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The Shark Dubai Mall 259 days ago
“He said, "The word for moonlight is moonlight."
This made her happy. It was logically complex and oddly moving and
circularly beautiful and true - or maybe not so circular but straight
as straight can be.”
― Don DeLillo, The Body Artist
The Isis propaganda war: a hi-tech media jihad Isis is using techniques plundered from movies, video games and news channels to spread its message. Who is masterminding the operation
Law & Politics
The current geopolitical situation in the Middle East is depressingly
familiar, but Isis’s media sophistication is something new. It’s
almost as if it looked at Osama bin Laden’s fuzzy, monotonous
camcorder sermons of a decade ago and concluded that extremist Islam
really needed a snappier marketing strategy. Isis is in competition
with western news channels, Hollywood movies, reality shows, even
music video, and it has adopted their vocabulary.
Unsurprisingly, the personnel behind Al Hayat Media Center are
unknown. If there is a Leni Riefenstahl figure, chief suspect is Abu
Talha al-Almani, AKA Denis Cuspert, AKA “Deso Dogg”. In the latter
incarnation, he was a moderately successful gangsta rapper in Germany,
but Dogg publicly converted to Islam in 2010 and and began writing
nashids not dissimilar to those put out by Al Hayat.
Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
Euro 1.1940 The euro dropped 0.5 percent to $1.1942 as of 1:36 p.m. in
Tokyo after sliding to $1.1864, the weakest level since March 2006.
Dollar Index 91.15
Japan Yen 120.54
Swiss Franc 1.0064
Pound 1.5289 lowest since August 2013.
India Rupee 63.445
South Korea Won 1110.85
Brazil Real 2.6946
Egypt Pound 7.1525
South Africa Rand 11.7350
The euro has fallen 0.4 percent in the past week, the third worst
performer of 10-developed nation currencies tracked by Bloomberg
Correlation-Weighted Indexes. The dollar gained 1.5 percent and the
yen rose 1.6 percent.
The euro dropped 0.5 percent to $1.1942 as of 1:36 p.m. in Tokyo after
sliding to $1.1864, the weakest level since March 2006.
Draghi, in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt published
Jan. 2, said policy makers are ready to act if needed to counter
deflation. The ECB meets on Jan. 22.
Dollar Index 3 Month Chart INO 91.15
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index (BCOM), which tracks the U.S. currency
against 10 major peers, rose for a second day. The gauge climbed 0.3
percent to 1,144.91, set for the highest close since its inception
date of Dec. 31, 2004.
Euro versus the Dollar 3 Month Chart 1.1940 [9 Year Lows for the Euro]
The U.S. currency advanced 0.8 percent to $1.2002 per euro after
appreciating to $1.2001, the strongest level since June 2010.
“We are in technical preparations to alter the size, speed and
composition of our measures at the beginning of 2015, should this
become necessary,” Draghi
Samsung Takes Google Software Challenge to TVs
Samsung Electronics Co. (005930)’s challenger to Google Inc. (GOOGL)
software is moving from phones to big-screen TVs as the South Korean
company tries to capitalize on the burgeoning interest in smart homes.
The world’s biggest maker of TVs will unveil the first sets powered by
Tizen software at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, and all the
Web-connected models it sells this year will run the operating system.
The company also may demonstrate at CES how the TVs communicate with
its washing machines, refrigerators and vacuum cleaners.
The controlling Lee family is trying to reinvent Samsung as a purveyor
of Internet-connected appliances to grab share of a market that may be
worth $7.1 trillion by 2020. Samsung wants to generate revenue from
Tizen applications and services just as Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google
do from their operating systems, and the Suwon-based company is
emphasizing TVs and consumer electronics after falling a year behind
schedule on a Tizen-based phone.
“In smartphones, there’s no chance that Samsung’s Tizen can edge out
the two dominant operating systems,” said Claire Kim, a Seoul-based
analyst at Daishin Securities Co. (003540) “But in TVs, Samsung may
have a chance.”
Helped by Samsung, LG Electronics Inc. (066570) and dozens of other
producers, Android runs about 84 percent of smartphones. That
splinters the pool of profits, with many vendors losing money in a
crowded market, market researcher Strategy Analytics said in October.
While Apple only has 12.3 percent of the market, the Cupertino,
California-based company’s ownership of its operating system gives it
greater control of every stage and a slice of each transaction.
“The value of an operating system is like intellectual property, you
get a piece of the action regardless of the minor changes and you get
to set the rules of the game,” Tom Kang, research director at Hong
Kong-based Counterpoint Technology Market Research Ltd., said by
e-mail. “It’s much preferable for a giant like Samsung to be able to
steer its own fate.”
Google and Apple typically receive about 30 percent of every
application, song or movie purchased to run on their operating
Google’s “other” revenue, which includes the mobile Play store as well
as Chromecast hardware, was $1.84 billion in the September quarter. In
the same period, Apple had sales of $4.6 billion for iTunes, software
By using its scale in consumer electronics and No. 1 position in TV
shipments, Samsung could use the unveiling of Tizen sets to create a
new standard for the industry.
“There certainly is a limit to just being a hardware maker without
having its own operating system,” said Ko Jung Woo, a Seoul-based
analyst at BS Securities Co. Ltd. “It’s positive for Samsung to brace
for the next new battle, where all products will be controlled under
one software platform.”
Crude Oil 1 Year Chart 51.69
WTI for February delivery slid as much as $1.29, or 2.5 percent, to
$51.40 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile
Exchange. The contract lost 3.7 percent to $52.69 last week. Total
volume of all futures traded was more than double the 100-day average.
U.S. crude slid as low as $51.40 a barrel, its lowest since May 2009,
and at 0312 GMT was just a tick above that at $51.59 a barrel, still
February Brent crude dropped as low as $55.36 a barrel, also its
lowest since May 2009, before edging back to $55.42, still down a
"Trying to pick a bottom could be deadly," said a crude oil trader who
declined to be named due to company policy.
In Africa, ethnic fault lines and iron fists bode ill GEOFFREY YORK @geoffreyyork
The year ahead will be a crucial test of Africa’s diplomatic and
political institutions: Can they halt their internal conflicts before
they turn into the kind of near-permanent wars that have scarred much
of the Middle East and Central Asia?
@AFPAfrica At least 100 dead in Burundi attack by rebel group
At least 100 dead in Burundi attack by rebel group: military source @Yahoonews
"After five days of non-stop military operations, the armed group
which attacked Burundi has been wiped out by our security forces. In
total, we killed 105 of them and captured four, out of a total of the
121 who entered Cibitoke province from the DRCongo," the general said.
Burundi, a small nation in Africa's Great Lakes region, emerged in
2006 from a brutal 13-year civil war and its political climate remains
fractious ahead of the elections when President Pierre Nkurunziza, in
power since 2005, is expected to run for a third term in office
despite opponents' claims that that would violate Burundi's
Falling oil price poses tough challenge for West African rulers Times Live
Some of Africa’s most entrenched leaders are facing an unprecedented
challenge from an unexpected foe: falling oil prices.
Rulers of a cluster of nations along Africa’s oil-rich Atlantic coast
have long used crude revenue to consolidate their power, reward
political allies and subsidize basic goods and services.
As oil prices decline, that formula for maintaining power looks
increasingly inadequate for rulers such as Angola’s José Eduardo dos
“If the drop in prices continues, he will be in free fall,” said
Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, a political scientist at the University of
For more than 30 years in office, Mr. dos Santos has relied on the
proceeds from oil sales. If that revenue continues to shrink, “the
very assumption that this regime is able to weather all sorts of
storms would be in question,” Mr. de Oliveira said.
Officials in Angola didn’t respond to requests seeking comment on how
dropping oil prices would affect the government.
Earnings from the 1.7 million barrels produced daily by Angola,
sub-Saharan Africa’s second-biggest crude producer, have given it a
comfortable trade surplus and 5.3% annual growth each year since the
global financial crisis in 2009.
Mr. dos Santos has used the windfall to mute opposition to his
autocratic style of government.
He has doubled the public-wage budget, spent $5 billion a year on
subsidies that hold down gasoline prices and directed billions of
dollars to a sovereign-wealth fund that is officially charged with
investing in efforts to diversify Angola’s economy. It is run by one
of his children, José Filomeno de Sousa dos Santos.
Such largess now appears unsustainable. The country’s economy could
shrink in 2015 for the first time in two decades, according to
London-based Capital Economics.
José Miranda, a manager for Australia-based engineering contractor
Aurecon Group, said Angola’s government has cut spending so
drastically that his contracts for water and road projects there are
down by a third this year.
The same tensions are reverberating across the continent.
Fitch Ratings warned in December that Cameroon and Gabon also will
face a fiscal crunch next year as oil prices drop. Oil receipts pay
for a quarter of the national budget in Cameroon, where Paul Biya has
ruled for more than three decades. Gabon, ruled since 1967 by Omar
Bongo, then his son Ali Bongo Ondimba, draws more than half its budget
and most of its export revenue from oil.
Plunging oil prices will also test the grip of Africa’s
longest-serving leader, Teodoro Obiang, who has ruled Equatorial
Guinea since 1979. The country of some 722,000 people is Africa’s
richest by per capita, yet the World Bank says 80% of the population
lives on less than $2 a day.
Even as most in his country remain mired in poverty, Mr. Obiang’s
son—one of his two vice presidents and presumed successor—reached an
out-of-court settlement in October with the U.S. Department of Justice
in a civil suit accusing him of amassing more than $300 million of
assets through corruption and money laundering.
In a statement announcing the settlement, Assistant Attorney General
Leslie Caldwell said Teodoro Obiang carried out a “corruption-fueled
spending spree” in the U.S. using funds gained through “relentless
embezzlement and extortion” of Equatorial Guinea’s government and
The president has built a gleaming conference center and seldom-used
six-lane highways in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea’s capital. Now, he is
relocating the capital to the outskirts of the village in the rain
forest where he was born, complete with an opera house, golf courses
and a five-star hotel.
The International Monetary Fund has urged him to curtail those plans
as demand for Equatorial Guinea’s crude by its biggest customer—the
U.S.—shrinks because of shale production there.
The country’s economy slipped into recession last year and could
contract 8% next year, as demand from the U.S. continues to fall.
If so, it would be the worst growth rate since “the time of lean cows”
more than 30 years ago. That era of brutal repression and starvation
led Mr. Obiang to seize power from his uncle and the president,
Francisco Macias, and put him on trial on charges of genocide and
After his conviction by a military tribunal, Mr. Macias was sentenced
to death and executed by firing squad.
Africa growth registered 1.5 per cent.
“International scheduled passenger traffic grew by 6.3 per cent in
2014, up from the 5.7 per cent recorded in 2013. With the recovery in
the Eurozone economy, European traffic increased by 5.7 per cent and
accounted for the largest share of international RPKs with 38 per
cent,” it stated.
It said Asia/Pacific had the second-largest share with 27 per cent,
growing by 5.8 per cent. North America was also up by 3.1 per cent, in
line with its improving economic conditions.
With its combined economic strength and airline network expansion, the
Middle East recorded the highest international passenger traffic
growth at 13.4 per cent.
Africa 1.5% versus +6.3% confirms Ebola related slowdown.
“Tensions in the U.S.-Nigeria relationship are probably at their highest level in the past decade,” Johnnie Carson, the State Department’s former top diplomat for Africa @nytimes
“There is a high degree of frustration on both sides. But this
frustration should not be allowed to spin out of control.”
Here in Stuttgart, officials at the headquarters of United States
Africa Command offered their own bleak assessment of a
corruption-plagued, poorly equipped Nigerian military that is “in
tatters” as it confronts an enemy that now controls about 20 percent
of the country.
“Ounce for ounce, Boko Haram is equal to if not better than the
Nigerian military,” said one American official here, who spoke on
condition of anonymity to discuss operational reports.
When the Pentagon did come up with what it calls “actionable
intelligence” from the drone flights — for example, information that
might have indicated the location of some of the girls — and turned it
over to the Nigerian commanders to pursue, they did nothing with the
information, Africa Command officials said.
Last summer, the United States blocked the sale of American-made Cobra
attack helicopters to Nigeria from Israel, amid concerns in Washington
about Nigeria’s ability to use and maintain that type of helicopter in
its effort against Boko Haram, and continuing worries about Nigeria’s
protection of civilians when conducting military operations.
Those restrictions have drawn sharp criticism from Nigerian officials.
In a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York in
November, Nigeria’s ambassador to the United States, Adebowale Ibidapo
Adefuye, said his government was dissatisfied with the “scope, nature
and content” of American support in the fight against Boko Haram. He
also disputed allegations of human rights violations committed by
“We find it difficult to understand how and why in spite of the U.S.
presence in Nigeria with their sophisticated military technology, Boko
Haram should be expanding and becoming more deadly,” he said.
Mr. Adefuye accused Washington of failing to provide the lethal
weapons needed to defeat Boko Haram. In June, the Pentagon gave
Nigeria some Toyota trucks, communications equipment and body armor.
“There is no use giving us the type of support that enables us to
deliver light jabs to the terrorists when what we need to give them is
the killer punch,” the ambassador said.
Secretary of State John Kerry called Nigeria’s president, Goodluck
Jonathan, on Tuesday in part to discuss Boko Haram.
Making Change: Mobile Pay in Africa @WSJAfrica
Across Kenya, mobile money is breathing life into micro business.
Companies whose business models are based on mobile payments have
shown how targeting some of the world’s poorest customers can not only
pay but also be a promising way to grow. Small digital transactions
are fueling new ventures, from insurance to loans, and pointing the
way for other companies that want to reach the global poor, or the
￼￼￼“The mobile phone made the bottom of the pyramid viable as a
business opportunity,” said Aly Khan Satchu, who runs a Kenyan
investment firm. “If you’re taking a dollar off a million people,
that’s a reasonable revenue stream, but it wasn’t possible to do that
without the mobile phone.”
Tourism will need a calm 2015 for full recovery
The year has flown by and here we are holding the remains of 2014 and
like sand it will all slip through our fingers. I have a ritual (which
you all know by now) which is gather up the family, pile everything
into the car and head off to the Coast. You need to concentrate on the
Mombasa Nairobi road and I find that act of concentration wipes my
mind clean, hollows it out of crude oil, the euro, dollar, Nairobi
Securities Exchange and any other price sequences and patterns that
have lodged in the image-repertoire of my mind.
As we drove down, we noticed a lot of preliminary work on the Standard
Gauge Railway. The original 'Lunatic Express' was built around the
turn of the 20th century. More than a century later, it is clear that
Kenya has embarked on the second iteration of the railways. There is
evidently momentum behind the SGR. The SGR build-out will represent a
meaningful net gain for the economy going forward.
The 'tourist economy' which is worth well north of a $1billion a year
(which I am experiencing as I write this at the Swahili Beach Hotel in
the South Coast - listening to the Indian Ocean breeze and
anticipating my boat trip tomorrow to see the dolphins) is going to
remain a drag on 2015 Gross Domestic Product. There is no silver
bullet. Once upon a time we used to count elephants on our road trips
from Mombasa to Nairobi; this time we were counting foreign tourists
and they were very thin on the ground. We have a fabulous offering but
it has been shot down in the insecurity crossfire. Israeli Prime
Ministers would always talk of a "period of calm" before entering into
any negotiations with the Palestinians. The tourism sector needs a 12
month period of calm before it can recover. ''Places that depend on
tourism, for example, are particularly susceptible to perceived
instability'' writes Nasim N. Taleb in the latest edition of foreign
policy in a piece titled ''The Calm Before the Storm Why Volatility
Signals Stability, and ?Vice Versa.'' The Key words are ''perceived
instability.'' Its all about the perception. We live in an always on
24-hour world. I have yet to see the plan which bends the perception
curve. We have not reached a 'firesale' moment at the Coast but
directionally its heading towards a denouement and for those of us who
have a longer term and institutional memory in these respects, we know
what that 'firesale' can look like.
Let me loop back to the markets. Tullow Oil PLC has fallen 46.673 per
cent in 2014, Africa Oil has fallen 72.589 per cent over the same
period. If East Africa and Kenya Oil and Gas were listed at the
Securities Exchange, they would be the worst performing counters bar
none. Tullow Oil and Africa Oil are hoping for a 'Hail Mary' pass. I
am afraid its not going to happen. Oil prices will stay lower and for
longer than any prediction I have yet seen. We could see an average
price of $50.00 a barrel through 2015 which is around the break-even
price for our oil. We are similar to the shale producers in the US and
just like they have been carried out, so are we.
The Nairobi All Share will post its third consecutive winning year.
The big cap stocks like Safaricom, and the banks such as Kenya
Commercial Bank and others have kept the All Share moving forward. The
NSE20 found it much harder going in 2014 and its touch and go now
whether it will be a winning or a losing year for that index. This
bifurcation is signaling a two tier two speed market.
Taking everything into the mix, 2015 is a year when investors need to
be quick on the draw, have their wits about them and be prepared to
turn things around real quick. The new year 2015 will not be a buy and
hold year. It will be a trading year.
M-Shwari offers 6-month loans to smartphone buyers
Safaricom’s M-Shwari customers can now borrow loans to buy smartphones
and tablets in the company’s bid to grow high-speed data devices
connected to its network.
“By breaking the price barrier jointly with handset manufacturers,
Safaricom has managed to grow the number of smartphones in our network
to 3.1 million this year from just over 400,000 in 2012,” Safaricom
said in its annual report.
The Securities Exchange was lightly traded today and this might be
correlated to the Introduction of the Capital Gains Tax.
CGT might have been responsible for a very circumspect session where
turnover clocked only 142.455m
The Nairobi All Share retreated 1.07 points to close at 162.17.
The Nairobi NSE20 retreated 27.72 points to close at 5089.71.
The Shilling traded session Lows of 91.20 during the Trading Day
before improving to trade at 90.75.
The Dollar has kicked off 2015 real hard pinning the Euro back as far
as 1.1864 which was the weakest level for the Euro since March 2006.
The Strong Dollar Trend will rage unabated in 2015, in my opinion.
N.S.E Equities - Commercial & Services
Safaricom eased 0.7067% to close at 14.05 and was the most actively
traded share at the Securities Exchange with 2.558m shares worth
35.955m. Safaricom will test an All Time Closing High of 15.00 reached
on the 9th of last month, in short order. Today we learnt that
Safaricom has 3.1m Smartphones on its Network up from 400,000 in 2012.
Data is getting Lift-Off and supports my 20.00 shilling Target for the
share price in 2015.
Kenya Airways rallied +2.29% to close at 8.90 and was locked at 9.00
+3.45% at the Finale. Kenya Airways traded 134,700 shares. Airline
Stocks have rallied world-wide on the sharply lower Oil Price. Kenya
Airways has lagged that Rally.
Nation Media retreated 7.0175% to close at 265.00 on light trading 1,900 shares.
Longhorn Kenya was the biggest Winner at the Securities Exchange and
rallied 8.762% to close at 10.55 and traded 41,300 shares.
Marshalls was high ticked to close at 10.20 +4.08% on just 100 shares traded.
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment
Equity Bank eased back 1.49% to close at 49.75 and traded 326,300
shares worth 16.312m.
Kenya Commercial Bank eased back 0.88% to close at 56.50 and traded
Transcentury traded 3rd at the Exchange and retreated a meaningful
7.69% to close at 18.00 [a 52 week Low] and traded 710,000 shares
[0.2591% of its shares] worth 12,806m.
Centum popped +3.25% higher to close at 63.50 and traded 97,700 shares.
N.S.E Equities - Industrial & Allied
Kenya Power KPLC surged +5.263% to close at 15.00 which is a 3 week
High. KPLC was trading at 15.20 +6.67% at the Finish. KPLC traded
269,600 shares and Buyers outpaced Sellers by a Factor of 43 versus
KenGen, by contrast, had 48 Sellers for 14 Buyers through the session
and retreated 2.955% to close at 9.85 with 99,900 shares trading.
Total Kenya firmed 0.9523% to close at 26.50 and was trading 27.00
+2.86% session highs into the Finish Line. Total Kenya has rallied
+10.4061% over the first 2 sessions of 2015. Total Kenya traded
336,500 shares and there were Buyers for 4x the volume traded during
the session and that verifies this muscular price move in 2015.
KenolKobil bounced 2.33% to close at 8.80 and traded shares as high as
8.95 +4.07% at the Closing Bell. KenolKobil traded 88,300 shares and
had 10 Buyers for every Single Seller through the trading session.
the recently GEMS-listed Flame Tree Group bounced +4.242% higher to
close at 8.60. FTG traded shares as high as 8.90 +7.88% at the Finish.