President Kenyatta has signed into law Finance Bill 2018, which was passed by the National Assembly in a chaotic debate on Thursday. The president has vowed to ensure proper use of public funds. “I give my commitment that I will ensure proper utilization of public resources for a better Kenya. I will not relent on the war against corruption,” he said. The House on Thursday endorsed the presidential reservations on the bill, giving Mr. Kenyatta the chance to raid Kenyans’ pockets to plug holes in his nearly Sh3-trillion budget. With the victory, the Executive has the power to raise up to Sh130 billion through the eight percent levy on fuel products that will see about Sh17.5 billion realized from sugar confectioneries (Sh475 million), money transfers (Sh11.4 billion), betting companies and winners (Sh30 billion), housing fund (10 billion) and kerosene (Sh9.8 billion).
Alibaba Cloud said on Wednesday it has agreed to explore a strategic collaboration with Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife to protect endangered animals. The first talks in support of the Kenya Wildlife Protection Project will focus on deploying Alibaba Cloud’s technology for a designated area inside the Tsavo East and West National Parks. They are in one of Kenya’s oldest and largest protected areas, at over 13,500 square kilometers. “It is our great honor to support the Kenyan government and make a contribution to the country’s wildlife conservation efforts. The collaboration underscores the positive impact that technology, including cloud computing, AI and IoT, can have on the planet and on wildlife protection,” said Simon Hu, president of Alibaba Cloud. The idea would be to leverage Alibaba Cloud’s computing, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things capabilities to keep track of the park’s endangered elephants, rhinoceroses and lions. Specifically, the two sides are looking at deploying animal-tracking sensors, infrared trap cameras, smart weather stations, ranger devices and wide-area drones to collect real-time data on the movements and general health of the animals, feeding it back to a monitored platform. Equipment tracking the animals would be lightweight and solar-powered. The platform would then analyze and predict animal behavior and travel routes, alerting the command enter on potential risks or dangers, including illegal poaching and human-animal conflicts. That would help direct deployment of ground teams to respond quickly and better manage the park.
Society and Culture
Kenya: Doctors deny wrongdoing after dead babies stuffed in boxes, plastic bags
On Tuesday, doctors have denied allegations of malpractice at a maternity hospital after 12 dead babies were discovered stuffed in cardboard boxes and plastic bags. The discovery was made when Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko made a surprise visit to the Pumwani Maternity Hospital after he received tip-offs from the public alleging wrongdoing. The incident has put the spotlight on Kenya’s worsening public healthcare sector with patients often complaining about neglect and a lack of drugs in hospitals. Sonko on Monday ordered an investigation into the matter and suspended senior staff. The cause of the deaths were not immediately clear with Sonko saying the babies had died “mysteriously.” The infants died at the weekend following a power blackout, Nairobi’s The Star newspaper reported, citing sources at the hospital. Health officials in Nairobi said the babies had died naturally due to medical complications. Some of the babies had been born without heartbeats, while others had died during labor or were stillbirths or pre-natal deaths, Mahat Jimale, Nairobi’s chief officer of health, told reporters in a news conference. A medical union said the babies had to be stored in boxes because the hospital lacked a proper mortuary.
Kenyans Accuse Raila Odinga of Hypocrisy for Backing VAT
Kenyans, including Raila Odinga’s son, have hit out at the opposition kingpin after he led National Super Alliance (NASA) MPs in declaring support for President Kenyatta’s proposal to impose eight percent VAT on fuel. Mr. Odinga presided over a meeting of NASA MPs at Orange House and whipped them into supporting the proposal, albeit with conditions. And for this, he has angered some the millions of Kenyans who are set to bear the brunt of the new taxes. His son, Raila Junior, was among those Kenyans who took issue with the NASA’s move. “Unfortunately as a Kenyan citizen, I am unconvinced by the statement put out by NASA on the VAT on fuel. None of the conditions they’ve put up are measurable and even if they were they are nowhere near closing the deficit on the debt. I call for my MP Ken Okoth to reject (President Uhuru’s memorandum to parliament)” he tweeted.
Some NASA supporters told the Daily Nation that they read betrayal in Mr. Odinga’s move, saying for long, he has been the defender of poor Kenyans. They accused the ODM leader “hypocrisy” in his quest for social justice. “I feel Raila Odinga and his NASA brigade have betrayed us. How can they support a move that is meant to oppress us? Is this why we voted for them?” said Mr Bramuel Omondi, a resident of Migori. He added: “Raila has always claimed that he fights for the common mwananchi. This is the platform on which he has been campaigning for the presidency in the last elections. This VAT issue has clearly brought him out as a hypocrite. As an ardent supporter of Raila, I am very disappointed.”