June 2016

Mount Kenya University in partnership with University of Bradford-UK will host an international conference on Peace and Security in near future that will bring together government officials, key policy makers, the academia and industry.

Speaking at MKU Thika Main Campus when he met MKU Vice-Chancellor Prof. Stanley Waudo,  Head, Department of Peace Studies at University of Bradford Prof. David J. Francis said that the move will see the launch of the inaugural ‘Africa Universities Peace and Research Consortium’ as well as an International Journal of Peace and Social Enterprise.

“We shall use the conference to engage relevant officials from the Ministry of Education to develop a new framework for embedding peace studies in the national curriculum. The Peace and Research Consortium shall be a policy reservoir to advice on the link between peace, development, economic growth and other factors,” said Prof. Francis.

The two universities have agreed on a partnership, which will be formally signed during the conference.
 The two institutions have also agreed to work together on Staff capacity training/mentorship and exchange programmes. Prof. Francis said that besides MKU, University of Bradford is also eager to establish partnerships with other private and public universities in Africa.

“Lack of information on available opportunities has been a hindrance to African academics but this relationship opens a treasure trove of information. Our staff, for instance, will now have information on Commonwealth scholarships available.” Professor David is a Commissioner for the UK Commonwealth Scholarship Commission,” said Prof. Waudo.

The partnership will also support the development of curricula in the areas of Peace and Security Studies starting with the Master of Science in Peace and Social Enterprise.
MKU offers a variety of programmes in peace and security studies through its Institute of Security Studies, Justice and Ethics. University of Bradford’s Department of Peace Studies, which Prof. Francis heads, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Last week, the University of Bradford co-hosted a conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with an aim of establishing peace studies in mainstream education throughout the African continent. University of Bradford has partnered with 37 universities in Ethiopia.

In Kenya, the Ministry of Education has taken several steps in integrating training on peace and security in the national curriculum. Some of these steps include the establishment of guidelines, and the ongoing review of the 8-4-4 curriculum. 

Global Education for Peace in Africa, Prof. David said, will have a major impact on policy and practice throughout Africa.

Among the high profile delegates were Joyce Muchemi, Director of MKU’s Institute of Security Studies, Justice and Ethics.

Meanwhile, four MKU students are in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the 8th edition of the Federation of Africa University Sports (FASU).

Sylvester Nakeel, Peter Mwai, Mathew Rapando and Charles Wanjiru are representing the university in the seven-day event (June 26-July 2) hosted by the University Sports South Africa at the University of Johannesburg and the Tshwane University of Technology. The four are participating in athletics. Other competitive disciplines in the FASU games are badminton, basketball, chess, football, volleyball, netball, table tennis and tennis.

Last week, the MKU team received sh. 600,000 sponsorship from MKU Chairman Dr. Simon Gicharu to facilitate their participation in the games.

“We shall pull out all the stops to ensure we continuously mould all-rounded students,” said Dr. Gicharu during the presentation of the dummy cheque at Thika Main Campus. “MKU is a place for holistic talent development.”

“You will not be able to do any business in Kenya if you do not register with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA)!” That was the plain message that the taxman is relaying to Kenyans as they close shop at midnight, June 30th 2016.

KRA Director Evans Kakai said that Kenyans had no choice but comply with this directive otherwise they would not be in a position to transact any business with anybody or institution if at all they were not registered with KRA.

“We are telling any business person or anyone aspiring to do any business or any transaction that we have actually linked with almost 35 commercial banks. All transactions that you are doing with these commercial banks are monitored by the Kenya Revenue Authority.  So, you are only safer by registering with the Kenya Revenue Authority,” Kakai warned.

Kakai said that they were making all arrangements to serve all their customers in time to beat the deadline, noting that all those who will not make it by then will attract some penalties. However, he said that KRA would see to it that no one was penalised for an error emanating from the taxman delays in their system.

He added that those who were previously registered with the institution were supposed to ‘migrate to iTax’ platform.

“Basically, the target is for those who have never registered with KRA but obviously the ones who had been registered before will also be migrated. Automatically they will be migrated to the new iTax platform,” Kakai clarified.

The director said this when they officially launched a new iTax Support Centre in Thika to enable Kenyans interact with the taxman and reduce the time lost in engaging with them.
He said that the platform was one of the institution’s reforms to make it more people friendly and engage with the taxpayers real-time.

“Being Part of returns filing is a process that we would like every Kenyan to partake. The reason we are here as part of the (KRA) board is to enhance our relationship with our customers (taxpayers) and enable us increase customer satisfaction from 65% to around a minimum of about 85%. We would like to go round the whole country to get closer to the citizens and explain to them the importance of tax compliance as a way of participating in building their own country,” said Kakai.

He said that they were going round the country sensitising the wananchi on the need to enrol through iTax which has simplified the process of interacting with Kenya Revenue Authority. By automating their systems, KRA is trying to minimise the one-on-one interactions with clients which has been the case before. This, he said, would make it possible to have their issues solved in real time and at the comfort of their homes or 

“Last week we were in the Western Region, this week we are doing Central Kenya and later round the whole country in an effort to make Kenyans take ownership in the development of their own country through paying taxes. We have so far seen a great improvement in terms of registration, rising from 1.2 million last year to almost 3 million registered taxpayers currently. Our target is to actually register 4 million by 2018. So, it can only be taken positively if we take the initiative to meet Kenyans and explain to them the importance of registering,” he added.

The tax agency plans to open up three iTax support centres in Central Kenya region; in Thika, Murang’a and in Nyeri, in addition to the 37 support desks situated at Huduma Centres countrywide. It has in the last three months trained more than 40,000 Kenyans on how to file their tax returns online.

Economic analysts have said Kenya needs to increase the number of taxpayers to meet its revenue targets as opposed to raising taxes. KRA recently started efforts to rope in farmers and landlords into the tax bracket. Kenya's taxpayers are below one million in a country with a population of more than 40 million.

In the peculiar Kenyan fashion, people scrambled in a last-minute rush to line up at the Thika KRA offices and other designated centres to finalise tax obligations on this deadline day despite earlier warnings to avoid filing returns on the last day. Hundreds of taxpayers queued for hours waiting to be registered before the midnight deadline.

Cyber Café operators registered a booming business, especially in the last one week as residents rushed to beat the June 30th deadline.

One of those in the queue told Thika Town Today that it was a hectic process, though the Authority aided the procrastinators by availing its staff outside the offices to provide guidance.

“Sisi ni watu wa Jua Kali hatujui hizi mambo ya tax kwa sababu hatujaajiriwa na serikali,” said the taxpayer who wanted to remain anonymous.

Security officers were present outside and inside the building with those accessing the building being subjected to security checks.

Barclays Bank Thika Branch Manager engages with a client during the ‘Wezesha Biashara na Barclays’ initiative in Thika Town.
Head of SME Banking in Barclays Kenya Susan Situma has moved to assure Kenyans that there was no need to worry about the future of the Bank.

Addressing the press during the launch of the Thika Region ‘Wezesha Biashara na Barclays’ initiative, Situma said that the bank was actually expanding to more regions in the country rather than closing shop.

“If we have closed a branch, it is more of rationalisation as opposed to just closing because thare is no business in that market. Earlier this year we introduced a partnership for agency banking with Postal Corporation of Kenya, immediately opening 182 outlets where customers can go bank, withdraw money on real-time basis. That partnership has enabled us where we were not present,” she assured.

She also moved to assure their clients that the Brexit situation would not affect their operations since Barclays Kenya is owned by Barclays Africa Group Limited which is based in Johannesburg South Africa, with Barclays UK just being a shareholder.

“Because of that separation, I cannot say that Kenya has really been affected by Brexit. The only thing that can be affected are those customers dealing with the pound. Because we have seen some speculations in the market around the pound. But what we have also seen in Kenya is that the Central Bank has been able to hold the currency fluctuations that they see in the market. So, in that way we are well prepared for any eventualities,” she said.

Barclays Bank of Kenya is one of Kenya’s leading financial institutions. Established in 1916, Barclays has been a major player in Kenya’s financial landscape engaged in personal banking, Enterprise, credit cards, corporate and banc assurance. The bank offers end to end financial solutions to retail, enterprise and corporate customers and its regional and global footprint enables it to offer cutting edge financial solutions to its clients.

The bank is a leader in the credit card space. It has also been associated with a number of market firsts including the launch of the first ATM, Sharia Banking and unsecured lending. The bank has presence in 38 counties. It has 121 branches, 229 ATMs and a robust Internet and Mobile banking platform.  The bank’s purpose is to help people achieve their ambitions – in the right way.

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