‘Black Out’ is timely, unsettling but funny


‘Black Out’ is timely, unsettling but funny

Tony and the rest of the ‘Black Out’ cast at the Kenya National Theater on Wednesday. PHOTO FILE | NMG



  • The show sparked a lot of laughs over the past weekend after the audience grew so large that the production had to switch from Ukumbi Mdogo to the Kenya National Theater.
  • Yet Xavier Nato’s screenplay was never meant to be a light comedy.
  • Like Millaz’s previous pieces, beyond the jokes and clever choreography of the cast, Black Out has a compelling moral message that cannot be easily ignored.

At first glance, Millaz Arts’ latest production, Black Out, looks like a series of wacky, fun jokes centered around a group of exuberant college students on one big, bulky frenzy.

The show sparked a lot of laughs over the past weekend after the audience grew so large that the production had to switch from Ukumbi Mdogo to the Kenya National Theater.

Yet Xavier Nato’s screenplay was never meant to be a light comedy. Like Millaz’s previous pieces, beyond the jokes and clever choreography of the cast, Black Out has a compelling moral message that cannot be easily ignored.

And as for the title, there wasn’t a single blackout leading to a whole room “blackout” so why the name? Because the Millaz blackout is a psychological condition (not an electrical one) as well as a metaphor. It is also a subject that is not easily discussed with young people today.

Many are more inclined to value experimentation than receiving lectures from adults about the dangers of doing things like alcohol, “bhangi” and other intoxicants.

The title of the play is reflected in the first moments when we see six students “passed out” and lying all over Tony’s (Howard Lumumba) living room. The first to wake up (Brenda Gesare) goes straight to the bathroom. But within seconds, she screams, crosses the stage, and finally passes out in fear. One by one, they wake up to see what the heckling is. All react in the same way.

Apparently someone is dead. But rather than call the cops, they all panic. Now it’s all about “who-dun-that?” Series director Jackson Mudavadi (who also plays stupid cop number 2) has his cast acting ridiculously in a semi-slapstick style, each accusing the others of being the “murderer.”

Eventually they settle on the guy (Donwill Kidero) who delivered what they later learn was a ‘weed cake’. He also brought cocaine and other intoxicants that everyone had to try. Even the mkorino guardian’s daughter, Wamaitha (Shirleen Kadilo), who the six quickly realize, is the one who is “dead.”

The way they treat the dead girl is a dark comedy bordering on macabre. Tony offers to take the body and dismember it, describing what really happened recently to the Saudi journalist who “disappeared” after being literally turned into dog food.

But young people are probably still high after a night of drinking, smoking and indulging in other “recreational” intoxicants, some of which are life threatening or debilitating at best. At present, everyone is involved in the cover-up, including drug dealer Shikhuyu.

The chaos reaches stratospheric heights when two cops arrive at Tony’s apartment. They came because Tony had called them briefly before he changed his mind. But before they are allowed in, the body is made to look “alive” as Wamaitha wears sunglasses and a mask. Hiding your corpse is one of the funniest scenes in the series.

It also seems that NATO does not care about the treatment of the dead by local cultures.

As they investigate Tony’s place, Cop 2 nibbles on yesterday’s leftovers and sprinkles cocaine on the snack. He gets high quickly, speeding up the hilarity with his goofy behavior.

The two eventually leave, only to return, now intending to charge them all with murder. Yet what we soon learn is that Wamaitha “died” in a manner similar to Shakespeare’s Juliet, who passed out for a while, but woke up moments after her Romeo had died. suicide.

For a moment, we imagine that will be Tony’s fate too. But instead, NATO uses several interesting devices to keep its public on our toes. One is to inject several alternate reality scenes, like the one where Tony calls the cops to confess that he killed the guardian’s daughter.

Another is going back to the night before when we see how Wamaitha joins the drug party and tries everything including a poisonous alcohol that literally knocked her out.

The other device is the room’s “magic weapon”. It’s the rapper (Saumu Kombo) who arrives on the show multiple times, serving as a moral messenger to rap about how indulging in decadent activities like alcohol and drugs can only lead you to despair.

The only unsettling moment near the end of the series is Cop 2’s deathly treatment of the Guardian (Ted Munene) and no one gets upset. There is even a moral message there. This is because drugs and guns can easily lead to impulsive actions, like killing for fun.

Black Out has an awesome way of mixing hilarity and horror to hammer home a tough reminder. Congratulations to Nato, his cast, including the director of the series.

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26 Million Workers Got Raised Through Fighting For $ 15 This Week In War Against Workers

The fight for $ 15 began in November 2012, with a relatively small, but also historically large, group of New York City fast food workers making what seemed like a bold demand: $ 15 an hour minimum wage and a union. That last goal hasn’t come a long way since then, but $ 15? It became solidly mainstream and brought great victories. A new report from the National Labor Law Project quantifies how much.

The federal minimum wage remains at just $ 7.25 an hour, the same it was not just in 2012 but in 2009. But between state and local minimum wage increases and action of the executive raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, NELP estimates that 26 million workers have secured a raise. Nearly 12 million of these workers are black, Latino or Asian American. The extra pay they received is $ 150 billion, including $ 76 billion for black, Latino and Asian workers.

Organization of work.

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‘Think before you tweet,’ CEOs said after Just Eat spat with Uber

Business leaders warned to “think twice before tweeting” after boss of takeaway company Just Eat Takeaway told his Twitter argument with Uber threatened to undermine the company’s reputation .

Jitse Groen this week became the latest in a growing list of CEOs to be berated by clients, investors and even regulators for misjudged tweets.

Cat Rock Capital Management, an activist investor who owns a 4.7% stake in Just Eat, pointed to Groen’s Twitter battle with Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi as an example of explosions that damaged the brand. . The investor said Groen’s tweets had in part led the company to be “deeply undervalued and vulnerable to take-over bids well below its intrinsic value.”

Earlier this year, Groen launched a rant to financial analysts on Twitter, saying “some can’t even do basic math.” He tweeted that he was “amazed at how bad these analysts have become… All of them confuse definitions. It’s incredible.”


Branding and marketing expert Mark Borkowski said Groen’s case highlighted the difficulties executives face when trying to interact with customers on the platform.

“Everyone sees Twitter as a huge marketing opportunity that can move a business forward, and it really is,” Borkowski said. “But these bosses need to stop and think twice before they tweet, because one misjudged tweet can take their share price plunge.”

Perhaps the most expensive tweets ever sent were posted by Elon Musk, the maverick boss of electric car company Tesla, in 2018. The US Securities and Exchange Commission fined $ 20 million. dollars to Musk and Tesla after he tweeted that he had “secure funding” to take. the private company at $ 420 per share. The regulator said the tweet, which pushed Tesla’s share price up 13%, violated securities law. As part of the settlement, Musk was ordered to step down as chairman of Tesla.

Musk’s tweets continued to anger some investors. Pirc, an influential adviser to shareholders, including UK local authority pension funds, last year recommended investors vote against Musk’s re-election to Tesla’s board because his tweets posed “a serious risk damage the reputation of the company and its shareholders “.

The SEC sued Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2018 after he tweeted about the company’s market share.
SEC watchdog claims two Elon Musk tweets violated settlement agreement
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Pirc said his controversial Twitter blasts cost Tesla millions of dollars in settlements, but Musk easily won the vote and continued to tweet multiple times a day to his 59 million followers.

“Twitter is all about personality,” Borkowski said. “While Musk’s tweets can be very controversial, they fit his brand. Twitter is perfect for renegades, mavericks, and disruptive brands. It’s a lot harder for well-established brands with a solid reputation, if something goes wrong with them they risk damaging their hard-earned brand.

“People now think that to run a successful business you have to be on social media and every brand has to have a Twitter account,” he said. “CEOs see that their rivals’ bosses have a Twitter profile, and they think they should have one too.”

Borkowski said some bosses have been very successful in building a presence and personality on Twitter and using their platforms to promote social issues such as LGBTQ + rights and the Black Lives Matter movement (as well as to promote their brand and their products).

James Timpson, the general manager of Timpson shoemaking, this week celebrated 100,000 subscribers on his account where he weaves photos of his colleagues working in stores with articles fighting against tax evasion and prisoner reform .

This week, he responded to Boris Johnson’s proposal to create “fluorescent jacket chain gangs” of people convicted of antisocial behavior with a tweet suggesting that offenders should be helped to work instead.

Apple CEO Tim Cook received praise for using Twitter to successfully lobby the governor of Indiana to overhaul proposed legislation that threatened to allow discrimination against gay men for religious motives.

Researchers at Harvard Business School and Duke University said Cook “effectively framed the debate using social media at a time when opinions were forming and the impact went beyond politics.”

Borkowski suggested that before business leaders tweet, they should “ask themselves if they have the personality and the temper to set the right tone every time.”

“There is nothing more inelegant than a CEO who publicly attacks rivals on Twitter,” he said.

It was exactly this sort of behavior that Cat Rock had accused Groen of adopting. When Uber Eats announced earlier this year that it would take on Just Eat in Germany, Groen went wild in a tweet to Khosrowshahi, accusing him of “trying to lower our share price.” .

Khosrowshahi replied that maybe Groen should “pay a little less attention to your short-term stock price and more attention to your technologies and operations.” This prompted Groen to respond “thanks for the advice, and then if I can. Start paying taxes, minimum wage, and social security contributions before giving advice to a founder on how he should run his business.” company “.

Cat Rock founder Alex Captain said, “The answer shouldn’t be happening on Twitter. It should happen in a credible forum with the facts, data, and analysis the company has. “

A spokesperson for Just Eat said, “Just Eat Takeaway.com maintains a regular dialogue with all of its shareholders and we take all of their views very seriously. “

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Big investors raise valuations of crypto firms – finance bitcoin news

Venture capital firms and large investors are driving up the prices of crypto startups. Investment shops and family offices are being pushed around by large venture capital firms, private equity funds and even some pension funds.

Venture capitalists push up the prices of crypto startups

Cryptocurrency firms are seeing high valuations due to the entry of large investors into the space, according to Henri Arslanian, Crypto Leader at professional accounting and financial services firm PWC, also known as Pricewaterhousecooper.

In an interview with Bloomberg on Thursday, the executive explained that boutique-style investment firms and family offices are being crowded out by large venture capitalists, private equity funds and even some pension funds. He noted that smaller venture capitalists are unhappy with this trend. Arslanian described:

Let’s say they’re considering a deal and they think it’s worth $ 10 million, and you see some big VCs come in and bid for a higher valuation. This often happens with early stage companies, say $ 5-20 million – the prices are inflated.

According to the State of Crypto M&A 2021 report, even though transaction activity in 2020 only increased 10% from the previous year, the total transaction value doubled to $ 1.7 billion. This was mainly due to a handful of significant acquisitions in the crypto exchange space, including Binance’s $ 400 million acquisition of Coinmarketcap and the FTX-Blockfolio transaction for $ 125 million. This trend continued this year, with the acquisition of Bitgo by Galaxy Digital for $ 1.2 billion.

In July, the valuation of the FTX derivatives exchange rose to $ 18 billion after the company raised $ 900 million from investors. In addition, the Fireblocks digital asset platform raised $ 310 million to reach a value of $ 2 billion.

Arslanian explained that there are some challenges in pricing cryptocurrency startups. They understand how to actualize regulatory risk in such an emerging industry and how to assess the valuation of companies. There is also a problem of a lack of companies to invest in, as most companies in the crypto space are still small and not yet well developed.

He added :

If your minimum ticket size is around $ 50 million, there aren’t many companies that have this status yet. If you are a large pension fund and have decided to make a crypto allocation, there are no more than two dozen companies in the world that are invested, looking for capital and could absorb $ 100 million. dollars.

What do you think of Arslanian’s comments? Let us know in the comments section below.

Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

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Yes, we can afford a universal basic income guarantee

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s reinstatement of the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant and its extension to caregivers brings us one step closer to a universal basic income guarantee.

The Covid-19 pandemic has put the idea of ​​a universal basic income guarantee (UBIG) back on the agenda, as evidenced by the many civil society groups and community organizers. This recognizes, in the context of a long-standing structural unemployment crisis, that poverty and inequality cannot be tackled only by expanding employment.


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However, the SRD grant of R350 per month can, at best, only cover 60% of a person’s minimum required food intake. In the short term, the SRD subsidy should be increased to at least R585, which corresponds to the food poverty line. It would cost an additional R 17 billion until March 2022. The shortfall and delays in its implementation reflect a government whose social policies have become responsive and crisis-oriented.

A permanent UBIG is a chance to fill the gaps in South Africa’s social safety net. The question then is not whether a UBIG should be implemented, but rather how it should be designed and funded.

To answer part of this question, the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) has proposed a Funding Policy Note for a UBIG, outlining 19 recommendations that will enable South Africa to raise funds to fight poverty. The Policy Brief serves as a complement to a precedent a on the UBIG published by the YEI in March 2021 and a summary of further research produced for the YEI by DNA Economics. The proposals include: adjustments to income taxes, consumption taxes, and taxes on wealth and property; removal of tax breaks for companies; reduction of unnecessary and irregular expenses; and recovery of UBIG expenses through the existing value added tax (VAT).

In response to the extreme levels of inequality, all funding proposals are incremental and therefore remove or limit tax measures that currently disproportionately benefit the wealthy.

How much and for whom?

There are many suggestions for the amount at which a UBIG should be set. We present a set of options, ranging from the food poverty line of R585 per month to the initial starting level of the national minimum wage of R3,500 per month. These amounts are not, on their own, sufficient to ensure a decent standard of living, but rather aim to remedy the depth and gravity of poverty by meeting the most basic needs of the people.

The preferred approach is that of universality, allowing anyone aged 18 to 59, currently excluded from permanent social security benefits, to be eligible for UBIG. At the same time, if South Africa is to meet the National Development Plan target of reducing poverty to 0% by 2030, the Child Support Grant should also be increased at least to the level of the poverty line. food.

Universality ensures that low-income taxpayers will benefit more from the income guarantee than they will contribute to new taxes. The net benefit varies by income bracket. For example, if a UBIG of R 585 per month is provided, 84% of taxpayers will be net beneficiaries.

How to finance this?

The YEI is putting forward 19 tax proposals. These are options, and are not necessarily offered as a package to be implemented simultaneously.

Income tax adjustments include:

  • The introduction of a social security tax on income, operating in the same way as contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). This will generate 67 billion rand per year. It would be gradually levied on all employees – ranging from 1.5 to 3% of taxable personal income;
  • A resource rent tax, levied on excess profits made by extractive industries, is estimated at R39 billion per year. This would redistribute the gains from commodity booms while preserving incentives for investors;
  • The abolition of tax breaks for high incomes – in the form of tax credits for medical aid and the deduction of contributions to pension funds – could contribute to the tune of R26 billion per year; and
  • A stop to the reduction proposed by the National Treasury of the corporate tax rate. In a context of pressing social needs, this reduction would be deeply irresponsible.

The proposed changes to taxes on products consumed include the introduction of a 25% VAT rate on luxury goods; a temporary increase in excise duties; and an increase in carbon taxes to a quarter of the European Union standard. We estimate that changes to these consumption taxes will result in an additional R13 billion that can be used to fund a UBIG.

These offer good income generation options but do not tax the accumulated wealth. That is why we are proposing a wealth tax. Although South Africa has one of the highest levels of wealth inequality, a wealth tax has always been excluded from the tax framework. Using the wealth tax simulator from the World Inequality Database, we show that a wealth tax of 1% for the richest 1% and a wealth tax of 3% for the richest 0.1% would generate 59 billion rand medium and long term income. If a wealth tax is not an immediate source of funding, it is an important proposition to ensure the sustainability of a UBIG.

It is also possible to tax income derived from wealth, which is also very unevenly distributed. A tax on foreign currency transactions (incl. VAT) of 0.005%; the increase in the tax on transfers of securities from 0.25 to 0.3%; and a 0.1% financial transaction tax would increase Rand 3.68 billion, Rand 1.37 billion and Rand 41 billion respectively. These tax the buying and selling of different financial assets and have the advantage of reducing stock market speculation.

An increase in inheritance tax would mean higher taxes when wealth is passed on after a person’s death. The proposal would bring the tax in line with personal income tax rates, ensuring greater fairness across the tax system. Given the biased nature of the wealth accumulated under apartheid, this seems necessary.

This combination of taxes on wealth and income derived from wealth would add R48 billion to government revenue.

In addition, we propose to remove ineffective tax breaks for businesses – such as the employment tax incentive – and to step up efforts to tackle tax evasion. The YEI tax proposals aim for a 25% reduction in profit transfers from multinational corporations. Together, this would free up a total of R18 billion in additional revenue. We are also aiming for a 30% cut in irregular spending reported by the Auditor General, freeing up Rand 36.4 billion. A further reduction in unnecessary spending by Cabinet and ministries would provide an additional R 1.85 billion.

Overflow effects

A UBIG would stimulate a host of positive ripple effects in the economy, including the transfer of unspent funds from the rich and businesses to poor households, thereby injecting spending into the economy that favors locally produced goods. It would also increase tax revenue as the economy grows. All of this needs to be investigated. One item that is easy to calculate is that approximately 12% of any expenditure on a UBIG would be recovered by the state through VAT.

This range of funding proposals shows that the establishment of a UBIG in a progressive and sustainable manner is achievable in the short term. In addition, some funds could be raised through additional debt or by other means.

A UBIG is an important part of a larger package of social support that a capable state should provide to all. The urgency of the moment, in addition to the persistent patterns of poverty and inequality, must be recognized and reflected in the debate around the implementation of a UBIG. Combating extreme poverty is therefore not simply a question of funding constraints, but rather a willingness to take the immediate measures that this moment requires.

Aliya Chikte is a research associate at the Institute for Economic Justice, of which Gilad Isaacs is the director.

The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of GroundUp.

© 2021 GroundUp. This article was first published here.

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Discovery considers takeover bid on Channel 4 in the UK

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A worker is seen taking an elevator at the offices of Channel 4 television in London, Britain June 23, 2021. REUTERS / Toby Melville


(Reuters) – U.S. broadcaster Discovery (NASDAQ 🙂 Inc is holding informal talks about a possible takeover bid for British state television broadcaster Channel 4, The Telegraph reported on Saturday.

The potential bid process is handled by UK Government Investments, the newspaper reported https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2021/07/31/olympics-broadcaster-lines-bid-channel-4, adding that a deal is not expected to be concluded until the middle of next year.

Discovery did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On July 6, the UK government announced a consultation on the sale of Channel 4 and was considering changes to the broadcaster’s operating model, including ownership, powers and obligations.

Advertising-funded Channel 4, whose hit shows include “The Great British Bake Off”, was created with a mission to provide engaging and distinctive programming for audiences underserved by mainstream broadcasters.

Rival UK broadcasters ITV (LON 🙂 Plc and Comcast (NASDAQ 🙂 ‘s Sky are also considering an offer for Channel 4, Telegraph reported.

In its 2020 annual report, Channel 4 said its revenue was £ 934million, down 5% from 2019, with a pre-tax surplus of £ 74million, the highest in its 38 years of operation. story. The audience share of its portfolio of television channels increased from 2% to 10.1%, its first year-over-year increase since 2011. It has set itself a target of doubling the audience by 2025.

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Donald Trump Jr. scrambles to turn back the clock after calling on 65% of GOPs to lose their franchise

Donald Trump Jr. demanded that vaccination cards be shown so people could vote without realizing that 65% of Republicans would lose their right to vote.

Donald Trump Jr. called for vaccinations to be linked to the right to vote:

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 35% of Republicans in counties Trump won had been vaccinated. An AP survey found that half of Republicans say they will not receive the vaccine under any circumstances.

Donald Trump Jr. tried to go back once he realized his idea would prevent Republicans from voting

It took a day, but someone finally told him what his plan would do, and he tried to go back:

The best part of this fiasco has to be when the son of the failed, twice impeached former president claims his own idea is authoritarian.

In an effort to “own the libraries,” Donald Trump Jr. has called his own ideas authoritarian and disenfranchised 65% of Republicans.

Remember, if that dear old failed president dad can’t or won’t run for 2024, Donald Trump Jr. is trying to position himself to run for the Republican nomination.

The guy who wants to rob 65% of Republicans of their rights also wants to be president.

Mr. Easley is the editor. He is also a White House press pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason holds a bachelor’s degree in political science. His graduate studies focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.

Rewards and professional memberships

Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Political Science Association

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Janet Yellen’s Treasury Department is behind the sneaky insertion of anti-crypto language into the infrastructure bill: ethereum

Congressman Warren Davidson alleges that the US Treasury Department is responsible for trying to insert anti-crypto language at the 11th hour into the infrastructure bill. It appears Janet Yellen has picked up where Mnuchin left off in terms of sneaking last-minute anti-crypto policy insertion and other stealthy behavior. They know they cannot win in fair and open democratic processes where the contributions of industry stakeholders and individuals are respected and considered. Instead, they go for the old secret trick: a quick and nifty insert into a must-see bill. All Americans, whether crypto supporters or not, should find this kind of perversion of democracy reprehensible.

Now is the time to reject these tactics and persuade our local officials that what the Treasury is trying to do is misguided at best, and undemocratic at worst. Here are some cool points you could share with your local representative in an email or voicemail:


Find your home representative: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Find your Senator: https://senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm

We came together on the Mnuchin fight and we won. We can also win this one if we all do our part.

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EABL freezes its dividend due to stable earnings growth


EABL freezes its dividend due to stable earnings growth

EABL factory in Ruaraka, Nairobi. PHOTO FILE | NMG



  • The company’s net profit during the reporting period was 6.96 billion shillings compared to 7.02 billion shillings a year earlier.
  • The company last paid an interim dividend of Sh3 per share for the six-month period ended December 2019.
  • Its dividend peaked for the last time at 8.5 Sh per share during the year until June 2019.

East African Breweries Limited #ticker: EABL (EABL) reported a marginal drop in net income in the year ended June, with higher costs offsetting higher sales as the company froze dividend payouts to preserve the capital.

The company’s net profit during the reporting period was 6.96 billion shillings compared to 7.02 billion shillings a year earlier.

“Given the continuing uncertainty in the external environment due to the restrictions related to Covid-19, the directors are not recommending a final dividend,” EABL said in a statement.

The company last paid an interim dividend of Sh3 per share for the six-month period ended December 2019.

Its dividend last peaked at 8.5 shillings per share in the year through June 2019.

Net sales jumped 14.7% to 85.9 billion shillings, with most of the growth taking place in the second half of the year, when Covid-19 restrictions in East African countries were less severe compared to the first semester.

The company has also adapted to the pandemic, finding new marketing avenues, in particular by distributing products to consumers’ homes.

Sales in the Kenyan market increased by 11%, particularly in spirits, while demand for beer was affected by restrictions such as bar closures and nighttime curfews which reduced drinking hours in meeting places.

Uganda sales grew by the largest margin of 24 percent, helped by increased demand for beer and expanding production capacity. Sales in Tanzania increased by 10 percent.

The higher turnover was accompanied by increased costs in production, distribution and other areas, which reduced the results.

Undisclosed costs increased the most from Sh 2.6 billion to Sh 9.8 billion while administrative expenses increased from Sh 755 million to Sh 9.3 billion.

Selling and distribution costs also increased from 771 million shillings to 7.3 billion shillings. The company invested 7.8 billion shillings during the period in what it says will support growth.

“We recognize that the uncertainty posed by the pandemic will continue. However, we are confident that our strategy is working and will continue to focus on business resumption to increase revenue and recover margin, ”EABL Managing Director Jane Karuku said in a statement.

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