Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kenya's adoption of the "spend now, pay later" model

If you were to be offered the choice of shopping using your credit card or somebody else's credit card, your behaviours would be very different.
The spend now, pay later model is now a key characteristic of Western capitalism. The 00s boom and its aftermath have been funded by private sector leveraging itself to the hilt. And the public sector (govts) stepping in to continue the leveraging and in effect spread the same to everybody. In layman terms, many people and companies borrowed more than they could afford on their credit cards loans, mortgages et al to finance a feel-good lifestyle. When the whole facade crumbled, governments stepped in and borrowed money to in effect repay these debts. They also performed a socialist service by making sure that the paying was spread out to everybody.

GoK has been borrowing to finance both its blotted bureaucracy and also development projects. Lately, private sector lending to finance mortgages, credit cards et al has also increased. While financing development projects such as infrastructure will pay itself back in due to course, the rest of the spending is unlikely to bring any returns. As such, paying back the borrowing will become a problem in the medium to long-term.

Rather than waiting for the medium-term, Kenyans need to start taking pro-active steps to ensure they leave and grow economically. Within their means.

Like the Tatu City idea, but who is minding the ecosystem

Nairobi is the Green City no more. We have built over almost every empty piece of land such that if you were in Eastlands and wanted a game of football or a picnic in the park, you have to walk to Uhuru Park. If you are in Karen, you have to go to one of the gentrified pubs in the area. If you are in Westlands likewise.
As we now look to the outskirts of Nai as the next destination of our concrete jungle, it'd be wise to start thinking about the consequences of:
a) uprooting farmlands with plants that in effect act as part of the cleansing of the atmosphere
b) using the most arable land in Kenya for buildings. Its ironic that most Kenyans prefer building on red soil, which also happens to more productive food-wise.

Monday, October 11, 2010

RIP Nelson Muguku- Equity's largest individual shareholder- an inspiration to me

From this unlikely business, he rose to become a 6.1% holder of a Ksh100bn bank that is one of Kenya's business star stories. Proof once again, "its not where or how you started, its where or how finish".

He put to shame those who said Kenya doesn't have honest billionaires.

He has been an inspiration to me. May God console his family at this time.

The early bird catches the fat worm is the golden rule of investing

Imagine you had invested in Equity in 2006 when it listed. Suffice to say, but today you'd have made a million even with Ksh200k worth of shares. Imagine you had started saving as you started working. Even if it was just 10% of your salary. Today, you'd probably have the equivalent of your annual salary in savings.

If you had a bought a one acre plot in Athi River or Kitengela in the early part of this decade, today you'd be looking to spoilt the same into one eight acres plots costing the same as the 1 acre you bought in early 00s. The same is true of almost any large town in Kenya. Even agriculture land has in some parts increased by similar price.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Who is your uncle? Africa culture goes missing...

Had an interesting discussion the other day. The sister of this guy is having a child. Big news especially in England where odieros are increasingly choosing not to procreate. The guy was very happy that he was shortly to become an uncle and this is where the debate began. You see, I happened to say that I’m already an uncle and the question was then paused as to whose uncle I was i.e. which of my siblings has a child. I responded that all my cousins’ kids call me uncle. At which point, i was told that I’m not an uncle.

You see, according to Western definition, the only person that can be called an uncle is the brother of either your parents and at a stretch (if the sun shining . In Kenya (and I believe a significant portion of Africa) however, the definition for your uncle is extended to include your parents cousins. When I explained this cultural context, there was silence. the sort you get when you are into subjects where the majority are ignorant.

Africa culture is with very few exceptions, ignored the world over. On the other hand since 1884 and beyond, we continue to gobble up other cultures.

Culture is important because it creates cohesion. It gives one roots and identity. Because of these and other important features, colonising nations have either used culture as a colonising tool or a signal that they were in control. Part of reclaiming your nation is to instil your culture.