Oil Petrodollars; Waiting for Godot

Oil Petrodollars; Waiting for Godot

When Samuel Beckett wrote the masterpiece play entitled ‘Waiting for Godot’, he never anticipated how relevant the theme would be years later. Beckett penned the play in the early 1950s and over six decades later the story line still applies in modern day world. Today, Kenyans find themselves in a peculiar scenario of having to wait for Godot. Since British firm Tullow Oil discovered oil in Turkana, northern Kenya in 2012, anticipation has been ripe that Kenya is on the verge of a windfall from petrodollars.

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Safeguard EAC Integration

Safeguard EAC Integration

The ground on which the East Africa Community (EAC) stands has for a long time been shaky. Now, the shaking is fast mutating to tremors and soon enough it could become a full blown earthquake if the rivalries being witnessed among member states are not arrested. By all accounts, the revival of the EAC in 2000 after the original club collapsed in 1977 was heralded as the best thing in efforts of integrating the economies of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and later Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. A decade and a half later, there is much progress and a lot to be proud of in as far as creating a big economic bloc is concerned.

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Real Estate Developers must keep Promises

Real Estate Developers must keep Promises

It is a dream of every Kenyan to live in a gated community with all the amenities that proclaim ‘life is sweet’. In fact, every Kenyan who can be classified as falling in the middle class bracket harbours a dream of living in a modern house located in a serene and quiet neighbourhood. The dream becomes even more fantasizing if the gated community has a golf course. Having probably studied by the psychology of the typical Kenyan middle class, which is characterised with consumerism and living life on the first lane, real estate developers have found a market to exploit to the fullest.

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Welcome back, Chase Bank

Welcome back, Chase Bank

One cardinal rule that students of journalism are taught is that as a journalist, your emotions must always be detached from the subject of your story. In other words, if for instance you are sent to cover the Huruma disaster, duty demands that you should not project an iota of emotions despite being a witness to devastation, pain and death. Being human, adhering to this rule has often proved futile for many journalists.

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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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Are your people growing or going?

Here’s a problem common to many project managers. You’re asked to work with contractors, part-timers and remote workers who don’t have much of a history with your company, and probably aren’t even thinking about themselves that way. Yet you need the same commitment and hard work you’d get from someone with their eye on the corner office. Sound familiar (not to mention impossible to solve)? One of the paradoxes of modern life for managers is that while we often can’t offer traditional career paths to people, if they don’t see your work offering them a future, they’ll bolt for somewhere that can. This is the key point in a new book from Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni: Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, Conversations Employees Want.The book’s premise isn’t particularly new. For years people have been saying that one of the keys to employee engagement is the opportunity to build skills and get opportunities to grow that will serve them later. What makes it particularly relevant (although it doesn’t say so explicitly) is the rules for those managing projects and people from afar. Fact is, it’s easy to think of managing our remote teammates in a transactional manner. After all, they’re going to leave eventually, anyway. Let’s get the best from them while we can. Actually there are several reasons to tweak that approach. First, people want to do work that interests them. Just doing the same thing over and over like some scene from “Brazil” will wear thin, even if you can do it in your jammies or for different people. Assuming the money is fair, people tend not to leave jobs they find interesting. Learning new skills is a great retention tool What’s more, we grow people through concrete actions like delegation. This means we trust they are capable of doing whatever it is we assign to them. We tend to like people who trust us, it’s human nature. Finally, in this crazy world of temps, contractors and short-term projects we are constantly forming and re-forming teams. Which is easier to do: sort through resumes and spend your life on-boarding new hires or go to people whose skills you know (because you helped develop them) and who are grateful to you for the opportunities? It’s always easier to get the band back together than form a new one (the Beatles excepted). For those who think they don’t have the time to have development conversations with their people, the authors offer a great comparison: Let’s say it takes two hours to have a proper development conversation. You might freak out at the idea of spending two hours per employee, but there’s no law that says it needs to be in a row. Remember, twelve ten minute conversations is the same amount of time as one two-hour marathon. If you’ve ever spent endless hours sorting through resumes and scheduling interviews you know this is probably a good investment. Wayne Turmel is a speaker, writer and co-founder of The…

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State of MSME Sector in Kenya

The micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector in Kenya has over the years been recognized for its role in provision of goods and services, enhancing competition, fostering innovation, generating employment and in effect, alleviation of poverty. The crucial role of MSMEs is underscored in Kenya’s Vision 2030 - the development blueprint which seeks to transform Kenya into an industrialized middle-income country, providing a high quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030.

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Best marine insurance value Proposition

It is undoubtedly one of the most profitable classes of insurance. Yet for years, Kenyan insurance companies have only had to salivate as foreign underwrites dominate marine insurance that is currently estimated to be worth a staggering Sh30 billion. In fact, the irony is hard to miss. While Kenyan general insurance companies are struggling to drive penetration beyond the current three per cent, they have largely been locked out of the lucrative marine insurance business due to a weak regulatory framework and lack of awareness among importers.

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Roofing the world, one project at a time

The roofing structure of any and every dwelling has been identified not only as one of the major construction component that offers safety and security from the elements such as rain, and consequent cold conditions, and direct heat from sunlight, but also as a major determinant of the dwelling’s beauty and appeal.   Rexe Roofing Products Limited, an acronym for Reliable, Excellent, Experienced & Elegant, has since its establishment been cognizant of these realities and has always endeavored to provide the best roofing solutions all over Kenya and across Kenyan borders in eastern Africa.

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Business Lessons from RIO Olympics

The Olympic Games which are traditionally held every four years were this year held in the city of Rio in Brazil. One of the most inspiring things about the Olympics is that it brings countries together in a competition and naturally, we are encouraged to support our teams. Team Kenya has traditionally been a force to reckon with and this year was not an exception. Although our famous peculiar habits got the better part of the sideshow, our athletes stood up to the occasion and once again gave us a reason to be proud to be Kenyans. Kudos Team Kenya!

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Entrepreneurship

What belongs to Caesar?

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To Die or Not to Die

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