Several money-related topics have made headlines over the last week. From South Africa offering Kenyan passport holders three months of visa-free entrance to APA discontinuing comprehensive insurance for some car models, and the state seeking professional jobs for Kenyans in Saudi, there have been lots of developments.
As we do every Thursday, here's our weekly summary of the top money news from the last seven days that could have an impact on your money.
Speaking at a roundtable conference for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on Thursday morning, President William Ruto stated that having a low-cost smartphone will ensure that all Kenyans have access to digital platforms for business and government services.
The President stated that the government was already collaborating with the telecommunications industry to develop a less expensive device that can accomplish everything.
"The cheapest smartphone today costs between Ksh10,000 and Ksh15,000." "I want to assure the country that we will have the cheapest smartphone in Africa, manufactured in Kenya, within the next 8 to 12 months," President Ruto remarked.
The President said that his administration was striving to transition around 90% of government services to digital platforms within the next six months to a year, noting that digitising government services would allow citizens to access services from the comfort of their homes.
The President also emphasised the significance of technology in scaling up trade in the MSMEs sector.
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Kenya has signed bilateral treaties with Saudi Arabia to provide a favourable working environment for Kenyans. This will encourage greater investment in the country and create more job possibilities for both domestic and professional workers.
Foreign Affairs CS Alfred Mutua said in a statement that there will be more options outside of domestic work. He encouraged Kenyans who had completed professional courses to prepare for the professional market in Saudi Arabia.
"We want more Kenyan graduates in hospitality, engineering, nursing, medicine, and other disciplines to be permitted to work there because they have stated that they require Kenyan labour."
The CS stated that both countries also agreed to increase commerce, investment, and the development of the country's tourism industries.
According to him, they have also developed specific ideas that will make it simpler for Kenyans to reside and work in the Gulf.
Some of the recommendations include expanding the number of Kenyan agencies' offices, exposing unlawful agencies, enforcing the rights of workers as envisioned by the governments of Saudi Arabia and Kenya, as well as dismantling cartels.
According to the CS, corruption affects how Kenyans are prepared to work as domestic workers in Saudi Arabia, which contributes to their problems.
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Kenyans with regular passports will be able to enter South Africa without a visa for up to ninety days per year beginning January 1, 2023, as the two countries work to deepen bilateral ties.
This puts an end to the woes of Kenyans trying to fly to the country for business, study, health, or vacation, who are frequently greeted with stringent visa requirements and lengthy approvals by the southern African country.
The agreement, negotiated by President William Ruto and visiting South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, is anticipated to boost bilateral trade between two of Africa's economic powerhouses.
President Ramaphosa stated at State House Nairobi that the agreement will be granted in one calendar year and will stimulate business and tourism activity.
According to President Ruto, Kenya and South Africa also agreed on collaborations in trade, agriculture, housing, and capacity building in the public sector.
While Kenyan exports to South Africa totaled Ksh3.96 billion last year, South African imports to Kenya totaled Ksh44.1 billion, making the country Kenya's second largest import market in Africa after Tanzania.
APA Insurance Company has blacklisted 28 Toyota, Honda, Maruti, Mazda, Nissan, and Suzuki models, denying owners access to comprehensive coverage for what it claims is vehicle misuse.
Toyota Wish, Vitz, Probox, and Fielder, Honda (Stream, Fit, Airwave), Suzuki (Swift), Mazda (Demio, Axela), and Nissan (Tiida, Vanette, Wingroad) are among those banned.
According to Ashok Shah, CEO of APA's parent company Apollo Investments Limited, the decision was made due to the cars' regular use in transporting passengers while being registered as private vehicles.
Mr. Shah stated that APA Insurance has discontinued comprehensive coverage for the models due to their misuse, which violated policy requirements.
More car types are being barred from comprehensive coverage by insurers, citing substantial losses from their misuse.
Cars like those described by APA are regularly registered as private vehicles but wind up ferrying passengers, particularly in rural areas. A comprehensive policy compensates you for losses caused by a variety of dangers, such as theft, fire, vandalism, and car damage.
The Nairobi Expressway's completion has increased land prices along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway and in nearby areas. This is because the recent infrastructure project that opened to the public in June improved access to the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD).
According to a current HassConsult Limited land index analysis, land prices in Syokimau increased by 6.9% between July and September, the most quarterly increase of any Nairobi satellite town or suburb during the period.
Meanwhile, land prices in the surrounding towns of Mlolongo, Athi River, and Kitengela increased by 3.9%, 2.6%, and 1.3%, respectively, in the same quarter.
Annualised, land prices in Syokimau have increased by 20.1%, with an acre land parcel costing an average of Ksh27.7 million. Land prices in Mlolongo, Athi River, and Kitengela have increased at yearly rates of 4.6, 5.3, and 11.2%, respectively.
The development of infrastructure projects, according to HassConsult Head of Development Consulting and Research Sakina Hassanali, has supercharged land prices in satellite towns while cooling demand for land in and around Nairobi's CBD.
Other satellite settlements have also benefited from the increased road infrastructure, which has attracted developers.
In the third quarter ending September, the average land price in Juja Town reached a new high of Ksh18.8 million per acre. Ruaka still has the most expensive land parcel outside of Nairobi's suburbs, with an acre fetching an average of Ksh96.9 million.
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Fuel prices are projected to increase slightly following the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority's (EPRA) approval of new transport and storage rates
The energy sector regulator revealed the higher Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) pricing in a gazette notification covering the 2022-2023 to 2024-25 tariff control period.
The relevant pricing for the fiscal year 2022-2023 has been set at Ksh5.03/m3/km, which is 9.1% higher than the previous holding tariff of Ksh4.61. The composite tariff is expected to rise to Ksh5.12 in the fiscal year 2023-2024 before settling at Ksh5.44 in the fiscal year 2024/25.
EPRA has backdated the new tariffs' effective date to October 15, with further adjustments scheduled for July 15 for each year of review.
The tariff adjustment is designed to protect KPC from greater expenses in the next tariff period, which includes the construction of a new Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline at Ksh30 billion.
The higher adjustment is also projected to boost KPC revenues, which had declined due to tariff reduction implemented in 2019-20 to the 2021-22 cycle, and is projected to result in a cent-per-litre increase in fuel prices.