The slaughter of donkeys for the Chinese black market is devastating nomadic communities in Kenya – Channel 4 News


To Kenya now and nomadic communities in its poorest region have fallen victim to Chinese appetites: donkey meat is both a delicacy in China and is used in its medicine.

Donkey theft is increasingly attractive to criminal gangs as meat and hides fetch large sums.

But for locals, donkeys are a vital means of transport so now they are fighting back against the thieves.

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Kenya taps Sh1.3bn US fund for workers’ rights ahead of new trade deal


Economy

Kenya taps Sh1.3bn US fund for workers’ rights ahead of new trade deal


Textile workers at Altex EPZ Textile Manufacturing in Athi River. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya is set to benefit from a Sh1.29 billion US government fund meant to improve compliance with international labour standards in key export sectors ahead of a new trade deal with Washington.
  • The US Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) said Kenya is among three African countries picked for the grant alongside the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and one other unnamed nation.
  • The move comes as Kenya stepped up talks for a new trade deal with Washington before the expiry of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa).

Kenya is set to benefit from a Sh1.29 billion US government fund meant to improve compliance with international labour standards in key export sectors ahead of a new trade deal with Washington.

The US Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) said Kenya is among three African countries picked for the grant alongside the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and one other unnamed nation.

“Made available through the Department’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB), the grant of $11.7 million (Sh1.29 billion) will support efforts to improve compliance with relevant international labour standards and acceptable conditions of work, with an emphasis on promoting occupational safety and health in one or more export-oriented economic sectors, such as the mining and quarrying sector,” the Department said in an update.

“ILAB’s mission is to promote a fair global playing field for workers and businesses in the United States and around the world by enforcing trade commitments, strengthening labour standards and combating international child labour, forced labour and human trafficking.”

The move comes as Kenya stepped up talks for a new trade deal with Washington before the expiry of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa), which allows sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the US without tariffs or quotas until 2025.

“We appreciate what has been achieved through Agoa, but it is time we moved to much closer trade arrangements that are mutually beneficial. We will not lose focus on concluding the FTA,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Tuesday when he bid farewell to outgoing US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter at State House, Nairobi.

Agoa grants 40 African States quota and duty-free access to the US market of more than 6,000 product lines. Statistics showed that the two-way goods trade between these nations totalled Sh106 billion in 2019, up 4.9 per cent from 2018.

The grant by ILAB comes as boost for the two nations eyeing enhanced trade between themselves but in an environment where there is more focus on compliance with global human rights and labour standards.

Employee welfare is a sensitive matter in the US, with businesses required to ensure their operations and dealings both at home and abroad complied with international labour standards. The US foreign policy, for example, typically portrays forced labour as a violation of international human rights standards that must be stamped out.

All new-generation free-trade agreements (FTAs) around the world include a sustainable-development clause between the parties promoting, among other things, a set of labour standards as well as conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

For instance, most of the United States’ and European Union’s FTAs contain provisions to protect the right to collective bargaining and freedom of association and forbid discrimination at the place of work.

A recent report by ILAB raised a concern over child labour in Kenya—an indication that the matter would get prominence in the employee welfare grant.

“Children in Kenya engage in the worst forms of child labour, including in domestic service and commercial sexual exploitation, each sometimes as a result of human trafficking. Children also engage in child labuor in agriculture,” the bureau said, pointing out that Kenya has yet to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

Kenyans last October witnessed the significance of human rights practices in international trade when multiple European supermarket chains suspended supply orders from the Murang’a-based agricultural firm Kakuzi, citing human rights abuse claims.

The fallout from the human rights abuse claims against Kakuzi saw the withdrawal of supply contracts by UK’s Sainsbury’s, Germany’s discount grocer Lidl and Britain’s largest supermarket Tesco.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed Kakuzi has been sued in the UK over alleged human rights abuses on its Kenyan plantations—placing it at risk of fines and compensation to the victims if found guilty.

Through its Kent-based parent Camellia Plc, the company has been sued over allegations of assault and sexual misconduct allegedly conducted by employees. The UK-listed company Camellia owns 50.7 per cent of Kakuzi.

Law firm Leigh Day said that 79 Kenyans had filed a legal claim in the High Court in London against Camellia for alleged human rights abuses by security guards employed by Kakuzi, its Kenyan subsidiary.

Camellia employs 78,000 people worldwide and says it is the largest avocado producer in Kenya, which according to the International Trade Centre is Africa’s biggest avocado exporter.

The accusations, dating from 2009 to January this year, include rapes, attacks on local villagers and a man being beaten to death, Leigh Day said.

Kakuzi has, however, rejected the claims made by Leigh Day, saying it did not “condone any criminal activities or behaviour by any of its employees”.

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Kenya Railways revises night, day SGR train schedule


Shipping & Logistics

Kenya Railways revises night, day SGR train schedule


Passengers aboard a Madaraka Express from Nairobi to Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Travellers will now be able to book a night train on the Nairobi-Mombasa standard gauge railway (SGR) route from Saturday, January 9.

This is after Kenya Railways revised its train schedule following the introduction of a night inter-county train service earlier this week to cater for increased demand by teachers and students returning to schools.

The rail firm obtained an exemption from the new dusk-to-dawn curfew extended to March 12 by President Uhuru Kenyatta allowing the train service to operate during the curfew hours.

In the new schedule, two express trains will operate in the afternoon and night, while the third Madaraka Express will be an inter-county one.

“We have introduced a night train as from 9th January 2021. This will be an Express service departing Nairobi and Mombasa at 10.00 pm to arrive at their destination at 3.35 am,” Kenya Railways said in a notice.

Passengers will be allowed to disembark from the stations during curfew hours to other destinations upon the proof of ticketing.

The night trains will see the rail firm cash in on nighttime travel after the curfew disrupted bus transport.

A pair of the afternoon express trains will operate between the two cities with journeys commencing at 3pm and ending at 8pm.

Inter-county

Kenya Railways says the inter-county trains will operate during the day, leaving both the Nairobi and Mombasa termini at 8am stopping at all the stations along the route to arrive at 2pm.

The trains will offer normal commuter services with stoppages at Athi River, Emali, Kibwezi, Mtito Andei, Voi, Miasenyi and Mariakani.

The SGR trains had been operating between the two cities with journeys commencing at 8am and 3pm.

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Apple rejects Kenya push to unlock mystery iPhone


Companies

Apple rejects Kenya push to unlock mystery iPhone


Apple CEO Tim Cook holds up the all-new iPhone 12 Pro during an Apple event at Apple Park in Cupertino, California on October 13, 2020. AFP PHOTO | BROOKS KRAFT | APPLE INC

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Summary

  • The US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) fillings of December 23 indicate that Apple received an appeal from Kenya seeking communication details on an iPhone that remained locked.
  • America’s market regulator did not disclose the type of information Kenya was seeking from the high-end phones or owners of the gadgets.
  • The rejection of Kenya’s request echoes Apple’s previous stand opposing demands by governments, including the US, to unlock an encrypted iPhones, arguing such a move would violate its free speech rights.

US tech giant Apple rejected a request by the Kenyan government to unlock two iPhones that were the subject of police investigations in the six months to December.

The US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) fillings of December 23 indicate that Apple received an appeal from Kenya seeking communication details on an iPhone that remained locked.

America’s market regulator did not disclose the type of information Kenya was seeking from the high-end phones or owners of the gadgets.

The rejection of Kenya’s request echoes Apple’s previous stand opposing demands by governments, including the US, to unlock an encrypted iPhones, arguing such a move would violate its free speech rights.

“Examples of such requests are where law enforcement agencies are working on behalf of customers who have requested assistance regarding lost or stolen devices,” said the SEC in a report that lists countries that sought access to blocked iPhones.

“Additionally, Apple regularly receives multi-device requests related to fraud investigations. Device-based requests generally seek details of customers associated with devices or device connections to Apple services.”

Most of these orders seek to compel Apple to extract data like contacts, photos and calls from locked iPhones to assist in criminal investigations and prosecutions.

A few requests, however, involve phones with more extensive security protections, which Apple has no current ability to break.

These orders would compel Apple to write new software that would let the government bypass these devices’ security and unlock the phones.

The tech giant reckons that writing a computer code would turn on an iPhone microphone to help surveillance.

In 2016, Apple Inc struck back in court against a US government demand that it unlock an encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters, who died in a shootout with police after killing14 people and injuring 22.

Apple declined. The clash drove to the heart of a long-running debate over how much law enforcement and intelligence officials should be able to monitor digital communications.

In Kenya, a government-backed Bill is seeking to amend the Official Secrets Act of 1968 to make it compulsory for anyone who owns a mobile phone or communication gadget to provide information on persons and data that the State is pursuing for national security breaches.

This will also include gadgets belonging to Kenyans that have been used in foreign countries to send information through channels like SMSs, emails and WhatsApp to the country.

Those in breach face a fine of Sh1 million if Parliament adopts the proposed law, which is under debate in the National Assembly.

Intelligence operatives are increasingly using secret surveillance programmes to spy on emails and social media activity, and collect data on telephone calls.

Crimes that are considered a threat to national security include smuggling of drugs and weapons like guns that are shipped in from neighbouring countries entangled in civil wars. The Bill comes two years after the State lost a bid to instal surveillance gadgets on mobile phones that would be used to spy on calls and messages.

The Kenyan courts, however, declared the move illegal, saying that it would amount to intrusion into people’s privacy, a decision that dealt a blow to the State’s bid to curb what it argued was a spike in cybercrime.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), the industry regulator, had wanted Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya to instal a data management system (DMS), arguing it would help in detecting fake mobile devices.

The CA raised suspicions with its letter dated January 31, 2017 stating that the purpose of the DMS was to access information.

The three telecoms firms opposed the plan, saying it was a spyware whose purpose was to eavesdrop on people’s calls, read messages and also track their financial transactions.

Last year, the US flagged Kenya as a global hotspot for money laundering and a conduit of money used to fund terrorism due to insufficient legal controls.

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Kenya firms cut pay for new jobs to cope with Covid pain


Companies

Kenya firms cut pay for new jobs to cope with Covid pain


Jobseekers in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya’s job market conditions remained dark in December despite a slight improvement in recruitment, a monthly survey shows.
  • Companies weighed down by the economic knocks of the Covid-19 pandemic sustained pay cuts for existing workers while newly hired ones came in at lower pay.
  • Overall staff costs reduced at a faster pace in December than November despite firms hiring more workers.

Kenya’s job market conditions remained dark in December despite a slight improvement in recruitment, a monthly survey shows.

Companies weighed down by the economic knocks of the Covid-19 pandemic sustained pay cuts for existing workers while newly hired ones came in at lower pay.

The Markit Stanbic Bank Kenya Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) shows that though recruitment increased for the third month in a row in December on increased private sector activity, the take-home by workers remained downcast due to pay cuts and lower salary offers for fresh recruits.

Overall staff costs reduced at a faster pace in December than November despite firms hiring more workers—an indication of reduced earnings for employees whose incomes have further been chopped this month following the expiry of special tax reliefs to cushion them from the economic fallout of Covid-19.

“Efforts to lower wage bills led to a further drop in overall staff costs in December. The rate of decline quickened from November, but remained marginal and far softer than seen earlier in the year during the worst of the Covid-19 outbreak,” the survey says.

The drop in wages came ahead of the reinstatement of the normal pay as you earn (PAYE) tax bands by the Treasury, except for workers earning a monthly salary of up to Sh24,000.

Parliament has additionally revised the tax bands for salaried workers resulting in maximum PAYE tax of 30 percent applying from Sh32,333 compared with Sh47,057 in the pre-Covid period.

Pay cuts by private sector firms had intensified since November following a sharp jump in Covid-19 infection and deaths which prompted the State to tighten some of the regulations aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, hurting demand locally and abroad.

The PMI report — based on feedback from corporate managers in key sectors such as manufacturing, services and agriculture — shows that overall expansion in private sector activity such as output, new orders, employment and backlogs for December recovered marginally from a sharp deceleration a month earlier, largely helped by increased festive season sales.

The headline PMI reading rose slightly to 51.4 in December from 51.3 a month earlier and 59.1 in October.

This means that growth in business deals was nearly flat, just staying above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction and that economic recovery from Covid-19 fallout was softer in November and December than the July-October period.

“The modest month-on-month improvement in the Stanbic PMI indicates that the pace of the post-pandemic recovery is slowing down. Rising input costs, partly caused by disruptions in supply chains as well as some input shortages, have also resulted in a slowdown in the growth in output,” Kuria Kamau, a fixed income and currency strategist at Stanbic Bank, says in the PMI report.

“This slowdown was inevitable following the significant improvements in economic activity witnessed in October after the relaxation of public health restrictions.”

Ministry of Health data shows the contagious coronavirus disease sickened 12,633 persons in December from a record 29, 821 persons in November, killing a further 198 from 488 a month earlier.

“Output rose at a slightly weaker pace in December, and the slowest seen in the current six-month sequence of growth,” analysts at Stanbic Bank and UK’s Markit wrote in the December PMI report. “Firms found that improved cash flow, looser restrictions and higher customer orders supported the expansion.”

The higher sales in December than a month earlier resulted in an increase in backlog of work, prompting firms to increase workers marginally for the third month in a row.

The modest rise in orders was supported by “improved cash flow and greater marketing activity” which included discount offerings during the peak of the festive season.

The sales were also lifted by recovery in orders from abroad from a five-month low in November after countries such as France and Ghana relaxed a second round of Covid-19 shutdown measures.

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Deals by foreign lenders’ Kenya offices hit Sh511bn


Capital Markets

Deals by foreign lenders’ Kenya offices hit Sh511bn


Foreign banks’ representative offices in Kenya recorded 32 percent increase in the volume of business transacted in the country last year compared to 2018. FILE PHOTO | AFP

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Summary

  • Data from the Central Bank of Kenya’s annual banking sector report for 2019 shows that the offices transacted $4.67 billion (Sh511 billion) deals from $3.51 billion (Sh384.13 billion) in 2018.
  • The increase was higher than that recorded between 2017 and 2018, when the value of the deals went up by 18.4 percent.
  • There were nine such offices in Kenya as at the end of last year, carrying out research, marketing and liaison roles.

Foreign banks’ representative offices in Kenya recorded 32 percent increase in the volume of business transacted in the country last year compared to 2018, helped by trade finance and working capital deals.

Data from the Central Bank of Kenya’s annual banking sector report for 2019 shows that the offices transacted $4.67 billion (Sh511 billion) deals from $3.51 billion (Sh384.13 billion) in 2018.

The increase was higher than that recorded between 2017 and 2018, when the value of the deals went up by 18.4 percent.

There were nine such offices in Kenya as at the end of last year, carrying out research, marketing and liaison roles. They are barred from conducting commercial banking services unless they open a full-fledged subsidiary or branch.

“The value of business activities facilitated in 2019 increased by 31.89 percent when compared to 2018. The activities facilitated largely comprised trade finance, term loans, working capital, bilateral receivable discounting and syndicated finance,” said CBK in the report that was released last week.

In 2018, their activities consisted mainly of corporate finance, syndicated finance and correspondence banking.

Trade finance deals, which were the biggest line of transactions in the period, rose by Sh51.5 billion to hit Sh168.6 billion last year.

Corporate finance deals remained flat at Sh14.23 billion. Syndicated financing doubled to hit Sh93.1 billion, as did project financing which rose from Sh7.67 billion in 2018 to Sh15.33 billion last year.

Volumes from correspondence banking rose by Sh8.76 billion to Sh39.42 billion, reversing the decline of Sh13.1 billion that had been recorded in 2018 in the line of business.

Correspondence banking involves transactions originating from other overseas branches conducted through the Kenyan office where the local parties or partners are based.

Other deals—comprising term loans, borrowing base, working capital and bilateral receivable discounting— rose by Sh5.4 billion to Sh153.3 billion.

The most recent entrant among the nine representative offices is Bank Al-Habib Ltd of Pakistan, which was granted a CBK licence in April 2018.



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Somalia deploys troops after cutting ties with Kenya


News

Somalia deploys troops after cutting ties with Kenya


Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) and Muse Bihi Abdi (Somaliland) at State House in Nairobi on December 14, 2020. PHOTO | PSCU

Summary

  • Somalia’s move to cut diplomatic ties with Kenya followed the invitation of Somaliland leader Muse Bihi to Nairobi.
  • Kenya appears unperturbed by the decision by Mogadishu to cut ties, announcing plans to open a consulate in Hargeisa, Somaliland.
  • The new diplomatic flare-up came as anti-government protests broke out in Mogadishu, according to Reuters reports.

Somalia on Tuesday deployed troops on its common border with Kenya, hours after severing diplomatic relations with Nairobi in the latest escalation of a spat between the two countries.

In Mandera, residents reported sighting Somalia National Army (SNA) troops taking strategic positions along the common border.

“We have woken up just to see military officers from Somalia taking positions along the border and this is worrying us a lot,” said Ali Abdille, a resident of Mandera.

The SNA deployment forced some locals to start moving out of their homes.

This came after Somalia ordered Kenyan diplomats to leave the country within seven days, accusing Nairobi of meddling in its politics as protests and gunfire erupted in the capital Mogadishu over delayed elections.

Somalia’s move to cut diplomatic ties with Kenya followed the invitation of Somaliland leader Muse Bihi to Nairobi.

On Tuesday evening, Kenya appeared unperturbed by the decision by Mogadishu to cut ties, announcing plans to open a consulate in Hargeisa, the capital of breakaway region of Somaliland, and direct flights by Kenyan airlines, including Kenya Airways.

Kenya declared “unwavering commitment” to deepen cordial bilateral ties with Somaliland, a region of Somalia that has declared independence since 1991, but which no other African nation has endorsed, even though it is routinely treated as one.

A dispatch following a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi said Nairobi would proceed to open a consulate in Hargeisa, joining Ethiopia and Djibouti.

The dispute could undermine cooperation in the fight against the Islamist group Al-Shabaab in Somalia, where Kenya provides 3,600 troops to an African Union peacekeeping force.

A senior security officer in Mandera confirmed the arrival of the Somalia military officers along the common border.

“We have information of what is happening along the border but that is an issue that will be decided by other higher offices in Nairobi,” said our source who sought anonymity.

Osman Dubbe, the Somali Minister for Information, announced the move to cut ties with Nairobi on national TV a few minutes to 2 a.m., breaking tradition of countries making such pronouncements during the day. Mr Dubbe said Kenya had “constantly interfered” with Somalia’s internal affairs and that Nairobi was violating Somalia’s sovereignty.

Envoy recalled

Last month, Somalia expelled Kenya’s ambassador and recalled its own envoy after alleging interference in the electoral process in Jubbaland, one of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous states. Also last year, Kenya recalled its ambassador after Mogadishu decided to auction disputed oil and gas exploration blocks at sea. Ties were restored a few months later.

The new diplomatic flare-up came as anti-government protests broke out in Mogadishu, according to Reuters reports.

Demonstrators denounced President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed – usually known by his nickname “Farmaajo” (cheese) – over delayed votes for both houses of parliament.

The polls were due early this month but became snagged on disagreements over the composition of the electoral board.



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Somalia cuts diplomatic ties with Kenya over Somaliland


News

Somalia cuts diplomatic ties with Kenya over Somaliland


Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Dubbe said Kenya had “constantly interfered” with Somalia’s internal affairs and that Nairobi was violating Somalia’s sovereignty.
  • Kenyan diplomats in Mogadishu have seven days to leave the country.

Somalia on Tuesday morning announced it is cutting diplomatic ties with Kenya, in the latest escalation of a spat between the two, and following the invitation of Somaliland leader Muse Bihi to Nairobi.

Osman Dubbe, the Somali Minister for Information declared the news on national TV a few minutes to 2am in the morning, breaking tradition of countries making such pronouncements during the day.

Dubbe said Kenya had “constantly interfered” with Somalia’s internal affairs and that Nairobi was violating Somalia’s sovereignty.

He said Kenyan diplomats in Mogadishu will have seven days to leave the country. But this came just a week after Mogadishu actually expelled the Kenyan ambassador to Somalia, Lucas Tumbo, and recalled theirs to Nairobi, Mohamud Ahmed Tarzan, following a similar complaint of interference.

Somalia had also submitted a complaint to regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to include the spat with Kenya during the upcoming virtual summit on Dec 20 on Tigray.

Kenya though, became the second country in a year after Guinea, with which Somalia has cut ties over the Somaliland issue.

Kenya hosts Bihi

But as Mogadishu moved in the night, Nairobi was hosting Bihi for bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta. Both sides on Monday said they had agreed on a number of issues and would continue discussions on Tuesday on business and security cooperation.

With the cutting of diplomatic ties, it means the Kenyan embassy in Mogadishu and Somalia’s mission in Nairobi will be shut and their officials sent back home. But both countries, based on Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, will remain obligated to offer visa and other travel and immigration services to nationals of each other.

In fact, each country will remain obligated to protect premises owned by either side on their host territories.

However, despite having legal obligations to protect citizens of each other, the actual protection of each other’s nationals may be granted to a third acceptable state.

It was unclear by Tuesday morning what will happen to military cooperation between Somalia and Kenya which has sent troops to the country under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom). Legally, it is Amisom to make a decision about troop movements, but in consultation with the UN and troop contributing countries.

About 350,000 Somali refugees also live in Kenya, most of them in camps in Dadaab and Kakuma. Kenya will have to continue protecting them, under the international humanitarian law.

What may be exposed, however, are the properties owned by Somalia businesses and politicians in Nairobi.

Officials in the Kenyan capital said on Tuesday morning they had not yet received any formal communication from Mogadishu on the severing of ties.



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Kenya eVisa system to be extended from 2021


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Kenya eVisa system to be extended from 2021


The Kenya eVisa will be a mandatory entry requirement for non-exempt passport holders and will replace other visitor visas for Kenya. PHOTO | POOL

The Kenya eVisa is being extended to travelers from all countries as part of a shift towards digitalisation.

Previously, the Kenya eVisa had been available to people from select nations only. From January 1st, however, all nationalities that require a visa will benefit from the electronic system.

This is good news for travelers. The online application offers a faster and more efficient way to get the essential permit, with no need to attend an embassy or consulate at any point during the application process.

The Kenya eVisa will be a mandatory entry requirement for non-exempt passport holders and will replace other visitor visas for Kenya.

Increased use of the electronic visa will also boost security. New, biometric technology is being introduced at airports in preparation for a full transition to eVisas.

Read on to find out more about the advantages of the Kenya eVisa, the online application, and how to obtain a Kenya visa extension.

Key Information about the Kenya eVisa

The Kenya eVisa system allows travelers to submit their visa application from home, at any time of day. The application form can be accessed from an electronic device connected to the internet, such as a personal computer or mobile phone.

Until now, Kenya’s visa policy meant that visitors from some countries were required to apply for a visa in person at an embassy. The new electronic format will soon be available to all foreigners who require a visa, offering greater convenience.

Visa processing is fast, with most applicants receiving the approved authorization in just a few working days. The visa is sent by email, eliminating the need to collect it from the embassy.

Kenya eVisas are granted for 30-days and can then be extended twice, for a maximum stay of up to 6 months in total. The visa must be used within 3 months of issue.

Embassy Visas and Visas on Arrival Phased Out

Foreigners need to be prepared for the transition to the eVisa: from 2021, the Kenya eVisa will be the only option available.

Senior Deputy Director of Immigration Services, Alicent Odipo released a statement anointing that “All passengers from countries that require a visa to enter Kenya shall be required to obtain e-Visa before boarding an aircraft.”

Embassy visas and visas on arrival are being discontinued. Given the drawbacks of these traditional methods, replacing them with the eVisa will be beneficial for both travelers and Kenyan authorities.

Individuals who had previously been required to apply for a visa at the embassy will soon have access to the online service for faster visa applications and processing.

Queuing at the airport for a visa on arrival will no longer be possible, all non-exempt travelers must now arrange the visa before departure.

Applying in advance allows for any issues to be resolved before departure, passengers who waited until the airport to obtain a visa ran the risk of having their request rejected and being forced to return home.

It has not yet been confirmed whether long-stay visas and other types of permits will be affected. 

Kenya eVisa Application Process

Travelers applying for the eVisa must have a passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival in Kenya. Applicants are required to provide basic details such as their name and date of birth, in addition to passport information.

All supporting documents can be uploaded digitally. Depending on the reason for visiting, different documents are requested. Tourists, for example, need to provide confirmation of a hotel reservation and onward travel ticket whilst business people need an invitation letter from the host. Travelers must check all the Kenya eVisa requirements depending on their specific circumstances.

Applicants should take care when filling out the formas any mistakes or missing information could lead to delays or rejection.

The visa fees are paid securely online using a debit or credit card before finalizing the application.

Provided there are no issues, applicants should receive the approved visa in a few business days. The visa is sent by email, to be printed at home and presented at the border.

Kenyan eVisa Extensions

Travelers who apply for a Kenya eVisa are originally granted a stay of up to 30 days in the country. It may be possible to extend the visa twice from within Kenya, first for 2 months and then again for 3 months for a total stay of up to 6 months.

Visitors can request a visa extension at the Immigration Headquarters in Nairobi or the Immigration Office in Mombasa, the offices are open from Monday to Friday. To obtain the extension, foreigners are asked to fill out a form and pay the visa extension fee.

Alternatively, visitors can depart Kenya and reapply for the eVisa using the same electronic process. They will be able to enter Kenya again once the new eVisa has been approved.



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Young travellers touring Kenya on shoestring budget


Travel

Young travellers touring Kenya on shoestring budget


Wacera Kieha, a member of Lets Drift Community, a travelling group. PHOTO | POOL

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Summary

  • Theirs is nothing luxurious; the trips are cheap with no-frills but fun. They pool resources together or pay for the trips in instalments and stay in cheap lodges.

For years, tourism in Kenya has been synonymous with the wealthy and foreigners. But young Kenyans are taking up frugal travel as they seek to change their perception of the world, experience different cultures, meet new friends, and make lifelong memories.

Theirs is nothing luxurious; the trips are cheap with no-frills but fun. They pool resources together or pay for the trips in instalments and stay in cheap lodges.

Alex Kamau, the founder of Lets Drift Community — a group of more than 250 adventure-loving individuals — is among the young travellers.

The 27-year-old says he was motivated to start the group to allow youth to travel to different destinations on a shoestring budget.

Most local tourism experiences, he says, are too expensive and they are crafted for foreign and rich tourists. Hence the focus is on luxury hotels and activities in beaches and game parks.

To curate packages for the money-conscious youth, he picks less beaten paths and those that are underrated.

“Budget travel is a big thing, especially for millennial travellers. With the flood of information about destinations on the Internet, it’s pretty easy to plan a trip without involving a tour agent,” he says.

Alex says that the group has courted many young people who have fallen in love with exploring the country. They travel by public transport, eat local foods in cheap hotels, and even get hosted by locals in their homes.

For the last two years, he says, they have gone on more than 50 hiking trips in Kiambu County alone, giving young Kenyans access to places they would have never visited at budget-friendly rates. Members can go to unlimited hikes every month after paying a monthly subscription fee of Sh1,000.

He explains that although coastal destinations remain top in the list of places young people are likely to visit, a majority are seeking adventure-filled experiences like cultural festivals, mountaineering, camping, and group road trips.

“This [frugal travel] is the future of domestic tourism. If we have to get more Kenyans to embrace local tourism, we must offer affordable experiences,” he says.

Wacera Kieha was not been a nature-lover, preferring to do yoga. But since joining Lets Drift Community in July, the hiking bug has stung her and no weekend passes without her going hiking or travelling to new destinations.

She says that the group has made travelling affordable. All she has to pay is Sh1,000, a monthly subscription fee, and then cater for transport to the various destinations every month.

“I now love hiking and I do not miss hiking every weekend. I have discovered places I never knew existed at an affordable price,” says Wacera.

The group’s officials scout for new destinations every month then come up with a calendar of which places will be visited every weekend. This is then shared with the members, known as drifters, at the beginning of every month who will then choose which one to go to either on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

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Wacera Kieha, a member of Lets Drift Community, a travelling group. PHOTO | POOL

They will then meet at a central location where they take public transport like matatu, which is cheap, to their destination. Each person pays his or her own fare.

“I learnt about the group from a friend,” says the 26-year-old.

“The experience has been amazing, more than I expected. I have gone to places I never knew even existed. For instance, I never knew Kiambu has that many waterfalls. I have come to appreciate nature and I want to experience more,” she adds.

Peter Nyabuto, who joined Lets Drift Community in July, says he has travelled to 15 different places in four months.

Before July, he says, he could not afford to book for a trip through a tour and travel firm.

“I have always wanted to visit different places in the country to see what nature has to offer outside Nairobi. But I could not because tour companies charge expensive rates but since joining Lets Drift, I have not missed hiking every weekend,” says Peter.

The 27-year-old is born and bred in Nairobi and the only time he has been leaving the capital city is to his grandparents’ place, which is not always, and to Mombasa a few times.

“With Lets Drift, I have travelled to many places and met different and interesting people. It has made domestic tourism affordable and has made me curious to see even more. If Kiambu has such beautiful waterfalls and other scenic places, what about other places in Kenya?” he says.

Pay in instalments

Cynthia Kimola, a communications officer at Knight Frank Kenya, says most Kenyans think that travelling is expensive but the group has disapproved of this notion.

“I have gone to more than six hikes since I joined in March. The experience has been great and I have gone to places I never knew about. We have a WhatsApp group where we share the calendar for the activities,” says the 30-year-old.

“It has re-ignited a desire to travel more around the country and I cannot wait for more,” she adds.

Pancras Karema, the chief executive officer of Expedition Maasai Safaris, a tour and travel operator, says they have adopted a plan akin to budget travelling where clients pay for a trip in installments. This, he points out, is informed by the need to cater to a clientele, mostly comprising young people who have no stable jobs or have just begun working but want to travel on a budget.

“We have a flexible payment plan where one pays in installments even a year. For instance, when you tell a young person to pay Sh15,000 at once to travel to Maasai Mara, it is a bit steep,” says Mr Karema. He explains that most young people do not have disposable income and are looking for something affordable to fit their budget.

“The uptake has been high and because of the volumes we deal with, we negotiate with hotels to get discounted rates because we understand that not every client can afford some of the expensive rates offered by most hotels,” he says.

Simon Kabu, Bonfire Adventures CEO, agrees with Mr Karema pointing out that young people love travelling and exploring but cannot afford the charges by most established tour and travel firms.

As a result, he says, they had to come up with a package known as lipa pole pole — where one pays a deposit, makes a reservation and pays in instalments.

“Young people love travelling but because they do not have a steady income to afford the high-end packages, they opt for budget travelling,” says Mr Kabu.

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Wacera Kieha, a member of Lets Drift Community, a travelling group. PHOTO | POOL

1. Do away with the luxuries

Be financially-conscious in terms of the kind of accommodation to choose, mode of travel to use, food, among others.

“Look out for discounts. If it is accommodation, don’t book the presidential suite, if it is flying don’t use first-class, no five-course meal,” Mr Karema says.

2. Come up with a plan

Pick a destination(s) you want to visit and the duration. This will eliminate the unexpected expenditure and last-minute rush as these will only add expenses to your travel. Travelling on a whim is great but only if one has money to spare.

3.Do Research

Take your time to conduct some fact-finding on your destination by reading about it, reading reviews about the destination as well as talking to other travellers who have been there before.

4.Travel out of season

Avoid trips during peak seasons like school holidays when prices are high.

5. Book in advance

Be smart by booking in advance when prices are yet to shoot up as the peak season approaches. Book your accommodation and travel ahead of time to avoid the last-minute booking when rates rise.

6. Pool together

Make connections with people who might share the same travelling plan to pool resources. This will help reduce the financial burden that one has to foot when alone as well as making the trip more memorable and exciting.

7. Be flexible

Though it is tempting to plan your itinerary, this is one of the most important qualities of a budget-savvy traveller. Be able to drop plans and switch things up but have a list of important things you miss.

Take advantage of deals and opportunities. Stay in hostels, apartments, or Airbnb.

8. Learn to haggle

Bargain price down from the asking price or wander around before settling on the best offer. However, know when to stop and pay a decent price. You can also avoid shopping in overpriced outlets.

9. Be open to a new adventure

We all have lengthy bucket lists but don’t be married to them! Sometimes some of the most amazing destinations in the world aren’t on your radar yet but are worth the trip.



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