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HAVE MERCY ON MATATUS: Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai speaks to press at a hotel in Thika Road, Nairobi, on March 18. Photo Andrew Kasuku


Kenyans will dig deep into their pockets to travel after public transport operators announced plans to increase fares.

Matatu owners on Thursday said the cost of doing business has gone up fuelled by Covid-19 social distancing protocols and the sharp rises in fuel prices.

"We are making losses as the government did not provide us with a subsidy. We urge the government to stop the outright discrimination against the sector," matatu owners chairperson Simon Kimutai said.

Kimutai addressed the press in Nairobi after meeting national executive council members.

"We are sorry that we will be offloading the fuel cost to the passengers."

He said the cost of fuel has increased by Sh20 per litre since January.

Kimutai said the government is supposed to be the one providing public transport but has failed.

"The matatu sector is a business that has an operating cost."

Kimutai said protocols on social distancing have worsened the situation.

But even as Kimutai complains about social distancing, most PSVs are already at full capacity.

The chairman said it is unfair for the government to allow the standard gauge railway and diesel mobile units and aircraft to carry full capacity while matatus have not been allowed.

The prices of super petrol, diesel, and kerosene have been increased by Sh7.63 per litre, Sh5.75 per litre, and Sh5.41 per litre, respectively.

A litre of petrol will now cost Sh122.81 in Nairobi, up from Sh115.18 it has retailed at since February 15.

Diesel will retail at Sh107.66 per litre, up from Sh101.91 a litre.

Poor households using kerosene for cooking and lighting will part with Sh97.85 to take home a litre, up from Sh92.44.

In its monthly review, the regulator — the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority — pegged the rise on increased landed cost of importing the products.

"The charges in this month’s prices are a consequence of the average landed cost of imported super petrol increasing by 14.97 per cent from $391.24 per cubic metre in January to $449.82 per cubic metre in February 2021," acting director general Daniel Kiptoo said in a statement.

Diesel increased by 12.29 percent from $377.35 per cubic metre to $423.95 per cubic metre. The price of kerosene increased by 13.26 from $347.19 per cubic metre to $393.23 per cubic metre.

The Free On Board price of Murban crude oil lifted in February was posted at $61.61 per barrel, an increase of 11.47 percent from $55.27 per barrel in January.

Kimutai said Transport CS James Macharia and Health CS Mutahi Kagwe have not consulted them on the way forward especially on social distancing.

On March 12, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the two CSs to consult stakeholders in the matatu industry with a view of reviewing social distancing protocols.

Kimutai said their earnings have dwindled due to the protocols.

More than 60,000 matatus and buses operate countrywide, according to the Matatu Owners Association.

It puts the industry’s gross earnings at more than Sh1 billion a day.

Currently, a 14-seater matatu carries nine passengers to adhere to social distancing to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Boda boda riders can only carry one passenger.

Kimutai said the sector has also been infiltrated by saloon cars and Proboxes, further eroding their earnings.

He said many law enforcers have resorted to openly collecting bribes.

Kimutai said it was wrong for the government to extend the stimulus package to other sectors such as tourism and leave the matatu sector to collapse. -  Gilbert Koech/Rolyn Njoroge, The Star

Photo JoyNews


Rwanda says it is giving Ghanaians a foot-in-the-door advantage to become business owners in the country.

This move is geared towards helping Ghanaians take advantage of an integrated border system which allows for easy trading with neighboring countries, touting what they describe as zero bureaucracy.

The country with a dark genocide past which is often referred to in a bid to assuage ethnocentric politics, is now often cited as one of steady socio-economic development.

As Rwanda opened up a new fully-fledged high commission on the back of its visa free policy with Ghana, it has invited several players within Ghana’s hospitality industry to explore investment opportunities and strike some deals.

In this piece, JoyNews‘ Gifty Andoh Appiah reports, authorities in Rwanda say the country is not only open to investment but wants to partner Ghana in positioning Africa as a destination of choice for vacation and international conferences.

Registering a business in Rwanda

Ghana does not have a high commission in Rwanda yet although it operates a consular office.

For Ghanaians seeking to do business in Rwanda, head of Ghana’s consulate in the country, Derek Kerera says the Rwandan Development Board has been created as a one stop shop that will “facilitate right from entry [into the country] through your process of registering the business, through your processes of embarking, though getting the trade certificate, through getting the land title, through paying the electricity bills, through filing your taxes, in the same center”.

“You could leave their office with your business registration,” he said.

Rwanda’s population as of 2019, was 12,374, 397, less than half Ghana’s population but Mr Karera says that should not deter Ghanaian investors because this means there are several free spaces and lands to explore, and Rwanda operates an open and integrated border system which allows for easy trading among neighboring countries like Uganda (41.6 million population as of 2019) and Tanzania (59,734,218 as of 2020).

“We are centrally positioned and you can spread your supply chain around the region. Our borders are not complicated at all,” he added.

Areas of investment/ Covid-19 and tax waivers

Pharmaceuticals, services (hospitality/tourism), manufacturing, construction and real estate industries are key among areas of investment Ghanaians are being invited to participate in.

In efforts to bounce back its economy post-Covid 19, Rwanda says it has introduced tax waivers for the manufacturing and construction industries in particular from now till 2023 and wants investors to take advantage of this intervention aimed at boosting productivity.

They are also waiving value added taxes in the sector. On the back of Covid-19, the authorities in Rwanda say government embarked on the restructuring of bank loans to make it easier for businesses operating on loans to survive, ensuring the banks freed interest on loans up to as long as 6 years while the banks were themselves cushioned with some $100 million injected by the state into the banking sector.

Manufacturing of fast-moving goods is a great area to focus on as a Ghanaian investor looking to penetrate the Rwandan market. Authorities say 85 percent of Supermarket supplies in Rwanda are imported.

So far, Ghanaians operating in businesses in Rwanda are within the banking, insurance, telecommunications, education and defense sectors but Rwanda is calling for more.

Cocoa Production Collaboration

One of the key areas of collaboration between Ghana and Rwanda according to head of Ghana’s consulate in Rwanda, is in the cocoa production industry. Rwanda is the second world largest producer of pyrethrum and has approximately 15 % of the world market share.

Pyrethrum production is essential for coco farming and for a cocoa reliant country like Ghana, Rwandan authorities see this as a clear opportunity for Ghana to reduce its import spending on pyrethrum from western countries as it is cheaper in Rwanda. He said several work and discussions have been ongoing at the very highest level involving the two presidents, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo and Paul Kagame

Rwanda, Ghana Visa Free Policy Challenges

Rwanda waived visa requirements for Ghanaians in 2020. The aim is to boost bilateral relations and in line with Rwanda’s goal of opening up its economy and project itself as a tourist destination.

As the country begins its embassy operations in Ghana, it says it is ready to share business citing success of Ghanaian entrepreneurs who have settled several years in the country.

Rwandan authorities are however worried, some persons are taking advantage of the arrangement to use Rwanda to illegally enter European countries.

“From here they will go to the European [countries]because there is a flight from Kigali, the same RwandAir that goes, from here to London. So we have had a few of those issues’ Mr Karera said, adding those who do that, sometime exchange documents in washrooms, knowing there are CCTV cameras around the airport. He says these are some of the initial challenges being faced with the implementation of the visa waiver and is warning perpetrators to desist from it,” Mr Karera said

African Continental Free Trade Area

Recounting how it used to take 2 to 3 day to travel from Rwanda to Accra, Ghana’s head of consulate in Rwanda, Derick Karera celebrated how the journey has now been reduced to some 4 hours with Rwanda’s national airline flying from Accra but adds, Rwanda is also looking forward to the smooth and long-term implementation of the AfCFTA (headquartered in Accra) in a manner that allows for the actual free trade to happen.

He argues, protectionism can give way to open borders without compromising on sovereignty but promoting trade at the same time.

Support from Ghana Export Promotion Authority

Chief Executive of the Ghana Export Promotion Agency (GEPA) who led key players within Ghana’s hospitality industry, was optimistic that members of the familiarization tour are already hinging towards ideas that will lead to concrete decisions.

Dr. Afua Asabea Asare says the authority is tourism focused and open to support Ghanaian businesses to penetrate the Rwandan market especially nontraditional exports.

“We should take advantage of the AFCTA and explore other markets in Africa and for me, Rwanda and the east represents some of the interesting places that we may not have in our country.

“I am seeing us having a package where we bring our people to take advantage of the best of the east and then they bring their people to take advantage of the best of the west. They don’t have a lot of our products, so why don’t we take advantage and bring our products here? Our products are doing well in US and the UK” she added\.

In the next few days, JoyNews will bring you scenes from Rwanda as the country readies for Ghanaian penetration following its opening of a High Commission in Ghana; a move Ghana has indicated, it intends to reciprocate. - Gifty Andoh-Appiah, JoyNews


NAIROBI, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's foreign exchange reserves have declined by 27.8 billion shillings (about 254 million U.S. dollars) since the start of March, pulled down by external loan repayments.

The forex reserves fell from 7.605 billion dollars at the end of February to 7.351 billion dollars on March 11, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) said in its weekly update on financial markets released on Friday.

Kenya's external debt currently stands at 35 billion dollars. One of the loan package, whose interest payment was due in the past days, is the 2 billion dollars Eurobond, which was borrowed in 2018.

But despite the decline, the apex bank noted that the reserves were adequate to meet the country's import bill and support the shilling if need arose.

"The usable foreign exchange reserves remain adequate. This meets the CBK's statutory requirement to endeavour to maintain at least four months of import cover," said the apex bank. - Xinhua

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