Category Archives: Uncategorized

Renegade Air New Routes

Renegade Air (not my airline) has launched flights from Kenya’s capital city (Nairobi) to Homa Bay (in the Western part of the country. Last month, the same airline launched flights to Kisumu city and is offering a promotional offer of USD 46 (one way) to Kisumu.

Using a Cessna Caravan (carrying 12 passengers), the Homa Bay route is about USD 70 one way. It says a lot about the state of aviation that a flight of less than 200 nautical miles should cost that much.

However, kudos to Renegade Air, which only started operations in 2015, for expanding the routes. So far, from Nairobi, this airline serves the following destinations: Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Malindi, Lokichogio, Kigali, Marsabit, Loyengalani, Ileret, Kapese and Nariokotome.

Our incompetence will kill us

The Star Newspaper reports that Kenya has formed an Oxygen Taskforce to deal with the shortage. It is a year since the pandemic hit this country. All along we have known that patients in hospitals more often than not require oxygen.

In fact, at one point, Devki Limited offered to supply oxygen for free in exchange for canisters. The government did not move a muscle, although private hospitals started collecting oxygen from Devki.

Now, it is morning, after a dark and cold night for Kenyans. The government announces that it is forming a task force to look for bedsheets.

NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T

A curious case is happening in Kenya. Investigative authorities cannot trace more than Ksh 5 billion that had been deposited in the bank accounts of Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, who is being investigated for alleged money laundering.

Ksh 12.5Bn went in and Ksh 7.3Bn went out according to bank records (Rafiki Micro Finance Bank). So, where is over Ksh5 Bn?

There are no bank statements to show how the balance of Sh5.1 billion were withdrawn from the fixed deposit account

This raises several questions:

Can we trust Rafiki Micro Finance Bank? Is the bank not complicit in this? Why is the bank not in court to explain this? Lastly, where are the regulatory authorities that should have been providing oversight?

A case of too many questions and too few answers.

More money, SAME problems

The government has launched a new program( KSh1.8Bn) targeting rural agricultural youth employment programmes in Western Kenya in partnership with the German Development Agency. Some 10,000 youths from Bungoma, Kakamega, Siaya and Vihiga counties should benefit from this, if all goes according to plan. The projects should improve the business environment and access to inputs, services and markets.

The Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture commented on the KilimoNiBiz program saying that it:

will increase their employability through competency-based training, promotion of job placement services and strengthening the self-organisation of the rural youth

Therein lies the problem. Making people employable is not exactly going to resolve the problems that the youth face. As usual, it is not that the government and donors have not put in enough money in this and other similar causes. The problem is that the focus is wrong and hence the solution is evasive.

The youth should be enabled to become self-employed in collective schemes that have more chance of success. Improving employability is hardly the way to go. Kenya will lift itself out of the crutches of unemployment and poverty if the people can begin sustainable commercial ventures, each suited to the locality. A strong cooperatives movement is lacking and so even those who have fantastic ideas find themselves launching small businesses that go under because they cannot achieve scale.

Providing capital to many diverse businesses each with varying probability of succeeding is like shooting in the dark. I am a firm proponent of cooperatives and the implementation is not overly difficult.

1. Each county should identify its specific strengths. Arable ones can focus on agri-business. Some can focus on tourism. Yet others can be in the extractive sector.
2. Government (both national and county) as well as donors should help in the design and launch of cooperatives, refining the objectives and putting in place the infrastructure that supports the cooperatives. Agri-business areas need cold-rooms, depots for chemicals, trucks for transport for example. These should be provided to the cooperative movement.
3. Periodically (and upon proper evaluation), more capital should be infused into cooperatives so that members are allocated, each according to their needs to expand their operations. For example, if a cooperative sources farm inputs for a new project in bulk for a membership of 10,000 the savings are massive.
4. Technical assistance should also be channeled via the cooperatives and this should include nascent business advisory services and monitoring for the individual members.

It really is time to do things differently.

Towards a Biking city

It is refreshing to see that Nairobi is taking baby-steps in realising Non-Motorized Transport(NMT). In the CBD, the Nairobi Metropolitan Services is implementing pedestrian walkways and cycling lanes by replacing and relocating some parking spots

We have timelines for the first 100 days to complete renovations along Moi Avenue, Muindi Mbingu Street, City Hall Way and the University Way. The project will later connect the City with Jogoo Road, Kibra, Westlands and Industrial Area.

However, much more needs to be done and it can be done. I hope NMS is thinking wider than the current scope.
  1. Cycling lanes are much cheaper. They do not require major civil works like excavation. For the large part, clearing the way, levelling and laying paving and implementing basic drainage is all that is needed. The maintenance costs are similarly lower.
  2. From several sides of the city, the old railway line that goes almost into the CBD has lots of land on either side. Residents only need feeding cycle lanes to connect to the railway. Cycling/walking lanes can be built along the railway.
  3. A roadmap is needed such that in x years, from any point in the greater metropolitan area, a resident has a safe cycling lane to connect to the main lane that will take them to the city (and even cross it to any of the other sides). No road should be built without cycling lanes. That is just retrogressive.
  4. For security, solar powered lights can be installed along the lanes. The city management can hire security guards, equipped with bikes to patrol the cycling lanes. Fencing off the lanes will also ensure security.
  5. The railway station has enough space to be converted into secure bike parking facilities and users can be issued with smart cards for entry and exit. A nominal fee can be levied and this will be used for paying security marshals, cleaning and maintaining the washrooms.
  6. As the lanes are being built, it is important to ensure that all premises have secure bike-parking facilities. This is not too difficult. One car park can accommodate as many as 10 bikes. Theft of bikes is a serious issue so security will be needed. As more people give up driving, the parking attendants who were attending to motorists can be deployed to the bike parks. The idea is to ensure that a few metres from each building, you can leave your bike secured and sheltered and will be assured to find it when you come back.
  7. Convenience facilities such as lockers, shower-stands for freshening up can be installed at the Old Railway station. A person riding from any of the city environs further out should be able to get to the old railway station and make himself presentable for office. As a nominally chargeable service, this will further create income for NMS. It however requires that the main roads feeding into the city be equipped with cycling lanes.
  8. Providing this expanded infrastructure will also spur the growth of entrepreneurship in areas such as bike share, importation and sale of bikes and spare parts.
  9. The health and wellness of Kenyans will be improved. A person living in Langata, Buruburu, Kikuyu, Ngara, along Mombasa road etc need not sit in a public service vehicle for hours to get to work in the morning. That is enough time to do a relaxing ride into the city, take a quick shower and be at her desk by 8am.

COVID-19: Yet ANOTHER REASON FOR Kenya-Tanzania squabble

The spat between Kenya and Tanzania is the latest twist in the uncomfortable relationship between these two East African neighbours. The situation has always been tense and these countries merely tolerate each other despite the fact that they need each other and trade with each.

Tanzania is blocking Kenyan trucks at the Lunga Lunga/Horohoro and Taveta/Holili border points in response to Kenya’s demand that truck drivers be tested for Covid-19 before being allowed to cross into Kenya.

Tanzania has been charting its own path with regard to Corona virus with President Magufuli insisting on prayers, very doubtful testing and no reporting of positive cases for over 2 weeks . As a result, the neighbouring countries have been routinely detecting positive cases from Tanzanian truck drivers.

Trade between the two neighbours annually reaches Ksh 62 Billion. The people living near the borders routinely cross from side to side in search of livelihood. The Kenyan minister for East African affairs, Adan Mohamed is downlplaying the tiff:

We are aware that there are a few trucks of Kenyan registration that have been denied access and entry into Tanzania, but we have not stopped processing vehicles coming from Tanzania into Kenya

The Business Daily reports

Goods trucked from Tanzania – including fresh produce such as onions and oranges – last year jumped by more than half, growing 53.79 percent to Sh27.70 billion from Sh18.01 billion in 2018

In comparison:

Goods trucked into Tanzania by Kenyan companies and traders last year increased 12.99 percent to Sh33.86 billion, trade data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows.

Kenya and Tanzania can huff and puff as much as they want but it seems two truths will remain:

  1. The two countries need each other more than they are willing to admit
  2. Both countries are led led by idiots who place ego above national welfare and are too proud to talk to each other like grown-ups