Category Archives: renewable energy

Idea Exchange: Antler, Forbes, Museums, ODM.

New, and ongoing, opportunities to apply for.

  • As part of their one-year anniversary celebrations, Absa Kenya has invited people to write in on “Wall of possibilities” of community-uplifting things that they would like to Bank to fund. Each idea may get up to Shs 2.5 million and the deadline is 5 March.
  • Antler Global is seeking new startup companies to support with funding and mentoring. The Nairobi deadline is in April, and here’s a glimpse of the 2020 cohort at Antler.
  • Nominate the Woman Entrepreneur You Admire Most to the COMESA 50 Million African Women Speak Platform.
  • DFC, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation is offering financing of between $3 million and $50 million to African companies in support of the continent’s COVID-19 recovery – via Asoko
  • The Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 Class of 2021 in categories for creatives, sports, and business and technology.  Deadline is March 31.  
  • Apply for the 2021 Global Teacher Prize ($1 million) and the new sister award, the Chegg.org Global Student Prize ($50,000). Deadline is 30 April.
  • The Hack the Normal hackathon takes place between 5 – 7 March 2021, invites participants to develop new products, services and business models with commercialization potential in these businesses and create solutions for financial challenges, sustainable living and healthy living.
  • The new Kikao64 co-working hub at Eldoret has 50% discount for non-profits, athletes and startup businesses, while others who sign on through the end of April 2021, get discounts of 25%.
  • The Konza innovation challenge offers $5,000 of funding for startups to pilot their innovations at the Konza Technopolis. Deadline is March 19. 
  • edit The Communication Authority of Kenya 2021 Kuza Awards rewards excellence in broadcasting. Regulatory awards are for compliance, local content, children & broadcasting, regional broadcaster, upcoming broadcaster and copyrights. Also, People Choice awards for favorite radio station, TV station, pay TV, news Radio station and TV station. This year has a theme for “Preserving our Heritage through Broadcasting (Kenya a Heritage of Splendour)”, and there is a Patriotic Award category with awards for Uzalendo Award (airing announcements on Covid-19) and Mzalendo Mkuu Award (educational content). SMS Kuza to 15601 to vote for free.
  • Mask Art awards are open to schools and young people under 25 in categories of the school of the future, young entrepreneur and environmental activist. Deadline is April 1.
  • The East Africa Maritime Awards (EAMA) recognize and award notable users of the Port of Mombasa. Organized by the Kenya Ports Authority, it is open to shipping, ports, services, engineering, and leisure marine industries with operations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The deadline has been extended to March 31.
  • edit From the MasterCard Foundation comes the Baobab’s Got Talent challenge, an exciting storytelling opportunity for young creatives (animation, graphic design, video production) in Africa. Deadline is March 15.
  • From MIT Solve, the 2021 Global Challenge and Solve’s first US Challenge on Antiracist Technology are now open. Anyone anywhere can submit a solution to become part of the 2021 Solver class and access more than $1.5 million in funding.
  • The National Museums of Kenya is seeking historical memorabilia on Kenya, from the year 1800. The items, including photos, film, memorabilia, weapons, musical instruments, farm tools, art, newspaper cuttings, passbooks, etc. can be donated or shared on a long-term loan basis. The deadline is 19 March.
  • For the presidential candidate at ODM, the party is seeking a committed, passionate disciplined and dependable party member who can mount a successful campaign. The entry fee is Kshs 1 million and with a reduced amount of Shs 500,000 for women, youth or persons with disabilities. Deadline is 31 March. 
  • Post Office boxes are available across Kenya. Pick one up by March 31 and get a 30% discount.
  • edit SEED, the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, partners with entrepreneurs (CEO’s / founders) in Africa and South Africa emerging markets to build thriving enterprises that transform lives. Applications deadline is April 15.
  • edit The Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB) and Asoko Insight have launched a Renewable Energy DealRoom to accelerate the financing of renewable energy projects in the region served by TDB.
  • The Thunderbird School of Global Management is offering a unique scholarship for Africans to attend the online Masters of Applied Leadership & Management with a specialization in Public and Global Affairs starting on March 8, 2021. African students will pay a special tuition of $12,000, compared to $33,000 for other students, representing a scholarship of $21,000.
  • The Tony Elumelu Foundation has the seventh round of its entrepreneurship program in which, with partners, they are seeking to boost 1,0000 businesses and also assist others to recover from Covid-19. This year, 1,000 businesses will receive $5,000 in seed capital, business training, mentorship, and global networking opportunities.  Apply before March 31. 
  • edit The Visa Everywhere Initiative targets fintechs to join a global innovation program. Apply by May 7.
  • edit Nominations for the Africa Food Prize 2021 are ongoing, a $100,000 celebration of African agriculture achievers.

Kenya Tax Changes in 2020

A look at some of the Tax changes that become effective on January 1, 2020, as a result of the Finance Bill 2019 that was signed by the President on 7 November 2019.

The highlight was the repeal of Section 33B of the Banking Act which had put an interest rate cap on commercial bank loans, but there are also other taxation clauses of note.

  • Import Declaration Fee levy has been increased from 2% to 3.5%. Also, the Railway Development Levy, which is an important component of paying for the SGR, has been increased from 1.5% to 2%.
  • Companies that list under the Nairobi Securities Exchange’s GEMS program for the next three years can be forgiven tax penalties and interest, provided they pay the principal amount. This move to encourage listing at the NSE became effective in November 2019. But if they delist within five years, that window lapses and all taxes due before listing will again become payable.
  • Taxes also go up for cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, fruit wines and spirits.
  • Motor vehicle excise taxes go up from 20 to 25% for cars over 1500 cc, and that for station wagons and race cars go up from 30 to 35%, but for electric-powered motor vehicles, that goes down from 20 to 10%.
  • Sports betting companies take another hit with a 20% tax lopped on to each bet amount, regardless of the outcome of the wager.
  • New economy taxes: The new year ushers in taxes on the digital economy market place – this encompasses “platforms that enable interaction between buyers and sellers of goods & services through electronic means” who are now liable for income tax and value-added tax (VAT). Along with that, a taxpayer PIN is mandatory when one is registering for a paybill and till numbers (to process mobile payments) through a telephone company
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT’s), which were exempt from corporate tax are now also exempt from income tax.
  • There is an income tax exemption for people who register under the Government’s Ajira Digital (online work) program from January 2020 to December 2022.
  • Green bonds: Interest income on all listed infrastructure bonds, or green bonds,that are a minimum three years to maturity will be exempt from income tax as will income on the National Housing Development Fund.
  • Turnover tax of 3% has been reintroduced and will be payable monthly by any business whose turnover does not exceed Kshs 5 million (~$50,000) in any year. EDIT – does not apply to companies already registered for VAT or those earning employment income rental income, engaged in management & professional services and limited liability companies. There is also a Presumptive Tax, a new tax that is 15% of the annual fee paid for a license e.g. to operate in Nairobi County and that can be offset when paying the turnover tax.
  • Environmental stuff: Plastic recycling companies will get a preferential corporate tax rate of 15% for five years and machinery and equipment used for plastic recycling plants are now VAT exempt. But, going the other way, equipment for the development of solar and wind energy, including batteries, which were previously exempt from VAT, now require the Cabinet Secretary for Energy to approve any such exemptions.
  • A taxpayer PIN is now mandatory when one is renewing membership in a professional body or with any licensing agency.
  • Mitumba and shipment consolidators are now recognized – if they have warehouses in the country of origin and Kenya, and have no history of dealing with substandard or counterfeit goods.

Meanwhile, the President said at the Jamhuri Day celebrations (on December 12) that a mortgage scheme he had previously proposed, and which entailed a deduction of 1.5% of salaries, would not be mandatory. Parliament resumes in February 2020 and we shall see if they amend that.

Extracts from reports done by KPMG East Africa, RSM Eastern Africa LLP and KN Law LLP .

EAVCA: Fintrek explores Fintech opportunities in East Africa

This week, the East Africa Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) with Intellecap Advisory Services released the Fintrek – which explores fintech opportunities in East Africa, new frontiers in fintech (defined as firms using technology to deliver financial products/services or capabilities to customers or others firms) and fintech investments in East Africa.

Asia Pacific and Africa have been harbingers of mobile payments and that is transitioning into fintech now. The Fintrek report notes three underlying factors driving fintech uptake as:

  • (i) the use of alternative data to generate credit takings of the unbanked (and deliver services to them cheaply e.g no need for bank branches),
  • (ii) peer to peer networks (decentralized collaboration, payments across borders, unregulated) and
  • (iii) the emergence of nontraditional players (telcos, wallets like Google Pay & Apple Pay, e-retailers like Amazon)

smartphones offer fintech opportunities.

Regionally, Kenya is seen as a leader in the region owing to its levels of deposit penetration, deep financial sector penetration, and smartphone ownership (at 44% compared to less than 10% for Tanzania Uganda Rwanda and Ethiopia). Kenya is where most fintechs are setting up, and Kenya-based fintechs have raised $204 million between 2000 and 2017 which is 98% of the funding to the region.

Funding: In terms of funding, fintechs are still in early stages as seen in the small deal sizes: seed funding provided 47 deals (averaging $447,000) and 60% of all funding was to impact areas renewable energy/off grid lighting and health care (microinsurance). Five companies M-KOPA, Off-Grid Electric, SunFunder, Angaza, Azuri) have raised $345 million (through debt and equity) accounting for 55% of the funding between 2010 and 2017. Another finding was that while 53% of all funding between 2010 and 2017 was from venture capital funds, their average deal size  ($6 million – e.g. from Apis, Madison Dearborn)  is lower than those of corporates ($15 million – e.g. from Stanbic, Commercial Bank of Africa) and foundations ($10 million – e.g. from Calvert, Emerson, Omidyar Network) deals.

Fintechs needs a balance of debt and equity investments to grow, but they are struggling to get debt financing (mainly bank loans). Fintechs in East Africa had debt-equity ratios of 1:1 compared to 3:1 globally, indicating they have capacity to absorb more debt but are not doing it. The EAVCA report cites one of the funding challenges as investors want proof of traction while fintechs need working capital to demonstrate proof of concept, lack of funder knowledge about local markets, East Africa fintechs don’t look like what foreign investors expect, currency fluctuations make it had to raise debt and there is a lack of fundraising skill among local fintechs who can’t afford the teams that will enable them to raise money.

The Fintrek report identified 11 fintech opportunities models and 47 sub-models and identified 4 sub-models that have flourished in East Africa:

Payments and Savings: digital wallets (M-Pesa, Alipay, Tigo pesa – which pays 7-9% interest and now attract high-end users), payment intermediaries (Cellulant, Direct Pay, Jambopay) and digital currencies (Bitpesa, Coinbase, Belfrics – a crypto-currency platform).

Lending: direct lending (Branch, Tala – with 1.8M customers in Kenya, Kreditech, Umati capital), P2P lending (Lendable, Pezesha – has 6,000 borrowers & 200 lenders), and lending aggregators (lakompare). Also, there is telco-based nano lending (M-Shwari, KCB-M-Pesa, Equitel – which issued $57 billion worth of loans – and telco-bank lenders in Kenya account for over 76% of total loan accounts, but only 4% of the loan values)

Financial Management: Insuretech (Bimaspace, BimaAfya, Microensure), Investech (Abacus, Xeno) and personal finance management – (Chamasoft, Caytree).

FS Enablers: (Jumo – credit underwriting for 5 million customers and 20 million loans), Arifu, FirstAccess, NetGuardian – fraud identifier), FarmDrive, Sasa solutions, Lendddo).

Some recent fintech deals in East Africa include Farmdrive (from the Safaricom Spark Fund), Pezesha (DFS lab), Pula (DFS lab, CGAP), M-Kopa ($80M – Stanbic, CDC, FMO, Norfund), Tala ($30M – IVP), Jumo ($24M – Finnfund), Mobisol ($12M – FinnFund), Angaza ($10.5M – Emerson), Flutterwave ($10M – Greycroft), Netguardian ($8.5M – Freemont), Trine ($8M – Gullspang), Lendable ($6M – Kawisafi, Omidyar, Fenway), Direct Pay ($5M – Apis), Azuri ($5M – Standard Chartered), Bitpesa ($4.25M – Greycroft), Branch ($2M – from high-networth Kenyans and funds – arranged by Nabo Capital)

Production of the Fintrek report was supported by Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Africa and Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO).

See more of the EAVCA Fintrek report and other fintech opportunities at the 5th Sankalp Africa Summit on March 1-2, 2018 in Nairobi and see their private equity snapshot report.

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Kengen the Geothermal Powerhouse

Kenya is the only African country that has successfully tapped the green energy potential of geothermal power and is ranked number eight in the world. Kenya’s 676MW geothermal output trails that of the USA (3,567MW) Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand, Italy, Mexico, Turkey, and ahead of Iceland, and Japan.

The bulk of this geothermal power comes from the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (Kengen) which supplies 1.6GW (80%) of the country’s 2.3GW electricity output. Of that 533MW is from geothermal energy, primarily from the Olkaria area near Naivasha, where the first wells were dug in 1950 and their deployment and production accelerated after 2007.

Kengen has 294 drilled walls with an 80% success rate, and part of that leap has been due to a Kengen-pioneered “wellhead technology”, which was done in partnership with Green Energy, an Icelandic company. Wellhead technology allows Kengen to tap steam energy within a year or two of sinking a well and recoup their investments faster (it usually costs $6 million to dig a well). In all, Kengen generates 75MW from 7 wellhead stations at Olkaria and one at Eburu.

Kengen’s Olkaria IV geothermal power plant.

In terms of electricity generation, Kengen plans to have supply stay ahead of demand especially considering the long setup time for energy plants (about seven years). With funds raised from shareholders and investors in 2016, they plan to add 1,000 MW to reach 1,745MW by the year 2025.

Kenya has an estimated 10,000 MW of geothermal power potential, and geothermal steam allows high energy demand manufacturing such as steel, cement and glass processing take place. These are currently hampered by the high costs of electricity, but the separation processes of geothermal gases means that such companies can tap steam to use at their factories nearby and this is the strategy behind a planned Kengen industrial park at Olkaria, Naivasha. Already Oserian Flowers buys steam and pipes it to heat their greenhouses in the nearby area.

As at  June 2017, Kengen had a diversified mix of installed energy sources comprising Hydro 818 MW (including Masinga 40 MW , Kamburu 94.2MW, Gitaru 225MW, Kindaruma 72MW, Kiambere 168MW, Turkwel 106MW,  Sondu 60MW,  Sangoro 21.2MW, Tana 20MW), Geothermal 534 MW (Olkaria I 45 MW, Olkaria II 105MW, Olkaria IV 149.8MW, Olkaria I AU 150.5MW), Thermal 253.5 MW (Kipevu I 73.5MW, Kipevu III 120MW, gas turbines 60MW) and wind power 25.5MW (three phases at Ngong Hills).

Kenya has a liberated energy production market, and other private sector players in the geothermal sector who are seeking support under a private-public partnership program include Sosian Power, Quantum Power, and Akiira, as wells as Africa Geothermal and Orpower who are close by Kengen’s fields at Olkaria.

Tegeta Escrow

Yesterday Harbinder Singh Sethi and James Buchard Rugemarila were charged with obtaining $22 million and 309 billion Tanzania shillings from the Bank of Tanzania in what’s been dubbed the Tegeta Escrow case.

Perhaps the best summary of the Tegeta Escrow case comes from Africa Confidential (Vol 55 – N° 19) dated 26 September 2014 –

  • Heads may be about to roll after revelations about the contested transfer of 200 billion Tanzania shillings (US$124 million) from an escrow account in the central bank, the Bank of Tanzania, to Harbinder Singh Sethi’s Pan Africa Power Solutions Tanzania Limited (PAP, AC Vol 55 No 13). The complex details of how Sethi acquired Independent Power Tanzania Ltd. (IPTL) and then raided the BoT account have now been pieced together by two opposition members of parliament, Zitto Kabwe and David Zacharia Kafulila, with the help of The Citizen and Mwananchi newspapers.
  • If Sethi’s critics are proved right, this is the country’s biggest corruption scandal to date. Based in South Africa, Sethi is a Tanzanian-born businessman with a reputation for dubious past dealings in Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and the United States. Sethi claims to have bought 70% of IPTL’s shares from Malaysia’s Mechmar Corporation, now in receivership. Yet Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong (SCB-HK) claims to have purchased IPTL’s debt for $76 mn. in August 2005 and says Mechmar was already in liquidation when Sethi claimed to have acquired the shares.
  • The Tanzanian behind IPTL, former BoT employee and self-styled international consultant James Rugemalira, is also under investigation over the $75 mn. that he was paid by Sethi for his company’s 30% share in IPTL.
  • Both Sethi and Rugemalira have lived up to Kabwe’s description as ‘aggressive litigators’. Their strategy has been to steer the acquisition of IPTL away from non-Tanzanian jurisdictions (Malaysia and Britain), from other interested parties (SCB-HK) and lawyers, receivers and liquidators in Malaysia and Hong-Kong. In this way, SCB-HK’s property rights in IPTL have been summarily dismissed and attempts by SCB-HK’s lawyers to negotiate a compromise with Tanesco have all been blocked. Furthermore, the findings of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes over IPTL’s overcharging Tanesco for power supplied and the proposal for a solution involving SCB-HK claims have been ignored. Tanzanian courts have been complicit in rubber-stamping IPTL’s transfer to Sethi’s PAP. None of this helps improve the country’s image abroad.

Other

  • The unfolding details about the Tegeta Escrow case resulted in the removal of four ministers back in 2014. On Saturday, the energy minister, Sospeter Muhongo, resigned over his alleged role in the affair last year that saw $180m (£116m) taken from the country’s central bank. The move follows the removal from office of the attorney general, Frederick Werema, the energy secretary, Eliakim Maswi, and the housing minister, Anna Tibaijuka, who was sacked over the transfer of $1m to her private bank account Chairs of three parliamentary committees have also resigned following the scandal: Victor Mwambalaswa, energy and minerals committee; Andrew Chenge, parliamentary budget committee; and William Ngeleja, legal affairs and governance committee.
  • Back in December 2014, Stanbic Bank Tanzania released a short statement on the-then parliamentary report on Tegeta Escrow and their role.