Press Review; The day’s top stories

Ruto to address COP 27 today

President William Ruto is expected to present the case for Kenya and Africa at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27) taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt today, November 7. 

Ruto is the Chair of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change and will deliver the Kenyan national statement and a statement on behalf of Africa.

According to the State House, the President’s speech will not hold back on addressing the impact of climate change on the continent despite its minute role in environmental degradation. 

The State House said in a statement to the press that the President is expected to rally the world to more ambitious climate action, seeking implementation and honouring of commitments made over the last 30 years by countries with the greatest responsibilities for accumulating greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Details of China’s SGR loan made public

Details of Kenya’s agreement with China for the project’s construction, management, payment, and eventual handover have been scarce since it was launched, and only a small number of people are aware of the arrangement that left Kenya in almost constant debt to the Chinese.

That all changed yesterday as Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen made the contract between Kenya and Chinese lenders public. The contract required Kenya to keep the specifics of the sale secret, which is why authorities, including the former Head of State, refused to make the contract public despite a court ruling.

According to the documents provided by Murkomen, China agreed to lend Kenya $1.6 billion (or KES 190.77 billion at the current exchange rate) for a term of 10 years at a rate of 2% interest and a commitment fee of 0.25 percent.

A $4 million (KES 476 million) management fee was paid by the taxpayers thirty days after the deal was signed.

The contract for the SGR agreement specifies that it is a 20-year loan with a seven-year grace period. Kenya was required to return the loan in 156 months (13 years) and to set aside 42.06% of the railroad’s earnings for repayment.

The contract also states that in the event of a dispute and no resolution is achieved through friendly conversation, each party has the authority to refer the dispute to the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Committee for arbitration, giving Chinese lenders an advantage.

Murkomen kept his promise of making the contract public, but he fell short of exposing the collateral’s leverage for the loan.

KQ pilot strike enters day three

Kenya Airways pilots are remaining resolute rejecting all calls to return to work amid threats to sack them.  The national airline’s management yesterday said it will initiate disciplinary action against all pilots for absconding duty.

The pilots downed their tools on Saturday, November 5, and have vowed to continue with their industrial action until all their demands are met. On the same day, the company’s CEO Allan Kilavuka gave a 24-hour ultimatum for the pilots to resume their duties.

More than 300 tonnes of perishable cargo have rotted at the airport due to the labour conflict, which intensified after the Transport and Labour Ministries were unable to mediate a settlement. 56 flights have been Thousands of passengers have also been stuck as a result.

This news comes days after it was revealed that the national carrier had defaulted on a US debt for KES102 billion, necessitating a government bailout.

At the heart of the labour dispute is a decision by the airline management to halt provident fund contributions, which pilots allege violates a contract with all employees. The pilots further claim that KQ arbitrarily stopped employer and employee contributions beginning in 2020 and has subsequently neglected to restart the retirement programme.

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kalpa) is also calling for the dismissal of KQ’s top management team, accusing the airline of mishandling the labour conflict by reportedly refusing to engage them in an effort to resolve the standoff.

This strike, KQ says, will cost it approximately KES 300 million a day. In a week, this translates to KES 2.1 billion.

What to keep an eye on this week

Today, November 7, the Ethiopian government and the opposition Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the northern Tigray province, will hold disarmament negotiations in Nairobi.

The Nairobi meeting was agreed upon after phone conversations between Tigray Defence Forces (TDF) Commander-in-Chief Gen Tadesse Werede and Ethiopian Chief of Military Staff Gen Birhanu Jula.

The disarmament of TPLF fighters is in conformity with the peace agreement struck last Wednesday in South Africa.

President William Ruto will host his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday, November 9, in Nairobi for bilateral talks. The two are expected to reignite the strict visa restrictions for Kenyans visiting South Africa debate.

Kenya is South Africa’s largest trading partner outside of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region, making South Africa the biggest seller of goods to Kenya on the continent.

Parliament to vet IG nominee Koome on Tuesday

Inspector General of Police nominee Japhet Koome will on Tuesday, November 8, appear before a joint vetting panel of Senators and members of the National Assembly.

If he gets approval, Koome will succeed Hillary Mutayambai. He was until his nomination Commandant of the National Police Service College, Kiganjo.

President William Ruto nominated the former Nairobi Police Commander in September to succeed Mutyambai, who choose to take a terminal leave of absence owing to poor health.

He will appear in front of the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Administration and Internal Affairs as well as the Senate Standing Committee on National Security, Defense, and Foreign Affairs in the Parliament Buildings.

Senator William Cheptumo of Baringo leads the Senate Security committee, while MP Gabriel Togoyo of Narok West chairs the National Assembly’s Internal Affairs committee.

The combined panel will review public responses before deciding whether Koome is qualified for the important security docket.


Kenya dominates New York Marathon

Evans Chebet and Sharon Lokedi are this year’s New York Marathon champions.

Chebet clocked two hours, eight minutes, and 41 seconds to win the men’s race while Lokedi timed two hours, 23 minutes, and 23 seconds to crown her marathon debut in style.

She becomes the eighth athlete in history to win a marathon on debut.

Kenyan-born Israeli Lorna Salpeter finished second in 2:23:30 while Ethiopia’s Gotytom Gebreslasen sealed the podium positions in 2:23:39.

Edna Kiplagat emerged fourth timing 2:24:16 with Viola Lagat (2:25:34) and Hellen Obiri (2:25:49) coming in fifth and sixth positions respectively.

Lokedi, who shifted her training from USA to Kaptagat in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, ran a brilliant race before surging forward at the 39km mark dropping Salpeter who was the race favourite and had the fastest time.

Simbas in trouble 

Kenya Simbas will need to win their remaining two matches to qualify for the World Cup after a bad start at the Final Qualification Tournament (Repechage) qualifiers yesterday, where they were defeated 68-14 by the Eagles of the United States at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai.

Dylan Fawsitt and Christian Dyer each scored a hattrick of tries, with Jamason Schultz, Nathaniel Augspurger, Mike Sosene Feagai, and Mitch Wilson also scoring for a bonus point victory that puts the USA on track for next year’s global games in France.

Kenya’s consolation tries were scored by Brian Juma and Joshua Weru, which were converted by Drawin Mukidza, in a setback that left Paul Odera’s men with a significant mountain to climb if they are to qualify for their first World Cup appearance.

Simbas must now face Portugal, a familiar foe, this Saturday. In a 2017 international friendly match in Nairobi, the Simbas defeated Portugal 41-15.


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