Search over 1400 POSTS & KEYWORDS

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mr. President – Please Industrialize Kenya!

Mr. President, with due respect sir, you cannot create 6 million jobs, but you can create an industrial revolution that will supply Kenyans with jobs for a generation. We already have the basic infrastructure in place to ensure that Kenyans can be gainfully employed into the foreseeable future. All we need is a strategy.

Mr. President you are a politician and you need votes to stay in office and so naturally, you make job creation your first priority. I can understand that. But Sir is giving people jobs sustainable? In your letter (The STAR on Monday), you quoted job creation figures that hardly surpassed several thousand. However, as a nation we need millions of Jobs. One version of a Chinese fishing proverb says, "give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, however, if you teach a man to fish and you will feed a family for a lifetime". Give Kenyans jobs and you will feed them for your term in office. However, should you train them to create jobs, they will feed themselves for a generation.

Your Excellency, the government has done a great deal to educate, train and prepare youth for employment. The middle level colleges that used to train youth for enterprise have been turned into universities. Perhaps it is time to review the strategy of preparing the youth for non-existent employment by taking a fresh angle to the challenge. We need a strategy that will embed industrialization into the DNA of the Kenyan economy.  Please allow me to share with you just three strategies that will help create an industrialized nation in just one generation. As you wrote we can learn from others, but our strategy must be unique to our circumstances.

County strategy

We have been gifted with 47 governance zones under a new constitution. These counties can form the basis of industry creation by spreading industries right across the nation. With a "One County, One Product" strategy each county can identify one product they will produce in the county and develop expertise to deliver to the nation and the globe. A national coordination team can be set up to coordinate this initiative so that counties do not engage in destructive competition. Alongside the major county product, each county can select a secondary product with which they can collaborate with another county to develop and market regionally. These industrial zones can reflect kibbutz in Israel. The beauty with this strategy is that each county has a unique profile. In addition industrialization will immediately spread across the whole country and need not be centered in the "industrial areas" of cities. The national office can attach industrial advisors to each county to help steer industrialization initiatives and facilitate global marketing campaigns. The country will have an automatic product portfolio of 47 products.

Turn universities into industries!

There are over 60 universities in our country. Despite the production of high end education graduates, they send out personnel into a non-existent labor market. Instead of sending out unemployable graduates let us turn these universities into industries. Allow me to illustrate my point. The story is told of a chicken thief who did not steal for money or to get rich. He stole because of a craving he had for eating chicken. He engaged in this practice every weekend. On one occasion a friend of his found him eating a chicken and advised the thief to raise his own chicken. The thief told his friend that he had no time to raise chicken, but before his friend let he asked his friend if he knew what the farmers did with those "brown and white" balls that the chicken were always sitting on.

Universities produce employees, but are sitting on huge capacity to produce entrepreneurs. Realizing that potential will require a little creativity, but first we must make sense of the university graduate output. We need to match graduate production to national needs otherwise, we literally aggravate the unemployment situation with every graduation ceremony. Again the national industrialization coordination team can conduct continuous research to advise universities and professional sector graduate production quotas that will drive industrialization.

While universities have proved their competence to produce potential employees, they have been somehow unable to produce research and enterprise value. By attaching each university to a county to aid in productive research for county development and engage both private and public companies to develop products, services, innovations, and provide specialized labor for specific industries universities can become production houses. Unless universities engage with industries, they will remain white elephants. Unfortunately, we have closed down our middle level colleges that used to provide this engagement with industry. Let universities create, invent register and sell patents. Let universities engage industries and actively participate in the  development of this country from developing sidewalks to creating industry software to developing solar panels for energy generation. Nevertheless, to do these things universities may need CEOs who can make money from the knowledge the institutions produce. Just as doctors no longer make the best hospital CEOs.

Kenya School of Industrialization & Enterprise  

The final strategy is a tried and tested approach Kenya has used with to great effect. Open the Kenya Industrialization & Enterprise College. It is no secret that Kenya's achievements in Tourism has been successfully served for a long time by Utalii College. Utalii has provided hands on skills to a generation of hotel industry employees and entrepreneurs.  Graduates leave complete with hotel experience! By opening a college dedicated to Industrialization, we will harness the strategy used by Demming to create an industrial quality revolution in Japan after the second world war that is still serving that country well to date. The school of industrialization will have one mandate - to produce entrepreneurs and  industrialists who will not look for jobs but create jobs! Banks can latch onto this development by developing and availing venture capital products to fund graduating entrepreneurs and found industries.

Allan Bukusi





Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Finding Solutions for Africa

The last few weeks have seen high-powered meetings called to discuss one or other important issue at the national, county and corporate level. One such meeting was called to discuss the funding of Agriculture and attended by the Vice President. These important meetings remind me of a meeting called by the gods.
“Not long ago in the world of spirits, there came about a famine. People were no longer praying to the gods. This caused great consternation to the gods to the extent that they called a meeting to pray about it. At the meeting, each of the gods stood and expressed their concerns over the grave matter. Finally, the great gathering was called to prayer. Suddenly a deep silence settled on the hall as each god considered to whom they should pray. Since they were the normal recipients of prayers, they could not think of anyone to whom they should pray. Eventually since they could not agree to whom they should pray, the meeting ended in disarray. “
This story explains why many meetings called to address pressing issues do not come out with workable resolutions to real problems. Instead of focusing on the solution, meetings are simply called to express the concerns of various parties about the problem. While this may be important, these meetings hardly resolve the issues that require people with the heart to work hard and follow through with a solution. It also begs the question whether the people discussing the problem are competent to resolve the core issue.  Indeed leadership issues are complex, but problems solving cannot take place at a meeting. Steve Jobs, a man who is credited with exceptional leadership ability and resolving major technology challenges in three global industries says, “When you first look at a problem, it seems easy because you don’t know much about it, he said. Then, you get into the problem and you see it’s really complicated and you come up with all these convoluted solutions. Most people stop there. But the key is to keep going, he said, until you find the underlying principle of the problem and sort of come full circle with a beautiful, elegant solution that works.” (Blumenthal)
Obviously, Jobs was a man of superior intellect, but he has left us a code to get a solution that works. The reason Africa’s problems repeat themselves and become the subject of meeting after meeting is that the issue is forgotten, pushed aside immediately after the meeting or may be provided with a “convoluted” solution that does not work.  Nobody follows through. Most of us stop at the resolutions passed by the meeting and fail to “keep going” to find the underlying principle of the problem.
The discussion of funding for agriculture and genetically modified foods reminded me of President Mutharika’s agriculture miracle in Malawi several years ago. In a few short years, he was able to turn the country into a self-sufficient-surplus producing breadbasket. One would have thought that the solution should have been sustainable – not so. The underlying principle of the problem does not seem to have been resolved. We are unable to create a beautiful, elegant solution that works. Many of our solutions are convoluted answers to ostensibly simple questions.
The gods never solved the problem because they did not address the famine. The fact that the people were experiencing a famine was the issue, not prayers. Problems in Africa may persist because no one goes back to the ground to the root of the problem to research, design and actually create a solution that works.
Our significant weakness in addressing national issues in meeting after meeting, is our lack of commitment and courage to do something about it. This is what Adadevoh calls the, “inward flaw that makes many Africans shy away from taking responsibility for changing their situation”. This may sound like a harsh and unfair judgment of Africa’s leadership situation, but evidently, our problems continue to persist predictably in the same form year after year. Many of these problems do not require dramatic intervention to eradicate. But they do require disciplined, dedicated self-sacrificing men and women to create beautiful, elegant solutions that work on the ground. The reason why Nike and Kenyan athletes work together so well is they just do it! However, creating solutions is far beneath the role of gods.

Allan Bukusi


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I never thought it was practical that anyone should determine to fail. But life has proved me wrong enough times to appreciate that some people just will not win, put in effort or work hard. Not only is that true, but some people actually labor to subvert victory, divert success and refuse to learn from failure. I have no clue as to the motive of this suicidal mission apart from the fact that they perhaps do not like themselves or do not like someone else and so set out on a mission to spite that person. You will find these people everywhere among the poor, the rich, the educated and the illiterate. Among them is a cynical spirit that craves attention but is unwilling to take direction. It afflicts drug addicts as much as it does CEOs. It lives among young people and perhaps more so among mature people too. The situation is hopeless because only one person can stop it - and they know it!

Allan Bukusi

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Steve Jobs

I have just finished reading a very readable biography of Steve Jobs (Blumenthal). I never met him, but I have met his machines. My art directors will work with nothing else. It is amazing how one life can touch so many and never know their names.

The man was very spiritual. He fasted and walked a lot, Zen and ate vegetables – carrots. I don't know whether that contributed to his intellect, but it certainly made him stand out – odd. His dress covered his body, but that was just about all. Shorts, bare foot and slippers did not interfere with his passions for perfection. Limited education, but unlimited enterprise. It is hard to describe the feisty character that bore out of those blue eyes. But I have seen that fire in at least one other of may adopted heroes.

What do make of him. That is your score. What do you learn from him? He did not like God very much and may have refused to believe in him, but he did talk about him. I love what he says about focus; saying NO to everything else. In addition, I like what he says about simplicity – it is the ultimate sophistication. I wonder who got more out of life Steve or Woz? I don't want to be like Steve Jobs, but I do want to make difference!

Allan Bukusi

Leadership is the first duty of man.

Leadership is the first duty of man. This is not original an original idea (Genesis 1: 26)

Allan Bukusi

Let us Rebuild the Future!

The good old days entice us to look back to the past for answers. We are so captured by ancient beauty that we miss the opportunity to create grand new meaningful change for the future.

Allan Bukusi

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

When the gods met to pray!?

Some time ago in the world of gods there came a great famine. Prayers from men and women were hard to get, few and far between. People no longer saw the need to pray. The houses of the gods fell into a terrible state of decay. The situation got so bad that they decided to meet and pray about it. The gods met and discussed why people do not pray. "People no longer pray because they don't get answers" said one. "People don't pray because they do not know we are here" said another. "They don't pray because we don't pray" said a third. "So to whom should we pray?". The meeting went on for several hours, but because they were gods and could not agree that they should pray, the meeting ended in disarray.  

Allan Bukusi

Monday, July 14, 2014

Leadership: World Cup 2014: Germany!

Right from the start, my heart was and still is with Argentina, but my head knew from the facts that the Germans had an unmatched technical game. I am a great fan of the “underdog”. I love the “David and Goliath” story and I would love to relive it every day of my life even though I know that won’t do. The tension in the game was not whose side was I on. My battle was who is going to settle the agonizing war between my head and my heart.  When Germany final won, I said to myself, “I knew it”. When Argentina lost – I felt great pain and am tempted to call it unfair! These two teams played a great game and taught us leaders a huge lesson. Congratulations Germany and well-done Argentina!

This heart-wrenching final helped me answer the question my politics professor loves to ask, “Why don’t leaders always make decisions based on what they know to be true?” You have to be a leader to know what is going on here. Do you make decisions based on data or do you make decisions based on what you want to do? Why do we ignore facts and statistics and dare to hope for the best?  As a leader, you must answer these agonizing questions and decide how you want to decide, every time you make a decision.

However, the whole tournament has set the tone and agenda for football, sports and I dare say leadership for the next four years. It has provided a huge feast for leadership gurus and armchair philosophers alike. Everyone can talk about teamwork and name specific matches to illustrate their point.  This is good for sports and this is good for leadership. Here are some of the take-aways; “a competition is a ruthless place to test your level of preparation”, “there is history and there is hope”, “there is a difference between philosophy and competence”, “one goal makes a difference, but one player makes a difference too”. “Number three is a good too! In fact, it is not just good it is great!” – if you want more you have to analyze all 63 games! And all the 32 teams that made the feast possible!

Allan Bukusi


Honesty; when your head and your heart agree.

Allan Bukusi

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly - in the County

If your county is not already on the road to prosperity, you should be concerned because within the next few years every county in Kenya will come under global scrutiny. Judgment day for non-performing counties will be pretty severe while county residents themselves will be very unforgiving with promise defaulters.
While global institutions will be looking for success models to show of to the rest of the world, citizens will have to decide if the county governments have made them any richer or made them better off in any way. The judgment call for county administration and governors will be, “what prosperity have you brought to us?” The answer to that question will determine who goes home, who stays on and who comes in next. At the very least countians will want to record a specific reduction in poverty levels and improvement in essential services like hospitals and convenient access to public goods such as water and identity cards.
County administrations do not have much time to make these realities real. While county governments can make promises that they expect the executive to deliver, the challenge is that there is both a political and administrative component to this delivery that may not be well coordinated or even fully appreciated. Elected officials may fail to deliver because their administrative teams are ill equipped to deliver or vice versa. Counties that deliver services without conducting a baseline surveys will waste public funds.
County governments need to develop and implement policies that bring prosperity to citizens and not themselves. Administrations would also be wise to develop and implement strategic plans to transform the county, rather than raise funds through toll stations and parking tickets to pay staff. These basic assessments will help countians predict whether their county falls among the good, the bad or the ugly in the country.
Nevertheless, counties that will make the “good” grade will go further to develop available resources to the extent that countians benefit from industry and economic activity brought into existence that improves their way of life. By delivering public goods such as roads, abattoirs and clean markets, counties will create wealth by encouraging entrepreneurial activity within the countydom. Of course, this will require the empowerment of county administrations to deliver services not as a bureaucracy, but as an efficient corporate entity overseeing the transformation of the county from poverty to prosperity. County administrations that do not develop professional teams to deliver efficient services will not be able to transform their counties to any extent. Those that don’t deliver services can only hope to be classed as bad.
If your county has done the basics and settled down to the business of serving countians rather than impeaching each other,  rolling out a strategic plan and focusing on making good laws then there is hope to escape the bad and be classed as good. However, to excel each county will have to think bigger than itself and establish its value contribution to Kenya. In other words, in order to advance the country, county leaders will have to encourage their people to think like citizens and not countians. This may turn out to be a huge challenge for some counties.
For some “unexplainable” reason, our county boundaries closely mirror, ethnic concentrations. These ethnographic counties present us with a “country and county” loyalty paradox. Counties that are open to diversity protect the interests and the right of the minority to own property and participate in county activity. These counties welcome ethnic diversity. However, those counties that pass laws, implement policy and encourage practices that exclude minorities, visitors and investors will automatically fall among the ugly. Ingrown counties can hardly expect to experience growth through new ideas, innovation or enterprise.
The measure of ethnic community acceptance levels is quite visible at weddings and funerals. In closed cultures, these occasions are conducted exclusively in the local dialect despite the presence of friends, workmates as well as both local and international guests. Unfortunately, this practice is both rampant and embarrassing among communities that are insensitive to the participation of outsiders. Though such communities may not be accused of ethnic violence, they will have mastered the crime of “ethnic arrogance”. Victims are reminded by behavior, language and gesture that they are guests at the pleasure of the ethnic majority and not by right of citizenship. We will have to wait to see the county diversity scorecards to judge which is the best county to live and invest in and which county is least tolerant of other communities. Those that consider their county to be an ethnocentric zone will appear ugly in the eyes of the globe.

Allan Bukusi


Monday, July 7, 2014

7 Solutions to the Saba Saba debate!

Full Story below - Published in The STAR Newspaper of Monday 7/7/2014 
Saba Saba began as a movement for constitutional reform back in 1990. It heralded the maturing of political expression in the public domain and ushered in the next generation of leaders in Kenya’s history. While the Saba-Saba debate has arrested the attention of the nation, we must not trivialize our response to the major concerns of law, employment and wealth creation the debate raises. This article explains how Kenyans can ensure that the country takes a progressive non-violent path through the Saba-Saba debate drawing insights from economic principles, current global leadership thinking and historical wisdom to achieve national prosperity.
In 2010, a majority public vote at a national referendum gave Kenya a new constitution.  The first government, elected under the new constitution in 2013, has the duty to deal with all the teething problems of power in the new order. The two major challenges of this new order are 1) governance and 2) the distribution of wealth. While devolution has brought administration closer to the people, it has not brought about expected prosperity. Recent terror attacks on innocent citizens have compounded public insecurity, frustration and unhappiness. In this context, the people are looking for salvation and security from anyone who promises peace and prosperity.

On the other hand the national vision promises, “A globally competitive and prosperous nation with a high quality of life by 2030”. But, what is the meaning of “prosperous” and do Kenyans feel they are moving to a higher quality of life? As we respond to the core and contextual issues of the debates, we need to examine how prosperity, politics and power contribute to the current stalemate.
Prosperity is often thought to be the possession of material wealth. However, recent thinking suggests that there is more to prosperity than mere property.  The UN Human Development Index includes the elements such as; security, political and economic freedoms - even happiness to measure prosperity. When these soft factors are included, nations that rank high in GDP (financial wealth) like USA and China drop in world ranking falling behind nations like Norway and Australia. For a nation to enjoy prosperity that prosperity must be available to all citizens and provide opportunity for everyone to escape poverty. However, when the government borrows billions of dollars to build huge projects, this translates into higher taxes on public income. When this happens, national prosperity comes into direct conflict with personal prosperity and makes people unhappy.

Effective politics requires leaders sensitive to public needs and concerns. Nonetheless, political leaders sometimes lack the wisdom to design or implement policy that generates national prosperity. The tragedy of bad politics is that it creates bad laws that create bad economics that open doors to corruption. Insincere leaders use politics to pass laws that don not result in the public good. For example, it would be interesting to find out how many Kenyans are “happy” with the bill that allows men to marry countless women.  But even “good” policy can have the same effect as bad laws. For example, high tariffs on imported goods such as petroleum in the interest of protecting the local market from low quality items, allows wealthy companies to organize cartels to regulate the trade in those goods. The object of politics should not be good law, but prudent law.

Power is the control of resources, the capacity to enforce law, the guarantor of justice and the patron of privilege. The moment a government turns that force against its citizens it causes anxiety, insecurity and loses legitimacy. Nevertheless, many people seek power to enjoy positions of privilege and exercise the privilege of power. In Kenya’s case, the public may have to bear with the challenges of devolution and jostling for power for some time to come, but must be very keen to differentiate between power hungry wolves and true shepherds of the flock.
Principles of National Prosperity
National prosperity depends on the state of the “politico-socio-economic-stability”. Instability can cause a revolution. The Saba-Saba debate has raised ethnic tensions, but the gap between national and personal prosperity does require urgent attention. So how does a nation with 40% unemployment, 42 million people, 44 ethnic tribes and 47 counties achieve prosperity? The answer requires Solomonic wisdom. Fortunately, the prosperity of Solomon’s kingdom is well documented. It began with a prayer for wisdom. 
The king engaged 1) Wisdom; insight into matters of leadership, justice and statecraft. 2) Divine favor; The King entreated Gods favor. 3) Peace; War of any sort is a drain on a nation’s wealth. The PEV of 2008 is merely a case in point. Violence kills prosperity by diverting resources away from economic activity. 4) Free enterprise; There are in fact three types of enterprise. Productive enterprise is the use of ones God given gifts to create value for others in line with Adam Smith’s model. For this process to yield maximum results, it must be “free” of manipulation. Unfortunately, Kenya’s economic process is flooded with middlemen. Destructive production is theft! Theft deprives one person of their wealth and puts it in the possession of another without adding any value to the economy.  War, political bickering and ethnic violence are all forms of destructive production. Unproductive enterprise is the use of policy to muzzle enterprise in order to protect markets to favor privileged interest groups. Kenyan parliamentarians recently changed the law to increase their own salaries. I am not sure this inspired citizens to pay income tax. 5) Employment; While 40% unemployment is unacceptably high, those with jobs contribute very little wealth to national prosperity. This is the unfortunate tragedy of the Kenyan employee who is unable to create any personal wealth after a lifetime of work. However, unemployment also contributes large populations of idle human capital to roam cities.

In conclusion, we recommend to following economic solutions to the debate;

1.   Select Presidents, Senators, MPs and MCAs and leaders who can entreat the favor of God to bless our nation with wealth.

2.    Employ wise men and women; competent experts and specialists in their own fields to manage national resources.

3.    Unleash the entrepreneur. USA has 6 enterprises for every 100 people, Kenya has only 3 registered enterprises for every 1000 people! Encourage and protect the entrepreneur. Do not burden them with high taxes or administrative legislation that discourages them to take risks and exercise their creative gifting.

4.     Make good laws that ensure prompt justice. Remove bad laws that create fear, insecurity and unhappiness. Weed out poor legislators and teach lawmakers to enact policy that counters corrupt and immoral practices. Repeal laws that protect monopolies, middlemen and rent seekers.

5.     Make government bureaucracy open, transparent, user friendly and available to serve the public without prejudice and ensure that public works do not appear to serve private or sectarian interests. 

6.     Promote peaceful coexistence in families, among neighbors, ethnic groups and pursue peace with all neighboring countries.
7.     Teach employees how to create wealth and address the mismatch between educated (schooled) graduates and unemployment in the economy to engage idle human capital in industry
In addition, from all our leaders we will require the added measure of visionary leadership, personal maturity and patriotism.
God Bless Kenya

Allan Bukusi,

 June 2014