Friday, March 28, 2008

it is today!

finally the official opening day for the purchase of safaricom shares has arrived. its a great day and the insert in the dailies has captured it very appropriately.

'We are oppening our doors to new owners ... YOU'

of course safaricom has always been good at adverts. very appropriate, emotional and captivating. indeed now the time has come for every kenyan to own a piece of the most profitable and respected firm in east and central africa. and may be soon in africa. Safaricom is a great going concern, and the profits have been good. And i have been encouraging everyone to take a piece of this pearl.

The only fear is that the shares on offer are too many and they may be an overwhelming supply once they start trading since the retail investors have just about 3.5 billion shares at their disposal. that translates to 17.5 billion shillings. i hope it wont be too much.

however sadly some quarters are still arguing about the owners of mobitelea who own part of vodafon kenya. for me i find this to be an argument whose strength is the same same as that of the shadow of a cockrel who had been starved to death. (or something like that to copy my friend argwings kodhek) its a real lame argument really. since in the first place these guys arent asking the owners of vodafone kenya or even vodafone UK. and again, am aware that its the Govt or Kenya that is selling their shareholding in safaricom and not mobitelea or vodafone Kenya. so its really a non issue to me. Further, am focused on the prize, i cant wait for the situation to be perfect before i plunge. the world belongs to risk takers and not people who are puritan!

the sad part is that ODM may have convinced most of their supports to avoid the IPO. what will happen is that one year down the line, safaricom will be majority owned by investors from PNU region (here read as Kikuyu) and these same guys will come out and say that Kikuyus own everything. just the same way they sold their farms to those investors only to turn years later and cry foul ( ok in some cases coz we also know of unfair allocation of land to some guys from central)

But seriously, this year is a year of great decision making. its upon you as an individual to decide. Does the argument put forward by Ruto, Nyongo and the like convince you? are you going to stop buying this share from GOK just because you dont know who the other owners are? and when you normally buy shares at the NSE, do you normally insist on knowing the others million shareholders before placing a bid?


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Its a roller coaster

I think lately am on a roller coaster. Just last week i was reading all the good stories and even blogged on it. but now this week starts with all the sad stories. I first of all read about the unbelievable human situation in Zimbabwe. I did not believe what the writer was talking about. that bread costs what? about 2000/= and a kilo of lemon goes for just over 4000/=. i never wanted to believe that until i watched the story on CNBC Africa. They said the inflation rate in that sorry country is upwards of 100,000 meaning that cost of production is anything you can easily guess. yet as he did with the currency, mugabe has set an 'official' price for all commodities. any one selling above this price limit is liable to imprisonment. so the poor business people are forced to sell their produce at a price below the cost of production. i cant believe it, or maybe i don't want to even imagine the situation down there. what baffles me ever more is that in spite of this, mugabe enjoys overwhelming support in zimbabwe. Kwani what is wrong with us Africans!!!

and only in the evening, was i to discover that the Zim story was just a preparation for more bad news. that back home the two 'principals' of our peace agreement could not agree on how to share their wealth (read our money) one wanted 44 ministries complete with two assistants each, permanent secretaries and their under-secretaries. each of the above with 2 or 3 armed body guards! meaning in essence that of the 210 elected men and women in the 10th parliament, 132 would have ministerial duties in one way or another. some portfolios include minister for Nairobi, minister for fish, minister for beef!

it just reminds me of a true story told to me by a friend. Her uncle was in a dug out canoe with 12 other men on lake Victoria. the uncle was a perfect swimmer. when they were in the 'middle of the lake' (chuny nam) a storm started and the boat capsized. the man quickly put his swimming skills to use to try and save his life. unfortunately all the other 12 could not swim and instead hang on him. one holding his upper arm, another his lower arm, his legs, waist and even some people climbing on his back. the poor man drowned with all those 12 people. when they were found, they were all clutching onto him in one way or another. Just what we do in Africa, no one wants to create but every one wants to consume!

but what do we make of ODMs recent outburst on safaricom IPO? treat it with the contempt it deserves. These guys are telling us that we must wait for the coast to be clear before we can pounce. the world is imperfect as it is and anyone who waits for hidden owners to be revealed before making a plunge onto safaricom will have himself for a consoler. my thinking is this: i dont care if that phantom shareholder makes 10billion or 20 billion or whatever there is for such people to make. What matters to me is that this is a great company and will continue to grow.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Easter

On 28th of Dec, it never appeared possible that we would be celebrating the sacrifice of our lord this year. Not after everyone went of everyone else's throat. but now we remember the salvation with much renewed hope , belief and future. Tomorrow in the via crucis, i will be remembering those whose lives were snapped up during the moment of madness. the same kind of madness that visited the jews and decided to murder an innocent man, for what? POLITICS. for even Jesus who came from that obscure part called Nazareth was as unelectable as the other guy. and his death was to stop him from claiming to be King.

Happy Easter to all

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Good signs for the times

The past few weeks have had very good signs for the nation of Kenya. We have been seeing genuine commitment towards rebuilding a country which was torn apart by tribal rivalries and competition. i have also seen leaders choosing not to be selfish and agreeing to accede substantial ground to others. very good

other good news include the formation of the brand kenya board to market the country not only to outsiders but also to Kenyans themselves

But the news all Kenyans were waiting for was the announcement of the safaricom IPO. the mother of all IPOs in Africa after the govt valued the mobile service provider at more than 200 billion shillings. i say more than since the offer price of 5 bob is actually a discount. All one has to do is buy 2000 shares. What will happen? people will sell their cattle, land, shares etc to participate in the deal of a life time. In the eye-shot (he he) one cannot see any other company which will grow at the same rate as safaricom. in fact safaricom is not great because of its size or its 10 million subscribers and counting, its great more for rate of its growth. netting just about 1/3 of kenyans in 8 years in no mean feat. And from the look of things, safaricom appears not to be done just yet. what with their offensive into the data market, E1 lines et al. their mpesa product is fast becoming another must have commodity in the country after they forced their airtime in that category over the decade.

But what will happen when you place 10billion shares in the market? will it generate the same excitement kengen did. will it cause the market to collapse? will the rouge stockbrokers have even a better field day? will it renew interest in get rich quick schemes and pyramid schemes?

whatever happens however some things are certain
one that safaricom will get unparalleled mileage from free advertising during the offer. and two that the kenya shillings will really get a boost. another sure thing is that the market will lose substantially as investors position themselves for the 'nyamami'

and i am really looking forward to another bull run like the one of 2006. it will be possible since everything will be just right. politics , fine etc

in fact another refreshing news was the sponsorship by supersport and GTV of the local football premiership. Now the local game will at least breathe. and another event that will help the game is Raila's appointment as Prime minister. since he has shown intention to continue attending the games, his spectator ship will give the game the much needed high profile publicity it requires and drive back the all important gate fees. and talking of sports, last week i again accompanied my rugby mad nephew to the bamburi series. the games were very entertaining but another thing which was more entertaining was the audience , sorry the fans. very funny jokes flying left and right. loud 'insults' on players and the referee. but my nephew assured me that ruj players are gentlemen and the insults last only as long as the game. after the game all the players congregate in the bar for binge drinking! and he was right since as we stood to go, the public address asked people to bring in their cars and proceed to the party!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

fast earners!

I could just be plain naive or daft, slow, old fashioned or any other thing but the story about Spitzer and the 22 year old Dupre has simply shocked me. not so much for the moral hazard though. ok lets say i have heard of some strip bars in Nairobi where old potbellied men pay upwards of 1K entry fees to see young women remove their clothes. I even read in the Nairobi star of some place in eastleigh where men pay upto 20,000 shillings for a night with a woman. Even about some high class middle level manager at barclays bank who doubles as a passion worker for upto 50K a night in some cases. but nothing prepared me for this one, 1000 dollars each hour??? on top of paying for her travel across 3 states, top notch hotel , mini bar , exit fees of more than 2000 dollars etc. What !!!

what i dont know is whether i find it shocking that some people make this kind of money or that some spend this kind of money or some are this rich.

maybe thats why my friend says kuna watu na viatu, with some getting accorded 120, 500 able bodied men and women to protect them while the scum of society languish in despair.

its a steep learning curve for sure

Monday, March 03, 2008

too much rat race

Just the other day when i was enjoying a lazy-after-lunch ride in a colleagues car, we almost had a fatal crash, why because the other car which should have given us way decided that the split second was enough to give him the much needed lead in any traffic jam ahead. in fact i must thank the colleague's very good brakes and his alertness and presence of mind else i would not be blogging today. the other car got 'its' way and we followed only for us to meet the inevitable jam but now we were in a different 'lane' and we had an advantage.

that small incidence reminded us just how competing we Kenyans are. people always want to be ahead. even when walking along the hawker packed roads in the CBD, people push and shove just to get ahead but for what gain. in fact i normally marvel why even when coming out of a plane, people shove and push yet you still have to spend almost your whole life waiting for the luggage. and at that time first come is not always first served.

But competition is not only in the roads, alleys and airplane, even after the historic signing of the peace deal between Raila and Kibaki, Kenyans are asking themselves whether Raila or Kibaki lost in the deal. Was is it about winning and losing or about peace and drafting a way forward for the country!!!

it is this obsession with winning and losing that makes parents invest whole life saving on their kids to go to the 'best' schools. best here meaning schools that will appear in the papers as top 10s, top 50 or 100. it doesnt matter if the kids become all books but no substance. some even fail to make relationships even though they are 'academic giants'.

But if you don't have it you cant get it and so most schools that find themselves under intense pressure sometimes involve themselves in dirty tricks including 'loaning' academic superstars from other schools to boost their mean grade. some teachers enforce very high 'pass marks' which must be attained if you are to sit the national exam. enough kids have been forced to repeat and consequently had their lives ruined due to this madness. some teachers openly steal exams for their students with very negative consequences. last week the minister for education showed us a case where the student had written whole notes on his shirt. reminding me of a time in the university when some girls were caught with notes on their inner thighs. problem was the invigilator did not know how to show that evidence to the university senate!

And yesterday i was talking to some parents whose kids got Ys in last years KCSE. meaning that the results were canceled due to cheating. the school had more than 15% cheating cases and so all the kids, innocent or otherwise were affected. the penalty is a 2 year ban. the parents are wondering what to do with 18year-olds for 2 good years before they can go back to redo the papers. All for what? just because the Teachers wanted their school to shine. schools which have had such incidences in the past like Kisii high face very strict marking and invigilating which also affects the students performance.

All for what ? Winning and losing!