Abiy Ahmed was destined to clinch The Noble Peace Prize, I saw it coming

First posted on 9th June 2018 on my Facebook Timeline

While we are busy with our micro politics so much is happening around us and mainly driven by 42 year old new Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

In less than 90 days he has been able to achieve the following .

1. Released most of the political prisoners in Ethiopia. He has been to key regions in Ethiopia to share his vision and show them true genuine love and suddenly Ethiopia is on another level full of optimism.

2. He has been able to break the ice with Egypt on matters of waters of the Nile which is lifeline for the land of pharaohs.

3. He has visited all the key neighbouring countries including ours Kenya.

4. He has also managed to bring the warring factions of South Sudan together Salva Kir and Riek Machar

5. Then the major one was over the weekend , in one stroke Ethiopia dropped the claims to some territorial dispute and accepted to vacate the disputed land with Eriteria without any condition . Over the weekend he flew to Asmara and what an emotional visit for both countries.

Abiy Ahmed and Isaiah Afeworki have 30 years age gap. PM Abiy was only 17 when Eriteria PM took over . It’s clear age means nothing. Eriteria PM is 72.

This man Abiy has been able to achieve so much in less than 100 days without those never ending conferences and meetings . This is Execution redefined .

What does Eriteria peace deal mean ?

Well Eriteria has two deep ports which is now open for use to Ethiopia and by default Lamu will now be affected. They also have acess to Djibouti and he has just signed a deal with Berbera in self declared republic of Somaliland but again if we act and deliver Lamu port then Southern Ethiopia can still opt to use Lamu just like Arusha opting for Mombasa as opposed to Dar.

This man takes soft power to another level. His charisma and likeable personality is just out of this world . It is clear he is trusted by everyone and he is only 42. May Almighty God protect him , we need such young charismatic leadership in Africa.

He said he wants peace with Eriteria he did not waste time seeking for approval from some various countries. He went for the bulls eye. At this rate Nobel Peace Prize could come his way, I would not be surprised.

Finally It Came To Pass…..

To Ethiopia and my friends like Addis Alemayehou , Dawit Bekele we wish you the very best of luck and It’s about time we brought you on board to join East African Community. Well abundance mentality dictates that when your neighbour thrives you also do well. We are happy for you and loads of love from your southern neighbours Kenya.

As always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi

To Kenya Railways, your notice is blanket condemnation . Recall & Review.

To Kenya Railways .

I hope my note finds you in good health.

Firstly it is indeed quite a while that I wrote anything about Madaraka Express but the few trips I have had with you was nothing but joy.

Now I saw this notice and I wonder how you arrived at it, it is draconian rule that makes no sense at all and you rub already stressed Kenyans the wrong way.

The issue that must have triggered this notice is the image and post that has been circulating of drunk and disorderly passengers in the cabins. The debate is about alcohol and where is alcohol permitted when on board. The debate is not about food, we have young ones , we have the sick who have a condition like diabetes they must eat something. I cannot stand management that stir up everthing. It is nothing but incompetence.

What you should be addressing is purely about alcohol consumption and disorderly passengers.

Simple rule, limit the alcohol consumption to the bar cabin / coach. No alcohol consumption just like cigarette smoking should be allowed in the passenger cabin.

Kenya Railways Management please stop such moves that only make you look bad. You are now running a modern railway line and Kenyans are paying for it through the nose. Please modernise your thinking process.

Now to my fellow Kenyans,

I will be very honest with you , travelling on SGR is not a blank cheque to drink yourself silly and act mad. What makes you think that once you board a train you can act the way you want shouting obscenities without repercussions? If you want to do that then hire a bus all by yourself , you can do what you want to do there. You can choose to travel half naked in your hired bus. SGR is SHARED TRANSPORT. Get that into your head.

Firstly drinking and travelling don’t go together and any responsible traveller knows that very well. In case of an emergency how do you expect to be assisted when you cannot even keep your drunk head straight let alone your wobbly legs . You are slumped over the small table and spreading your legs and hands in all directions. If you are not asleep drooling you are busy making noise to the discomfort of other passengers and even worse babies and sick passengers . You must respect the space of others.

What makes you think that since you happen to be in a mob decorum no longer matters. If anything the management of KR have the right to offload you at next station until you sober up. Please get that very clear , being noisy and disruptive is NOT cool NI USHAMBA. How do you feel when the next day a clip or image of you is circulating on vast social media .Please do NOT forget that internet never forgets.

Decent and civilised people don’t drink themselves silly

To Kenya Railways be sensible and reasonable in your rules . This notice is rubbish and it makes no sense . Go correct it. Carrying my water bottle or sandwich or a young mother carrying food for her baby should NEVER be an issue.

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

Lessons from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s new book ” My Story”

*Lessons from Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al Maktoum’s new book ” My Story”*

These days I read alot of personal memoirs by leaders who made a difference in the lives of their people and by extension made a huge mark in the world.

One such leader in our lifetime is Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

He has penned a new book titled ” My Story ” 50 memories From Fifty Years Of Service.

While his previous books My Vision and Flashes of Thought were equally good I found this to be very personal. In this new book he talks about his late mother and Dad and the tough childhood when they used to fetch water from the wells . How they sleep on roof tops in summer to cool down way back in the 50’s and 60’s when many in the world could not even have placed Dubai on the world map.

Why am I sharing this story ?

Every time some of us challenge our leaders some system apologists will quickly tell us to take charge and make a difference. Folks there is a big difference between what I as an ordinary individual can do and what I as elected leader who has control of huge public resources can do.

I am sure virtually every county including many in national goverment have been to Dubai and myriad of places to benchmark , they have also been to many other cities and places to do the same. Then we always ask , how comes we ain’t seeing an iota of the stuff replicated locally from those places they went for benchmarking.

I finally found the answer in this book and Sheikh Mohammed has dedicated an entire chapter that is titled ” A New Dubai in Africa”. He says many leaders have made contact with him with a goal to emulate what Dubai has been able to achive in less than 50 years.

He sums it by saying ” There is a big difference between wishing for something and working to realise those dreams”. He then goes ahead to emphasize , We do not tolerate corruption, we do not undermine the rule of the law , nor are we lax in the implementation of the plans we launch . This is how we are building Dubai”.

Now back to my earlier statement , as elected leaders with acess to public resources you are in a position to do loads of things.

It takes leadership to get the population to believe in a cause. I have had the opportunity to see Dubai evolve in the last 30 years , Morocco is another country which was just average until the current King Mohammed VI took over from his late father King Hassan II and in less than 10 years tourists visiting Morocco jumped from 1M to 11M which means every single year they have been attracting 1 million extra visitors , Morocco is churning a half a million Renault cars every year , Morocco is busy producing parts for Airbus why? Because the King himself is leading the way .

I am currently in Turkey and in less than 10 years Tayyip Erdoğan managed to turn Turkey into one very serious country economically exploiting their God given location and large young population. President Erdoğan has been President of Turkey since 2014. He previously served as Prime Minister of Turkey from 2003 to 2014 and as Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998. He had positional leadership where he used resources to do the right things .

Turkey just retired yes get me right retired an airport that was handling 70 Million passengers a year because the vision of President Erdogan is to handle 200Million + passengers a year turning Istanbul to be one major hub that will even eclipse Schipol and Heathrow. It takes leadership to do that . We are still struggling to hit even 8Million Mark.

The Asian tigers also jumped from desolation in under 50 years from Malaysia to Thailand and lately Cambodia to Laos to Vietnam once war torn countries.

Well closer home TZ under President John Pombe Magufuli aka JPM is walking in that path because he does not tolerate bad guys misbehaving. Collin Powell in his 18 rules of leadership says that you must confront the bad people who need to be confronted. Thanks to him TZ civil servants now use bio metrics to sign in at their place of work and as a public official President Magufuli will simply call you out in public and even fire you . Rwanda and Ethiopia are silently doing what needs to be done to catch up on lost time without drama and fixation on some election that is 3 years away .

Well I feel Retired President Kibaki almost gave us that feeling when he went to fix very many roads that were dilapidated including forgotten places like Isiolo Marsabit Moyale Addis highway and of course next door Voi to Taveta road. Can you imagine if Nbi never constructed all the bypasses ? And the many interchanges ? Even Thika highway is now traffic gridlocked. Imagine for once if Thika road was left as it was .

We now have the Big 4 which is a great vision but I am afraid I don’t see that happening when we allow so many guys to get away with murder to a point where for the first time a diplomat Israeli Ambassador asked to be recalled from Kenya . He felt he was achieving nothing when a host nation was not keen to address issues and this was the failed noble idea of Galana Kulalu maize project. This was well captured jn a candid interview with a local media house. We see bad guys undermine the Big 4 day in day out and they walk like they have done nothing wrong.

We have counties that receive billions every year but the people and entire county is worse off with dirty streets , broken infrastructure, collapsed health system that worked under national goverment. The said governors will be in the news for all the wrong reasons and thanks to our failed media who give them coverage. Some of these misbehaving ” leaders ” think clowning is cool. Tragedy is that these governors are local boys who rose through poverty and how we mistaken were we that they would love to lift their people out of poverty . Some of these governors manage funds to the tune of Ksh 10B to 15B which is $100M to $150M a year . Take it from me that is alot of money.

Devolution was to allow us to vote in leaders who understood the pain areas but what many counties got in return are leaders who behaved like small kings which Sheikh Mohamed in his book talked about the likes of King Shah in Iran and Kind Idris in Libya amongst many who were toppled. We got leaders who were only fixated on how many relatives and friends will occupy what office and what contracts they will bag.

Doing business with counties was also seen to be another way to help the economy at grass root level but it has turned out to be one way to kill your business. Even worse it qualifies as one of the 101 ways to die young since counties are just not in the habit to pay their bills unless you are one of those friends and relatives.

Kenya is not poor due to lack of resources but due to failed leadership at all fronts both at national and county levels. To those leaders with acess to all these funds , history will judge you very harshly. Keep in mind that you won’t live for 1000 years , we all have just a few years to make a difference . What do you want to be remember for ? To the electorate keep thinking tribe and I promise you , the exit from that rat hole will never happen and please do not blame Almighty God. He gave you a working brain to think.

To our elected leaders holding various positions , I leave you with Henry Ford’s quote ” You Can’t Build a Reputation On What You’re Going to Do.” It’s easy to be lured into a false sense of security based on what we intend to do” Nothing More Nothing less.

Despite all this I still choose to remain an optimist that one day we shall get serious as a country . To the system apologists I will for sure do my bit in my own small way but I won’t tolerate you when you want to pretend to allocate yourself the role of a gate keeper to censor and sanitise what we say . Sorry such a position doesn’t even exist.

Mohammed Hersi
Mombasa
Kenya
Twitter @mohammedhersi

Mohammed Hersi

South Africa a big brother tormenting other Africans.

I hate to watch any clip that has violence let alone where human beings are clobbered and burnt to death. I opened one such clip I received via WhatsApp. It was shocking, killing others simply because they are from a different country and ” YOU THINK ” they took your imaginary job.

What I have seen time and again in South Africa is revolting .

White farmers are also getting killed in big numbers across South Africa but for some reason International media have not picked that story . A white famer dying in Kenya naturally is headlines globally.

I had so much hope in President Cyril Ramaphosa yet I have never heard him come strong against these young South African black young men roaming the streets in their hundreds NOT thousands killing and burning Zimbabweans. Nigerians . Mozambiqueans. Even our Kenyans have not been spared.

A press conference is not the way to deal with it , fold your sleeve and get on the shop floor. Get the military to step in and give shoot on sight orders to anyone killing and looting. The current scenario is now beyond a press conference. Those lunatics don’t watch news.

You see 300 marauding thugs it’s an insult to call them youth breaking into shops and looting. Burning premises and vehicles owned by blacks considered not South Africans some torched alive to die a painful death. Where is the paramilitary police . We have seen no attempts to stop them . Where is South Africas intelligence team.

A man the world considered dangerous Julius Malema has been more vocal, considerate and measured in his response to condemn these violence.

Madiba Mandela ( RIP) is one man who led for one term to stabilise the nation and he never insisted to stay on . He is one man who forgave and tried to accommodate others including the people who tormented him .

ANC went on a looting spree once he was gone which is a common trait by my fellow Africans . Granted the youth are disillusioned but don’t transfer your aggression to your fellow African immigrants who are there just to make ends meet.

Challenge ANC the ruling party to create employment and opportunities . Killing an Ethiopian shop keeper or Ghanian Tailor will not solve your problem.

To Cyril Ramaphosa you were very unhappy when you were skipped and Thabo became President. Then followed the ” Zuma Error ” where wedding parties could land their private aircrafts at protected military installation and Rhino poaching was at all time high.

Now that you are in charge , South Africans cannot see your leadership let alone rest of Africa and the clarion call of Ubuntu. Your half hearted approach in addressing the ongoing violence leaves a lot to be desired. Now I believe that a successful corporate guy does not necessarily become successful in politics.

To the rest of Africa please do not harm any South African in our midst neither should you attack any of their business outfits. Late Mandela a man I admire immensely has given a solution treat ANC just the way we treated the bad Apartheid regime .

In my small way I will boycott any South African firm and product in Kenya .That is what we did to Apartheid South Africa. They do not deserve our support . Corporate South Africa has remained silent as these atrocities unfold right infront of their business premises.

To Corporate South Africa once the thugs are done with their fellow poor Africans they will come for you . I leave you with a swahili saying ” Ukiona mwenzako Akiyolewa chako kitie maji.” When you see your friend getting a beating prepare yourself to be next.

Madiba must be turning in his grave at Qunu in Transkei. RIP Khulu.

As always I choose to remain an Optimist.

Mohammed Hersi
A True Pan African.
I Am Hurting .
Mombasa Kenya.

*Mombasa is NOT on the verge of death*

While we have challenges in Mombasa I don’t entirely agree with the claim that Mombasa is on its death bed.

Tourism is doing great after many years of bad times . For the first time we have 21+ scheduled international flights ( Turkish. Qatar. Ethiopian. Rwanda ) into Mombasa and close to 15 charters from Europe including weekly flights from Brussels and twice from Amsterdam and 2 from Warsaw. Last time we had Brussels and Amsterdam flights was 10 years ago. Turkish alone connects Mombasa to 20 cities across Germany.

A tiny airstrip like Diani has jumped from handling 40,000 passengers less than 5 years ago to 200,000 + passengers in 2018 . It is now upgraded to an airport . Mombasa is now host to major conventions and a Convetion centre like Pride Inn Convention centre 2500 pax says it all while Sarova Whitesands are set to open a new convention centre as well.

The extended mourning period over the demise of CFS’s is wrong. *CFS’s was meant to be a very short term solution to the mess at the port of Mombasa to evacuate cargo .* This happened around 2003 / 4. Tragedy in Kenya is that temporary moves become permanent and we demand it.

Ideally CFS’s were meant to be out of town 20KM and help decongest the port . As usual with Kenyans CFS’s were opened at the gate of port making nonsense of the initial goal to decongest the port . Thanks to our corruption some players even got space right inside the port . Our current President finally smoked them out

Finally we ended up with one fine mess in Chagamwe and Port Reitz area. Never ending gridlock. That problem has now shifted to ICD at Embakasi making Mombasa road opposite GM the new Port Reitz. Trust me we don’t miss that mess in Mombasa nor does Nbi deserve it. Naivasha must work and let cargo move further to Naivasha and hopefully as planned onwards to Kisumu to its final destination. Every importer wants to have their container at shortest time possible . We have NO business detaining cargo in CFS’s when we now have a working rail system that can seamlessly transfer cargo from ship to train.

CFS’s was the epitome of inefficiency. Holding containers at a yard a few metres from the port is NOT a business model. We were simply feeding inefficiency and red tape. Sadly Kenyans are not generous with candor . Let’s be honest with each other.

Containers MUST be evacuated as soon as they land. We have no business detaining containers at a yard. What value do we add ? It is nothing but an added cost to the final consumer raising the cost of goods.

World over bulk cargo is ferried using trains and not trucks. If anything Kenya Railways did that so well in the 70’s until the railways was left to rot then Nairobi Mombasa highway was was neglected.

Having trucks parked at Mtito. Sultan Hamud. Gilgil etc just shows how inefficient we are. Seeing trucks all over is not a sign of progress. The carnage on Mombasa Nbi highway is now a thing of the past , ( touch wood ). Cargo evacuation via trucks will not be eliminated 100% but don’t demand return of CFS’s.

Well I like the authors ideas on what to do with abandoned CFS’s and of course fast track Dongo Kundu Economic zones.

Mombasa can now safely become a cleaner safer motorable city like any port city in the world. Let anyone show me a successful port city where trucks evacuate cargo.

Cheese has moved and the only constant in life is change. Mombasa is NOT dying , Mombasa is only opening a new page in its life.

As always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation.

Jobless graduates please cut them some slack…..You messed the economy.

We messed the country and the many jobs that were promised are no longer forthcoming.

We now have the cheek to blame the young graduates who have worked hard and the parents who sacrificed everthing to see them through university and college.

They are now been blamed for not being creative and entrepreneurial enough. What nonsense is that ?

What entrepreneurship have you done yourself ? Majority in the civil service trade with goverment, cutting deals . I dare say it even majority of private sector are all pulling deals in exaggerated contracts and supplying air and you get paid.

We then dare turn around and call our young people names?

We have billionaires in town who have never invented anything let alone run any known serious business. Majority will steal and all they know is to put up highrise apartment and then wonder why they remain empty ? How can they be occupied when you played a role to kill the economy .

If you are above 35 you have no business blaming the youth struggling to give themselves hope. If you cannot lend a hand then don’t insult these struggling youth . They are jobless or struggling not because they are not creative or stupid. If anything they are far more intelligent than many of us when we were in our 20s or 30s.

To GOK please give our young people passports . Let them go try their luck in far off places. We have no business holding them here. Philippines and India their citizens in the diaspora contribute big time in remittance. Majority can’t even speak good english. Choosing not to give them this very important document is not helping them and it is not helping Kenya. Our young people are well read and they are doing well globally from North America to The Gulf. From Europe to Rest of Africa .

India is leading in outsourced call centres. How did GOK miss on that ? We have our young people Who speak very good English. Call centres will train you to speak English in a certain way , our youth already do it on their own. We failed to attract any key global call centre companies and we missed out on light industries thanks to high cost doing business like cost of electricity.

Folks it’s about time we cut the young people some slack. At least they never dipped their hands in public coffers and neither are they tribalisits.

To that Jobless Young Kenyan, Don’t be discouraged. The older folks messed up and are trying to shift the blame to you . Trust me you are smart enough to achive anything . Raise your head and say ” Not Me . I am NOT a failure”

Mohammed Hersi

It’s about time idle beach plot owners were taxed more.

Pristine World award winning Diani Beach . Very many plots are lying idle where owners are not keen to develop.

This Sunday it is matters land and I am very well aware that when it comes to land debate it is always an emotional one. When land issues are brought up before you even realise things can pretty go south quickly.

I am not going to discuss agricultural land it is even worse there but I will like to focus on beach plots. While the rest of the world have a road along the beach front for some reason ours is not the case save for a very small stretch a cliff which is current Mama Ngina Drive.

This week in my line of duty I was in Diani and as one of morning rituals was to jog along the beach. As the sun rose I could not fail to notice that good part of the magical Diani Beach is actually dead beach in the sense that former leading beach resorts lie desolate and abandoned. I mean the likes of Safari Beach Hotel The two in one Jadini Africana. Then Two fishes and next door Tradewinds.

Former Jadini Africana lying abandoned but sits right in the heart of Diani

Even when driving you cannot fail to notice the eerie feel once you get to the Two Fishes Hotel which is next to Jadini African and Tradewinds. These were all household names until the early 80’s.

There are also very many acres of ” idle ” beach fronting land .

Land fronting the beach is a prime beach plot and our beach in Kenya just like Zanzibar is pristine . This is God given and we should be utilising them to generate wealth by setting up world class resorts.

Let me raise a couple of points so that we are on the same page.

1. let me start with idle land where many were alloted by the state them days but simply refused to develop them . We also have the same issue even on North Coast .

2. Then we have secondary buyers who bought from an alottee but still chose not to develop the said plot.

3. We also have secondary buyers who bought collapsed resorts but over years also chose to do nothing with such plots but end up as speculators.

Sarova Whitesands and Travellers employ thousands both directly and indirectly

Some of the land in question can be as big as 50 acres right on the beach . To help you appreciate land size a resort like Southern Palms in Diani is on 10 acre land with 300+ rooms employing very many Kenyans directly and indirectly. Despite all the challenges in Diani they are busy renovating. A hotel like Leopard was razed by fire not once but twice but got back and even right now they are restoring the hotel after the last fire.

Southern Palms Beach Resort on 10 acre land has 600 beds employing 500+

Resorts like Baobab and Neptune all in Diani have grown three fold in the last 20 years employing directly and indirectly thousands of Kenyans .

My major concern and please take time to look at this aerial images of idle and abandoned beach plots which means we are denying our country serious income not to mention all the jobs we would have created.

Fact is that the the best part of Diani Beach is currently lying abandoned where rickety bars on the beach are cropping up with a serious danger of turning this beatiful stretch into a slum.

In the last 4 years Diani is turning the corner and global operators are looking for quality hotel beds and there are none left. When potential investors come over they are met by these greedy absentee land owners.

Way Forward.

Truth be told some of the people holding on to this chunks of land are not keen to develop anything . Some don’t bother while others when they get potential developers ask for obscene money and the suitor simply takes off never to return . Please keep in mind some of the land in question some of the owners paid nothing since it was allotted to them in good old days while others bought them cheap either from a bank or again the 70’s. Some have died still speculating, of what use is speculation .

1. Both County & National goverment MUST set up punitive laws to make it very expensive for anyone to hold onto idle prime land whether you bought or you were given . Such commercial plots are meant to be developed and they are not souvenirs.

2. Charge idle land more than developed land . This will force them to either develop or get a partners to develop. We have many international chains who want to come here but these chaps sitting on idle land are simply refusing to make it happen.

3.Dead hotels where a new owner is simply speculating must also face the heat.

4. No owner should be allowed to subdivide a prime beach plot into some useless residential homes. A residential home does NOT generate employment . It does NOT create wealth. It is like building your home on Mombasa road in Nbi. That should never be allowed to happen.

Pride Inn Hotels bought Paradise Hotel and it does not even have a huge beach but look what a serious investor like Hasnain Noorani has done . Giving us the biggest convention centre. He did not buy to speculate and wait . He has single handed brought dead Shanzu back to life.

Shanzu was dead until Pride Inn Group came in . They did not wait to speculate .

Folks it is high time we lifted the veil on who are faceless onwers of all this undeveloped and abandoned prime beach plots. Swahili have a saying ” Usiwe Joka La Mdimu” . It means don’t be the snake on a fruiting lemon tree which coils on the tree ready to strike anyone who attempts to partake the juicy ripe lemon fruits . Snakes don’t eat lemons .

Well punitive laws and taxes will force the same owners to leave the tree so to speak . Mombasa. Kwale and Kilifi counties MUST raise the tax on idle and abandoned prime beach plots. Trust me you will see the owners waking up.

As always I choose to remain an optimist .

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman

Kenya Tourism Federation