Uhuru speech

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If there was a day Kenyans have recently looked forward to, it is today. This is the day the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on the country to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus is supposed to end after President Uhuru Kenyatta extended it for 21 days last month.

But recent statements by senior government officials have tended to dampen the expectations of a majority of Kenyans, with some resigning to the possibility of the perpetuation of the status quo or a new order with just slight changes.

Friday, Cabinet secretaries seemed to be managing the people’s high expectations, with hints that a wholesome opening of the economy could lead to a spike in Covid-19 cases and put the vulnerable members – such as old parents – at risk when they host their kin from the cities.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha Friday hinted that schools will not be opened any time soon.

“The ministry will advise the level of preparedness that will be required of all stakeholders involved in the running of schools and teacher training institutions,” he said.

Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho earlier in the week said the government was considering a phased easing of the Covid-19 restrictions to help people to generate incomes.

He said Kenyans should not expect a sudden return of normalcy.

President Kenyatta has also been facing pressure from religious leaders to open places of worship. Religious organisations have formally written to him asking for a review of the measures and promising to adhere to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and his Health counterpart Mutahi Kagwe met with religious leaders ahead of the handover of the report from the National Coordination Committee on Coronavirus to discuss how to proceed with religious activities in the event the government agrees to relax some of its guidelines.

Dr Matiang’i said the contents of the report will be communicated by the President.

Mr Kagwe urged religious leaders to assist in effecting home-based quarantine, a measure that the government is advocating as it moves to ease the Covid-19 restrictions.

Kenyans took to social media to express their optimism – and pessimism – about today’s speech by the President.

From making merry at entertainment joints to travel and reuniting with loved ones and lovers, expectations were so high that the hashtag #June6th was the number one trending topic locally on Twitter.

Tweeters filed their wishlists, a majority of which were hilarious.

Yet others just wanted the economy to be opened up.

By Nation.co.ke

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Africa

How working from home charted a new career for me

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When her children began going to school, Frida Mwangi, a stay-at-home mum, found herself in a crisis: she didn’t know what to do with the free time in her hands.

Though she really wanted to work, one thing she was sure of was she didn’t want an eight-to-five job.

“I wanted to be able to manage my house as usual. I had heard about online work and I started researching on what it was and how I too could do it from home,” she narrates

The research took about a month, and during this time, she connected with a Facebook community in Kenya comprising people who worked online.

It is by following the conversations that she discovered what she wanted to try out: transcribing.

“I was in the house for so long and lacked technical skills. I realised the easiest work I would have done there is transcription because all I needed was to understand English, which would assist me in following guidelines clients were looking for,” she says.

Determined to learn more about transcribing, Frida reached out to one of the ladies doing transcription training for tutorials and that’s how she learnt the craft.

In 2015, she began working as a transcriber in one of the leading global freelancing market spaces, where she became top rated after only four months in the job.

In 2017, she built a website, and registered her own online company dubbed, Kazi Remote.

“When I was still working as a transcriber, I thought transcription was a western thing and Kenyans did not need them.

After creating the website, I began getting calls from academics doing their thesis, market research companies in Kenya and law firms in need of transcription services. This expanded the base of my customers,” she explains.

Her website has also attracted clients from Europe, Canada and American clients, some of whom have come to the country for research and are looking for a person who understands and can write Kiswahili.

“I got Sh1,000 from my first client, but after PayPal charges I received Sh800.

For the first six months I worked alone and after that, I got a big client who had over 200 hours of work, which would last up to six months. He was a Stanford university student,” she says.

Frida soon realised she needed other trained transcribers to assist her with the workload.

Due to the nature of the work, Frida doesn’t have a permanent workforce, but works with freelancers who can work from home, provided they have a laptop and reliable Internet. She began with five freelancers, but is currently working with 20.

She says one hour recording can take four hours of writing and two hours for going through the work if one is a very experienced transcriber.

The standard time given in transcription is 24 hours hence one can plan on the amount of time they can spend on work.

“When I started, I charged clients Sh1,000 an hour of recorded work. Currently there are clients paying Sh6,000 or even Sh10,000 an hour, especially if you are working with business companies,” she says.

But working indoors came with the challenge of people dropping in her house all the time thinking that she was free with nothing to do.

“I would receive visitors and I didn’t know how to tell them that I am working.

It got to the point where I would lock the house after taking my kids to school so that people would think am not around.

Or if they managed to come in, I would leave them in the living room on their own,” she narrates.

Slowly by slowly, Frida managed to resolve this issue as family and friends began taking her work seriously.

But even while others understood she was working, there were those who branded her a mzungu, because of this strict way of living.  Another challenge was the consistency of work.

“When it comes to bidding, this is online and it’s not about where you went to school or how many degrees you have, but whether you are able to solve the client’s problem,” she says.

Frida notes the reason most people fail in online work is because they treat it as a side hustle instead of a main gig and also don’t conduct enough research while at it.

“Online work is something you can do as a career. For instance, right now, the highest paid job is intellectual property something that a lawyer from Kenya can do if they acquire the relevant skills.

There is a lot of demand for them in that they can actually earn Sh15,000 per hour online,” she explains.

People interested in this field should ensure they learn new skills on top of the ones they have and be intentional on their career path.

Her customer base increased after she created her website as people were able to find her on Google.

Frida notes one reason transcribing is not established in Kenya is because unlike in the West, it is not included in the laws.

In countries such as the US, there are laws which ensure that videos, audios are also texted so people who can’t read or write can access the information.

“In America, there are companies who have earning calls (teleconference, or webcast in which a public company discusses financial results of a reporting period), which must be transcribed.

These calls need to be transcribed within six hours and uploaded to the company’s websites. These are the ones who pay up to Sh10,000.

There are also universities, which require students doing research projects must have their interviews transcribed when it’s qualitative.

Some colleges there go as far as having budgets for transcription,” she adds.

Her effort was rewarded in 2018 when she was listed among the Business Daily 40 under 40 Women.

“When you look at that whole list, there was no single person in the online industry so I am happy that through me, they were represented.

One of my aunties saw that and asked how the media found me when I’ve always been in the house,” she recalls.

By PD.co.ke

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Adopt cremation instead of burials, Kenyans urged

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Kenyans have been urged to adopt cremation instead of burials in order to save trees and also reduce the cost of resting their loved ones.

According to Rotarian Mburu Machua, using wooden coffins during burials had contributed to the depletion of both indigenous and exotic trees thereby posing a serious global climate change.

He says that the country’s forest cover had continued decreasing due to logging and charcoal burning as well as using firewood in cooking in rural areas.

Machua who is a lawyer said that it would be prudent for the government to encourage people to be cremated if it expects to achieve the globally required 10 per cent forest cover.

‘I have been prevailing upon my clients writing their wills to state that they should be cremated upon their death and believe you me, most of them have embraced the idea’, he said.

He spoke at Bibirioni primary school in Limuru during a tree planting exercise which saw the Limuru rotary club in conjunction with the Limuru municipality planting close to 500 indigenous tree species.

Machua said that the cost of burials has become very expensive compared to cremation which is cost-effective.

‘Being cremated wastes fewer resources than burial more so because one does not incur plot or land fees’, he said.
Several prominent Kenyans including environmentalist Wangari Mathai, Kenneth Matiba, and Bob Collymore were cremated when they died.

Many Kenyans take cremation as a bizarre and unchristian exercise arguing that it’s lack of respect for their loved ones.

Municipality manager Michael Muna said that Kenyans should endevour to live in a paperless society for absolute afforestation to be realized.

Muna who is also the Kiambu West Kenya National Union of Teachers branch secretary said that Kenyans ought to embrace using metals and plastic instead of timber and wood.

‘If only it can dawn on every citizen that trees play a crucial role in our health particular in the prevention of respiratory diseases such as Covid-19, they can choose to voluntarily plant trees in every open space within their localities’, he said.

He said that the municipality is planning to plant trees in all schools and road reserves even as it engages in other development matters such as improving infrastructure.

‘The county government has channeled resources to municipalities from the World Bank and we have used the same in street lighting, drainage, and rehabilitation of bus park and roads’, he said.

He said that tree also prevent soil erosion thereby increasing productivity’s in farming.

The manager encouraged Kenyans to plant indigenous trees and fruits adding that the collaboration between Rotary clubs and the area municipalities envisages planting 1 million trees every year.

By PD.co.ke

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