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This day, MY BIRTHDAY

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This day, MY BIRTHDAY

It’s on March 9, 2017… the 68th day of the year and I couldn’t be more grateful, happy and blessed to be alive. I consider it a bit farcical to write about my birthday on my blog, leave alone to celebrate it. But today am going to make an exception. Before I start ‘partying’, let me first express my gratitude to God Almighty for the gift of life and a great thank you to my family and friends for their love and support. That done, allow me to do this stupid thing of when, where, why, how, who and what. It’s kind of a taboo for ‘us’.

 

WHEN?

Thursday, March 9. This is the most important day to me, because it marks the day my journey began on earth. The boring part about my birthday this year, is that today is a weekday. Birthday parties held on Fridays or weekends tend to be more lively and I think you know why.

I will go for 8.00 pm. The time is impeccable because at that time people are from work. I know you have things to do like; watching news, chatting on Whatsapp, preparing for work tomorrow and the sort. I hope the time is not late for you. I promise I won’t keep you out that long. Or maybe I will.

 

WHERE?

Am thinking, in the CBD, Nairobi of course. I have some reservations about entertaining a bash at my place, because for one, am having two parties today, one will be with my family and some two or three neighbours am told. And my cousins will be there, whoa! The other party will be with friends. And here am talking about the latter. Lol… Hmm… Am I forgetting the ‘others’? Not really.

Am for the CBD, as it’s more accessible for most people and a central place for those wishing to attend. Don’t ask why, am just trying to be accommodative. For the actual place, check your email.

 

WHY?

If there is a person, who has whys in his/her head. Then just read my title, “It’s my birthday!”. And in case you are not convinced as to why… why? I did a little research on why I should celebrate and embrace this day, and why you should grace my bash with your attendance, so here are some of the people am honoured to share a birthday with. Talk of Bow Wow, YG, Maite Perroni, Matthew Gray Gubler, Matt Bown, Juliette Binoche, among others.

They say that, us (those born on this day), have our most defining qualities as intuition, justice, self-sacrifice and sensitivity. That we tend sometimes to feel psychic, emotional receptive and truly selfless. I agree, partially. We are in the pisces horoscope anyway.

As for the theme, am thinking of “Long, prosperous and successful life”. I guess that won’t be bad. I like it, don’t you? It tries to sum up my sole purpose in life. Am not even certain that birthdays should have themes, but am trying something new this year. Others will question the necessity of having a theme… but it’s my day and party, and am in charge here.

 

 

HOW?

A couple of weeks ago I created a Facebook event for my birthday, and many people have expressed interest of attending. Well, in case your R.S.V.P got lost in the mail, you are still welcome to attend.

Am so sorry for those who didn’t know about it, I assumed otherwise. But if you didn’t make a reservation and still asking ‘how?’ just pick up your phone, dial my number and let’s talk about it… Oh! Wait, I think it’s fully booked. Will you mind standing?

 

WHO?

I think it’s a bit weird to turn away any person interested in, good faith, attending my bash. So as long as you made your reservation and confirmed your attendance, then your seat it intact.

Technically, I do give first priority to my best friends, yeah, and also to my close and good friends. Don’t question me on this, I value my friends more, I have this thing – principle, ‘Friends are the siblings God never gave us’. Now you know why.

 

WHAT?

Hahaa… Hilarious. For those of you who asked the “what” question, and I guess most of those attending the event are kinda asking themselves, ‘what?’ As in ‘what to come with?’, ‘what to wear’… bluh! bluh!… Let me be clear and explicit on this, you are not obliged to bring any gift, pay or remit any money, fake a smile, greet me, hug me, sing or say ‘Happy birthday’ to me, or stay long than you want to. And neither are you compelled to attend. Naah.

And if you made a reservation and still you feel you can’t or won’t attend, you know what to do. Though I will prefer if you come. If you feel that today is the worst day for throwing a party, just like I do, I can make an exception (the weekend is just a day away).

 

And to show my appreciation, for having this day as my born day and you choosing to celebrate with me. Before the day ends, I will be doing two things. I will be offering a special gift to one attendee, selected through a raffle ticket. And if your birthday is today, as in we share a cake day, remember to contact me. I will be offering a present to any person, in any country who has his/her birthday on 9th March.

 

Okay, well… I guess that takes care of everything. Did I leave something out? I don’t think so. I hope, maybe, to see you at 8, am looking forward to that, it will be something worth remembering. Lots and lots of fun.

I’m a literati savant, altruistic, queer laughist, critique from the non-core academia and above all it’s my conviction that in all my papers the rule of three applies.

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Opinion

50 reasons why Kenya ranks among the most corrupt countries in the world

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50 reasons why Kenya ranks among the most corrupt countries in the world

Kenya’s ability to grow economically and become competitive in the global sphere is entirely held back by high corruption levels that penetrate every sector of the economy. Ranging from land registry, judiciary, police force, public sector, tax man, customs administration, public procurement, politicians, even to natural resources. Virtually every sector of the country’s economy has its foot stuck in the public enemy number one, corruption.

 

Kenya ranked 143 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s 2017 corruption perception index. The only African countries that scored worse – among them Somalia, South Sudan, Libya, Eritrea, Burundi, and Zimbabwe – were either politically unstable or in conflict. This poor rank shouldn’t come as a surprise. Kenya has been plagued by a long list of corruption scandals.

 

Corruption in the post-colonial government of Kenya has a history which spans the era of the Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi’s KANU governments, Mwai Kibaki’s PNU government and the current Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubillee Party government. Most bribes paid by urban residents in Kenya are fairly small but large ones are also taken, bribes worth over Ksh 50,000 account for 41% of the total value.

 

Despite market reforms, business corruption is still widespread and that companies frequently encounter demands for bribes and informal payments to ‘get things done’ in Kenya. The public procurement sector in Kenya suffers widespread corruption. The use of agents to facilitate business operations and transactions in Kenya is widespread and poses a risk for companies, particularly at the market entry and business start-up stage.

 

I have compiled a list of some of the reasons why Kenya ranks among the most corrupt countries in the world.

  1. Politicians are often seen around dishing money and other goodies to buy votes from the people during elections, this shows the height of corruption in the country that people are willing to sell their right to elect appropriate leaders for money
  2. When it comes to employment, Kenya is a society of who knows who. Job opportunities are not given to deserving qualified individuals, but are offered to those who are known, or those from a particular tribe, or those ready to offer a bribe, thus oppressing others
  3. Kenyans should be aware that possession of a land title does not guarantee property ownership, making land-grabbing and seizures by powerful elite common as a result of pervasive corruption and impunity
  4. Fake land title deeds are frequently used and disappearances of title deeds from the Registrar’s office are common; houses built on illegally acquired property are often demolished without prior notice
  5. Kenyans report a high likelihood of bribery demands in meetings with land service officials, and corrupt practices reportedly occur in almost 20% of all interactions
  6. Property rights protections are inadequately enforced
  7. Registering property in Kenya takes around the same time as the regional average, but it requires 9 steps compared to an average of 6 steps elsewhere in the region
  8. The Kenya National Police Service is ranked as the most corrupt institution in the country, and bribery is reported to be the only way to access the police and expedite services
  9. Half of all Kenyans who have come into contact with the police, have paid a bribe
  10. The police also struggle with a lack of oversight and organizational and technical deficiencies
  11. Kenya’s police relentlessly engage in false imprisonment, abuse of human rights and fabrication of charges to extort bribes
  12. Corrupt police officers are rarely arrested or prosecuted for corruption crimes
  13. Companies report the business costs of crime in Kenya to be high and police reliability is rated as poor
  14. A third of Kenyans view the judiciary as corrupt, bribes and irregular payments in return for favorable decisions are common
  15. Companies encounter difficulties resolving disputes because of weak institutional capacity, a lack of transparency and discrimination in favor of local actors
  16. The judiciary is not being sufficiently independent and do not consider the legal framework effective for dispute settlement or challenging regulations
  17. Most companies see the court system as a major constraint to their ability to do business in Kenya
  18. Enforcing a contract in Kenya takes 465 days on average
  19. Kenya is a signatory to the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, but it is not a member state to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes
  20. Complying with administrative requirements takes a lot of time and is plagued by red tape
  21. Registration and licensing services are severely affected by bribery, making starting a business very costly
  22. One in six companies expects to give gifts and make informal payments to get an operating license, and every third company expects to pay bribes to obtain a construction permit
  23. Businesses experience difficulties when dealing with utility services; an estimated quarter of all firms report paying bribes and facilitation payments to acquire electrical and water connections
  24. Irregular payments and bribes in the process of tax payments are very common
  25. Tax rates are identified among the most problematic factors for business, and the process of filing taxes is burdensome
  26. On average, companies make 31 tax payments a year and spend nearly 200 hours filing, preparing, and paying taxes
  27. Rampant corruption at Kenya’s ports and border points is the most problematic factor for international trade, followed by tariffs, burdensome import procedures and crime
  28. Border compliance procedures in Kenya take significantly longer than the regional average
  29. Bribery of border officials lets Al-Shabaab fighters enter the country easily to organize terrorist attacks that fuel the costs of business
  30. It is also alleged that Kenya’s army is involved in a sugar-smuggling racket with the Islamist group Al-Shabaab, worth as much as $400 million a year
  31. The Port of Mombasa has been named as a major hub in the illicit ivory trade; corruption, conflicting interests of the various authorities involved, and weak scanning abilities facilitate the trade
  32. Companies report that bribes and irregular payments are highly common in the process of awarding public contracts
  33. Tendering fraud is the fastest growing economic crime in Kenya
  34. Businesses report that the vendor selection stage is most likely to be subject to fraud
  35. Allegations exist that high-level corruption takes place in energy, airport construction, and infrastructure procurement processes; a number of contracts were awarded to foreign firms that allegedly did not comply with public procurement laws in Kenya
  36. The process of devolution has led to an increase of patronage in county-level procurement processes
  37. A survey among government officials concluded that procurement fraud is prevalent, particularly on the county level
  38. Diversion of public funds and favoritism in the decisions of public officials to be common
  39. Despite the government’s efforts to curb corruption in the KWS, conviction rates for corrupt officials and wildlife offenders are very low
  40. Extensive deforestation and forest degradation in Kenya are direct results of extensive corruption by forest management officials
  41. It is alleged that some members of Kenya’s Forest Service collude with loggers in kickback schemes
  42. Businesses should note the enforcement of anti-corruption legislation in Kenya is inadequate as a result of the weak judicial system and a lack of strong institutions
  43. The Witness Protection Agency is underfunded and doubts about its independence exist
  44. Kenya’s media environment is considered ‘partly free’
  45. The government does not completely respect freedoms of press and expression; journalists are facing increasing pressure from authorities and new laws that challenge their ability to report freely
  46. Self-censorship is on the rise and journalists experience harassment from authorities that try to prevent critical work from being published
  47. The Information and Communication Act provides for excessive government control of Kenya’s media and allows the government-controlled board to impose fines on media houses and reporters for violations of a code of conduct created by the board
  48. Parliament generally welcomes the expertise of civil society organizations, but decision-makers in government generally ignore civil society
  49. In the past few years, the government has attempted a (thus far largely unsuccessful) crackdown on civil society organizations, thus taming their influence
  50. In times of high political tension, Kenyan civil society tends to operate according to lines of ethnic interests
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Opinion

The bitter story of Mumias Sugar Company

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The bitter story of Mumias Sugar Company

Have you heard the bitter story of Mumias Sugar Company?

 

Regarded by many as Kenya’s most successful sugar miller, Mumias Sugar Company was a disaster waiting to happen.

 

Many pointed out how Mumias Sugar Company was a fortress in the wreck that is Kenya’s sugar industry, only unaware that it was just a matter of time. As the old wise men said, “Ukiona cha mwenzako cha nyolewa, tia chako maji”.

 

The proverb means that if you see your neighbour’s head getting shaved, your head will soon be undergoing the same – you’d therefore better wet your head for a smoother shave, otherwise you will be forced to undergo a painful, dry, shave.

 

But what ails Kenya’s sugar industry?

 

The Kenya sugar industry is under legal siege. The typical Kenyan issue of coming up with laws to tackle a problem is evident here.

 

Many of Kenya’s sugar factories are owned by the government, and have slowly declined under mismanagement and corruption. The appointing of political cronies and tribal management to such firms means that unqualified people are appointed to lead these firms. The same management can hardly resist dipping their fingers in the sugar jar, and end up slowly eating the factories to a level where they can’t operate, or if they can operate, do so at very high costs.

 

Elsewhere, sugar industries in other places are owned by business people who take good care of them, only eating profits. To increase the profits, sugar factories in other countries are run at lower costs, and at a higher efficiency, that maximizes on costs while also trying to keep their product as affordable as possible in a bid to fight off competitors.

 

This has eventually resulted in a situation where you could somehow convince a Portuguese speaking Brazilian to sell you sugar, in your mother-tongue-afflicted English.

 

You then board the sugar on a ship, where it will spent 6 months in the high seas, and another month or so in the inefficient port of Mombasa. It then gets loaded onto a truck to Nairobi, in what is a proportionally costly.

 

On getting to Nairobi, Kenyans will still find your sugar cheaper than sugar from Kenya’s sugar belt, just a few hours away from Nairobi.

 

When the bitter truth of this dawned on us, our hapless farmers cried foul, and our politicians reactively ground into gear. With everyone keen on keeping on eating, a familiar “win-win” solution was found. We would come up with a law banning or limiting the importation of sugar, to protect “our farmers” and tax payer factories.

 

Genius, right?

 

Wrong. In Kenya, laws are for the poor, the rich consider laws as merely a suggestion that they may choose to uphold or ignore.

 

As the inefficient cost of Kenya’s sugar production went up and up, the difference in price of Kenyan produced sugar and that of imported sugar grew.  The chaps who drive dark tinted big cars figured that if they could somehow import sugar into the Kenyan market, and sold it at the Kenyan price, you could double your money faster than a prophet could by promising to act as a godly middleman.

 

Meanwhile, Alshabaab, all the way in Somalia, figured out that if they could import sugar and sell it in Kenya, they could easily fund their war on Kenyans. In Kenya, they found a ready market in businessmen who find sugar a fast means to riches.

 

The government agencies meant to uphold the ban on imported sugar were nowhere to be seen. They had taken shelter from the money that was raining on them as bribes. After all, if someone slaps you on the cheek, with a bribe, you offer them the other cheek….

 

It did not stop here. Those appointed to run our sugar factories found that they if they imported sugar and repackaged it as local sugar, they would need to stay up all night just counting all the money that came in.

 

Thus, a law to protect Kenya’s sugar industry has only resulted to helpless Kenyans being forced to pay double what they should for sugar. The poor farmers who were to be protected by the laws are now owed billions by sugar factories. Kenyans are still being asked to fork billions to bail out these sugar factories, in readiness for their next, inevitable cycle of collapse.

 

Furthermore, Kenya, being part of COMESA, is bound to allow neighbouring countries to sell their sugar in Kenya. However, Kenya has perpetually requested for the extension of the deadline, year in, year out, under the guise of putting our sugar industry in order.

 

A man finds himself in a dessert, with neither water, nor food, stranded with all his belongings. Luckily, the man is found by a helicopter, which could rescue him, but the man has to leave his belongings in the desert. The man argues that he can’t leave his belongings since he will be left poor.  The helicopter leaves, and the man gets lost further in the desert. Another helicopter comes, and another, but the man is still not ready to abandon his belongings. This man is Kenya.

 

It’s time Kenya’s government left the sugar industry to private sugar companies, like West Sugar Company (Kabras), and allows other companies or individuals to take over the failing sugar factories. Laws protecting the sugar industry should also be done away with, alongside those that determine how and who can run a sugar factory.

 

The laws just but a flimsy hatch trying to stop a barraging flood of cheap sugar from everywhere else other than Kenya. The only beneficiaries are the crafty and powerful business men, who are eating on our behalf.

 

As if we have learned no lessons, the same mess is set to repeat itself in the maize industry, where the government is setting up flour milling industries to “protect consumers”. Importation of maize is also banned to “protect farmers”, and government owned National Cereals and Produce Board who is a major buyer of maize, is now to become a miller. De ja vu, you have heard something similar before, haven’t you?

 

As is said, history is bound to repeat itself for those who fail to learn from it.

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Everyone is (should be) an entrepreneur

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Everyone is (should be) an entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs have often been described as people who add value to products or make products with value, either directly or indirectly, and sell them at a profit to customers. While those people who do not impact any value to products they sell are basically ordinary people in business. Therefore all entrepreneurs are business people and not all business people are entrepreneurs.

 

Each individual alive today has a product that they sell to their customers, and that is the human labour either physical or mental.

 

If you are an employee, then your customer is your employer, to whom you are selling your product labour. If you are a student, then your customer is your examiner, to whom you are selling your mental labour. If you are a business owner, then your customer gets the products or services upon which you have spent your labour on. If you are not employed, you still have your product which is your labour, you can choose to either sell it to your potential employer by being employed or use it to create other products or services to sell to your potential customers.

 

The key pillars of entrepreneurship majorly rotate on creativity and innovation, therefore for your labour to be very competitive and to be bought, you must invest in those pillars so as to make it better than that of others.

 

It is a sad tragedy if you don’t think that your labour is a product, or at extreme don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur. It is also a sad reality that most employees lack the entrepreneurship mind-set and prefer rather to remain with employee mentality. Most employed people often think that value creation is the work of their employers, through assigning them specific tasks. That it’s their duty to perform those tasks, and that’s it. They think they don’t need the passion, drive and stigma to create value.

 

Most employees see their current work as a necessity for survival rather than an opportunity to advance themselves through value creation. So they will keep working, day in day out with an anticipation of payment for their labour and if they are not paid, they will resort to industrial action. Others will humble themselves, keep their heads down, perform tasks assigned, follow the routine, and hope that they will get a promotion or salary increment for time served while praying that they don’t get laid off.

 

Think of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., imagine if he has treated the buyers of Apple products (his customers) as most workers threat their customers (buyers of their labour services). They keep asking and buying Apple II computer, why don’t we focus on producing them. Then he would never have developed the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc. The world would never have had better and advanced products, and he would have remained much poorer as a result.

 

There are also the bureaucrats, the non-entrepreneurial bosses. A bureaucratic boss expects the employee to stick to the routine, any deviations would be treated as insubordination, and as needlessly creating extra hassles. Such a boss is receptive to value-adding innovations, and would readily give the employee a bigger role to facilitate and tap into his/her quest to create a lot of innovations. A bureaucratic boss would also know that other entrepreneurial bosses would try to poach the innovative worker’s services given a chance, he/she in a bid to prevent that, would increase the employee’s pay.

 

In pursuit of value creation, an entrepreneurial worker will have to be intelligent and assertive, in doing so will enhance his/her demand in the industry, improve his/her career credentials and ultimately as a result be served with better opportunities in terms of compensation, working conditions, more fulfilling work and life.

 

Shun away from the mentality that you are not an entrepreneur. Every person should have the mindset of self-employment. For those employed your boss is your current customer. For those still in school, your customer is your examiner. For those employed on wage contract, your customer is the market. In any case, whichever path you choose to pursue, you will have to invest heavily on creativity and innovation which in other terms can be perceived as entrepreneurship, the consequences of satisfying your customer being deriving some gain.

 

Only you, are ultimately responsible for your own worth creation, the pay you want and the career path you desire. You are the person and in essence the entrepreneur responsible your own labour producing company called “Me, Ltd.” It’s worth noting that everybody is a potential entrepreneur and entrepreneurship is for everyone.

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