The one story that has been largely missed despite the extensive media coverage of Israel, is that key economic metrics demonstrate that it represents the greatest concentration of innovation and entrepreneurship in the world today.
Israel will always be a small country in territory and population, so Israel can never become a large market or develop mass industries. But while size grants the advantages of quality, smallness creates an opportunity to specialise in quality. Israel’s only option has been to pursue quality based on creativity.
Something about coming from an embattled sliver of a country — just 1/1000 of the world’s population — makes Israelis sceptical of conventional explanations about what is possible. The essence of the Israeli condition is to be “dissatisfied” and this typifies its national ethos.
Israel is the perfect “beta” country to test ideas — not only is it small, but due to hostility of its neighbours, it’s sealed, physically and logistically. Israelis are naturally early adoptors — they are number one on the time spend on the Internet, and have the highest cellphone penetration rate in the world. Israel also has the highest concentration of engineers and research and development spending in the world.
Technology companies and global investors are beating a path to Israel and finding unique combinations of audacity, creativity, and drive everywhere they look, which may explain why, in addition to boasting the highest density of startups in the world, more Israeli companies are listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange than all companies from the entire European and Asian continents.
Israel is the world leader in proportion of the economy that is spent on research and development – 4.5 per cent of GDP. It’s not just world exchanges that have been drawn to Israel, but also that most critical and fungible measure of technological promise: venture capital.
Since 2008, Israel’s share of global venture capital market has averaged about 15 per cent. There are more new innovative ideas as opposed to recycled ideas — or old ideas repackaged in a new box — coming out of Israel than there are out in Silicon Valley now. And it doesn’t slow during downturns.
Israel specialises in high growth entrepreneurship – startups that wind up transforming entire global industries. High growth entrepreneurship is distinct in that it uses specialised talent — from engineers and scientists to business managers and marketers — to commercialise a radically innovative idea.
In a world seeking the key to innovation, Israel is a natural place to look. The West needs innovation; Israel’s got it! Understanding where this entrepreneurial energy comes from, where it’s going, how to sustain it, and how other countries can learn from the quintessential Startup Nation is a critical task for our times.
The ventures are active in a wide cross section of arenas made possible by the exponential growth in computing processing power, memory and sensors — harnessing capabilities in the realm of Artificial Intelligence, connectivity and big data.
Illicit fuel trade catches on, leaks billions in tax revenue : The Standard
Cases of unscrupulous petroleum dealers diverting fuel products on transit to neighbouring countries are on the rise.
This is denying the government billions of shillings in taxes.
Regular reports on illegal practices by players in the petroleum industry and the penalties meted by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) show a shift over time, with what is commonly referred to as “dumping” becoming a major headache for authorities.
Previously, adulteration of super petrol and diesel using kerosene was the biggest concern, according to recent reports by the regulator.
But a raft of measures by EPRA since 2018, including the hiking of taxes levied on kerosene and pushing its price to be at par with that of diesel, appears to have eliminated the problem. The focus has now shifted to fuel dumping.
For instance, in its report for the quarter to March 31, this year, EPRA reported a number of cases of fuel dumping and none for adulteration.
Over a similar quarter in 2018, just before it went on an all-out war with players that used kerosene to shore up volumes of petrol and diesel, the regulator had reported all manner of offences relating to adulteration.
According to the Petroleum Institute of East Africa, adulteration of petrol and diesel with kerosene loses the country an estimated Sh34 billion in tax revenues annually.
Fuel dumping is equally costly in that when products meant for export end up in local petrol stations, the players do not pay taxes in Kenya, as they are supposed to pay the same in their home countries.
SEE ALSO: Beware of fraudsters, warns EPRA
The government currently takes 43 per cent of the money that consumers pay for fuel, which translates to about Sh47.17 per litre of petrol, Sh37.23 for diesel and Sh36.49 per litre of kerosene.
Most of the fuel for export is destined for the landlocked DR Congo, Uganda and Rwanda markets.The regulator noted that the cases of fuel dumping were not widespread, but were still an issue of concern.
EPRA Director General Pavel Oimeke said the regulator had over the last two years closed down about 30 petrol stations and revoked several licences as part of the measures to fight fuel dumping.
“It is not widespread, but there are snippets of dumping in the market still occurring. We undertake monitoring with our contracted service providers as well as EPRA staff. With combined with product marking, we are sure that if a product is diverted into the local market, we are going to find them at the stations,” he said.
“We have closed about 30 stations, which were found with export products.”
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Ban on flights extended as State confirms 16 new cases : The Standard
The government has extended the ban on international flights by 30 days as it confirmed 16 new cases of coronavirus.
The total tally of persons who have tested positive for the disease now stands at 142.
There have been four deaths while four patients have recovered.
Suspension on prison visits has also been extended by 30 days starting today.
The extension of ban on international flights follows the expiry of an earlier one of 14 days, which ended yesterday.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said the decision was reached after a meeting with the National Emergency Response Committee on Kenya’s situation to which he is a member.
The suspensions, as has been the case, exempts charter flights from countries wishing to evacuate their citizens.
“We do not want flights just landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Whoever is coming should give us a 72-hour notice at the very least,” said Macharia.
The requirement for notice before planes are allowed in Kenya was not there initially.
The suspension also exempts cargo flights, which Macharia said can land provided they have no passengers on board.
The provision on cargo flights, he said, was key due to shortage and need for medical supplies.
“We are keen to import and supply medical equipment. In fact, we are already planning for a Kenya Airways flight to China on Wednesday to collect some key medical equipment,” the CS said.
Macharia, who spoke during the daily briefing on the coronavirus pandemic, lamented that some of the directives issued to operators in the transport sector were being ignored.
This is primarily by matatus, which were instructed to carry less than their vehicles’ passenger capacity to ensure one metre social distance.
Matatus are under instructions to ensure high standards of hygiene by providing hand sanitisers or handwashing points.
“From tomorrow (April 6, 2020), any matatu not observing the directives will have their Sacco licenses suspended and the operators charged in a court of law as per the Public Health Act,” said Macharia.
Motorbikes or boda boda operators must also carry one passenger at a time and wear face masks at all times failure to which they too will be charged in court and their bikes impounded.
The measures came after prediction that cases in Kenya may hit 1,000 this week, 5,000 mid this month and 10,000 by April 30.
Globally, the number of infections stand at 1.2 million across 183 countries with 65,884 deaths.
Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi said so far, 3,836 samples have been tested.
Between Saturday and Sunday, 530 samples were tested of which 16 turned positive; among them 15 Kenyans and a Nigerian.
Nairobi registered the most cases, at 12, followed by Mombasa with three and one in Kilifi. The counties have been singled out by the Ministry of Health as high-risk.
Of the 16, nine are from a batch of 2,050 people who were put under mandatory quarantine by the government. This was upon their arrival from overseas before the suspension of international flights on March 25.
“This is a testimony that mandatory quarantine is aimed at protecting the country,” said Dr Mwangangi.
The rest are from contact tracing of persons who had at one point come into contact with earlier cases.
Some 11 of the 16 had travel history while five are local transmissions.
The mandatory quarantine requirement, extended by another 14 days, has already been opposed by some of the those being held.
However, Mwangangi said mandatory quarantine was necessary. “These are painful decisions that we have to take,” she said.
Ministry of Health’s Acting Director General Patrick Amoth said the ministry will not go back on its word to enforce the mandatory quarantine.
“Up to 55 per cent of the cases that have turned positive are from those held in mandatory quarantine. We will not waiver on the extension just to please some people while others are following the set directives,” said Dr Amoth.
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Cotu okays sacking of 50,000 farm workers : The Standard
The process of declaring thousands of horticulture workers redundant due to the current crisis caused by Covid-19 has started.
The Agricultural Employers Association (AEA) and Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) in a joint exercise, will send an estimated 50,000 workers home without salaries, as the number of those affected by the pandemic globally continues to rise.
Flower farm workers will be the most affected after the total collapse of the sector that employs more than 150,000 workers directly.
The collapse of the Dutch auction, which accounted for 70 per cent of flower exports, and the lockdown in Europe has played a major part in the current crisis.
According to the AEA boss Wesley Siele, they had a meeting with Cotu in which it was agreed that the workers would be sent home due to the current crisis.
He noted that already, seven farms had indefinitely suspended their operations and sent all their workers home.
“We have signed an agreement with Cotu to send an estimated 50,000 workers home without salaries as we continue to monitor the situation,” he said.
Siele noted that since the country recorded the first case leading to flight cancellations, the sector has lost Sh8 billion, with the figures rising by the day.
“Some farmers involved in export of fresh produce are still in operation despite a challenge in high freight charges but those involved in flower growing face a total shutdown,” he said.
He called on the government to support farmers involved in production of fresh produce by zero-rating farm inputs like fertilisers and chemicals.
“We need to address the issue of food security in the coming months by supporting farmers at this planting season as failure to do so will lead to food shortage in the future,” he said.
Siele expressed the association’s concern that two weeks after the president ordered for VAT refunds, the directive had not been effected.
On his part, Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture and Allied Workers Union Secretary General David Omulama called for support to hundreds of the affected workers.
Mr Omulama noted that in Naivasha, all the over 50 flower farms had sent nearly all their staff home, meaning an economic crisis for the lakeside town and families.
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