The Computer Society of Kenya

Since 1986

Blockchain, crypto applications dominate CMA incubation unit

cmaBUSINESS DAILY By OTIATO GUGUYU

The Capital Markets Authority Regulatory Sandbox has so far graduated six enterprises out of the 15 that are listed under the incubation programme, underlining the drive among fintechs to launch capital markets products.

The CMA has midwifed Moneto Ventures Limited, Pezesha Africa Limited, Genghis Capital Limited, Innova Limited, Central Depository and Settlement Corporation (CDSC) and Standard Investment Bank-owned FourFront Management Limited from the sand box.

The CMA launched the incubation programme in May 2019 to facilitate the adoption and implementation of new technologies in the capital markets value chain. A regulatory sandbox is a safe space in which innovators can test new products and services in a normal environment without the risk of consequences from the regulators.

The regulator hopes to boost innovation through piloting models in a controlled space before rolling out investment solutions to the wider public to keep abreast with technological advancement while protecting consumers from unregulated products.

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Kenyan firms hit as Microsoft, Google talent war raises pay

google-1-BUSINESS DAILY By OTIATO GUGUYU

Monday September 19 2022

Local companies are struggling to recruit and retain key talent as US tech titans led by Microsoft, Amazon and Google tilt the market in their favour with high salaries and attractive employment terms.

The three multinationals have increased their presence in East Africa with Kenya as their hub, triggering an aggressive hiring spree that has seen them pay up to Sh1.8 million monthly for principal tech specialists.

The multinationals are also paying around Sh300,000 to junior tech developers, Sh500,000 for mid-level techies and between Sh800,000 and Sh1.3 million for lead and senior roles.

Smaller companies in the area such as Wasoko, Flocash, Twiga foods, Lori Systems, and Sendy, who had invested in and trained young engineers, have been swiftly outbid.

But while the talent war is resulting in higher compensation for Kenya’s techies, it is disrupting the business plans for local firms and smaller foreign technology companies.

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Cyber-criminals cashing in on e-wallet platforms, says report

cybercrime2BUSINESS DAILY By Edna Mwenda

Wednesday September 14 2022

The rising usage of mobile money payments and remote working, has resulted in increased cybercrimes more so since advent of the Covid-19 scourge, a new report shows.

The latest Africa Cyber Security Outlook report by advisory services firm KPMG has revealed that ransomware, business email compromise and data leakages are some of the top cyber threats affecting businesses in Africa.

“Countries such as Kenya have faced ransomware attacks on supply chain networks that were interconnected using cyber-physical systems,” read the report.

The most affected sectors were financial services, energy and natural resources, and information communication technology.

The report revealed that the top threat faced by African companies was business email compromise, according to 26 percent of respondents, 17 percent cited ransomware, 15 percent data leakages and five percent pointed out supply chain attacks.

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Cloud computing: Your answer to cutting business costs and increasing efficiencies

techBUSIENESS DAILY By RICHARD MUTHUA

Monday September 12 2022

It is sometimes too easy for the world to wrongfully assume that Africa lags too far behind the global cloud innovation revolution. That is a fundamentally flawed outlook.

As of 2021, our continent accounted only for $1.2 billion of the global public cloud market, it has more than doubled in the past three years and continues to grow exponentially year on year. Soon, Africa will be among the world’s leading cloud innovators, and Kenya will be at the forefront.

The reality of Africa’s historically low economic growth is the very reason that the continent is ideally suited for the speedy adoption of cloud technology.

As Kenya, and the rest of Africa, look towards economic recovery and growth, cloud is the answer to cutting costs and increasing efficiencies as businesses move away from the requirement of hardware and installation.

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Cybersecurity: Beware of pop-up adverts

cybercrime2BUSINESS DAILY By Winnie Onyando

Monday August 29 2022

Cybercriminals are now targeting online users through the add-ons that pop up on their digital screens with experts warning that threats have risen over 59 percent in the first half of this year compared to the whole of 2021.

Nancy Bwire, 32, nearly fell prey to these increasingly crafty schemers. The mother of two clicked on an advert that popped up in her browser device. Nothing appeared suspicious about the advert, she said.

“I was using my phone as usual when I clicked on an ad. My personal details were tracked and a unanimous person began sending me messages. They required me to tell them my details, claiming I had ‘won’ an award for using their browser,” said Mrs Bwire.

But she became skeptical when they asked her to send her bank details. She later learned that it was a well-laid trap.

Experts are now warning online users to be cautious and avoid clicking on any add-ons that pop up on their devices. According to research by Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity and digital privacy company, over 14 000 online users in Kenya encountered browser extension threats in the first half of 2022.

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Parents to access online school transfer system

nempicDAILY NATION By  David Muchunguh

Monday, August 22, 2022

Parents will now be able to initiate the transfer of their children from one school to another online, once the revamped National Educational Management Information System (Nemis) becomes operational. Parents will also access real-time information on their children’s performance in the summative assessments integrated with the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) system.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha yesterday revealed that the system had undergone re-engineering to make it more user-friendly and “one central source of truth when it comes to education data”.

Further, applications for bursaries and scholarships will henceforth be made on the website. Prof Magoha said some of the loopholes that also saw unscrupulous officials and school heads steal money from the government have been sealed. He was speaking when he launched the re-engineered Nemis at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

“For government to benefit from data, it must be virgin, reliable and verifiable. The Ministry of Education deals with lives and those lives cannot be statistics,” Prof Magoha said.

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Will digital currency disrupt payments?

bitcoin-2-BUSINESS DAILY By GEORGE BODO

In February 2022, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) released a discussion paper on central bank digital currencies (CBDC). Through the paper, the CBK is basically soliciting public comments on the applicability of a potential CBDC in Kenya. But where is the CBK coming from? There has been a growing discontent with the current fiat system, especially among the youth.

Essentially, you have a world of young people who want their own financial system and their own culture. In the fiat system, governments issue money, by way of printing, that is backed by absolutely nothing (except for the faith that populations have in their governments).

Because central banks have always been about money - how money is created, how money is held, how money is exchanged and how money or monetary value is moved, the fiat financial system is centralised (and controlled by governments).

The discontent with centralised fiat system gave birth to cryptocurrencies, a system of decentralised money that is not under the control of governments. The technology underlying cryptocurrencies is distributed ledgers and blockchain.

It is a technology that operates on the premise of having no central authority to manage and authenticate transactions.

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Kenya becoming global ICT hub for the world

dataBUSINESS DAILY By BITANGE NDEMO

Thursday July 28 2022

Big information technology companies have set bases in Kenya in the past few months. Companies such as Microsoft and Alphabet have pitched a tent in the country. In the process, they are recruiting hundreds of young Kenyans as developers and creating new jobs for the unemployed. These companies have seen an untapped opportunity.

Therefore, US President Joe Biden's nominee for ambassador to Kenya, Margaret Cushing Whitman, clearly indicates that our country is becoming a critical ICT destination for the world. And her many years of experience in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) could benefit Kenya.

Whitman serves on the boards of Procter & Gamble and General Motors. Previously she was president and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. In addition, Whitman had a stint at Quibi, a content streaming platform for mobile devices, as CEO between 2018 and 2020.

She received multiple awards, according to her biography, including induction into the US Business Hall of Fame and the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame.

Although the critical responsibilities of ambassadors include maintaining diplomatic relations with the receiving nations, they also advance their foreign policy objectives. As a result, they have latitude in pursuing areas of common interest within the policy agenda. And her predecessors sought to work with Kenya in the development of ICTs.

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Hackers now train sights on educational institutions

cybercrime2DAILY NATION By ELIZABETH KIVUVA

The education sector is one of the hardest hit by ransomware attacks globally endangering learners' data.

A global report on the state of ransomware in education 2022 by Sophos, shows an increasing number of cyberattacks are targeting public, private, international schools, colleges and universities with 60 per cent suffering attacks in 2021 compared to 44 per cent in 2020.

This has been attributed to lack of strong cybersecurity defences and the goldmine of personal data translating to high amounts of money paid to the criminals to restore the data.

Covid led to increased cybercrime as many people accessed services online with schools turning to virtual training on lockdown restrictions.

In terms of the overall cost to restore services, both lower and higher education schools pay Sh187.2 million and Sh168.3 million respectively, than the global average of Sh165.9 million ($1.4 million).

“Educational institutions are also caretakers of vast amounts of personally identifiable information (PII) that can be monetised by criminals. These factors provide enough incentive for criminals to take advantage of this sector,” said Chester Wisniewski, principal research scientist at Sophos.

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Judiciary to link 67 courts to national fibre optic hub

cjBUSINESS DAILY BY SAM KIPLAGAT

Monday July 18, 2022

The Judiciary has started connecting 67 courts to the National Optic Fibre Backbone (NOFB) as it moves to automate its processes.

Chief Justice Martha Koome said the connectivity is a milestone and a giant leap toward the realisation of the aims of the Judiciary’s automation and digitisation agenda.

“This game-changing development will power the Judiciary’s strategic objective of leveraging on technology as an enabler for efficiency in the delivery of justice,” she said.

The CJ added that the Judiciary has since embraced e-government and is now banking on technology to facilitate the provision of e-justice and improve the efficiency of its administrative processes.

The Judiciary has since embraced e-filing and online court hearings since the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2019. More than 3,000 law firms have registered in the system and thousands of cases filed since its launch in July 2020.

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Why firms are rushing to comply with data law

kassaitBUSINESS DAILY By BRIAN NGUGI

Friday July 08, 2022

Companies are racing to review their data privacy policies to avoid paying a fine of Sh5 million or up to one percent of their annual turnover for firms once the deadline lapses in one weeks’ time.

The commencement date for the new rules under the Data Protection Act is July 14.

Under the law, sharing or offering for sale personal information could land those responsible for their safe storage in jail for up to six months or fines of up to Sh5 million.

A data controller or data processor who uses personal data for commercial purposes without the consent of the data subject commits an offence. They are liable, on conviction, to a maximum fine of Sh20,000 or to a term of imprisonment of up to six months, or to both fine and imprisonment according to the data protection Act.

“In relation to an infringement of a provision of this Act, the maximum amount of the penalty that may be imposed by the Data Commissioner in a penalty notice is up to five million shillings, or in the case of an undertaking, up to one per centum of its annual turnover of the preceding financial year, whichever is lower,” says the new law.

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UN: Over 4 million Kenyans own crypto, highest share in Africa

bitcoin-2-BUSINESS DALY By ELIZABETH KIVUVA

Tuesday July 05 2022

Kenya has the largest share of its population with cryptocurrencies in Africa, says the United Nations, pointing to the country’s exposure to the ongoing meltdown in the crypto market.

A report by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says that 8.5 percent of the population or 4.25 million people own cryptocurrencies in the country.

This places Kenya ahead of developed economies such as the United States, which is ranked sixth with 8.3 percent of its population owning digital currencies.

War-torn Ukraine is ranked top, with 12.7 percent share of its population with cryptocurrencies, followed by Russia (11.9 percent), Venezuela (10.3 percent) and Singapore (9.4 percent).

The crypto market, known for its wild price swings, has shed more than half of its value since November last year as investors pulled out money from riskier assets amid worries over soaring inflation and rising interest rates.

This has hit the estimated four million Kenyans, mainly young and small traders, who in recent years have flocked to cryptocurrencies in the hope of quick returns, despite warnings from regulators such as the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) that the emerging assets can be high-risk.

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Telkom to split away mobile money arm on delayed nod

telkomBUSINESS DAILY By ELIZABETH KIVUVA

Monday July 04, 2022

Telkom Kenya has cited delays in getting approvals from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) for the dragged formation of two subsidiaries announced last year.

Telkom, in May 2021, said it was re-organising its company structure to create two wholly-owned subsidiaries -- Telkom Digital and T-Kash -- for its financial services businesses that had kicked off in August 2020.

T-Kash subsidiary will house its mobile money services and announced loan app to compete with KCB M-Pesa and M-Shwari, which its rival Safaricom operates.

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Internet price wars loom as capacity becomes idle

internetDAILY NATION By  Peter Mburu

Monday, June 27, 2022

More than two-thirds of Kenya’s internet supply remained idle in the quarter to March, laying ground for vicious price wars as more firms stepped up investment to add their capacities.

The latest data by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows that between January 1 and March 31, the country only used 3,386.19 billion bits per second (Gbps) of internet bandwidth out of the total available capacity of 10,891.65 Gbps —indicating an oversupply that is likely to trigger price competition among service providers.

This leaves unutilised bandwidth within the country at 7,505.46 Gbps, even as organisations, including multinationals, local firms, and some state firms scramble for the internet market, deploying more internet infrastructure.

“During the review period, leased/available international internet bandwidth remained unchanged whereas bandwidth capacity utilised within the country increased by 15.2 percent to stand at 3,386.19 Gbps,” the CA report stated.

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Crypto industry gripped by anxiety as bitcoin wobbles near Sh2.3m level

bitcoin-2-BUSINESS DAILY By REUTERS

Monday June 20 2022

The cryptocurrency industry was on edge on Monday morning as investors feared contagion from problems at major crypto players could unleash a major shakeout if not contained.

Bitcoin which has lost 57 percent so far this year and 37 percent this month, fell below Sh2.34 million ($20,000) over the weekend for the first time since December 2020.

The level is of symbolic significance, as it was roughly the peak of the 2017 cycle.

The price fall follows difficulties at several major industry players, while further declines could have a knock-on effect as other crypto investors are forced to sell their holdings to meet margin calls and cover losses.

Crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital is exploring its options, including the sale of assets and a bailout by another firm, its founders told the Wall Street Journal in a story published Friday, the same day Asia-focused crypto lender Babel Finance said it would suspend withdrawals.

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Kenyans lose billions to Crypto frauds

bitpxSATURDAY NATION BY VINCENT ACHUKA

Saturday June 11,2022

“I still drive my Ferrari and some of you can’t afford to eat.” That is the last message the founder of a cryptocurrency wrote to Kenyans in a Telegram group after defrauding them of Sh1 billion.

In the days leading to the collapse of Bitstream Circle, a ponzi scheme designed by Kenyan and Chinese fraudsters, its investors – mostly Kenyans – started noticing delays whenever they wanted to withdraw their money.

The company, which had promised a daily profit return of five to 10 per cent of invested amount, appeared on the internet on December 7, 2021.

It gained more than 10,000 followers on its Telegram page in a short time. To be added to the “Bt Elite Team” group, one had to make a $20 (Sh2,340) deposit.

Investors were assigned a mentor who would show them how to convert their shillings into cryptocoins, trade, earn profit and withdraw their money.

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Mitigating cyber-fraud risks targeting Kenyan businesses

cybercrimeBUSINESS DAILY By HAROLD MBATI

Tuesday June 06, 2022

Last week the media reported how a Kenyan was milked dry by a well-orchestrated SIM swap fraud carried out. The victim lost Sh2.6 million in the unfortunate event. That is a snapshot of the dangers of cybercrime at a micro-level. At a macro-level where banks and large businesses are involved, the situation is dicier.

As we celebrate the Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day (MSMEs) this month, let us pay attention to this challenge.

As we know small businesses have been most affected since the outbreak of the pandemic, making the reinsurance sector an increasingly challenging market. This has a ripple effect on the banks and the insurance sector that protects them and by extension the reinsurance companies that safeguard these insurers.

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Kenyan domains up 39pc on faster tech adoption

internet33BUSINESS DAILY By KEVIN ROTICH

Thursday May 26 2022

The number of registered Kenyan domains grew by 38.5 percent in 2020, a new report shows, at a time when companies embraced digital platforms in the wake of Covid-19's restrictions.

Official data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that a total of 101,123 local domains were established in 2020, up from 62,636 in 2016, representing a 38.5 per cent increase.

Companies recorded the highest number of applications at 35,611 followed by government entities (243), institutions of higher learning (236), not-for-profit organisations (70), blogs (12), and lower and middle institutions of learning (five) in the period.

”Total registered Kenyan domains continued to increase for the fifth year in a row to stand at 101,123 in 2020. Second Level Domain (SLD) had the highest increase of 15.9 per cent followed by Institution of Higher Learning at 8.2 per cent,” the 2021 Economic Survey shows.

After the government announced stringent lockdown measures such as social distancing, closure of schools and movement restrictions, firms adopted digital solutions to reach new and existing customers.

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Helb to borrow Sh22bn for student laptops

ringeraBUSINESS DAILY By BRIAN NGUGI

The Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) plans to borrow Sh22 billion through a bond to fund laptop purchases for university students.

The agency said on Tuesday it will issue its first so-called social bond to supplement government capitation that has failed to keep pace with the growing student enrolment.

The number of government-sponsored students in public universities has grown rapidly in the past few years due to the lowering of the entry grade to public universities to C+, outpacing Helb’s funding from the State.

“Initially we estimated this to be Sh5.5 billion. However, looking at the application of these funds, which is to finance students to acquire laptop loans for purposes of e-learning ... we estimate this now at Sh22 billion,” said Helb CEO Charles Ringera.

“The current university enrolment is at 700,000. Only 20 percent of these students have laptops, leaving over 560,000 in need of laptops. At a price of Sh45,000 for a reasonable laptop, then you can now see the actual demand – but we could start this progressively by issuing these in tranche notes.”

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A case for right laws for tech in Africa

cybercrime2BUSINESS DAILY By BITANGE NDEMO

Thursday May 19 2022

Emerging technologies are transforming every aspect of our lives and as a result, influencing our laws. The speed at which these technologies are shaping our lives is not matched with the pace of policy and regulatory change.

Yet, we must enable innovations to take place, allow fair markets to flourish and protect consumers from intrusive technology providers and those that seek to harm citizens.

A research on laws and emerging technologies by Esther Salmerón-Manzano highlights how new technologies will have a huge impact on society in the coming years and bring new legal challenges worldwide.

Experience shows that technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are already having a significant impact on our economic, social, and political lives. Covid-19 fast tracked most of these technologies.

In spite of the impact, many developing economies’ policy, regulatory frameworks and laws on technology still lag developed nations.

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