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Monday, June 4th, 2018

 

Student unrest leads to closure of two schools

By NATION TEAM
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Two schools were closed in Murang’a and Isiolo after students protested against various issues.

In Murang’a, students from Kiunyu Girls High School stormed out of school on Sunday at 3am for unknown reasons leaving only a few behind.

Murang’a County Director of Education Victoria Mulili said she has dispatched a team to the school to establish the reasons behind the protests. She urged parents to remain calm.

Murang’a County Commander said he has also sent officers at the school to establish the cause of the problem.

“We are yet to understand why the girls decided to storm out of school, but we are finding out. We understand there are problems facing some schools and we take this very seriously,” he said.

In Isiolo, learning was paralysed on Monday at Isiolo Barracks Secondary School as students protested the transfer of their headteacher.

PROTESTED TWICE

Students from the public school located within a military base have protested twice prompting the parents association to intervene and seek the help of stakeholders.

In Baringo, mock examinations have been banned in secondary schools to tame unrest.

Speaking during the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association meeting which was attended by more than 162 participants at the Kenya School of Government in Kabarnet, Baringo County Director of Education Willie Machocho attributed school unrest in the region to the mock examinations and poor governance.

He said most schools in the region go on rampage due to  lack of examination preparedness and poor infrastructure.

“Several schools in this region have recently gone on rampage,” said Mr Machocho.

PROPERTY LOST

He cited Tenges Boys High School, Reuben Cheruiyot High School, Maji Moto, Rosoga, Kisanana and Timboroa as some of the schools that have gone on rampage this term.

Barely two weeks ago, property worth millions of shillings  was lost after fire razed a dormitory in Tenges Boys High School in Baringo Central.

A girls school, Good Shepherd Secondary School in Makueni, was also reported to have been set on fire.

In Uasin Gishu County, two dormitories at Kamagut High School were set ablaze on Sunday. The dormitories were housing more than 150 students.

INVESTIGATIONS

Detectives, led by Eldoret West police boss Samuel Mutunga, on Monday toured the school to assess the damage and held a meeting with the school board.

“We’ve already launched investigations into the fire. We have interrogated some students,” said Mr Mutunga.

Last week, the Education ministry ordered principals to file daily briefs on their school’s security in a move to stop fire outbreaks.

Reported by Vivian Jebet, Ndungu Gachane, Florah Koech, Faith Nyamai and Wycliff Kipsang 


Sausages, bacon and alcohol increase risk of getting cancer

By AGGREY OMBOKI
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Alcohol, bacon and sausage are still dangerous in any amounts, according to a new worldwide guideline on overcoming cancer.

According to the guidelines contained in the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) recommendations updated every ten years, even small amounts of processed meat and alcohol can still increase the risk of a number of cancers.

In a report dubbed: Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective, WCRF predicted that fat will become the leading cancer risk within 20 years, overtaking smoking.

The report is billed as a “comprehensive package of behaviours” that are the “most reliable blueprint available for living healthy to reduce cancer risk”.

The latest cancer research update released on May 24, 2018 at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, includes a published a 10-point plan to reduce the risk of developing cancer by up to 40 per cent. The report is a follow up to earlier studies done in in 1997 and 2007 respectively.

CAUSES OF CANCER

In the largest ever worldwide study of the causes of cancer, researchers analysed the lifestyle habits and medical history of 51 million people. 3.5 million of these study subjects were diagnosed with cancer.

In addition to previously listed cancers of bowel, breast, gallbladder, kidney, oesophagus, pancreas and womb which are directly caused by obesity, cancers affecting the throat, prostate, liver, stomach and ovary were also included.

“There is no level of consumption below which there is no increase in the risk of at least some cancers. Even small amounts of alcoholic drinks can increase the risk of some cancers,” the report said, pouring cold water on previous studies that have highlighted the benefits of taking alcohol in small amounts.

“No level of intake can confidently be associated with a lack of risk of bowel cancer,” the report added.

WCRF research findings linked alcohol consumption to a higher risk of six cancer types and added stomach cancer to its previous list of cancers of the bowel, breast, oesophagus, liver and throat.

SUGAR FREE BEVERAGES

Additionally, the WCRF recommended the drinking of water or sugar free beverages.

Medical experts believe that eating processed meat is associated with bowel cancer, in addition to causing people to become overweight, a gateway to other types of cancer. Cutting down on steak and other red meat such as lamb or pork can reduce the risk of bowel cancer.

WRCF director of research, Dr Giota Mitou, said the scientists had decided to recommend water and the elimination of sweetened drinks.

“We are making for the first time separate recommendations on sugar-sweetened drinks and the recommendation is to drink water and unsweetened drinks and to limit consumption of fast foods and other processed foods,” said Dr Mitou.

CANCER PREVENTION 

He added: “When we talk about cancer prevention, the strong evidence is that we need to follow a package of lifestyle behaviours. Individuals need to follow as many of these recommendations as possible.”

The medic also sounded a warning on processed meat, saying the best lifestyle choice was to stop eating it altogether.

“The best advice is not to eat processed meat. The risk does increase with consumption,” he said.

Staying physically active directly protects against three cancers – bowel, breast and womb. Experts say exercise helps prevent individuals from becoming overweight, a risk factor for most cancers.

Cancer linked to obesity can also be avoided by reducing refined fruit juice and drinking water instead of fizzy drinks as well as eating fruit, vegetables and beans daily.


‘Refreshed’ MPs vow to slay corruption dragon

By SAMWEL OWINO
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As the 349 lawmakers troop to the chambers on Tuesday afternoon after a month-long recess, questions abound on their role in fighting corruption.

Despite various committees churning out high octane reports, little has been implemented.

The Committee on Implementation, chaired by Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta, is supposed to follow up with relevant agencies to ensure resolutions are implemented.

While lawmakers say relevant departmental committee investigating corruption can only call for political culpability of those involved as other agencies such as the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission handle the criminal liability, little has been achieved.

CRACK DOWN ON CORRUPTION

Buoyed by new faces at the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Attorney-General’s office and the DCI and backed by public anger, MPs say the country will get it right this time.

A majority of the lawmakers have expressed hope that the ongoing crackdown of corruption, coupled with the political goodwill, will bear fruit.

National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi said for the war to be won, there has to be a will and determination from the country’s leadership.

The Suba South lawmaker said the Judiciary needs to work with other arms of the government by speeding up cases “as this will deter looters from enjoying the wealth they acquired illegally”.

“Corruption cases should have a timeline just like election petitions,” Mr Mbadi said.

He added that there is need to strengthen the DCI in terms of resources.

“The EACC should just be given the role of public education,” Mr Mbadi said.

SACK CORRUPT OFFICERS

Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi said President Uhuru Kenyatta can only end corruption if he gets help from the public.

“The corrupt are the mighty and wealthy who can easily bribe their way out when a poorly paid officer is sent to arrest them,” Mr Atandi said.

“Those getting into any public office know that corruption is illegal and what is expected from them, so the President just needs to sack the corrupt.”

Public Accounts Committee chairman Opiyo Wandayi said his short stint in the powerful panel has made him witness impunity and that key corruption players have become emboldened with time, “knowing that they can always get away with it”.

“Given the evidently high threshold placed by the criminal justice system, convictions will not come easily. Coupled with the intricate networks that have been developed over the years to support this enterprise, other ways must be found to deal with corruption,” he said.

“The surest way end corruption is to deal with it politically. The message must come from the top.”

INSTITUTIONAL PROBLEMS

Manyatta MP John Muchiri urged the President to deal ruthlessly with corrupt State officials.

“He should talk less and act more,” Mr Muchiri said.

Suba North MP Millie Odhiambo said the war on corruption cannot be won without political will.

“The President needs to warn people around him against engaging in corruption,” she said.

Igembe South MP Maoka Maore said the problem has been at the Presidential level “but this time, we have a Head of State who wants to eradicate the vice”.

“Countries have mafias but in Kenya, the mafia have the country. We have had institutional problems but with the new people at DCI, office of the DPP and the Attorney General, we will win this time,” he said. 

The MPs said the country has enough laws and institutions to fight corruption. 


Nyeri College students flee hostels after terror threats

By NICHOLAS KOMU
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Students of Kenya Medical Training College Nyeri campus have fled hostels due to terror threats as police camped at the institution  for the second week.

Students who live in the campus located in Kangemi have since Saturday sought refuge in friends’ houses and lodgings outside the campus. For the last two weeks, police have been at the campus following claims the college would be attacked by terrorists.

Police have also been questioning students over the threats. Nyeri County Referral Hospital, which neighbours the college, has also received additional police officers.

The students started leaving the campus on Saturday evening after information was circulated among them that the institution would be attacked. The information, according to reports from police and the administration, came from students in one of the hostels.

MOVING OUT

“We noticed that the ladies in one of the blocks were moving out. They told us that there had been information that the institution would be attacked,” said a student who declined to be named.

The institution’s principal Zipporah Njeru said the students reported the matter and police were alerted. “As soon as we got the information we alerted the police and officers were deployed to secure the school,” she said.

Student leader Edison Mwendwa said there is tension. “We are still very worried. Most students are still living with their friends and lodgings outside campus. We do not feel safe yet but we have raised it with the administration,” Mr Mwendwa said.

MONITORING SITUATION

Nyeri Central police boss Muinde Kioko said they are monitoring the situation, assuring that there is no cause for alarm as the “threat has been neutralised”.

“The institution is safe and we assure students we will keep them safe. The threats have been addressed and we are still investigating the source. Police have already been deployed and we will continue monitoring the institution and the areas around it,” he said.

The Saturday incident was the second one in less than three weeks following a similar threat. The earlier threat is said to have been relayed to the students by a boda boda rider who claimed the school would be attacked.


Uhuru: State procurement officers to undergo fresh vetting

By KENNEDY KIMANTHI
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Faced with calls to tame runaway corruption in the civil service, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday took a bold step and directed all government procurement officers to step aside and undergo fresh vetting.

Those targeted in the purge and who are required to immediately hand over to their deputies work in ministries, departments, agencies and State corporations.

And although they will be paid salaries, they will only be allowed to travel on clearance by the Head of Public Service according to the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit (PSCU), they are further required to submit personal information to help in investigations.

The President’s order comes days after he said more heads would roll in the war against the vice adding that procurement officials who fail polygraph tests would be sent home.

This is in the wake of financial scandals at agencies including the National Cereals and Produce Board, National Youth Service, Kenya Pipeline Company and Kenya Power.

In a statement to newsrooms, Government spokesperson Eric Kiraithe through Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka placed a Friday deadline to have the officials submit information on their personal assets, liabilities and previous records of service.

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

Mr Njoka said the vetting to be conducted in a month’s time will be respectful to the constitutional rights of those affected.

“Whereas the exercise is geared towards determining suitability to continue holding a public office and promote public confidence in the public service, the same will be undertaken in an objective manner, exercised with due care and regard to officers’ rights as enshrined in the Constitution,” Mr Njoka said.

The President has been under pressure to slay the dragon of corruption which has permeated many spheres of his administration, denting the government’s image.

During last Friday’s Madaraka Day celebrations in Meru, President Kenyatta had assured that more senior government officials will be arrested in the war against corruption.

He declared that he had personally drawn the line on pervasive corruption and challenged Parliament, Judiciary and other multi-agency teams tasked with fighting graft to do the same.

He promised a fully-fledged fight on the vice which he likened to colonialism saying “in the end, it must be dealt with firmly.”

The President said he was happy with the arrests made so far adding that he would not condone such individuals in his administration.

Notable personalities arrested and charged in court over the NYS scam are Permanent Secretary Lilian Mbogo Omollo and Director General Richard Ndumbai.

Yesterday’s order is seen as an affirmation by the Head of State to put more effort in the fight against corruption in his second and final term as he seeks to leave a good legacy.

“The President is committed to creating a public service that serves the needs and aspirations of Kenyans without taking undue advantage of their offices to enrich or otherwise benefit themselves,” Mr Njoka said.

Under the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, a person charged can be fined up to Sh1 million fine and a jail term of up to 10 years or both if found guilty. Such a person would also vacate his/her position and will be banned from holding a public post.

CORRUPTION

In 2015, a dossier with names of Cabinet Secretaries, Governors and Principal Secretaries linked to corruption, which had been given to the President as a classified copy by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Chief Executive Officer Halakhe Waqo, was tabled in Parliament as part of the State of the Nation address.

By February 2016, a report by EACC stated that close to 200 people on the list of shame had been charged with corruption and abuse of office. All cases were investigated and action taken on at least 61 per cent of them.

The status report says some suspects were taken to court while others had their cases referred back to EACC for further investigations. There are those who were set free and even cleared to contest in the August 2017 General Election.

President Kenyatta has many times defended his record in fighting corruption, insisting he had allowed relevant government agencies sufficient space to deter the crime.

At a corruption summit in October 2016, he claimed his government has done more than all previous administrations since independence in fighting graft.


Political white elephant slime lies beneath crude oil ‘export’

By MACHARIA GAITHO
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One would have thought that beyond the feel-good factor, at least one positive outcome of the rapprochement between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga would have been a window for the government to abandon schemes and scams based on election promises.

Discarding some of the more useless and wasteful projects would free the government to refocus on the things that really matter.

This past Sunday, we were rudely reminded that some madcap projects launched in the euphoria of electioneering are still on stream.

President Kenyatta officially declared Kenya an oil-exporting country after flagging off the first trucks transporting crude from the oil fields of Turkana to storage tanks at the coastal port of Mombasa for unleashing onto the export market.

TULLOW OIL

I have read carefully through the briefings put out by the government and Tullow Oil to justify an armada of cross-country trucks covering over 1,000 km. None make a convincing case for what is dubbed the Early Oil Pilot Scheme. They are probably more notable for the critical questions they evade or gloss over than what they reveal.

This scheme was first publicly mooted amongst all the grandiose campaign promises by the Jubilee machinery ahead of the 2017 General Election — one of the more outlandish ones, even then seen as unlikely to see the light of day. Nobody in the oil industry, even Tullow executives in private conversations, thought it made sense.

The ridiculous justification provided then was that early export would allow for Kenyan oil to be tested on the international market. But the obvious thing is that a single beaker for laboratory tests would suffice for that — no need for truckload upon truckload.

Now, in addition to that, we are being told that early exports will provide all sorts of spin-off benefits, including development of roads along the trucking routes, provision of technical data on well performance, building local technical expertise in oil exploration and production, as well as creating employment and business opportunities.

DIRECT BENEFIT

The only direct benefit I see is opportunities for the contracted truckers, making it look like the classic vendor-driven procurement that has been the bane of Kenya.

While lauding the great day as Kenya becomes an oil exporter, the government should at least have dampened expectations by clarifying that our coffers are not about to start overflowing with petro-dollars. Those expecting Kenya to swiftly become another Qatar or Saudi Arabia are in for a rude shock.

First of all, there is no caution being broadcast that the exploitable reserves so far discovered are nowhere near Arabian Gulf quantities or, closer to home, Nigerian or Angolan proportions.

The government is also being economical with the truth that the trucking is such a slow, laborious, inefficient process, that it will take the better part of a year for sufficient quantities to be loaded into the storage tanks ready for potential buyers. That there are no buyers yet queuing up as the trucks roll towards Mombasa is another issue not being mentioned.

Anyway, even assuming that all goes kosher, another major imponderable is the damage fleets of oil tankers will cause to roads along the length of the trip, and traffic disruptions on a busy artery that is clogged in many places.

GREAT DEAL

Right now, a great deal is being made about the repair of roads and bridges leading out of Lokichar, but that is on sparse and rarely used transport infrastructure that was crying out for upgrading.

Once the trucks reach Eldoret and embark on the real long haul, they will be competing for space with millions of cars, trucks, buses, matatus and thousands of other vehicles on the busy highways.

Driving on those roads is already a nightmare. They are narrow, dangerous, dilapidated in many places and completely unsuitable for the current level of traffic.

They have been crying out for resurfacing and widening, or even complete reconstruction into dual carriageways.

VOLATILE CARGO

But even before those massive works have commenced, entirely new traffic loads are introduced with absolutely no regard to the certain damage to the road surfaces and underlying foundation, and the traffic gridlocks sure to follow on hundreds of slow-moving trucks ferrying sensitive, highly volatile cargo.

We are set to witness the folly of political projects launched without regard to the actual benefits, the real financial cost, damage and inconvenience.

The saving grace is that, in his address, the President indicated that he was aware that for many African countries abundance of oil and other natural resources have been curses rather than blessings.

With that lesson, we should manage our windfall, if any, more prudently.


Two-thirds gender rule must be passed, implemented at all costs

By FATUMA M. MOHAMED
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The space of the Kenyan woman in leadership continues to shrink by the day despite the Constitution recognising women, youth, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities as special groups deserving protection.

Article 81 states that the electoral system shall comply with the principle that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective public bodies shall be of the same gender.

Article 27 obligate the government to develop and pass policies and laws, including affirmative action programmes and policies, to address past discrimination.

But despite Article 177 ensuring that the two others above are complied with at the county level through the nomination of special seat members, the same is not guaranteed at the National Assembly and the Senate.

Eight years later, Kenyan women are yet to fully enjoy the benefits of the 2010 Constitution. Any gains made are being lost everyday with spaces occupied by women being taken over by men.

The top leadership of Parliament, for instance, is composed of men only — unlike the last House, where both the deputy speaker and deputy majority leader were women.

IGNORE WOMEN

The Executive continues to ignore women in appointments despite public assurances of their support of women. County governments have followed the national government and continue to violate the Constitution and deny women their rightful place in leadership positions.

Over the past two weeks, Parliament’s Justice and Legal Committee has engaged in public participation on a proposed law change in line with court decisions and the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution. The Bill seeks to amend the Constitution for the membership of the National Assembly and the Senate to conform to the two-thirds gender principle through creation of special seats over 20 years from the next elections.

LAGS BEHIND

Kenya lags behind neighbours Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania in having women in leadership and political decision-making positions. But by implementing the two-thirds rule, it would correct historical injustices against vulnerable groups that have enhanced inequalities.

Besides the progressive 2010 Constitution, Kenya has established several commissions to collectively address the challenges. It has also ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, which explicitly requires countries to enforce laws prohibiting violence against women and to punish the perpetrators.

Kenya is also a State party to the African Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw), which also require women’s protection against violence.

It has also ratified the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls for equal participation of women in decision-making bodies through the Kenya National Action Plan in 2016.

DISSOLVE PARLIAMENT

Failure by the National Assembly to pass the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2018 by at least a two-thirds majority at the Second Reading would mean the only recourse — as per the Constitution, and the judgments of the Supreme Court in 2012 and High Court in 2015 and 2017, and the advisory by the National Gender and Equality Commission — would be invocation of the provisions of Article 261 (6) and (7), to dissolve Parliament.

Further, President Uhuru Kenyatta will need all the support for his ‘Big Four’ agenda to succeed. The main factor that will make or break that legacy will be inclusion of women and men in all the four pillars.

The two-thirds gender rule would institutionalise increased participation for women in decision making; without them in these positions, there will be no true development in Kenya.

 Ms Mohamed is a gender consultant and director Women Center for Peace and Development. [email protected] 


Energy answer to Africa’s waste problem

By ADENIYI MAKANJUOLA
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Africa is hungry for energy. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), only 24 per cent of sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity, and the energy generation capacity of the entire African continent (excluding South Africa) is only 28 Gigawatts, equal to that of Argentina alone.

With the current state of low energy consumption and access, even individuals connected to a power grid experience on average 54 days of power outage a year — that’s darkness for 15 per cent of the year. The WEF also projected that the demand for energy solutions is only set to rise with increasing population, urbanisation and economic productivity.

WASTE CRISIS

The move towards innovative ways of turning what was once termed a waste crisis into a sustainable solution for a struggling sector is quickly becoming commonplace amongst African leaders and organisations in the public and private sectors.

For decades, shortage of sustainable energy has embedded itself into the very fabric of socio-economic factors that plague the continent, giving credence to the tag ‘the dark continent’ and making it more than just a metaphor. Africa’s immediate need for energy has catalysed the growth of the global waste-to-energy industry.

1,400 TONNS OF WASTE

Sweden stands out as a stellar example, having wholly turned its waste problem into a solution. The revolution began in the 1980s with incineration plants as disposal sites became harder to find and leachate pollutants a significant problem. It incinerates half of its waste to generate energy and recycles about 49 per cent; only one per cent goes into the landfill.

After a dumpsite landslide in March last year killed more than 100 people, Ethiopia became the first African country to launch a full waste-to-energy plant.

The Addis Ababa plant will incinerate 1,400 tonnes of waste everyday and supply 30 per cent of the capital city’s electricity requirements.

Visionscape, an environmental company providing turnkey solutions in waste management, is on the cusp of the solution to two significant challenges facing emerging markets — waste management and sustainable energy.

Operating a closed loop system, it uses its sustainable business model to reduce the carbon footprint by recycling and reusing 90 per cent of the materials manufactured and the waste collected to provide waste-to-energy solutions.

FIRST ECO-PARK

With its West African regional office in Lagos, Nigeria, Visionscape double-hats as the official residential waste collector and the concessionaire developing the backbone infrastructure for an integrated waste management system. The group was also constructing the first engineered sanitary landfill or eco-park in West Africa.

Harvesting and sharing knowledge in global best practices, the eco-park will receive waste ranging from agricultural to household organic and industrial slurry.

The plant will also generate electricity for the eco-park. Surplus energy will be distributed as one of the company’s community sustainability investments.

ENERGY GENERATION

Beyond the energy generation, and to guarantee the completion of the sustainability chain in a zero-waste loop, the end product from the process is rich in ADP, which is used as fertiliser for farmlands.

The chain creates a complete cycle: From farmland waste to energy generation and back to providing fertilisers for the farms, ensuring that nothing is wasted.

The closed-loop system has been a conversation amongst environmental experts for decades.

The need for other like-minded think-tanks to champion the cause in Africa and other new economies has become imperative.

Organisations should pay attention and seek to adopt sustainable models that promote viable solutions to the continent’s pressing environmental and economic challenges.

Mr Makanjuola is a director of Visionscape Group, an environmental management think-tank. [email protected] 


Going green: What’s your little thing?

By STEVE CHEGE
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There’s a quote by Ted Trueblood, the renowned writer and conservationist, which goes: “The silence of nature is very real. It surrounds you…you can feel it.”

But things are changing, and nature seems to be getting weary of this silence.

For thousands of years, man has lorded his power over the planet. We have plundered nature, clearing forests to put up homes and factories and construct roads. We have poured toxic waste into our rivers, lakes and seas, destroying entire ecosystems, while barely stopping to think about the consequences of our actions.

And nature is fighting back. Global warming, cyclical droughts, famine and flooding are evidence of this.

Every year, we set aside days revolving around the conservation of nature — from the International Day of Trees and Forests to World Water Day and now World Environment Day.

GLOBAL CELEBRATIONS

These global celebrations are designed to ensure that we keep conversations about conservation on the table and to remind us that the collective responsibility of righting our wrongs lies with all of us — individuals and organisations alike.

Whether we are planting trees or beating back the plastic waste menace that experts say is threatening marine life, we must all begin to do something about the stark and unpleasant reality our planet faces.

Nobel laureate Prof Wangari Maathai, one of Kenya’s most widely celebrated environmental conservation champions, used to say that it’s the little things citizens do that make a difference. Her ‘little thing’ was planting trees: We can carry on that legacy and do more.

At the foot of Mt Kenya is Ngare Ndare Forest, a 5,300-hectare indigenous forest reserve that boasts a variety of bird and animal species — including the ‘Big Five’ and two-century-old trees that form the only expanding canopy in Kenya.

PROTECTING ECOSYSTEM

As part of our commitment to protecting that ecosystem, the Safaricom Foundation has over the past decade worked closely with the community bordering the forest to reduce human encroachment, carry out reforestation and create alternative sources of income for local youth.

The impact of this has been significant with the community running more than a dozen large tree nurseries and planting over a million seedlings in nearby farmlands with a survival rate of 85-90 per cent.

Tree growing is in line with our target of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. We aim to achieve this through our commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 12 on responsible production and consumption. We continue to reduce the amount of energy consumed by our facilities and are investing in solar-powered base transmission stations in recognition of the environmental damage caused by over-reliance on fossil fuels.

We have also developed a robust e-waste collection system through which we have properly disposed of close to 1,000 tonnes of e-waste since 2012.

The company has also launched and implemented an Integrated Waste Management Programme that has enabled us to recycle 97 per cent of the waste we generate.

SINGLE-USE PLASTICS

We are also working with partners to reach our goals by incorporating little changes that make a big difference. For example, we aim to phase out the use of single-use plastics within our offices, starting with getting rid of plastic plates and cutlery at our cafeterias and replacing plastic trash bins with eco-friendly separation bins that require members of staff to separate food, plastic and paper waste.

A year ago, we became the first local company to proactively phase out the use of plastic bags at our shops and replace them with reusable, environmentally friendly ones.

At the launch, we projected that the initiative would save our company about Sh10 million annually but the benefits are far greater than our bottom line.

One less plastic bag discarded carelessly could mean one less loss for a pastoralist grazing his cattle and, therefore, protection of the livelihoods of those who are more often than not the least responsible for the destruction of the environment.

INJUSTICES

Admittedly, we have a very long way to go before we can correct the injustices perpetrated against the environment by mankind. But we must begin somewhere. Individually, and as organisations, we all need to play our part so that nature will be kinder to future generations than it is to us today.

The business of business is not just business anymore. Companies can, and should, play a more active role in preserving the environment. We can no longer be passive; we need to actively get involved. It starts with the smallest of actions.

Inspired by Prof Maathai, I challenge you: What’s your little thing?


Get the math right in petroleum venture

By EDITORIAL
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The fanfare that followed the inaugural extraction and transportation of oil from Turkana to Mombasa was palpable, as it marked a turning point in the long journey of venturing into the extractives industry.

It has been six years of painful exploration, and so what has come out of it is a signal that the efforts were not in vain; we have potential for oil wealth.
However, it is too early to celebrate. We take this earliest opportunity to caution that the hard part now begins. We need proper analysis of the business before we go to other details.

It is incredible that we have a model where oil is transported by lorries for hundreds of kilometres away from the mining fields. A simple cost-benefit analysis illustrates that this is not viable.

INTERNATIONAL BUYERS
In the same vein, the exploitation has begun without proper thought of the markets. Therefore, for now, the crude oil will be stored in Mombasa as the country seeks international buyers.

Yet the obvious thing should have been that production is tightly connected to the market. It does not make sense to produce and think of markets later; that is warped economics.

Outside the realms of the markets, the usual questions come into play. For one, Kenya has to confront the proverbial challenge of the “oil curse” that has beset many other African nations.

Fortunately, we have the advantage of hindsight; we can learn from the failures of others and turn the enterprise into a blessing.

OIL REVENUES
Tied to this is the revenue share: How the money will be allocated between the national and county governments and how the locals eventually benefit from the resources within their areas. Already, it has been determined that 75 per cent of the revenues will go to the national government and 25 per cent to the county. Fair enough, but the details must be clearly worked out and made public.
We must acknowledge that this is a major breakthrough as it promises to catapult Kenya into the ranks of oil-rich nations. However, we have not done enough groundwork. We must get the economics and governance right, lest we fall into the trap of the dreaded oil curse.