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Car dealers oppose auto sector policy : The Standard

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Second-hand motor vehicle dealers are opposed to the Government’s plan to revamp the local auto assembly industry, claiming that such proposals have been engineered by foreign motoring firms.
They argue that such firms are also looking for ways to dispose of their old technology from their operations in developed markets. The plan offers local manufacturers incentives, which the Ministry of Industrialisation said will spur the local manufacturing sector.
Second-hand auto industry players, however, say this would kill their businesses. The rule proposes a ban on importation of vehicles above five years starting in July.
The age limit, which targets vehicles with a larger engine capacity above 1600cc, will further reduce to three years in the next two years.
The State is eyeing zero imports for this range of cars by the year 2024, in a move that the Ministry said would “help expand the market for locally assemble vehicles”.
The Kenya Auto Bazaar Association (Kaba), a lobby for second-hand vehicle dealers, however, claimed that global automakers have been pushing for the total ban of second-hand cars into Kenya as they look for markets for their locally made units.
Kaba Chairman John Kipchumba noted the auto firms are looking for easy ways to dispose of old plants that are being phased out in their operations in developed countries.
“We are strongly opposed to this draft policy because it is not in the interest of the country. It is being driven by multinational automotive manufacturers represented in Kenya by assemblers and new motor vehicle franchise holders,” said Kipchumba yesterday.
“They want to shift their market from Europe to Africa and they have been engaging Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya.”
He spoke when Kaba, together with Car Importers Association of Kenya, handed a petition to the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) – asking the agency to do away with the new rules that are expected to take effect July.
Kebs oversees the age limit rule is adhered to by importers. Other than the reduction in age limit of imported vehicles, the Government has proposed several measures to promote the local vehicle assembly industry.
In the draft National Automotive Policy, the Ministry hopes to position Kenya as a regional vehicle manufacturing hub, giving Governments and individuals from EAC and beyond the option of buying vehicles with ‘zero mileage’, designed for the local terrain and at an affordable cost.
In the policy, the Ministry expects new vehicles assembled in Kenya to contribute Sh50 billion in taxes per year in the next five years, from the current Sh8 billion.
The industry will also create 150,000 direct jobs at the assembly plants, up from the current 6 000 jobs. Kaba claims dealers in used cars pay Sh48 billion in taxes annually.

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Congo Republic ships first iron ore ahead of expected production boom : The Standard

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Iron mining in Congo. [Photo, Courtesy]

Congo Republic shipped its first iron ore exports on Friday ahead of an expected boom in production from mines owned by Congolese billionaire Paul Obambi’s Sapro SA and Swiss commodities giant Glencore.

Sapro mined the oil-dependent Central African country’s first iron ore in 2017 from its Mayoko project in the southwest and plans to reach output of 12 million tonnes per year by 2022.
Glencore’s joint venture with British Virgin Islands-incorporated Zanaga Iron Ore Co plans to ship 2 million tonnes of iron ore per year over the next two years, and 30 million tonnes by 2024.
Sapro, the Congolese government and British shipping company Ashley Global are also spending a combined $550 million on rehabilitation to Pointe Noire’s deep-water port, the Mayoko mine and an old railway track connecting the two.
At a ceremony on Friday in Pointe Noire attended by the mines minister, a ship loaded with 23,000 tonnes of ore set sail for China, where it will be processed for a European buyer.
“We are heading towards more than a century of production,” said Obambi.
Iron ore prices are near their highest in two years, spurred by growing demand from China and the collapse in January of a dam operated by Brazil’s Vale, which has cut into global output.
Congo’s economy has been hit hard in recent years by low crude prices, which led its debt to balloon. It is currently negotiating with the International Monetary Fund to try to secure a bailout. 

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NMG shareholders to earn $9.42m after $10m profit

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By BRIAN NGUGI
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Nation Media Group shareholders are set to earn Ksh942.7 million ($9.427 million) after the company declared a dividend of Ksh5 ($0.05) per share for the year ended December 31, 2018.

The group weathered a difficult business environment across the region to post a Ksh1.06 billion ($10.6 million) profit after tax, down from Ksh1.35 billion ($13.5 million) the previous year, a 21.8 per cent decline.

Addressing an investor briefing in Nairobi board chairman Wilfred Kiboro said NMG had shown resilience in a challenging environment marked by delays in payments, especially from the government, coupled with depressed regional economies, which impacted circulation volumes and advertising revenues.

The Group’s performance was adversely impacted by its decision to discontinue government advertising from July 2018 due to delays in settling outstanding debts.

Notably, part of the debt, amounting to Ksh304 million ($3 million) was paid in February this year by the Government Advertising Agency, GAA.

The group’s turnover stood at Ksh9.66 billion ($96.6 million), down from Ksh10.62 billion ($106.2 million) in 2017, a 9.1 per cent decline.

However, Mr Kiboro expressed confidence that the group will post a stronger performance this year, on the back of new and diversified revenue streams and an improved operating environment.

He said that NMG will continue to invest in the development of additional digital inventory to ride the wave of disruptions experienced by print media platforms across the world.

The group plans to invest Ksh200 million ($2 million) to develop additional digital inventory as part of its revenue diversification plan.

NMG digital platforms rose to 37.2 million unique monthly users in March 2019, from 32.3 million in March last year.

“Profit is not what drives the Nation Media Group,” said Mr Kiboro. “Profit is important, but our values and our philosophy are what we need to serve the greater good of society.

“However, in carrying out our mission, we have to operate sustainably as shareholders expect a positive return on their investment.”

Last year, the group diversified into music, with the launch of Lit Music, a record label for artistes, and LIT360 product offerings that include a TV show and a digital platform.

KenyaBuzz, an e-commerce-enabled experiential platform for movies, events and ticketing will be revamped in Kenya, and rolled out to Uganda and Tanzania.

Group CEO Stephen Gitagama said a diversified business strategy would bring in new advertising revenue and shore up the company’s growth.

“We will diversify our revenue streams while protecting our legacy income,” said Mr Gitagama.

“We will give our consumers highly desirable content that fits into their worlds wherever, however and whenever they need it.”

He added that the group had identified a Tanzanian shareholder in compliance with the regulations that require media companies to be majority-owned by locals.



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Astronauts capture view of Earth from space : The Standard

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The UK from space (Image: PA)

It’s a view that only a few people will see in their lifetime, but now astronauts have given us a glimpse of the view of Earth from space.

NASA has revealed an image of the UK, taken by astronauts on board the International Space Station(ISS) on February 26.
When the image was taken, the ISS’s altitude was 214 nautical miles away from Earth.
For comparison, this is around the same distance it takes to drive from central London to Manchester by car via the M40!

SEE ALSO :Gender bill flops again, a fourth time

A Nikon D5 was used to snap the shot, with a 17-35mm zoom lens, looking through a window of the International Space Station over the sea between Wales and Ireland.
Last year, the International Space Station celebrated 20 years since it was first launched, though the first batch of long-term residents did not arrive until two years later in November 2000.
In its lifetime, the station has been home to 236 astronauts.
This includes British ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Major Tim Peake, who was an inhabitant from December 15, 2015 until June 18, 2016.

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