Apr. 27, 2020 (GIN) – It was inevitable during a lockdown that sales of Kenya’s flower exports would dry up as buyers make fewer impulse purchases of carnations, roses and other blossoms. According to data from the Kenya Flower Council, sales of cut flowers in overseas markets have fallen below 35 per cent of what is expected this time of the year. This month, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, through its members, Kenya Flower Council and other flower growers, launched a “campaign of solidarity” – sending 300 floral bouquets to first responders, doctors and nurses in the UK. A note penned by President Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledged the health crisis that has pummeled the revenue-generating sector. “There have been a few moments in history when the world has faced a crisis as far-reaching and consequential as this,” he wrote. “It is exactly at moments such as this that we must display our humanity, perseverance and hope. Whatever the adversity, no matter the foe, we shall triumph together. We stand united. Tuko Pamoja. From Kenya with love – H E Uhuru Kenyatta.” Despite the depressed sales, flower growers must still care for the flowers otherwise the plant deteriorates and will not bloom in the future. Labor is still required to perform these tasks so that once the pandemic passes, production and sales can return to expected levels. The principal export of the Netherlands for over 200 years, flowers today are grown in other regions, including sub-Saharan Africa, and are challenging the Netherlands’ traditional hold on the industry. Cut flowers are now Kenya’s second largest export after tea, contributing around 1% of the country’s GDP. They are also one of the country’s largest source of employment, with over 100,000 people working directly in the flower industry and an estimated two million indirectly. “Flowers are therapeutic and are a great way of expressing our appreciation to the gallant men and women working round the clock to take care of the sick,” said Bimal Kantaria, managing director of Elgon Kenya. “With this campaign we want to send a message of hope and solidarity as we work to ensure our brothers and sisters in the flower industry do not lose their jobs during these trying times and our highly acclaimed flower sector remains afloat.”
Feb. 3, 2020 (GIN) – The African Growth and Opportunity Act (known as “AGOA”) which aimed to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and improve economic relations between the U.S. and the region is out of step with the new trade deals of the Trump administration. Inotherwords, time’s up. A new economic plan is on the drawing board and African leaders suspect it’s a Trumpian take it or leave it deal. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to be the first to sign on to the bilateral “free-trade agreement” at a Rose Garden meeting with President Donald Trump in Washington this week. It will be America’s first such deal with a sub-Saharan nation and replace the 20 year old AGOA that expires in 2025. AGOA, which provides 39 sub-Saharan African countries duty-free access to the U.S. for about 6,500 products ranging from textiles to manufactured items, has come under increasing criticism in Washington, which wants fast-growing African economies to open up to US goods and services. But the model agreement has few fans among African leaders who have a preference for multilateralism as they move towards an African Continental Free Trade Agreement which comes into force in July. “The Trump administration wants to do bilateral deals, not multilateral deals,” said Aubrey Hruby, in an interview with the Financial Times. Macharia Kamau, Kenya’s principal secretary for foreign affairs, hinted at the risks for Kenya’s fragile, sometimes flailing, economy. “They could easily swamp our markets into oblivion, he said. “Any deal cannot b at the expense of our local capabilities, which are nascent at best.” Meanwhile, in late-breaking news from Kenya, flags are flying at half mast for Daniel arap Moi who served as Kenya’s president from 1978 to 2002. He died peacefully this week at Nairobi Hospital, according to his son Senator Gideon Moi. He was 95 years old. Moi was an autocratic leader who ruled for more than 20 years. “Our nation and our continent were immensely blessed by the dedication and service of the late Mzee Moi; who spent almost his entire adult life serving Kenya and Africa,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement. He came to power in 1978, upon the death of President Jomo Kenyatta, having been vice-president until then. Diplomats said an attempted coup four years later transformed him from a cautious, insecure leader into a tough autocrat. President Uhuru Kenyatta has declared a period of national mourning to last until the funeral day, with the national flag being flown at half mast.
Sept. 18, 2018 (GIN) – The fastest man in the world – Kenyan track star Eliud Kipchoge – not only held onto his title but broke his own record at the Marathon held this week in Berlin. President Uhuru Kenyatta led Kenyans in congratulating compatriots Eliud Kipchoge and Gladys Cherono who retained their respective Marathon titles. “Congratulations my friend Eliud Kipchoge for breaking the World Marathon Record. Proud of you brother,” Harambee Stars captain Victor Wanyama tweeted. Kipchoge smashed the previous world record by compatriot Dennis Kimetto by a massive one minutes and 16 seconds, clocking 2 hours, 01 minute and 39 seconds , setting a new world record and cutting his own personal best by well over a minute. The 33-year-old had won twice before in Berlin. For a man who has the world at his feet, wrote the Kenyan paper Standard Media, Eliud Kipchoge is not your ordinary celebrity. At his Kapsisiywa village in Nandi County, Kipchoge loves herding cattle. He also likes joining in the banter at the shopping center when he is not at the training camp. He is also frequently seen in Eldoret, where he lives at the upmarket Elgon View Estate, and his humility is noticeable. He said he did not see why money should change the character of an athlete who has won half a million dollars. “An athlete with that much in his bank account can brag, but the uneducated farmer who uses the same amount to plant wheat in one season is not even noticed as he walks in town,” he said. At the training camp in Kaptagat, Kipchoge joins fellow athletes – some of them low-profile runners – in the daily cleaning routine, including toilets. “It was a performance so far superior to anything we’ve seen before that comparing it to another marathon feels inadequate,” the running-news website LetsRun.com said of Kipchoge’s new record. “This was Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in basketball, Usain Bolt’s 9.58 in the 100-meter dash.” “Kipchoge’s run was so remarkable it’s hard to give it its proper due,” said LetsRun.com. “In today’s age of hyperbole, this run deserves every accolade said about it. The lower the world record gets, the harder it is to be broken, and the less it should be broken by. Yet Eliud Kipchoge just broke the world record by more than any man in the last 41 years, and he ran the last 10 miles by himself.” In a recent profile in The New York Times, Scott Cacciola called Kipchoge a “philosopher-king of marathons” who has been quoted to say: ‘Only the disciplined ones in life are free. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods and your passions.’ And: ‘It’s not about the legs; it’s about the heart and the mind.’ And: “The best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago. The second-best time to plant a tree is today.” Kipchoge said modestly: “I am really grateful, happy to smash the world record.” Kipchoge will receive $139,614 for his performance on Sunday, which includes a bonus for keeping his time below two hours and four minutes. He holds a diploma in human resource management and plans to join university. He is a dairy and tea farmer as well as a real estate investor.