Vacancy:
Regulators – Time to Act

Regulators – Time to Act

There has been an existing fundamental flaw with different regulatory bodies in the country – a penchant to bury their heads on the sand while those they are supposed to regulate have a field day and run riots.In terms of regulatory bodies, Kenya is a highly regulated country. There are tens of regulators overseeing various sectors and industries.

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Ag CEO, the new Order

Ag CEO, the new Order

Being the head of a parastatal in Kenya is probably one of the most insecure jobs that one would wish for. That notwithstanding, the number of people applying for any vacant parastatal job, particularly in the so called strategic state corporations, shows there is something lucrative about the job. A case in point is the fact that a total of 120 individuals applied for the position of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) managing director when it was advertised in November only to be terminated mid-stream and re-advertised again.

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Blockbusters 2016 – Politics, Corruption and Economy

Blockbusters 2016 – Politics, Corruption and Economy

Before the release of any movie or blockbuster production, producers always release a trailer well in advance to arise the anticipation of audiences and give them a sneak preview of what to expect. The trailers, as a rule, capture the most captivating, exciting and thrilling scenes and are designed to make audiences eagerly wait for the official release. In Kenya, 2016 is just unfolding and the trailers of the blockbusters that will characterise the year have already been released. The camping of President Kenyatta in the coastal region for the better part of January, which the opposition Cord described as nothing but a vote hunting foray, is one trailer preparing Kenyans for an epic political duel in 2016 pitting the Jubilee Alliance coalition and Cord.

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Stop petty Supremacy Wars

Stop petty Supremacy Wars

Sometime back, Igembe South MP Mithika Linturi blasted the Senate as a house of “old people, political retirees and idlers”. Coming at a time when the two houses of Parliament were engaging in a supremacy battle, with each claiming its authority over the other, the unfortunate slur did not come as a surprise. In fact, since the coming into effect of the devolved system of government after the 2013 general elections, the two houses of Parliament as established by Chapter Eight of the constitution have rarely seen eye to eye. Unless when their common, and often selfish and greedy interests are being threatened, the two houses have often been at loggerheads.According to the constitution, the two houses of Parliament – the National Assembly and the Senate – have clear mandates. However, an interlocking role regarding allocation of national revenue has become a source of conflicts and supremacy battles. Section 95 (4) (a) states that one of the roles of the National Assembly is determining the allocation of national revenue between the levels of government. In the same spirit, Section 96 (3) states that one of the roles of the Senate is determining the allocation of national revenue among counties. In their wisdom, the drafters of the constitution probably interlocked the mandate to ensure that both houses played a role in allocation of national revenue to the counties. What they did not envisage, however, is that this was to be a constant source of battles between the National Assembly and the Senate. This fact was at play again as the two houses threatened to bring operations of county governments to a standstill over disagreements on the Division of Revenue Bill, 2015. After mediation, and in a typical case of seeking to assert its authority, the National Assembly allocated Sh287 billion to the counties. This, however, was not before it ‘punished’ the Senate by slashing Senate’s recurrent allocations amounting to Sh1 billion from the Senate Affairs Programme. The conduct of the National Assembly did not go down well with governors as well, who have themselves engaged in battles with both houses. Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya described the National Assembly as a “rogue” institution whose powers needed to be clipped. This was in reference to refusal by MPs to increase the allocations to the counties by Sh7 billion. By all accounts, these supremacy battles are not adding any value to Kenyans. It is on this basis that both houses must realises that although the constitution gives them power to participate in allocating revenues to the counties, it does not give them room to prove who is more powerful than the other. Basically Kenyans want to see resources devolved so that they can get services like health, water and sanitation, agriculture among others. The rest are petty sideshows.

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Cry, Our Beloved KNH

Cry, Our Beloved KNH

Kenya has many public institutions that deserve accolades for the distinguished dedication in offering services to Kenyans. Tragically, there is one institution which deserves to be celebrated but is often castigated with the harshest of words. Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), the lifeline for majority of Kenyans who depend on the public health system, is always on the receiving end of criticism. Granted, KNH has had its failings. There have been cases of negligence, staff who are utterly heartless and systems that do not function properly. Despite its shortcoming, it is important we take a moment, nay say a prayer, for KNH because the hospital is itself ailing and in need of intervention. In March, the level of pressure that KNH has been operating in came into the limelight when its only two overworked radiotherapy machines broke down. Due to the worsening crisis of cancer in the country, the machines are forced to run non-stop. While each machine is designated to handle between eight to 10 patients a day, each was handling up to 150 patients due to the overwhelming number of patients in need of treatment. The situation is not dire at the cancer unit only. The hospital is experiencing congestion in all its units considering it attends to an average of 600,000 outpatient cases and about 100,000 inpatient cases annually. Despite the large numbers, which have been worsened by the chaos being witnessed in the counties after health services were devolved, the hospital operates on an annual budget of under Sh5 billion. In all fairness, Kenyans – and particularly the government and money-minting corporate world – should be ashamed for failing to support KNH accordingly to enable the hospital offer much better services to the majority. Granted, the cluster of top government officials and corporate honchos do not depend on KNH. They can afford the best healthcare money can buy in private hospitals in the country and abroad. That notwithstanding, the government has a duty to pay much keen interest on KNH and pump resources for the hospital to invest in modern machines, more facilities and more nurses and doctors. If not for anything, they should consider that KNH is the only hospital that handles most of the emergency cases, for instance when terrorists strike – a ripple effect of other government agencies failing to do their jobs effectively. While the government might argue that it has limited resources and must cater for other pressing needs, it beats logic to see the corporate world not bothered with the plight of KNH despite brandishing corporate social responsibility manuals that proclaim health is one of their key areas of support. Is it morally right for companies to report billions in profitability, like the case with banks raking about Sh100 billion cumulatively, yet when KNH announces that its needs a mere Sh2.7 billion for a well-equipped cancer centre none can blink? If Kenya is a society that still proclaims to harbour some sense of humanity consciousness, time has come to rally behind…

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Slay Corruption Dragon

Slay Corruption Dragon

Kenya is a country where every decision is mainly premised on the myopic baseline of ethnicity and political machinations. Being a country where ethnicity and political inclination have been elevated way beyond cohesion, patriotism and development, every state move is often interpreted on the assumption of “which tribe or political group(ing) is being targeted for silencing”.

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Digital Reality

Digital Reality

It was Benjamin Dana who said that there has been opposition to every innovation in the history of man, with the possible exception of the sword. But yet again Victor Hugo once remarked that you can resist an invading army but you cannot resist an idea whose time has come. Although these two gentlemen uttered these words in different historical times, they must have had premonitions of Kenya in modern times. Over the past two years, Kenya has been engulfed in a raging debate over the digital migration. Depending on interests, the debate has largely assumed an inclination towards the simplistic narrative of we (guised as the people) against them (the government). From the onset, it is important to mention that the reality of migration from the analogue signal to digital terrestrial television (DTT) was not something that just popped up from the blue moons. In fact, its origin dates back to 2006 when the Regional Conference of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) came up with the Geneva Agreement (GE-06) that set June 2015 as the deadline for migration. The main goals of the migration are to improve the quality of signals received, to diversify the existing commercial offers in terms of TV programs and channels, and to make frequency slots available for other purposes such as telco operators to develop fast or ultra-fast broadband internet offers. In the digital era, it is expected that many investment opportunities should arise, which should both foster the development of the media and telecom markets whilst serving public interests goals. While this was clear-cut, in Kenya things started to go haywire when the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) set in motion the process to switch off the analogue signal, igniting what Dana and Hugo might term as a battle between opposition to innovation and an idea whose time has come. The events that occurred for the better part of February when three leading TV stations decided to switch themselves off after the CA switched off the analogue signal represents the main protagonists. As it becomes clear that opposition to digital migration is a battle in futility, particularly after the three media houses went back on air after the government refused to back down on requests of additional time, it is evident the common denominator is interests. The Kenyan media scene, though competitive in nature, is largely unfairly skewed in that a few operators dominate the cake in terms of revenues. Moreover, competition is often discarded when interests are threatened and cartels take charge. One of the key factors in the digital migration, however, is the diversification of existing commercial offers in terms of TV programs and channels. Put in simpler terms, it means that even erstwhile unknown TV channels will be in a position to share the cake, something that is causing indigestion among the dominants. This is why we say opposing digital migration is ill-advised and support the idea of creating a level playing field for all.

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Stop decay in Sports

Stop decay in Sports

This year has started with a major African sporting event. The Africa Cup of Nations 2015 in Equatorial Guinea has in some ways aroused the spirits of the continent particularly for the participating nations. Though it is visibly evident the tournament has lost its past allure, going by the fact that even national broadcaster KBC did not see the need to broadcast the matches in the country live, the event was yet again a stark reminder of just how deep in the abyss sports in the country have sunk. Kenya and her East African neighbours were as is custom missing from the event forcing their citizenry to cheer the usual suspects from west, south, central and north Africa. Not that this was a surprise anyway. The last time any of the five East Africa nation’s participated in the tournament was years ago. In fact, the closest the region’s countries get to a major football event is the Cecafa Cup. That AFCON of 2015 is a pale shadow of yesteryears is indisputable. However, the event yet again reminded Kenya about the sorry state of not only football but every other sport in the country. Nearly all major sports in Kenya are in a state of crisis from football, athletics to rugby. In football and rugby, which happen to be popular, management wrangles inspired by greed have literally destroyed the sport. In athletics, a sport that Kenya prides in and which has put the country in the face of the world due to her prowess in long distance running, the tragedy of individuals clinging to leadership for eternity and rising cases of doping are threatening to destroy the only sport that Kenya can claim to be a world conqueror. The meltdown is already happening. During the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in January, it was a clean sweep for the Ethiopians from position one to 11 for the men’s race. The rot in the country’s sporting arena has definitely reached alarming levels. In a country that is grappling with high rate of unemployment and knowing that sports offer great opportunities to the youth, it is disheartening that all major sports in the country are on a decline yet the government and Kenyans in general seem less concerned. Worse still, everybody seems preoccupied cheering English Premier League teams and every four years the Olympics, the Fifa World Cup and the Euro Football extravaganza. In a sensible society with proper functioning faculties, this is amounts to the highest order of unpatriotism. In Kenya anything goes. However, it is still not too late to salvage the situation. That is why the government must come out strongly to clean the rot in various associations and spearhead tangible reforms in the management of sports. Empty threats will not amount to anything. More importantly, the government – both national and county governments – need to invest in sports if Kenya is to secure her youths from alcoholism, crime, prostitution and joining terrorists’ outfits like al Shabaab.

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Adios 2014, Hallo 2015

Adios 2014, Hallo 2015

Trying to make predictions for the future is never easy. However, looking back and analyzing the events that characterised a period gone by, more often than not, leaves a bitter sweet taste in the month. Here is the point am standing at as we prepare to bid 2014 good bye and usher in 2015.

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Middle Income Economy? Okay!

Middle Income Economy? Okay!

Consensus has always been that Kenya is a sleeping giant that has always failed to rise to her full potential. Until slightly over a decade ago, the country was literally on a standstill in terms of economic growth. In recent years, however, Kenya has projected positive growth trajectory despite the 2008 blip.

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Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge

Former celebrated Safaricom chief executive Michael Joseph once described Kenyans as “peculiar” people. Going by the current hullabaloo over the constitution, it is conspicuous that Joseph was spot on. In deed as Kenyans mark four years since the promulgation of the constitution, the peculiarity of Kenyans is in full display.

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Corporate News

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Inspiring and Disruptive Growth

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Translating dreams into Possibilities

The financial health and optimal productivity of HFC, one of the four subsidiaries of the HF Group (HFG) - a non-operating holding company, contributes significantly to the determination of the Groups’ profitability. During the HFG’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in November last year, the Group’s Chairman Steve Mainda appreciated the fact that HF Group’s commercial banking strategy now being propelled through HFC has continued to positively impact the Group’s profitability over the years.

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Sending Shockwaves in Real Estate

Sometime in September 2014, Kenya’s corporate scene witnessed what can only be described as an explosion of unimaginable magnitude. Being a country where corporate shakeups that leave the market in awe are few and far between, the bombshell exit of four managers from a corporate giant, Britam, who went on to establish their own company felt like an earthquake. For a moment, the fund management and deal making sphere in the country felt mystified.

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Time to offer Credit

The Kenya Post Office Savings Bank (Postbank) is 100 per cent government owned with a mandate to mobilise savings for national development. It is the bank that introduced many Kenyans to the formal financial services sector. Indeed for many years, most Kenyans did not know any other commercial bank apart from the Postbank. Now after 106 years of mobilizing savings, Postbank is set to open a new chapter in its rich history.

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How to fail as a Boss

You may think you’re the smartest person in the room, but it’s almost guaranteed you’re not. And holding the title of “boss” doesn’t mean you have the right to act like a dictator. Besides, a bully mentality might impress a few people for a while, but when the dust settles, people see the truth. I’ve heard a few too many horror stories lately about people in management positions displaying overbearing attitudes of superiority. Their employees (and former employees) describe them as snarky bullies, aloof, or condescending jerks. Regardless of the moniker, employee morale under such bosses is usually in the toilet and people are quitting (or being fired) in droves. Not exactly a model of workplace excellence.

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Coastal Ambience in Nairobi

The hotel and hospitality industry in Nairobi is designed not to provide an environment of relaxation but rather one that is characterised by the seriousness of conferencing and deal making. This explains why competition in the industry is largely shaped around selling the conferencing package. But not all hotels are swimming in this tide and Wasini All-Suite Hotel has decided to be entirely different by bringing the coastal ambience and relaxation mood in Nairobi. Wasini Hotel Managing Director Martin Mwangi explains how. Excerpts.

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