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Daily Nation : February 16th 2014
36 | Business INTEGRATION | Tripartite meeting projected to work out policy issues on roaming and international telephony Pricey call rates high on Kampala summit agenda We have flagged some ICT issues that need dealing with by the presidents, and this is one of them” Information and Communication Technology Principal Secretary Joseph Tiampati Presidents of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda at 4th summit of Coalition of the Willing BY MUTHOKI MUMO firstname.lastname@example.org AND CHARLES WOKABI email@example.com from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda meet for the fourth Tripartite Infrastructure Summit in Kampala. Calling rates in the region have been a T bone of contention for businesses as taxes and fees mean that it is cheaper, for instance, for a Kenyan to make a call to the United Kingdom than to Rwanda. Technology was made part of the summit agenda at the last meeting in October 2013. Technocrats have been working since then to develop a policy document that could potentially see the three countries reduce taxes on regional calls. On February 13, Information and Com- munication Principal Secretary Joseph Tiampati said some “sticky” issues regarding the roaming and international call rate policy would have to be resolved at the head of state level during their meeting in Kampala on Thursday. he high cost of calling across borders will be part of an agenda to be tackled this week when presidents “We have flagged some ICT issues that need to be dealt with by the presidents and this is one of them,” said Mr Tiampati. He added that proposals for greater connectivity of fibre infrastructure across borders would also be submitted. The summit, informally known as the Coalition of the Willing (CoW), was born in June last year as the three countries, concerned primarily with improving infrastructure in the region and easing the movement of people and goods, sought to accelerate the pace of integration. Initially, presidents from the three countries promised to meet every two months to check the progress of the projects, but they haven’t met since last October. Confirming Thursday’s meeting, Kenya’s presidential spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said the meeting, initially planned for December 2013, was delayed by a regional crisis. Single tourist visa “We have been dealing with the South Sudan crisis. South Sudan is an integral part of our plans,” he said. Apart from high calling rates, the coa- lition’s in-tray includes the official launch of the East African single tourist visa to allow tourists coming to any of the three countries to visit the two others without needing a second visa. The project was expected to be opera- SUNDAY NATION February 16, 2014 FILE | NATION From left: Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda who will meet on Thursday in Kampala, Uganda. tional on January 1, 2014 but was delayed by procurement hitches. Last month, President Museveni asked that the three countries begin issuing the visas in February. An immigration official who spoke to Sunday Nation on Friday said Kenya was already issuing the visa. Furthermore, the three countries are expected to adopt a proposal that would see them waive visa fees for all African nationals in line with an announcement made by President Uhuru Kenyatta last year to ease freedom of movement between Kenya and other countries on the continent by granting more African states visas on arrival. Generally, performance of the coalition’s projects has been mixed. Among its more successful is the single customs territory which, according to a speech by President Yoweri Museveni to the East African Legislative Assembly, has cut the number of days a container takes from the Port of Mombasa to Kampala. Others like the standard gauge railway project and Kenya’s commitment to increased investment in quality chemicals to facilitate the manufacture of malaria drugs haven’t taken off yet. WINDFALL | Flowers for love Kenya looks to expand cane growing as expiry of Comesa safeguards nears BY RAMENYA GIBENDI firstname.lastname@example.org of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa safeguards. The move is part of the recommenda- K tions of a study commissioned by the Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) last year to identify new areas suitable for cane growing to boost production capacity. Conducted by Sudanese firm Kenana Engineering & Technical Services, Baseline Study for Sugar Agribusiness in Kenya revealed that growth in the number of sugar millers in the country had not been matched by expansion of the area under cane production, a situation that the KSB now says has forced most sugar factories to operate under capacity. The report has identified the Tana River, Ewaso River North and Athi River basins, Western (Lake Victoria Basin) and Rift Valley as the main zones that KSB should consider for growing irrigated sugar cane. “This is a move that fits into the overall strategy of the government to develop and improve quality of life in rural areas,” said KSB in a statement. Each river basin catchment (agro FILE | NATION A florist arranges flowers for sale at Nairobi’s City market on February 13, 2014. Florists experienced booming business with a number of people buying flowers in readiness for Valentine’s Day last Friday. zone) was evaluated based on its water availability, rainfall, surface and ground water, and their capacity to sustain sugar irrigation schemes. The report also states that Turkwel River in the Rift Valley can sustain up to 12,000 hectares of cane under irrigation which is expandable depending on the enya is looking to expand cane growing beyond the western sugar belt as it prepares for the expiry method of irrigation employed. While the Tana Delta could irrigate 80, 0000 hectares that are expandable, the Coastal region, on the other hand, was found to contain adequate rainfall to sustain any acreage of cane, with minimal drop in yield owing to water stress. “The final report was presented Thursday and, going forth, we shall be developing an investment guide for future sugar development in the country,” said KSB boss Rosemary Mkok (below). Kenya produces about 70 per cent of its domestic sugar requirement, running a deficit of about 300,000 metric tonnes, amid accusations that KSB has been licensing millers without a clear cane development programme. The government protects the sector by controlling sugar imports and ensuring payment of dues to farmers by the cane factories. But measures to protect against Comesa sugar imports are set to expire at the end of this month even as government lobbys for a two-year extension. The country’s capacity utilisation (quantity of sucrose extracted from crushing cane) has a weighted average of below 60 per cent. In spite of possessing the potential to compete, Kenya’s cost of sugar production is the highest among East African Community and Comesa sugar-producing countries. High costs have been blamed on low cane and sugar yields, capacity underutilisation, and lack of regular factory maintenance programmes, poor transport infrastructure, as well as weak corporate governance. Supply deficit The combined installed capacity of the 12 operational sugar companies is 30,000 tonnes crushed per day (TCD), which is not sufficient to produce enough sugar to satisfy domestic consumption estimated to be 800,000 metric tonnes. KSB says there has been an increase in area under cane from 122,580 hectares in 2003 to 219,903 hectares as of December last year. The average land holding among out growers, who supply 88 per cent of the cane to factories, is two acres across the country. This has been cited as the reason the industry does not enjoy economies of scale, hence the high cost of production. KSB now contends that venturing out of the traditional rain-fed sugar cane growing zone holds the key to producing cane of good quality and high yield. Listed miller Mumias is in talks with local and international banks to help build a Sh34.3 billion factory in the Tana Delta as it seeks unexploited potential sugar cane growing zones.
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