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I want African nations to have more say in standards body : The Standard

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On January 1, 2019, Eddy Njoroge will take over the presidency of the International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO).
He will be the first African to lead the global standards body, the entity that sets the bar for products and services across different industries. While he could have opted for an office in Geneva where ISO is headquartered, he has opted to have the ISO president’s office in Nairobi.
And even before he sets foot in the office, he is clear what success will look like at the end of his tenure – bringing Africa and other developing countries to the table where standards are made. He expects to reverse a scenario where these countries have been what he terms just ‘standard takers’ but also become ‘standard makers’.
For two years, Njoroge will chair the ISO Council, which works like the board of a company, made of 20 countries represented by their respective standards’ bodies. Membership to the council is rotating and any of the 164 countries that are members of ISO can be council members. There are, however, countries which have permanent representation including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, France and China.
Success, Two-fold
The council oversees the governance of the Geneva-based organisation.

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“Success will be two-fold for me – if there is more involvement of developing countries in making of ISO standards and getting more people on the street to know about standards. If I achieve these two, a lot will fall in place,” said Njoroge, who has in 2019 been serving as president-elect after he was elected unopposed last year.
Currently, only a handful of countries from the developing world are involved in the making of standards, and even then, they are barely audible. This has put them at a disadvantage, as in many matters, they are required to implement standards that they did not play a part in developing. This sees many countries unable to meet these standards and hence locked out of many opportunities including global trade.
“When you look at standards today there is realisation that there are not many developing countries involved in standards, especially making of standards,” he said.
“I felt there is need to get developing countries participate more in the making of standards. One of the ways of doing this is to get involved at the governance level of ISO especially at the top and that is how I offered myself for the presidency.”
Elected unopposed
Njoroge has a challenge in his backyard, where Kebs, where he is a board member, appears to always be putting out fires every other day, all of them seemingly due to poor enforcement of standards as well as governance challenges at the entity. The scenario is no different from the standards bodies across many African countries.
The former KenGen boss was elected unopposed during last year’s ISO General Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland. He had, however, missed the presidency two years earlier, when in 2016, Njoroge had vied but lost to the current president John Walter.
Njoroge had been nominated as a candidate by Kebs. This is usually the case for the ISO presidential candidates – they have to be fronted by their home country’s standards body. The 164 ISO members – which are countries represented by their standards bodies – then vote for their preferred candidate. In 2018, Njoroge was unopposed.
“I had offered myself for the presidency in 2016. Then I was completely green but I sold the story of what I wanted to do and there was quite a lot of support. I lost by one vote and many people thought I should come back. In 2018, I went back and was elected unopposed to the president-elect this year and takeover next year for a two year period,” he said.
Past ISO presidents have all been from the developed countries, except in three instances where there was one from Brazil and two from India.
“We have not had anybody from what you can truly call developing countries,” noted Njoroge.
“That is why I want to be the voice of the developing countries and get them more involved. We have over 300 technical committees within ISO, which are the developers of standards but we have very few developing countries in these committees.”
“We must sit at the table to safeguard our interests. What mostly happens is that standards are developed and while we, as developing countries have not participated, have to take them when they are adopted as global standards. I would want more countries to participate.”
While participation in the committees is critical, there are usually cost implications which limit them. It involves a lot of travel, as in many instances the committee members have had to meet physically, which comes with a lot of commuting.
“One of the things that we are trying to do is where committees have to meet physically, we will try and fundraise to help developing countries. Within ISO, we are going to look into how we can have a bigger budget to support developing countries in their participation in technical committees. I am also trying to engage donor agencies who would be keen to get more people to participate in the technical committees,” Njoroge said.
“The other way is encouraging the use of technology among committees. People do not have to meet physically and this makes it easier to participate. But we need them to come out and offer themselves.”
Bringing the developing world to standards’ development table is one of the four agenda items that Njoroge has for his presidency. His other goals will be to deepen understanding of standards to the common person, use standards to catalyse industrial growth in an era of technology and employ standards in redressing trade imbalances. The latter, being critical for countries in the developing world.
“I intend to champion, promote and lobby for the use of international standards whenever possible as a basis for technical regulations. This will not only ease the regulatory burden to countries but will also ensure a mutual acceptance of both domestic and imported goods,” he said.
ISO has a four year strategy (2016 – 2020) whose rallying call was ‘standards used everywhere’. And while this will be coming to an end as his presidency begins, Njoroge said he has adopted this as one of his key agenda as the leader of the global standards body.
“I feel that ‘standards used everywhere’ is something that we should still aspire to,” he said.

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Eddy NjorogeInternational Organisation of StandardisationISO

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Financial tips couples should never ignore : The Standard

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As unromantic as money may sound, it is impossible to avoid talking about it if you hope to be successful as a couple. Your marriage partner can either be the reason for your success or contribute to your failure.

Therefore, you need to ask the right questions before committing to marriage. Discuss everything, and talk about money as often as possible until you achieve a shared vision.
Here are five ways to get on the same page when it comes to your financial future.
1. Be transparent

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Cultivate openness and transparency in your financial affairs. Know each other’s current incomes, expenses, debts and liabilities.
Come clean on your student loans, credit card debts, child or spousal support and what you send home for your parents or spend on your siblings.
Secrets not only put a couple at risk of not meeting their family goals, but threaten the survival of the marriage.

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2. Make plans jointly
Set long-term goals together. Think about your five, 10, 20, 30-year plans and write them down. There’s something powerful about seeing your dreams down on paper.

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Set retirement goals. Prioritise and work on a joint budget and share responsibilities. Set money aside for shared objectives – such as education, buying land or investing in shares.
3. Don’t rush into setting up a joint account
You don’t have to combine finances immediately you say ‘I do’. Take the time to learn each other’s spending habits to avoid conflict down the line. To start off, you can maintain separate accounts and open a joint account with clear budget lines and agree on how both of you will contribute to the kitty and how the money will be managed.
To build trust, maintain accurate records, including for expenditure that doesn’t have receipts, such as buying vegetables from the estate Mama Mboga.
Operating a joint account should be a gradual process. If one partner is an impulsive spender or hides certain expenditure, it’s not advisable to operate a joint account as it will only lead to conflict.

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4. Respect each other’s diversity
Do not micromanage each other. Everyone has things they do for themselves that make them happy and boost their self-esteem.
This could be a hobby, buying make-up or clothes, or membership in a club or society. Rather than belittling something your spouse considers important, figure out how to work it into the budget.
You can agree to set aside some cash that each of you can spend as you wish without having to account for it.
5. Hold money dates to nurture team work

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Hold regular money dates to brainstorm, share ideas, discuss your goals and evaluate your financial standing. These meetings are important for a couple’s growth.
You’re either growing together or growing apart, so make a conscious effort to grow together. Joint planning is crucial whether both partners are earning an income or not.


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MoneyInvestmentDr PesaJobsRetirementCouple GoalsRelationship Goals

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Robust engagement between Kenya & UK expected at London Summit

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Amb. Esipisu said that the summit will provide a forum for the Governments of Kenya and the UK on areas of cooperation/Courtesy

, LONDON, United Kingdom, 18  – The stage is set for robust engagement between Kenyan and UK business people during the forthcoming UK-Africa Investment Summit, the Kenyan High Commissioner to the UK Ambassador Manoah Esipisu has said.

Briefing the press in London ahead of the inaugural conference scheduled for January 20, Amb. Esipisu said Kenya is at the centre of the UK’s engagement with Africa.

“Three billion pounds worth of UK investment is in Kenya while most of our exports outside East Africa come here as well as to destinations such as the US,” Amb. Esipisu pointed out.

He added that the Kenyan diplomatic mission in the UK looks forward to welcoming the Kenyan delegation led by President Uhuru Kenyatta coming to the UK for the summit.

“We do expect robust engagement between Kenyan and UK business people about the areas in which investment is clear,” the High Commissioner assured.

Amb. Esipisu said that the summit will provide an opportunity for a robust discussion between the Governments of Kenya and the UK on areas of cooperation.

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“As you know, Kenya has always trumpeted trade and investment, and we do expect that these are the areas that they will focus on for the prosperity of the people of Kenya as well as the prosperity of the people of the United Kingdom,” Amb Esipisu outlined.

Highlighting the investment opportunities in Kenya, Principal Secretary for Petroleum Andrew Kamau said Kenya will be looking to pursue mutually beneficial partnerships with UK investors in the production of sufficient renewable energy to support the implementation of Kenya’s Big 4 Agenda.


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IMF reveals Kenya debt could be more than Sh6.2 trillion : The Standard

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Former National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich is once again on the spotlight, after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) accused his team of using technicalities to conceal the true position of the country’s debt.
Falling short of accusing the Treasury mandarins of cooking numbers, IMF called out the Exchequer for blindfolding the public by using different debt-ceilings when calculating the sustainability of the country’s debt.
The muddling up of debt figures has left Kenyans confused on the true financial position of the country. This means that it is not possible to tell whether Kenya is able to meet all its debt obligations.

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“While the 2015 Legal Notice sets a maximum debt level of 50 per cent of GDP in NPV (net present value) terms, budget documents instead assess debt to be sustainable — and therefore acceptable — if it is less than 70 per cent of GDP in NPV terms,” reads IMF’s fiscal transparency report released this week.
The law has since been changed, and the ceiling for public debt shifted from being pegged on the national output, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to a nominal ceiling of Sh9 trillion. IMF joins Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor Patrick Njoroge in accusing former Treasury CS, together with his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge, of distorting revenue figures.
In a rare bare-knuckle attack on Rotich’s tenure, Njoroge described the Treasury’s budget-making process as “abracadabra”, where revenue numbers were randomly included in the budget books “from thin air”.

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The Fiscal Transparency Evaluation Update lays bare the financial indiscipline at the Exchequer, which was overseen by Rotich and his Permanent Secretary Kamau Thugge, with the country’s debt surging to Sh6.2 trillion as at December 2019.
Austerity measures

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This comes at a time when the Treasury, led by new CS Ukur Yatanni, has aggressively moved to contain its spending in what is aimed at slashing further debt uptake.
Ministries and parastatals have been told that such things as tea, training and conferences will be reduced in far-reaching austerity measures that have also seen the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) aggressively go after tax cheats.
Kenya’s debt has spiraled to Sh6.2 trillion as at December 2019, and going by IMF’s remarks, the figure could be even higher.
In a new report, IMF has also blasted the Exchequer and the KRA for not making public the tax reliefs it has granted to some taxpayers.
The National Treasury CS has the discretion to grant tax exemptions, a process that the IMF now says has been shrouded in secrecy.

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When reached for comment, one of KRA’s spokespersons said the issue of tax exemptions did not fall within the tax agency’s mandate. Instead, they directed us to the National Treasury.
National Treasury PS Julius Muia had not responded to our text message by the time of going to press.
Tax expenditures
The IMF has also turned the spotlight on the country’s taxes, accusing the government of not publishing any regular reports that comprehensively discloses estimated revenue losses from tax expenditures.
This means that the public does not get to know how much the country has foregone in tax revenues through tax reliefs and exemptions.

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“The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) produces a report on annual tax exemptions which is submitted to the Auditor General, but it is not published due to concerns over the reliability of the data,” reads the IMF report.
“Current reporting practices on tax arrears do not comply with the constitutional requirement to publish all tax waivers or the PFM Act’s requirement for publishing an annual report on these exemptions and concessions.”
The IMF capacity development mission came to Nairobi between August 6 and August 19, last year, at the request of the National Treasury. The mission also found out that there was no unit responsible for tax policy issues, either at the National Treasury or KRA. This crippled the performance of KRA, which has been missing its targets.
Already, the taxman has missed its half-year target by Sh88.3 billion, netting Sh857.8 billion.
“Capacity would need to be developed in the KRA and the National Treasury, which still has not created a unit responsible for tax policy issues,” says the report.
The IMF and other development partners had previously provided training on calculating tax expenditures, but most of the government officials involved have left, and the capacity in this area is now low.


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Henry RotichInternational Monetary FundNational TreasuryNational debt

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