Made in Nigeria Conference Comes Up on 22 June in Lagos

The second edition of a conference targeted at empowering entrepreneurs, who produce goods in Nigeria,  comes up on Thursday,  22 June, 2017 in Lagos.

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The Made-in-Nigeria conference2017 , with first stop at Lagos,  is an international gathering of both local and international Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, converging to rub minds.

The conference conference shall be held  by 9.00 am at NERDC Conference hall, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos state.

Made  In Nigeria goods and products will be showcased, ideas, innovations and opportunities that abound in the non-oil sector will be explored.
Exhibitors, Manufacturers, Farmers, Agro-businessmen and women, Traders, Fashion Designers, Leatherworks dealers, fabricators, Creative Directors, Trainers, Start-up Owners, will have opportunity to ask questions on their businesses.

Firm Provides Soft Loans for Workers’ Dependents In South West

A financial services company has commenced the granting of soft loans to spouses and dependents of workers in the South West Geo-Political zone of Nigeria, who are yet to receive their salaries for several months from their various state Governments.

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According  to a statement  by must already be engaged in small or medium scale businesses, with verifiable addresses.

It further stated that ‘’repayment of the loan of N100,000 will be made installmentally on a monthly basis over a period of six (6) months at one  per cent (1 %) interest rate. No guarantors are required’’.

The statement directed prospective loan seekers to pick up the registration forms at Common Good International,  Mile 110, Abeokuta road, beside Nustreams Conference and Cultural centre, Railway line, off Alalubosa Estate,Dugbe/ Odo-Ona/Apata road, Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria.

For several months now state Governments in Nigeria have been unable to pay the backlog of salary arrears owed workers. This has   resulted in the inability of the workers to meet their obligations to their spouses and dependents, who depend heavily on them of their sustenance.

 

Kenyans Stare At Bleak Future As Job Cuts Loom

As Kenyans marked the 128th international Labour Day, the country’s employment outlook continued to be bleak amid economic uncertainties.

A wave of job losses across sectors including banking, construction, media, agriculture and tourism has caused concerns, with an unpredictable future.

As the country lost its job creation momentum for the first time in four years — managing 832,900 in the formal and informal sectors in 2016 from 841,600 a year earlier — the government maintains a freeze on hiring.

AUSTERITY MEASURES

A December 2016 memo from Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich announced cost-cutting measures as it narrowed down to hiring only for essential services such as security, health and education, in the public service.

The 2017 Economic Survey shows that 747,300 of the new jobs, or 89.7 per cent, were in the informal sector, from 713,600 in 2015.

The rest, 85,600, were white collar jobs — meaning the formal employment market lags far behind the number of graduates, with more than 500,000 leaving college yearly.

JOB CUTS

The gap means Kenya’s projected working age growth by nine million in the next decade will present a big headache.

Kenyans continue to stare at looming job cuts, even as the latest data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows the economy grew at 5.8 per cent.

The private sector, which accounted for 67.2 per cent of the new formal jobs last year, expects to see more job cuts.

A recent Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) study found that a fifth of Nairobi-based firms plan staff cuts in the next six months, citing an unfavourable business climate.

Banks, microfinance institutions and transport companies foresee staff cuts arising from information technology (IT) disruption and completion of the standard gauge railway.

Other sectors expect a slowdown in growth linked to political uncertainty and harsh weather, which has depressed agriculture, the report says.

RETRENCHMENT

The worst hit in the wave of layoffs that characterised the better part of last year were banks.

The sackings, blamed on a tough economic climate, spilled into 2017.

KCB Group recently unveiled an early retirement scheme in a bid to save Sh2 billion per annum in staff costs.

The bank, whose staff count dropped by 223 last year, had carried out personnel cuts, spending Sh186 million in compensation to the affected employees.

Last October, Sidian Bank announced it was retrenching 108 workers under a voluntary retirement plan to trim its payroll.

Less than a week earlier, Family Bank had made a similar announcement, also citing costs.

The year saw more than 10 major firms implement or announce massive job cuts.

They include Kenya Airways, which started it off by sending home 600 staff, and Coca-Cola, which laid off 80 workers in July.

Airtel had started the year with an announcement to shed off 60 staff members.

INVESTORS HESITANT

The multibillion-shilling railway builder China Roads and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) shocked many when its 109 workers, based at a manufacturing factory in Kathekani, Kibwezi East Sub-County in Makueni County, were paid their monthly dues and told to leave in July.

Come this year, regional lender Bank of Africa Group closed 12 branches around the country, declaring an unknown number of its 520-strong workforce redundant.

The Sharia-compliant First Community Bank (FCB) laid off a third of its workforce — 106.

Ecobank’s decision to close nine of its 29 outlets also came with human capital consequences.

This being an election year, the situation is likely to get worse as most investors adopt a wait-and-see attitude because of political uncertainty ahead of the August 8 General Election.

Source : The Nation Nairobi

Ebonyi Govt. To Engage Unemployed Graduates

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The Ebonyi state Government has indicated  that it would soon  commence a mentorship programme for unemployed graduates in the state.

This is contained in a press statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Emma Anya.

According to the statement, Governor David Umahi, made this known during a service to mark the 10th diocesan anniversary and the foundation stone laying of Basilica of Grace Cathedral Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion, in Afikpo on Sunday.

“There is a programme we want to start in Ebonyi State. By April,we want to start a mentorship programme. We want to start first with civil engineers because I am a civil engineer. We will be calling for three people in each of the 13 local government areas of the state, who are graduates and don’t have anything doing.

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“ We want to start a small recreation course for them. We will bring people from all over the country and also expatriates to train them for one year”.

“They will visit sites and be working on construction sites. After one year, we will deploy them in three companies. We will buy bulldozers, graders and concrete mixers for their companies”, the statement concluded.

Zimbabwe: U.S. Dollar Disappears From Banking System

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Transactional activity in Zimbabwe in recent weeks indicates a slow disappearance of the United States dollar, which is being replaced by bond notes.

The bond notes were introduced last year under the $200 million export incentive to supplement dwindling dollar supplies due to weak exports.

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A survey by Standardbusiness in the central business district last week showed that banks were giving out less and less dollars, which are now available only from Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).

An FBC Bank depositor said the institution was dispensing money depending on the currency they had at the time.

“Sometimes we are given our withdrawals only in bond notes,” the depositor said.

“There used to be days when I received my withdrawals in United States dollars or bond notes while other times it was in both denominations.

“But, most of the time now we are receiving bond notes and very rarely in US dollars.”

Stanbic Bank was giving out $100 in bond notes inside the bank and another $50 in US$ from ATMs, making a total of $150 daily withdrawals.

Cabs was also giving depositors according to the available currency at that particular time.

“It depends on the branch but money is given out based on what the bank has on the particular day,” a Cabs Bank depositor who identified herself as Julia said.

The dollar has also become elusive in supermarkets where customers used to get them through the cashback facility

In an interview with our sister paper, Zimbabwe Independent, RBZ governor John Mangudya confirmed the scarcity of dollars saying banks were holding on to the currency to facilitate foreign payments.

“Each bond note in the economy represents a proportion of up to 5% of the foreign currency earned on exports generated by the economy. It stands to reason therefore that banks are retaining the bulk of foreign exchange for foreign payments,” he said.

“Bond notes will continue to circulate in the economy alongside other currencies in the multiple currency system.”

According to RBZ statistics, $94 million of bond notes are in circulation against an aggregate value of the export incentive of $107 million.

In a recent monetary policy statement, Mangudya said RBZ was putting in place a redistributable measure that mitigated against skewed concentration of bond notes within the banking sector by limiting the maximum amount of bond notes that each bank should hold at any given point in time in relation to its level and type of transactions

“This measure is necessary to ensure that bond notes are distributed proportionately according to the customer base or customer profile of each banking institution,” he said.

He said the move would ensure that bond notes continued to trade at parity with the US$ and to reflect the fact that they were supported by the $200 million offshore facility.

Source : The Standard

Uganda: Labour Exports to Middle East Up By 15, 000

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Kampala — Up to 65, 000 Ugandans are doing odd jobs in the Middle East, the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA) says.

This is 15, 000 higher than the number that was working there one year ago.

Most are working as either cleaners, waiters/waitresses, drivers, tailors, construction and factory workers or security guards.

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“Their annual contribution in the form of remittances is $400, 000,” the acting chairperson of the UAERA, Lillian Keene Mugerwa, told the House Committee on Gender, on Wednesday.

The committee had summoned the 63-member association to brief the committee on its business.

“Due to unemployment in Uganda, some of the Ugandans now working in countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, sold family property to finance their flights to the Middle East,” she said.

“Many were made to believe that the ‘returns’ there would be higher than they would ever make in Uganda.”

The government in January 2016 banned the export of maids.

The ban came on the heels of reports that many were being mistreated by their Saudi Arabian employers.

Ms Mugerwa, who was accompanied by the Managing Director of Middle East Consultants Gordon Mugyenyi, the MD of Magrib Agencies Ltd Catherine Ocen Ssabwe and the General Manager of Horeb Services Ezra Mugisha, urged the government to lift the ban on the export of maids.

They said the ban is not serving the purpose.

“The ban was put into place without taking into account the fact the majority of the workers that were complaining [of mistreatment] had been deployed by [human] traffickers,” Ms Mugerwa said.

“The few licensed companies…stopped. But as we stopped, the traffickers continued to export people to Saudi Arabia. When Saudi Arabia stopped the influx, the traffickers are now taking maids to Oman.”

Serere Member of Parliament, Patrick Okabe, concurred with the recruitment agencies and said the ban should be lifted.

“If we maintain the ban, people will find alternatives,” Mr Okabe said.

Ms Beatrice Anywar, the vice chairperson of the Gender committee called on government should address the reasons that drive Ugandans abroad.

According to Action Aid (2012), six in every ten Ugandans are unemployed.

Some lack the skills employers need.

In other cases, the economy is not expanding as fast as the labour force.

Source : The Monitor

Rwanda: New Minerals Found as Govt Steps Up Exploration

Rwanda has far more natural resources than previously thought, an official familiar with the country’s mineral exploration programme has said.

The revelation comes days after the Government established a fully-fledged statutory body to oversee and coordinate all the exploration and mining-related activities in the country: the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board.

Dr Emmanuel Munyangabe, who the Cabinet on February 3 appointed as the Chief Operations Officer of the new body, told The New Times last week that an ongoing airborne geophysics survey has found deposits of several new minerals in different parts of Rwanda, including rare earth elements, gemstones, cobalt, iron and lithium.

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Rare earth elements are essential in developing high-tech devises in the areas of communication, defence, alternative energy, among others.

The ongoing exercise, which started in October last year and is set to be completed later this month, also established that Rwanda is endowed with more deposits of traditional minerals like gold than previously thought, Munyangabe said.

In January, President Paul Kagame said there were new indications that Rwanda could be rich with previously unknown deposits of minerals and assured citizens all the country’s resources will be exploited in the best interest of the people – brushing aside the narrative of resource curse.

Munyangabe was until February 3 the head of geology and mining department at Rwanda Natural resources Authority (RNRA).

The department has since morphed into the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board, with the Cabinet naming former Rwanda Development Board chief executive Francis Gatare as the new body’s chief executive.

In the latest reforms, the other departments under the former RNRA (land, and water and forestry) will remain under the Ministry of Natural Resources.

“The newly established board will build on what has been ongoing under the previous framework, in the areas of exploration, licensing, inspection and regulation,” Munyangabe said last week.

The restructuring will also see the new body inherit some of the staff from its predecessor department, he added.

“The whole idea is to optimise the resources that we’ve always known to have as a country and new finds,” the official said. “The public has probably seen an aircraft flying over their home with a loop hanging low, these are airborne geophysical surveys that we will continue to conduct until later this month.”

He added: “There are new finds, including resources that we previously had no idea existed in Rwanda, while in other cases we found extensions of existing mineral deposits like gold… the next steps will include to conduct further surveys and analyses to determine the exact components and quantities of the deposits.”

No oil exploration deal

The official also said that renewed efforts will be put into prospecting for petroleum and gas around Lake Kivu, one of the numerous lakes that form the East African rift valley, with geological surveys in recent years in neighbouring countries showing that the rift is endowed with huge oil reserves.

Lake Kivu is already home to methane gas deposits and exploitation is underway, with a power plant having been inaugurated there last year.

The newly established Board, Munyangabe said, will sustain the momentum in ongoing surveys. “We believe we will have completed the geophysical, geological and geochemical analyses by July this year and that will give us a clear picture of the mining and underground resources that Rwanda has.”

“There’s a commitment to diversify the country’s resources”.

Rwanda’s principal minerals have been known to be tantalum (coltan), wolfram and cassiterite and gold – nonetheless the country has not been known to be resource-rich, which partly informed the Government’s efforts to invest in human resource.

Last year, the country generated $160 million (about Rwf134 billion) from the mineral sector.

However, Munyangabe dismissed recent media reports that a local investment company, Ngali Holdings – through its subsidiary Ngali Mining – had won the tender to renew oil exploration, saying “no company is in talks with the government regarding oil exploration at the moment.”

“Once a decision has been taken and a company identified it will be communicated to the public,” he said.

Homegrown skills

Meanwhile, Munyangabe said the Government plans to step up efforts to process its minerals locally, with a casseterite-processing plant set to open in Karuruma, Gasabo District this year. “We are looking for more experts to work with in this effort.”

Digne Rwabuhungu, the dean of the School of Mining and Geology at the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology, welcomed the government’s decision to set up an autonomous body in charge of the mining sector and to have its chief executive as a Cabinet minister.

“It will allow for the country’s vision to easily permeate through the sector,” he told The New Times last week.

He added: “Now that the top leadership has been put in place, what remains is to see how the Board sets up a technical team to implement the institution’s mandate… there is quite a lot to streamline within the sector, for instance, every company that is involved with mining should be supervised closely to ensure that the environment is protected and other standards observed.”

He also called for a deliberate policy to consistently promote homegrown skills in the sector, by among others, including the component of skills transfer in exploration or mining deals that involve foreign firms.

“We need to promote local skills especially among the youth,” he said.

The School of Mining and Geology will hold its maiden graduation in about two years time.

Source : The New Times

Dugbe Market Traders Seek Divine Intervention Over Dwindling Sales

Traders at the  Dugbe Market, Ibadan, Nigeria have embarked on a prayer session to seek divine  intervention towards addressing dwindling sales and other challenges confronting traders as a result of the absence of adequate facilities in the market.

The Traders who turned out in large numbers, at the market venue of the prayer session, lamented that the toilets in the market were not enough to cater for the large number of people in the market.

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They also complained of  irregular electricity supply and lack of potable water, while appealing to the Oyo state Government to consider their plight, by doing the needful.

At the prayer session, were the Otun Iyalaje of Ibadan land, who doubles as the Iyalaje of Dugbe market, Chief(Mrs.) Victoria Lawal-Coker,  Babaloja of Dugbe market, Alhaji  Rasaki Bello, Iyaloja of Dugbe market, Alhaja Limota Adepoju, the Babalaje of Dugbe market, Alhaji Moshood Ayinde,  Chief Security Officer of the market,  Mr. Kelvin Iwuji among other dignitaries.

African Least Developed Countries Need Greater ‘Momentum’ to Graduate From LDC Status

Kigali 15 December (ECA)- After several years of resilience following the global financial crisis, economic growth in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) has declined sharply since 2012 and significantly reduced their chances of graduating out of a LDC status.

According to “Least Developed Countries Report 2016: The path to graduation and beyond: Making the most of the process” – a new report released on Tuesday by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) – global poverty is increasingly concentrated within the group of 48 LDC countries, which are falling further behind the rest of the world in terms of economic development.

Currently, approximately 80 percent (38 of the 48) of the LDCs are African. According to UNCTAD’s projections, by 2025 the LDCs group would be composed of 32 countries, and all but two (Cambodia and Haiti) in Africa. In Eastern Africa, there is a particularly notable concentration of countries which classify as LDCs – 12 of the 14 fourteen are currently part of LDC group (Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania).

Speaking at an ECA Policy Dialogue to discuss the findings of UNCTAD’s report, Mr. Andrew Mold, Acting Director of ECA in the Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa, explained that the UN classifies a country as an LDC if it has a combination of both a low per capita income and scores lowly on two composite indicators relating to the level of human development and degree of economic vulnerability.

Insight Into African Integration & Industrialization @ #UNCTAD14

Insight Into African Integration & Industrialization @ #UNCTAD14

Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) speakers offered a plethora of insight at the 14th United Nations Conference on Trade and Development #UNCTAD14, taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 17-22 July. ECA panelists talked about why extractive industries’ policy should ensure their revenues are used to particularly “transform the lives of those in the local area where the extraction is taking place”; why regional integration among African countries grows innovation, which enhances competition, and how investing in STEM education is the key to developing that innovative capacity. Finally, ECA’s executive secretary Carlos Lopes talked about boosting agricultural productivity and the transformational effect this has had on the Ethiopian economy. More about the ECA in this BRIEFING.

Mold clarified that LDCs typically suffer from three types of development traps: first, low incomes which lead to low investment, limited economic growth, and high levels of poverty; secondly, a low-level of economic diversification and heavy dependency on primary commodities exports, and finally, weak productive capacities.

The report argues that graduating from the LDC category should be achieved concomitantly with a rapid structural transformation of the economy, so that countries can better take advantage of the global economy.

During the policy dialogue, it was noted that only a very limited number of LDC have graduated to date – only four countries in the 45 years since this classification was established (Botswana in 1994, Cape Verde in 2007, Maldives in 2011 and Samoa in 2014. Other countries, such as Equatorial Guinea, Tuvalu and Angola, are forecast to graduate over the next few years, but pointedly only one in Eastern Africa (Djibouti).

Discussing ways of increasing the prospects for graduation from LDC status, Mr. Mold called for countries in the region to scale up public investments, including projects that strategically address bottlenecks in the productive sector, as well as accelerating the transformation of rural economies by upgrading agriculture and promoting non-farm activities.

Mold also highlighted that countries could graduate faster with more effective help from the international community in terms of finance, trade and technology. “Donors need to fulfill their long-standing commitments for assistance to LDCs and most importantly align their support more closely with national development strategies”, he said.

Source : United Nations Economic Commission For Africa

East Africa: What Makes Nairobi the Only African City in Global Investors Top Five Watchlist

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Nairobi is on the global watchlist of top five fast modernising cities that are attracting new global business on growing realisation that big companies cannot operate from one sub-Saharan location in South Africa.

The city is also taking off as a hub for global corporations looking to establish an office to cover the East African region, according to Global Cities – The 2016 Report by Knight Frank.

Big companies with global reach have come to the conclusion that they need to operate from multiple locations and Nairobi is a natural starting point in entering or expanding to new regions.

Nairobi has been termed as demonstrating Africa’s rapid modernisation and joins other cities like Dubai, United Arab Emirates capital, which is said to have pulled clear of past difficulties and is expanding as a hub for investment, tourism and transport.

Others are Kuala Lumpar in Malaysia, Bangkok in Thailand and Moscow, Russia.

The report indicates that around 1.8 million square feet of modern shopping mall space was opened in 2015 and the space forecast to increase.

“Given that the mall stock previously had totalled 980,000 square feet, this amounts to a revolution in the city’s retail experience, which matches the huge economic and demographic changes that have unfolded in Kenya,” said James Roberts, the chief economist at Knight Frank.

With the world’s cities predicted to add 380 million new citizens in the next five years, new mass transit systems, utilities and faster connections to markets will be needed.

The Lamu Port and Lamu-South Sudan-Ethiopia transport Corridor (Lapsset) has been termed as one of the global infrastructure projects that will be generating new business clusters and creating real estate opportunities.

The project consists of a new 30-berth port and oil refinery at Lamu, which will be connected to Nairobi and the borders of Ethiopia and South Sudan by rail, road and oil pipeline.

Other mega infrastructure projects include; China’s global railway links – China is using rail to speed up freight transport to Europe on a route running through Russia or via Iran and Turkey.

The Chinese are also constructing the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from the Port of Mombasa to Nairobi and these projects form part of China’s one belt, one road programme to enhance trade routes.

In Ethiopia, a new Chinese-funded railway line between Addis Ababa and the Red Sea port of Djibouti was expected to begin operations before end year.

In Nigeria, a Chinese firm won the $12 billion (Sh1.212 trillion) contract to build an 870 mile railway between Lagos in the West and Calabar in the East.

Other projects are; The Delhi – Mumbai Industrial Corridor – This is a development zone that will be targeted for investment to build up new industries to support India’s rapid urbanisation.

Expanding the Panama and Suez Canals is another mega project. Presently, ships queue to transit the Panama Canal whose original locks are restricted to ‘panamax’ ships that carry around 5,000 containers.

A new set of locks completes construction by end year that will offer passage to ‘post-panamax’ ships that can carry up to 13,000 containers.

A super airport – In Dubai, Al Maktoum International Airport which opened in 2010, is to be expanded from a current freight capacity of one million tonnes of cargo per annum to 16 million tonnes.

The report notes that Kenya is seeing a surge in electronic payments via mobile phone.

“The country is undoubtedly a developing world success story,” said Mr Roberts.

Kenya’s Economic Survey 2016 Outlook showed that last year mobile telephone subscriptions increased to 37.7 million, resulting to penetration rate of 85.4 per cent.

Swelling middle class

Internet subscriptions increased significantly from 16.4 million in 2014 to 23.9 million in 2015. The number of licensed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) increased from 177 to 221 over the same period.

The number of mobile money transfer service subscribers grew to 26.8 million last year, with total amount of money transacted through mobile platform expanded by 18.7 per cent to Sh2.816 trillion over the review period.

The global cities report said that while agriculture retains a large share of Gross Domestic Production (GDP), the country is developing a broad-based economy with rising services and production industries.

“The country is a fast growing centre for Information Technology (IT) and telecom industries in Africa, and output from Information and Communication industries has risen by 30 per cent between 2011 and 2014 in constant prices.

Finance and insurance output is up by 24 per cent over the same period,” the report showed.

For 2016, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is forecasting Kenyan GDP to expand by nearly 7.2 per cent, compared to 2.1 per cent for South Africa and five per cent for Nigeria.

As a result of this economic transformation, Mr Roberts said the ranks of Kenya’s middle class are swelling thanks to so much growth in service industries.

“They are now living, working and shopping ever more in line with developed world expectation, as well as a modern retail experience and international brands, there is rising demand for food and leisure outlets, now that shopping is increasingly combined with socialising. This is why Nairobi needs more modern retail stock,” said Mr Roberts in the report.

United Nations (UN) is forecasting that by 2020, the country’s urban population will expand to 14.7 million people, an increase of nearly 2.8 million.

Knight Frank’s head of London Residential Research, Tom Bill said that for investors and landlords there are clear long-term rewards in the world of short-term rental accommodation.

“Cities that embrace the flexibility of models like serviced apartments will reap the economic rewards,” said Mr Bill.

The report said ensuring quality levels of short-term accommodation will be a challenge, particularly given that future economic growth will be dominated by emerging markets.

For the serviced apartment market, it underlines the growing importance of branding and the uniform quality of services and booking systems.

For example, the report said the quality of serviced apartments in Kenya matches that of a hotel, but it’s done relatively informally to date. “The next level will mean more professionalism and a branded type of offer,” it stated.

The country has also been identified as easy in doing business.

In the World Bank’s Doing Business Index for 2017, Kenya climbed 21 positions to rank 92nd out of 190 countries.

That included jumps of 34 positions for ‘Starting a Business’, 21 positions for ‘Getting Electricity’, 25 positions in ‘Protecting Minority Investors’, and 48 positions for ‘Resolving Insolvency’.

UN notes that there is going to be more demand for modern retail over the next five years, although the shopping development pipeline is ready to meet the challenge.

By next year, a further 1.3 million square feet of modern retail space will complete development in Nairobi, as the city is expanding from being the economic focus of East Africa into its biggest modern shopping destination.

Source : The East African