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Kenya eyes up to Sh35bn aid from US to finance projects

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The head of a special US development programme is due in Kenya in the coming week to hold initial talks on the country’s potential eligibility for project funding of up to Sh35 billion.

Sean Cairncross, chief executive of the Millennium Development Corporation (MCC), said in a press briefing on Thursday that Kenya is making “excellent progress” toward meeting criteria for inclusion in the programme.

Successfully completing this initial step would likely result in Kenya being chosen for a “compact” with MCC. Such an arrangement, usually focused on infrastructure development, involves an MCC grant averaging about $350 million (Sh35 billion), Mr Cairncross said.

Established in 2004 during George W Bush’s presidency, the MCC conditions its assistance on countries’ performance in “ruling justly”, following free-market economic policies, and investing in health, education and environment.

Since its inception, the MCC has awarded more than $8 billion (Sh800 billion) to 25 developing countries, 13 of them in Africa. Kenya must make additional progress in controlling corruption before it can be deemed eligible for an MCC compact, Mr Cairncross noted. The country’s standing in that regard is determined by assessments by the World Bank and other “third-party data sources,” the MCC director said.

 Corruption does not have to be eradicated for Kenya to qualify for an MCC compact, Mr Cairncross told reporters. Eligibility for aid is assessed on the basis of a “trend toward dealing with that corruption and a willingness to engage government resources and political will to take those issues on,” he said.

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This is not the first MCC threshold programme for which Kenya has been chosen. It entered into an initiative of that type in 2007, which was aimed at reforming public procurement systems, improving health service delivery, and enhancing the monitoring capacity of government and civil-society organisations.

Despite some progress on each of those fronts, Kenya still fell short of the eligibility standards when the first threshold programme concluded in 2010.

“Kenya is an important partner in East Africa,” the MCC said in December, announcing the country’s approval for a second threshold programme.

That move reflects Washington’s aim to counter China’s influence in Kenya through its large-scale infrastructure investments in recent years.

by nation.co.ke

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Missed a strange call? Don’t respond

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If you woke up to several unattended calls from an unknown number, what would you do? Call back? Text? Ignore? Contact your service provider?

The fashion in which the calls come in – one-ring then drop, and with the several missed calls – creates an air of urgency about it which you have to wonder how the caller got your contact.

The urge to call back a missed call becomes irresistible. Especially when they are numerous missed calls from a strange international caller. However, to some, it makes more sense to call their service provider.

On the eve of Valentine’s Day, when most people’s minds were tuned to the rhythm of love, random international callers with +243 prefixes contacted several Kenyan Safaricom subscribers, taking psychological advantage of the moment of affection.

Alan Mwenda, one of those contacted, reached out to Safaricom – the service provider, but he was advised to “share such numbers on SMS to 333 (free) for investigation and look up the “One Ring Scam.”  However, the telco is yet to share their stance.

But, what really was happening? How potential is this type of cyber security threat? Who exactly are these callers?

One ring and drop nature of the calls has been dubbed ‘Wangiri’ by America’s Federal Communications Commission report that derived it from the calls’ characteristic nature of calling and hanging up immediately, leaving a missed call notification from an international caller.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Uhuru's press Conference leaves Kenyans excited

Mr Fred Wahome, vice chair of Kenya Cybersecurity and Forensic Association and an information security expert explains: “The calls are computer generated. It takes one to have an algorithm that can generate random numbers with their target telco’s prefix, say, between 070 and 079 as the instance with Safaricom, then the computer makes random calls to the unsuspecting subscribers.”

He adds, “The goal is not always to make you answer the call. It is persuading you to call back.”

Calling the fraudster would activate the exorbitant charges which then generates cash to the fraudsters. The best way to deal with such, according to him, is to ignore the allure of returning the call.

Service providers, he says, are mostly not able to track down these numbers as call data records may not have recorded them, because the computer generated algorithms make massive calls simultaneously to their subscribers.

When the victim calls back, then that would be considered as cyber fraud.

Dr Bright Mawudor, a cybersecurity expert at Internet Solutions Kenya says that the number, if at all not an algorithm, could be calling from anywhere in the world and not necessarily from Kinshasa.”

The ‘international caller’, he explains, could have purported to be calling from Kinshasa. “It could even have come from right here in Kenya. They usually change the phone dialing proxies to fool target user accounts, and make their attack plans easier to execute,” he expounds.

READ ALSO:   Kenyans warn MPs that 2022 election is coming as they mull over Uhuru's 8% VAT proposal

Vodafone, a global mobile communications provider, operating in 26 countries advises subscribers not to return international calls that they don’t recognise.

When befell by the same fate, the report also prescribes various means to ensure that would be employed to minimalise chances of the getting scammed.

Users must check out for the identity of the caller before receiving any call, even international, dismiss the temptation to answer or call back missed calls from unusual international numbers.

“You should ask your service provider to block incoming international calls on your line after any suspected attempt to breach your phone security.”

In 2017, Kenya’s digital economy lost Sh21.1 billion to cybercrime, which increased by 39.8 per cent in 2018 to Sh29.5 billion according to pan-African based cyber-security and business consultancy Serianu.

Heavy finances have been invested in cyber security infrastructure, but the menace keeps chopping off millions of shillings from companies’ profits, and stealing sensitive data from targeted senior employees.

By Nation.co.ke

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Luxury Westlands hotel on auction over Sh240m debt

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A luxury hotel in Westlands, Nairobi formerly known Westend is set to be auctioned over unpaid Sh240 million bank loan.

In a notice published in the dailies Wednesday, Dalali Traders invited potential buyers of We Hotel and Suites formerly known as Westend to attend the event Thursday.

“Under instructions received from the charges advocate, we shall sell by public auction the under mentioned property on Thursday 20 February at our offices along Kijabe Street next to Universal Church starting at 10:30am,” the auctioneer said in a notice.

The hotel is associated with media entrepreneur Purish Shah.

Mr Shah, who is the vice chairman of Radio Africa linked urban station East FM had earlier pushed back similar attempts to sell his We Hotel and Suites through the court.

The Business Daily has learnt the latest planned auction of the upscale hotel is due to the debt owed to Bank of India. The hotel comprises a seven-storey building with basement parking. It has 42 rooms, 14 serviced apartments, spa, gym, conference space and a restaurant on the 7th floor.

Its basement comprises 17 parking spaces and a security office. Its ground floor has a conference centre, laundry area, staff dining room, and stores.

Located on Stima Road off Lower Kabete in Westlands it sits on approximately 0.0858ha (0.212 acres).

READ ALSO:   CORRUPTION: Kenyans in US want their country "closed for renovations" [PHOTOS]

“A deposit of 25 percent of the sale price must be paid in cash or banker’s cheque at the fall of the hammer and balance paid within the 90 days to the charges,” said the auctioneers.

The auction comes as the number of properties going under the hammer or businesses crippled by mounting debt has risen sharply in recent months.

We Hotel and Suites joins the growing class of distressed hotels owned and operated by locals that have fallen to mounting debt and slowed down business as a result of the increased supply of rooms in the country and the government’s directive for public servants to hold their meetings in government institutions as part of cost-cutting measures.

By Business Daily

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Nairobi reports high January home sales driven by access to credit and lower property prices

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Realtors have reported increased sales of standalone homes within Nairobi and its suburbs, largely driven by improved access to credit and lower property prices.

A survey of several real estate dealers in the city has revealed that January property sales were much higher than the average monthly transactions reported in 2019.

Realtor HassConsult said high-end properties in Westlands as well as the Gigiri diplomatic zone performed well last month, with several off- plan deals recorded.

“January has witnessed three times more activity than any other month last year,” said HassConsult’s head of development consulting and research Sakina Hassanali.

She said Kenyans appear to be enjoying better access to capital as many property buyers and tenants had paid all their instalments that lagged behind last year.

Mr Patrick Muchoki of Mahiga Homes said they have seen higher demand in developments in Ruiru and Kitengela, mostly from investor- buyers from the diaspora market.

“There is hope as Kenya’s population is rising and new well-paying jobs

are fast emerging within the digital space. 2020 is shaping up to be different from 2019, as banks are now willing to lend to would-be homeowners,” he said.

Enkavilla Properties General Manager Lilian Juma said good infrastructure has been supporting new sales for upcoming residential development in areas such as Kangundo Road, while Kitengela serviced plots sold under a buy-and-build basis have witnessed heightened interest among young couples.

READ ALSO:   CORRUPTION: Kenyans in US want their country "closed for renovations" [PHOTOS]

Releasing their fourth-quarter housing property index, Kenya Bankers Association reported a seven percentage points jump in maisonette and bungalow sales within Nairobi and its suburbs.

KBA research and policy financial markets director Jared Osoro said there was a 17 per cent rise in sales of maisonettes in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to a 10 per cent rise in the third quarter.

Outlook
ALL NOT LOST, SAY PLAYERS

The fourth-quarter KBA Housing Index registered a 0.61 per cent decline compared to the third quarter’s 2.28 per cent drop in house prices, an indication that the repeal of the interest rate capping law last November could have eased access to credit.

Increasing opportunities especially in the ICT sector, rising income levels and infrastructure are among factors that will push demand for homes up, according to some property managers.

By Nation

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