It is almost the end of January - arguably the toughest month of the year - and the developments in the world of money over the last week seem to have taken the Njaanuary memo quite literary.
From a looming increase in the cost of electricity to already registered increases in the price of everyday commodities such as eggs that would make the skyrocketing uptake of the Huster Fund loans palpable, the last full week of January 2023 has quite a lot to unpack.
As we do every Thursday, here's a weekly summary of the top money news from the last seven days that could have an impact on your money.
More Kenyans have continued to use the hustler fund mobile loan, with more than Ksh15.9 billion disbursed as of Wednesday, January 25, 2023.
The Cabinet Secretary for Cooperatives and Micro and Small Enterprise Simon Chelugui revealed this during the Yetu Sacco annual general meeting in Meru on Wednesday.
Additionally, he said that over 18.4 million Kenyans have committed to the fund and repaid more than Ksh7.7 billion.
According to the CS, 5.6 million customers have borrowed multiple times indicating a growing demand for the credit facility.
In the second phase, which will start in February 2023, borrowers who have made timely payments on their Hustler Fund loans will be qualified for higher limits.
According to Simon Chelugui, the government is on track to introduce loans through groups and Saccos.
"We are finalising development of the second phase of Hustler Fund that will see borrowers access between Ksh100,000 and Ksh2.5 million. We are encouraging Saccos to apply to disburse the funds in the second phase," said the CS.
Kenyans should prepare for higher electricity bills starting April 2023 if proposed new domestic retail tariffs by the country’s sole electricity distributor, Kenya Power, receive regulatory nod.
Kenya Power plans to cut the Life-Line usage range for both from 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month to 30 kWh per month, which will result in the largest increase in proposed prices for domestic consumers and small companies.
With the alteration, it is anticipated that the objectives of the social tariff customer group and the relevant social class—which is often based on income level—will be reconciled.
Currently, domestic electricity customers pay Ksh10 per kWh for using 0 to 100 units of power (kWh) and Ksh15.80 for using more than 100 units.
For up to 30 units of power, domestic consumers would pay Ksh14 per kWh, while those who use more than 30kWh per month would pay Ksh21.68/kWh, a rate that will drop to Ksh20.61 in July 2024.
Currently, small companies pay Ksh10.60 per kWh for usage between 0 and 100 units and Ksh15.60 for usage above 100 units.
Under the new proposed pricing, small commercial power consumers will pay Ksh14 per kWh for up to 30 kWh.
The energy company recommended Ksh21.08 per kWh for users consuming more than 30 kWh in January 2023; this rate is anticipated to drop to Ksh20.88 in July this year and Ksh20.07 in July 2024.
The price per kWh will increase from Ksh12 to Ksh16.48 for large power consumers categorised as Commercial Industrial I.
Following the resolution of backlog issues that had been causing delays since July 2022, Kenyans seeking to visit the United Kingdom will now be able to get visas within three weeks.
"Six months ago, I promised we would get our visa service for Kenyans travelling to Britain back on track. I’m pleased we’re now at normal customer service standards - a decision should take just three weeks," Jane Marriott, the UK High Commissioner to Kenya, announced on Wednesday, adding that speedier priority services are also available.
According to the UK Home Office, anyone who plans to visit the UK for less than six months for a vacation, to see friends or family, to do business, to get married, or to study will find out the verdict of their visa application more quickly.
This puts an end to the lengthy wait time that Kenyans have had to endure to secure UK visas since the Covid-19 outbreak.
At the time, Ms. Marriott noted that there was a high demand for British permits because the number of visa applications from students planning to study in the UK had increased from 300,000 in 2019 to 600,000 in 2022. She advised Kenyans planning trips to the UK to submit their applications at least six weeks in advance.
Egg prices are rising for consumers as a result of shortages and high import costs from Uganda, with the product reaching a high of Ksh450 per tray in January, up from Ksh380 in November.
Production-side shortages as a result of growing consumer demand have been blamed for the sharp spike in price.
The Kenya Poultry Farmers Association asserts that the shortage was brought on by the high cost of feed during the preceding two years as well as a rise in demand after the Covid-19 epidemic's easing, both of which had a negative impact on purchasing power.
The price of a tray in Uganda, from where Kenya imports the majority of its goods to stabilise local prices, has increased from Ksh205 in December to Ksh308. This makes it challenging for Kenyan traders to purchase stocks there because they will incur additional costs for transportation, making it expensive when it arrives in the country.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has also made it harder to get grain, which is essential for making animal feeds and has been linked to the rising cost of feed throughout the entire global supply chain.
As the government tries to take action against businesses that conspire with educational institutions to overcharge parents for school materials, Moses Kuria, the Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade, and Industry, has forbidden public schools from selling school supplies including uniforms and textbooks.
“Schools should focus on academia and let parents choose where to buy uniforms from. They totally have no business selling uniforms to parents or students,” said the CS.
On Tuesday, January 24, CS Kuria stated that the new regulations would strengthen businesses excluded from the profitable sector and provide employment opportunities for millions of people.
“The textbooks policy will ensure that other potential distributors and manufacturers are given the opportunity to end the dominance of one distributor and also reduce the unemployment rate in the country.”
Parents will now have the option of purchasing school supplies from preferred vendors, which will likely reduce costs. Parents have in recent years raised concerns about the high cost of books and school uniforms.