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Kenya secures Sh21 billion for Covid vaccines

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Kenya secures Sh21 billion for Covid vaccines


Covid vaccination

Kenya targets to vaccinate 30 million out of 49.7 million Kenyans to set up the country on a strong path to herd immunity. PHOTO | AFP

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Summary

  • Kenya targets inoculating at least 10 million adults by Christmas this year.
  • Kenya kicked off the administration of second doses on May 28 and has so far managed 328,848.
  • Coronavirus disruptions have seen Kenya post the worst economic growth performance since 1992.

Kenya has lined up Sh21.3 billion to fund the ambitious Covid-19 vaccination programme that aims to cover the entire adult population by the end of next year.

The total amount is made up of Sh14 billion World Bank loan and Sh7.3 billion that parliamentarians approved on Tuesday’s supplementary budget.

The financing will help Kenya buy vaccines through an African Union facility and that of COVAX—the global scheme for sharing jabs.

The funding war chest has prompted the government to announce a revised vaccination plan that now targets 26 million adult Kenyans by end of June next year.

The country had set a goal of vaccinating 10 million adults by June 2022, but President Uhuru Kenyatta said the programme will be accelerated.

The President yesterday said the revised vaccine plan was betting on increased use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is administered using a single shot, as opposed to AstraZeneca that requires two jabs.

Kenya targets inoculating at least 10 million adults by Christmas this year.

This means an average of 50,000 vaccinations daily in the next six months given that just 1.005 million have so far received the first dose.

Mr Kenyatta said Kenya will have built a capacity to vaccinate 150,000 people every day ahead of August.

“Using these vaccines and others in the pipelines, this is how we will vaccinate over 10 million Kenyans by Christmas 2021 and 26 million by end of 2022,” said the President.

The first phase of vaccination has run into challenges due to delays in procuring more doses from India, which halted shipments to deal with a surge in domestic infections.

Kenya kicked off the administration of second doses on May 28 and has so far managed 328,848.

The Covid-19 vaccine shots, procured at $7.70 (Sh845.80) per shot negotiated under the Covax facility, are offered for free.

Mr Kenyatta on Tuesday said that Kenya had managed to get 13 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses at a 23 percent discount.

Kenya will target about four million vaccine doses on young adults by June next year if the inoculation for under-age populations is registered by early next year.

Achieving the ambitious plan of vaccinating 30 million out of 49.7 million Kenyans will set up the country on a strong path to herd immunity.

Kenya had initially estimated that it would require about Sh34 billion for the vaccination programme that was targeting 30 percent of the population.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a recent review warned that a slow pace of inoculation risked dragging Kenya’s economic recovery.

Coronavirus disruptions have seen Kenya post the worst economic growth performance since 1992.

The economy suffered its first recession in nearly two decades.

Kenya has heavily relied on debt to fund the vaccination programme in an environment of muted growth in tax revenues and increased need for social programmes.

The World Bank in April last year, for instance, approved Sh5.36 billion ($50 million) to help Kenya conduct Covid-19 tests, set up isolation centres and purchase personal protective gear.

In March, Kenya returned to the global lender seeking a Sh10 billion loan to help purchase Covid-19 vaccines following a financing shortfall.

Kenya’s Covid-19 positivity rate has ranged between 7.6 percent and 10.6 percent in the last four days, with Nairobi and the 13 counties classified as a hotspot zone remaining under the focus of health officials.

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


Cotu boss Francis Atwoli

Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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