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Egypt to reopen historic Palace following $6 million restoration1 minute read

The two-story mansion fell into disrepair after Belgian industrialist, Edouard Empain’s death in 1929

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Egypt to reopen historic Palace following $6 million restoration

Egypt will reopen the century-old Baron Empain Palace after a $6 million renovation in the capital, Cairo.

Built in 1911, the two-story mansion fell into disrepair after Belgian industrialist, Edouard Empain’s death in 1929 and for many years, amid protracted ownership disputes, it was rented out for social events or as a film set.

The country finally launched a 100-million Egyptian pound restoration of the palace and it is expected to reopen for visitors in three months’ time.

The project has entailed a reinforcement of the ceilings, restoration of marble columns and frescoes above the main entrance as well as decorative elements like statues and sculptures, and shoring up doors and windows.

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KCB Forecasts 15% Increase in Lending

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Kenya’s biggest lender by assets, KCB Group, has forecast a 15% growth in its loan to clients this year owing to the removal of a cap on lending rates, according to its chief executive, Joshua Oigara on Friday.

The government removed the cap last November after it was blamed for curbing credit growth during its three years of existence.

KCB, expects to set a base lending rate at the start of March, which will allow it to offer varying rates to customers.

Banks use a base rate normally the cost of funds, plus a margin and a risk premium, to determine how much they should charge a particular customer.

The cap, which sets rates at 4% points above the central bank’s benchmark lending for all customers, had taken out that equation and the flexibility that lenders say they need in order to accommodate customers deemed as risky borrowers.

According to Oigara, a change in the price of premium based on the customer’s risk profile could generally increase the prices of credit in the market.

Together with delays in government payments to its suppliers, the cap had led to an acute slowdown in economic activity, with many people complaining of hardships and lack of cash.

Oigara further says that things are changing slowly after the government ordered its ministries, agencies, departments and local authorities to pay up pending bills last year.

The banker affirmed that this has led to an increase in liquidity in the market. And ensured available cash flows for businesses.

Merger and Acquisition

KCB injected 5 billion Kenyan shillings or $49.73 million into National Bank of Kenya (NBK) last month after acquiring it last September in a 1-for-10 share swap deal.

Oigara said that the bank had also put experienced executives in charge of the critical functions of NBK, to turn it around within the next three years, after which it is required to run it as a separate bank.

NBK accounts for a 10th of KCB’s assets, contributing less than 1% to the group’s profit, but Oigara said it wanted to boost the profit contribution to 20% of the group’s total.

KCB also operates in neighbouring Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan,

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East Africa looks to end illicit gold trade

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Countries in the East Africa region are discussing the adoption of stringent traceability mechanisms for the gold industry to stamp out rampant smuggling across East and Central Africa to overseas buyers particularly in Asia.


Mining officials from the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) countries are in negotiations and are meeting next month to discuss the body’s Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Strategy which calls for harmonisation of gold export procedures including taxation and traceability and certification.


The ICGLR wants its member countries to adopt the strategy by mid-this year.


According to the director of Democracy and good Governance at ICGLR, Ambeyi Ligabo, It is disheartening to see so much gold being smuggled from the DR Congo through its neighbouring countries while much attention over the past 10 years has focused on implementing traceability for tin, tungsten and tantalum (Three Ts) in which little has been done in terms of monitoring the flow of gold in the region.


Mr Ligabo also revealed they have agreed that it is crucial to implement the ICGLR guidelines on gold trade because the region’s image has been smeared by smuggling. We hope they speed up the process so these guidelines are affected by March this year.


Rwanda’s efforts to boost gold exports has been hampered by constant reports that the country serves as a route through which gold is smuggled out of the DR Congo to overseas buyers. The government is firm that all its gold is traded legitimately.

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Uber to face commission capping regulations in Kenya

Uber charges a 25 per cent commission, a fee that has been at the centre of conflict with driver-partners over the last three years

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Uber to face commission capping regulations in Kenya

Taxi-hailing firm, Uber has protested against government plans to cut its commissions from fares by more than 40 per cent, saying the move threatens earnings.

The country’s National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) says plans to cap the commissions for taxi-hailing firms at 15 per cent of the fares will derail growth.

Commissions are a fraction of the fare taxi firms take, meaning the proposed rule will leave less to the companies.

Uber charges a 25 per cent commission, a fee that has been at the centre of conflict with driver-partners over the last three years.

The public transport regulator seeks public views on the regulations until tomorrow.

Capping of the commission is set to be in favour of the taxi partners who have for a long time decried the charges, terming them unsustainable.

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