Category Archives: CSR

Base Titanium – Kenya’s Flagship Mine

Base Titanium was recently made a Kenya Vision 2030 Flagship Project for the mining sector and continue to share updates as part of their commitment under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

For the financial year which ended in  June 2017, they had sales of $215 million, and a net profit of $21 million, compared to a loss of net loss of $20 million the year before. They reduced net debt by $76 million during the year, then reduced it further by $12 million to stand at $87 million at the end of the September 2017 quarter. Base Titanium are still owed $21 million in VAT tax refunds and all payments are still done to the national government though Kenya’s new mining law (currently in limbo) calls for separate payments to be made to the county government and the community. They are also still paying royalties at the rate of 2.5% while accruing another 2.5% in anticipation of the government changing this to 5%.

Base Titanium now moves into a second phase of production of the Kwale mineral sands project, investing $30 million in a more intense process of increased mining capacity, as they aim to maintain production of 450,000 of ilmenite, 88,000 tons of rutile and 33,000 tones of zircon a year even as they also target to retain their safety performance record which saw no lost time injuries in the last quarter. 

Base Titanium will also shift to a different field (South Dune) at Kwale in two years when the current field (Central Dune) is exhausted and which they have commenced rehabilitating the depleted areas with vegetation. 

They are also waiting to commence more exploration in Tanzania, in December, and in Kenya, in 2018. In Tanzania, where they hold 5 prospecting licenses, they await availability of drilling rigs while in Kenya they await completion of a report by a new mineral rights board for the Cabinet Secretary for Mining to approve further exploration in Kwale. 

Base Titanium has also spent $10 million ( – about Kshs 1 billion) on the community development projects. These include educational support that has seen 1,000 get scholarships in Kwale, while in agriculture, they are working with the national and the Kwale county government to assist over 900 local farmers and groups grow crops like potato, sorghum, and even cotton that is exported to Bangladesh for garment-making.

High School Scholarships from Kenyan Banks

The leading indigenous Kenyan banks now have scholarship programs that target bright children who are going into high school.

  • The pioneer of this is Equity Bank, who’s foundation program dubbed Wings To Fly will this year hand out 2,000 scholarships to school children entering high school. They target students with financial needs who scored more than  350 marks in primary school exams who’s results were announced last week. The program has helped over 10,000 since inception and students or their families can collect applications from their local bank branches. The support includes fees, pocket money, a pair of shoes each year and participation in a mentorship and leadership program. Also, in 2015, 65 students  received overseas university scholarships from the Foundations’ Equity Leaders Program.
  • KCB, through its Foundation has a scholarship program that will support 240 children from all counties through their secondary schools, and this will include tuition, uniform, books, and mentorship. KCB also has partnerships that support scholarships through the Palmhouse Foundation, Starehe Girls, & Starehe Boys schools, and others that donate books, renovate classes and provide water tanks to schools. The total figure is about Ksh 100 million ($1 million) for 2016. Their research shows that Kenya has one of the most expensive secondary education systems in Africa. Presently, fees for national and county schools range from KSh45,000 to KSh136,000 (~$1,360) year, which is not affordable for many parents.
  • Cooperative Bank is going to award scholarships to 655 children through their Foundation Scholarship Scheme for 2016. 420 will be selected by the bank and 235 will be awarded by county governments in each of the 47 counties in Kenya (at 5 per county).  The bank will also pay for the university education of 130 of the top students in the secondary school examinations.
  • Family Bank has an education program that includes secondary school scholarships and a talent program that gives employment opportunities to top kids after high school.

Mining Moment: Base Titanium June 2015

Base Resources released their quarterly report for the period ending June 30 2015 about Kwale Mineral Sands Operations (commonly known as Base Titanium)

Managing Director Tim Carstens gave updates on various aspects during the quarter including:

  • It’s been an excellent performance over 20 months with operations on target and with a very good safety record.
  • They shipped 100,000 tons from their Likoni port to customers during the quarter. However, for their rutile, ilmenite, and zircon, prices are now 1/3 of what they were two years ago. They export all over, but  with Ilmenite, of which China is the largest market, 60% of companies shipping there are losing money.
  • Carstens said the proposed Kenyan mining bill is a good thing, and soon there will be a  new mining act but they want things to be addressed that meet global best practices. They pay royalties of 2.5% of sale value as per their agreement. The Cabinet Secretary wants this to be much higher, and they have offered 5%  which is the highest in the world. Note: the senate passed the mining bill on July 29. Also there have been no more invoices from Kwale county who sent one in June 2014, a move that they fought, along with the attorney general.
  • Of the $25 million of VAT owed to the company by the Kenya Revenue Authority, they received a payment of $2 million in July and are grateful that KRA has commenced payments
  • Kenyans still don’t invest in mining. The shareholding of Kenyans is still 1%, and that’s not going to change for a few more years when Kenyans get more comfortable taking on mining risk. They hope to turn base titanium into a more Kenyan company with more local shareholders and board members.
  • In June, they made a first principal repayment of US$11 million on their $258 million. In July, they got a loan from one shareholder, Taurus Funds and are seeking to refinance other loans to smooth their cash flows as debt repayments are eating most of the current operating profit. While they had an operating surplus of $20 million in the quarter,  $11 million went to the principal debt, and $8 million went to interest payments. They expect to complete the debt rescheduling in the next quarter.
  • Staff: 92% of the 600 employees are Kenyan, and they plan to go to 97% through training. 25% of the manager are Kenyans and 62% of staff are from Kwale, with 16% of the staff being female which is high for the mining sector.
  • They are involved in CSR  work with over 100 projects in the community  20 of these are  educational, and 200 students are getting scholarships from the company.  The company planted 9,000 indigenous tree seedlings  in the quarter and is working with local farmers on cotton, chicken, and potato projects to help them graduate to industrial-scale farming.

OIl & Mining Payback in Kenya

Tullow Oil have just released their Kenya Report on their oil exploration efforts and local impact in the last year with special emphasis on the Turkana area. And earlier, Base Resources who are a signatory to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, had also released their EITI impact report.

In the last year, by their measure, Tullow Oil and Base Resources have paid the Kenya government $22 million and $16 million respectively in direct payments, and with more indirect benefits.  Oil and mining are industries that are complex and expensive to set up, but which don’t generate a lot of direct jobs – some of their number include:

  • Last year, Tullow paid Kshs 4.1 billion (~$48 million) to Kenyan suppliers, $100 million to foreign suppliers registered in Kenya and another $100 million to international companies. Of the Kenya supplier amounts, Kshs 259 million went to Turkana business interests.
  • They still need Kenya petrol legislation. 
  • Estimated findings are 600 million barrels  in South Lokichar alone.
  • Infrastructure Needs: Looking at an export pipeline and regional road and rail. Regional countries need to support an export pipeline, agree on what route will such a pipeline take, where the terminal will be (likely to be Lamu) – and who will invest/pay for this. The proposed underground pipeline will need to be a heated one, and at 850 kilometres, will be the longest heated pipeline in the world
  • Social Impact: Tullow have community resource offices in Lodwar, Lokori, and Lokichar – and this year, plan to double the Kshs 233 million ($2.75M) they spent on social projects in 2013, during which they faced community concerns and protests of local impact  which even temporarily shut operations. They have provided 3,000 bursaries and scholarships and teaching materials for 50 schools.
  • Jobs Jobs Jobs: Tullow has 100 employees on site, 70% of who are Kenyan. Another 2,000 are employed by their subcontractors/suppliers and 87% of these are staffed by are locals, and 59% by Turkana people.

Safaricom 2010 AGM

Safaricom held their second AGM since their 2008 share listing at the Bomas of Kenya on September 2 2010.

Angry Shareholders: really complained into management, mostly about the low dividend, and lack of freebies – and the ~1,000 shareholders largely went home unsatisfied (the bus stage was quite full)
Low dividend: Different shareholders complained 20 cents ($0.0025) dividend per share was too low, was not recognized as currency in Kenya, was not comparable to the company’s 19 billion ($238 million) profit, was not worth picking if it fell to the ground etc. The Board Chairman replied that this was a result of the large number of shares and, it was 100% increase of the previous year, and they were looking into share consolidation as a way of making it more meaningful
No SWAG: Shareholders complained about not being given transport to the venue, why there were shirts only for Safaricom staff (they [shareholders] are better ambassadors of the brand), why they only got bottles of water & juice on a cold morning, and why they could not treat shareholders better, when companies like Kengen, many shareholders (~¼ of Safaricom) could? One shareholder who looked like he had been to a ‘local’ before he spoke, said he regretted buying the shares, admonished the company for taking from the poor (subscribers) to give to the rich (board), hurled a few other insults in his speech and walked out to some applause.

No SWAG also includes annual reports, which were handed out at the door, but which shareholders felt should have been mailed to them. The Chairman said that this was a logistical impossible, it would cost almost 250 million ($3 million) to mail 800,000 books and last year shareholders had themselves approved that reports be placed on their website or headquarters, with summarized versions printed in the newspapers. How unwieldy is the large shareholder base? The registrars’ computer list at the entrance was over a month old and they did not have records of anyone who bought shares in the last few weeks.

Is CSR bad for shareholders?: Later on when not satisfied with the Chairman’s response on the dividend, they began tackling expense items in the books to see if they could dig out some cuts to yield more profit. Ccorporate social responsibility items came under fire; this argument was first seen at Stanchart a few years ago when shareholders felt ‘their dividend’ was being diverted to unauthorized expensive projects (said shareholder and former MP Jimmy Angwenyi), and which were costly (But Chairman replied that the total amount was Kshs 250 million, broken into small impactful sponsorships like boreholes and schools that had no overall impact on the 8 billion dividend [$100 million]) . Again they went further and began tackling huge payment items (anything larger than the dividend) and suggesting to the Board ways to cut down these costs.

Competition from Zain Airtel: Shareholders also took a stab at management for the high costs of their services, in relation to Zain who had recently cut call and SMS costs to 3 shillings and 1 shilling respectively arguing that the company management is asleep and they will wake up when they find their customers have fled unless they too cut prices. Outgoing CEO Michael Joseph took on these and said they had studied Airtel in India and were ready for the price cuts, but were surprised by the underhand tactics/accusations that followed. Safaricom will find a balance to protect their customer numbers, market share revenue, but most important were their profit margins. He added these prices were unsustainable, but that Safaricom would still make more money at 3 shillings than anyone else

Share price: Later in comments about the share price which has declined in the last month, CEO said the market over-reacted to Zain/Airtel promo they are due to foreign sellers who don’t understand Kenya. They take parts in road shows to teach such investors about the market, how they EBIT margin of 42% is exceptional compared to others like MTN and Orascom, and 4 of the 5 analysts who cover Safaricom put the share price as Kshs 5.5 to 5.8 (who’s the dissenter?).

Farewell Michael Joseph: Late the Chairman called on shareholders to thank retiring CEO Michael Joseph who built the company up from nothing in 10 years to be leading revenue earner and top brand in Kenya.

Waving the patriotic flag: After the meeting ended, CEO gave a talk on his pride in the company, which is a Kenyan company one can be proud of with its customers, M-Pesa (which people all over the world come to study), M-Kesho savings accounts (500,000 users signed up in 2 months). It is 60% owned by Kenyans, which none of their competitors (i.e. Zain, Orange, Essar can claim), all their spend is in Kenya, all their profits are re-invested in Kenya, with nothing outsourced outside. It has 2600 employees (all in Kenya) , and supports over 250,000 other Kenyans through dealership and mpesa agents and another 1,500 in customer care (which they can move that to India but that would not be in spirit of the company)