Friday, March 25, 2005

Mobile telecoms market to remain bullish-Safaricom Boss

More Good News in Kenya... Lets Now do the same for Electricity, Water, and other services that we need as tools for wealth creation!

A rapid mobile phone growth period is expected to remain the main highlight in the Kenyan mobile telecoms market this year, a senior player in the sector has predicted.
Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Mr. Michael Joseph is projecting strong growth for the local mobile telecommunication sector coupled by renewed competition amongst the two players.
And in light of increased competition, Safaricom staffers led by the Chief Human Resource officer Susan Kiama have vowed to ensure that the firm retains its market leadership position this year.
Notwithstanding growing competition from Celtel Kenya and the expected entry of a third mobile phone operator, Safaricom staff have unanimously endorsed a proposal by the firm’s CEO Mr. Michael Joseph to work towards attaining a 3.5 million subscriber base goal by March next year.
Speaking during a staff breakfast meeting to usher in Safaricom’s new financial year, Safaricom CEO Mr. Michael Joseph disclosed that the firm is now poised to offer better services following a recent network systems upgrade and expansion program.
“I am proud that you have all made a significant contribution to Safaricom’s tremendous growth. However, the onus is on us now to ensure that we don’t become complacent,” Joseph said.
The Safaricom boss disclosed that the firm had managed to successfully integrate a new Intelligent Network (IN) platform on the network as part of his strategy to ensure Safaricom’s continued growth.
The integration of the new IN platform installed by a leading Chinese network systems provider Huawei Technologies makes Safaricom the most advanced network within the region featuring 2.5G capabilities.
Such capabilities, Joseph said will afford Safaricom a unique opportunity to launch and deploy innovative custom tailored products and services for the local market. “Like never before, Safaricom subscribers will very soon start enjoying highly exclusive world class products and services that add value to their lifestyles,” Joseph pointed out.
During the breakfast meeting, Joseph further disclosed that a Kshs 14billion budget had been set aside to finance Safaricom’s capital expenditure this year.
The firm has already allocated more than Kshs 6billion drawn from the capital expenditure budget to facilitate the construction of more than 300 new base transceiver (BTS) sites as part of the firm’s network expansion project.
At a cost of Kshs 20 million per BTS, the project is expected to largely enhance the Safaricom’s rural Kenyan network coverage.
The rural Kenya expansion project comes hot on the heels of a similar urban project nearing completion at a cost of Kshs 2 billion.

Filling Government Coffers or Children's Bellies?

You have to stand up for yourself

Niger's capital came to a halt this week as a stay-home protest against a tax on staple goods like flour and milk closed shops and markets and kept traffic off the streets.
The protest was the second in a week called by some 30 groups gathered in a "coalition against costly living" that includes trade unions and human rights and consumer groups.
The coalition, which last week claimed to have rallied the biggest protest ever seen in Niamey, is demanding the government withdraw a law introduced in January's budget which slapped 19% Value Added Tax (VAT) on everyday items such as flour, milk and sugar, as well as on water and electricity.
Last Tuesday a crowd of up to 20,000 protesters marched through the capital city of Niamey to pressure the government to reduce the price of basic foods and goods. The change of tactics to a stay-home protest came after authorities refused to authorise a second street march.
More than 60% of the landlocked semi-desert nation's 11 million people live on less than a dollar a day. And last year's locust invasion coupled with poor rainfall has already led to worrisome food shortages.
Despite this the government is standing firm and says the hikes are needed to fill government coffers and reduce deficits.- IRIN news

African films go digital to buck system

For African film makers, the future is digital. Cash-strapped, creative and keen to reach wider audiences, the continent's directors have been turning to digital technology as a low-cost, viable alternative that also offers valid artistic reasons for its use. Several of the films on show this week at Africa's Fespaco film festival in Burkina Faso, for eight days the center of the continent's cinematic universe, are shot in digital.

"Digital is democratizing film in Africa," says Idrissa Ouedraogo, the famed Burkinabe director and backer of "Sous la Clarte de la Lune" ("Under the Moon's Light"), one of 20 feature films in competition for Fespaco's top prize. "Sous La Clarte de la Lune" is part of a wave of low-budget, critically-acclaimed African films that use digital technology. Digital cameras are cheaper and the film can be stored on computer hard drives, edited and distributed for a fraction of the costs involved with traditional 35 mm prints. Versatile digital formats have already revolutionized production. Kenya and Nigeria have developed prolific and profitable video markets of low-budget, low-quality films. And digital technology could also be an answer to distribution headaches.

African films make up just 1% of movies seen on the continent. Most cinemas from Cape Town to Nairobi to Lagos run Hollywood blockbusters, martial arts flicks or action movies. Now, African film makers working in digital have to undergo an expensive conversion to 35 mm film to screen their films. Ouedraogo's Association of African Directors and Producers aims to change that by converting cinemas in Burkina Faso to digital. Three have been done and a fourth is planned. "Digital is for tomorrow," said the director. "We have no choice if we want to see African films in the cinema." Getting the films onto screens is just part of the problem. For many Africans, a night at the movies is an impossible dream -- both because of cost and the lack of theaters. Burkina Faso, home of Fespaco, has just 55 cinemas for a population of 12 million and the latest survey from 2002 showed only 34 of those cinemas worked. "Zulu Love Letter," a South African Fespaco film about the truth and reconciliation commission, is looking for new outlets. "You've got to find new ways of getting people to see the film," said producer Bhekizizwe Peterson.

"We will show it in schools and churches on DVD. It's not only important commercially, but very enriching culturally."

One way to tackle the decline of permanent cinemas in Africa's remote rural areas is to use mobile cinemas. During Fespaco, four mobile cinemas have been used in Ouagadougou. Equipped with digital projectors, they are part of a donor-funded initiative to bring films to rural audiences. After the festival, they will go to neighbors Benin, Niger and Mali, visiting selected villages once a fortnight. Since 2001, 1.5 million West Africans have seen films this way. Fespaco's directors are also going digital for art's sake, like South Africa's Teddy Mattera, director of "Max and Mona."

"It gave Teddy a lot more freedom to experiment as a first-time feature film director," said producer Tendeka Matatu. "Digital technology frees film makers from financial constraints and allows them to perfect their craft and experiment with their creativity," he said. But for many young African film makers, digital will always be more a necessity than a choice. "I learned to work in 35mm, but it's an impossible dream today," said Ouedraogo.

"Today's digital cameras are so much cheaper that it means anyone can become a director. There will be plenty of bad films as well as good. But that's not what's important for the moment. First we need the quantity, after that, quality will come."

-Nigeria Today Online

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Running out of Excuses for Poverty

I grew up thinking we were too poor to afford a telephone, then one
day "By the Stroke of a Pen" the technology, capital, and skill
necessary to make it affordable for my family was allowed to enter Kenya,
when the law was changed to end the government Monopoly in

Good news for More Kenyans, and more is possible!Our Beef
producers and Fishermen now have better communication, but they
could potentially become Multinational operations if they only had Refrigeration
Facilities, if they only had Electricity, Running Water, Vehicles, Relevant
Machines... What excuse does our government have to prevent their access to the
same and keep them poor?

By Alari Alare
Mobile telephone service provider Celtel Kenya Limited has expanded its network coverage to 20 more towns across the country.
The towns are in far flung areas of Nyanza, Greater Nairobi, Rift Valley, Eastern Province and Maasai Mara. The expanded coverage follows completion of the first phase of network expansion programme by the mobile operator.
The introduction of new sites has now brought the total number of towns covered by Celtel Kenya network to 158. The network expansion covers Olkuruk in Masai Mara, Olenguruone, Maungu, Kakuma, Loitokitok and the border town of Lunga-Lunga.
The other towns are Mutomo in Kitui, Keumbu in Kisii, Sondu Miriu and Kosele. Also covered by Celtel network are Kusa, Bondo, Usenge Musoli, Ruai, Thogoto, Kinoo, Kianjogu, Wangige and Magongo in Mombasa.
Celtel Chief Executive Officer, Gerhard May, yesterday said that residents in these towns will now have an opportunity to join more than 1.3 million Celtel subscribers in the country.
"We are delighted to make mobile telephony a reality to thousands of Kenyans in these diverse areas in line with our commitment of making life better for our customers," said May.
"Our indelible footprint in Kenya not only brings with it mobile telephony, but opens a host of possibilities in terms of job creation and access to information," he said.
The company has in recent months unveiled a host of innovative products and services aimed at increasing the availability and affordability of mobile telephony to a wider cross section of Kenyans.

Get Rid of "The Door" and Allow us to move from Survival to Prosperity

Our Young Gradutes Knock "The Door" for Jobs, Skills and Access to
Technology, The Reverse is true as well. "The Door" is the problem. Our governments need to pick up their pens and remove the beuracracy and laws that prevent us from taking advantage of the beneficial interaction we would be having with other Human Beings.

Ensuring Security, Granting and Protecting Individual Property Rights, Enforcing Contracts though Impartial Courts should be the priorities in our bid to give our people a chance to realize their aspirations!

Cisco Systems executives will undertake a tour of five major African countries in March to provide its African business partners and customers with information on advanced networking technologies and how the technology can be used to assist companies across the region. Under the banner of the Cisco Innovation Tour, the series of events will see Cisco executives hold seminars in Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Zambia."These events will address a broader audience comprising both existing Cisco resellers and potential prospects. Existing and potential resellers and end-users will get an in-depth update on how advanced networking technologies work together to create solutions for our customers," says Anthony Vonsée, Cisco Systems general manager for sub-Saharan Africa.The Cisco Innovation Tour debuts in Dakar , Senegal on 14 March and then moves to Lagos, Nigeria on 16 March, Accra, Ghana on 18 March, Lusaka , Zambia on 21 March, and finally Nairobi, Kenya on 23 March.Each of these events will feature a full day seminar, covering topics ranging from Intelligent Information Network (IIN), broadband (metro, optical and storage), Integrated Services Routers (ISR), security, IP communications, and promotions and certifications within the channel.Vonsée says he is particularly upbeat about the opportunities for Cisco partners in Africa today because of the increasingly positive political and economic climates across the region. "The opportunity to upgrade current infrastructures to next generation networks (NGN) and the fact that our channel partners have the right solutions to do this, puts them in a strong position. As more and more businesses and governments alike begin to recognise the immense benefits in deploying cutting-edge networking solutions, we expect our channel to realise the enormous business potential.""The key to success though resides with proper training and familiarity with the latest networking technologies - be it the convergence of voice, video and data, IP communications including IP telephony or any of the other solutions which are available to the channel today," says Vonsée.There are also huge opportunities for Cisco partners as a result of looming deregulation of telecommunications markets across Africa, the forthcoming consolidation in financial services markets, the advent of telemedicine, distance learning and IP satellite technologies. All of these new dynamics will present untapped opportunities for Cisco partners at all stages of the channel."Our partners understand the dynamics and the unique characteristics of their respective local markets. They are also the point at which Cisco and its customers meet. So it is incumbent on both of us that we maintain an environment in which customers can continue to benefit from the latest technologies through the best training, advice, delivery and implementation of solutions that will help them gain business advantages," says Vonsée.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Why Trade and more trade is the only winning game

I Pencil

By Leonard Read

I am a lead pencil — the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write. Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that's all I do. You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery — more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. For, the wise G. K. Chesterton observed, `"We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders." I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me — no, that's too much to ask of anyone — if you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because — well, because I am seemingly so simple. Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn't it? Especially when it is realized that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the U.S.A. each year. Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye — there's some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser. Innumerable Antecedents Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and complexity of my background. My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink! The logs are shipped to a mill in San Leandro, California. Can you imagine the individuals who make flat cars and rails and railroad engines and who construct and install the communication systems incidental thereto? These legions are among my antecedents. Consider the millwork in San Leandro. The cedar logs are cut into small, pencil- length slats less than one-fourth of an inch in thickness. These are kiln dried and then tinted for the same reason women put rouge on their faces. People prefer that I look pretty, not a pallid white. The slats are waxed and kiln dried again. How many skills went into the making of the tint and the kilns, into supplying the heat, the light and power, the belts, motors, and all the other things a mill requires? Sweepers in the mill among my ancestors? Yes, and included are the men who poured the concrete for the dam of a Pacific Gas & Electric Company hydroplant which supplies the mill's power! Don't overlook the ancestors present and distant who have a hand in transporting sixty carloads of slats across the nation. Once in the pencil factory--$4,000,000 in machinery and building, all capital accumulated by thrifty and saving parents of mine--each slat is given eight grooves by a complex machine, after which another machine lays leads in every other slat, applies glue, and places another slat atop--a lead sandwich, so to speak. Seven brothers and I are mechanically carved from this "wood- clinched'" sandwich. My "lead'" itself--it contains no lead at all--is complex. The graphite is mined in Ceylon. Consider these miners and those who make their many tools and the makers of the paper sacks in which the graphite is shipped and those who make the string that ties the sacks and those who put them aboard ships and those who make the ships. Even the lighthouse keepers along the way assisted in my birth--and the harbor pilots. The graphite is mixed with clay from Mississippi in which ammonium hydroxide is used in the refining process. Then wetting agents are added such as sulfonated tallow--animal fats chemically reacted with sulfuric acid. After passing through numerous machines, the mixture finally appears as endless extrusions--as from a sausage grinder--cut to size, dried, and baked for several hours at 1,850 degrees Fahrenheit. To increase their strength and smoothness the leads are then treated with a hot mixture which includes candelilla wax from Mexico, paraffin wax, and hydrogenated natural fats. My cedar receives six coats of lacquer. Do you know all the ingredients of lacquer? Who would think that the growers of castor beans and the refiners of castor oil are a part of it? They are. Why, even the processes by which the lacquer is made a beautiful yellow involves the skills of more persons than one can enumerate! Observe the labeling. That's a film formed by applying heat to carbon black mixed with resins. How do you make resins and what, pray, is carbon black? My bit of metal--the ferrule--is brass. Think of all the persons who mine zinc and copper and those who have the skills to make shiny sheet brass from these products of nature. Those black rings on my ferrule are black nickel. What is black nickel and how is it applied? The complete story of why the center of my ferrule has no black nickel on it would take pages to explain. Then there's my crowning glory, inelegantly referred to in the trade as "the plug," the part man uses to erase the errors he makes with me. An ingredient called "factice" is what does the erasing. It is a rubber-like product made by reacting rape- seed oil from the Dutch East Indies with sulfur chloride. Rubber, contrary to the common notion, is only for binding purposes. Then, too, there are numerous vulcanizing and accelerating agents. The pumice comes from Italy; and the pigment which gives "the plug" its color is cadmium sulfide. No One Knows Does anyone wish to challenge my earlier assertion that no single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me? Actually, millions of human beings have had a hand in my creation, no one of whom even knows more than a very few of the others. Now, you may say that I go too far in relating the picker of a coffee berry in far off Brazil and food growers elsewhere to my creation; that this is an extreme position. I shall stand by my claim. There isn't a single person in all these millions, including the president of the pencil company, who contributes more than a tiny, infinitesimal bit of know-how. From the standpoint of know-how the only difference between the miner of graphite in Ceylon and the logger in Oregon is in the type of know-how. Neither the miner nor the logger can be dispensed with, any more than can the chemist at the factory or the worker in the oil field--paraffin being a by-product of petroleum. Here is an astounding fact: Neither the worker in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or makes the ships or trains or trucks nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit of metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me. Each one wants me less, perhaps, than does a child in the first grade. Indeed, there are some among this vast multitude who never saw a pencil nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: Each of these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know-how for the goods and services he needs or wants. I may or may not be among these items. No Master Mind There is a fact still more astounding: The absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work. This is the mystery to which I earlier referred. It has been said that "'only God can make a tree.'" Why do we agree with this? Isn't it because we realize that we ourselves could not make one? Indeed, can we even describe a tree? We cannot, except in superficial terms. We can say, for instance, that a certain molecular configuration manifests itself as a tree. But what mind is there among men that could even record, let alone direct, the constant changes in molecules that transpire in the life span of a tree? Such a feat is utterly unthinkable! I, Pencil, am a complex combination of miracles: a tree, zinc, copper, graphite, and so on. But to these miracles which manifest themselves in Nature an even more extraordinary miracle has been added: the configuration of creative human energies--millions of tiny know-hows configurating naturally and spontaneously in response to human necessity and desire and in the absence of any human master-minding! Since only God can make a tree, I insist that only God could make me. Man can no more direct these millions of know-hows to bring me into being than he can put molecules together to create a tree. The above is what I meant when writing, "If you can become aware of the miraculousness which I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing." For, if one is aware that these know-hows will naturally, yes, automatically, arrange themselves into creative and productive patterns in response to human necessity and demand--that is, in the absence of governmental or any other coercive master-minding — then one will possess an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people. Freedom is impossible without this faith. Once government has had a monopoly of a creative activity such, for instance, as the delivery of the mails, most individuals will believe that the mails could not be efficiently delivered by men acting freely. And here is the reason: Each one acknowledges that he himself doesn't know how to do all the things incident to mail delivery. He also recognizes that no other individual could do it. These assumptions are correct. No individual possesses enough know-how to perform a nation's mail delivery any more than any individual possesses enough know-how to make a pencil. Now, in the absence of faith in free people — in the unawareness that millions of tiny know-hows would naturally and miraculously form and cooperate to satisfy this necessity — the individual cannot help but reach the erroneous conclusion that mail can be delivered only by governmental "master-minding." Testimony Galore If I, Pencil, were the only item that could offer testimony on what men and women can accomplish when free to try, then those with little faith would have a fair case. However, there is testimony galore; it's all about us and on every hand. Mail delivery is exceedingly simple when compared, for instance, to the making of an automobile or a calculating machine or a grain combine or a milling machine or to tens of thousands of other things. Delivery? Why, in this area where men have been left free to try, they deliver the human voice around the world in less than one second; they deliver an event visually and in motion to any person's home when it is happening; they deliver 150 passengers from Seattle to Baltimore in less than four hours; they deliver gas from Texas to one's range or furnace in New York at unbelievably low rates and without subsidy; they deliver each four pounds of oil from the Persian Gulf to our Eastern Seaboard — halfway around the world — for less money than the government charges for delivering a one-ounce letter across the street! The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society's legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow. Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed. I, Pencil, seemingly simple though I am, offer the miracle of my creation as testimony that this is a practical faith, as practical as the sun, the rain, a cedar tree, the good earth.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Why is unemployment so high when there is so much WORK yet to be done to improve standards of living?

There is so much money, so many ideas, so much labour begging
to be given a
legal structure that is friendly, so that it can be put to use
starting business
solutions to the many challenges we face. Removing
obstacles to entry into
business, quick and cheap licencing, low taxes,
secure property rights and no
interference by government, security and
functioning courts to enforce
contracts... are afew of the things that would
encourage athe small and big
aspiring business person alike, the success of
these businesses are the jobs,
development and economic growth that so far
seem illusive.
Doing Business In 2005: African Nations Struggle To Reduce Red Tape For Business, Missing Large Growth Opportunities

Botswana and South Africa have developed the strongest investment climates in Sub-Saharan Africa in recent years, but too few other African nations are following suit and most continue to rank among the world's least friendly for business, according to a new report from the World Bank Group.
Doing Business in 2005: Removing Obstacles to Growth, a report cosponsored by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation, the private sector lending arm of the World Bank Group, finds that investment climate reforms, while often simple, can help create job opportunities for women and young people, encourage businesses to move into the formal economy, and promote growth.
Between 2003 and 2004, for example, Ethiopia witnessed a jump of 48 percent business registrations after simplifying its entry procedures.
However, the report, which benchmarks regulatory performance and reforms in 145 nations, finds that poor nations, through administrative procedures, still make it two times harder than rich nations for entrepreneurs to start, operate, or close a business, and businesses in poor nations have less than half the property rights protections available to businesses in rich countries.
African countries reformed the least of all regions over the past year and still have the most regulatory obstacles to doing business. Sixteen of the 20 countries with the most cumbersome business regulations and weakest protection of property rights are in Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Burkina Faso, and Chad rank among the bottom five. Chad, for example, still requires 19 procedures to register a new business, as compared with two procedures in a country such as Australia. In Congo, it takes 155 days to register a business. In Angola, it takes more than three years to enforce a contract.
Worldwide, rich countries undertook three times as many investment climate reforms as poor countries last year. European nations were especially active in enacting reforms. The top 10 reformers for the most recent survey year were Slovakia, Colombia, Belgium, Finland, India, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, and Spain.
Other findings related to Sub-Saharan African nations:
Botswana and South Africa ranked in the top quartile of the nations surveyed, according to indicators on the ease of doing business.
However, of the 58 countries that reformed business regulation or strengthened the protection of property rights in the last year, only eight were in Africa.
Among the African nations enacting reforms, Ethiopia improved the process for starting a new business the most, by cutting the number of procedures from eight to seven, the number of days from 44 to 32, and the administrative cost of business startup by 80 percent. Still, it has the second-highest minimum capital requirement in the world, trailing only Syria.
Madagascar was the second-most effective reformer in Africa, slashing the time required to start a business by a third, to 44 days. Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, and Kenya also reformed entry regulation.
Two other reformers were Mozambique, where the public credit registry went online and strengthened the quality of data, and Namibia, which introduced more flexible work hours, making it easier for businesses to expand production.
Several countries enacted changes that worsened their investment climate. Malawi, Mauritania, and Rwanda made it more expensive to start a business. Zimbabwe hiked its capital duty from 1 percent to 20 percent and increased the license application fee fourfold."Poor countries that desperately need new enterprises and jobs risk falling even further behind rich ones who are simplifying regulation and making their investment climates more business friendly," said Michael Klein, World Bank/IFC Vice President for Private Sector Development and IFC Chief Economist.
Doing Business in 2005 updates the work of last year's report on five sets of business environment indicators: starting a business, hiring and firing workers, enforcing contracts, getting credit, and closing a business; expands the research to 145 countries, and adds two new indicators, registering property and protecting investors. "This year, Doing Business gives policymakers an even more powerful tool for measuring their regulatory performance in comparison to other countries, learning from best practices globally, and prioritizing reforms. Since last year, 13 countries, including Cape Verde, Gambia, and Mauritius, have asked to be included in the Doing Business analysis," said Simeon Djankov, an author of the report.
The main research findings of Doing Business in 2005:
Businesses in poor countries face larger regulatory burdens than those in rich countries. Poor countries impose higher costs on businesses to fire a worker, enforce contracts, or file for registration; they impose more delays in going through insolvency procedures, registering property, and starting a business; and they afford fewer protections in terms of legal rights for borrowers and lenders, contract enforcement, and disclosure requirements. In administrative costs alone, there is a threefold difference between poor and rich nations. The number of administrative procedures and the delays associated with them are twice as high in poor countries.
The payoffs from reform appear to be large. The report estimates that an improvement from the bottom to the top quartile of countries in the ease of doing business is associated with an additional 2.2 percentage points in annual economic growth. An indication of the payoff comes from Turkey and France, each of which saw new business registration increase by 18 percent after the governments reduced the time and cost of starting a business last year. Slovakia's reform of collateral regulation helped increase the flow of bank loans to the private sector by 10 percent. The payoff comes because businesses waste less time and money on unnecessary regulation and devote more resources to producing and marketing their goods and because governments spend less on ineffective regulation and more on social services.
Heavy regulation and weak property rights exclude the poor - especially women and younger people - from doing business. The report finds that weak property rights and heavy business regulation conspire to exclude the poor from joining the formal economy. "Heavy regulation not only fails to protect women, young people, and the poor - those it was intended to serve - but often harms them," said Caralee McLiesh, an author of the report. Doing Business shows that countries with simpler regulations can provide better social protections and a better economic climate for business people, investors, and the general public. The report builds on noted economist Hernando de Soto's work, showing that while it is critical to encourage registration of assets, it is as important - and harder - to stop them from slipping back into the informal sector.The top 20 economies in terms of ease of doing business are New Zealand, United States, Singapore, Hong Kong/China, Australia, Norway, United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, Japan, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Finland, Ireland, Belgium, Lithuania, Slovakia, Botswana, and Thailand.
The Doing Business project is the product of more than 3,000 local experts - business consultants, lawyers, accountants, and government officials - and leading academics, who provide methodological support and review. The data, methodology, and names of contributors are publicly available online.


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Uhuru ni Haki - Freedom is Justice

Not one person on the planet, knows just what I am capable of achieving in life, even I, am struggling to figure it out everyday. So while I am working with the tools available to me to make a living, sharpen my talents, and enjoy life, the least I can demand from my fellow human beings (in government or otherwise) is that they respect my right to be on the planet, my right to do whatever I please to make use of my life (so long as I am not hurting anyone), and my right to the fruit of my labour. Uhuru ni Haki.

Uhuru ni Haki shows how much dignity and wealth people get from being respected enough to be 'left alone', and how much misery is as a result of someone or a group of people thinking they know what is best for others and using the force of law or just force to organise affairs for others.

Uhuru ni Haki

They want to sell us cheap Cell Phones, we want cheap cell phone services, what's the problem?

How Long will it take to reinstate local and foreign investor confidence... very
necessary for the benefit of Kenyan consumers whose need for more affordable
telecommunication services, seems to be obvious to all but the Minister incharge
of Telecommunications

By Martin Mbugua Kimani

So much for the younger generation of politicians offering Kenyans more hope than the dinosaurs frequently derided for driving Kenya deeper into poverty and insecurity.
Last week, Information and Communications Minister Raphael Tuju acted on behalf of the government in dissolving the board of the Communications Commission of Kenya.
A reform-minded CCK, which by law is an independent regulator whose director-general has tenure of office, has been a thorn in the government’s flesh for the past couple of years.
Last November, Tuju, acting unlawfully, as was ruled by the High Court, cancelled a mobile-phone network licence awarded to Econet Wireless Kenya after it had paid $15 million for it.
Justice Mohammed Ibrahim in his ruling established that Tuju could not cancel a licence since it amounted to usurping CCK’s regulatory role.
This decision was the second by the High Court against Tuju, who had initially called off a tendering process for Kenya’s second fixed-line telephone operator.
IN MID-2003, a CCK manager, Frank Wangusi, led a successful raid on a multimillion-shilling telephone fraud ring operating in Lonrho House.
Following the foray, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Kiraitu Murungi asked Wangusi and his fellow CCK managers to report on the extent of illegal international calling consortiums in Kenya.
The resulting report – backing up a similar effort submitted to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission – allegedly pointed to high-up officials in the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The then minister, John Michuki, reacted by calling for Wangusi’s firing.
So there you have it, the two generations: Tuju, the young reformer and Michuki the old: joined at the hip in arbitrariness and dubious decision-making. Increased competition in the telecommunications industry has meant lower phone and call costs for not only the 2.7 million subscribers but also the millions of neighbours, relatives and friends who rely on their lines.
When a relative uses a friend’s phone to text his daughter in Kampala to send more money for buying anti-retroviral medicine, it saves a life.
When a water-seller who operates from Kawangware is called to make a delivery in Dagoretti, it expands his business.
A young student surfs the Internet in search of opportunity and finds a scholarship to the US.
Few would argue that the impact of competition in Kenya’s telecom sector has not been unreservedly positive. Yet increasingly in this matter, as in others, the government acts as a block to the aspirations and hopes of the ordinary citizen.
Everyone in the Cabinet talks a good anti-corruption fight. But often, lurking behind their pronouncements is a strategy to corner one market or favour some cartel.
The promised half-a-million jobs will never be created outside of ghost workers on government payrolls.
GRAND CORRUPTION, as its many self-announced Cabinet opponents grandly call it, is here to stay. The long view is instructive: the Kenyan government has waged a war against hope, hard work and the liberty of millions of people for the past 100 years.
Whether it was the settler-dominated colonial state or the nationalist-talking postcolonial government, the drive has always been to centralise power and allow privileged minorities free rein to enrich themselves at the majority’s expense. State-owned enterprises have been used to extend patronage, if not to fellow settlers then to fellow tribesmen. The state-created and sustained elites have consistently sought to ensure that reforms issue from the centre where a close eye can be kept on them.
The government has quite simply been a vehicle of control, working to usurp local initiative and individual effort in favour of national projects that cater to the few. In the colonial era, it led to mass land grabs and pass laws limiting the free movement of labour. In "independent" Kenya, robbery is the name of the game, with the government operating as a vast get-richer-quicker scheme for the well-connected.
THE ACTIONS against the CCK are a continuation of the state elite’s desire to maintain control over the marketplace. This elite, despite its self-regard as a capitalist class, regards privatisation as an enemy unless it can rig the rules to benefit from it.
The CCK’s independence and determination to open up the telecommunications industry led to millions of dollars being invested by local and foreign companies. Over 100 companies waiting for the CCK to process their licences are now in a cold sweat knowing that the board’s dismissal will further complicate their aim to compete in the industry.
The jobs this would have brought, the cheaper prices and better service may as well be kissed goodbye.
Tuju’s action has endangered not only the future of one industry, but of any long-term investments countrywide. Local and foreign businesspeople will now pause before allocating any funds for Kenyan projects that require fixed assets and a multi-year commitment.
Promises of better performance by NARC have proven to be an illusion fed by its cosmetic changes to the same old way of doing business. It is now obvious that this government, like its predecessors, was never constructed to reflect the hopes and dreams of Kenyans. Thus stories of its criminality and greed are really signs of its success rather than failure.
FOR IT to work for Kenyans, it must fail to serve them. If the public wants this to happen, it should demand a massive privatisation and decentralisation campaign rather than asking for public services that never come.
The conclusion that the NARC government, and those that came before it, force on Kenyans is that liberalisation is indeed a necessary step to decolonisation. By dissolving the CCK board, it has acted against the opening of the economy to innovative ideas.

Martin Mbugua Kimani is a doctoral candidate in War Studies at the University of London, King’s College

Uhuru Ni Haki

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

"We learnt from the Genocide that, no one owes us anything, We have to understand our problems and SOLVE them"- Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

Stealing = Poverty, Stealing discourages investment from Kenyans in kenya, Abroad and from Foreigners

Robbery: The unlawful taking or attempted taking of property that is in the immediate possession of another by force or threat of force.

Douglas Okwatch and Paul Kimemia

A new survey has exposed how Kenyan politicians and civil servants are milking companies doing business with the Government of bribes.
The survey, carried out jointly by the World Bank and a government think-tank, says that businesses are paying an average 7.5 per cent of the contract value as kickbacks to politicians and civil servants.
That means for a contract worth Sh100 million, a company would have to pay out Sh7.5 million as bribes, a cost which will likely be borne by the public.
The amounts paid out vary from sector to sector, according to the survey by the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis and the World Bank.
The bribes, or "unofficial payments", are highest in the paper, printing and publishing sector, where companies are parting with an average 11.5 per cent of the contract sum.
Other sectors that attract relatively high kickbacks are textile, garments and leather (9 per cent), wood and furniture (8.9 per cent) and metal sector (8.8 per cent). In the machinery sub sector, the politician and civil servant brokers are asking for an average of four per cent in bribes.
There is, however, no guarantee that private companies get government jobs, according to the report, even after giving bribes.
The survey was carried out in agreement with another by the global corruption watchdog, Transparency International, which showed that politicians have joined police officers as among the most corrupt class of people in the country.
TI ranked the Kenya Police as the most corrupt institution, followed by political parties and Parliament.
The KIPPRA survey titled Corruption, firm growth and export propensity: Findings from Kenyan manufacturers confirms allegations of massive corruption in government procurement.
The report says while public servants extract bribes from investors to issue licences, politicians assist business people to circumvent extortion by civil servants.
Ironically, politicians are the investors’ worst enemy, according to the findings.
The more politician friends an investor has, the higher the proportion of his earnings he is forced to spend on bribes.
The survey has found that there is a very strong correlation between the proportions of annual sales spent in bribes and the number of politicians that business people know and trust enough to talk freely about business.
The more the political friends, the more the bribes companies pay.
The survey also found harambees were a possible conduit for bribes paid in exchange for favours, including access to government contracts.
Location wise, Nairobi based firms bear the brunt of corruption: They pay higher amounts more often while firms in Nakuru also pay a higher than the average percentage of annual earnings and contract values as bribes.
And corruption seems to be taking its toll on smaller firms. Though they reportedly pay lower bribes to facilitate licensing and other services compared to the large firms, a bigger proportion of their annual revenue goes towards unofficial payments.
The study also discovered that firms, which avoid paying taxes, were likely to spend a bigger proportion of their earnings on bribes than law-abiding ones.
Officials at various points of entry such as airports, the port of Mombasa and borders are among the worst extortionists. Companies exporting their goods are the biggest targets for bribe seekers.
"The actual act of exporting brings perceptions of higher profitability, therefore deepening the exposure to corruption," says the KIPPRA report.
The think tank appeals to companies to help the Government fight corruption.
It recommends the enactment of the pending Procurement Bill as a matter of urgency and the review of government procurement with a view to strengthening, streamlining and increasing accountability.

Uhuru Ni Haki

By the "Stroke of a Pen" so many more Kenyans would have
jobs, succeed in
local and global business, and have access to cheaper goods
and services from
around the globe, live fuller lives, with more economic

By Tom Mogusu

Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research Analysis (Kippra) and the World Bank have warned that Kenya is losing out on Foreign Direct Investment due endemic corruption and bureaucracy.
The two organisations say the Government has failed to attract local or international investors due to barriers created by civil servants.
The laws enacted have also failed to stimulate economic growth.
"Public administrators are by their very nature bureaucratic," the Kippra-World Bank report says.
"This bureaucracy if not checked can turn into lengthy processes, which can inhibit investment and growth.
An instructive case that is often cited to demonstrate red-tape in Kenya is the process of registering new investments," the report says.
The Kippra research was carried out under the umbrella project supported by Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID).
It estimates that to register a business in Kenya, twelve steps are required, but which cost US$223.41 (Sh17,872.00), excluding "hidden" costs.
Although Kenya compares favourably to Uganda and Tanzania in terms of procedures, it falls far short of other African countries such as Zambia and South Africa and many developed countries.
The report warns that corruption is a significant problem in Kenya.
The survey found out that over 50 per cent of Kenyan firms and a considerably higher proportion of foreign firms operating in the country consider the economic and regulatory framework as unstable and highly uncertain.
"An almost similar proportion of firms consider macro-economic instability as a major constraint in Kenya," says the report that was released last week.
It emphasises the fact that policy instability and uncertainty arising from political and economic conditions limit investments because of the extra risk premium required.
Much of the uncertainty that has adversely affected the business environment had to do with Kenya’s stop-go policies and the associated poor donor relations.
"Political instability has also adversely affected the business climate," says the report.
The corrupt practices of business people, politicians or Government bureaucrats are costly because there are real prices to be paid for the economic inefficiencies and the misallocation of scarce resources, which arise from corruption," the Kippra report says.
It goes on to argue that corruption stifles the entrepreneurial spirit, undermines local and international confidence and scares off investment.
The findings say firms that receive Government contracts in Kenya pay on average 7.5 per cent of the total contract value as kickbacks.
Sector averages vary from 4 per cent in the machinery sub-sector, to 11.5 per cent in the paper, printing and publishing sector.
In 2002, the report says that manufacturing firms in Kenya spent more than 4 per cent of their total sales on bribery.
On average, firms paid Sh221 million in 2002 as unofficial payment in respect of utilities such as water, electricity and telephone.
The sectors were most affected however, were textiles, garment and leather. Unofficial payments in respect of licenses were lower than those of utilities, and ranged from Sh272 for bakeries to Sh35,000 for textile, garments and leather firms," the Kippra reveals the report.
In terms of location, the research found out that firms in Nairobi bear the brunt of corruption as they make the highest amount of unofficial payments on most account.
The level of corruption varies with the size of the firms, with the small and medium-sized firms paying the highest percentage of annual revenue and value of Government contracts.
Kenyan companies are also concerned with the level of taxes and the manner in which taxes are administered. Over 50 per cent of the firms surveyed under the Kippra/World Bank survey indicated that tax administration is a major concern.
An analysis of tax administration in Kenya by the Foreign Investment Advisory Services (FIAS) in 2004 also revealed a number of constraints with tax administration in Kenya.
This included delays in VAT refunds and the existence of corruption, although the general perception is that it has declined over the years.
Obsession by the Kenya Revenue Authority with maximising collections with little regard for the interest or circumstances of the taxpayer is another factor frustrating businesses in the country.

Uhuru Ni Haki

Not all businessmen wear suits, have decent looking premises, or speak English, but they all deserve a chance to try to their chance at business

Boda boda taxis now take rightful place on the roads

By Harold Ayodo

It is a fast emerging mode of transport in the informal sector and is fast expanding.
From Western Kenya to the South Rift and now Central Province, boda boda taxis have been accepted here just like in the Asian sub-continent as an alternative means of transport.
Yet it remains the most criticised mode of transport for because of accidents, even fatalities on our roads.
But the Government, having realised that it is a way that can help alleviate transport chaos, has finally allowed boda boda to take its rightful place in the transport industry.
Recently, traffic police held safety workshops for the cyclists Kisumu.
Traffic officers from Nairobi road safety section, led by Chief Inspector Stephen Oduor gave a lecture at the bus park that was attended by hundreds of the operators.
Drama, however, unfolded as the officers approached the venue of the meeting— the cyclists took to their heels, with some leaving their bicyles behind.
Reason? They believed there was a crackdown on cyclists and that the police had come to arrest them.
The officers, however, allayed their fears, and managed to assemble them under a tree shade for the lectures.
According to Chief Inspector Oduor, police statistics revealed that last year, 306 boda boda operators died as a result of accidents in Western Kenya, including Kisumu, Busia and Kakamega.
"Records indicate that 1,075 operators were seriously injured and 96 per cent subsequently died while undergoing treatment at various hospitals," Oduor said.
The officer said more passengers died as a result of boda boda related accidents—most of which were unreported.
The officer attributes the high number of deaths to bad blood between the operators and Public Service Vehicle drivers (PSVs).
"The operators and PSVs compete for passengers leading to bullying on the roads," he said.
Oduor said said PSV drivers allegedly push the riders off the roads to "teach then a lesson".
He, however, warned that the road was not a preserve of a few.
"The road is meant for pedestrians, riders, drivers and animals. No one is superior," he said.
Last year, Oduor said, 969 pedestrians died in Nyanza while 860 were seriously injured as a result of boda boda and motor vehicle accidents.
He attributed the accidents to disregard for safety rules. "Having respect for the road is an overriding prerequisite," he said.
Addressing the cyclists in local languages (Dholuo, Luhya, Kisii and Swahili) Oduor urged the operators to have roadworthy bicycles.
Recently, Kisumu Mayor Priscah Auma said the council in conjunction with the UN Habitat, planed to construct a separate route for the riders.
Nyanza Police boss Abubakar Jambeni called for by-laws on the cyclists to avoid accidents and congestion within the Central Business District.
"We need laws that clearly define where they should operate for easy policing. This would also enable the council collect revenues," Jambeni said.
Kisumu deputy police boss Nehemiah Lang’at said his office received numerous reports every day on boda boda related accidents.
"We have several unclaimed bicycles in our custody. There are also many accidents and subsequent deaths that are unreported," said Lang’at.

Each of us really need the freedom to buy and sell the tools we need to make our dreams come true- from whomever we please

People all over the world are turning their dreams and ideas into products and
services that are so valuable to making it ever so easier to communicate,
travel, transfer money, manufacture things, organise corporations, and
perform all sorts of tasks. Most of the time the only thing keeping us from
accessing these things for our use, learning and application, and from
engaging in this process ourselves are laws that either unjustly
people's entry in to several areas of business, the arbitrary
exercise of powers
such as arresting and beating up street vendors, and
disregard for property
rights are afew examples

By Ochieng Rapuro

For Kenyans who placed their bet on the ability of political freedom to transform the country’s economy, these must be heady days indeed.
Two years after the Kanu dictatorship was removed from power and replaced by a popular government, only minimal progress has been made on the economic front.
Growth, which was expected to accelerate, the economy having been relieved of the burdens of dictatorship, has only painstakingly staggered on.
The country’s social and economic infrastructure is yet to be cured of the infections of the former regime and poverty in all its ugly forms remains rampant.
In the first year of the Narc administration, amid the hubris exhibited by the new political elite, the economy only expanded by a paltry 1.8 per cent against a projected figure of 3 per cent.
Prospects for the third year of the Kibaki administration do not look any better.
The Government has itself revised the projected growth rate downwards from five per cent to 2.3 per cent, pointing to the underperformance that characterises all sectors of the economy.
And with the political arena looking ever more chaotic following the latest differences over party elections, not much impetus can be expected for the economy in the form of improved governance structures.
Kenya is certainly not alone in this.
Africa today is replete with examples of countries that have since the early 1990s made great strides along the path of free markets and plural democracy but with only subliminal economic gains to show for it.
In economic terms, the relationship between political freedom or lack of it and economic progress should be unambiguous.
Under a dictatorship, the economy of a nation is shackled by, among other things, the curtailment of individual freedoms, including the freedom to experiment with new ideas that has been the main driver of progress in many parts of the world.
Authoritarian regimes are also known to be prone to wasteful economic practices such as nepotism, cronyism and ethnicity that lead to massive misallocation of human resources.
Besides, in such societies, corruption is known to be rampant emboldened by the knowledge that the media are firmly emasculated and the chances of the perpetrators being exposed slim.
The fall of a dictatorship is, therefore, deemed to provide a nation with a golden opportunity to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit from among its citizens, streamline the allocation of whatever resources are available as well as reduce wastage through corruption by increasing the risk of exposure. But alas!
For Kenya, no such fruits have been borne out of the tree of democracy. Instead, the wastefulness of dictatorship has been replaced lock and stock by that of rudderlessness.
In post-authoritarian Kenya, competition among the political elite has only entrenched cronyism, old boy networks, corruption and outright theft of public resources with disastrous results for the experiment of democracy. Increased freedom in Kenya appears to have merely provided the political elite with unlimited opportunities to inflame the fire of inter-ethnic and intra-class struggles.
Most importantly for Kenya, political freedom does not appear to support the broader economic framework.
This is partly because contemporary civic groups continue to demonise time-tested apparatus of economic management such as taxation as instruments of oppression.
he question is whether – in spite of what has come of the experiment with Narc – Kenyans should still cling to the hope that one day they will reach the economic nirvana via political emancipation.
Shouldn’t we also be asking whether the development path we have chosen as a nation is the right one?
Milton Friedmann, an American professor of political economy and the 1976 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics is one of the world’s prominent scholars who have been examining the relationship between freedom and economic progress.
In a 2002 evaluation of his seminal work on freedom and capitalism that was written some 40 years ago he says: "If there is one major change I would make, it would be to replace the dichotomy of economic freedom, civil freedom, and political freedom. While economic freedom is a necessary condition for civil and political freedom, political freedom, desirable though it may be, is not a necessary condition for economic and civil freedom."
This particular statement does amount to a recognition of the fact that although political, economic and civil freedoms are values that all human beings desire, their achievement largely depends on the order in which they are introduced in society. A look at Asia does provide concrete examples of what systematic unraveling of economic freedom, even under extremely authoritarian conditions, can achieve for an impoverished nation. China and Vietnam stand out as examples of states that have and continue to make big strides in the area of economic development, growing at an average annual rate of nine and seven percent respectively despite heavy curtailment of political and civil freedoms.
The idea is that an economically emancipated people do in the end claim their political and civil rights. That is not true for political freedom. As the Kenyan case shows, a people may be politically liberated but forever remain economically subjugated thereby entrenching the ugly culture of political patronage that feeds on increased impoverishment of the masses.
As long as we continue to avoid the more fundamental issue of what political and economic framework suits us at this stage of our country’s development, one can predict without the fear of contradiction that the riddle of a "politically free people" living under the bondage of poverty will continue to characterize our society.
People may be politically liberated but forever remain economically subjugated

Uhuru Ni Haki

You can imagine how hard it is for the small guy to register his land if this Big Investor has so much trouble

Nairobi Lands registry staff must be replaced now
It would appear that President Kibaki’s laid-back, see-nothing-do-nothing style of management has affected most Government departments.
But the department where indolence seems to have become almost a way of life is the Nairobi Lands Registry.
In the bad, old days under Kanu, it took about three days for a document lodged for stamping to be stamped and returned. Conveyance documents lodged for registration were normally registered sad returned within two weeks.
Nowadays, it takes anything up to two weeks for a document to be stamped and returned.
Conveyancing documents lodged for registration take months before they are registered and returned.
A case in point is conveyance relating to a property which an investor associated with me had purchased in Nairobi, at a considerable price, for substantial redevelopment.
The conveyance was lodged for registration in the first week of May, 2004.
The entire purchase price was deposited with the vendor’s advocate to be released to the vendor upon registration of the conveyance.
The purchaser was to receive possession upon registration of the conveyance.
The conveyance was registered and returned on August 18, 2004, during which period the vendor was deprived of the purchase price and the purchaser was deprived of possession.
The investment was thus needlessly delayed.
Legal and commercial instruments are the life-blood of economic growth.
The Lands Registry as at present constituted needs a major overhaul. All the deadwood must go.
The current Commissioner of Lands, who has been with the department for ages, must be retired and replaced with an able administrator who may bring sanity to the department, and get rid of the rot that has taken root there and has bred so much corruption.
A. N. Ngugi,

It is important that Kenyans receive legal registration of their land so that their interests are protected by courts and contracts for exchange

By Wanjiru Macharia and Paul Jimbo

Over 500 members of the Ogiek community on Wednesday demonstrated against their eviction from Nkaretta Forest in Mau East, Narok District.
Chanting slogans against the Provincial Administration, they claimed the forest was their ancestral home and nobody had the right to evict them.
Their bid to burn a bulldozer bearing GK registration numbers which was ferrying trees was thwarted by Administration Police officers.
Led by chairman Samuel Kumakei, they decried the massive destruction of the forest, saying the activities would render them homeless.
Kumakei accused the Provincial Administration of colluding with a private developer (name withheld) who was encroaching on the forest.
He said the more than 5,000 Ogieks living in the forest would have nowhere to go.
Kumakei wondered how the developer got a GK bulldozer to ferry trees under police protection and appealed to the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources to intervene.
However, Narok District Commissioner John Egesa denied the existence of the Ogiek in the forest.
He accused some residents of encroaching on the forest after selling their land and later using the Ogiek as scapegoats.
Egesa said the Government would flush out all people living in the forest illegally.
He said the excision was not illegal since the Government was planning to settle landless people on 6,000 acres of the forest.
Meanwhile, the Government is set to evict more than 80 families living in Mashuru and Singaraine water catchment areas in Kajiado District.
District Commissioner Kenneth Lusaka said yesterday plans had been finalised to evict the families which had encroached on gazetted forest zones.
Lusaka said the evictions would also be carried out in Ngong and Namanga hills. The Government settled some 500 families in Ngong in 1997 and restricted any human activities beyond 400 metres uphill.
He said some residents were engaged in charcoal burning and some had cleared huge tracts of land in the forests for cultivation purposes.
He imposed a ban on sand harvesting at the Mashuru and Kenya Marble Quarry areas in the district.

Uhuru Ni Haki

Copyright The Standard Group

How will you and I hustle and achieve our fullest potential when our 'leaders' have so much power which they use to cripple our efforts at everyturn?

Less than a decade ago there were only 300,000 phone
lines in Kenya (mostly in the hundreds of government corporations). This is
country of 30 Million people, all needing telecommunication
their business in farming, fishing,
transportation, schools,
hospitals, etc etc but who had no
access to this vital tool
because by
law, the cost of telecommunications
was kept so high
since only one company
was allowed to provide this
service to Kenyans.
The law has since changed, but
the struggle
get the government out of
the way of affordable telephony
for small
businesses and individuals,

By Noel Wandera

Mobile service provider Celtel Kenya yesterday blamed the Kenya Government for the prevailing high mobile telephone charges in East Africa.
The company’s CEO Gerhard May said although Celtel was ready to offer cheaper regional tariffs it had been prevented from doing so by the failure of Kenyan authorities to grant it a regional gateway licence.
"I have a very nice surprise in my pocket for our clients and I hope that the Government will move with speed and grant us the licence," May said. He was speaking during the launch of Celtel’s new top up facility –open voucher.
He said Kenya was undermining efforts being made by service providers to enable East Africa’s mobile phone users to communicate at cheaper rates.
"Our sister companies in Uganda and Tanzania are ready. Everybody is waiting for us," he said.
"Technically, I can do it even in two days" he continued, even as he expressed frustration at making several trips between his office and that of the licensing authorities.
International mobile calls from Kenya are still being routed by Telkom Kenya despite an announcement by the Director-General of the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), Mr Sammy Kirui ,that mobile phone service providers would then be allowed to operate own international gateways.
Yesterday, May dampened the prospects of mobile phone users calling across the networks at cheaper rates, saying it would not become a reality until the gateway obstacle is removed.
The newly launched open voucher facility widens Celtel’s airtime value. Clients can top up their airtime accounts for any value ranging from Sh50 to Sh10,000.
The company first launched virtual top up services two months ago with Sh75 and Sh150 airtime values. Celtel’s Chief Marketing Officer Gilles Atayi said the move had added between 150,000 and 200,000 subscribers to the company’s client base.
"Research has shown that low denominations increased usage by customers," said May.
He announced that Celtel had upgraded its system to accommodate the extra demand.

Copyright- The Standard Group

How being in government gives some Kenyans the power to pronounce overnight poverty on their fellow law abiding, hard working, wealth creating Kenyans

If your trade
is peacefully buying
selling used clothes for fun, to feed
educate your children or
whatever other reason people have for
doing whatever they do for a
living, why should
another human
being destroy your
livelyhood, not
by offering your customers
something they prefer,
but just

By Mary Mwangi

Today is March 15, the day dreaded by all mitumba (second hand clothes) traders and wearers.
After today, smartness in empty bellies will be a thing of the past for those who survive on less than Sh80 a day. About 10 million people will lose an economic lifeline derived from imported used clothes and shoes popularly known respectively as mitumba, misumba or nguo kukuu in the East African region.
The East African Council of ministers gave importers of used clothes up to the middle of March to choose between abandoning the trade altogether or bringing in the stuff on the punitive tariffs imposed by the new East African Customs Union (EACU) ostensibly to protect local textile industry, promote cotton growing and raise revenue.
Kenyan ministers of Finance and Trade and their counterparts in Uganda and Tanzania in their "conventional" wisdom resolved to impose a tariff equivalent to 200 per cent on mitumba and shoes to stem cross border smuggling amongst other things.
The increase of import tariff from Sh20 to Sh 60 per kg on imported clothes translates to Sh 1,485,000 up from Sh495,000 per 24,750 Kg container. This is punitive.
Informal sector complements government efforts to create jobs by providing employment to schoolleavers, drop-outs, retrenchees and retirees. It defeats reason and common sense to insinuate that what open-air traders do negates economic progress.
Kamukunji MP, Norman Nyagah, is a lone voice in the crusade to save millions consigned to poverty, early deaths and family breakups when their economic lifelines terminate. His colleagues in various House committees share in the complicity to promote poverty amongst the population in the informal sector. It is not in the interest of the people for leaders to preside over plans and deliberate on ways of stifling the business environment through restrictive laws, regulations and excessive taxation.
According to political leaders, mitumba remains the sole cause of the collapse of the local textile industry. Curiously the ministers failed to address the issue of cheap and low quality textile imports, which impact negatively on local production. The Asian imports are comparatively more expensive than mitumba clothes but cheaper than locally produced apparel.
Ministers agitating for the protection of local industries are avid consumers of foreign products. Most of designer clothes ministers wear, the poor can only find in mitumba at pocket-friendly prices.
Another reason advanced is that those in the informal sector have not been paying their share of taxes. That is neither here nor there. If mitumba peddlers were not paying taxes as alleged, why would the business people bother to petition authorities on the proposed tariffs? Statistics at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) bear testimony to the fact that mitumba dealers are indeed taxpayers.
The cotton industry collapsed years ago and even before Kenya was given a quota in the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) to revamp the industry, rehabilitation was the most unlikely dream. This is not in dispute and Agriculture Minister, Kipruto arap Kirwa and his counterparts in Trade and Finance can bear testimony to this. They have been conspicuously silent on plans to kick-start the scheme.
There is no guarantee that cotton from Kenya will find good prices in the world market. Subsidies to cotton farmers make American cotton in the world market cheaper by 25 percent but will the Government have the money to sustain many years of subsidies?
Textile factories closed down due to mismanagement, corruption, and lack of raw materials, hypocritical policies, questionable prices and low quality. These have nothing to do with importation of mitumba into the region at all.
Independent studies confirmed that there is no link between mitumba import and the collapse of textile industry. In the year 2004, studies undertaken by Swiss Academy for Development (SAD) and German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) showed that second hand clothes exports to developing countries do not ruin their domestic industry. In a global economy, local textile industry can thrive if the country achieves the right quality specifications and minimizes the cost of production. This is not the case here.
The same can be said of their key supporter, Francis Atwoli of the Central Organization of Trade Unions (Cotu). The Cotu Chief Executive, claims that the closure of textile factories resulted in job losses because of second hand clothes imports. This claim is debatable. When Cotu affiliate Kenya Textile Workers Union fails to recruit or sell their services to the informal sector, who is to blame?
Mr Atwoli, who also leads the Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union, cannot say how much acreage is under cotton crop in the country today and out of his general membership, how many are from cotton farms. Reviving the cotton industry, as those in the know would like to put it, is still an obscure project.
For the ordinary middle class Kenyan, mitumba means a lot more than the mere economic rhetoric of the cotton and textile industry. Second-hand clothes provide a break especially when spending on clothes for the majority of the low earning population who find it ironical to fancy used cars, radios, refrigerators and houses but shun used clothes. The same people who advocate or decide to slap extra duty on mitumba, most likely may not be even adorning locally made apparel.
The numbers of people who depend on the mitumba trade, both in the rural and urban areas, are massive. For the government to ignore such an obvious fact in its deliberations is to say the least a betrayal of trust and confidence. Ten million people is not a small constituency to brush aside. At least, Kenyans can afford second hand items, dress decently and still spare extra money for other needs in the face of biting poverty.
Killing mitumba business to save cotton or textile farmers is not a solution to the economic woes. It is the same as killing one sugar factory in Ramisi and starting one in Garsen as a cost saving measure yet both are entitled to equal protection from the same system.
Mitumba traders some of whom were cotton farmers are not in the business because they fancied killing the local textile trade. They could not survive in the market because ginneries never paid for their produce or there were no alternative outlets.
No one forces anybody to buy mitumba because the market presents a variety of goods for the consumer to choose from according to quality and price. Second hand products have enabled many Kenyans to live a considerable comfortable lives for sometimes as economy nosedived and purchasing capacity eroded beyond redemption.

* The writer is a businesswoman dealing in used clothes

Copyright © MMIV . The Standard Group