Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Best new blogs

I have discovered two best new blogs for my entry. one about a young African should i call him manufacturer or implementer called Kamkwamba from Malawi. his story has been blogged by very many people. but now with the help of some well wishers he has established his own blog to tell his own story in his own words. its inspiring to say the least.

The other called Saharan vibe treasure of information both historical and contemporary about Africa and her resources especially her people. the blog has been there for a while but the information is strikingly refreshing. I have made the Saharan vibe a daily must read.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Tuliwalaza 23-16! yes i finally succumbed to a higher power and went to watch the rugby match between Kenya and morocco thanks to the persuasion of my nephew who is an ardent fan and player. Morocco, the announcer said is ranked 3rd in Africa after South Africa and Namibia. Kenya is ranked 6th. A decent placing if you ask me given we only hear of our other boys being ranked in the tens. contrary to my popular belief, the crowd at this joint was very decent, very enthusiastic and very funny. i loved them. the game was funny too and the ball was in motion less times than it was being fought for. the average weight of the morocans was 100Kg according to the announcer and that of kenyans was 90KG. needless to say, Kenyans did badly anytime there was a scram. but they were quite tactful and fast and the crowd played even a bigger role. i all it was an enjoyable encounter. maybe coz of the win or maybe coz of the company.

after the game is when i found out that the spectators of ruj are not your everyday folk. the car park was full with 'strong' cars and there was a temporary snarl up on the busy ngong road. i was reliably told that the players would go for diner then drink themselves silly. that explains why those players are pot bellied like that. am still wondering how such big guys manage to run that fast and with that much energy.

On the way back, the car completely refused to go past china center , it forced a turn into the center where amaica always hosts kenge kenge the orutu masters. at china center there is also martinis, a very choici pub with sweet lights and beautiful ambiance.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


17.78Billion is the new profit record in east and central Africa thanks to the aggressive marketing and innovation by on Micheal Joseph of Safaricom. the gross turnover rose by 35% to 47.44B, the customer base grew by some 50% points to 6.02 at the end of 2006.

The Income Tax charge of Kshs5.182bn will be the largest income tax payments this year from Kenyan companies. However in addition to this amount, Safaricom is a major contributor to the Government in terms of VAT, Excise Duty and License fees. In the Financial year under review, the total amount payable was Kshs18.4bn, an increase of 40.5% over the Kshs13.1bn in the previous year.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

And so the war is on!

Safaricom responded with a hummer yesterday announcing upto 50% reduction in call charges in some cases. its a sure signal to celtel and telkom kenya that they have got the muscle and they wont hesitate to use it. this sign is also good for the investor public who are angling to take a rightful share of the pie and the war once Safaricom goes public. Safaricom however is flexing its muscles even more with a national roll out of the 3.5G network in the offing. with this new technology, voice will now ride on the data network and speeds will be much higher. It sure spells the death of the Internet service providers as we know them. In fact the acquisition of the pan african provider Africa Online by Telkom SA is a sure signal that things are going to be thick. Telkom SA has re engineered itself and is all out to slice the mobile telephony pie in Kenya just like they have done already in Nigeria. Telkom SA is an rough and aggressive if not abrasive competitor and all the peers in Kenya better be warned. But even Telkom kenya is also not joking with anyone. if the map of their wireless coverage is anything to go by, the competition is just getting started. indications are that their service is so popular that they are unable to keep up with the demand and are unable to print enough scratch cards popularly known as credit in these parts. on its part, Telkom kenya has gone into the offensive and poached two leading managers from Safaricom. Thats a serious warning and if celtels announcement on their intention to drive the prices further down is to be noted then safari com better rush back to the drawing board. they will have to work harder for their 6.5Million customers who still feel that Safaricom's profits are not justified and that the rates are still too high. the public feels that Safaricom just has too much money! However given that last year that huge profit was got from only about 4.5million subs, it means that this year it will be even higher given there were more subs thanks to some aggressive marketing and innovation like the bamba 50 in the past year. But for us investors, we keep on wondering what is taking the cooking of this dish so long!

In another development, its hats off to Nakumatt for making the 30 best retailers globally. after the award won by KCB , it makes you jivunia kuwa mkenya. Nakumatt IPO is promised to be in 2009

Monday, June 18, 2007

untested waters

Last Friday it was time to test the untested waters of music. The alliance francais was hosting makadem and the villagers. I always ignore music shows organized by AF and any other non Africans since i am normally afraid that the music they like would be metallic, cold or dry. and not poetic, soft and romantic like the Africans do it. but this time they said in the posters: The Ohanglaman! and poor me swallowed hook line and sinker!

contrary to my belief that 'white' people are time conscious, the show started an hour late and the first on stage was the feminine looking olith ratego. Olith sings sweet slow luo dodo. with very poetic and witty lyrics. but it wasn't his day and soon Marcus Kamau was called on stage. Kamau is more white than barak obama. his music as he said was African rock whatever that means. the most remarkable thing about kamau was his excitement. you could just love how much he enjoyed himself. and so onto makadem. Ok it was a trick. makadem plays no ohangla but boy! the energy! the electricity! the guy is a specialist in afro-fusion. he had some really funny and poetic lyrics. the energy was high and he gave a really good account of his being there that evening. He then handed over to odhi a new musician and also Zippy. Zippy was not very impressive to me apart from her gyrations. Most of her songs are actually luo folk songs which we used to sing when i was young. but she had great stage presence.

Makadem then closed his show with a hilarious and again electric song Kisumu bound bus. also hats off to his accompanying ladies who were dancing beside him though i kept on fearing their wrap around would fall down given the gyrations of their hips

Hear some of Makadem's music here

Friday, June 15, 2007

A development Budget

Overall, i must say the budget was impressive with the minister massaging most of the important growth areas such as ICT, transport and energy sectors. I was also impressed by the fact that contrary to what others feel, the ministers speech had very little political leaning and mostly dwelt on how to achieve the coveted status of a newly industrialized nation. Very good incentives for those in the low cost houses. An area which has truly been begging for attention. Also better terms for the pensioners as the taxes are removed. Also impressive is the focus on the common man ie by focusing on the SACCOs, women and youth. I think in this regard women are the greatest beneficiaries since they will benefit as youth (upto 35 years) and as women. Also the recruitment of more teachers is hugely welcome. its a known fact that teachers are the catalyst of rural economic growth. Like in an earlier post this year, most rural economies start with the teachers. The increase of policemen is a clear indication of focus on provision of security. however more should be done in this area. the police should be managed better and they should focus more on preventing crime instead of arresting young pple for not carrying their ID cards!

right now, focus of the investor and business public should be on how to reap the maximum benefits from these measures instead of trashing the budget and terming it an election campaign strategy!!!

a full speech can downloaded from the Treasury website

elsewhere i think we need to congratulate kipsigis Teachers Sacco on the completion of their Hospital. I think this is a great achievement by the teachers. the hospital located along the sotik-Kericho road is really a statement of determination, good management and foresight. It is a sure sign that SACCOs and like minded societies are great savings and investment avenues.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Kenya RE questions without answers

The delay in floating Kenya Re is causing more questions in addition to what bloggers and investors have asked before. the loud silence and the seeming lack confidence in the part of those handling this issue is not helping matters at all. maybe there is fear that institutional investors may not been keen on this offer which would deal a deadly blow to the firm. the effects would be worse than those of Eveready. Eveready has followed sameer, another merali firm which has perennially traded way below its IPO price. But if Kenya Re also fails to get suitors then the government may be forced to put its offers on hold maybe till the monster of election goes away. but that would be a two edged sword in that elections are rather unpredictable and the govt of today can easily become the opposition of tomorrow. its also looking rather certain that even if the head of state achieves his personal victory, most of his foot soldiers will definitely fall by the way side and this time he will end up with a worse hung parliament than what he has now. most of his octogenarian friends may also fail to cross the murky waters come December and the old man would be surrounded by ambitious, hungry young politicians with no respect for tribe.

If that happens then some of the economic policies including sale of some of these parastatals may prove quite difficult. I would think that if indeed the government wanted to sell then the best time would be now. waiting waiting hurts the tummy so the sages say! we waited too long for kencom and kengen. I also look forward to a speedy decision on sale of safaricom to the public.

on another note, its a wonder that Access Kenya took off to a rather slow start but looking at where the continent is going, AK looks like a growth company. forget about the current statistics on the firm. its in the correct segment and good tidings are expected. IT and energy are the segments to watch right now especially in Africa and since the price is this low, this is a counter to position in.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

KCB does it

Its hats off to KCB for bagging the AI index award. According to Business Daily , the bank beat strong challenge from Orascom, MTN etc.

Elswhere, speculation is high on the possibility of HF going the Equity way since CDC is not keen to exercise its rights when the offer comes up. When you go to HF you realize that the institution is very experienced in the lucrative mortgage industry. what one wonders is how come they allowed so much competition to come in. as it is now, HF though quite flexible still does not want to take any huge risks and still offers their home loans at very high rates. At 15.75% they compare badly with Stanbic at 11.5% and even stanchart at 13.75%.

more speculation; what will the finance minister do to us this Thursday? more taxation or less? KRA has not been meeting targets lately. its unlike 2 years ago when the employees were almost always assured of the bonus which came as a result of beating targets. this past two years have been bad. I am hoping that the good minister would give more incentives especially in the housing segment in order to encourage more savings. more creativity may be required to net more tax. ie widen the net further as opposed to steeping it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Powers of love

last week, i heard a lot about rugby, safari sevens and associated fun. my nephew who is a die hard rug fun wasted no opportunity he had to prepare me for the ultimate adrenaline rush. it was supposed to be the sports event of the year and there was no way i could miss it. he even 'bribed' me with the story about extremely gorgeous girls who also attend the tournament. on top of that there would be mad entertainment at the village . Well all that worked very well to prepare me for this great day. i have never attended any and this was going to be a very good first time. i like first time things. that alone makes my adrenaline rush. So you can imagine that everyone i know , got to know about my intention to go watch the game and come Saturday, i was all prepared and ready. I even got a complementary ticket by some struck of fate. i then started out to the Ngong road venue. I was heading to the venue, when i got this call from my long time thespian friend Kodhek. he told me that Kakamega high school were presenting their play The Composition at the national theater. On top of that they would present 3 dances, two other award winning plays, poems and mimes. The entry was only 300 bob! I cant remember what happened but i know that the car refused to go ahead but instead opted to do a U-turn and head straight to National Theatre.

Sure enough the kings of schools drama festival were preparing the stage for the presentations. and even their thespian/principal Oliver Munishi was with them. i later learnt that the event was really a launch of the old boys association of Kakamega African Government School. It was a very good evening, and i got to know that Kach has really churned out some great men in the country. ie, Najib Balala, who was also the chief guest, Ochilo ayako, Japheth shamala, Dr. Khaminwa, etc not forgetting the current vice president Moody Awori! The launch also saw the launch of the website, and we saw pictures of the old school. pictures which am sure must have given the old boys some great nostalgic moments. people really cheered especially when the picture of the gate, the dining hall and dormitories came up. Rufftone (omundu strong), who is also a young old boy of Kach then gave us a lip synced version of his new song Tsinyanga Tsiwere before the boys gave a real good account of themselves with a dramatized luhya dance. Ruftone first stage performed at kakamega high school and he said that it was the principal , Mr. Oliver who gave him the confidence to rap during a dramatized dance.

However going back to the pictures of the school, one gets a sick feeling. how is it that the structures look that bad when great people have been churned time and again from the school. i think we need to develop a culture of giving back to the community especially schools. That school badly needs even a fresh coat of paint. thankfully Balala started with giving a pledge of 30 million shilling for new dormitories.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

visions and ambitions

I attended a vision and ambition launch at the panafric last night. It was being done by a young man from Marakwet West. the man is hoping to take over the mantle and free the marakwets from all their trials and tribulations. i learnt yesterday that marakwet is a place in kenya where mangoes and oranges still grow wild. or maybe lets say grow without anyone laying claim to them. yet i was told again that the people in this rich land live in abject poverty. one thing that struck me from the crowd was that it was quite diverse. there were very few marakwets in the evening. another interesting thing was that two other brothers in this family have ever tried to capture that seat but failed. so this third one is the proverbial David who was anointed by Samuel. incidentally he was called samwel himself. Many people showered him with praises and words of encouragement. it looks like the people from these area are rather polite if the tone of the night is anything to go by. they talk so gently almost to a whisper. its a wonder then that marakwet is so known more for the insecurity than for mangoes growing and falling off in the wild. in fact the 'MP' promised to sort out the security issue once elected.

and talking of security or lack of it. i agree with comments in my recent post that economic growth when insecurity is at this high level is nothing. bloggers commented that we should never talk of wealth creation and economic growth if the security of that wealth cannot be guaranteed. Agreed.

but still on security, the mungiki rage that is threatening to paralyze the center of the country where also the power sits is not as easy as the media puts it. i met this guy who told me that indeed business men are being invited to join the gang after paying 300,000/= membership fees. the conditions were the same as the ones of Julius Ceasar, if you join we will protect you from all your enemies and cover you in gold else we will throw you to the circus maximus! today mungiki has indicated that they will expect residents of muranga to pay 200 bob per day for each matatu, 50 bob per day for each homestead (pay for living in muranga) and 100 bob per day for each kiosk or shop.