Tag Archives: Mike Sonko

Nairobi’s Road to Success, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 29th September, 2017

Kenya's Matatus

The world has a population of over 7 billion people and it is moving in different modes of transport daily to get to work, school or to their preferred destination.

For example, in Soweto the taxi system is popular while in Rio de Janeiro cable cars carry 30,000 commuters from the slums to the city.

Newly elected Governor Mike Sonko issued a gazette notice for all matatus to be banned from the CBD and soon it was revoked after the Matatus Owners Association said that it is not working out for them. The aim was to reduce congestion in the CBD area but the thing to note here is that where is congestion coming from, what is it doing there and how to get it out. This can mean congestion from the matatus, personal vehicles and the taxis, why single out the matatus only?

The planning of Nairobi city can not be altered drastically to accommodate the decongestion programme, but what can be done is how best to use the present road routes for all to get to their destinations within a reasonable amount of time. For example children should not be subjected to a 90 minutes ride to school in the morning, so either change the school or live closer to the school. The same goes for the office, live closer to your office or arrange flexible timings if your employer is reasonable enough to understand. Remember you are better off having a happy and efficient employee than one who is dealing with road rage and lack of interest at work eventually. Private vehicles are not able to successfully do a car pool system, so they need stricter regulations in obtaining driver licenses and penalties for overlapping or obstruction of traffic need to be higher. There needs to be a points system that can be digitally monitored and curb the nuisance of private drivers blocking traffic at times or holding up a situation. Sometimes the accident is on the opposite side of the road, but your lane is slowing down, really!

The buildings in the CBD should either become all related to Government work or NGOs or certain types of industries or services only. This can create a new circle of movement and jobs circulation that can alter the transportation system. There are no doubt the top 10 cities in the world with the best commuter system all have a metro or tube system. Nairobi will need this system, having millions of commuters walk and take the train will certainly decongest the roads. However there must be an incentive for a commuter to take the train versus using their car, perhaps higher taxes like in London to use your vehicle within the city. Luckily there are no shopping malls within the CBD so private vehicle owners can enjoy their time with their vehicles on the outskirts where the malls are located.

The Matatus Owners Association usually complains that they have not been consulted before a change of route is declared. How about they come up with their own plan and let the city try it out and see if it works better. Unless you build more roads or stop the sale of cars and make the matatus system formal then there can be a difference. This formality means having a ticket stop, which can control price and number of tickets and have a pass system, with digital devices that swipe the ticket. The technological advancements are possible but how users friendly on both parties will it be or willing they will be will be the one to watch for.

This debate will continue.


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Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Educated Leaders and Do They Matter? Point Blank with Asian Weekly 14th April 2017

Educated Leaders and Do They Matter?

Robert Mugabe Courtesy AfriclandPost

President Robert Mugabe, Courtesy AfriclandPost

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power” by Abraham Lincoln

A man, who wants his family’s survival, will do anything, his grades will not matter, his qualifications will not count and his skills will not work always.

But a man, who wants his power to grow, will do anything, his grades will not matter, his qualifications will not count and his skills will always work because he knows how to do it.

There has been a study by Timothy Besley, Jose G Montalvo and Marta Reynal-Querol that used data on more than one thousand political leaders between 1875 and 2004 to investigate whether having more educated leaders affects economic growth rates. In regards to African countries they found that ‘a transition from a graduate leader to a graduate leader has no effect while a transition from a graduate to a non-graduate has a large negative and significant effect.’

Africa has been the focus of the world for economic purposes including everything from energy, resources, human capital and the role of democracy. However Africa is struggling to keep up with Western standards and while the recent Tanzanian President John Magufuli is chartering a new way of doing things, the rest of the continent is lagging behind in western standards. Maybe Africa needs to look inwards and because of its diverse culture and traditions, it needs to set its own standards and goals. However basic education should be a must no matter what.

When the Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko shared his KCSE (Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education) exams results there was major uproar. Surely, a poor result in class will not result in any better score in running the County? Perhaps politics were at play because soon after the opposition’s candidate Governor Hassan Joho’s KCSE results were also under question. There is hope in Africa though, because according to an Internet poll, the world’s most educated president is none other than Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. Yes he was a teacher in the beginning of his career, has a qualification in Economics, is a lawyer, masters from University of London’s external programme’s and has a BA from Fort Hare University in South Africa.

While the basics of your education need to be covered and if not high scorer the average is quite ok too. According to the super power, United States of America, a great president needs to have a compelling vision, wherewithal to implement this vision, focus on a few major goals at a time and understand the process and implications of decision-making. These are as per Michael Siegel, who has written the book- The President as Leader.

But what about experience, surely this should count too?

According to Gautam Mukunda of the Harvard Business Review, “if you choose an insider who you know can do the job well, most of the time that person won’t perform any differently from any other top candidate with lots of experience, I call them “filtered leaders”, they might be good, but not brilliant.” He goes on to say that it is the unfiltered leaders, the outsiders without lots of experience who perform the very best.

While Senator Mike Sonko may not be highly qualified, he drew inspiration and connected immediately with the people of Nairobi and won the hearts of the Nation. A great example of an unfiltered leader is the US President Abraham Lincoln, but you have to remember says Gautam “you can choose leaders who are likely to lead you to big wins or big losses, or you can choose leaders who will definitely be good at their job but almost certainly won’t be great.”

Thus, a good leader needs qualifications but a great leader needs to be an excellent communicator and negotiator. What is the point of having a leader in a powerful position who looks at either ‘hands’ for advise, he or she should be capable of taking the decision or choice with all ears, eyes and opinion open. Life is the biggest teacher and experience adds to the wisdom, degrees and qualifications only pile up in the brain’s cupboard as trophies, rarely to be used to make any real difference, honestly.

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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in Uncategorized


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