Be unforgettable

I was recently asked about the best advice I have received in my career, and truth is, like most people I have received lots of advice, both solicited and unsolicited, many of which I live up to until today, including ‘grow up’ which is perhaps (rolls eyes) the best advice any young person receives.

I must say I have been blessed to meet people that have had an amazing impact in my life. Friends, mentors, bosses, and even strangers on planes.

One of my former bosses at CNBC Africa once told me that I must strive to be Unforgettable.

In my formation years as a business journalist, he challenged me to do my work impeccably, to prepare for my interviews with diligence and razor sharp intelligence, so that I would never have to introduce myself a second time to the same person.

This, in my opinion is the best piece of advice I have ever received, has had the greatest impact in my career and in my personal life.

I live by this until today.

Be unforgettable.

SGR, a few rumblings

The real impact of SGR will be measured by small businessmen and women taking goods to and fro the Coast, budget hotels and resorts along the route and not the rumblings of twitteratti who go on holiday to the coast once a year

SGR-Kenya-28
Image courtesy http://mwarv.click.co.ke/2017/05/03/sgr-nairobi-mombasa-test-ride/

There have been quite some interesting views recently around the SGR and Madaraka express, and decided to throw in my thoughts and hopefully hear your thoughts too.

Magufuli has recently announced plans to launch an electric SGR train, while the Kenyan SGR is running on diesel. Truth is, Kenya’s current power mix cannot accommodate an electric train. Neither can Tanzania in its current state. Let’s be honest, TZ has for a long time been electricity deficient and has had to import just over 10MW from Uganda and Zambia, today just over 18% of TZ is electrified. There’s also questions and comparisons to Ethiopia’s train. Look, Ethiopia’s hydropower potential is estimated up to 45,000 MW, only second after Congo in Africa, though the country is still far from optimum production with abput 90% if the country without access to electricuty. We cannot hoola hoop in that circle though, Ethiopia has enough resources to export its electricity once it achieves optimum production.

So back home, The real impact of SGR will be measured by small businessmen and women buying and selling things to and from Nairobi, and families that go home on that route every week or so, not the rumblings of twitteratti who go on holiday to the coast once a year.

60% of global rail today is standard gauge, and only 17% is the metered gauge type that was installed here by the indians a century ago, also known as the lunatic express.

Whether we like it or not, Infrastructure development is not something any country needs to play small in. Forget Lee Kwan Yu and the Singapore story, the very Western countries piling pressure on Africa today, built their key transport infrastructure when their economies were even smaller than ours, on bigger debt. Let us read and learn.

As journalists and purveyors of the truth, let us give the balance and ethos this story deserves. As Kenyans, let us hold fire to the feet of the government of the day to be transparent in all its dealings, because we can always teach them the lesson on election day.

Good Bye Orange, Hello Telkom

Orange in Kenya is now Telkom.

I’ve got bitter sweet feelings! On one hand the telco has a partner with all the right credentials on board. Helios is a mammoth of a PE, and has successfully invested millions of dollars across different sectors in Africa, and perhaps the right out of the box thinking that any telco needs to survive in a market place as discombobulating as ours. In Kenya, Helios has (had) shareholding in firms such as Equity bank, Wananchi, Africa Oil, Acorn Group, Vivo and after the exit of french giant, Orange, now Telkom kenya, after a Brand Extraction Protocol Agreement signed by the Orange Group and Telkom Kenya.

On the flip side however, this still feels like new wine in old wineskins.

Telkom will need more than just a brand makeover to make an impact, especially to the modern consumer of mobile, mobile money and internet. And no matter how much Kenyans need a competitor to hold a candle to the monopoly that doesn’t want to be referred to as a monopoly, it will take a lot of might to even get a few chunks of the percentage pie held by Safaricom. If Orange Telkom found it tough, the new Telkom better brace for even tougher times ahead.

The truth is that Telkom’s assets would whet the appetite of any investor! The telco sits on 13 billion shillings in real estate, frequency spectrums and an incredible fibre optic cables network. The fear, for many though is that real estate wealth Telkom holds is the carrot that dangles so precariously.

It is a shame that The Kenyan Government still owns 40 percent of the what has for decades been referred to as the sleeping giant. I’m from the school of thought that says the government has no business doing business, Case studies? Google is your friend. I’d have loved to see how Telkom faired in a completely private space, given the muscle it already has.

One thing though, the question we may never be able to answer as Kenyans is exactly how Safaricom has managed to jealously guard its market share, no matter how much we yell, hiss and tweet Mr Collymore and his wife over stolen bundles.

Celtel tried. Zain tried. Econet tried. All these are mighty and respectful giant telco’s in their respective spaces.I still marvel at how Airtel is still fighting the good fight.

As for Telkom, innovate or die, we wish you well, mostly because we need to hold the fire to Safaricom’s feet, same way a government should not function without a strong opposition. ( I lied, mostly because we need cheaper internet)

I’m tempted to get a Telkom line, though i feel a few years above their target market:-)

Here’s there very fancy website http://www.telkom.co.ke

5 days later, Chasing rainbows, a look at Chase Bank.

It is exactly 5 days since Chase Bank Kenya was placed under receivership by the Central Bank of Kenya, the market has quieted, some semblance of calm has marked the last few days, as would-be suitors, Investors and Strategists sit to either own a part of the bank, or help in the turn around.

It’s been an interesting time to say the least. Not perhaps the easiest for Business Journalists on twitter. Those streets have their owners they say, and maybe one day when I learn the ways of it’s alleyways, and maybe then I will understand how tweeting a contrarian opinion equals payment by whatever sources the streets decide. I’ve not put my price on my integrity, because it’s not for sale, not now, not ever.

When a group of friends and I sat and thought about starting a conversation that looked at the other side of the coin, where thousands of depositors couldn’t pay their rent, or buy food for their children, or pay school fees, now that the new term is just about to open, I was startled to read about payments to ‘influencers’ by ‘worried indigenous capitalists’. Really. It wasn’t about Chase bank, the ripple effects of the run were felt across a number of financial institutions, however, the interesting point is that the cash did not leave the system, they were just moved and held by alternative or ‘safer’ financial institutions.

Reporting on Chase Bank has been incredible. It’s been a few days of intense learning. I’ve spent my days speaking to everyone and anyone who’s an authority in banking, and even though there are so many versions of the story, there is a common thread. There was a restating of accounts, possibly pointing to cooking of books, and whether we believe it or not, the bank run was amplified by anxiety. 8 billion shillings was out of the bank within the span of 48 hours.

So, all’s said and done, Let’s looks at some scenarios that surround the comeback of Chase Bank, if there is a comeback at all.

The blame game, of course continues even as analysts’ piece together data and varied narratives to find out exactly what brought the bank down, and how to turn it around.

Central Bank has been cleaning up the sector, but has also been accused of handling this matter with undue rigidity, analysts I spoke to say, for a bank whose deposits sat at close to 100 billion shillings, the regulator had the ability to save Chase, by offering a quick facility as lender of last resort at the very moment Chase bank raised the alarm of a possible bank run, even though in September last year, Governor Njoroge had warned banks about managing their own liquidity other than rushing to borrow from CBK through that particular discount window.

There seems to be a deep level of disquiet among bank stakeholder across the sector, who say Central Bank had several options to save Chase Bank, especially because CBK has been so vocal about Chase Bank being in sound financial conditions. If indeed their books were healthy, did CBK have to let it fail?

When a Bank fails, the people that suffer the most are regular wananchi who put all their eggs in the basket of the one they trust. No matter how grave the situation of any bank is, the first person that must be protected is the depositor.

Could CBK have opted to sell securities held by chase bank to cover the 8 billion shilling hole? Analysts say should this have happened, the managers responsible for the mess would still be brought to book, but most importantly, depositors would be protected.

Let’s look at an alternative scenario, ‘Why couldn’t Central Bank take over Chase bank other than close it and place it under receivership?

I’m looking to read and hear alternative opinions about this option based on historical bailouts and what the process would have entailed.

However, with those three options now overtaken by time and events, industry stakeholders are now pondering over the next step for chase bank.

There are several arguments for complete absorption of the bank by a larger bank, driven by fears that once the bank will open, customers will queue to withdraw their funds. KCB and centum have been touted as possible local suitors and CBK confirmed that there are also a number of international interests. However, some believe that for Chase to get any sort of confidence, it must be backed by one of the BIG FIVE.

Watching that space.

Keyara Organics, not just about skincare.

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Keyara Organics is growing!

We now have launched a new line of body butters, body balms and hair food and are quickly taking charge in the ‘Made in Kenya’ natural personal care corner, and loving every moment!

As the founder, I’m so excited about the prospects of a brand new year and the consequent energy.

Keyara Organics is now retailing in health stores and beauty shops around Nairobi, Naivasha, Malindi, and across borders in Lusaka, London, New York and currently looking to expand to new markets.

Keyara was born out of a need and a love for organic and natural skin care products, which for us, always come with the reassurance of ‘ancient wisdom’.

We hope to make a mark on the bright spot that is the globally growing natural products market. New Hope 360, on online portal for all things Natural shows that anti-aging products, essential oils and improved packaging were key trends in the US in 2015 and expect the natural care industry to keep on that explosive growth trajectory.

A recent NEXT Forecast on the economics of natural products highlights that the industry is claiming a larger piece of the overall consumer packaged goods pie. It estimates that in the U.S., consumer sales of natural, organic and healthy products were forecasted to expand 64 percent from $153B in 2013 to $252 billion by 2019. Unfortunately, We do not have a Kenyan report on the growth of natural beauty products.

We see a steady rise in demand for our natural products and continue to formulate using the purest and most premium oils, butters and scents from across the beautiful African continent, ranging from Shea butter harvested in Nothern Uganda, Cocoa Butter from Ghana, Coconut oil from Kenya, Marula oil from South Africa, Argan oil from Morocco among many other authentic African botanicals.

However, My journey with Keyara Organics isn’t just about skincare.

I believe that it is time the world begins to see the other side of Africa. Our new stories must be deliberately visible and tangible, and I want to be part of that story.

Some of the worlds most luxurious skincare brands source their premium oils from Africa, but we, Africans, are left to only export raw materials and very rarely benefit from the opportunities in Value addition.

WE export the raw materials, THEY manufacture, and THEY SELL it back to us.

What a paradox.

I believe and live as a proud child of Africa, and my hope is that Keyara among other quality African brands will play a key role in changing the negative African narrative, one brand at a time. I’d love to see made in Africa brands on commercials in New-York and London, just as we see French and other European brands lead on market share in our regions.

The largest challenge perhaps is quality of packaging and print work for local SME’s. For us to compete effectively, we must be able to locally access or afford quality packaging from China, the world’s largest plastics manufacturer. The minimum quantities of these packages are however restrictive to small businesses, while the quality of local packaging materials is still way below international standards, thereby meaning that SME’s looking for quality packaging will have to absorb extra costs of packaging and freight, hence lowering margins and slowing down brand growth.

Worse still, import duty rates (Kenya) on plastic tubes for packing cosmetics were in the last budget (2015-2016) were increased from 10% to 25% making it an even tighter race to the top for those keen on importing quality plastics, this knowing well that the government was moving to protect local plastic manufacturers.

I’d like to challenge African plastic manufacturers to catch up quick, if we must begin to compete in a bigger space.

My challenge to African entrepreneurs is to challenge the status quo and begin to create unapologetic African brands that will compete.

My challenge to African consumers is to believe in our own quality African products, because we do have some incredible ‘Made in Africa’ brands which are formulated using Africa’s best, and topped off with the pride and luxury of Africa.

I would also like to deeply celebrate our ‘ Naturals’ community from across the continent who have been the first to believe in local Natural skin and hair care brands, with so much gusto, that some local brands have grown based on the growth of beautiful Africans who are not afraid to make their Africa shine.

Buy African today!

Keyara Organics. Africa Reborn.

Of Lavish African loving.

“And remember, as it was written, to love another person is to see the face of God.” — Les Miserable

I’m fascinated by writers. African writers specifically, even those with the charm of a corpse always manage to stir deep feelings of passion within me, anger or even regret, depending on what time in history they wrote. Because the African writers’ calendar dates back to when the colonialists came to Africa, perhaps, when Africans began to write in languages that foreigners could read ad understand.

I’m constantly peeved by the books written about Africa on my humble bookshelf, but my anger, unless countered by a new book written by me or other Africans that scoff at Englishmen of old or backpacking American journalists turned African experts, then I could as well tell it to the birds. It really is our fault that we do not have many African writers who can pen our own stories and help bring to life that now famous line, ‘The African narrative’ which in all fairness has evolved and transformed over time, and Africa, in many ways is rising. Numbers don’t lie, the economists say.

So, I’ve recently stumbled upon one Dunduzu Chisiza, he is described as a Nationalist and early agitator for independence in Nyasaland, now Malawi. Reading about him introduces you to an African that would not be stopped by class, colour or creed. His publications and style of writing literally tug at my heart.

He writes:
” In Africa, we believe in strong family relations. We have been urged by well meaning foreigners to break these ties for one reason or another. No advice could be more dangerous to the fabric of the society. charity begins at home. So does the love of fellow human being. By loving our parents, our brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces, and by regarding them as members of our families, we cultivate the habit of loving lavishly, of exuding human warmth and compassion, and of giving and helping. But I believe that once so conditioned, one behaves in this way not only to ones family, but also to the clan, the tribe, the nation and to humanity as a whole.”

Dunduzu goes ahead and talks about insubordination of national loyalties to international loyalties, referring to foreigners as Individualists who cannot foster internationalism.’

For me, Kenya is at the point where cynicism is the the order of the day. The days of women laughing heartily and young men and women celebrating each other has tapered down to wanton criticism, gossip, negative ethnicity and a uniquely high breed of hatred. We hate everything and anyone that’s Kenyan. The National Football team, The Rugby players, Public personalities, Kenyan firms. Everthing and everyone that’s Kenyan is constantly on the chopping board, it is everything that constructive criticism is not about.

Does this, after reading Dunduzu say something about our social fabric? Is there any more lavish loving that seeps beyond our nuclear family units and into the family next door? Have we tightened the rope too tough to allow cultures that are individualistic in Nature to wear out the African fabric that’s laced with respect and universal love. Deep lavish love.

For many, this may appear simplistic, but I’m student of this assertion, that Maybe, it is all about love.

Why I’m excited about my vision board for 2016

CBs-Vision-Board
Picture Credits: Google Images

Happy New year from Nairobi!

It’s been an exciting evening, one of those unplanned evenings that is likely to shape my year! I went into a friends house for a quick meeting, and found her with friends working on their vision boards for 2016. I’m quite a sucker for visualising dreams and working towards goals by writing them down. I’m a firm believer in the words ‘seeing is believing’, and oh! what a perfect way start to the new year!

After our quick meet on her balcony, Nakia allowed me to sit amongst her and her friends as they cut out pictures and titles from an array of magazines and wrote down their visions, hopes and dreams using words and pictures, all planning, praying and hoping for an incredible 2016. From writing about their reflections to personal purpose, to relationship goals and personal growth plans, I sat and sucked in the positive energy from these incredible women who are ready to take on the new year with a bang.

I’m excited.

2015 was a ground breaking year on so many levels for me, and when I look at my vision board for last year, I realise I did not get that Range Rover Evoque that sits pretty on my board, but the fruit didn’t fall too far from the tree. There’s a few other things that i didn’t not completely accomplish, they’re a constant reminder that I must get started. For me, seeing what I deeply wish for every morning when I’m up up and getting ready to leave the house, instills fresh passion and an absolute reboot to life, every day.

I’m looking at 2016 as the year of growth. Of finding new passions, writing books, reading, cooking, making new friends and appreciating old friends and family. I’m looking to launch Keyara Organics in a big way and also to grow as a Journalist and as a media expert. I’m looking to be great mother and friend. I’m looking to travel the world and to love, deeply, truly and stupidly.

To have incredible conversations and to laugh, and dance, like no one’s watching.

Here’s to 2016!

AFRICA SHOULD BE A COUNTRY.

We welcome the opposition of the world, because we are determined to see the battle through.
Africa’s battle-cry is not yet heard -Marcus Garvey.

American politician Sarah Palin was the butt of every joke a few years ago when it was claimed that she asked if South Africa was part of the ‘African country’.

While in Ethiopia earlier this year, US President Barack Obama delivered a speech referred to by the Whitehouse as ‘Remarks by President Obama to the People of Africa’.

These, despite what is believed to consistent messaging that ‘Africa is not a country’ but a continent of 54 diverse, real, and culturally different countries with distinct markets. Smart marketers now know that a ‘one size fits all’ campaign will never work in ‘Africa’. How a product is marketed in South Africa for instance, will not necessarily work Rwanda. Ask SAB Miller, or Nandos or Iway Africa.

But Africa’s firmly drawn borders are perhaps the continent’s largest undoing.

Africa should be a country, after all, weren’t its’ borders drawn up at the Berlin Conference in 1885?

This article, however, is not about a continent with one president or one currency as illusionarily envisaged by Kwame Nkruma, Robert Sobukwe or Muammar Gaddafi. It isn’t about flung Cape Townians dancing off-beat to Lingala tunes from the Congo. It is about what is now becoming a powerful case for Africa to digest global matters facing the continent as a single entity, with a collective voice, a common African position.

The call for a united Africa is not about the utopian one dream, one aspiration, one challenge, and one solution for all.

When South Sudan is facing civil strife, Africa is not in war. A corrupt Kenya isn’t a Corrupt Africa. Criminals terrorising Johannesburg do not cross borders. But we have accepted that the troubles of South Europe are isolated, that Russia is the bully, France the sickman and Italy the schizophrenic patient of Europe without tarring the whole continent with the same brush. We accept India is not China, South Korea is not North Korea, Singapore is not Indonesia. But they are all in Asia.

The sad stereotypical irony is that Africa’s perceived oneness can be paradoxically beneficial and crippling. The advantages are the regional building blocs. In 2007, Thabo Mbeki reminded Gaddafi, who was obsessed about the United State of Africa and himself as president, that you cannot start from the roof. Mbeki told Ghanaian students that regional economic blocs should be strengthened first. In fact, when Africa was at its strongest before the Western plunder, was buttressed by powerful kingdoms at regional level

The formation and strengthening of trade blocks such as the East Africa Community (EAC), The Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is a good start for the continent. These power blocs are already breaking borders, negotiating trade agreements, positioning markets and developing infrastructure. A case in point is the Standard Gauge Railway of East Africa, a multi-billion dollar world-class rail project that is in essence a product of the EAC. It is said the sheer size and projected impact to trade of the SGR will lift Kenya’s GDP by 1.5%.

Africa’s fragmented markets do not give big business sleepless nights. But a market of a billion people; will definitely attract the largest corporates in the world, – This is how a poor China [not a continent though] transformed itself into the workshop of the world, and India – under Narend Modi – is trying to position itself as an alternative market.

The world’s ignorant perception of Africa continues to hurt its efforts. Africa’s lack of deliberate marketing efforts and brand positioning continues to cast it as the ‘dark’ continent. The African Union on its part has been lethargic in telling Africa’s new story.

There are currently only fifteen African countries involved in civil war or experiencing post-war conflict. But the world’s image of Africa is a hotbed of war and crime. This image has lasted for almost two centuries even though almost the entire Europe was ravaged by war hardly 60 years ago.

A recent protest letter by angry Africans to the producers of CBS’s 60 Minutes on Africa, a show that partly covered the Ebola crisis accused the media house of being skewed in its coverage by interviewing very few Africans, instead preferring to speak to foreigners. That is, often, how Africa’s story is told. The letter in part said:

‘In a series of recent segments from the continent, 60 Minutes has managed, quite extraordinarily, to render people of black African ancestry voiceless and all but invisible.’

When Ebola broke, even the safari lodges perched deep in the East African savannah suffered. Hotels in South Africa thousands of Kilometers away were also hit hard by cancellations.

The world reported on Ebola as an African epidemic, the Economist called it ‘ The ignorance epidemic’. The World Bank reported ‘cumulative losses of more than US$500 million across the (African) region in 2015, outside the three directly affected countries…losses could be closer to the higher end of the estimate at US$6 billion’. By the way, tap water in Johannesburg is more drinkable than in Paris.

Everyday, Africa wakes up to a reminder that the continent needs collectively defend its interests and actively create new perceptions.

With new oil, coal and other natural resource finds, perhaps money can buy respect.

But Africa will need to earn its place on the table by reinforcing Africa’s new position as the fastest growing continent. But growth alone is worthless unless it’s translated into plucking out millions out of poverty and narrowing inequality gap.

Kofi Annan, in July’s edition of The Africa Report called on Africans to approach the December 2015 talks on a new global climate treaty with a single voice, ‘to speak as one, in clear narrative that should reflect the ‘African position”.

The journey has begun. The recent signing of the free trade area by 26 countries across the SADC, EAC and COMESA promises to unite the trade zones into a single new zone by 2017. That’s a market of almost half a million people, strength in numbers is perhaps Africa’s strength, hence; ‘Africa should be a country’.

As the Suthu Proverb goes “A divided pride [of lions] can be defeated by a wounded buffalo.

#POPEINKENYA and other short stories

“My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Abraham Lincoln.

The Alitalia ‘Shepherd one’ plane carrying Pope Francis touched down JKIA at 4.30pm Wednesday, half an hour earlier than expected. His itinerary on the ground perfectly in sync with the programme sent to us. Bang on time and so intricately flawless. The organiser’s ability to ensure his meetings were done with such timeliness is everything ‘African time’ is not about.

I am part of the news team handing coverage of the pope’s arrival, and it has been one of the most interesting events I’ve had to cover. As a financial journalist I have never pictured myself having conversations on TV about the Nuncio, the Nunciature and liturgical vestments such as the Chasuble with a former Swiss Guard and a Reverend father. I brag, because I have packed up more vocabulary in two days than I have in perhaps the last few months. The Catholic faith does come with some incredible jargon.

The pope’s visit comes with a heightened sense of spirituality. Conversations I steered in studio attempted to draw parallels between religion and government, and the role of religion in shaping a country’s path. It was interesting to see Kenyans talking to us on twitter and directly to studio say it was a great time for the country’s leadership as well as ordinary Kenyans to reflect on their roles in creating an environment that fosters peace and unity.

Pope Francis, a man deeply and evidently passionate about youth and family appealed to Kenyans to “Go back home and love your family, if you want to change the world’. How apt, for a generation where the family unit is transitioning to gadget driven relationships, where “Whatsapp’ groups are replacing long dreamy phone calls and coffee dates, E-cakes and E-chocolates are replacing birthday dinners and are killing the art of conversation, which was usually refined over tea and biscuits in our homely homes.

The Holy Father pleaded with Kenyan youth to embrace the tenets of African traditions, which are built firmly on respect and a strong community. The simplicity of the family unit however might not do enough justice to the ability of that small unit to create and foster strong values that last a lifetime. The take home for that was that we must start at the Nucleus if we must change this country. Our children must have integrity and ethics embedded into their DNA if this country is serious about fighting corruption, because it perhaps will take a generational change to hit the reset button.

I also immensely enjoyed conversations about inter-religious dialogue, in which the Pope referred to as a necessity and not a luxury against the backdrop of heightened terrorist attacks across the globe in recent times. It is a conversation that must be deliberately up-scaled to also contain the rise of ethnic profiling which could easily teeter into Xenophobia.

The tone that Pope Francis set at the beginning of his Papacy was consistent in visit in Kenya, as issues on Climate Change, Youth and Poverty were high up in his agenda. The challenge however is whether the Pope’s message will dry up as soon as he takes his Alitalia flight back and when the rains stop pounding. Will Kenya’s now spiritually awakened leaders live up to the prayers of the pope and Kenyans? Human nature dictates that Utopia is a wonderful place to live.

OTHER STORIES:

“Pray for me” said President Uhuru Kenyatta to the Pope. I believe it will be a couple of prayer filled days as the religious community in the country will join the pope in praying for him. He and his government badly need a miracle. I will say a prayer for UK as well, I am embarrassed to say that I have never prayed for him, but that’s done now.

Fox News jumped right into the fire after the station aired a news report about the Pope headed into ‘ War-Torn Africa’. Kenyans on twitter, not a group that gets easily bullied once again took the time to put them in their place the ‘#someonetellCNN’ way’. I love Kenyans!

Drum rolls please!! Quite an impressive list of new appointees to state Departments was announced this week. Former Googler Joe Mucheru was appointed Cabinet Secretary of ICT, Former head of Equity Investment Bank Wilson Nyakeira, all of 33 years old was appointed P.S, some interesting names there like Fatuma Hirsi formerly of Nation media Group, Paul Mwangi, former advisor to Kagame on Infrastructure, Zeinab Hussein, Former McKinsey Africa lead & Patrick Mwangi from the World Bank. Someone deserves a bubbly!

Moses Kuria is also spending the weekend in the cells (or is it Karen Hospital), such timing! Missed the pope and the rain, but I see messages circulating online that he has decided against running in Gatundu in 2017. Politics, My friend, in the words of Groucho Marx “ is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”

What the Brazilian weave index says about Kenya’s economy

I was recently nominated to be part of the Bloomberg – ALI media leadership fellowship; a year and half long programme that seeks to impact how Africa tells its own stories, with a focus on financial journalism. The past two sessions, in Capetown and later Naivasha were what I would describe as an intense meeting of minds, that challenged both our personal drive and roles in Africa’s changing face.

The second session took place a few weeks ago, the highlight for me being a session that required the fellows to create new indices that can be used as lenses for reading African economies. As a contintent we have always heavily rely on indices that are created in the developed world, yet in very simple African ways we can tell the direction the economy is headed through situations very close to home. Some were hilarious, some should be adopted by local think tanks ASAP.

Christine Mungai of Mail and Guardian Africa gave her account here

Here’s a few of of the fun indices my discussion group came up with.

The Pew Index:
The more people we have in church the worse the economy is doing. During tough times, more people pray and seek ‘Godly counsel’ but in good times, they’re out and about having fun and travelling.

The Brazilian weave Index;
In good economic times, African women invest in the best hair extensions. But when times are tight, they will compromise and go for other weaves that still look good.

The Blue Subaru Index:
The Blue Subaru, a staple in Kenya’s social media circles represents a class of upwardly mobile young people, perhaps in their first and second jobs, living in an apartment and just beginning to enjoy the working life. The more blue Subaru’s we have, the better the economy is doing.

The Pick Pocket index
There are less incidences of phone snatching and pickpocketing in down town nairobi, and apart from the fact that perhaps petty crime has reduced, pick pockets also now have their own smart phones, it is an indicator that the economy is growing enough for even those with little can afford phones that have now become more and more available and accessible.

Any ideas of your own? Please share!