Archive for the ‘Kenya’ Tag

Kenyan Student Googles Herself To An International Award

Shikoh Gitau, a Kenyan PhD student in the University of Cape Town, Department of Computer Science, has bagged the prestigious Google Anita Borg Memorial Award for 2010, the first recipient from sub-Saharan Africa.

The award is given to female students who show exceptional academic and leadership skills in computing and technology. The award carries a cash prize and a visit to Google’s Engineering Centre in Zurich for a networking retreat.

Read more here on the UCT website

Advertisements

The Proposed Constitution of Kenya – Review and Highlights

This is my digest of the just published, Proposed Constitution of Kenya. I have taken great liberties to highlight the articles, sections and subsections that touched me. I have added my comments in sime places, in others I have lifted the article or section verbatim. This is to give a broad view of the document, and specifics can be read on the actual. Also not not all chapters are represented in this digest, some were dull.

A copy of the Proposed Constitution is here. From your mobile go to http://katiba.mobi

I love this opening, just read and feel it.

PREAMBLE

We, the people of Kenya—

ACKNOWLEDGING the supremacy of the Almighty God of all creation:

HONOURING those who heroically struggled to bring freedom and justice to our land:

PROUD of our ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, and determined to live in peace and unity as one indivisible sovereign nation:

RESPECTFUL of the environment, which is our heritage, and determined to sustain it for the benefit of future generations:

COMMITTED to nurturing and protecting the well-being of the individual, the family, communities and the nation:

RECOGNISING the aspirations of all Kenyans for a government based on the essential values of human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the rule of law:

EXERCISING our sovereign and inalienable right to determine the form of governance of our country and having participated fully in the making of this Constitution:

ADOPT, ENACT and give this Constitution to ourselves and to our future generations.

GOD BLESS KENYA

Awesome!

Lets dig in……….

Chapter One – Sovereignity of The People and Supremacy of This Constitution

Nothing exciting, read on

Chapter Two – The Republic

Article 8 – No state religion. Simple. Good.

Article 9 (3) – Kenyatta Day is now Mashujaa Day (very fitting), Moi Day scrapped (it was ridiculous in the first place, so I say….good riddance)

Chapter Three – Citizenship

Article 16 – A citizen by birth does not lose citizenship by acquiring the citizenship of another country. Diasporians who have been clamouring for this, start filling applications in your adopted countries.

Article 18 (g)- Parliament to enact legislation giving effect to the provisions in this Chapter. According to Schedule 5, this must be done within one year.

Chapter Four – The Bill of Rights

This chapter is quite comprehensive, and everyone needs to familiarize themselves with it. It is quite elaborate – freedoms, rights, justice, comsumer rights, environmental rights, media, fair hearing, application of justice, children, people with disabilities, youth, marginalised groups, minorities, elderly people, state of emergency, human rights and equality. It’s all there.

Article 26 – Right to life. Please read carefully what the Constitution says, reproduced here, verbatim;

26

(1) Every person has the right to life.

(2) The life of a person begins at conception.

(3) A person shall not be deprived of life intentionally, except to the extent authorised by this Constitution or other written law.

(4) Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.

Enough said. Where is the ambiguity?

Chapter Five – Land and Environment

The following is verbatim; read carefully

Article 68 – Parliament shall —

(a) revise, consolidate and rationalise existing land laws;

(b) revise sectoral land use laws in accordance with the principles set out in Article 60 (1); and

(c) enact legislation—

(i) to prescribe minimum and maximum land holding acreages in respect of private land;

(ii) to regulate the manner in which any land may be converted from one category to another;

(iii) to regulate the recognition and protection of matrimonial property and in particular the matrimonial home during and on the termination of marriage;

(iv) to protect, conserve and provide access to all public land;

(v) to enable the review of all grants or dispositions of public land to establish their propriety or legality;

(vi) to protect the dependants of deceased persons holding interests in any land, including the interests of spouses in actual occupation of land; and

(vii) to provide for any other matter necessary to give effect to the provisions of this Chapter.

Hope that is clear, owoing to our onbsession with matters, land. According to Schedule 5, the legislation to give life to Article 68 must be done within 18 months.

Chapter Six – Leadership and Integrity

Boring stuff.

Chapter Seven – Representation of The People

Article 85 – Any person is eligible to stand as an independent candidate for election if the person –

(a) is not a member of a registered political party and has not been a member for at least three months immediately before the date of the election

Article 88 (1) – There is established the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission

Article 89 – There shall be 290 constituencies of the National Assembly, which is established by Article 97 (1) (a)

According to schedule 5, legislation on Articles 82 (elections), 87 (electoral disputes), 88 (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) and 92 (political parties) must be enacted within one year. Very important.

Chapter Eight – The Legislature

Article 93 (1) – There is established a Parliament of Kenya, which shall consist of the National Assembly and the Senate.

Article 97 – The National Assembly shall comprise – 290 elected members from the constituncies, 47 women one from each county, 12 nominated by political parties according to number of seats won to represent special interests including the youth, persons with disabilities and workers. Total 349 members, plus the Speaker, an ex-officio member.

Article 98 – The Senate shall comprise – 47 elected members one per county, 16 women nominated by political parties according to the seats won, 2 youth (man and woman), 2 members with disabilities (man and woman). Total 67 members, plus the Speaker, an ex-officio member.

Article 101 (1) – A general election of members of Parliament shall be held on the second Tuesday in August in every fifth year. Brilliant stuff, no more surprises, start marking your calenders.

Article 104 (1) and (2) – People may recall members. In Section 2, Parliament to legislate, according to Schedule 5 within two years, on how the the recall clause actually works. This is very sad, they will move to save their sorry behinds.

Article 126 (1) and (2) – Either House may sit anywhere in Kenya. Great, let’s move them to Lodwar already, will help open up the area

Chapter Nine – The Executive

Article 129 (1) and (2) – Executive authority is ours to exercise as we deem necessary. The person we elect as President has this authority, no monkeying around.

Article 131 (3) – The person we appoint to exercise executive authority, also known as President, shall NOT hold any other State or public. Very important since we want focus.

Article 132 (e) – The President shall, with the approval of Parliament, declare war. Very important, remember, Kenya Armed Forces mission … “giving the enemy a reason to die for their country”. We can’t deny them that.

Article 138 (4) a) and b) – Winner of Presidential election must garner more than 50% of all votes and at least 25% of votes in half of the counties. That’s called mandate. By the people. For the people.

Article 138 (4) – Presidential election run-off between the top two contenders within 30 days

Article 138 (10) a) and b) – Electoral Commission MUST declare winner within 7 days of election in writing to Chief Justice and incumbent President. Very important, no wasting time here.

Article 140 (1) (2) (3) – Presidential election petition within 7 days, Supreme Court decison within 14 days (and its final), fresh election within 60 days after determination. Solid stuff, no monkeying around.

Article 148 (1) – President’s declared running mate automatically becomes Deputy President, simple. I hope my friends are considering running for Presidency.

Article 152 (1) d) – Cabinet Secretaries (formerly Ministers) shall be between 14 and 22 in number. Just imagine that! Make it 14 please.

Article 152 (3) – A Cabinet Secretary shall not be a Member of Parliament. Its about time! I shall definitely be gunning for one of the posts.

Chapter Ten – Judiciary

Article 159 (1) – Judicial authority is derived from the people and vests in, and shall be exercised by, the courts and tribunals established by or under this Constitution. Thats sounds just great! We are indeed the holder’s of all the power.

Article 169 (1) The subordinate courts are (among others) —

(b) the Kadhis’ courts

Article 169 (5) The jurisdiction of a Kadhis’ court shall be limited to the determination of questions of Muslim law relating to personal status, marriage, divorce or inheritance in proceedings in which all the parties profess the Muslim religion and submit to the jurisdiction of the Kadhi’s courts. Simple and clear, what the hullabaloo about?

Chapter Eleven – Devolved Government

Article 176 (1) There shall be a county government for each county, consisting of a county assembly and a county executive.

Article 177 (1) A county assembly consists of—

a) members elected by the registered voters of the wards

Article 179 (1) The executive authority of the county is vested in, and exercised by, a county executive committee.

Article 179 (2) The county executive committee consists of—

(a) the county governor and the deputy county governor; and

(b) members appointed by the county governor with the approval of the county assembly

Article 180 (1) The county governor shall be directly elected by the voters registered in the county, on the same day as a general election

Article 184 (1) National legislation shall provide for the governance and management of urban areas and cities and shall, in particular—

(a) establish criteria for classifying areas as urban areas and cities

The legislation for urban areas and cities, according to Schedule 5, must be enacted within one year.

Chapter Twelve – Public Finance

Nothing exciting, just mind-numbing money matters, dig in if you have the stomach.

Chapter Thirteen – The Public Service

Boring.

Chapter Fourteen – National Security

Article 243

(1) There is established the National Police Service.

(2) The National Police Service consists of—

(a) the Kenya Police Service; and

(b) the Administration Police Service.

(3) The National Police Service is a national service and shall function throughout Kenya.

So there you have the cops, we still need them. We hope Parliament will enact legislation to improve on their operations and professionalism.

Article 245 (1) There is established the office of the Inspector-General of the National Police Service.

The holder of this office can only serve one, four-year term, no re-appointment. This will be the big cop, lording over both the Kenya Police Service and Administration Police Service. Each will be headed by a Deputy Inspector-General. No fuss.

Sixth Schedule (Article 262) – Transitional and Consequential Provisions

This is very detailed, and I could not understand most parts since am a lay man. It deals with what happens after the new Constitution is promulgates, after a resoundig YES vote by the majority. You better read it for yourself.

Again the Proposed Constitution is here. From your mobile go to http://katiba.mobi

Fibre Optic Cables and Internet Bandwidth in Kenya : The Basics, part II

As discussed in part I, Kenya and the East African countries, recently joined the rest of the world in high speed, limitless bandwidth connection. This is thanks to the sub-marine fibre optic cables landed at Mombasa. So the BIG question that arose, was, now what? Or so what?

In the digital global village, high speed connectivity heralds a new dawn, hitherto not possible due to the limited capacity connections we had. New breakthroughs emerge as the world is able to communicate in a faster and more reliable way, thanks to the technology now available. The technology itself is not new, but the availability is.

For a growing economy like ours, there are myriad ways we can cruise into this new information super highway, and lift ourselves and the standards of our living. I cannot even begin to exhaustively cover what is possible due to the connections we now have, its is too broad a subject. I shall endeavour to narrow it down to what I think is relevant for the Kenya of today.

The knowledge economy driven by digital erasing of geographical and intellectual boundaries, is ours to take. We can leapfrog other economies by adapting ourselves to the new world that is now knocking. We can create new industries, new jobs, increase our industrial and agricultural capacity all using this new age technology. We can improve our academics in schools and universities, tapping into knowledge bases in far off countries. Our doctors can collaborate with colleagues across the globe and deliver better health care.

Our governemnt can take services online and enable its “customers” efficiently transact and consume services better. We can sell our farm produce in far off markets from the comfort of our farm houses. There is no limit to what we can do.

Specifically;

1. Applications Development – Software developers are having a field day. The new connectivity is bringing in lots of possibilities to create, test and deploy new software. Web applications, mobile applications, and freelancing are all happening at the speed of light. They have access to immense databases of source code, the DNA that software is made of. This access at high speeds means they can adapt the source code for our specific needs. This shortens the software development life cycle. They can collaborate with like-minded individuals across the globe and enhance their skills. The possibilities here are limitless. Is anyone taking advantage?

2. Outsourcing – There are tremendous opportunities in business process outsourcing, popularly known as BPO. This is where specialist companies are formed to take over the non-core, back office work of other corporations. This leaves the BPO’s customers to concentrate on their core businesses. The possibilities here are only limited to our innovation and industriousness. Other business opportunities lie in contact centres. Recently several of the mobile network operators have outsourced their customer care business to contact centres. This leaves them to manage their core business. Other opportunities lie in cloud computing, Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, data centres, and dedicated, ICT-centric free economic zones (FEZs) and software technology parks (STPs). The technology, know how, financing, skilled manpower are all available. We however, need proper enabling legislation to propel these new age business. Then entrepreneurs can step in and start their ventures.

3. Academics – An initiative based at Kenyatta University known as Africa Virtual University is laudable. Using high speed links, there has been academic collaboration across the continent. The bandwidth now available should enhance this venture further. Whole digital libraries are now available. The largest library on earth, the US Library of Congress has a mind-boggling digital collection, and can be accessed by any authorized person with a computer and high-speed internet connection. We can also digitise our volumes and have them accessed by other people. Academic video on demand, streaming video from content servers strewn across the globe, live video feed from lectures or class sessions across the globe are all distinct possibilities. The only limit, our speed of adapting to these possibilities. Other countries are not waiting.

4. Business and Trade – Trade and commerce enters a whole new dimension. New markets, research, bidding and competition are enabled in ways we have never seen before. E-commerce is on the rise. A distinct attraction is SMEs face low barriers to entry into the word of e-commerce. Business alliances are being formed electronically across the globe, and new markets open up daily.

5. Government – With e-government initiatives, efficient services, higher revenue collection, rapid results can be achieved at low cost. Kenya Revenue Authority’s initiatives in this area are a case in point. It is commendable that there is genuine work in this direction for various governemnt departments. Video conferencing can drastically reduce travel costs and achieve more efficient meetings. We need to study how other governments have done it.

6. Telecommuting – This woud have the most significant effect on socio-economic progress in our country. As rural-urban migration puts pressure on resources in cities the pressure is on. Telecommuting can cut down wastage in non-essential travel, better utilization of time and skills, multi-tasking, use of video-conferencing for meetings, collaborative webinars, conference calls… the list is endless. We need new labour laws, we need to re-think the whole work scene. People should be able to work from anywhere they can connect, so long as their work does not need physical presence at their work place.

I have just scratched the surface above, and the list can go on and on. We need new work ethic, innopvate new ideas, get the legislature to enact new laws to ensure smooth working of the new digital age economy.

In part III, we discuss the flip side. Risks, security, theft, moral decadence, criminal activities….Yes all these come hand in hand with the sweet revolution. Every sweet smelling rose comes with thorns, I think.

Let me have your feedback below.

Fibre Optic Cables and Internet Bandwidth in Kenya : The Basics, part I

This is fibre optic cables 101. The basics, introduction, definitely not for the experts. Read on if you are, or not.

I always use the analogy of a water pipe to try and describe the much-talked about fibre optic cables and bandwidth. It is until we understand what the basics are, that we can begin to get a clue on what the fuss is all about. Then we shall fully embrace the potential that we are sitting on as a country.

Imagine we have water pipes running from a fresh water well to our homes. The well has an inexhaustible supply of water, so the only limit to the quantity of water flowing into your home is the size of the pipe delivering the water. You are at liberty to connect a pipe(s) of whatever size, depending on your needs and ability. The size or quantity of the pipes used do not matter, the well cannot run out of water. Also understand that the need for water in your home is essential, whatever the you use it for.

In the Kenya of yester years, we had “small, limited capacity” pipes to connect us to the rest of the world (or well). These pipes carried data (or Internet) and voice traffic from Kenya to the well. The pipes were used to take care of all bi-directional traffic into/out of Kenya. The “pipe capacity” is what is called “bandwidth”, and in the past we used satellites (or small, limited capacity pipes) to connect us to the world (or the well as described above).

After alot of twiddling of fingers, hand wringing, foot dragging and general indecison, we managed to lay bigger “pipes” from Mombasa to various parts of the world, by inter-connecting with existing bigger “pipes” regionally.

The only thing that has changed is now we have bigger capacity pipes (called sub-marine or undersea fibre optic cables) from three suppliers, i.e. Seacom, TEAMS and Eassy. All these bandwidth suppliers are selling their bandwidth capacity to resellers, called Internet Service providers (or ISPs). The ISPs then further resell the bandwidth to you and me, the consumer. Do not worry about the complex technology connecting you and the world, that is not important, for now.

Note: They are called “submarine” or “undersea” cables because from Mombasa the cables are laid on the seabed all the way to the inter-connection points farther afield.

The immediate effect of this limitless capacity is we should now, theoretically, be able to have faster and cheaper connections to the world. Our international voice calls should be clearer, without static or the annoying delay. Our Internet experience should be richer, faster and we should be able to access bandwidth-intensive applications like streaming video with no delay. Downloads should be faster, saving us time and money. Uploads should be faster, saving us time and money. Anything interactive, like video-conferencing, should be a breeze.

NOTE: I keep saying “should”, because the reality for you and me may not be any different from the recent past.

OK, now you ask, so what? What is the big deal? Why all the fuss? So what if we have superb speeds due to the limitless bandwidth? How does this change my life, or yours? How does it change my grandmother’s life, back in my village? How does it change the small or the big commercial farmer’s life? Or the student, or politician, or small or big business owner? Or the matatu owner, or priest in your church? Or the government hospital or the goverment? Now that we have an almost limitless bandwidth capacity, what does it really mean for the ordinary Internet user like you and me?

Will this capacity create jobs? Change the economy? How? When? What has been the impact / experience in other countries? Could this be another over-hyped technological farce?

Worry not, I will hold your hand and walk you through this. This will form part II of our discussion.

Let me have your feedback below.

Of Zain, Bharti Airtel and Indian MNCs in Kenya

So MTC Kuwait, trading as Zain, is flipping its Africa operations to Bharti Airtel of India? If the deal goes through, and we shall know by March 25th, then the metamorphosis of Kenya’s second largest GSM mobile network, by subscriber base, will have undergone yet another momentous change.

Starting off as Kencell (jointly owned by Naushad Merali’s Sameer Group and Vivendi), part of the company was then sold by Vivendi Universal of France to Celtel BV, then promptly re-branded Celtel. That was in 2004. Celtel continued with many mistakes that Safaricom capitalised on. Dealers were unhappy, marketing and advertising did not touch the Kenyan soul (many of them were cut-n-paste pan-African ads which did little to “talk” to Kenyans), and a high employee turn over, especially at the executive level did not instill alot of confidence in the business. Interestingly, the most recognised CEO in Kenya is Michael Joseph of Safaricom, who has been at the helm since inception.

Almost a year later in 2005, MTC of Kuwait came knocking with some serious petro-dollars, a whole US$3.4bn and bought out Celtel International with all its network assets, including Celtel Kenya. The network later went on to be re-branded as Zain, in line with MTC’s international branding policy. The story has not ended yet, as we await March 25th when Bharti and MTC will emerge from the boardroom.

The journey has been long and arduous, as Zain’s number 1 nemesis and market leader, Safaricom, overcame teething problems in the early years to streak way ahead of the competition. Safaricom simply studied what the people wanted, capitalised on Zain’s simple mistakes, like charging a fee for any recharge voucher (since discontinued) and basically connecting with the ordinary Kenyan who was being introduced to mobile telephony, or any form of telephony for that matter, for the first time. Safaricom quickly cut an image of a “mwananchi” (citizen) conscious company, while Zain, then Kencell, was seen as elitist and playing to the corporate theatre. This was to set the battle field dynamics that played until the other two late entrants, yu, an Essar Telecom network, and Orange, a France Telecom network came in. Safaricom by then was light years ahead in terms of innovation, products (especially M-Pesa money transfer), mass subscriber base appeal, philanthrophy, network coverage etc.

It will be interesting to see how Bharti Airtel of India deals with the Zain brand, an early starter turned laggard. Bharti is no push over, it is India’s largest integrated telecom company in terms of customer base. They offer mobile services, fixed line services, broadband & IPTV, DTH, long distance and enterprise services. Globally, Bharti Airtel is the 3rd largest in-country mobile operator by subscriber base, behind China Mobile and China Unicom. In India, the company has a 24.6% share of the wireless services market, followed by 17.7% for Reliance Communications and 17.4% for Vodafone Essar (part owned by Essar Telecom, operating in Kenya as yu). Are the Indians coming?

Will Bharti start by re-branding Zain? Perhaps this time to Airtel (the brand they use in the largest GSM network in India?) How do they address subscriber apathy despite great tariffs, well built network, and competitive products e.g. Zap money transfer? How do they address the distribution chain?

We can only wait and see.

Broadband Kenya: Dr. Bitange Ndemo Cracks The Whip

Our beloved government has woken up and smelt the coffee. We need real broadband, not lofty adverts by ISPs about how “connected” they are and how many kilometres of fibre thay have laid in various places.

Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo said on Tuesday that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were still making obscene profits from the high cost of bandwidth despite the operationalisation of the fibre optic cables.

“They are being mischievous. We have been talking about $6000 per Megabyte, telling us that they are lowering to $600 which from our calculation their payback would be in less than six months that is not what we want,” he stressed.

It was widely believed that with the coming live of the SEACOM and The East African Marine System (TEAMS) cable, the cost of bandwidth would come down significantly but this has not happened.

Yes Daktari, read the riot act. We need real broadband connections, not advertising and endless “promotions” hoodwinking us to buy “bundles” and all manner of monthly contracts. When you get home, fire up your PC and connect, nothing. You actually miss your old dial-up line, at least it worked at a certain low speed, and you got what you expected.

“We have many options but it’s always good to leave the competition to push the pricing down, but it doesn’t the regulator (Communication Commission of Kenya), would step in,” the PS emphasised. Mr PS, please ensure the CCK steps in now.

Dr. Ndemo did not stop there, read on.

He said the argument that the providers have increased capacity for the same pricing is not valid since majority of Kenyans cannot access affordable and after internet connectivity.

“That is nonsense. If Kenyans are not able to afford, then I’m not happy because for me to ensure that the economy grows it is to make broadband available to Kenyans. But now it cannot be used, not many people have this in their homes,” he complained.

Yes Dr, we need to cut out this nonsense!

Moving on, we also need Kenyans to stop sitting on their laurels and do something about connecting themselves to the information superhighway, creating content and addding value to the body of knowledge. Being mere consumers of pre-packaged, pro-Western content is unhealthy.

That is my 2-cents worth, what is yours? Comment below.

Broadband Internet in Kenya? Are we there yet…….Pt 1

Fellow Kenyans …………. Anyway, alot has been written about broadband (or the lack thereof) in Kenya. Everybody is touting its connectivity to be broadband, and promising uptime of 99%, the holy grail being 99.999%. All nicely said, but what is broadband? Many definitions abound, but without getting bogged in speeds and stuff, it is all of the below, and more….

Technology that enables faster internet access, and as a result allows services such as interactive digital TV, video conferencing and video. Go here for more.

High-speed Internet generally taken to be Internet offered at speeds greater than 150Kbits/second. Go here for more.

Refers to three different kinds of high-speed Internet connections; cable, DSL and satellite. Go here for more.

Without getting bogged in terminology, read this this gem from Wikipedia: 

Although various minimum speeds have been used in definitions of broadband, ranging up from 64 kbit/s up to 1.0 Mbit/s, the 2006 OECD report is typical in counting only download speeds equal to or faster than 256 kbit/s as broadband, and the US FCC currently defines broadband as anything above 768 kbit/s. Speeds are defined in terms of maximum download because several common consumer broadband technologies such as ADSL are “asymmetric” — supporting much slower maximum upload speeds than download.

Broadband is often called high-speed Internet, because it usually has a high rate of data transmission. In general, any connection to the customer of 256 kbit/s (0.256 Mbit/s) or more is considered broadband Internet. The International Telecommunication Union Standardization Sector (ITU-T) recommendation I.113 has defined broadband as a transmission capacity that is faster thanprimary rate ISDN, at 1.5 to 2 Mbit/s. The FCC definition of broadband is 200 kbit/s (0.2 Mbit/s) in one direction, and advanced broadband is at least 200 kbit/s in both directions. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has defined broadband as 256 kbit/s in at least one direction and this bit rate is the most common baseline that is marketed as “broadband” around the world. There is no specific bitrate defined by the industry, however, and “broadband” can mean lower-bitrate transmission methods. Some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use this to their advantage in marketing lower-bitrate connections as broadband.

In practice, the advertised bandwidth is not always reliably available to the customer; ISPs often allow a greater number of subscribers than their backbone connection can handle, under the assumption that most users will not be using their full connection capacity very frequently. This aggregation strategy works more often than not, so users can typically burst to their full bandwidth most of the time; however, peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing systems, often requiring extended durations of high bandwidth, stress these assumptions, and can cause major problems for ISPs who have excessively overbooked their capacity. For more on this topic, see traffic shaping. As takeup for these introductory products increases, telcos are starting to offer higher bit rate services. For existing connections, this most of the time simply involves reconfiguring the existing equipment at each end of the connection.

Since this is Kenya, let us use 256kbps as the mimimum speed for broadband internet access. In part 2 of this series, I will compare the various offerings from the Kenyan market, so that you the consumer can make an informed choice. Let nobody bamboozle you with marketing hype. The low down is coming soon here! Don’t blink!

Zain, Orange, Safaricom – Tariff Wars

People, the tariff wars are here! Zain fired the first salvo by asking us all “Sain” minded people to “Vuka 8”. This means you “vuka” to Zain and make 8/- per minute calls to ALL, repeat ALL networks. You are firmly in control now. You decide.

Not be outdone, Big Brother Suffer-icom, sorry Safaricom, shot back with a weak, mee-too rate of 5/- per minute from 10pm – midnight and 2.50 per minute from midnight to 6am ONLY on Suffericom, sorry Safaricom to Suffericom, sorry Safaricom calls. I hope nobody will make the mistake of waiting for these unGodly hours to call me. Have you noticed that Big brother never tells you how much you suffer when you make a call to another network? If you new you would go inZain, sorry, insane.

New kid on the block, Orange, is rolling out funky shops, funkier adverts and stuff. Their tariffs are not very impressive either, just so-so. Does anyone have an Orange GSM phone? What’s their network like? These are their pre-paid rates.

Family and friends — 3.50
Orange mobile, Orange fixed plus, Telkom fixed — 7.00
Other networks — 14.00
SMS local (all networks) — 3.50
SMS international — 10.00

But, their data services are worth looking at. Go here and pick an Orange

Back at Essar House, where the Econet lives, all is quiet, but am sure they are soon going to kick up a big dust storm. We are waiting!

Nairobi Dispatches

Recently, my lovely motherland has been rocked by strife occasioned by among other things, a recent general election. Without dwelling on the protagonists and antagonists, my family came together and we decided to put together a package of various items and took them to the many internally displaced people in our city, Nairobi.

It was a very fulfilling exercise, and we feel blessed to have been able to lend a helping hand to the needy. We also felt humbled by the outpouring of joy and sense of brother hood across ethnic and religious divides. We came together as a nation to heal the hearts of the afflicted and the affected. We were all guilty one way or another, affected one way or the other.

More importantly, the ordinary folks pulled together in the same direction. We are happy that normalcy and common sense is returning.

We thank God for our lovely country Kenya. May God bless our motherland.