Our city of Nairobi is slowly grinding to a halt and thanks to the traffic mess and clueless city fathers for the last many years . None other than Ricahrd Quest of CNN noticed the snail pace of vehicular traffic which undermines all the efforts by the goverment to attract any FDI. A couple of years ago I did share my thoughts on how to rid Nbi off traffic gridlock and why I felt building a suspended road along Uhuru Highway was such a bad idea.
My position has still not not changed. I have been fortunate enough to visit Bangkok and next door Addis Ababa who recently launched their light sky train. We need a sky train in the middle of Mombasa Road and Uhuru highway and NOT a suspended highway.
I note that GOK seems to be in the final stages to build a suspended highway that will also serve JKIA and hopefully they claim it it will be on a toll charge.
In light of the recent mess , what Nbi needs is NOT more roads . What Nbi now needs is an orderly mass transport system .We claim Nbi’s population is now too high , please allow me to remind you that Bangkok is hitting 20 Million while Cairo is also very similar while Nbi is yet to even hit 4Million officially and we are already tired with traffic gridlock. What will happen if we do nothing and we get to 10 Million?
Nairobi and even those who own cars would be happy to take a sky train and leave their cars at home . I will be happy to take my train at JKIA to downtown Nbi .
What we need in Nairobi are three major lines just like Bangkok. One line should run from Athi River and in future Machakos all the way to Kangemi through Uhuru Highway.
2nd line from Ongata Rongai through Haile Sellassie through Kariokor along Thika Higway to Thika and Makutano.
3rd line outer ring to serve Eastlands. Close the rubbish tired Kenya Railways.
Each train has close to 8 coaches and each coach can take 60 pax which means 3 Manyangas or 25 seater PSV . Goverrmnt and Nairobi county under a PPP will build the line then Matatu Saccos will lease the coaches which means the current Matatus workers will be absorbed to run these lines which means job loss fears would have been addressed.
Many Nairobians drive to town . Get a secure parking and hit the city on foot. If given an option they will happily leave their car at home sparing Nbi the traffic gridlock.
I am not a transport expert but I keep my eyes open when I travel so how comes our policy makers cannot see such simple options to fix our traffic gridlock.
As you read this over the weekend, it is my prayer that our go goverment and donors abandon the suspended road from the airport but opt for sky train.
Without addressing a good mass transport system I am sorry anything else like extra road Thika highway style is waste of time . It will be just a matter of time before traffic takes over. You can build nore roads in future but first we must prioritise a mass transport system
Well as always I choose to remain an optimist but sadly time is of the essence .
The call by KQ staff through their union to strike is in very bad taste.
Very many players have worked very hard for this Nairobi / New York flight . I am not suggesting that union issues are ignored , far from it .
Why does the union want to make it look like the Nbi / NY is a one off flight ? It’s like if they don’t get a deal before this flight then it is the end of negotiations , It is not . They are already doing long haul Nairobi London . Nbi Guangzou etc. I am pretty sure the management will strike a deal.
KQ is just getting out of its financial troubles yet the same staff were all silent when the airline was literally destroyed by inept leadership that ended with one of the largest loss any corporate has ever registered in Kenya. KQ was looted to the core with all kind of financial malpractice you could imagine. They were all silent then.
Banks have turned their loans into equity reluctantly , is this how to reward that sacrifice ? GOK is bailing you out with tax payers money , is this the reward you are giving us ?
The staff at KQ must get serious and I am afraid this time round you are treading on dangerous grounds. Your call for a strike is nothing but sabotage and ought to be dealt with accordingly. Union issues is work in progress and should not be allowed to jeopardise our first Nairobi / New York flight. We have worked so tireless to get it on the runway ready for take off and any hurdle placed on its way is nothing but pure sabotage and lack of patriotism.
We should borrow a leaf from Singapore Airline when staff repeatedly called for strike and Lee Kuan Yew then Prime Minister read the riot act . He clearly said that he was willing to ground the airline to teach them a lesson , since he has had enough. I think it’s high time we dealt with these bad apples once and for all.
Well as always I choose to remain an optimist that common sense will prevail
This week we came to learn that several Kenyans are hiding their wealth both lawfully gained and some illegally made in foreign secret accounts across several countries with the bulk domiciled in Europe.
When I teach Governance I give the dogs analogy matters corruption in Africa. A dog and moreso the mongrels that you find in urban centres scavenging . They will attack a weaker dog and take away the bone it has been eating. Instead of eating that bone as a start , it will go and bury it then come back to attack the next weaker dog. The Ill mannered mongrel is purely on a hunter gatherer mode driven by a serious scarcity mentality.
It will do this over & over again in the course of the day until there are no more weak dogs with a bone . A dog has a habit of burying bones, it might be due to an intense hereditary survival instinct. Dogs in the wild buried bones as a means of storing them to use at a later time.
Well with nature sometimes it starts to rain & the dog feels hungry & naturally it will remember that oh I had a bone somewhere . Now dogs are not very good with their sense of smell moreso in a rainy wet environment. It’s muddy, messy & it finally goes to sleep hungry and cold. More often than not it may never find that bone & most likely it will be swept away by the floods.
Now the corrupt humans holding public office will hide their loot somewhere in Europe. I have heard many times that no civil servants should have a foreign account . You certainly need good amount to sustain a foreign account. Most of the funds are wired to some secret accounts that even their loved ones including wife(s) do not know they exist . We are all too familiar with the Panama accounts.
In old age their memory is failing them & they are no longer able to remember where they stashed the loot ( where they hid the bone ) . Most of the accounts dont even bear their names let alone remember them . Sick ,frail with failing memory ordinary people will then be asked to contribute for their medical & even for their funeral.
Hiding their loot is very similar to what the dog was doing. The weak dog is Eg funds for free primary school , youth fund , funds meant for ARV’s , hospital funds , water projects etc. If only the dog enjoyed that one bone , if only the real looters could be limited to that one bone , if only the loot could have been invested in Africa to create employment etc it would have made a huge difference.
At some point close to £360M stashed by one Sani Abachi was sent back to Nigeria at least this was not marked as unclaimed funds. Please don’t be that dog attacking weaker dogs. If you must please when you hide that ‘ bone’ share the location so that it does not go unclaimed .
This Sunday allow me to focus on one man Jim Nyamu ( The Elephant Man ) . He had dedicated all his life in conserving the African Elephant that is under extreme pressure poachers from bloody poachers and ivory traders.
Jim has walked from Nairobi to Mombasa, Nairobi to Marsabit Moyale then London to Bristol in biting winter , Washington USA across several states.
He is currently on the road across Southern Africa having covered Tanzania. Malawi . Zambia . Zimbabwe and he is leaving Botswana today heading to South Africa.
Unlike the office conservationist and activists Jim is a man of action. Jim has been stopping along the way to speak to villagers , school children and everywhere he has been received so well in some cases officially by goverment officials . In Zimbabwe ZANU PF the old grand party received him .
Jim does not have any major sponsor and depends on well wishers. I am today on his behalf seeking support for Jim’s campaign across Africa to save the African Elephant . Please join me to support him and send your donation to the
Mpesa Bill No :891300
To Jim we are behind you , many of us could not join you in that long walk but we are with and we say a silent prayer for your well being.
This past week I spent the entire week in Nairobi attending our annual Magical Kenya Expo where Kenya Tourism Board invites leading agents from around the world to Kenya to see first hand what Kenya has to offer.
This year’s event was a huge success with good quality buyers and the agents all had nothing but great memories of our country Kenya and they will not hesitate to redouble their efforts to keep selling Magical Kenya. I met a MICE expert from Singapore, hungry to sell Kenya since he has sold enough of South Africa and his clients want to see more of Africa .
*Well that is as far as Good News goes.*
On the other hand our host venue *KICC* and host City Nairobi sadly are letting us down.
It has been a long time since I attended a fair at our main convention centre in Kenya.
I am afraid to tell you that the state of KICC which is meant to be pulling in world class events is nothing but a pale shadow of its former self.
In the process they have starved off hotels in the CBD who would have benefited greatly from the delegates at this centre. The fact that CBD traffic is heavy is not helping matters hence KICC is meant to be the lifeline for the likes of Hilton, The Stanley, intercontinental, Serena et al .
The Kenyatta International Conference Centre – KICC was commissioned by our founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta the 1st President of the Republic of Kenya, in 1967. He did not cut corners, he went for quality.
It was designed by a Norwegian architect Karl Henrik Nøstvik and the construction was carried out by contractors Solel Boneh & Facta.
This was done in three phases.
Phase I was the construction of the podium.
Phase II consisted of the main tower and
Phase III involved the Plenary.
Construction was completed in 1973, with the opening ceremony occurring in September 1973 presided over by President Jomo Kenyatta.
Folks setting up such a great facility – 28 floors and huge space for meetings that can accomodate 5000 delegates way back in 1967 is driven by sheer passion and VISION.
The lack of maintenance over the years and lukewarm support by the exchequer meant that the place is simply not able to maintain standards and the results is all to see from broken tiles to pot holed car park , broken toilets , non functining water fountain to dangerous makeshift steps amongst many others which are tell tale signs of neglect which makes this facility a shame in the heart of our city.
On the other hand the City itself is not doing any better, the City has also not been spared the neglect by the city fathers who have decided to focus more on internal fights rather than fix the city where 60% of Kenyas economy is based. What an irony that these two facilities face each other while our National Assembly which is equally not short of drama looks on as a witness between the two and the Judiciary is a witness to it as well all as they share a wall.
KICC is meant to attract and pull in International Conventions that will in turn keep all the hotels in the CBD busy.
With the current state of affairs at this centre, it is indeed a long shot to compete with other Centres and Cities Globally – hence even Kigali is now having our lunch while Ethiopia is preparing to eat our dinner.
While all this is happening, I could not fail to notice the never say die Spirit of the Kenyan entrepreneurs. I counted No less than 10 new world class restaurants in the CBD while hotels like – The evergreen, The Stanley a Heritage Hotel by Sarova Hotels have maintained its 5 star status including a new 4th floor spanking brand new VIP lounge aptly named 1902 Club deriving its name from when the hotel was set up. Keep in mind they also have the classy Exchange bar on the 1st floor where Kenya’s 1st stock exchange was traded . Well Done Jimmy Kariuki and Sarova Kenya Team.
I could also not fail to notice Nairobians support for all this new restaurants and pubs where the city remained alive till past 10pm even on a weekday despite all the challenges they face. Give it to Kenyans we are very hard working lot,only let down by the public sector.
*We must speak. Silence on our part is not acceptable. What became of the once vibrant NCBD ??*
All is not gloom though, I noticed that hawkers were not there around the CBD and the notorious street families were all gone save for one or two. Boda Bodas that were all over the place a few months ago are also gone.
While I point out issues it is also my nature to give a simple way forward.
Please we need a walking city. Please fix all those dangerous pot holes and pavement that can easily leave one badly injured .
We should also have pavements that are level where you can easily pull your stroller to carry your stuff when going to the fair at KICC even as Kenyans and Nairobi residents need that. This is what happens in London or Johansburg and most serious cities around the world where our MCA’s have visited on numerous occasions .
Governor Sonko ought to borrow a leaf from his friend our Mombasa Governor and fix the pavements. Visitors will only spend money if they can get out of their hotel rooms. Please make it easy for them to spend money in our shops and restaurants . Allow them to pump in money into our economy . Allow them to put money in our pockets. In the absence of that they simply go back with their money which they had planned to spend in NAIROBI, but you refused to allow them.
I recall respected Pastor T. D. Jakes who told us as much .
To matters KICC.
To My Bro CS Balala, we have had this debate for ages on the future of KICC.
When Raphael Tuju then Minister Of Tourism stormed KICC to evict KANU we all believed that KICC was going to turn around but nothing much has happened.
To make it worse the neglect of this iconic centre is now at an all time low and we can no longer wish it away.
Setting up the convention bureau is yet to happen while neighbours are moving and moving pretty fast. Setting up a bureau will also be pointless if the Infrastructure is not fixed and that should come first .
Let’s be honest with ourselves Goverment is simply NOT able and trust me, NOT willing to do it.
KICC in the Scheme of things is not on the priority of issues facing GOK today.
It is high time private sector was allowed to take over KICC and let GOK remain a landlord.
A serious private sector player will build a 5 star hotel with enough parking space ( tower ) at the convention hotel while the extra delegates will fill the hotels in the CBD.
Let me be clear I have NOT said sell , lease it out.
If a 1902 hotel, The Stanley can maintain its 5 star status it means age is nothing but it all has to do with working ethos and commitment.
Last year Cape Town attracted 56 International Conventions while Kigali attracted 23 and we could only attract 18 which should not be the case. They say talk is cheap. Can we now see serious tangible action.
I noticed that some work was going on to fix KICC but I am afraid this piece meal approach will not take us anywhere.
Cape Town Convention centre pumped in 1B Rand Ksh 8B hence they can attract serious conventions yet they are located further down in Africa while Nairobi has a God Given central location which we have REFUSED to exploit.
Attracting 800 delegates each week 3 weeks in a month in 11 months each spending on average $120 in a Nairobi hotels means Ksh 1.6B direct as hotel accommodation only excluding many other extras.
KICC scores 4/10 while Nbi CBD scores 3/10 and my hotel you score 9/10. Well Done The Stanley. It’s clear what private sector can do and truth be said you and many other investors deserve better.
*Well as always I choose to remain an optimist. It’s about time we all spoke.*
Chairman – Kenya Tourism Federation.
The debate of Safaricom dominance does not seem to be going away. It was the first agenda item for MD Safaricom Bob Collynore on his return from lengthy sick leave to make appearance at the National Assembly ICT committe who picked cue from CCK who are hell bent to slow Safaricom growth and dominance while flashing the dominant player card.
Safaricom did not succeed from the blues , it was made to made to happen by smart and visionary leadership whose foundation was set up by Michael Joseph and then followed by current MD Bob Collymore.
While CCK is fixated with Safaricom dominance they don’t appreciate the fact that Safaricom was late to take off from the starting block thanks to GOK red tape then where Kencell now Airtell had the head start .
Around 2002 Safaricom had 918,779 subscribers while Kencell now Airtell had 1,627,378 . The rest is history . I was one of the Kencell pioneer subscribers with a 0733 line but I left them on my own accord to a more customer centric provider.
In 2000’s While Kencell were busy chasing corporates and billing per minute, Safaricom opted to go for Wanjiku and charge per second . While Kencell focused on urban centres Safaricom went to the villages . Many urbanites holding a kencell line realised that their rural folks were all on Safaricom .We all recall the fight then between the two firms and at one point Kenyans were described as peculiar lot by MJ . Indeed we are peculiar to date since we are now unhappy with runway success and we want to slow down Safaricom. Safaricom also opted to go big on data and avoid a bloody unnecessary war on voice. Later Mpesa came and that was the last nail on Airtell coffin and other providers and Safaricom was airborne.
Market dominance is not a bad thing if the dominate player is not abusing that monopoly and Safaricom have really not abused their position. For anyone to insist that Safaricom must share it’s infrastructure is akin to asking a new state of the art hotel to allow a dingy hotel next door to acess and use Its kitchen .
CCK is now seeking interventions that will not allow Safaricom to introduce any products or services unless they are replicable by other operators. What hogwash .
To quote Bob Collynore ” The success we enjoy is the result of being a purpose-driven, insights-led, customer-obsessed business with a robust strategy that we execute with great precision.”
Domestic monopolies can become dominant in their own territory and then penetrate overseas markets, earning a country valuable export revenues. This is certainly the case with Microsoft. This is what CCK and GOK ought to be saying and not to attempt to slow down Safaricom.
It has been consistently argued that monopoly power is required to generate dynamic efficiency, that is, technological progressiveness. This is because:
High profit levels boost investment in R&D. Safaricom invest loads of money in research and new products. Innovation is more likely with large enterprises and this innovation can lead to lower costs than in competitive markets. The cost of Safaricom product and services is affordable and more importantly reliable .
In simple economics a firm needs a dominant position to bear the risks associated with innovation.
Firms need to be able to protect their intellectual property by establishing barriers to entry otherwise, there will be a free riderproblem. The likes of Airtell and Telkom should not be allowed to harvest where they never sowed. Safaricom were forced to set up masts in far flung regions and the ROI is almost nil while the competition would like a free ride on same.
The million dollar question then, Why spend large sums on R&D if ideas or designs are instantly given acess to rivals who have not allocated funds to R&D?
Safaricom may feel big by Kenyas standard but when placed at global scale , it just entered recently the top 10 telecommunication company in Africa let alone globally.
Google and Microsoft gained monopoly power through offering innovative new products. The same applies to the likes of Apple and Amazon. In this case, it is their market dominance which comes from being innovative and meeting a consumer demand.
It is hig time we closed this dominate player debate and allowed Safaricom a Kenyan company to continue to focus on what makes them tick. Let us not waste their time with unnecessary summons that add no value to them, be it shareholders and even to us the subscribers.
To our regulators and legislators instead of celebrating our only homegrown example of a world leading corporate, you are busy trying to emasculate it at the behest of a company from another continent and country . India jealously guards it’s corporate frontiers, and aggressively promotes Indian corporates to compete at global levels. Imagine for once would India ever entertain Safaricom entering that market and asking for Bharti Airtel to allow Safaricom acess to all her infrastructure including intellectual rights ?
To CCK and Legislators ask and encourage Safaricom to go beyond our borders and replicate their success out there. At some point Sumsung , Toyota and even Tata were playing small in Korea , Japan and India respectively . We should be asking and pushing Safaricom to go and conquer the world . I am afraid someone somewhere is trying realy hard to arm twist Safaricom .We cannot also not rule out a financial shakedown in a country where serious firms have not been spared.
If GOK and our Legislators would like to help the consumer please head to Kenya Power & Lighting that has the monopoly to keep us in darkness not to mention the ever increasing power bills .
It’s about time you left Safaricom alone unless you really miss once upon a time useless Kenya Posts & Telecommunication.
In light of ban on logging , timber merchants have now shifted their focus to the coconut tree.
It takes decades for a coconut tree to grow to maturity. Fact is that most of the trees along the Kenya Coast were planted way before independence while our ethos is also weak when it comes to renewal. We are not planting new coconut trees. Irony is that we actually have a goverment parastatal dealing with coconut.
Coconut as is has over 40 other uses which is sustainable. Cutting it down is a one time benefit and that is the end of the story.
Kenya Coast currently is facing serious shortage of Makuti thatching and soon Madafu and coconut itself will not be easily be available. We are busy destroying what we inherited and coconut is now regarded a super food. Try to buy fresh Madafu in London you’ll pay through the nose.
When the furniture makers started they are not targeting living trees they were opting for dead trees which was fine but due to demand and ban on logging they have now descended on our coconut trees.
Kwale . Kilifi and Mombasa even Lamu county ought to wake up and put a stop to this mess.
A living coconut tree is more beneficial than a dead one.
Well the choice is ours and I still choose to remain an optimsit that we will act .