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OPINION: Embassy in Washington DC is a let down to needy Kenyans in US

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The cry for help by athletics legend Henry Rono to get help to return home to Kenya from the US won’t be the first or the last. There was also that of Mr Timothy Majanja, a Kenyan who had migrated to Canada and the US over 40 years previously but ended up homeless. He eventually died in poverty in Atlanta.

Both cases were highlighted by the Kenyan media. The response to help for the gentlemen has mostly come from ordinary Kenyans and, in the case of Mr Rono, Athletics Kenya showed willingness to support him. None, if at all, came from Kenya’s consulate where the two men fell under.

The inertia in our foreign missions is the same. There has been hue and cry from diaspora Kenyans about lack of necessary services and support by our diplomats.

DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS

One of the most important roles diplomatic missions play is to offer consular assistance to its citizens in the diaspora. That does not begin and end with issuance of passports and other travel documents. They are also meant to be there for citizens in distress abroad.

The plight of Mr Rono and Mr Majanja is experienced by many Kenyans stuck abroad due to economic hardship. The diaspora community continues to remit to this country billions of shillings yearly.

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This group has become our best export and their continued contribution to the national economy is commendable.

However, their financial success may not always be static and they could fall on hard times. Our missions need to be there for them during these hard times too.

But from the avalanche of complaints from Kenyans in the diaspora, there is very little support for them. Clearly, if those who contribute to the economy so much struggle to access services in our missions, I would imagine unsuccessful Kenyan immigrants abroad will be the last to get any help.

NEPOTISM

The missions have a duty of care to the citizens. A career diplomat would understand basic rules in diplomacy, including duty to the citizens. But they have been accused of incompetence due to their having been turned into dumping grounds for failures at home or conduits for nepotism and cronyism.

The dual nationality question that cropped up during the vetting of nominees for diplomatic posts highlighted the issue of loyalty. Although this is a valid point as far as nominees with dual citizenship are concerned, it is also indicative of the overall character of our foreign missions.

The loyalty of most of those appointed through political patronage is to the appointing individual rather than to Country.

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Appointing non-career diplomats oftentimes just offers individuals and their families a long sightseeing holiday to a foreign country. They add no value to the diplomatic table as they lack the skills and tools required of a bona fide diplomat.

DIPLOMACY

Standard at our missions won’t be improved by training appointees in how to eat with a knife and fork. Diplomacy is not just about eating. Many non-career diplomats from Africa have walked into the haze of diplomatic immunity by breaching laws in their host countries. Taking immunity as cover for all sorts of misdemeanours, they engage in fraud, rape and slavery.

Some unqualified diplomats have even been unable to articulate basic diplomatic issues at press conferences, embarrassing their countries.

Our diplomats should have more roles to play for those in the diaspora than hosting nyama choma and beer festivals on Jamhuri Day. It is fine to make merry but the serious work required of the diplomats is duty to Kenyans. It is also a platform to be used to increase foreign investment.

Our missions are the face of Kenya and ought to be run by experienced career diplomats able to market the country effectively and articulate our foreign policy. They also need to be reduced in size to make them cost-effective. In this Digital Age, it makes no sense to have missions in just about any country.

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Why not have key missions in countries that are strategically important to us in terms of investment and amalgamate the rest into lean consular offices?

FOREIGN POLICIES

Kenya’s success is, equally, dependent on an effective foreign mission that can articulate our foreign policies well with a qualified experienced career diplomat in charge. Dumping non-deserving people there shows lack of seriousness in our foreign policy and is akin to trying to fly without wings!

* * *

The ongoing rush for e-passports should never have happened. It is causing unnecessary anxiety and panic among Kenyans. If the government were serious with their deadline, why did they not provide many more centres to speed it up?

The large crowds outside the few immigration centres pose A security threat too as far as terrorism goes and the queues make a field day for bribe-hungry immigration officers. It is sheer tortious. I hope somebody isn’t sleeping on the job, making Kenyans to pay for their incompetence!

-BY KALTUM GUYO

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Diaspora

Kenyans, Americans banned from travelling to Europe

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Visitors from Kenya are set to remain banned from entering any of the 31 European countries when borders reopen on July 1.

This is as President Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to open the skies in a bid to reawaken the tourism sector that has suffered a blow due to the Covid-19 pandemic.The European Union is expected to start lifting the internal border restrictions for its own citizens starting tomorrow in an attempt to save the European tourism season.But this will only apply to countries believed to be ‘safe’ of the highly-contagious coronavirus.

The list was drafted after assessing the epidemiological situation in the countries, their coronavirus response, the ability to apply containment measures during travel and whether or not they had lifted travel restrictions towards the EU, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.Kenya has so far recorded 6,190 cases and 144 deaths as of June 29.

The numbers have been on the rise in the month of June after the country increased the testing capacity on a daily basis.According to SchengenVisaInfo.com, only citizens from 14 countries will be allowed to enter Europe.The countries include; Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.The ban has also exempted citizens from the ‘unsafe countries’ who are already living in Europe.

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equal travel deal for citizens from the European Union nations.Citizens from the United Kingdom have been exempted from the temporary travel restriction, and they will be treated in the same way as European Union nationals until the end of the Brexit transition period at the end of the year.

Americans have also been banned from travelling to the EU nations following the high number of coronavirus cases in the country.As of June 30, the country had recorded 2,682,011 and a total of 128,788 deaths since the onset of the outbreak.On Monday Reuters reported that California and Texas both marked record spikes in new Covid-19 infections as Los Angeles reported an “alarming” one-day surge in America’s second-largest city that put it over 100,000 cases.

In March, President Donald Trump suspended all people from Europe’s ID check-free travel zone, which include Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, from entering the US.The EU said the “safe list” will be reviewed every two weeks and adjusted depending on the latest Covid-19 developments in each country.

-Standardmedia.co.ke

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Africa

Kenya ‘raring to go’ on free trade deal with US, Uhuru says

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Kenya’s negotiations with the US on an unprecedented two-way trade deal are on schedule to begin on July 7 despite difficulties posed by the coro-navirus pandemic, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Friday.

“Our team is raring to go,” he assured an online forum sponsored by the Washington-based Corporate Council on Africa.Kenya is aiming to create “sustainable jobs for our people” through what would be the first bilateral free-trade agreement between a sub-Saharan country and the nation with the world’s biggest economy, the President added.

The US also has much to gain from concluding such an arrangement, Mr Kenyatta suggested.Kenya is part of a continent that “requires everything from toothbrushes to machine tooling,” he said.

Mr Kenyatta also sought to allay concerns that a bilateral deal with the US could undermine the African Con-tinental Free Trade Area that is due to be implemented at the start of 2021.The Africa-wide initiative is “very important to us,” the President said, noting that Kenya has worked hard to ensure its success.

He suggested that a Kenya-US bilateral pact can complement the continental trade agreement and could serve as a model to be replicated by other individual countries.

“If we are successful in these negotiations, Kenya can act as a lead or guide,” the President said. “We will be the guinea pig so that many other African countries can follow suit.”

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But Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo, who also spoke at Friday’s forum, said the US has paid more attention to the possibility of a bilateral deal with Kenya than to the multilateral Africa trade agreement that will soon come into force.

While hailing the significance of a US-Kenya trade deal, Mr Akufo-Addo lamented that “the emphasis of America on exploring opportunities on the continent has not been quite as intense as some of us would have wished.”

Florizelle Liser, chief executive of the Corporate Council on Africa, said in an interview following the forum that the US has in fact worked to facilitate the Africa-wide trade agreement.A bilateral deal with Kenya is not an impediment to Africa’s efforts to forge a multilateral free-trade grouping, she added. The US side “understands that Kenya is part of the EAC,” Ms Liser said.

“They’re already looking at ways they can pull in other East African countries.”It could take as long as two years to conclude a Kenya-US trade deal, she added.

President Kenyatta noted in his remarks to the forum that Kenya was especially keen to start bilateral negoti-ations with the US because the existing multilateral preferential trade package known as Agoa is due to expire in 2025.

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But President Akufo-Addo is not prepared to acquiesce to that projected termination date for Agoa. African countries that have benefited from Agoa should “look at the possibility of extending it,” he said.

Ms Liser, whose 27-year-old association includes most US companies operating in Africa, pointed out that it is up to the US Congress to decide whether Agoa’s scheduled expiration in five years will actually come to pass.The still-spreading pandemic is in-tensifying Africa’s need for increased trade and investment, the Kenyan and Ghanaian heads of state agreed.

Kenya managed to save many lives through swift implementation of virus-containment measures, Mr Kenyatta noted.

But, he acknowledged, those moves led to a sharp economic contraction and widespread loss of livelihoods.President Akufo-Addo pointed out that Ghana has recorded one of the lowest virus-related death rates in the world.His country has counted 15,473 cases of coronavirus, resulting in 95 deaths.Kenya has reported only about one-third as many cases but has seen 135 lives lost to the pandemic.

At the same time, Kenya Airways (KQ), grounded for the past three months by the coronavirus pandemic, will resume domestic flights in “the next couple of days,” President Kenyatta said.

The return to in-country service will coincide with the lifting of Kenya’s lockdown on travel between counties, Mr Kenyatta noted.The government will soon set a date for KQ to resume flying internationally, the President added.

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“We’re doing everything we can to make sure we are back in the skies,” Mr Kenyatta said.“We’re eager to open up, but we have to make sure we all stay safe.”

The President’s announcement came on the same day that KQ chief executive Allan Kilavuka revealed that the airline has lost an estimated $100 million so far this year due to the pandemic and related lockdowns.Losses could approach $500 million by the end of 2020, Mr Kilavuka added.KQ had been struggling financially long before the coronavirus emerged.

It lost about $122 million in 2019, compared to $71 million the previous year.

By Sunday Nation.

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Business

Guide on How to shop at Maasai market

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One of the most interesting things about this market is that it’s held at different locations within town every day.

Monday- There’s no market on this day

Tuesday-Kijabe street (CBD)

Wednesday- Capital center

Thursday -Junction mall

Friday-village market

Saturday-Court of appeal parking

Sunday- Yaya center (CBD)

  • At each of these locations, the market runs from 8.00 am to 7.00 pm.

Pro tips

  • Prices differ depending on location, you get things cheapest on the days the market is in CBD rather than at village market or Yaya center which are high-end shopping centers.
  • Visit the market around evening hours, you get things at a cheaper price this time compared to lunch hours.

Goods to get here

  • There’s a variety of things you can get here, all from deep Maasai land, here are some:
  1. Maasai sandals
  2. Shukas (African shows)
  3. Kiondos ( African reed-made baskets)
  4. Artwork, sculptures, and carvings
  5. Other types of bead objects such as jewelry and belts

User submitted photo of Nairobi

User submitted photo of Nairobi

User submitted photo of Nairobi

User submitted photo of Nairobi

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