Today across Kenya more than 19 million people will go to the polls in what is one of the most important elections on the African continent.
Kenya is a large economy compared to many of its African neighbours and its democracy has not faced the same level of crisis as other countries in its close proximity. The health of its democracy is often seen as an important bellwether for democratic politics across Africa. This year, the election takes place only days after Rwanda's president was re-elected with nearly 99% of the vote.
However, elections in Kenya are not without their own considerable difficulties.
The contest is being fought by two political rivals who have been challenging each other for many years. The current president, Uhuru Kenyatta, is battling for his second and final term against Raila Odinga, a 72 year old who has run for office three times without success.
Widespread violence after elections in 2010 left more than 1,100 Kenyans dead and 600,000 displaced. This poll could go either way, with both candidates urging a calm response following the result. Despite these calls for unity, the last week of campaigning was marred by the murder of a top election official and early claims of vote rigging.
To make matters more challenging, the two leading candidates are from political dynasties in the country. President Kenyatta is the son of Kenya's founding president, and Odinga is the son of his political rival in the 1960s.
In Africa, certain families’ domination of politics has led to the collapse of democracy in many countries. To date, Kenya has been more of a success story, so we can only hope that it continues that way after today's election results are known.
Japan has upgraded the threat level of North Korea in its annual defence white paper. Shinzo Abe's government believes the danger posed by North Korea may be greater than many think, with the possibility that the rogue regime has already miniaturised its nuclear weapons.
A global broadband report has found that Britain ranks 31st in the world for average broadband speed, trailing behind Thailand, New Zealand, and the majority of our European neighbours. The UK's average speed of 16.5Mpbs is only a third of Singapore's, which tops the ranking.
From the end of this month, Tesco is to stop selling disposable 5p plastic bags and instead make only 10p "bags for life" available to shoppers. In a trial in Aberdeen, Dundee and Norwich, the supermarket said bag sales had dropped by 25%, which it expects to drop further as people continue to reuse the bags. The company has said it is “the right thing to do for the environment”.
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation released figures this morning highlighting that the employment boom shows no signs of abating, despite the economy slowing and employers facing increased uncertainty. According to the survey, firms are hiring at the fastest rate in two years and are raising wages to compete for staff.
Businesses are unprepared for new data protection laws that will come into force in May 2018, according to leading law firms such as Clifford Chance. The Data Protection Bill will be the first change in data protection law since 1998, before Facebook and other social networks were invented. The change is designed to give more power to the consumer over how their data is used.
As HMRC has stepped up its pursuit of potential tax evaders, it has increased the number of dawn raids carried out on properties by a third, to 669, over the last five years. Over the same period, prosecutions for tax evasion have more than doubled, from 501 to 1067.
The FTSE 100 ended the day 0.3 per cent higher at 7,531.94. It was a good day for the mining companies as Rio Tinto and Glencore rose 2.6 per cent, and BHP Billiton jumped by 2.3 per cent. The rise was due to an increase in the price of metals.
Paddy Power's shares took a hit as the bookmaker announced that its chief executive, Breon Corcoran, would be standing down. Corcoran is to be replaced by Peter Jackson, the UK chief executive of Worldpay. At close, Paddy Power was down five per cent.
On the currency markets, the pound dropped 0.15% against the dollar to $1.3017, and 0.3% against the euro to €1.1045.
InterContinental Hotels Group, Paysafe Group, Paddy Power Betfair, Standard Life, Worldpay Group
Bellway, Clark (T.), Pets at Home Group
International Economic Announcements
(07:00) Balance of Trade (GER)
(07:00) Current Account (GER)
COLUMNS OF NOTE
In the Financial Times, Kathrin Hille takes a closer look at Alexi Navalny, who is a long-time critic of Vladimir Putin and Russia's staunchest anti-corruption campaigner. Hille examines how Navalny is struggling to reach the wider country with his policy programme.
On the 70th anniversary of the listing system, Ed Jefferson, writing in The Guardian, examines why the system for saving old buildings is a farce. He cites its random and ill-judged nature and calls for reform.
Did you know?
Rainforests only cover around two per cent of the total surface area of the Earth, but about 50 per cent of the plants and animals on the earth live in the rainforest.