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FROM a childhood altar server at Ennis Cathedal, Clare’s Monsignor Séamus Horgan has now been appointed by Pope Francis as the new Apostolic Nuncio to South Sudan.
The Ennis native from Tobarteascain, who attended St Flannan’s College and was ordained to the priesthood in Ennis Cathedral in 1994, will be based in the city of Juba.
According to his sister Anne Horgan, speaking to The Champion on behalf of the family, “The religious future of South Sudan is in safe hands”.
She said her brother, is “very honoured by the appointment” which was announced earlier this week.


She told us that religion has always been a large part of her family’s life and her late parents Pauline and Denis, who were heavily involved with the church in Ennis, would be very proud. She recalled her brother became an altar server in Ennis Cathedral at the age of 10, remaining in the role throughout secondary school. “He was always interested in the church,” she said.


Anne said, “We grew up in a house where prayer and the church were very important to my parents Pauline and Denis. Prayer and the church were an intrinsic part of our lives from childhood. “My parents were always very involved in the church and this obviously had an influence on us all.”
She recalled, “My parents were very happy when Séamus announced during his Leaving Cert year that he was going to go for the priesthood. I can actually remember being at the dinner table in Toberteascain when he announced it.

Sadly both of my parents have passed away, but they would be very proud of his achievements, no doubt about that. But my mother would always have said, the most important thing is that he is a good priest first. On behalf of myself and my brothers Dermot and Liam I would like to congratulate our brother.”


Welcoming the appointment, Bishop Fintan Monahan, Bishop of Killaloe, said, “I warmly congratulate Monsignor Séamus Horgan on his appointment by Pope Francis to be Nuncio to South Sudan, based in the city of Juba. He is also appointed to the titular See of Árd Sratha – Ardstraw, Co Tyrone.


“A native of Ennis, past pupil of Saint Flannan’s College, Monsignor Séamus was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Michael Harty thirty years ago, in 1994, in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Ennis, Co Clare. “Monsignor Horgan brings a wealth of pastoral and practical experience with him to his new role. A conscientious, diligent and prayerful pastor, his engagement with people is marked with great kindness and courtesy. He served with distinction in his appointments at local level in Bodyke and Roscrea in the diocese and in his various appointments since he entered the diplomatic service.


“I wish Monsignor Horgan every good wish and blessing in his important role and assure him of the prayers of the faithful of Killaloe Diocese. At this time there are three Apostolic Nuncios, originally from Ireland, in active diplomatic service for the Universal Church – and here in Killaloe we are very proud of the fact that two of them are natives of our diocese! Saints Matthias, Flannan and Senan pray for him.”


Monsignor Horgan entered Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth in 1987. After completing a BA at the National University of Ireland in 1990 and a Baccalaureate in Theology at the Pontifical University in Maynooth in 1993, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Killaloe on 11 June 1994. Following six years of pastoral ministry in his Diocese, he was sent to Rome in the year 2000 for further studies. After completing a Licence in Canon Law, Pontifical Gregorian University, he joined the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome to prepare for the service of the Holy See.


Upon completion of his doctoral studies in Canon Law in 2005, he entered the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See and has served as Attaché and then Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Kampala from 2005 to 2008, Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature in Berne from 2008 to 2012, Secretary and then Counsellor of the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila from 2012 to 2015, Minutante or Desk Officer in the II Section of the Secretariat of State in Rome from 2015 to 2020, First Counselor at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington from 2020 to the present. 

In 2008 he was appointed a Chaplain of His Holiness and in 2019 a Prelate of Honour. Monsignor Horgan speaks English, Italian and French; he has a working knowledge of German. The Clare Champion

Kenya’s economic landscape showcased remarkable resilience in the latter part of 2023, with gross domestic product (GDP) growth coming in at 5.9% in the third quarter of 2023, compared to 4.3% in the corresponding quarter of 2022. Against this backdrop, TransUnion Kenya’s latest Q4 2023 Kenya Credit Industry Insights Report showed a state of flux in the credit market, shaped by macroeconomic shifts, consumer behaviour changes and technological advancements. 

In December 2023, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) adjusted the Central Bank Rate (CBR) to 12.50%. This increase from 10.50% had impacted the cost of loans and Kenyans’ repayment capacity. The depreciation of the Kenyan Shilling against major international currencies has also put further pressure on the local economic and credit landscape.

“The Q4 2023 Kenya Credit Industry Insights Report tells a story about the evolving credit landscape in Kenya that extends beyond the numbers. It is about enhancing financial inclusion and creating equitable opportunities for all Kenyans. By embracing mobile technology and adapting to economic shifts, we are working hard to enable more people to access the credit they need to thrive, even in challenging times. This commitment to financial inclusion drives our nation's economic resilience and growth," says Morris Maina, CEO at TransUnion Kenya.

Mobile loans exhibit a pullback, signalling cautious borrowing

In Q4 2023, Mobile loans accounted for 50.61% of all active loan accounts in Kenya holding a collective balance of KES 148.7B, but the number of new mobile loans and their value decreased by 20.5% and 9.5% respectively from Q1 2023 to Q4 2023. This contraction mirrors the cautious stance of consumers amidst a fluctuating economic environment.Low-value overdrafts indicated a nuanced shift in the financial landscape

At more than 10.44 million loan accounts, low value overdrafts (less than KES 6,000 of the principal amount) are the lifeblood of accessible credit in the Kenyan market. These represent a significant 34.89% of all active loan accounts, holding a balance of KES 13.06B. TransUnion observed a 15.9% reduction from the previous quarter’s KES 7.94 billion in the value of new, low value ODs booked to KES 6.68B.

Despite this, the average quarterly limit edged up 2.05% from KES 730 to KES 745. This slight increase may suggest a more nuanced shift in the financial landscape or even a strategic loan structuring by lenders to accommodate evolving market needs.

High-value overdrafts, indicated a shift toward higher borrowing limits

High value overdrafts (amounts higher than KES 6,000 of the principal amount) made up 2.03% of all active loan accounts in the local market, commanding an impressive balance of KES 506.6B. The value of new high value overdrafts booked increased to KES 35.61B in Q4 2023 from the KES 20.9B of the comparative quarter last year. This generated significant growth in the average quarterly limit and suggests a shift towards larger borrowing amounts for qualifying applicants. To this point, there were approximately 270,000 unique high value overdraft borrowers in Kenya.

The Banking sector maintained lion’s share of balances

The banking sector remained the backbone of the credit industry with the highest loan balances, accounting for 96.16% of the market with 27.03 million active accounts. However, the microfinance sector (741.9k active accounts constituting 0.81%), FinTech (1.43 million at 0.22%), and Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) (336.8k at 1.01%) reflect the evolving credit ecosystem of the country.

Millennials shaping current and future credit trends in Kenya

"Millennials are increasingly becoming the backbone of our credit economy. Their distinct financial behaviours and preferences are shaping the way we think about and offer credit products. It remains imperative that we continue to innovate and tailor our offerings to meet the unique demands of this vital demographic," says Maina.

The report shows that Millennials represented a significant portion of borrowers across various loan products, indicating their critical role in the credit sector. For instance, they accounted for 51.1% of the principal amount of mobile loans as well as 52.9% in personal loans. Millennials also had the highest principal amount (43.7%) of all demographics in low value overdrafts, and asset finance (16.2%). These figures underscore how important it is for service providers to tailor their financial products and services to meet the unique needs and preferences of this demographic.

“The TransUnion report reinforces how dynamic the credit market is in Kenya. It is shaped by several macro-economic factors like inflation, CBR, and the depreciation of the Shilling. By using wider credit data and insights as part of their decisioning, financial institutions can consider applications from an expanded Kenyan credit market to further drive financial inclusion in the country,” concludes Maina.

The credit sector in Kenya remains a critical component of the country’s broader financial ecosystem. As is evident by the TransUnion report, the credit environment in Kenya drives and offers opportunities for both consumers and businesses alike.

The TransUnion Q4 2023 Kenya Credit Industry Insights Report provides an in-depth analysis of the macroeconomic environment and its influence on credit trends within the country. It is available to download here.

 

IEA News

Celtic Renewables continues to lead the sustainable chemical revolution 

Scottish technology-led producer of green chemicals, Celtic Renewables, has launched its latest crowdfunding campaign with Crowdcube aiming to raise a minimum of £2.75 million to boost operational capacity and scale revenue growth. 

Celtic Renewables is the first in the world to produce and supply green chemicals to lower the carbon footprint of thousands of products like cosmetics, paints and household cleaners, and has recently sent its first production of bioacetone and biobutanol to distribution partner, Caldic, a company that creates bespoke solutions for the food, pharma, personal care and industrial markets. 

Funds raised from the Crowdcube campaign will be used to increase the global distribution of green chemicals, broadening the reach of products across multiple sectors where replacement of incumbent fossil fuel derived chemicals is most needed. 

Celtic Renewables has plans to build a further four biorefineries in the next four to five years with a combined product output of around 32,000 tonnes per year. 

Celtic Renewables makes its green chemicals at its flagship biorefinery in Grangemouth, Scotland. Their patented technology converts low-value by-products, residues and waste from a range of industries, such as food and drinks production, into high-value green chemicals. 

These green chemicals, namely bioacetone, biobutanol and bioethanol, are chemically identical to and can directly replace their gas and oil-derived equivalents (acetone, butanol and ethanol). 

Mark Simmers, CEO of Celtic Renewables, says: “The ultimate goal of this crowdfunding campaign is to allow us to scale what we are doing which will allow us to supply green chemicals to a long list of potential customers who are ready and waiting. 

“The timing is right and many companies and industries are eager to make the change to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Our technology offers a commercially proven and green alternative for the production of key chemicals and will lower the carbon footprint of everyday products like skin creams, nail varnish, household cleaning products, paints, medicines and vitamins. We have the momentum and potential to accelerate the defossilisation of the chemical industry and make everyday life more sustainable for consumers.” 

The production of acetone, butanol and ethanol contributes significantly to CO2 emissions in the chemical sector, accounting for 18% of total industrial CO2 emissions globally. Celtic Renewables’ production of bioacetone, biobutanol and bioethanol generates up to 70% less carbon emissions compared to petrochemical alternatives. 

Simmers adds: “We are working closely with our strategic partner Caldic to develop a list of initial customers for our green chemicals. The challenge is that the demand is huge and our Grangemouth plant will only supply a small fraction of what we really need to produce, so the pressure is on to grow the business and build bigger production plants.” 

Global markets for acetone and butanol are estimated at $6.63 billion and $16.5 billion respectively and growing, according to Future Market Insights. Celtic Renewables’ green chemicals have extensive applications spanning multiple industries and can completely displace petrochemical equivalents with an immediately addressable market of over $2 billion. 

Bettina Brierley, Product Group Leader Caldic UK, says: “We have been waiting for a solution like Celtic Renewables for a long time. We don’t need to change consumer habits, but instead we can improve the products we make by ensuring they are not derived from fossil fuels. 

“This is the first real innovation that I have seen in the chemical space that is truly green, not just greenwashed. The beauty of the product is that the chemicals are made from residue materials, not food competing crops. Our customers which include manufacturers of personal care and homecare products, are very excited by this.” 

Simmers adds: “The other great news is that the raw material that we use to make our biochemicals – the residues, by-products or waste – is almost unlimited. The key is to build the next few plants and demonstrate their performance. Our model is scalable globally across industry sectors. We will continue to look at commercial opportunities and there are some really interesting chemical groups that in the future, also could be made biologically.” 

Celtic Renewables’ mission is to foster a more sustainable chemical industry and has so far raised in excess of £55 million funding from multiple sources which was used to build the biorefinery in Grangemouth. With large commercial contracts in place, Celtic Renewables is now raising investment to scale up production to meet demand.

IEA NEWS

On September 4-6, 2024, Regulators, Policy Makers, Financial Industry Executives, Fintech Founders, leading innovators, investors, Climate Finance experts and Afroprenours from around the world will gather in Nairobi, Kenya for the 12th edition of the Africa Fintech Summit (AFTS). The summit will take place at the newly opened GTC JW Marriott Hotel in the heart of Nairobi, Kenya. 

With participants who represent over $4.5bn in private equity and venture capital funding, the AFTS is the premier global initiative dedicated to financial technology in Africa. The bi-annual summit occurs each April in Washington, D.C., on the sideline of the WB/IMF Spring meeting, and each November in a different African city (most recently in Lusaka (2023), Cape Town (2022), Cairo (2021), Virtual (2020), Addis (2019) and Lagos (2018) and the 2024 continental summit will take place in Nairobi, Kenya on 04-06 September 2024!

“We are very pleased to bring our premium summit to the land of MoMo innovation, Kenya and look forward to saying “Karibu Kenya!” to all our international delegates in September. In line with our theme for the year, Fintech in Every Industry, we will be focusing on Fintech’s role in Climate Solutions, cross-border trade, e-commerce, mobile money & digital banking, Fintech powering digital health, agritech, mining and economic prosperity as well as investments under AfCFTA,” said Sarah Kuruswo, Lead-USA: Africa Strategic Partnerships for AFTS. 

#AFTSNAIROBI2024 will bring Keynote Speeches from Kenyan policy makers & AfCFTA as well as a VIP dinner for Speakers and invited guests on the night of 04 April; panels, workshops and fireside chats on 05 & 06 September; a delegation from Prosper’s Tech for Trade Alliance along with AfCFTA’s Digital Protocol, Alpha Expo Pitch Competition & Ecosystem tours on the 06th September. The event will conclude with a happy hour for delegates and attendees on both the 5th & 6th of September. 

As in the past years, the event will be hybrid, with live streaming provided for remote attendees via our website. Limited tickets with early bird discount are now available to book on our website, https://www.africafintechsummit.com/

Confirmed sponsors to date include Ecobank, Flutterwave as well as Strategic Partners, including the Kenyan Wall Street, Fintech Association of Kenya, Corporate Council on Africa, African Media Agency. Sponsors and partners can reach out to the Sponsorship team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to secure sponsorship opportunities. AMA

Image source: Youtube

By LAURYN MUTASA

A Naboko Sacco bus was involved in an accident earlier today killing eight people on the spot. The Nairobi-bound bus lost control and rolled into River Mbagathi at 10 am around co-operative University.

According to reports, thirteen survivors were taken to nearby hospitals, some of whom sustained serious injuries. The accident has caused heavy traffic and police advise motorists to use alternative routes. 

 

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