Sunday, June 14, 2020

A WORD OF ADVICE TO THE STUDENTS JOINING UNIVERSITIES AND TVETS.


Just recently Kenya's Ministry of Education unveiled the list of students set to join our local universities and TVETs. A total of around two hundred thousand students were beneficiaries. I must share with them several pointers both as a scholar and an elder brother.

The first is that no course at the university is superior to another. For example, a student pursuing a course in history can become a lecturer in the school of medicine. He/she can lecture about the history of medicine. This shows how disciplines are interrelated – none is an island.

Secondly, do not expect to be at the top of your class. Institutions of higher learning are different from high schools where success was primarily relative to the performance of others. It is important to recognise that the people sitting in your class are the top cream from not only Kenya but also East Africa and potentially the world. Yes, our local universities have international students as well.

Therefore, do not despair when you realise that your colleagues are performing better than you in class. It simply means that you are the worst among the best which is not so awful. It is similar to being fresh milk in the presence of yoghurt; you can still escort a piece of ugali down someone’s throat.

Thirdly, you should know that enrolling for a course is not congruent to completing the course. You will be surprised that whenever you fill any forms – attachment, job application, and visa – you will always tick secondary school as your highest level of education until you graduate from college. The drop-out rate in our universities is alarming yet little research is being done about the subject. Policymakers are equally silent.

Therefore, you need to clearly outline your priorities when you join the institution of higher learning. Take a piece of paper and list your objectives, in order of importance and urgency, from A to Z. This will ensure that you focus on what matters. You will make a wise decision between diligently attending your classes and demanding more soup to accompany your plate of rice.

Fourthly, you have to be satisfied with your socio-economic status. Do not live beyond your means. You must realize that you come from a different background from your colleagues. Use what you have to achieve your objectives.

Lastly, you must enjoy your new-found freedom responsibly. Beware of crime, drug abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases. These are threats to the wellbeing of modern youth.

In conclusion, as you join institutions of higher learning: have in mind that no course is superior to another, find new ways to measure your success, aim to complete your course, outline your priorities in order of importance, live within your means, and be a responsible young person.

BY,
FANON KIHU
Mr. Kihu is an economist and founder of The Bizconomist Journal. frantzkih@gmail.com


Monday, March 30, 2020

FULL LOCKDOWN IS A NECESSARY MEASURE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORONA VIRUS.



Kenya and the rest of the world are engaged in the fight against Corona virus disease (COVID-19). The World Health Organization declared it a pandemic because it only takes a short period of time to spread across a large geographical area i.e. between continents. Globally, over 300,000 people have been infected with the virus and over 14,500 have died since the first case was reported, five months ago.

Among the measures that the government of Kenya has introduced to fight corona virus are: closure of bars until further notice, directing restaurants to only offer take away services, PSVs are required to carry lesser passengers, suspension of international flights from 25th March 2020 midnight, mandatory self-quarantine for those who enter the country before that date and suspension of social gatherings of more than fifteen people including going to churches and mosques.

However, it seems that a full lock down is still necessary. This means that people will not be allowed to exit their homes or buildings. The reason why it is a suitable measure is because many Kenyans are not taking the measures of fighting the Corona virus disease that the government has introduced, with the seriousness that they deserve. For example, this past Sunday some churches held their church services as usual. This is without caring that they were exposing the congregants to the risk of contracting the Corona virus. The Kilifi Deputy Governor despite being a leader, refused to undergo the mandatory self-quarantine after returning from his trip in Germany. He has since tested positive for the virus and infected people including the staff working in the Kilifi county offices.

Wuhan which was dubbed the epicentre of corona virus embraced a lockdown on 23rd January this year. This lockdown was also extended to other cities in Hubei Province, China. Their graph of corona virus infections flattened after they received no new cases last week on Wednesday (18th March).

The total corona virus cases in Kenya as at 23rd March were 16. However, we do not have to wait for the situation in Kenya to be as it was in Wuhan so that we can have a full lockdown. Our neighbour Rwanda issued a directive for a lockdown that began on 21st March 2020. By then the total confirmed cases within her borders were only 17. Therefore, Kenya can borrow this from her neighbour in order to contain this virus early enough before it spreads uncontrollably.

However, a lockdown also has negative economic effects. Among them is the disruption of activities in the informal sector which, according to the Economic Survey 2019 by KNBS, constitutes 83.6% of the total employment in Kenya. Majority of these people cannot work from home because they rely on the physical presence of their customers. E.g. some operate hawking businesses among other SMEs.

The second limitation surrounding a lockdown is that the government will be forced to divert resources meant for development into sustaining the lockdown. More resources will be required to bring necessary goods and services closer to the people, as close as to their doorsteps. In addition to this, the government may be forced to subsidize the price of food among other commodities. This is in order to make these basic needs affordable to Kenyans who will by then have ceased to go to work hence, earning lesser or no income at all.

The third limitation is that a lockdown may prove too expensive for majority of the Kenyans. This is because majority of them especially those in the informal sector, will just be consuming without earning any income. This means that they will be primarily relying on savings and loans. It is important to note that there are some Kenyans in the formal sector have lost their jobs. Others are suffering pay cuts as a result of the economic impact this pandemic e.g. KQ staff. Therefore, the burden of consuming without a source of income may be too overwhelming for most Kenyans. The impact will be felt despite the CBK’s measures to cushion the economy.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. It is evident that a full lockdown has its negative economic repercussions. However, it remains a necessary measure if Kenya wants to ensure that the spread of Corona virus disease (COVID-19) is contained. This is considering that the other measures prescribed by the government to ensure we fight this pandemic are not been taken as seriously as they should.

WRITTEN BY,
FANON KIHU.
Mr. Kihu is an economist and founder of The Bizconomist Journal. frantzkih@gmail.com.










MASOMO KUPITIA MBINU ZA KIDIGITALI YAENDELEE KUHIMIZWA HATA BAADA YA KORONA.



Janga la virusi vya Korona limelazimisha serikali kuahirisha masomo nchini Kenya. Wanafunzi waliamrishwa kurudi makwao ili kuzuia kuenea kwa virusi hivi vya Korona.  Waziri wa elimu Prof. Magoha  alitangaza kuwa ijapokuwa wanafunzi wako nyumbani, masomo bado yataendelea kwa kupitia mtandao, redio na televisheni .

Hili ni jambo ambalo litawafanya wanafunzi kutia fora masomoni ingawa shule zimefungwa. Wakati huo huo, litahakikisha kuwa vifaa vya kusoma vinapatikana kwa urahisi kwanza katika karne hii ya kidigitali. Vifaa hivi ni vitabu, video na mikanda ya sauti. Mpango huo utawawezesha wanafunzi kudurusu walichokisoma darasani kwa urahisi. Pia utawasaidia kuelewa wanachofunzwa kwa urahisi kwani marejeo yapo mtandaoni. Wizara, kupitia mpango huo, imewapa wanafunzi nafasi ya kutumia mtandao kuboresha masomo yao badala ya kutazama filamu za kutumbuiza pekee. Jambo hili litaweza kuchangia pakubwa katika kukuza idadi nzuri ya wataalamu watakao inufaisha uchumi wa Kenya.

Hata hivyo wizara inafaa kuhakikisha kuwa itaendelea kuhimiza masomo kupitia mbinu za kidigitali hata baada ya janga hili la virusi vya Korona kuondoka. Inaweza fanya hivi kwa kuhakikisha kuwa  imefadhili kuwepo kwa mtandao wa bure ndani ya miji yote mikuu katika kaunti zote arubaini na saba nchini. Jambo hili litachangia pakubwa katika kuongeza idadi ya wanafunzi wanaonufaika na kuwa kisu chenye makali katika masomo yao.
      
Serikali pia inafaa kuhakikisha ya kuwa walimu wengi iwezekanavyo wana ujuzi wa kutengeneza video na mikanda ya sauti kuhusu masomo wanayofunza darasani. Hii itahakikisha kuwa wanafunzi hawakumbani na uhaba wa ujuzi/mafunzo wanapotumia mitandao kudurusu na kusoma.

Nitamalizia kwa kuipongeza wizara ya elimu kwa kuhakikisha kuwa mbinu za kidigitali zinatumika kuhakikisha masomo yanaendelea katika wakati huu ambapo tunakumbwa na janga la Korona. Tuzidi kutilia maanani mbinu hizi hata baada ya janga la Korona kuondoka. Hii itawezekana kwa kuhakikisha kuna mtandao wa bure katika miji mikuu katika kaunti zetu zote. Pia kuwajuza walimu kuhusu  kuweka masomo wanayofunza katika video na mikanda ya sauti kutachangia pakubwa.

MWANDISHI ANAITWA,
FANON KIHU.
Bwana Kihu ni mwanauchumi. frantzkih@gmail.com


BBI FIRST, THEN THE BIG FOUR AGENDA AFTERWARDS.



The country is in the BBI mood. This is both for those supporting it and opposed to it. The most recent BBI meeting was held in Meru.

I choose to look at the Building Bridges initiative as an opportunity for us, Kenyans, to rethink the different problems we face in our different walks of life and their solutions. Many professional groups have handed their proposals to the BBI steering committee. E.g. Media Council of Kenya Chairman Mr. Maina Muiruri recently handed over the Kenya Media Sector Working Group proposals to the BBI Steering Committee.

Therefore, the BBI is an opportunity for the government to collect feedback from Kenyans. There is a famous saying “your attitude determines your altitude”. Similarly, the BBI intends to correct the disputes Kenyans have had among themselves before we proceed to development issues. This is by preaching inclusivity and unity among Kenyans. These will help set the right attitude.

Moreover, the BBI is laying the right political atmosphere for the implementation of the Big Four Agenda. It is important to note that there have been several documents have been presented to Kenyans and are still relevant to their lives. These are the BBI, Big Four Agenda and the Vision 2030. It is important to first them into perspective in order to see the link/relationship between them.


The Big Four Agenda is a medium term development plan. This is because it is entails the agenda the president wants to achieve by 2022 which is 5 years since 2017, when it was formulated. The Big Four agenda is derived/extracted from the Vision 2030. This means that by achieving the Big Four agenda, we will have partially achieved the Vision 2030 which is Kenya’s long term development plan.

This explains why the pillars of the Big Four agenda are anchored on Vision 2030. Universal Health Coverage and affordable housing of the Big Four agenda are anchored on the social pillar of the Vision 2030. On the other hand, enhancing manufacturing and food security pillars of the Big Four agenda are anchored on the economic and macro pillar of the Vision 2030.

We have just discussed how the BBI will ensure there is the right political atmosphere to achieve the Big Four Agenda. This means that by extension, it will pave way for the achievement of the Vision 2030. This is because the Big Four Agenda is a ‘baby’ of the Vision 2030 as we have observed.

However, even as we preach the BBI spirit of unity, it is important that we do not lose focus of the problems being faced by Kenyans. Currently, the cost of living has become higher in our country. According to KNBS the Consumer Price Index increased by 1.38% from 205.4 in January 2020 to 208.34 in February 2020. This means that the prices of goods have generally increased. KNBS further notes that the inflation rate stood at 6.37% in February 2020 which was an increase from 5.78% in January 2020.

It is worth noting that a high cost of living can also cause disunity among the people. In fact, if the prices of foodstuffs rise we risk having a revolution quite similar to the case of the French Revolution. This will sabotage any positive change that the BBI intends to bring.

Meanwhile, let us uphold the BBI spirit. This is because it is what will ensure that there is the right political atmosphere to achieve the Big Four agenda. However, our leaders should address the problems that Kenyans are facing to ensure the positive change that the BBI seeks to bring is not jeopardised.

WRITTEN BY,
FANON KIHU.
Mr. Kihu is an economist based in Nairobi and the founder of The Bizconomist Journal. frantzkih@gmail.com.







Sunday, March 8, 2020

GET A JOB WHEN YOU ARE STILL IN CAMPUS.



Stories of unemployment among university graduates in Kenya are no longer news. In fact, we do not have to look at the statistics anymore. Just picture that neighbour or relative of yours who graduated from university about 3 years ago and until now they are jobless.

When you tour our local universities you will realise that there are so many SMEs in their environs. This is ranging from cyber caf├ęs, small hotels and shoe selling business among many others. Most of these businesses are run by graduates. They applied for jobs until they gave up and decided to venture into the informal sector for basic survival. Whereas, some graduates entered the informal sector by choice majority were victims of circumstance.

This signifies a broken promise by our education system. The promise, that if you study hard and graduate from university you will get a formal job. However, it is possible for those still in university to ensure that this promise is fulfilled. However, they need to start looking for a job when they are still in campus.

Based on my personal experience and that of others, potential employers are more likely to be receptive to university students than graduates. When you approach a potential employer for the first time and say that you are a student, they are likely to engage you by giving you some work to do for the company. From there, a conversation will begin and you may secure a formal job with them in the future. This is why it is important for university students to find attachments.

However, when you approach a potential employer for the first time and say that you are a graduate the doors are shut immediately. This is because employers are aware that you are primarily looking for a job. They see you as desperate and lacking in patience to learn how the company operates.

According to the mind of the employer, jobless graduates are a group of people somewhere in a jungle. However, the mind of the employer views a student as someone who is daring/ aggressive (in a good way) enough to even knock at an office. A student is viewed as someone who is teachable and patient enough to learn.

I have interacted with a number of people who were employed immediately after they graduated. One thing is common among them all. They began forming a good rapport with their employer in their third or fourth year in campus. This made it possible for them to transit from university to employment straightaway.

If you want to regret, begin looking for a job after you graduate. If you want to celebrate start looking for a job when you are still in campus. Just march into any office and introduce yourself and say that you are a student. Then say the skills you have that are relevant to the employer. You can also drop your CV. The worst that can happen is you being told “No!” However, this should not deter you instead, it should psych you up.

Being a university student is in itself a platform. This is because just by mentioning that you are a student, the society gives you a listening ear. University students should utilise this opportunity to get themselves jobs early enough.

In conclusion, the best time to get a job is when you are still a campus student. Don’t wait until you graduate so that you can begin looking for a job.
WRITTEN BY,
FANON KIHU.
Mr. Kihu is an economist and founder of The Bizconomist Journal. frantzkih@gmail.com.





Friday, February 28, 2020

LET’S STOP PUTTING TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON FUNERALS



This month has been coupled with a number of deaths. First, there was the death of former president Daniel Moi. There was also the stampede that claimed the lives of pupils at Kakamega Primary school.

Death will always be in our midst, whether we like it or not. Therefore, it is time for us to rethink how we can reap its benefits, if any. This is instead of spending too much energy on lamenting and organizing funerals. Instead, let us opt to put this energy into more productive use.

It is important to point out that Kenyans are generally wasting too much time on weddings and funerals. When two people decide to wed, there are tonnes of planning involved. This is especially if it’s a Christian wedding. There will be a parents’ visiting period, dowry payment period and then numerous committees will be set up to plan the wedding. As if that is not enough, the whole village will cease engaging in any productive activity for a day or two, just to attend the wedding.

Funerals consume almost a similar amount of time. In a typical Kenyan set-up, owing to the fact that majority of Kenyans are Christians, funeral arrangements have to be made. In fact, it is no longer surprising to learn that when the deceased was ailing in hospital and required funds for treatment, no one showed up to chip in. However, after the deceased died there were numerous volunteers willing to chair the funeral committee.

If we have to move forward as a nation we have to rise above this. It is the norm to give the dead a befitting send off. The belief of an afterlife has in many ways, contributed towards this norm. When someone dies it is assumed that they are being prepared for the next life. Therefore, this has to be done in the most excellent way possible. Even in the Bible and the Quran, prophets and people were buried in tombs. The ancient Egyptians for example, buried their pharaohs and their queens in the great pyramids.

However, let us think about it? Does it really matter how one ends up in the ground? After all, your body will decompose. This is whether we bury you in a gold coated coffin or a sack. Even if we store your body in a tomb or some posh shelf, the point is that the body is lifeless.

Every week someone somewhere dies. Why can’t we convert this into a viable opportunity that can spark a positive change in our economy? We already have artisans making coffins. Many of them earn a living through this. However, we need to now utilise dead bodies.

In Poland for example, we have the Kaplica Csaszek which is a chapel made skeletons on the walls and ceilings. This is an idea that we can borrow and implement here in Kenya. We can use skeletons to make ceilings and walls of houses. This is will bring about double benefits because we will be using dead bodies as inputs for production and also attracting tourists in the process. This is instead of sticking to religious beliefs and sending these dead bodies to the ground or cremating them, as Hindus do. Let us avoid wasting precious resources.


Cemeteries can also serve as tourist attraction sites. This means more revenue for the country. A good example is Cimetiere de la Gombe in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. A number of Congolese artists and politicians have been buried in this cemetery. It is a tourist attraction site. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, located at the Hollywood District of Los Angeles in the United States of America, also serves as a tourist attraction site. Many writers, actors/actresses and other entertainment stars have been buried here.

In conclusion, it is time to take advantage of death. We can use dead bodies to produce products that can be sold. The skeletons can be used to construct houses. Concurrently, we can have cemeteries as tourist attraction sites. This is more beneficial than wasting time on exaggerated funerals.
BY,
FANON KIHU
Mr. Kihu is an economist and founder of The Bizconomist Journal. frantzkih@gmail.com




Friday, February 21, 2020

BBI IS KEY FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.



The Building Bridges Initiative report was born out of the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Various BBI campaigns have been held. This is in Kakamega, Mombasa and Kitui among other places.

The Building Bridges Initiative report can be described as the necessary political ingredient to ensure increased economic development. This is because it focuses on first filling social, economic and political gaps that require urgent attention. This is before proceeding to pursue the Big 4 agenda and Vision 2030 by extension. The president is striving to achieve the Big Four agenda. This is a medium term plan because he plans to achieve it by 2022 which is 5 years from 2017, when it was formulated.
 
It is important to point out that pillars of the Big Four Agenda are anchored on Vision 2030, which is Kenya’s long term development plan. Universal Health Coverage and affordable housing of the Big Four Agenda are anchored on the social pillar of the Vision 2030. Similarly, enhancing manufacturing and food security are derived from the economic and macro pillar of the Vision 2030.

The BBI comes in as a modified document summarising the current problems faced by Kenyans at large and provides instant practical solutions on the same. It touches on the social, economic and political lives of Kenyans pointing out unique contemporary problems. This is ranging from representation, corruption to issues of income inequality.

The BBI report acknowledges for example, in article 16, that capitalism is failing in Kenya. In my opinion, the suffering began in our country when some of our founding fathers decided to amass wealth for themselves. This is including large tracts of land. This is because they/their families have since been unable to reproduce this wealth to accommodate the entire Kenyan population.

The BBI report provides a solution for this. It proposes that we emphasise on an economy of value creation. This is through ensuring favourable conditions for entrepreneurs and companies at large. This seems like a more practical solution than a sudden socialisation of capital. This is because it avoids any conflicts whatsoever, and instead focuses on creating more opportunities.

Chapter 6 of the BBI report focuses on Inclusivity. Article 101 in particular proposes the establishment of an Office of the Public Participation Rapporteur, in order to enhance public participation. This is important because supposing you are an economist who is knowledgeable. However, you are not in any position of leadership in any of the arms of the government because these positions are few. How then do you present your views to the relevant government authorities for implementation?

Whereas, the Office of Public Participation Rapporteur is a good proposal in my opinion, I also suggest that every ministry is linked with/ collaborates with professional groups. For example, the National Treasury can be linked to the Institute of Economic Affairs and The Bizconomist Journal. This will strengthen policy making by ensuring that the views of professionals are heard.

The BBI subsequently also speaks of solving unemployment among young people, identifying unique strengths of counties, avoiding unsustainable debt among other pertinent issues. It also speaks of easing the cost of doing business. This is by establishing ‘biashara mashinani’ to support local groups in counties. This will increase the tax base. All these suggestions are crucial in increasing the GDP and improving the general welfare of Kenyans.

However, there is need to ensure that BBI does not strike Kenyans as a ‘political bus’ or a tool for political alignments. This will deter all the good proposals and suggestions it points out.

There is also need to involve Kenyans more. In my opinion, more hard copies should be printed and distributed right from the ward level. This is because not all Kenyans have access to smart phones in that can facilitate them to download the report online.

The BBI report has crucial ingredients that can spur economic development in our country. Let us choose to focus more on its contents rather than political alignments that form around it.
WRITTEN BY,
FANON KIHU.
Mr. Kihu is an economist and founder of The Bizconomist Journal. frantzkih@gmail.com.