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New pipeline, storage facilities to ease cost of fuel :: Kenya

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The Ministry of Petroleum has said the cost of fuel will reduce in August after Kenya Pipeline Company finally took receipt of the new Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline from the contractor Zakhem International.

The 450 kilometre facility has been dogged by controversies including a two-year delay in completion and rise in costs as the contractor sought payments for the extended work periods.

The state run pipeline company has also doubled the capacity of its storage tanks at its Nairobi depot, a move that it said would reduce waiting time for oil ship tankers delivering petroleum products at Mombasa.

The lower prices are expected to come from reduced use of trucks in moving petroleum products from the coastal city to the hinterland as well as reduced amount of time taken by ships to unload products at the Kipevu Oil Storage Facility (KOSF). Oil marketers incur demurrage (waiting) costs whenever ships take long to discharge fuel at the Kipevu tanks, which is factored in in the retail prices.

The promised reduction in pump prices might however be eroded if the National Treasury goes ahead to reinstate value added tax on petroleum products in September.

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John Munyes Cabinet Secretary Ministry of petroleum said the pipeline would result in savings of about Sh42 billion over a six year period.

“Prices will come down by August. The Sh1 per litre that we have been reimbursing the truckers is now off… demurrage costs will be lower. The savings over six years will be about Sh42 billion, which is enough to pay back for the investments made in the pipeline,” he said at the KPC depot in Industrial Area when the company received the first batch of fuel transported using the pipeline.

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WPP preparing to merge Young & Rubicam and digital ad firm VML: WSJ

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(Reuters) – The world’s largest advertising company WPP Plc’s (WPP.L) is preparing to consolidate some of its businesses in a bid to keep pace with the industry’s digital shift, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: A logo hangs on the wall outside the WPP offices in London, Britain April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

The company, under its new boss Mark Read, is considering a merger between Young & Rubicam and WPP’s digital-ad firm VML, putting the combined group under the leadership of VML CEO Jon Cook, WSJ reported, citing sources.

There are talks about having the group’s direct-marketing company Wunderman work with its creative firms to provide access to consumer data to help them craft more relevant ads, the WSJ reported, citing a source.

The market leader has been hit hard in the last year as clients have increasingly turn to online platforms such as Google and Facebook to reach consumers.

The group is also recovering from the departure of its founder and veteran CEO Martin Sorrell who left in April after complaint about personal misconduct, which he denied.

WPP was not immediately available to comment on the report.

Reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair

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European Banking Authority is asked to investigate oversight of Danske Bank

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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – The European Commisssion has asked the European Banking Authority (EBA) to investigate what went wrong in the oversight of Danske Bank’s (DANSKE.CO) Estonian branch, which is at the center of a major money laundering scandal, it said on Sunday, confirming a report in Financial Times.

FILE PHOTO: Danske Bank sign is seen at the bank’s Estonian branch in Tallinn, Estonia August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

The Commission has also sent letters, written at the request of justice commissioner Vera Jourova, to the Danish and Estonian governments to ask about the case and its supervision, the spokesman said.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Writing by Teis Jensen; Editing by David Goodman

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WERE: US should ditch China jitters and leverage on its strengths

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Ideas & Debate

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) with his US counterpart Donald Trump at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, last year. PHOTO | AFP 

The Trump administration recently appointed Donald Yamamoto as acting Assistant Secretary of State for Africa.

Prior to this appointment the main signal Africa has gotten with regard to the US approach to foreign policy was through statements by former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and his concerns with the growing economic strength of China in Africa.

On September 18, the US government, through Tibor Nagy, assistant secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, provided clearer direction of the focus areas for the US in Africa going forward. It seems US strategy will be focused on promoting stronger trade and commercial ties, and advancing peace and security.

This is good because, rather than focus on China in Africa, the US has ample strengths it can leverage in the continent.

If one focuses on the economic engagement potential between Africa and the US, there is considerable room for both parties to benefit particularly with a focus on private sector development. To be clear, the term private sector here refers both to formal and informal businesses, large players and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

The first opportunity is in financing options in Africa that can be met by US financiers.

A key strength of the funding options presented by America is that opportunities fall along a spectrum of more mission-oriented to more-business oriented financing.

A major funding gap Africa has right now is patient capital for MSME development, a gap which cripples private sector development in Africa.

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This funding gap can be met by financing options already provided by entities in the US, particularly impact and angel investors. Business-focused grants and affordable debt can be channelled to develop SMEs that deliver social and economic value and strengthens their commercial returns and business activity.

There is also an opportunity for more bottom-line oriented financing for more established and large players in Africa. But the reality is that without the development of MSMEs, the pipeline of viable projects for mainstream investors will continue to be narrow. The US has a blend of financing options that can be leveraged for MSME development and the creation of a pipeline of deeper financing options for everyone.

This blend of financing can be more effectively coordinated and leveraged for private sector development to the benefit of both US and African players.

The second opportunity the US presents Africa is a focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

While parties from other parts of the world may be more willing to be lax on ESG issues, the fact that US businesses view these as core concerns is important. Although the centrality of healthy ESG practices from US business may be due to legal compliance issues and high ESG expectations at home, African businesses financed with this approach are likely to be stronger business entities going forward.

Thus, the focus on ESG performance is a strength US financiers can use to support the growth of holistically sustainable businesses in Africa.

African businesses benefit by ensuring they not only meet legal ESG requirements but actually develop a brand of being responsible businesses that support the development of their continent.

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The two points elucidated above are only the surface of the economic opportunities that exist between Africa and the US. Therefore, rather than being concerned with what other entities are doing in Africa, the US ought clearly see it can be an important partner for private sector development in the continent and leverage this strength going forward.

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