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Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019


TNM predicts gradual growth for Malawi’s digital economy

Buitelaar during the lecture

Malawi has enormous potential to grow her digital economy as more people are shifting their habits towards the Internet and consumption of digital financial transfers, TNM Chief Executive Officer Michiel Buitelaar, has said. 

The CEO was speaking at Catholic University where he delivered a public lecture titled “Marketing = Science”, which outlined the fundamentals of digital marketing in the context of Malawi’s economic environment.

“While Internet usage in this country is relatively low; but Malawians are not different they will love and use the internet. We think that by spreading the word, advocating and engaging with people on good things about the internet we could make it big, attractive and profitable just as other countries are doing,” said Buitelaar.

He acknowledged factors that are hindering effective implementation of a digital ecosystem in the country’s economy.

“The real practical issue is when people can afford a decent devise like a 4G smartphone, those gadgets tend to be expensive but the good news is they are becoming less expensive. Another thing is digital literacy, there is a viral effect to it in a sense that once there are a couple of people who are enthusiastic of digital lifestyle, they can influence others,” he said.  

The public lecture was organized for TNM Plc to harness relations with the University and showcase leadership as an integrated mobile telco and ICT firm.

“As a truly Malawian company we would like to be involved in the society by getting closer to key institutions like the Catholic University. We think that we can learn from the university and give something to the university,” added Buitelaar.

Linda Sambo, a fourth-year marketing student who attended the lecture said the presentation has imparted diverse knowledge on digital capabilities.

“He talked quite a lot but what captured my attention is the fact that marketing and analytics are becoming more merged in terms of understanding the consumer behavior. It has motivated me to learn more about analytics to better my career in marketing,” said Sambo.

She hailed TNM for organizing the lecture saying the partnership between the two institution will help the school to create a better marketing program. 

As a catalyst for growing internet, TNM will conduct series of lectures in universities in its quest to enhance technology in the country.

TNM has commissioned a new site at the campus to improve mobile connectivity around the institution.  

The post TNM predicts gradual growth for Malawi’s digital economy appeared first on The Maravi Post.

Protect the long-term investors from harassment by local elites

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We really need to renew our faith in free enterprise. We are slowly evolving into a society that is hostile to free enterprise.

The other day, I came across an agreement between Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu and the agribusiness multinational Del Monte, in which the company ceded to the county government some 690 acres that it had owned since 1949.

It was all part of the terms which the county government had introduced as conditions for approving extension of leases for part of the land the company has been operating in and which expired this year. The county said it needed the land for major property projects in Thika Town.

We all know that Kiambu neither has the capital nor capacity to implement projects of the size and scope it claims to be contemplating.

Although the arrangement with Del Monte was framed as a mutually agreed deal, we all know that the multinational was arm-twisted into ceding the land, which will, eventually, end up in the hands of land-grabbing elites. It will not take long before a scandal explodes over the land.


What is telling is that the deal between Kiambu and the multinational has now given neighbouring Murang’a County fresh impetus to also press Del Monte to cede to it 2,500 acres of its land.

Del Monte owns a total on 9,000 acres in both Kiambu and Murang’a, of which 1,500 is leased from private owners.

Since the battle with the county government in Murang’a is in the courts, I will restrict my comments to broader public policy questions which the trends we are witnessing in both counties raise.

First, we must all the time remember that respect for private property is the foundation of market-based economies.


I read somewhere that one of the factors that allowed industrial conglomerates such as Arthur Guinness to emerge in the 18th century Europe was that they were granted leases of 9,999 land leases that gave generations of the business the confidence to invest in massive infrastructure, including ports and railway systems.

Long-term investors are only prepared to commit billions of dollars when they know that the land leases they have acquired will be renewed at a peppercorn rate when the expiry date calls.

The tribulations and pressures which Del Monte has been subjected to are bound to have implications on the country. As a long-term player, you don’t want to commit your resources in an enterprise only to be informed on expiry of land leases that no renewal will be forthcoming unless you cede some leases.

We really need to come up with a national policy with transparent ways of managing, but also protecting expiring long-term leases, especially when it comes to large consolidated pieces of land such as expansive private plantations and individually-owned ranches.


Today, multinationals running large companies in the countryside are enduring pressure from multiple local leaders — governors, MCAs, senators, MPs — all claiming to have veto powers over decisions made by multinationals operating in their jurisdictions.

Indeed, the advent of the county system of government has brought with it a wave of illiberalism that is now considered a major source of uncertainty and a political risk factor for multinationals operating in the countryside.

We remember the drama in June, when Nandi Governor Stephen Sang lead a group to invade a tea firm belonging to a multinational company?

Investors have to operate in an environment where political power is so diffuse and where one cannot tell whether to seek protection from the national government or from the county government.

Because of their size, turnover, size of the workforce and contribution to taxes, exports and exchange, companies such as Del Monte belong to the category that businesses wonks call “systemic players”. These ought to be supported because their fortunes have an impact on the health of the broader macro-economy.


Del Monte processes more than 240,000 tonnes of pineapple annually, making it Kenya’s largest exporter of fruits and beverages. It has a total workforce of 7,000 and has lately been on an aggressive expansion programme.

We need to disabuse county government elites of the mindset that deceives them into believing that they have more rights and entitlement to the benefits of operations of large multinationals operating in their territories than the rest of Kenyans.

Systemic players should be insulated from manipulation, unnecessary pressure and having to cede to parochial demands by the elites.

Our hard-earned reputation as a safe investment location, where private property is protected and honest pursuit of wealth respected, is at risk.

Entrepreneurship could be overrated

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The halcyon days when education in Kenya would get you a ticket on the gravy train might as well be over.

The rate of unemployment amongst well-educated youth in this country is truly mind-boggling. And even those with jobs don’t earn fair wages to afford them a decent standard of living. An emergency in the form of an illness or accident could lead them into debt or utterly throw them off.

Often, entrepreneurship and self-employment are bandied around as solutions to this monumental crisis.


The youth are told to create their own jobs. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs are used as examples of how a college degree is not necessary and entrepreneurship is the way to financial success.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the poorest countries have the highest rate of self-employment.


The rate in developing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia is about 72 per cent, whereas in developed economies in North America and Europe, it is about 10 per cent.

Despite its reputation as the home of entrepreneurs, the United States has one of the lowest levels of self-employment.

Only 10.1 per cent of the US population, including those who have incorporated their businesses and those who have not, can be considered as self-employed.


Most of the world’s poor are self-employed. You are more likely to fail than succeed when you venture into entrepreneurship. You are likely to lack social security, earn very little and work longer and harder than in formal employment.

This may sound pessimistic, especially in the face of stories and images of successful entrepreneurs.

Information circulating in the contemporary and social media and motivational talks tends to focus on the few who have made it and overlook thousands of others who did not.

This is referred to as “survivorship bias” — a logical error characterised by a strong focus on successful people, businesses and strategies while ignoring those that fail.

Within this blinkered outlook, we only get to hear from a clique of “the successful” and not those who have failed. Consequently, we get a one-sided view not representative of the ground.

In some cases, a good number of successful entrepreneurs are successful simply because of sheer luck, good timing, genetics, family, environment, background, connections or even shady deals.

Why should they be the only ones who get to speak and get to be heard? What makes their version of truth truer? I believe there is just as much to learn from failure as from success.


Due to our survivorship bias, we disparage those who are not doing well economically without fully taking into account their circumstances.

We scoff at those who chose to pursue education, yet they don’t have jobs.

The dominant narrative surrounding youth unemployment is that a large number of youths are poor and unemployed because they are too entitled, lazy and unimaginative to start profitable enterprises. Instead, they just want to get papers that will land them white-collar jobs.

Nothing could be further from the truth than this.

A staggering number of young people in this country have tried their hand in entrepreneurship and failed — some due to lack of adequate capital, poor infrastructure and forces in the market beyond their control.

For others, competition from established businesses and the infiltration of cheap Chinese products in the market brought them to their knees. Others still have their small business running but don’t make much.

Sometimes hard work and ingenuity are not enough. Circumstances beyond our control — such as market forces, timing and environment — take over.


Out of one Bill Gates who emerges are thousands of others who were similarly smart, skilled and worked just as hard but failed.

More than half of businesses fail within their first year. Many start-ups, despite their innovativeness, hardly last for five years.

But against the backdrop of a mainstream culture obsessed with material success, fame and anything flashy, these facts are hardly uplifted.

In Kenya, unemployment is a system issue that has no simple answers or quick fixes. The best bet we have is the government taking radical measures to curb corruption, directing resources towards creating job opportunities and providing incentives for businesses to expand, innovate and pay better.

We also need to change the tenor of conversations surrounding unemployment. Instead of solely placing the burden on individuals to create employment opportunities for themselves, perhaps more fingers should point towards the State.

Data on rural woman’s control of land paints a dismal picture

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Last Tuesday, a group of about 100 women from rural counties converged on the Christian Leadership Centre, otherwise known as Ufungamano House, in Nairobi for one of those rare moments when they get to “talk to the world” about what they do and, hopefully, be heard.

While their live audience was really nothing to write home about in terms of numbers, that did not deter them; they were just happy to exchange ideas, challenges and experiences.

They were here to mark the International Day of Rural Women, established by the United Nations to recognise the contribution and vital role the rural and indigenous woman plays globally in enhancing agriculture, food security, poverty alleviation and, generally, in rural development.


In Africa, women who live and work in rural areas play a huge role in the sustainability of families, nutrition and the general well-being of communities given that they do the bulk of the work in agriculture, including providing the most labour in the critical industry, and their invaluable contribution to informal work.

The discussion on hours rural women and girls spend on unpaid care and domestic work in agriculture and related sectors such as water and health did not escape the audience.


To-date, there are people who sneer at such debates or discussion, with the argument that this kind of work is a preserve of the woman, especially rural ones. But this should not be the case.

First, it is critical — and that was generally the line of argument — that we recognise that rural women spend more hours in unpaid and domestic care work than the men. But discriminatory cultural practices and social norms and structural hindrances restrict them from decision making and participating in community development, even on the household front.


As a way of righting this cultural wrong and ensuring gender equality and equity in rural development, however, it is critical for both levels of government, civil society and related agencies to do more in empowering the rural woman.

Groots Kenya, a national movement of grassroots woman-led community-based organisations and self-help groups, rightly acknowledges that there still is much to be done in the empowerment of rural women.

This is in spite of the “great” strides in transforming their lives economically, politically and socially nearly 25 years since the Beijing Platform for Action and half a decade of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These areas include equality in ownership and control of land. Data from the lobby Kenya Land Alliance (KLA) indicates that of the three million title deeds issued in 2013-2017, only 10.3 per cent went to women.

Groots is harvesting data in a bid to empower the rural woman, such as ending discrimination in land reforms.


The real economic empowerment of rural women must include their being fully involved and recognised in land ownership.

Other data from the KLA and Groots on the percentages of men and women who hold title deeds draws a grim picture: The woman has been locked out. It is crucial to heed calls for a transparent, open, just, inclusive and accountable process of appointing land control board members for the next term.

At Tuesday’s event, Groots said their recent assessment showed deputy county commissioners, who chair land boards, had chosen to appoint new members in a translucent manner instead of advertising them as required. Of course, this lacks fairness and guarantee of gender equality and inclusivity.


I agree with the argument by women’s rights organisations that grassroots rural women need to be in the land boards to curb the vile culture of illegal transfers of matrimonial property without spousal consent.

Indeed, with barriers, especially in decision-making and land ownership, how will the rural woman be expected to access credit and develop herself, family and even community and fight poverty?

Make ferry services safer

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The sacking of the entire board of management of Kenya Ferry Services following the recent tragic incident in which a woman and her daughter perished is a step in the right direction.

It demonstrates the government’s concern about the glaring shortcomings in the ferry service. But most importantly, it confirms a desire to see the safety of ferry users quickly enhanced.


The board totally failed to provide the required guidance to this parastatal that thousands of people rely on daily to move between Mombasa Island and the Likoni mainland.

The next logical action should be to streamline the management by selecting qualified and experienced people to run the ferry firm.

We are fully in agreement with Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia that once the new board is constituted, its first task should be to reorganise the management, restructure the firm and audit its operations to boost efficiency and commuter safety.


While picking new board members, the focus should be on identifying only those who are knowledgeable about ferry operations and general management.

Members of such boards must be people who can add value and not joyriders, whose only qualification is being the cronies of top government officials. Only the competent managers should be retained.


The firm operates a handful of ferries and it’s, therefore, a crying shame that the maintenance of these vessels has not been up to scratch.

It is the key duty of management to ensure that the vessels are regularly serviced. There have been cases of ferries stalling midstream and some key equipment not functioning properly. Safety precautions must be stridently enforced to curb stampedes by pedestrians and disorderly embarking by motorists. A rapid rescue team must also be on standby.

US graft war move is good but return loot

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The pledge by the American government to help Kenya to fight corruption is quite reassuring. Corruption runs deep and stands out as the major impediment to the country’s growth.

But beyond barring the corrupt from stepping into their territory, the United States and other nations ought to institute concrete measures such as helping Kenya to track down stolen wealth stashed in foreign capitals and repatriate them.

Equally important, they should share information about the corrupt with our investigative authorities for action.


In principle, what the US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter has undertaken to do is vital. Those who steal from the public should not be allowed to travel and enjoy their ill-gotten wealth abroad. Denying them and their families visas is a step in the right direction.

Other countries should follow suit so that the corrupt are ostracised and humiliated such that, even if they gloat over their loot, they are put through psychological torture.


The entry of Western nations in fighting corruption is important. A lot of wealth stolen here is kept abroad. Most corrupt individuals have accomplices in foreign capitals. They have offshore companies and bank accounts through which they move illicit cash.

When, for example, the country was hit by Kimwarer and Arror dam scandals a few months ago, where some Sh20 billion had been paid to questionable firms, it transpired that the deals had been cut in faraway Italy.


Last year, American think tank National Bureau of Economic Research reported that wealthy Kenyans had kept some Sh5 trillion abroad, the bulk of it proceeds of corruption. That is nearly double the national budget and, if repatriated, it would boost the economy quite significantly.

Most of those who keep their cash abroad do so because the source may not be legitimate, seek to evade taxes or engage in dubious transborder transactions. Whichever the case, they must be reined in. They are economic criminals who should be punished.

A few countries, such as Britain and Switzerland, have entered into deals with Kenya to identify and seize stolen cash and other assets stashed in their backyards and send them back to Nairobi.

Not so long ago, Britain returned to Kenya cash recovered from Smith & Ouzman, a company implicated in the Chickengate scandal.

If more of such happened, the country would net in tidy sums and find itself in good stead to meet budgetary obligations.

Powerful nations such as the US and other international agencies should join developing countries in fighting corruption.

Sterling blasts 11-minute treble as Man City run riot

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Manchester, United Kingdom,

Raheem Sterling hit a brilliant 11-minute hat-trick as Manchester City inflicted a 5-1 thrashing on Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola’s side were rocked by Ruslan Malinovsky’s first half penalty at the Etihad Stadium.
But City responded superbly as Sergio Aguero struck twice before the interval.

Sterling had provided the assists for both of Aguero’s goals, but the England winger was just getting warmed up.

After the interval, Sterling struck three times to complete a personal masterclass that underlined his rise in the Guardiola era from enigmatic playmaker to lethal finisher.



Sterling has emerged as City’s driving force over the last 18 months and his second hat-trick of the season confirmed his place among the world’s best players.

The only frustration for Guardiola was a late red card for young midfielder Phil Foden.

City’s third successive Group C victory leaves them top of the table, five points clear of second placed Dinamo Zagreb with three games left.

Atalanta, making their Champions League debut this season, are still searching for their first point after a third consecutive defeat.

Guardiola had called on City to show they have the mentality to conquer the “little margins” needed to win the Champions League for the first time.
This was the perfect response as they erased a slow start.

Kyle Walker, back in the City defence after illness, let Robin Gosens scamper down the wing to whip in a cross that Timothy Castagne headed over from close-range.


After going 22 minutes without a single shot, Guardiola’s men finally threatened when Aguero’s drive forced a save from Pierluigi Gollini.
But it was Atalanta who struck first in the 28th minute.

For the second successive game, Guardiola had responded to City’s defensive injury problems by deploying midfielders Fernandinho and Rodri as his two centre-backs.

It was an uncomfortable arrangement and when Josip Ilicic advanced into the City area, Fernandinho rashly stuck out a leg to trip the Atalanta winger and concede a penalty.

Malinovsky sent Ederson the wrong way with the spot-kick as City conceded their first goal in this season’s tournament.

That blow woke City from their slumber and Aguero made up for his earlier miss with the 34th minute equaliser.

Sterling deserved much of the credit for a penetrating run and delicate cross that allowed Aguero to peel off his marker for a clinical close-range finish.

City had their rhythm back and Sterling was the catalyst again when they took the lead in the 38th minute.

Surging into the Atalanta area at pace, Sterling was clearly tripped by Andrea Masiello and Aguero stepped up to drill the penalty past Gollini.

It was Aguero’s 10th goal in all competitions this season, ending a three-game drought for City’s record scorer.

Rodri limped off before half-time, prompting John Stones’ introduction after missing six games with injury, but not before Guardiola, pounding the dug-out seat in frustration, appeared to chastise the City defender for his slow rise from the bench.

Guardiola had suggested this week that City aren’t clinical enough, even though they are the top scorers in the Premier League.


But Sterling had the perfect riposte with his man of the match display and he made it three in the 58th minute.

Kevin De Bruyne found Foden and he alertly laid off to Sterling, who drilled into the roof of the net.

Sterling wasn’t finished yet and he raced onto Ilkay Gundogan’s pass before deftly cutting back onto his right foot for a fine finish into the far corner in the 64th minute.

Capping a memorable evening for Sterling, five minutes later he scored his 11th goal of the season with a close-range finish from Riyad Mahrez’s cross.
Foden, making a rare start in midfield, saw red for two bookings in quick succession in the 82nd minute.

Let us fete all our national heroes, including the ‘Unknown Soldier’

This year’s Mashujaa Day (heroes day) was celebrated at a time when the country is facing a myriad challenges.

To start with, the dry season has gone and Kenyans should be ushering in the rainy season with a smile but for my compatriots in the north, things have gone south as floods have caused the deaths of livestock and people.

Secondly, there was a macabre coincidence — the venue of Sunday’s event, Mama Ngina Waterfront, is adjacent to the scene of the recent Likoni ferry tragedy. That should jolt us to up our disaster preparedness.

Thirdly, needless to say, corruption has become a permanent menace. Fourthly, the recent appointments to top public service posts went to retirees, attracting backlash from, particularly, the jobless youth.

Fifthly, truckers are protesting an order for all cargo from Mombasa to Nairobi to be ferried on the standard gauge railway (SGR), which many see as an attempt at a new monopoly and robbing them of their livelihood.

Feting our heroes means passing the message that we appreciate the contributions towards making Kenya a better place for all. Draft a proper framework to address these and other setbacks for the citizens.

My shujaa is the person who makes Kenya comfortable for all.

Kipkirui Segut, Makueni

Kenyans have set aside four days in a year to celebrate our ‘Kenyanness’ and independence from colonialists. This is despite the bad shape that we are in economically: Madaraka, Moi, Mashujaa and Jamhuri days.

Moi Day had been scrapped under the 2010 Constitution but somebody went to court last year and the judge revived it.

How I wish we had set aside just one day, say, Jamhuri Day, that would swallow the other three. Our madaraka (self rule) culminated into Jamhuri (independence) six months later and all our heroes and heroines can always get a special mention.

As for Moi Day, the Attorney-General should go to court and challenge the ruling.

Githuku Mungai, Nairobi

Retired President Mwai Kibaki is my hero. After many years of independence, in 2005 he unsuccessfully tried to give us a new Constitution. He would succeed in August 2010, when our country got its new supreme law of the land.

President Kibaki has been there to deal with cartels and fought for the economy. At one time, the Kenya shilling had the highest value in East Africa and was nudging the dollar.

I also thank President Kibaki for the free primary education.

Musungu Kulundu Ibrahim, Kisumu

Most of those who sacrificed to liberate our nation have been neglected by the government. Their dream has been killed.

They fought for our freedom and land but got a rude shock. The colonial sympathisers grabbed the land.

Most of them are dead. The government should at least cater for the ageing ‘remnants’.

Alex Wachira, Laikipia

Medical kits ‘lying idle’ in 27 counties

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Equipment supplied to at least 21 hospitals under the Sh38 billion Managed Equipment Services (MES) are either idle or dysfunctional, a Senate committee heard Tuesday.

Similarly, equipment in some health facilities have neither been commissioned nor tested yet counties have been forced to pay up to Sh200 million this financial year for the equipment.

They were paying Sh95 million in the previous years


But Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki denied the claims, saying the equipment was not dumped in the counties and that a need assessment was done before they were procured

“Discussions on the distribution of the equipment were a bit laboured, each county demanding what they required. The fact that some assessment was done between 2008/14 is enough evidence that there was a need assessment and it’s documented,” she said.


But members of the committee chaired by Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo could hear none of it.

Ms Dullo asked the CS whether her ministry had done any interventions to make sure the equipment is in use.

Nominated Senator Mary Seneta insisted that the equipment are not working and accused the ministry of forcing counties to pay.

“MES is not working in 27 counties. Why are counties paying for what they are not using? What is the hurry for paying for these equipment, yet they have not been commissioned, tested or helped anyone. Why are we paying?” Ms Seneta asked the CS.


Documents tabled before the committee show that the equipment that was ‘dumped’ in 21 hospitals, were still idle and remained non-commissioned.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula said there was no consultation between the ministry and counties because the equipment were delivered in facilities that lacked basic infrastructure.

“As far as Human Resources is concerned, the ministry is not supposed to deploy personnel,” he said.

As part of the need assessment documents tabled before the committee, the ministry had identified in its report the critical challenges in provision of personnel.

“That notwithstanding, you did not tell the counties to first train personnel to handle the equipment. You went ahead and deployed the equipment, in fact you went and dumped the equipment in various hospitals in counties,” the senator told the CS.

Officials at auditor-general’s office deny charges in Sh100m graft scam

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Several individuals and entities linked to the fraudulent purchase of audit vault software by the office of the Auditor-General at a cost of Sh100 million were Tuesday arraigned in court to face several graft charges.

They include Stephen Ndung’u Kinuthia, Annette Mwangi, Patrick Shem Kamau Maina, Ephantus Kairu Kahwae, Sylvester Kiptoo Kiplagat, Charles Githinji Gichobi, Charles Karisa Mwaduna, Edward Mulewa Mwachinga, OSI Kenya Ltd, and Mars Technology Ltd.

It is alleged that between July 4, 2012 and August 17, 2014, they jointly conspired to commit an economic crime of fraudulent acquisition of public funds, Sh100,675,680.70 in regard to the tender for the supply and implementation of an audit vault software in the office of the Auditor General.

They all denied the charge, including several others read to them individually, and a ruling on their bail application is set to be delivered tomorrow, October 23.

“The court will deliver a ruling at 10pm on the bail application by the accused,” ruled Anti-corruption court Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti.

The other counts through affected only particular accused were: deceiving principal contract, conflict of interest, unlawful acquisition of public property, dealing with suspect property, and money laundering.


Their arrest was as a result of intense investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) on claims of corruption in that office as the estimated cost of the software was Sh18 million yet Sh100,675,680.70 was spent.

The software was purchased from Open Systems Integration (OSI) Kenya through direct procurement.

“Single sourcing was unjustified in the procurement and the payment was grossly exaggerated,” EACC in an earlier statement.

Part of the Sh100 million was paid as kickbacks to public officials, private persons and their associated companies.

The audit vault is a centralised data base that securely stores audit information.

The Auditor-General installed it in 2014, saying it would help track irregular transactions in public institutions.

The prosecution has also filed an application seeking to have all the accused deposit their passports in court, as a condition to guarantee that they will not flee the country prior to their trail.