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Corruption, payment delays stifle Kenyan manufacturers

Kenyan Manufacturers are operating below capacity and their economic growth prospects are not bright.

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A recent report by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers indicates that members are largely operating below capacity and their economic growth prospects are not bright due to lack of funds, drought, and corruption. The survey, called the Manufacturing Barometer was carried in the first quarter of this year.

According to the findings, 47 percent of those surveyed operated at about half capacity, 33 percent operated at 75 percent of installed capacity and a fifth operated near full capacity. Probably why, President Uhuru Kenyatta says the sector was one of his top four priorities when he commenced his second term in 2017, due to its potential to create jobs. The government, however, has struggled to boost the sector due to high electricity tariffs and illicit imports of goods such as sugar and cigarettes.

According to Stanbic Bank Kenya’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey, it showed that activity in Kenya’s private sector contracted for the first time in 17 months in April, hurt by drought and strained cash flows. In 2018, the manufacturing sector grew by 4.2 percent from official data-  contributing 7.7 percent of the country’s annual economic output of about 80 billion U.S. dollar, down from a share of 8 percent in the previous year.

The sector’s contribution to Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) however, has dipped gradually since 2014, when it stood at 10 percent. President Kenyatta’s government says it aims to raise the contribution of manufacturing to 15 percent of GDP by 2022. But till then, the forecast for the sector this year could worsen because of the continuous dry weather, the association captured in the report.

Private sector credit growth has slumped since the government capped commercial lending rates in September 2016 to lower the cost of credit. Delays by the Kenya Revenue Authority in processing tax refunds likely to hurt manufacturers’ cash flow, the report said. Some survey respondents say delays in clearing cargoes at the Mombasa port is also leading to loss in sales and setback due to higher charges. The survey also found 76 percent of respondents planned to freeze hiring of new full-time employees, or reduce their numbers. The manufacturing sector covers a wide range of businesses, including food and beverage production, metal products fabrication, pharmaceuticals and cement production.

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Forbes lists South Africa’s Trevor Noah as world’s 4th-richest comedian

Noah, whose ranking makes him the richest comedian in Africa, earned a whopping $28m in the period between June 2018 and June 2019

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Forbes lists South Africa's Trevor Noah as world's 4th-richest comedian
U.S-based South African comedian, Trevor Noah. (Comedy Central/AFP)

South African comedian, Trevor Noah is the fourth-highest paid comedian in the world, according to the Forbes Rich List 2019.

This is the first time the 35-year-old star has made it into the magazine’s top 10 since he began his work.

Noah, whose ranking makes him the richest comedian in Africa, earned a whopping $28m in the period between June 2018 and June 2019 from various projects, including his day job as the TV host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”.

Most of his income, however, came from his 70-stop world tour as a stand-up comedian, making him eligible for the list of richest stand-ups.

In the 2019 list, the South African came behind Kevin Hart ($59m), Jerry Seinfeld ($41), Jim Gaffigan ($30m).

Other than his tour, sources of Noah’s 2018 income were his two shows on Netflix, and book sales from his bestselling autobiography “Born A Crime”, which is still ranked No. 1 on the New York Times’ bestseller list for paperback nonfiction.

Forbes lists South Africa's Trevor Noah as world's 4th-richest comedian
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images/AFP

As a group, the top 10 best-paid comedians raked in $272m, that’s $20m less than the previous period.

The reduction in earnings among the top comedians has been attributed to reduced action among some, including Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, who came in at $30m and $35m last year, respectively.

Trevor Noah’s ‘The Daily Show’ has become quite popular, with the South African inspiring laughter from topics ranging from politics to daily life events.

Noah joined the show in 2014 as a contributor, some two years after making his U.S. television debut on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”

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Zimbabwe to issue new currency notes to counter cash shortage

Zimbabwe abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009, after a bout of hyperinflation in favour of currencies like the dollar and rand

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Zimbabwe to issue new currency notes to counter cash shortage

Zimbabwe will issue new notes and coins soon to replace the country’s quasi-currency that was introduced three years ago in a failed attempt to counter a crippling shortage of cash.

The return to a fully-fledged local currency exchangeable outside the country’s borders will be backed by an undisclosed amount of foreign-exchange reserves, gold and loans, according to the country’s finance minister, Mthuli Ncube.

Zimbabwe abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009, after a bout of hyperinflation in favour of a basket of currencies including the US dollar and the South African rand.

In a bid to deal with the subsequent cash shortages, it introduced so-called bond notes and RTGS dollars in their electronic form, which are not accepted outside the country.

Ncube re-introduced the Zimbabwe dollar in June, accompanied by a ban on the use of foreign currencies-leading to a rapid erosion of spending power with the local dollar trading at almost 10 to the greenback.

Bond notes were officially said to be at parity as recently as February.

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South Africa plans “affordable” nuclear energy approach

Economists say a large-scale nuclear new build is something South Africa cannot afford

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South Africa plans "affordable" nuclear energy approach
South Africa's Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Gwede Mantashe. (File photo)

South Africa has made a decision to add energy capacity in an affordable way, according to its Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Gwede Mantashe.

Former South African President, Jacob Zuma championed a massive nuclear expansion project with Russia, but his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa put those plans on hold in one of his first moves after becoming leader of the governing African National Congress (ANC) in late 2017.

Economists say a large-scale nuclear new build is something South Africa, whose last investment-grade credit rating is hanging by a thread, cannot afford.

A clear timeline for new nuclear capacity has not been disclosed as the government’s energy plan will require approval first.

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