Category Archives: Mumias Sugar

Urban Inflation Index July 2018

The running urban inflation Index compares prices of common goods In Nairobi to what they cost one year ago, five years and ten years ago when the index started.
The  July 2018 index comes at a time when there are sensational headlines about quality and counterfeits that was triggered by the drought of 2017 and subsequent importation of foods including sugar late last year.

It has also tricked into crackdowns, indictments, arrests, and parallel investigations by the Police, tax authorities,  parliamentary committees and food safety regulators that has seen queries about tons of goods including sugar, fertilizer, animal feed, building materials, alcoholic spirits, (refilled) LPG gas, auto spares, and sports shoes among other common items – with confiscations at the Mombasa Port, airports like Eldoret and bazaars and shops in Nairobi which have resulted in some demonstrations by business traders.

On to the index.

More expensive

Staple Food: A 2 Kg pack of Unga is Kshs 98 today. Last year, it was at a government-subsidized price of Kshs 90. In 2013 it was 104, and ten years ago, an Unga pack was Kshs 73.

Beer/Entertainment: A bottle of Tusker beer is Kshs 230 at the local pub. Five years ago a beer was 200, and ten years ago a beer was Kshs 130. Just a few months ago, during a tour of Kenya Breweries, the managers said that, based on the recommended retail price of Kshs 140 for a bottle of Tusker, Kshs 84 was tax, Kshs 23 goes to the distribution chain and just Kshs 33 was for them as a company to produce the beer at profit and to pay its shareholders.

Domestic electricity pricing over ten years of the inflation index.

Electricity: A chart of domestic prepaid electricity purchases shows that electricity was at its lowest in May 2015, and its highest in July 2015 and now in July 2018. One observation is that pre-paid power purchases no longer fluctuate. At the beginning of the month, one used to get 40 or even 50 units for Kshs 500 ($5), but now that amount only realizes 22 units and the pre-paid meters issue a (low-token )beep warning the whole month – and power tokens seems to exhaust a lot faster (because the units are less initially)

Other Food Item: Mumias, which used to be part of the index, was Kenya’s sugar industry bellwether – a diversified company that also produced ethanol and electricity and whose shares were once offered to the new investors at Kshs 49 per share. but which now trades at less than a shilling (Kshs 0.70) today. But Mumias now has no stocks on supermarket shelves as production was halted due to a lack of cane and long pending bills owed to farmers. A  2 kg pack of Mara, a competing sugar brand, is Kshs 298. A year ago, a bag of Chemelil sugar was 290, and five years ago Mumias sugar was 250, while ten years ago, a Mumias pack cost Kshs 145.

About the same

Fuel: Earlier this month, the ERC raised the price of petrol by 3 shillings – so in Nairobi a litre of petrol now costs Kshs 112.2 (approximately $5 per gallon). Last year a litre of petrol was Kshs 97.1, five years ago it was Kshs 109.52, and ten years ago it was Kshs 101.50 per litre. But from September 1 2018, Value Added Tax (VAT) which is 16% is expected to be added back to the cost of fuel.

Finance: Bank loans are 14.%, and have remained so ever since the introduction of interest capping in 2016. But the law is set to be adjusted this year by the government, in spite of opposition from parliamentarians who had passed the cap law. Also, average bank rates were 17% in July 2013.

Communication: Not much has changed in terms of phone rates over the last few years. At Safaricom which had (March) 2018 revenue of Kshs 224 billion, 40% of that was from voice, 28% from payments (such as M-Pesa), and 16% from data while SMS accounted for 8% of revenue. The cost of making mobile payments went up slightly in this year’s budget with a tweak in the excise tax on money transfers, and a charge on large bank transfers that has since been temporarily suspended by a Court.

Foreign Exchange: 1 US $ equals Kshs 100,75, while a year ago it was Kshs. 103.9. Five years ago it was 87.15 and ten years ago the dollar exchanged at Kshs 67.4. Also ten years ago the Euro was at 101, the Rand 8.9 and the Sterling Pound 125, while today the Euro is at Kshs 117, the Rand at Kshs 7.4 and the Pound at Kshs 133.

Other Energy Source: An LPG gas cylinder at Kenol is Kshs 2,250 this month. A year ago (in March) it was 2,030 and six years ago (2012) it was 3,000.

Less Expensive

Nothing really

Share this inflation index if you agree with the perceptions about what has become more or less expensive over the years.

If it were all left up to you, how would you improve the urban inflation index?

Urban Inflation Index September 2015

Tracking changes compared to five years ago

Gotten Cheaper

Utilities: An electricity in June 2015 showed that consumers incurred costs of 251(US) cents per kilowatt hour, and forex adjustment ones of 40 cents per kwh. Five years ago it was 340 cents per kwh while forex was 57 cents per kwh.

Communications: Call rates are between Kshs 2 – 4 per minute, compared to Kshs 8 five years ago, and SMS are now Kshs 1. There has also been a massive drop in the cost of mobile data. That said there’s a bit of turmoil in the industry. Safari com is diversifying into new segments like health and television, as Airtel is threatening to pull out. Meanwhile Orange is apparently for sale, and Essar folded their Yu brand just a few months ago.

About the Same

Beer/Entertainment:  A bottle of Tusker beer is Kshs 200 at the local pub compared to Kshs 170 five years ago. The competition from the introduction of several new beer and alcohol brands  (like Carlsberg) does not seem to have made prices lower.

Carlsberg Nairobi

Other food item

A 2 kg pack of (rare) Mumias sugar is now Kshs 240. Its rare because both Ucumi and Mumias are going through some transitions with financing, suppliers, and even new CEO’s  Meanwhile, there’s also the debate about whether and at what cost Kenya produces sugar compared to other countries like Zambia, Sudan and even Uganda. The same Mumias pack was Kshs 200 five years ago. Mumias troubles has resulted in other brands like Butali Chemelil Nzoia and other store and generic brands now getting space at supermarkets like Ucumi.

More Expensive

Foreign Exchange:  1 US$ equals Kshs 103 compared to 80 fiver years ago (actually today it’s 106) a steep rise that does not seem to have reached its bottom. This may be due to the strength of the dollar but other currencies have also strengthen due to the trade deficit

Staple Food:  Maize flour is used to make Ugali that is eaten by a majority of Kenyans daily. A 2 kg. Unga pack at Uchumi today costs Kshs 113 compared to Kshs 65 five years ago.

Fuel:  A litre of petrol is Kshs 102.6 petrol compared to 94.5 five years ago (but with the weaker shilling, in dollar terms it’s about $4.5 per gallon (down from $5.25 five years ago)

Shares Portfolio February 2015 

Compared to last quarter, the portfolio is up 26% while the NSE 20 share index is up 3% since November 2014.
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The Stable
Bralirwa (Rwanda) 
Centum (ICDCI) —
Diamond Trust —
KCB ↑
Kenya Airways ↑
Kenya Oil ↑
Mumias ↑
NSE ↓
Safaricom ↑
Scangroup ↑
Stanbic (Uganda) ↓
Unga ↑
Changes
In: None
Out: None
Increase: None
Decrease: None
Best performer: Mumias Sugar  (up 58% this quarter), then Kenya Airways  (38%)
Worst performer: Stanbic – Uganda (down -5%) , NSE (-4%)
Looking Forward To
– Bank profits & dividends from banks (KCB, Diamond)
– More M&A deals from Centum

Shares Portfolio: November 2014

Comparing shares to last year and last quarter, the portfolio is up 7% in three months (excluding new investments), while the NSE 20 share index is up is up 0.5% since August 2014.

The Stable

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Bralirwa (Rwanda) ↓
Centum  (ICDCI) ↑
Diamond Trust ↓
KCB ↓
Kenya Airways ↓
Kenya Oil ↑
Mumias Sugar
Nairobi Shares Exchange ↑
Safaricom ↑
Scangroup ↓
Stanbic (Uganda) ↑
Unga ↑
Changes
In: Mumias Sugar
Out: None
Increase: Kenya Airways, KCB, Scangroup
Decrease: None
Best performer: NSE Kenya (up 121% since IPO), Centum (16%), (Unga 14%)
Worst performer: Kenya Airways (down 22%) Bralirwa (down 19%)
Unexpected Events:
– Bralirwa share dip which has been linked to the bonus share
– KQ’s loss in the half year. Amid the arrival of a half-dozen new Boeing 787 Dreamliners and other aircraft and long serving CEO Titus Naikuni stepping down there was one more shock from the airline in the form of a half year loss of Kshs 10.45 billion ($116 million)
– Are Kenya bank stocks overvalued as a Citi report says?
– Listings by Kurwitu Ventures (at Kshs 1,500 per share, which was higher than British American Tobacco that’s at 904 now) and Flame Tree (FTG) in recent weeks in the GEMS category of the NSE.
– Both Equity and Housing Finance forming holding companies and transferring banking and mortgage business respectively to the new group parents.
– The vicious fallout between BritAm and Cytonn.
Looking forward to
– Unga’s acquisition of Ennsvalley, a bakery worth Kshs 500 million ($5.55 million)
– Uchumi’s rights issue to raise Kshs 895 million ($10 million) by offering shareholders 3 shares for every 8 held at Kshs 9 per share, with the funds to be used for expansion in East Africa and refurbishment of stores.
– Seeing how Mumias Sugar shares proceed..having gone from highs of Kshs 40 in years past, to 1.4 this month.

Urban Inflation Index: September 2011

One year after the euphoria of a new constitution, the direction of the economy is uncertain as seen in the weakening Kenya shilling, tangles in implementation of the constitution, and rising food prices. It has been a year of some price controls in the fuel, and possibly in the food sector whose parliamentary price control bill was signed into law last week by the President.

Comparing prices to six months ago and last year. On to the index

Gotten Cheaper: Nothing really.

About the same:

Communication: All Kenya’s mobile phone companies have call rates of about Kshs 3 shillings ($0.03) per minute to call across networks. It is unclear what will happen with call rates, as the smallest company in the market, Yu, launched free daytime phone calls, Airtel Kenya lost a CEO, and Safaricom has indicated that they may raise their call rates, as has happened in Uganda with MTN . The real battle is in data, where prices have not really dropped but companies are offering more speeds for less. The market here is divided between the companies with 3G (Orange & Safaricom) who compete on speed, and those without 3G(Airtel & Yu) who offer cheap internet rates of about Kshs 50 (~$0.5) per day for unlimited use.

Another communication developments that, in a way, lower the cost of business include the launch last week at G-Kenya of GKBO, which encompasses free website creation tool, domain registration, and site hosting for small companies by Google in Kenya.

Utilities: The bill on pre-paid electricity is still at about Kshs 2,000 ($21) per month, and getting about 30 – 35 units per buy via M-Pesa. However that is expected to go up after notice was issued for rates to go up 22% per kwh unit. So what alternatives are there? In a somewhat timely move, Samsung launched the NC215, a solar powered netbook laptop last week. It gives 1 hour of power for every 2 hours of charge in the sun, has a 15-hour battery life, and is able to charge other devices by USB even when it is off.

Also got a gift of a solar phone charger (T2126 Hemera from Hirsch) that works quite well; it takes about 12 hours to charge in the Sun or 2 hours via USB, has a flash light and can charge a variety of phone models.

But when you look at the rapid advances in laptop batteries and cell phone batteries over the lasts decade, you get the feeling that there has been a lag in the pace of solar devices, and that more solar based solutions and advances should be emphasized.

More Expensive

Fuel: A litre of petrol fuel, which is regulated by the Government, now costs 117.75 (~$5.6 per gallon) in Nairobi. Regulated fuel has proven to be more expensive than unregulated fuel, and while this can be attributed to the weaker shilling and fluctuating oil prices, the formula used to arrive at the price remains vague, and the limit on margins (stipulated buying and selling price of petrol, diesel, kerosene in each town) appears to have hurt small oil industry companies, more than large ones. However, among the listed companies, Kenol appears to have weathered the regulatory regime better than Total, by having diverse operations in other countries in East and Central Africa that remain unregulated.

Staple Food: Maize flour, which is used to make Ugali that is eaten by a majority of Kenyans daily. A 2kg bag which cost Kshs. 80 six months ago, and Kshs 65 a year ago, is now Kshs 119, the highest it has been in the short history of this index.

Other food item: Sugar : A 2 kg. Mumias pack which has hovered at about Kshs 200 for the last years, now costs Kshs. 385 (90% more than last year) and . The sugar sector has really gone full circle causing many to questions its relevance, recurring shortages shortage (why all factories close at the same month for maintenance), why sugar is grown in a food producing area and how many items we can consume without having to use sugar as a sweetener e.g. tea without sugar, or use of honey as a substitute.

Foreign Exchange: 1 US$ equals Kshs 95.6 compared (now 96.8) to Kshs 80.8 a year ago (and 83 in June 2011) – a loss of almost 20% in a year. It’s unclear of this has been a concern to the Central Bank which has made other confusing policy moves as related to interest rates at a time of mounting government debt and their laxity has enabled banks to spot and take advantage of an arbitrage opportunities to trade with government money.

Beer/Entertainment: A bottle of Tusker beer is Kshs 180 ($1.9) (at a local pub) a slight increase from compared to Kshs. 170 a year ago. However beer has become out of reach for many poorer Kenyan who have resorted to drinking unsafe local brews, which in some unfortunate cases have resulted in blindness or even death.