KTDA PARTNERS WITH CO-OPERATIVE BANK OF KENYA AND GLOBAL GREEN FUND ECO.BUSINESS FUND TO IMPLEMENT ITS ENVIRONMENTAL SOCIAL AND GOVERNANCE (ESG) INITIATIVES

Nairobi 2nd May 2024 Directors affiliated with KTDA-run factories are set to benefit from capacity building and training on Environmental Social and Governance initiatives under a partnership between the Co-operative Bank and green financing fund Eco.business Fund.

Under the partnership, KDTA Holding will utilize support from the two institutions to enable it to implement its Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) initiative aimed at strengthening the resilience of the smallholder tea value chain. KTDA’s ESG initiative are aimed at enabling smallholder tea farmers and factories to develop economic resilience while adopting sustainable and environmentally friendly practices that will enable the sector to combat the diverse effects and challenges posed by climate change.

KTDA plays an important role in improving the livelihoods of tea communities by promoting sustainable growth and prosperity for the smallholder tea sector with a direct and indirect impact on the markets and communities where it operates.

The key objective of the partnership is to build capacity for tea sector players especially the leadership through sector-related ESG pillars and ensure that the sector continues to support the socio-economic needs of the more than 700,000 smallholder tea farmers under KTDA management. The initiative targets over 400 Board Members, Independent Directors, Factory Directors, and senior leadership at all levels.

Commenting on the partnership, Co-operative Bank’s Group Managing Director & CEO Dr Gideon Muriuki said, “Co-op Bank implemented an ESG roadmap in 2022 which integrated ESG imperatives in all its operations. As such, this partnership is one of many strategic initiatives that the bank is involved in providing capacity building and technical support to the farmers”. 

Co-operative Bank became the first Kenyan financial institution to secure funding from the Eco.business Fund in 2021 when it secured an investment of $10 million as a subordinated loan for onward lending to sustainable agribusinesses.

 “Eco.business Fund Development Facility, in collaboration with KTDA and Cooperative Bankco-sponsored this insightful event for the KTDA board and senior management, shedding light on crucial environmental and social issues in Kenya’s smallholder tea production,’’ said Hector Gomez Ang, Fund Director of eco.business Fund advised by Finance in Motion GmbH.

‘‘We need to address challenges like climate change, biodiversity, and their impact on livelihoods by exploring the potential for innovative adaptation solutions. Our partnership helps pave the way for sustainable growth in the tea industry by enabling the tea sector to harness modern factory equipment to extract valuable tea derivatives for pharmaceutical use and exploring the creation of alternative tea-based beverages like iced teas and tea wine.” He added.

KTDA Holdings has tasked the Climate Action Committee of its board and Foundation to lead and implement this joint program touching on the 12 KTDA Zones with 71 factories in operation.

Speaking in the just concluded governance and ESG training for KTDA board and senior management, KTDA Group Chief Executive, Wilson Muthaura noted that,

“Matters related to climate change can no longer be ignored as they have an impact on tea production which is rain-fed. Variations in weather have a direct impact on tea production, the only way to ensure farmers have a sustained tea business is by implementing actions that mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.”

The KTDA Foundation plans to roll out climate action activities geared towards greening the smallholder tea value chain and enhancing the adaptive capacity of the sector which is a key GDP driver of the Kenyan economic prosperity.

The eco.business was initiated in 2014 by KfW Development Bank, Conservation International and impact asset manager, Finance in Motion, with financial support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Finance in Motion has served as Fund Advisor since the inception of the fund.

The eco.business Fund provides dedicated financing and technical assistance to local financial institutions and businesses that are committed to implementing sustainable practices in unique ecological landscapes both in Latin America and the Caribbean and in sub-Saharan Africa. The fund aims to promote business and consumption practices that contribute to biodiversity conservation, to the sustainable use of natural resources and to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts.

Opinion: Africa’s Soil Health Crisis Demands Immediate Attention

Soil serves as the foundation of life on our planet, yet the demands humans place on this vital resource are rapidly approaching critical thresholds.

The cost of land degradation due to poor soil health is estimated to be between USD 850 and 1,400 per year for every individual, with a global cost of USD 6.3 to 10.6 trillion annually.

Soil fertility decline not only reduces crop yield, but also exacerbates the impacts of climate change by reducing the land’s resilience and capacity to adapt. Since the 1960s, land degradation in Africa has led to a significant expansion of agricultural land by about 300%, compared to 25% elsewhere. 

This has happened at the expense of forests, wetlands and other fragile systems. This expansion is driven by the need to compensate for the loss of productivity caused by soil fertility decline.  It is imperative to minimize or eradicate significant soil degradation in Africa to preserve the services rendered by all soils, which is significantly more cost-effective than rehabilitating soils post-degradation.

This week, the African Union and Government of Kenya hosted AFSH Summit in Nairobi Kenya to delve into the importance of soil health and fertilizer use in African food systems.

Five pivotal policy imperatives emerged, demanding the attention of African governments:

Firstly, policy incentives and investments must pave the way for a paradigm shift towards sustainable farming practices. Smart subsidies, tailored to usher farmers into this new era, are paramount. Investment in land restoration, concurrently, promises not just enhanced productivity but also beckons the dawn of a greener, more resilient agriculture.

Secondly, the imperative of land tenure policies cannot be overstated. Empowering farmers to safeguard their land will foster a culture of stewardship, vital for the sustainable use of this finite resource. There is a lot of evidence that shows that farmers protect land from erosion and other physical damage when the incentives are right- there is no question that land titling to farmers would be such an incentive and would reduce the high rate of ecosystem degradation and erosion.

Thirdly, a robust investment in fertilizer systems is indispensable. African governments should invest in improving access to both organic and mineral fertilizers to enhance soil health. This includes promoting domestic production, distribution, and intra-regional trade of fertilizers and increasing the production and use of lime for managing soil acidity. Ensuring the affordability and availability of fertilizers is essential for soil nutrient replenishment and maintaining agricultural productivity. Nitrogen inputs should increase at least fourfold.to close the yield gap in Africa. Liming of acid soils increase crop yield by 35 to 50%, and its effect could be pronounced by an additional 20-25% when integrated with sources of carbon including green manuring and composting.

Dr. Agnes Kalibata President, AGRA

Fourthly, the last mile delivery systems must be fortified.Governments must invest in functional extension systems and create capacity for availing locally relevant soil health and fertilizer management technologies and practices. Providing advisory services to smallholder farmers and establishing regional networks for knowledge exchange will empower farmers to make informed decisions and adopt best practices for soil health and fertilizer use. Empowering farmers through farm level innovation is crucial for promoting soil health and fertilizer use. 

AGRA’s and partners have demonstrated that it is possible to reduce the farmer extension ration from 1:3000 to 1:500 and the last mile from over 22 kilometers to less than 8 on average across 11 countries. This strengthens the last mile and allows farmers to have access to both information and technologies. Today, farmers that produce 5 metric tonnes per hectare can be found in each of these countries but it must be scaled and anchored in a sustainable private sector ecosystem.

Lastly, research and innovation must be championed. Governments should support local research capacity and infrastructure, including functional soil labs. They must also enable and leverage private sector organizations, facilitating integration between research institutions, universities, extension services, so that new technologies can be developed/available faster to address the challenges of soil health. An assessment of investments on research in the CGIAR found that over the past 50 years there had been a 10-dollar return on every dollar invested in research and development.

The Abuja Declaration, endorsed by the Heads of State and Governments of the African Union in 2006, highlights the importance of managing soils to address the challenges of soil fertility decline.

African leaders have recognized the multifunctional roles of soils in agriculture and the need to increase fertilizer use and complementary inputs to stimulate sustainable agricultural productivity growth and economic development. It set a target of increasing fertilizer use from 8 kilograms of nutrients per hectare to at least 50 kilograms of nutrients per hectare by 2015. However, uptake remains low at an average of 18kg per hectare and as a result, productivity and income of small holder farmers have marginally improved.

Climate change and externalities such as the Ukraine-Russia war and the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated the challenges faced by African farmers. These external factors have further hindered or reversed the early gains of crop yield enhancement, posing additional obstacles in the path of agricultural development in Africa.

Nonetheless, there has been significant progress in certain areas:  the African continent now produces approximately 30 million metric tons of fertilizer each year, which is twice as much as it currently consumes.

This increase in local fertilizer manufacturing is the result of over $15 billion of investments by the private sector, primarily focused on local production.

Second, public-private partnerships have been formed to address challenges related to fertilizer and nutrient use efficiency, research and development, and improved research infrastructures such as soil labs.

Third, average fertilizer use at the farm level has more than doubled in the last 18 years since the Abuja declaration. To address all these challenges, opportunities and more, the African Union and its partners have organized the Africa Fertilizer and Soil Health (AFSH) Summit 2024, which took  place from May 7-9th, 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The summit brought together relevant stakeholders to highlight the crucial role of fertilizer and soil health in stimulating sustainable pro-poor productivity growth in African agriculture.

The Summit goal was to achieve a negotiated Africa-focused Fertilizer and Soil Health Action Plan, offer policy directions and concrete recommendations for African governments in the coming decade, establish an implementation roadmap for the action plan, mobilize policymakers, development organizations, and other stakeholders to enhance soil health and fertilizer use, and strengthen the private sector while addressing challenges related to landscapes and systems for efficient nutrient and water resource utilization.

By endorsing the action plan to improve soil health and fertilizer use in African agriculture, leaders and stakeholders will show their commitment towards the implementation.  The action plan will guide policy decisions and interventions in the next decade. 

Sustainable pro-poor productivity growth and economic development in the agricultural sector will only happen when leaders are committed and are prepared to be bold about the necessary commitment and changes the continent must undertake.  Finally, it is my hope that the summit will pave the way for increased collaboration, knowledge sharing, and investments in soil health and fertilizer use, ultimately unlocking the potential of African agriculture.

We are constantly reminded of the need to balance human needs and ingenuity with environmental needs, fragility and finiteness.  For Africa, let’s be deliberate and let’s do what is right for us today but also for future generations of this continent.

The good news is that we have a lot to learn from and we are trying to do this when there are incredible new tools in research, predictive analytics, AI etc. if well harnessed can make our economic transformation journey so much less painful.

Ends

By Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President AGRA

KEYJAY THE DEEJAY ACROWNED SMIRNOFF BATTLE OF THE BEATS WINNER, RIFT REGION

Nairobi, Kenya, April 29th 2023-In an exciting showdown of musical prowess, Esther Nakhanu Kutolo professionally known as KeyJayTheDeejay, this past weekend emerged triumphant as the Smirnoff Battle of the Beats DJ competition, Rift Region winner.

She battled it out against 16 other talented contestants, showcasing exceptional skills and electrifying performances to claim the coveted title. Notably Geejoe The Deejay  and DJ Blackspin secured the second and third positions respectively, in the fiercely contested competition.

Winner KeyJay Thee Deejay speaking during the Rift valley finals of the Smirnoff Battle of the Beats competition this past weekend

The Smirnoff Battle of the Beats DJ competition stands as a groundbreaking initiative designed by East African Breweries Limited (EABL) to unearth the country’s top-tier DJs. Serving as a pivotal platform for nurturing emerging talent within the DJ community, this competition symbolizes EABL’s commitment to promote creativity and innovation in Kenya’s vibrant music scene.

Speaking during the crowning ceremony, Smirnoff Shopper Manager, Jonathan Ruto said, “The Smirnoff Battle of the Beats DJ competition is a celebration of talent and creativity, embodying EABL’s commitment to supporting the vibrant music culture in Kenya. We are thrilled to witness the exceptional performances and look forward to DJ XXX representing the Rift region in the ultimate finals.”

The competition now moves to the Coast region, with the first round of auditions scheduled for early June. Already crowned are DJ Insta and DJ Kryptic from Mountain and Lake regions respectively. The final round will be Nairobi region, after which all the 5 winners will battle it out for the ultimate bragging rights to take place later this year

To participate, DJs are urged to upload their thrilling 2–5-minute performance on Instagram or Facebook, tagging @smirnoffkeand using the hashtags #WeDoWe where the completion’s judges will then select the top 20 who will proceed to battle it outlive on TV.

TWIGA FOODS NAMES CHARLES BALLARD AS CEO

Nairobi, Kenya. April 30, 2024. Twiga Foods today announced the appointment of Charles Ballard as its new Chief Executive Officer, following completion of a comprehensive global search process.

With a career spanning over 15 years, of which 9 years in the Kenyan market, Ballard brings a wealth of experience in e-commerce, retail, and financial services. Most recently, Ballard was CEO of Jumia Kenya, a leading e-commerce company, where he led the transformation of the business toward profitability.

Hein Pretorius, Chairman of Twiga’s board of directors, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Charles as our new Chief Executive. His deep understanding of the Kenyan e-commerce and retail landscape, his proven operational grip, his entrepreneurial drive, and his passion for the Twiga Foods opportunity make him the ideal leader to steer Twiga into its next phase of growth and success.”

Charles Ballard, Twiga Foods CEO
Charles Ballard takes over the role to drive growth and innovation for the tech company.

Welcoming his new appointment as Twiga CEO, Charles, expressed optimism for the opportunity:” I am honoured to lead such a talented team at Twiga Foods during this pivotal time. With our unique value proposition, we are ideally positioned to seize key market opportunities.”

He observed that Twiga Foods was in a good position to enhance its operations, technology, and user experience to create significant value for all stakeholders and the ecosystem. “I am deeply committed to developing our team and fostering a culture of collaboration and excellence that will drive us into our next phase of growth.”, he concluded.

As CEO, he will oversee all aspects of Twiga’s business supported by the other senior leaders – Chief Operating Officer Anjan Dasgupta, Chief Technology Officer Paul Bombo, Chief People Officer Susan Kiama, and Chief Financial Officer Zuber Momoniat. The appointment of a new CEO will bolster Twiga Foods’ ambition to continue to deliver on its mission to transform food supply chains in Africa.

TEA FARMERS CAN NOW GET ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE OUTPATIENT MEDICAL INSURANCE THROUGH MAJANI INSURANCE BROKERS

Nairobi, Wednesday 17th April 2024: Majani Insurance Brokers (MIB) has partnered with Britam to launch an affordable outpatient medical insurance for smallholder tea farmers across the country. The cover is an enhancement of the Kinga Ya Mkulima cover provided in partnership with Britam.

According to MIB General Manager, Pauline Mwangi, the cover offers additional financial protection to farmers and reduces out-of-pocket expenditure on medical bills. The Kinga ya Mkulima cover already has an inpatient package.

“Farmers have indicated that while the inpatient cover has been beneficial, they also want to be covered when they are seeking outpatient medical services or when they need to take medication at home” said Ms. Mwangi.

In partnership with Britam, MIB has developed an enhanced package that caters to both inpatient and outpatient needs of tea farmers. The enhanced cover will offer more benefits to farmers, at an additional premium, enabling them to access over-the-counter medication among other outpatient benefits. 

Ms Mwangi said that Majani will be working with Greenland Fedha, a microfinance outfit that, like MIB, is a subsidiary of the Kenya Tea Development Agency Ltd (KTDA) to provide credit to farmers to meet any financing gaps to access the insurance cover.

Britam Director of Emerging Consumers, Saurabh Sharma, observed that with such flexible insurance solutions to protect farmers during adverse health events, they can focus their energy and resources on their core business of producing high-quality tea for local and international markets.

“We understand that out-of-pocket medical expenses can put a strain on any family and this expanded cover will ensure access to necessary medical care without financial worries, promoting a healthier and more productive population,” said Sharma.

The cover is available to farmers in 71 tea factories run by KTDA. The inpatient cover offered by MIB and Britam has been highly successful as it has over 200,000 members insuring over 700,000 lives and has settled more than 150,000 claims. The new outpatient enhancement is expected to scale up this product further to reach over one million lives.

The cover is also available to non-tea farmers, but unlike tea farmers who have the unique flexibility of paying their premiums in monthly instalments, non-tea farmers have to pay upfront when joining the scheme.

LEISURE TRAVEL GROWING TOURISM NUMBERS IN KENYA

Nairobi, Friday, April 26thThe private sector has been instrumental to the growth of holiday travel which accounted for 45% of the choice of travel to Kenya by foreign tourists, according to the 2023 tourism statistics.

KTB Chairman Francis Gichaba says that the private sector has contributed immensely to growing new travel segments beyond the traditional wildlife and beach experiences.

He noted that the diversity of facilities and experiences offered by the private sector continues to attract new audiences and keep Kenya ahead of competitors.

The Chairman was speaking during an engagement meeting for affiliates of the Magical Kenya Signatures Program (MKSE) in Nairobi. The event was held to appreciate those who have grown the program from 15 unique experiences in 2019 to the current 61 diverse ones and discuss ways of improving Kenya’s offerings to the global traveller.

KTB CEO June Chepkemei on her part said MKSE program  would  augment the strategy to diversify tourism offerings  to cater for the different preference of today’s traveller.

“The passion and innovation of our partners in the private sector are what make Kenya such an attractive and memorable destination. We have seen growth in areas like cultural tourism, ecotourism, and adventure travel. The private sector’s role in developing Kenya’s experiential travel offerings and value-added services has been invaluable in appealing to today’s discerning traveller seeking immersive, multidimensional experiences.”  Said the CEO

She noted that the destination has evolved from a safari-focused model to a more holistic and experiential destination, which he added aligns with global travel trends and provides more value to the traveller.

“Travellers today seek transformation, learning and growth. Our private partners have grasped this well and are providing the kinds of authentic, meaningful experiences that today’s travellers value,” she added.

With most signature experiences nestled outside traditional tourism circuits, the affiliates were urged to work with the board in targeted destination marketing towards key and emerging source markets such that these hidden gems become widely known in every corner of the country.

The two made remarks against the backdrop of a notable rise in tourism arrivals. Data indicates an increase from 1,483,752 arrivals in 2022 to 1,951,185 in 2023, a growth of 31.5%.

The tourism marketing agency is also seeking to bring in 3 million visitors by the end of 2024 with fucus on emerging markets and the African continent that has shown resilience to the challenges affecting tourism business.

Kenya Airways Suspends Flights To Kinshasa

Due to the continued detention of KQ employees by the Military Intelligence Unit in Kinshasa, Kenya Airways (KQ) is unable to support our flights without personnel effectively. As a result, we reached a difficult decision to suspend flights to Kinshasa effective 30TH April 2024until we can effectively support these flights.

The continued detention of our employees has made it difficult for us to supervise our operations in Kinshasa, which include customer service, ground handling, cargo activities, and generally ensuring safe, secure, and efficient operations. We also ask that our staff be treated humanely and respectfully during this unlawful detention.

We sincerely apologize to our customers for any inconvenience caused by this situation. We assure you that your safety and well-being, as well as that of our staff, is our number one priority. Affected customers are advised to contact our customer excellence team at +254 711 024 747, WhatsApp at +254 705 474 747, or email customer.relations@kenya-airways.com.

We continue cooperating with the investigating agencies and the relevant Government entities in both DRC and Kenya to ensure this matter is resolved. We ask that the Military court’s direction that they be released to allow due process to be respected so that our innocent staff can return to their families and everyday lives without harassment.

Kenya Airways Position Statement on the Detention of Kenya Airways Employees in Kinshasa

Kenya Airways (KQ) confirms that on Friday, April 19th, 2024, two of our employees at our airport office in Kinshasa were arrested and continue to be detained by the Military Intelligence Unit known as Detection Militaire des Activities Anti Patrie (DEMIAP). During their arrest, their phones were seized, and all access to them has been denied. On April 23rd 2024, the Kenyan embassy officials and a few KQ staff were allowed to visit them but only for a few minutes. The reason for their arrest was alleged to be missing custom documentation on valuable cargo that was to be transported on a KQ flight on April 12th, 2024. However, we wish to state that the said cargo was not uplifted or accepted by KQ due to incomplete documentation.

The facts on the incident are as follows: 

  • The cargo was not on the air side for transportation and, therefore, not in the possession of KQ as the logistic handler was still completing documentation before handing it over to KQ. 
  •  This cargo was still in the baggage section undergoing clearance when the security team arrived and alleged that KQ was transporting cargo without customs clearance. 
  •  All efforts to explain to the military officers that KQ had not accepted the cargo because of incomplete documentation proved futile. 
  • The military officers took the two employees to the military side of the air wing (DEMIAP)to record statements.
  •  They were held incommunicado until 23RD April, when the Embassy officials and KQ team were allowed to visit them.

Kenya Airways Renews Partnership as Official Airline Sponsor of WRC Safari Rally

Nairobi, 27th March 2024 – Kenya Airways has announced the renewal of its partnership with WRC Safari rally as its official airline sponsor for the event.

The WRC Safari Rally, which will be held from 28th to 31st March is part of the World Rally Championship. As the official airline sponsor, Kenya Airways is assisting in the transportation of rally cars and team members to ensure the smooth operation of the event.

Allan Kilavuka, CEO of Kenya Airways, stated: “Being named the ‘Official Travel Partner’ of the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team for the WRC Safari Rally Kenya for three consecutive years is a testament to Kenya Airways’ commitment to facilitating world-class sporting events. Our partnership not only ensures the seamless logistics of bringing in M-Sport’s cars, drivers, support crew, and spare parts but also underscores our commitment to elevating the global stage for motorsports enthusiasts worldwide.”

Kilavuka said the airline will this year also sponsor International Automobile Federation (FIA) Rally Star, Hamza Anwar.  “This year, Kenya Airways is proud to once again sponsor young Kenyan driver, Hamza Anwar, who will be competing in the championship.  Kenya Airways will continue to identify, train, and develop the next generation of Kenyan rally champions through similar initiatives,” said Kilavuka.

Kenya Airways has contributed over KES100 million to the FIA program to date. These funds have been instrumental in supporting and facilitating young rally drivers, their support teams, and officials as they travel to rally competitions across Africa and Europe.

Kenya Airways Takes Flight to Maputo, Mozambique

Nairobi, 8th April 2024 – In response to growing demand for travel between East and Southern Africa, Kenya Airways (KQ) is thrilled to announce the launch of a brand-new route connecting Nairobi directly to the vibrant city of Maputo, Mozambique.  This exciting expansion takes flight from 14th June 2024, further solidifying KQ’s commitment to strengthening its network and offering seamless travel experiences across the continent.

“The demand for air travel is soaring, and we’re determined to meet it by expanding our reach and fostering connections between Africa’s rich cultures and thriving economies,” says Julius Thairu, Chief Commercial and Customer Officer at Kenya Airways. “The addition of Maputo to our network strengthens ties between Kenya and Mozambique, opening doors for increased trade, tourism, and cultural exchange.”

Beyond its designation as a major trade hub for southern Africa, Maputo enchants visitors with its rich tapestry of history and culture. Portuguese colonial influences are evident in the city’s architecture, while vibrant markets and a flourishing art scene offer a glimpse into contemporary Mozambican life.  Whether you seek relaxation on pristine beaches or exploration of fascinating museums, Maputo promises an unforgettable experience.

Starting 14th June, KQ will operate three flights per week to Maputo, with Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays becoming the flexible gateways to exploring this dynamic city.  Beyond Maputo, this expansion complements KQ’s broader network strategy for FY2024, which also boasts increased frequencies to popular destinations like New York, Paris, Lagos, Accra, and Freetown.

The three weekly scheduled flights are as below:

Nairobi to Maputo
DayFlight No.DepartArrive
Wed, Fri, SunKQ7400950hrs (local time)1300hrs (local time)
  Maputo to Nairobi
DayFlight No.DepartArrive
Wed, Fri, SunKQ7411350hrs (local time)1845hrs (local time)

This new route to Maputo signifies a significant step forward for Kenya Airways. Further, this new route not only caters to travellers originating in Kenya but also serves as a convenient connecting point for passengers from other African cities via Nairobi.

With Kenya Airways’ unwavering dedication to “propelling Africa’s growth,” this new route strengthens connections across the continent, fostering economic opportunities and enriching travel experiences for all.

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