Wednesday, September 23, 2009

That word "commitment"


My after work life has become rather predictable lately, other people would probably call it boring, but since I am the author of this blog, it shall stay as I say.

Predictable.

Great, so we are on the same page.

I leave work between 1730hrs and 1800 hrs. If it’s not a Tuesday, when I go for my Mizizi class, then I go home, do my 20 minute jog, some extra minutes of simple exercises, play with Imani, that’s my 3 yr old daughter, make dinner, which we have early, at around 1930hrs before she goes to bed at 2000hrs.

That’s when my “me time” begins. If it’s Monday it’s desperate housewives on Series, then Quest means business on CNN, then off to bed, to read, write, think, regret, make plans, dream, sleep, or count the sheep in my mind as I search for sleep. Other times, mostly Friday’s I catch up with a friend over a drink, usually quite predictable one too, it would be either Lizz, Monique, Shep, K.A, Wanja, or my Bestest boy-mate, Kent.

Tonight; Tuesday, my Mizizi class ended late and I found my daughter asleep. I got the last of quarter of Quest, before my hero Christiane Amanpour did her thing. Today, for some strange reason I switched to Aljazeera, and the first picture I see is that of a black child, a boy about 3 years old with no eyeballs. I stayed on and listened to the narration by a film maker in the Sudan who was following the life of children at an orphanage, There was him, the boy who got fitted with plastic or glass eyeballs as the main story, with little knick knacks of daily life at the home.

The filmmaker followed the story of the boy who was born with good eye sight, but got ill and doctors took out his eyeballs, one after the other, but as he grew, it began to affect the formation of the bone structure between his head and the eye balls, and as days went by, the film maker slowly got drawn in to this orphaned child, and it became increasingly difficult for her to cover the story.

At the same time, Kadmallah, a few weeks old baby girl was brought in, dehydrated, and the nannies tried to keep her going, she stayed at the orphanage a for a day, on the second night she was taken to hospital, the next day she died.

I cried.

I could not stop feeling a deep pain inside my heart for this child whose only need was a good hospital that could put her on a drip early enough.

We have failed as a continent to provide healthcare to the poorest of the poor, and now innocent children, who could be the ones shaping our future are left to dry out in cold hospital beds…too days too late.

The Film maker could no longer separate the story, from behind the camera, with this boy whose future was in the woods. She is now in the process of adopting the baby boy.

“The witness” on Aljazeera got me asking myself questions on what I, as an individual can contribute to creating a better tomorrow for someone else. That someone could be the person you have employed. The house help, the gardener, the maid, the driver, your parents up country; we keep asking the government to do something about everything, but we can and should also do something.

I would like to ask you for a commitment to better your country.
If you can forego something this coming month, and assist your employee get medical care, you will have done one thing in making your country a better place.
NHIF is a just a phone call away.

For ONLY Ksh 1920 (25 USD) per year, you will have made medical care available to someone who badly needs it. If you would rather encourage the person to save, then do it, as long as an individual earns more than 1000 shillings (12 USD) per month, encourage them to give Ksh 160 ( 2 USD) per month to the hospital fund, to cover them and their dependants, this includes bed, drugs, maternity and even surgery(check here)

Make the choice to make Africa a better continent; it has to begin with someone.

That someone is you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

MY COPPER BELT DIARY (Compiled in Nairobi :-)

DAY 2- NDOLA

9.00 am, had an interview with the PS in the CopperBelt Province, after that I met the fastest Chinese man on the planet, we went to his smelter after getting assistance from the PS.

Was great fun talking to both gentlemen about how the Zambian Government has taken on attracting investors via incentives..and one stop shop for investors, much like Susan Kikwai's Kenya Investment Authority, but perhaps one that works faster.

My Point: Between the time Kenya Airways wrote a request letter to set up shop in Ndola, and the first flight, was 3 months. we say doing Business in Africa is diffcult, lets also paint the true picture, that some governments are working faster tha others at it, and realise the importance of ease of doing business.

Kenya apparently dropped in it's ease according to the World Bank and IFC report for 2010, I hope we can learn from the likes of Zambia just how much we can encourage much needed foreign capital inflows into our economy.

This and other shoots with investors and players in the Zambian economy, with the 29 degree heat, and no sunscreen got us a well packaged story. ( shows on East Africa Business Report this week)

Work went well, so did after work :-)

Just a pointer, Lusaka is just the place to be; Stayed at the Taj, had a great salad for dinner, went out to Raphsody's and later to 101, if you do drop by Zambia, now you know where to go!

Oh! I did learn a word or two. Mukuba means copper in Pemba -common language in Z.

xxx

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My Copper Belt Diary

Right now..under intense pressure, it's a bit slow, i must deliver for jobo..and some things are not working as I had planned!

Anyway, Kenya Airways landed in Ndola, the copper belt of Zambia, and I was on the inaugural flight.

The launch was quite succesful, from start to finish of this plan took 60 days. KQ gave the Zambian govt the plan, and in three months, Ndola becomes Kenya airways 44th Route. commendable to the Zambian Govt! Now that's why red tape must go..hope other govts learn from this one!

While here I will be looking at the impact of this on trade relations, opportunities here for investors, speak with some (Kenyans - East Africans) here on ease of doing business, barriers to entry, etc..

Catch up on CNBC Africa this week!

Ok..day Number one done. Will drop a line tomorrow. Lets hope it will be a faster day!

Cheers peoples!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Conversations about tomorrow

I recently an old book from a street vendor I like to buy from at the corner of Alliance Francais in Nairobi.

The title caught my eye, besides the Larry King’s profile picture back in the day with full black (brunette) hair and skin that could have known botox.

Future Talk: Conversations about tomorrow with Today's most Provocative personalities.


The book was published about 10 years ago, and the powerful conversations got me going. Last night I read Larry's interview with Microsoft’s Bill Gates. It was done online and they talked about the future of the Internet.

What I love most about Larry King is his ability to converse on TV as if it is a discussion over coffee, without the glare and jitters that come with camera's lights and showbiz countdowns.

I wished I was a fly on the wall as Bill Gates typed his responses to Larry’s pretty normal questions; they usually are what you and I would probably be thinking of, without having to sound too smart.

Some of the questions were:

“What will happen to the post office when Internet becomes a craze, will they close?”

“How about catalogues?”

“What will happen to the pencil?”

“How about television, what will change?”

What moved me the most about this interview is the intelligibility with which Bill Gates gave his responses, and how precise most of those predictions are, now about 10 years later.

On the query about Television, Gates said "There will be plenty of Flat screen TV's hanging from the walls in homes, offices, malls, and every other place. But TV will not die.

I digress.

I am now in a country that's over excited and salivating over the prospects of fiber Optic cable. I have for the first time in my life (and I happen to be 30 now) experienced fast internet via the Seacom cable, and got to watch live TV after loading for less than 19 seconds, that's revolutionary.

Now imagine this, and all the forecasts that our experts seem to have.

Not too long ago, on the news, an ICT guru talked about opportunities for investment within East Africa as the internet opens up becomes cheaper and more reliable, and one of the things he said was, Television is going to revolutionize, and everyone will be watching TV from the Internet.

I disagree. TV is a culture; it’s about family gathering in the living room over a cuppa tea, I don’t see my family watching Desperate Houswives from a PC, or a MAC, however large, at least not in my lifetime.

My point though:

I must say that the absence of fact and over speculation are some of the things that discredit us. It may have been a personal opinion, but my take away from this book is the powerful convictions of the personalities interviewed.

The day Africa will become great, is the day we stop being a master of all trades. Our leaders are experts at multi-tasking, moving from one sector to the other, without sharpening a particular skill.

How do we become masters of our trade if we don not stay long enough to master the tricks of the trade?

I backtrack to what a note I wrote about last week, addressed to the President.

Get the best man for the job.

In this case, the expert is the Top performer, the one passionate about his work, and most importantly the one who has precise predictions about tomorrow.

Africa needs to find these people.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Mr. President, Attached please find my Curriculum Vitae.

I am not applying for Public office, at least not now; I am kinda loving the private sector right now. But there seems to be some vacancies; or potential vacancies, how about you hold onto mine for a bit?

When Major General Hussein Ali was taken off his powerful commissioner of police job, the former Top Cop was handed the position of Post Master General, There was quite some ruffling of feathers within the country, I mean, from Police Commissioner to Post Master General. That’s quite the career shift.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, I mean how many pharmacists are now doing marketing?

Now, about Post Master General , For those who do not know what this means, once upon a time, there was a company fondly known as Posta, back in the day when letters were letters, and when I was a stamp collector during my hobby years. The Postal Corporation of Kenya was one of the Giants of this economy, with postal money transfers (then called postal orders), way before western Union set in and before the internet killed love letters.

I do not know if there is any training school for Post Master Generals, but this shuffling of Cabinet Ministers, not just in Kenya, but across Africa is our Achilles heel.

If we can appoint former accountants, economists (CFA preferred) as Finance Ministers, why can’t qualifications be the lens through which such appointments are made?

How many of our cabinet ministers actually have a background in administration and leadership? Should this not be a pre qualification for any Ministry?

We say our continent is rotting under bad leadership, surely if we do not get the basics right, how on earth are we getting out of this sack?

If the Private Sector has an opening, they select the best man for the job. Why then can’t we ran our countries like a business? After all, we are a business, in business to make a profit in one way or another?

One more time, Mr. President, attached please find my CV.

Friday, September 4, 2009

GIVE ME A PLAN

A couple of weeks ago I attended Mindspeak,The Business Club a once a month Saturday morning ritual that I have become addicted to. It's usually a great networking event, and James Murua made a good note here

Caroline Mutoko was speaking on her rise to the Queen of Radio (even if she did not say so herself.) It was an inspiring morning, one that opened up my mind to fresh ideas and new thinking, in an extremely competitive market, especially in my field of work.

She spoke about the vital role that in between semester jobs and holiday internships play in forming a diligent worker out of a person.

From a clerk in an Asian’s store she learnt to be thrifty and frugal with her monies, whereas in school she learnt theories in Math’s & economics that she applies in her every day work. But what caught me the most was her views in terms of idea generation.

If you live and work in Kenya, and happen to hang around a crowd, any crowd, there's is often talk of new business ventures, ideas of how to go about making money, and it is amazing how much of an entrepreneurial spirit is in the Kenyan population.

We are full of ideas. A friend of mine who runs one of the most successful media houses in the country told me once of how proposals hit his desk every morning, great ideas that hold immense potential, and every other new proposal outfoxes the other.

So, how do we, as young people make any impact, if very other young person thinks just as greatly as we do?

"Give me a plan"

That's my take out from MindSpeak that morning.

Ideas are great, but, give me a plan.

Dictionary explanation: An idea is a specific thought or concept that arises in the mind of a person as a result of thinking. It is a mental picture.

Ideas are unproven.

See, a plan means a start to finish, it embodies all aspects of a business or programme proposal, or whatever it is you seek to achieve.

For Instance, if one wants to go to war, he first has the idea, but it's got to degenerate into tangible strategies, all rounded, researched and buffered against potential risks. And that's exactly what differentiates a winner from a loser.

What’s your going to war strategy? What's your competition like? What are your risks? How do you manage those risks? As we all endeavor to make richer people out of ourselves, Lets cross over the threshold of thought and begin to work towards a plan, that's the first step.