It makes for a good laugh, as many guys on the Skunkworks mailing list noticed. Look at this extract regarding the Equity Bank CEO:
Dr. James Mwangi, MBS Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director
Dr. Mwangi holds an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration (Honoris Causa), from Nigeria Methodist University, Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) Nigeriatta University, and Doctor of Entrepreneurship from Jomo NigeriattaUniversity of Agriculture and ...
It appears that some did a search for Kenya on the real Equity Bank website content and replaced it with Nigeria.
While this particular instance may appear an obvious attempt at phishing, it should be taken as a warning. Now that 'the fibre has landed', such attempts at cyber-crime will only become more prevalent as more and more people in the country, and the continent get on-line, and scammers attempt to widen their net.
The PS for Information and Communication did a talk at the 4th Aug meeting at Telposta towers 4th floor. There was also Joe Mucheru (Google Lead, EA) and Bret Bullington, a VC working in the Silicon Valley.
Quite an interesting talk and discussion thereafter, with lots of challenging and thought provoking remarks from Dr Ndemo.
Some highlights that stood out for me:
Digital Villages - data gathering at sub-location level (this could mean several hundreds, thousands of DVs) - such information would range from education levels, to types of soil, vegetation, population, sicknesses, and potential applications are numerous (would avoid such generalizations as 'my constituency performs poorly because we are marginalized' and would instead allow for facts to be presented). Solutions for social problems too, and entrepreneurial opportunities. Incidentally, the first Digital Village was at Kagundo and despite no training offered there, soon afterwards, there were people lining up to fill in PSC forms downloaded online.
Local Content - 'We are through with (creating) infrastructure, we now need content' The Freedom of Information Bill when passed into law, will allow a lot more Government information to be available (online) Information on product pricing - how many times have you spent time looking for a particular product all over from shop to shop while you could conceivably do that from a single website. Examination questions (KCPE, KCSE, CPA etc) Bible in local languages A kenyan 'youtube'for local music, videos - lots of user generated content - can be used especially to preserve local languages, cultures, history, stories (e.g. Lwanda Magere). There will be lots of opportunity for local music/video/movies/advertising especially when digital terrestrial television becomes mainstream (think a capacity of several hundred channels to choose from).
'What is wrong with us' This was quite challenging - Kenya is hosting AGOA. There are 6000 items which can be exported to USA duty free. How many of us can name 5 of these without reference. Vietname despite being a smaller country than Kenya last year had more exports to the USA under a similar agreement to AGOA than the whole of Sub Saharan Africa.
'Productivity' and 'Break even' (and probably many other ideals) are not in our language. We need to measure our productivity, track our progress, use technology (ICT's) to improve our productivity (as a nation).
Collect Data -> Information/Knowledge -> Analyze Information -> Intervention
The Government won't make you rich.
There's lots of opportunity in educational content
Every problem is an opportunity.
Some more summary I missed out (thanks to S Ndungu )
We can add a few summaries [pls pardon any misquotation, there was alot of info passed and im drawing this frm memory] :
-There was a promise by Alex Gakuru/ICT board for support of IT community through a 3 stage funding by the World Bank
1) training for a 1000 software managers - to be determined by a criteria 2) provision for 1,000,000 laptops to kenyans - to be determined by criteria 3) i cannot remember the third point - but it has to do with support of IT/ICT/Development projects [which I would assume includes the support for content generation for local use]
-The digital villages did not take off as expected. The youth despite the urgency to create jobs did not respond to calls for training and taking up ownership/running of the digital villages
[the northern part of kenya (that claims to be marginalised) - only 8 participants showed up --- 8 participants !!]
-One of the reasons for digital villages was to make available "content" for kenyans through gathering of grassroots statistics like population, facts, economic dynamics - etc - In turn, due to support for electric self sufficiency of these digital villages [solar, wind, etc] - the owners can garner income thru: mobile charging, photocopying, printing government documents [like P3s, job applications for government], hosting workshops, folks can call thru Voip to distant relatives, cyber cafe services - and etc etc
(thru such services, the digital village provides justice, reduces corruption, collects information, makes business, creates youth employment)
-The current events for building infrastructure like the fibre is inline with the vision 2030 for Kenya. The government cannot help you set up an enterprise - it can only enable you to do so thru such projects as fibre, and creation of friendly policies that protect your intellectual property, enables your work [eg software] to have value, etc etc
-The vision 2030 covers 3 main pillars - aside from the popular 'economic' renaissance
->economic pillar ->social pillar - equity [not the 'members' bank] but equal opportunity for all ->political pillar-politics to be issue based, politicians to take risks and not fear lack of re-elections -example - politics based on popularisms e.g passing the "maternity leave for men" bill make politicians popular but affect our economy...
-Dr Ndemo talked about preachers appearing on our own version of 'youtube' so that those of us in diaspora can catch up with home sermons. This also includes those who pretend to work in the office and love the gospel - they can catch up with more constructive episodes online.
-The provision of local and accurate videos online for example traditional dances that can be sold to those studying culture. This can be sold ! I know of a Kenyan studying in Japan a few months ago who was hired by a kindergarten school to show the kids an 'african dance'. [pics on facebook] He found a kikoi in a crafts shop that had maasai patterns. Then he and a friend performed an 'isikuti' dance in maasai attire. But how could they ever know the difference ? The kids were quite happy to see an 'African dance'.
-We can also throw Kamaru and Mike Rua, Sukuma Bin Ongwaro etc on our own version of youtube and charge subscription for those in 'diaspora' - think USD. 5 dollars for 1000 kenyans for a period = USD 5000 dollars.
-In summary the world needs our content - and we need our content
-Digitising of government information and putting it online for easy availability. This alone can create numerous jobs and revenue.
Dr. Ndemo talked of trying to do a research one day to find out the number of Internet users. He was directed to a mountain of files [am sure you have a picture,,, the dust, the makonge strings, the musky odour] and he was told to look through those. Now imagine if this was searchable through a computer database after categorising and serialising the documents [jobs].
-Registration of phone numbers - to identify a user to a number
-Product information online and pricing, aside from availability - eg for pharmacies, electronics etc.. this can save one alot of driving around.
-Exams, pass papers, research papers provision online, online assignments - you can charge per download [or per click :) ] thru deals with institutions like the university. Students globally are always repeating the same things we did 15 years ago... why not charge for content provision.
-However, Dr Ndemo warned on pricing - charge cheaply and the masses can afford. ksh 2 X 1 million = 2 million. -The problem with some content/services pricing is someone trying to pay their rent/car loan with a few big sales - this discourages buyers, and encourages piracy
-Digital TVs - provision of over 1000 channels . This provides a huge market for advertising. I was also thinking - what about building the database ?
-The AGOA issue is well covered by Josiah on his blog
-And yes its true - there is no native word for 'enterpreneur' or 'breaking even' or 'positive productivity' in our languages
-Example of some of our decisions : Policies such as land division are flawed. The farmers have subdivided their land so-o much that they are no longer viable to support food for the normal 1 year of crop production
-It took some of us 40 years to realize that coffee and tea are no longer profitable [think small scale farming] - we stick to various businesses that barely break - when in reality, their time has passed.
[google "the 5 stages of small business" - the last stage is not very good news for those of use with small businesses, but changes do happen and will happen - we need to change too]
Bret is from silicon valley and is on kenya for a while. Joe Mucheru called him a capital venturelist [who could actually fund/promote your ideas].
Bret's short speech advised us not to re-invent the wheel because most of the opportunities we are looking at now have been tried and tested in the USA since the advent of computers in the 70s, the internet bubble in the 80s and now the age of the portability.
We should look at what is working else where and try it here. [This reminds me that Japan began as copiers, now they are the leaders.]
He advised to borrow ideas and sell them in our own country. For example, he quoted two German brothers whose keeness [is there such a word?] is to 'borrow' new ideas and adapt them in Germany. They took 'facebook' and tried to introduce it in Germany. A television company bought 'their' idea - and they moved on to fetch and adapt another,, and another,,,
And from Alex Gakuru:
Adding my contribution to this 'crowd-sourced' blog entry:-)
> -There was a promise by Alex Gakuru/ICT board for support of IT community > through a 3 stage funding by the World Bank > > 1) training for a 1000 software managers - to be determined by a criteria
> 2) provision for 1,000,000 laptops to kenyans - to be determined by criteria
I am a member (representing FOSS and ICt consumers) in multi-stakeholder steering committee appointed by the PS that is jangling with the 1 million laptops implementation parameters/framework. Included also are hardware vendors(Intel and HP), Microsoft, banks, universities, University students, World Bank, telecommunication companies, ICT Village, community ICT development organisation, among others, led by the Kenya ICT Board.
Polished detailed will be publicly announced once the committee thrashes out the many surrounding issues. This is a Ministry of Information and Communications initiative, being implemented by the ICT Board with participation of diverse ICT stakeholders. Paul Kukubo Chairs this committee.
> 3) i cannot remember the third point - but it has to do with support of > IT/ICT/Development projects [which I would assume includes the support for > content generation for local use] >
Thanks for making time for skunkworks meeting... We were pleased PS Ndemo found time to speak to us.
Kenya now has a grant US$ 3 million (Kshs 240 million) over next 2 years from the World Bank.
Funds to be used for ICT incubation partner institutions support. The partners include universities and institutions that will provide incubator facilities (e.g.land/premises) The ministry of Information, through Kenya ICT Board, will facilitate the incubators with industry linkages and promotion of those facilities
The second component Software Projects Management Certification. Targeting 1,000 local software developers, this will support them have internationally recognised Software Development Standards-will attract business.
The third component will involve assistance on software Intellectual Property protection e.g. patenting games, animation, and other local patentable digital innovations.
PS reiterated, there are more local content development. funds available at the ICT Board.
I asked for the governments plans on O3Bnetwork.com?on the To assure connectivity throughout Kenya/far flung areas. (Someone please contribute the response..)
Appreciated Multi Media University's continued support. Venue was their courtesy donation to skunkworks. ICT Board was thanked for sponsoring chai and mandazi.
Mr. Jotham Mwale represented MMU - gave vote of thanks.
I hope this illuminates further and that you can make use of the opportunities presented.
I did a bit of travelling this past weekend. Urban and rural Kenya offer rather stark contrasts, including forms of shelter, the concept of wealth, and life priorities among other things.
By accident or design, Kenya is still largely dependent on seasonal rainfall for agriculture, something that is unfortunate considering the world we live in. This, coupled with the rather alarming rate of deforestation, makes me wonder whether a place like Nairobi will be habitable in the next few years. Already a biting water shortage has afflicted Nairobi, and many towns, and this does not look to be changing soon. The shortage is not being helped by the numerous illegal water connections.
A case could be made for the implementation of technology that would make it possible to monitor water flow, pressure and potentially narrow down faults in the whole distribution network, but one wonders if that wouldn't just become another white elephant.
In rural Kenya, the folks here are highly dependent on their farms for food and income, and thus during a bad season with poor rains, they suffer. This is unlike urban Kenya where water is used mainly domestically.
I'm pretty sure there's enough brains in Kenya to come up with a lasting solution to this dependence on rain for food..
A few things that could be done, some at relatively low cost :
harvest rain water - I know of one family that has a 40000+ litre tank (and an additional tank of 'only' 10000 L), harvests rain water. This is just one household. Imagine this on a larger scale.
recycle water - Large factories, hotels, institutions
Don't waste it.
Most of the current conflicts and future conflicts are and will be about resources, and especially water.
If GK vehicles break traffic rules with abandon, how would we expect mat guys to behave. Last time I checked only the president (and the PM now ?), fire engines and ambulances could skive traffic legally. But nearly every day, I see GK (and parastatal, anything gova related) drivers driving on the wrong side of the road (I had a few plates crammed even) - like on Processional road(?) between State House road and the Nairobi Serena, and at the Museum hill road-Chiromo roundabout where policemen insist on a single lane of traffic to the Museum road.
Perhaps we could safely say that the culture of impunity will be a thing of the past when such things don't happen. I'm afraid though that it might be rather utopian.
Kenyan traffic(and many things as well) is more or less a manifestation of our values and regard for each other. I think I mentioned this in a separate post a while ago. So we really shouldn't expect much improvement until our values change.
At the end of the day, the road is not mine or yours, but ours... but we all seem to be in a hurry to beat the other driver to the next junction (never mind that we might stay there for another 30 minutes stuck in jam), cutting into the other lane without as little as an indicator.
is it a sense of: I can drive faster than you, or my car is better than you.. which at the end of the day results in:
-> an adrenalin rush
-> stress (after several narrow misses) and possibly a bad day or evening
-> a minor scratch here or
-> a major dent there
Trying to be sober, considerate and not too accelerator-pedal-itchy is not easy - but it's probably worth trying. Today is Friday (at least not mid or end month) and I think Friday & Saturdays tend to have more accidents (especially when people have a few more coins in their pockets and purses).
There was a large advertisment in the dailies this past week about Nairobi (and environs)getting commuter rail transport. I'm eagerly waiting to see if this will be operational in the 3.5 years that they've highlighted. It would be really be useful in easing jam in Nairobi.
The Kenya Railway Corporation should have completed their website before advertising it on the ad.
It seems that the whole world revolves around money:
Yesterday the G-20 nations voted for a 1 TRILLION $ stimulus package (mind boggling figure - $1 000 000 000 000 ) .
There's clamour for Kenyan MPs and other senior office bearers to pay taxes on their full allowances.
Everyone is looking for a side hustle to make that extra coin, even it means spending 18 hours working a day.
The dash in the morning to beat the jam, so as to get to work early, and score brownie points with your boss.. so that maybe when the next appraisal comes round, you might get a pay rise.
I haven't started on hunger and famine in Kenya, and why we can't just blame the unreliable weather patterns.
This book - Your Money or Your Life is quite a thought-provoking book. One of the key elements is that the author doesn't advocate for a lifestyle that revolves around getting more and more and more money. Instead, one's focus should be on how to align money with values and principles. So one of the exercises isn't just tracking every cent you spend, but calculating how much of life energy you use up when spending e.g. 12000/- on a new phone.. Can be very revealing.
I've also added some new words to my vocabulary: Life Energy and Gazingus Pins
As promised - here's Sakaja's very thought provoking note on Leadership in Kenya.
We think we know the problem that ails Kenya – we have defined it as leadership - but is that really the problem? Is our problem leadership or is Leadership the most visible manifestation of the Kenyan problem? If one is suffering from flu and a terrible cough, cutting off your nose will not rid your body of flu. Your nose might look like the problem but it is just the manifestation of a bigger problem in your chest, lungs and body. We must examine ourselves and redefine the problem that Kenya faces – a problem whose most obvious manifestation is its leadership – the nose. Our problem begins with our individual and societal value system. That it is ok to look for shortcuts in traffic and inconvenience others but it is not ok when politicians look for shortcuts when seeking high office is an oxymoron. That a young man from Kikuyuland is regarded a villain when he hurts Kamau from the next village but is crowned a village hero when he slays Kibet in a cattle raid (and vice versa of course) is ironical. That we allow ourselves to bribe the police to avoid a cash bail, bribe the headmistress to get form one admission yet cry the loudest when politicians receive bribes and steal maize is hypocritical. That we cringe at the thought of our cousins getting married to “that” community but are the first to demonstrate on account of tribal appointments to government. It is easy for us to blame the most palpable suspects – the politicians but the problem begins with us. After all, a community of 10,000 thieves will most likely elect the most influential thief to lead them. It is foolhardy to expect the young class 6 boy, Georgy, who elbows all the weaklings in the lunch line at Kamkunji Primary School to respect other motorists 15 years down the line when he buys a car. It is an insult to your own intelligence to expect Georgy who later bribes a policeman when he is caught flouting traffic rules to refuse a bribe when he becomes Minister of Finance. Corruption, selfishness, greed, tribalism, political sychophancy, dishonesty; all these begin with individuals. So how do we change this? How can we change Kenya? Where will this change come from? Change will not come from Nairobi, change will not come from the comfortable board rooms and behind the desks of your offices, change will not come from your school cafeterias or from the heated discussions in our churches and local bars; change will not come from Louis Otieno live or from P.L.O. Lumumba’s eloquent rhetoric. No; those are just but rumours of change. The idea of change will come from the depths of our conscience translated into our everyday actions. This change will begin when we stop looking outside ourselves and begin to re-examine in ourselves that which we criticize in others. Change will happen when likeminded and forward thinking Kenyans look deep into themselves then inspire others to make a change that they already are making.Corruption, selfishness, greed, tribalism, political sychophancy, dishonesty; all these begin with individuals. If we do not reform and change the individuals we cannot change or reform the country. If I don’t change – Kenya will not. No change will not come from the top. I hold that change; true change will come when we like Nehemiah of the bible understand the problem facing our country then go back to rebuild. We must rebuild. Change will come when these forward thinking, likeminded patriots GO BACK HOME AND REBUILD. Recently, speaking to a few young professionals from Makueni, a district faced with starvation, I realized that they knew very well what needs to be done to alleviate the famine situation in Makueni and create wealth. They had excellent ideas and solutions and knew the problems faced in their shagz. The only problem is that their ideas and solutions remain as ideas and solutions discussed over coffee at Java or cocktails at Mwenda’s. The solutions for Makueni are however not the same as the solutions for Kwale or the solutions for Mukurweini or Ikholomani. Professionals from Isiolo know the problems faced back at home and know the solutions. They know the kind and breed of leaders who will change Isiolo. We must go back to our areas of original extraction, back to the villages and towns and tell the people that it is time to rebuild. We must inform and educate those who look up to us in these villages on the true values of leadership and patriotism. We must let our minds be re-taught. We must inspire our different spheres of influence. We must equip them to make a change in their lives and give them the ability to identify and chose leaders wisely. We must aggressively educate our people on the values of good leadership. We must then enable them to create their own wealth and feed themselves. Change will not happen on hungry stomachs. It will not. We must give them hope – empower them so that their 5 and 10year long visions of prosperity will not be clouded by the sight of their hungry 5 and 10year old children. If this happens simultaneously in all 8 provinces, all 210 constituencies, in all the 71 districts (and the 37 more newly created districts) and in all 27,895 polling divisions of our beloved country, then we will start to see real change. We will start to see a true and sustainable revolution. A revolution that cannot be stopped. An empowered people going against the status quo that aspires to keep them poor and buy them cheap. We will begin to see a people who are not voting simply because they need the 200shillings handed out to them – but we will see an empowered generation of Kenyans convicted that it is time to take the destiny of the country into their hands. Change will not begin in 2012 – 2012 will be the climax of the change that will already have begun. We as the middle and upper middle class, we as the educated owe this to history, we owe this to the future generations. It is the responsibility of our generation; a great patriotic responsibility to our beloved land. We must start this NOW. This change, change that will be inspired and driven by passion, designed by the limitless creativity of this generation, anchored on integrity and founded on patriotism and love for our country is imminent. Kenya will never be the same again.
Patrick Lumumba, a person I've come to admire, is a man on a mission. I watched him on various talk shows over last week, and on the news pleading to the point of tears for the country to turn its back on corruption and tribalism. The Triton and Maize scandals have really exposed the political class for what they really are, and as he said, Kenyans are getting angrier by the day. Something will give at some point.
I don't watch news much nowadays - last week was an exception :).
My first post of the year. Some minor resolutions blogging-wise: I'll try to post at least once a week, on a different topic. Also, by mid year, I hope to have separate blogs for different topics that interest me, or be at least part of a blogging team (like on shabik which is a soccer blog). Maybe get a new blog host, (perhaps in Kenya)?
Meanwhile, the Ushahidi engine is now used by Aljazeera to report on the Gaza conflict. This is more proof that there's loads of potential in Africa... Kudos to the team @ Ushahidi (and thanks for the t-shirts :) ).