Category Archives: KTN

Digital Newspapers boost during Covid

At the end of May 2020 digital copies of leading newspapers were availed to Kenyans through a partnership with Safaricom.

The newspapers are the Standard and the Nairobian from the Standard Group and the Daily Nation and the Business Daily from the Nation Media Group. The digital copies all cost Kshs 20 each, which is about 1/3 of the street prices of Kshs 50 and Kshs 60 for the print newspaper copies.

This comes at a time of declining readership, and declining advertising for newspapers and in recent months both the media groups have issued profit warnings – the Standard for 2019 and the Nation for 2020. During the Coronavirus outbreak, there have been readers who have stopped buying and reading print newspapers for fear of contracting the virus, despite newspapers running advertisements about the safety and hygiene of their printing and distribution processes. Safaricom is powering this initiative as a Covid-19 response and the digital newspapers are available for a period of two months.

The digital newspapers are very easy to buy with the payment deducted from a user’s airtime, not from M-Pesa. Sign-up requires no cumbersome registration and there is no app to download. One also has to be on Safaricom data to download it, not Wi-Fi, though the download does not consume data, and the purchased copies are available to read for 7 days.

Whether this will accelerate a more permanent shift in readership will be seen after the period ends in the second half of the year. Local media houses have tried for many years to get readers to pay for online subscriptions without much success.

Early in the Covid-19 period, full PDF copies of newspapers would circulate on WhatsApp, but these seem to have stopped since a crackdown was initiated. This is also a period of increasing political activity and a key tool of propaganda is the use of doctored government documents and fake newspaper covers to mislead online readers – so having actual digital copies is a welcome tool to verify which are with the fake covers.

There is also another Nairobi newspaper that is completely free – both online and in print. The People Daily that is handed out to motorists and also distributed to a smaller clientele around the country. The packaging of the newspaper during Corona is indicative that costs may not be an issue at this paper.

*Get the digital newspapers from  under “discover” then “newspapers” or by dialing *550#.

EDIT: On June 22, Radio Africa and Mediamax joined the partnership, availing their The Star and People Daily newspapers for Kshs 10 per issue.

EDIT: On July 1, the Nation Media Group announced a “change its business model from print advertising and physical reader copy to digital advertising, ePaper subscription and content-driven reader revenue.” This was accompanied by a reduction of workforce effective July 3, 2020 and salary reductions, of, in some cases, 40%.

EDIT: May 2021: The portfolio of publications has been expanded beyond newspapers and now includes magazines like Swara and Parents as well as the government classifieds’ publication – MyGov.

Standard Group 2008 AGM

The 90th annual general meeting of The Standard Newspapers Group was held at the Panari Hotel on July 16.

The number two media house in Kenya is in the middle of a three-year turnaround plan that had among others, seen it recapitalized, appoint new directors and executives, move to the main investment board of the NSE, restructure its balance sheet (move from a reserves deficit to surplus), make capital investments amounting to Kshs. 1.2 billion (new printing press, new headquarters building next to the Panari, among others), and resume paying dividends.

Circulation is up 40% in a year (at the expense of competitors’), the deputy chairman said as he laid out plans, but without divulging details at their ‘main competitor’ (Nation) likely would learn of them through some mutual shareholders.

Format was Questions, then Answers from the directors, mainly Chairman Robin Sewel, Deputy Chairman Paul Melly and MD Pau Wanyagah.

Right off the Chairman apologized for some omissions from the annual reports and agenda that shareholders had been sent – which were a list of top shareholders and an agenda item to approve payment of dividends to (8%) preference shareholders Shareholder questions were the order of the day, and some of the subjects covered included;

Capital investments:

– The 1.2 billion not reflected in the account; these are multi-year investments spread out over several years
– Is the new plant and headquarters on land owned by the mzee? The land is owned by the standard group.
– Is the printing press new – as this is the third press, and others may have been used and did not last long?

– When will the dividend declared in April be paid? It will be paid August 15
– Why the delay in dividend declared and can it be paid with interest? The law allows a certain period for companies to pay dividends, and no interest will be paid
– Why an interim, but no final dividend? The company want to resume a consistent dividend-paying practice, and not over-do it in one year and not be able to in subsequent years.

– Company has raised 1.2 billion – from where? From internally generated cash (362m in ‘07) and borrowings.
– Why loans from shareholders – trade world and miller? These are at market rates.
– Why not raise funds from shareholders – so that the gains will be from dividends not interest payments? Tax gains from borrowing.

– Why does KTN not appear to support/relate to standard and vice versa? Each has to differentiate their own content and not cannibalize each other
– Plans to promote local content and programming which are very popular in rural areas and which one competitor (citizen?) is doing very well? Plans are underway and they recognize that market
– Plans to go to into radio? They have been trying for some time, but CCK says no signals are available, so they are looking at other entry means (purchase existing?)

Online strategy:

– The website only updated once a day; that will change, as they will soon switch to 24-hour site updates
– Because of infrequent updates, website not well known or searched for: plans are underway to change this new website?

Accounts presentation:
– For how long will KTN be in receivership? The KTN company is dormant and all their financials are processed through Baraza.
– How long will preference shares be on the books? The amount is so small they have not thought it necessary t go through the expense of wiping them away, but could easily pay them off.
– On the previous minutes (2007 meeting) one shareholder asked if two issues from last year were resolved, namely: the adoption of a company ESOP and buyout of remaining minority shareholders in Baraza Limited – but the chairman said they had still not been finalized.

The company will in future include:
– Scan signatures of auditors and directors.
– Highlight CSR activities undertaken.
– Complete CV’s of board members.
– Directions to meeting venue and contacts.
– Information about the company registrar.

– Did some directors resign or were they sacked? Their contracts ended and the board felt it was prudent to replace them.
– How will they ensure capacity to run new press is retained? Staff are being trained in Germany and their terms will be reviewed to retain them in the company.

– Plans to get on GTV? Will switch from analog to digital broadcasting soon.
– Plans to go regional (East Africa)? Plans are underway, but no details yet.
– Why are magazines cheaper to order individually than it  using Publisher Distribution Service (PDS) who should enjoy economies of scale? That is magazine industry norm where individual subscribers get better terms if they make a long term commitment.

Goodies: tote bag, with two shirts (polo and tee), and a newspaper of the day. A buffet lunch, which I thought, would be a messy affair turned out to be ok as only about 200 of the company’s 3,000 shareholders were there to pile their plates at the Panari Restaurant.

full plates, but owners already gone back to re-fill

Safaricom IPO and other opportunities

Safaricom IPO: The calendar is on for the sale of 25% of Safaricom shares to the public and the government of Kenya (who are yielding part of their 60% ownership) have advertised for a lead transaction advisor, lead sponsoring broker, (4) co-sponsoring brokers, legal advisor, reporting accountant, PR firm, advertising consultant, receiving bank, and a share registrar for the IPO. Details at D/L is 16 July. There have been complaints about firms offering such work for free to gain prestige

Safaricom call center. The company is also seeking to outsource customer service for prepaid subscribers to an external firm (Current traffic ranges from 10,000 – 20,000 calls per day). Details from and D/L is 11/7

other happenings
Pipeline finance: The Kenya Pipeline Company seeking financing for the Nairobi-Mombasa and Nairobi-Western Kenya (Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret) segments amounting to Kshs. 7.5 billion ($107) million over the next 2 years. D/L is 31/7

Housing: The National Housing Corporation offering 890 3-bedroom flats in Langata phase II ranging from 3.9 to 4.1 million each ($55,000 – $58,000). The corporation is also selling 38 maisonettes in Kiambu phase ii at between 3.2 and 3.4 million shillings.

Good : The bank has hired external debt collection agents – outsourcing a time consuming tedious function.
Not good : The only thing worse then taking a personal loan to buy shares is using a credit card to buy shares. An investor is already in the hole, and needs his shares return 30% a year, just to break even. Using a debit card may be ok though, but factor in the card fees.

– New Aga Khan University campus to be set up in Nairobi
– Moi University to soon offer a masters degree in banking & finance

– Desperate Housewives start next month on KTN. Hope they don’t butcher the show like they did with the Soprano’s (heavily edited, shown at 11 PM on Sunday night and often out of sequence)
– The Naiorbi Nairobi Star (new daily newspaper from KISS FM team ) hit the streets today with a lot of fanfare, but does it have legs?

Standard Raid: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The ugly: Both the Sunday Nation and Sunday Standard reported that a second raid was planned for Friday night, but was aborted by the heavy rains and traffic jams that shut the city till late at night.
The Bad: The mzungu used the N word as he marshalled his troops around the Standard offices during the raid. Sounds like a bad parody of a mercenary or is it the real thing?
The Good: The sale of Kengen shares to the public was accelerated and made as democratic as possible – with minimum lots of 500 (at an investment cost of 5,950 shillings) and a guarantee that small investors will be assured of receiving their shares.

Just as Anglo Leasing attention was diverted immediately by the release of the Goldenberg report, in a smart move, the Standard raid will be followed by the Kengen IPO, the largest in Kenya’s history. This is not the first time this has happened as additional KCB shares were sold to the public in 1990’s to as a way of deflecting political heat from the Government. Look for more advertisements from the office of public communications trumpeting that “this is the government that gave ordinary Kenyans a chance to buy shares in Kengen & Telkom”.

Standard Chartered in 2005
Loan portfolio increased by 3b to 59.7 billion willing but fee & commission income dropped from 2.04 to 1.98 billion shillings. Of the top 3 banks (Standard Chartered, KCB and Barclays) only KCB recorded increased commission & fee income in 2005, which can likely be attributed to its new partnership with Western Union.

Net interest income increased from 2b to 3.3 billion while interest in government securities in which the Bank is heavily invested (24b shillings, equivalent to 70% of loan book) increased slightly from 1.84b to 1.99b.

Still, after tax profit increased from 1.83 to 2.44 b and the total dividend for the year will be 7.5 shillings per shares (out of EPS of 8.69), which is up from 6.5 in 2004. The final dividend of 3.10 per share will be paid after June 2 to shareholders (books close March 31) and the company’s AGM will be held at the Intercontinental Hotel on May 31. Long serving Chairman, Mr. H Awori will be retiring after the AGM. Preference  shareholders will be paid a 6% dividend as well on April 3.

Uchumi halved its six-month loss from a year ago but is still struggling. Half year sales of 1.8b were exceeded by purchase costs of 1.4b and operating costs of 681 million shillings. The 6-month loss in December was 362 million, an improvement from 632m in December 2004.

Shareholder services
CFC Financial Services has announced that they will remain open on Saturday’s until the Kengen IPO period ends. The bank has also opened offices in Eldoret and Kisumu to serve shareholders in Rift Valley and Western Kenya.

There is a shortage of stockbrokers outside Nairobi and Mombasa and this could start a trend as the demand for such services has increased since CDS trading began and now with the Kengen IPO. It would be nice to see some partnerships between stockbrokers and banks that have huge branch networks. E.g. Dyer & Blair setting up part-time desks in branches of National Bank or Postbank on some days of the month to serve shareholders in rural areas.

The African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI/ACA) is hiring commercial & political risk underwriters. More details at and apply at by March 31.

Housing Finance Company of Kenya is hiring
– business development manager (Ref HF/401)
– information system auditor (HF/504)
– relationship officer (HF/610)
– legal assistant (HF/809)
Apply by March 17 to

East African Breweries is hiring
– sales information & administration manager
– trade marketing manager
Applicants must have university degree in business or sales and 5 years successful experience in trade marketing, sales or marketing at an FMGC. Apply by 15 March to

The Louis Berger Group is seeking infrastructure consultants to work in the Sudan. Current positions open are;
– chief of party
– senior engineer
– manager finance & administration
– manager acquisition/procurement
– other engineering professionals
Applicants must have bachelor’s degree and 5 years relevant experience. More details at and applications can be sent to

The Vagina Day monologues will be held at the Carnivore on Tuesday March 7 from 7 p.m., entry is 500/=. I saw it once, two years ago with a lot of beer, and I am told if you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it all, since I’m told that local producers are not allowed to adapt/add new material to the event and must stay true to Eve Ensler’s book.

Friday, News, Jobs, Part II

Mad house: The referendum period swung into full force with an absolute change in government priorities. Nation TV reported that the 10th anniversary celebration of the Kenya Revenue Authority which was supposed to be officiated by President Kibaki at KICC today was cancelled at the last-minute because he decided to host delegation of several Maasai leaders at a State House parley – where the usual exchange would be “we pledge our vote on the new constitution to you in exchange for the following …..”


Standard Chartered Bank 3 postings

Relationship manager:Work on customer products, new services, also managing risk and reviewing corporate client accounts. Applicants must have a finance degree, and 5 years work experience with a minimum 3 as a relationship manager.

Corporate finance manager: Work with relationship management teams to build relationships with senior management of key clients, structure deals, and come up with plans for their transactions. Applicants must have knowledge of oil, gas, telecom, and energy industries in Africa, project finance/corporate advisory experience, excellent understanding of capital products and a university degree with 7 years experience in corporate finance.

Tax manager East Africa: Who will Develop and implement tax strategies in East Africa. Applicants must be qualified accountants CPA/CA or equivalents) with at least 3 years exp. at a major accounting firm or international group, have good research, project, and analytical skills as well as knowledge of Kenya tax law & practices.

Apply to by October 31.

Internal auditor Ref no: ESS 395: For a dairy sector company who will review risk management systems and make recommendations, ensure audit compliance and provide value adding reports to the company. Applicants must have accounts or finance degree as well as a CPA (K) or ACCA qualification. Apply via pricewaterhousecoopers executive selection at by November 4.

Branch manager (insurance company):  Must have three years experience with well-known insurance firm, and a commerce degree (insurance option) or ACII. E-mail by October 28.


Reporters The Standard Group, publishers of the Standard and Sunday Standard are looking to hire the following

Job: Minimum requirements

  • News reporters (6 posts): post-grad degree in journalism/mass communications, aged 24 – 28, willing to work anywhere in Kenya at short notice.
  • Sports reporter: post-grad degree in journalism/mass comm., aged 25 – 30, good knowledge of sports
  • Sports correspondent: degree/diploma in journalism/mass comm., aged 25 – 30.
  • News correspondent (5 posts): university degree, good writer, aged 23 – 28, willing to work anywhere in Kenya.
  • Sub-editor (6 posts): degree in journalism/mass comm., aged 25 – 30,
  • Chief sub-editor: degree in journalism/mass comm., aged 28 – 26, experience working in a busy newsroom and as a subscription editor for 5 years.
  • Creative designer (2 posts); degree in fine arts/design, aged 25 – 30.
  • Editors (3 posts) post-grad degree in journalism/mass comm., with 4 years experience, aged 28 – 33, willing to work anywhere in Kenya
  • In addition to usual application stuff (CV, contact, references), include a recent pp size photo and e-mail to before October 29.

Cabin crew: (at) Qatar Airways … Love the requirements to join the “Best Cabin Crew” in the Middle East. Applicants should meet: Minimum age – 20 years, minimum height 157.5 cm, (minimum arm reach of 212 cm on tip toes) , minimum secondary education with good English skills and previous work experience in customer service, hospitality, nursing or the airline industry. Apply at their website

Friday Mix

Keep Smiling
One of the best mug shots I have seen – former Texas Republican leader Tom Delay was advised by his lawyer to look cheerful when he was arrested

Roar of the Dragon
This week Kenya Airways added flights to Guangzhou, another destination in China, just as the NY Times warned countries to beware of the stereotypical loud, rude and culturally naïve Chinese tourist

‘I Will Eat Your Dollars
The LA Times looks at Nigerians who write from cybercafes
promising you millions of dollars