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Kenya Titanium exports decrease in second
quarter following temporary closure of mine

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s titanium exports decreased in the second quarter of 2019 compared to a similar period last year due to closure of a mine, the industry said on Thursday.

Base Titanium, which operates the Kwale mineral sands project, said in a statement that ilmenite exports, which contains titanium decreased to 99,620 tons for the second quarter compared to 107,170 tons in a similar period in 2018.

"The main focus for the quarter was the successful relocation of mining operations to the South Dune orebody in June, following depletion of the Central Dune.

"During this period, the mineral separation plant operated on stockpiled heavy mineral concentrate to ensure uninterrupted production," the firm said.

According to Base Titanium, which is a subsidiary of Australian mining giant Bases, the Kwale mineral sands project, contains 134 million tones of resources as at June 2018.

Between April and June, Base Titanium said, it also exported 31,889 tons of rutile which contains titanium oxide down from 25,635 tons in a similar period last year.

The mining firm, also recorded exports of 7,968 tons of Zircon in the second quarter of 2019 compared to 9,007 tons between April and June 2018.

The mining firm noted that an emerging ilmenite deficit in the international market being created by strong demand and supply restrictions has resulted in a strengthening ilmenite price through the second quarter.

"Demand for Base Titanium’s ilmenite from existing customers remains greater than the company’s ability to supply and there has been a significant increase in enquiries from new customers globally," the company said.


Kenya seeks foreign investment to exploit oil and gas sector

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya is seeking to attract foreign investors to exploit the country’s oil and gas resources, a government official said on Thursday.

John Mosonik, chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining, told a regional trade forum in Nairobi that Kenya’s total sedimentary basins surface area is 485,000 square km with 63 gazetted exploration blocks onshore and offshore.

"Currently 27 blocks are licensed, and 36 blocks are hence open to investors," Mosonik said during the opening ceremony of the 8th oil and gas international trade exhibition.

The three-day event brought together Kenya’s energy industry and foreign participants from 22 countries who are the leaders in their respective segments.

The international trade event is a crucial platform to propel the energy sector in Kenya to new heights and gain a strong lead in the East African region and the African continent.

Mosonik said that oil exploration in Kenya began in 1954 before the country achieved independence, after which upstream activities continued in varying intensities.

He observed that between 1960 and 1992, 32 wells were drilled all none of which yielded commercially viable oil deposits.

In 2012, Tullow Oil announced the discovery of 300 million barrels of oil in Turkana rekindling Kenya’s prospects of becoming an oil producing nation.

According to the ministry of petroleum, so far 10 discoveries have been made in the South Lokichar Basin in northwest Kenya with a recoverable resource currently estimated at 560 million barrels of oil, with the possibility that it will exceed 1.2 billion barrels of oil.

"Unrisked gas discoveries have also been reported in offshore Lamu and in the Anza basins," Mosonik added.

Chinese firms eye Kenya renewable energy sector amid potential for growth

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Chinese companies are keen to expand their footprint in Kenya’s renewable energy sector whose growth has accelerated against a backdrop of friendly policy and regulatory environment, senior executives said on Thursday.

The executives, who spoke to Xinhua at the eighth Africa oil and gas exhibition taking place in Nairobi, said they were keen to venture into Kenya’s clean energy solutions market.

Joanne Tan, overseas sales director of Guolong Electric Company Limited, said that Kenya presents new opportunities for manufacturers of solar technologies whose uptake in rural areas has spiked.

"We consider Kenya a strategic market for our solar products as the government promotes use of clean energy in homes and industries," said Tan, adding that her company is sourcing for a local partner to expand presence in Kenya and neighboring countries.

She said that Gulong Electric Company Limited, a manufacturer of solar technologies based in Zhejiang Province, has a strong presence in Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.

Tan said the expo presents an opportunity for her company to conduct extensive research on sustainability of solar solutions market in Kenya and the region.

"A survey on the general status of the market for solar products in this region is key to inform future investment decisions," said Tan.

Chinese firms joined their counterparts from 30 countries to participate in the eighth edition of Africa oil and gas exhibition taking place in Nairobi from July 25 to 27.

Neal Wu, a regional sales executive at Chengdu Huaqi Houpu Holding Company Limited, said his firm is keen to be a major player in cleaner energy revolution in Kenya.

"Our goal is to understand this market and how we can provide technologies that promote uptake of liquefied natural gas (LNG). We are already active in Nigeria where we provide equipment for LNG filling stations," said Wu.

He said that investing in Kenya’s market for clean energy technologies is in line with Chinese companies’ quest to be an integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Elis Chen, sales manager of Shenzhen King Sako Electronics Company Limited, said last year’s entry into the Kenyan market has been a success given high demand for solar technologies.

"We have distributors in Kenya who have enabled us to reach a growing number of clients who request our integrated solar system," said Chen.

Kenya presents a promising market for solar technologies as households, industries and institutions like schools and hospitals embrace clean technologies, she added.

Vincent Xiao, sales manager of Zhejiang Jiajiare New Energy Company Limited, said that demand for solar water heaters in Kenya has increased in line with the country’s green aspirations.

"We have been doing business for more than five years in Kenya and our solar water heating equipment has been received well by clients.

"The product is green and affordable," said Xiao.

Kenya launches program to help improve nut crops

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s researchers said Thursday they have launched a program aimed at improving the growing of nut crop, processing and marketing.

Eliud Kireger, director general of Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), said the country’s nut industry is performing poorly because most of the nut crops that were introduced in the country have aged, and are now producing low quality nuts.

"We have started research on macadamia, groundnuts, coconut and cashew nuts to improve their quality to boost trade locally and internationally," Kireger told journalists in Nairobi.

Kireger revealed that preliminary studies shows that the program is fast yielding good results and will avail high yielding quality nuts.

He said that the program has resulted into high yielding groundnuts which are preferred for roasting and another variety that is cream in color and produces quality peanut butter.

The official said that the current poor marketing strategy that has led to producers earning little money will come to an end since the government plans to open up local and international markets.

"This program is intended to educate farmers to abandon planting of poor yielding materials by adopting superior and pest resistant varieties," he added.

He said that KALRO researchers have been instructed to improve their interaction between them and farmers to lay ground for the technology transfer.

The researcher said that KALRO has embarked on promoting new seed varieties through goggle’s play store in its website where 30 online applications are placed.

"We are soon featuring additional 28 online applications mainly on horticultural crops to help boost agriculture in the country," he added.

Kireger said that KALRO researchers are looking for all avenues of availing modern and current information to farmers in rural areas beyond relying on extension services.

The official added that thousands of farmers have started downloading the online applications that is expected to double crop, poultry and livestock production.

He told farmers to redouble their effort since the government is leading in finding markets for their produce.

Kireger observed that the nuts will be processed and value added locally before being sold to the local and international market.

Kenya to use block chain to boost food security

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to use block chain technology to boost food security, a senior government official said on Thursday.

Joe Mucheru, cabinet secretary in the ministry of Information Communication and Technology (ICT), told journalists in Nairobi that technology such as artificial intelligence can be used to track agricultural produce from end-to-end from seeds to marketplace.

"We will also be introducing a citizen service to track the origin of food products and report unsafe food products," Mucheru said when he received a report from the distributed ledgers technology and artificial intelligence taskforce.

The taskforce was created in 2018, to develop a roadmap for emerging technologies that will define the evolving fourth industrial revolution.

Mucheru said that the team will receive views of the public on the use of block chain and artificial intelligence for the next three weeks.

"Thereafter the report will presented to cabinet for approval so that the implementation of the recommendations commences," he added.

Mucheru said that blockchain technologies are expected to be disruptive and will change the way business is conducted in Kenya.

"They further promise to enhance public service delivery, while promoting efficiency in the private sector by streamlining supply chains," he added.

Bitange Ndemo, chairperson of the taskforce, said that the use of blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies could be transformative across several key sectors in Kenya, including healthcare, agriculture, education and government services.

"The improved efficiency, transparency and accountability of blockchain can considerably benefit government services in which several emerging markets struggle with inefficient legacy infrastructures and an inability to provide citizens with fast, accountable and transparent service delivery," Ndemo said.



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