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COMESA business council launchig new digital financial project

by David Musyoka NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Business Council (CBC), a private sector association comprising investors involved in exporting and importing across the 19-member bloc on Tuesday launched the digital financial inclusion project for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

CBC CEO Sandra Uware said the project has secured 150 million shillings (1.5 million U.S. dollars) grant which has been spread across for the year 2019/2020.

"The project will enhance cross border transactions available for SMEs with a vision of integrating into larger supply chains of bigger companies," Uware said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The first phase of the project which is ongoing in 10 countries involves a feasibility study which focuses on a clear objective to establish a common payment policy and facilitate technical support.

"Traditional methods of trade on hard cash exchange will be cost effectively migrated towards digital solutions and this goes to support efficient and lower risk payments contributing to the financial strength of SMEs," the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) chairman Sachen Gudka said.

"In the end, the payment policy that we are working on will be considered and adopted between bank retailers and will be harmonized.

"These should be able to address some of the challenges SMEs are facing on financial literacy," CBC chairperson Marday Venkatasamy said.

According to CBC, about 80 percent of the business community in COMESA is governed by SMEs while a large number rely on cross border trading relationship.

The digital platform for SMEs goes beyond facilitating affordable and real time transactions to include strengthening the visibility and promotion of products and services for the market segment within the COMESA region.

Kenya eyes African dairy markets to boost farmers’ incomes

by Ronald Njoroge NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya is exploring west and north African dairy markets in order to boost farmer’s incomes, officials said on Tuesday.

Harry Kimutai, principal secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation, told a media briefing in Nairobi that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will remove barriers for Kenyan goods seeking access to the rest of Africa.

"We are preparing the dairy sector to produce competitively so that we can sell our surplus dairy products in Africa," Kimutai said during the official launch of the Kenya dairy industry annual award program.

Kimutai noted that Liberia has already expressed interest in importing Kenyan dairy products.

The government official said that Kenya will have to convert milk into value added products such as milk powder and cheese in order to increase its penetration of the African market.

According to Kimutai, the dairy is one of the fastest growing agricultural sub-sectors in Kenya, providing a livelihood to over 1.8 million smallholder rural households and many others throughout the value chain and in support services.

"The dairy industry contributes over 4 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP), due to the increasing domestic milk production which averages 5.3 percent per year and dairy processing capacity growing at 7 percent per year," Kimutai added.

He observed that the growth in milk production is driven by expanding urban demand, at a rate of 3 percent, resulting to a national per capita milk consumption of 110 liters, which is one of the highest in Africa.


Kenya to host Africa dairy conference in August

by Ronald Njoroge NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya will host the 15th African dairy conference from Aug. 14 to 16, organizers announced on Tuesday.

Peter Ngaruiya, executive director of Eastern and Southern Africa Dairy Association, said in Nairobi that more than 600 delegates from 45 countries in Africa will attend the event to review ways to address the challenges affecting the dairy sector.

"Over 100 companies from China, India and Europe will also showcase the latest technology in the dairy industry," Ngaruiya said.

He noted that the three-day conference will be the largest and most comprehensive convergence of dairy stakeholders in Africa.

"It will provide a platform for knowledge sharing, technology transfer and nurturing of business partnerships for regional and international trade," he added.

He noted that Africa lags behind the rest of the world in milk productivity as most countries produce less than the global average of 3,400 liters of milk per cow per year.

According to the organizer, the continent can address its milk sector challenges through the uptake of technology.

Ngaruiya said that Africa should take advantage of its huge arable land and favorable weather conditions to expand the dairy sector.

"It is unfortunate that Africa is a net importer of milk and milk related products from the rest of the world," he added.

Kenya and China to co-operate in developing new tea varieties

by Ronald Njoroge NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya and Chinese researchers will cooperate in order to develop new tea varieties, the country’s agricultural research agency said on Tuesday.

Eliud Kireger, director general of Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) said that his research body will work with the Chinese Academy of Sciences to enable Kenya to produce and process a greater variety of specialty teas.

"The Chinese have a lot of technology for green and orthodox tea which meets the changing demand of consumers who are now looking for healthier tea," Kireger said.

"So, Kenya is keen to tap on the rich Chinese tea culture in order to expand the role of the cash crop in the Kenyan economy," he added.

A team of researchers from KALRO have also been invited by the Chinese Academy of Sciences to attend a tea conference in China later this month.

Kireger said that Kenya is one of the largest producers of black tea in Africa and a top exporter of black tea in the world.

"However, the changing consumer preferences means we have to constantly research to develop other varieties of tea in order to ensure Kenya has the best quality," he added.



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