Open Letter to Imperial Bank

November 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

Source: Open Letter to Imperial Bank

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Armistice Day: Forgotten African Heroes

November 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

As Europe marked Armistice day on Tuesday, I couldn’t help but take note of Africa’s contribution to the two World Wars. Africa and Africans were somehow not a part of these wars consequences and legacies yet many in the Kings African Rifles were maimed or killed in Burma, Abbysinia, Tanganyika to mention just a few. They were fighting an absurd war given that they were colonised fighting to keep their masters from being colonised. There were taxes and other privations that Africans paid as their colonial masters fought brutal wars.

I am embarrassed at how poor my history education was. For example, I didn’t know that almost every able bodied Kamba male was conscripted to fight in WW1 or that many campaigns were won through the tenacity and courage of African soldiers.

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Africans recruited to the Kings African Rifles numbered over 120,000. Kenyan and Tanzanian beef fed millions of allied soldiers stationed in the middle east. My late Grandfather was a Kings African Rifles veteran and was involved in the Burma Campaign. I wonder what were his experiences in Burma. I regret I was too young to talk to him about those experiences.

The courage of the men should be acknowledged and applauded.

Central Africa Republic: On The Brink

May 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

“Everybody deserves to die, as far as someone is concerned.” These words best describe the situation in Central African Republic Capital, Bangui. Nearly every one there wants somebody dead. It is a City of overlapping vendetta’s. Everyone there is nursing a lethal grudge. What started as a rebel coalition overthrowing a corrupt dictatorship has now become a conflict split across religious lines.

Seleka-rebelsThe Seleka rebels overthrew Bozize and set about terrorizing the country; looting, raping and murdering. The Central Africa Republic didn’t have a history of religious conflict but the rise of the Seleka rebels made up of mostly Muslims triggered a lot of resentment among the Christians majority who blame the Muslims for the Seleka actions. The Seleka rebels have inspired such a strong level of hate such that innocent Muslims were being butchered as revenge by the Anti-Balaka.seleka

For a long time, it was Christians who felt persecuted but now the tables have turned. Revenge is a full time business in Bangui nowadays and the Anti-Balaka rebels have their hands full; scores to settle, Muslims to kill. French and African Peacekeepers are trying to stop the bloodshed but they are out numbered. Muslims still remaining in the city are under siege. Desperate to escape, ready to die trying. Bangui,  a city which had about 130,000 Muslims a few months ago now has slightly over 1,000.  Its time sanity prevailed and compromise prevailed. The international community must do more to prevent a full blown genocide in this tiny forgotten African Country.

Gold: Not All That Glitters

August 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Warren Buffet once said, “Gold is the only thing we dig out of a hole in the ground, put back in a hole in the ground, and hire someone to guard it”. True..Gold has little end use unlike other commodities like Copper, iron or Oil. It isn’t a bond or a stock with earnings. But there has always been a creepy fascination with gold yet not many people need gold. gold_2

Most Gold advocates state that they do not know what the price of Gold will be but they usually have a portion of their savings in gold because gold has always maintained value which isn’t actually true(1980’s to 2000’s). Most personal investors of gold just own gold in case there is a serious monetary collapse, which periodically has happened throughout history(Germany, Argentina, Greece, Cyprus) typically after very loose monetary policy such as excessive debt and money printing. The thinking has been that when everything all else collapses, Gold becomes the currency people use to trade.

 Gold curveThe price of Gold is driven by its scarcity and growing demand in emerging economies such as India and China but the supply of gold is low thus making it expensive. Everything that scarce is expensive. Gold has always had a relationship with stocks.The reason gold prices rises so high is partly because of falling stock prices. When stocks are falling, Investors take money out of stocks and put it into gold and vice-versa. The Gold standard was abolished in the 1970’s but governments and banks all over the world still hold tonnes of Gold.

When the economy of Cyprus collapsed  earlier in the year, Germany one of the bailout partners insisted it to sells its gold reserves to finance its because there is no better collateral than gold.

Will there a Gold Bubble? I don’t think so. The bubble is not in Gold but in Debt. In my opinion, Gold does not combat inflation but the status of rare metal increases its demand and makes it worth the investment but it’s worth noting that all this is an investing game and that there will be losers and winners

Opinion: Kenyan Elections

April 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

If Nations deserve their leaders then Kenyans deserve their misery. In many ways, Kenya has not moved on. People lined up to vote along tribal lines and not issues. The elections brought back the very real risks of tribal violence that rocked the country in 2007-2008 after disputed poll results that saw deaths of more than 1000 people, widespread sexual violence against women and over 600,000 people displaced. To date, not a single person has been held account. Naivasha and Kiambaa will forever remain shrines of impunity and negative ethnicity.

kenyaTribal politics is still King around here even among the elites as was openly displayed during the election petition at the Supreme Court where the petitioners and the respondents chose members of their tribes to represent them in court. Tension among the many tribes isn’t far from the surface.  Instead of focusing on issues such as unemployment, poverty etc,.. the vote boiled down to the tribal affiliations of the candidates. Kenya is marching towards a path of self-destruction with the tribal undertones rife. The majority of Kenyans still have to grapple with daily challenges, like unemployment, poverty, access to electricity, access to education and health services.

ukenyattaIn order to succeed, Kenya will have to learn from history, and urge the political elites to accept that a higher quality of governance, attention to social issues and employment, and the abstention from manipulating tribalism and ethnic violence. Who was it again that said we don’t learn from history. I think he was right.

Kenya Power: Monopoly Gone to Far

March 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Two years ago when Kenya Power re-branded, I honestly think they grew horns. This week they were at it again pushing for a review of the already high electricity tariffs by ERC which will push tariffs up by between 24-40% and this with the full backing of Ministry of Energy.

wpid-264998_214809241895563_6462071_n.jpgKenya is quickly turning into one of the most expensive places to set up and run a business majorly due to prohibitive energy costs. Kenya Association of Manufactures and Kenya Private Sector Alliance are already warning of job losses should the tariffs be implemented. That is something our fragile economy cannot afford. Not long ago a few Multi-National companies closed shopped and shipped some of their Manufacturing to Egypt and South Africa due to increased cost of doing business in Kenya majorly high electricity costs. Compared to other African Countries, we fare miserably. Here are some comparative prices: Egypt $0.04/kwh, South Africa $0.07/kwh, Uganda $0.08/kwh, Tanzania $0.09/kwh and Kenya $0.23. Kenya Power intends to use the money raised from the Tariff increase to finance the setting up of new power generation plants. But wait a minute, i thought thats the work of Kengen? Sounds suspicious as it comes at a time when Kengen is issuing asset-backed bonds worth 30billion!! Kengen supplies 74% of all Kenya Powers Electricity with the rest coming from independent Power producers. Why was Kengen and Kenya Power even split? For both of them to profit, the Kenyan consumer pays a higher price. Kenya Power pays $0.025/kwh for electricity from Kengen. If the cost of production is this low, why is Kenya Power charging kenyans almost ten times what it pays for? It is tragic that no Presidential Candidate has brought up the issue of high energy costs? How do they expect to create jobs in such a hostile environment? It is laughable that the Permanent Secretary says that tariffs will come down in 2020. Power profits are supposed to come from new connections and sales but not price hikes. Higher tariffs would bring about a domino effect; job losses, inflation, destabilize the economy, increase poverty levels etc. The consumers can only pay much. This time, Kenya Power has pushed its luck too far. Its time we did away with Kenya Power’s management as they have run out of ideas. Even better, we do away with Kenya Power’s Monopoly. Kenya Power is one parastal leaching on Kenyans.

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“I don’t think we can go back to the old days. But I think that what the government needs to do is it needs to make sure that the pricing is fair, that you don’t have monopolies out there, so that people don’t have a chance to compete” Dan Glickman

Living Large: Kenya’s Growing Public Debt

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

wpid-debt-2.gifWe learn from History that we don’t learn from History. Those are not my words but words of Desmond Tutu.  Kenya is fast living beyond its means. It seems we haven’t learnt any lessons from other countries whose spending spun out of control. Argentina, Greece, Cyprus and several EU countries come to mind. While Kibaki’s era has been hailed for fast economic growth, it has come at a cost. Kenya’s Public debt has ballooned over the past five years by 87% from Ksh.871 Billion to Ksh. 1.6Trillion. This is nearly half of the Country’s GDP.  While this may appear to be relatively low compared to developed Countries such as Japan and the USA, the situation is likely to worsen now that the Country is moving to a more devolved system of Governance which may require more spending. Already, in the current Financial year, Kenya has already borrowed Ksh.95 Billion + which is way more than had been budgeted for. The upcoming general elections bring back real risks of economic disruption as it happened in 2007-08 Elections. It is imperative to cut unnecessary spending so as to lower debt-to-GDP ratio. While the ideal situation is to spend only what we are able to raise in taxes that won’t be realistic. Lowering debt-to-GDP ratio can only be attained through an economic growth rate of more than 6% and an annual expenditure growth rate of not more than 10%. High level of Public Debt can only end in one way..,the Greek way, higher taxes and cuts in expenditure which will definitely harm the economy. Kenya needs to wake up and act decisively or else we are on our way to being another Morality tale to the world. Refusal to live within your means only ends up in one way…