Loosening Visa Restrictions in Africa Will Promote Trade and Integration.

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One World. What does that mean? To many this is just another phrase, to other countries they have seen the reality of it and are ripping the benefits big time while dealing with its consequences.

Open borders are expected to yield a number of global benefits. The majority of the benefits accrue to the migrants themselves, while some accrue to immigrant-receiving countries and immigrant-sending countries. But there are also other benefits of a more diffuse nature that are experienced throughout the world.

  • Double world GDP:World GDP will experience a one-time boost of about 50-150%
  • End of poverty: The GDP gains will be felt most by the world’s poorest, and absolute poverty will reduce dramatically. This will benefit the whole world, even those not living in poor countries, as there will, for instance, be fewer dangers of communicable diseases originating in these countries.
  • One world: As kinship and friendship networks spread across the world, this helps strengthen the ties between countries, leading to more trade and mutual gain, with less war and hostility. Cutting-edge ideas developed in one part of the world spread rapidly to others.
  • Innovation case for open borders: When people are free to move across borders, human capital can be allocated to more efficient uses, leading to greater innovation, much of which benefits the whole world due to the fundamentally non-rival nature of knowledge and ideas.
  • Peace case for open borders: Building upon the one world theme, more open borders would lead to more peace as people with friends and kins in and from specific other countries would be less likely to support wars against those countries.

I have always wondered why I need a visa to Visit Mozambique for example, with my Kenyan passport. In recent years, African countries have loosened visa restrictions on their neighbors in order to facilitate the free movement of people and goods, thus, regional integration has become a priority.

The continent is seeing a shift towards more free movement of people: In 2016, Africans did not need visas to travel to 22 percent of other African countries, compared to 20 percent in 2015. The small increase may indicate that the way forward will yield more visa openness, with African countries being more open to host African citizens from other countries.

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This map shows East African countries are relatively more visa open than their African peers. Uganda grants visa on arrival to most African citizens and the remaining ones do not require a visa to enter the country caption

In early 2017, the African Development Bank, in collaboration with the African Union and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Africa published the Africa Visa Openness Index Report, which ranks African countries based on their visa requirements regarding their fellow African countries. The score looks at whether a country requires visas from African citizens, may it be on arrival or otherwise. The larger the score, the more visa open the country is.

Visa requirements for Kenyan citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of Kenya. As of February 2018, Kenyan citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 72 countries and territories, ranking the Kenyan passport 67th in terms of travel freedom (tied with Omani passport) according to the Henley Passport Index.

There are three different classifications concerning visa requirement. Visa required means a visa has to be obtained before departure. Visa on arrival means a visa has to be obtained upon arrival in the country. This includes filling out any visa application forms, paying the visa fee if applicable, and receiving a visa in a travel document. No visa required means that there is no visa needed either before departure or on arrival, with no entry authorization required to enter freely into the country. Entry procedures—such as filling out entry forms and receiving an entry stamp—are still mandatory.

Regional economic community (REC) scores are averages of country scores and reflect the individual openness of countries in the REC toward their fellow African countries. As a group, ECOWAS is more visa open than its fellow regional economic communities.

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After the January 2017 publication of the Visa Openness Index, a list of countries and regional economic communities loosened their visa requirements. For instance, in November 2017, Kenya and Namibia announced that they would be issuing visas on arrival to all African citizens and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) lifted visa requirements for citizens traveling within the regional block.

I recently learnt while planning for a business trip to Mozambique that I will have to pay for visa and visa processing fee. In 2017, Mozambique Government Announced 30-day Tourist Visas now Available at Borders for all Visitors. All visitors to Mozambique are now eligible for visas at borders equipped with the equipment necessary to issue biometric visas according to Mozambique government. 26 border posts have been issuing these visas since 2005. The big trouble here is that there has been considerable confusion regarding which country’s nationals were eligible with many Mozambican Embassies telling travellers that they must get them before travelling to Mozambique.

The information on the website is contrary to all the above, in fact the information on the website say that all Kenyan passport holders wishing to travel to Mozambique must get visas before departing Nairobi.

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As a Kenyan citizen wishing to take advantage of free movement within Africa, I feel that African governments need to do more to promote trade and integration within the region. May times I have heard statements like African problems need African solutions, but Africa has closed herself within herself, meaning, she cannot access solutions that are within her.

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Young People Taking Advantage of Informal Employment in Kenya.

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Have you ever wondered to yourself how far can something benefit someone, how far does business travel. How amazing does business work, that something made in a different country ends up in the hands of someone in the other side of the continent. It’s just really strange, unbelievable, in fact on what really ends up being the centre of your life. Today, young people have employed themselves in many ways, what they would call “informal sector” of business.

The informal sector as described by google refers to those workers who are self employed, or who work for those who are self employed. People who earn a living through self employment in most cases are not on payrolls, and thus are not taxed. Many Many Informal workers do their businesses in unprotected and unsecured places.

The informal sector, informal economy, or grey economy is the part of an economy that is neither taxed, nor monitored by any form of government. Unlike the formal economy, activities of the informal economy are not included in the gross national product (GNP) and gross domestic product (GDP) of a country.

So who would have thought that when the english premier league is playing in the land of the queen, somebody will be earning a living on the same in a remote part of Kenya? How informal is that? Just imagine you own a football viewing center that has a sitting capacity of 100 and for each football match, your customers pay 50 shillings per match. Multiply that 50 shillings by 100 and you will have a whopping Shs 5,000 per match. Multiply this by 3 since Chelsea. Arsenal and Manchester United games are the most likely to be full. What do you have> Sh 15,000 on a weekend.  In a month, you will have close to 60,000 shillings.

Kenyans love soccer. Not just Kenyans but Africans in general. We love the blues, gunners and so many others. We wish we could be present in some of these football matches, but as much as we love football, most people still cannot afford to subscribe to DSTV and watch the matches from the comfort of their homes and that’s where my brother saw the opportunity, putting up a makeshift structure on one corner of our home and with demand kept extending it. Today, he has four TVs, connected to DSTV, KWESE and Bean Sport…….to enable him stay on top of his game as far making his customers happy.

Speaking to my brother, i asked how is business……..which business he replies, you have to be specific because I do many business. That takes me back, but then we end up talking about the one he claims has made him famous, everyone comes here to watch football he says…the best days are when we have a derby and when university is in session, student flock the arena de barcelona in their numbers, not the one that is in Spain ofcourse. He says that with a smile. If this numbers are interesting to you, remember in business you lose some and you win some.

The interesting thing with his business is that there is no book that can explain how to start this kind of business. But I have done some observation every time I have paid him a visit, at arena de barcelona.

What You Need to Start a Football Viewing Center

(1) Wooden benches to save start up costs. Plastic chairs are better but they are often damaged during the celebrations of goals and match wins.

(2) A good generator and possibly a UPS in case of power outage to keep the TV running

(3) Cable TV or DSTV dish with monthly subscription

(4) A big Television set with high resolution or projectors – if you can afford the more the better.

(5) A refrigerator just in case you want to add an extra income stream by selling cold soft drinks

(6) A printed ticket or coupons to identifying paying customers

What next?

1. Get an ideal location

A middle-class residential estate with high population is usually the best place to start this kind of business. Get a good location; a location or building that has enough room for expansion. If it’s an open space like a football field, then you may need to get a carpenter to form a tent shed using zinc; and ensure that the structure is wide enough to contain a good number of people.

2. Set it up

If you are on a low budget, the next thing to do is to get a carpenter to make wood benches for you as it minimizes start up costs and contains a lot more people. But if you have enough capital, you can opt for single plastic chairs as they are more comfortable.

You must also ensure that the room or building is properly ventilated; so as to make your customers feel comfortable. If they don’t feel comfortable watching football matches in your viewing center, then there’s a high chance they will patronize your competitors. Do you want that? I guess NO.

After getting all set up, sure you follow these management tips;

a. Get a blackboard or notice board outside your football center to write out all upcoming matches for the day.

b. Have someone to maintain order. Football viewing can turn chaotic at times.

c. Treat your customers with respect. Customers are the backbone of every business! Be friendly to your customers. They are the sole reason you  are still in business. Treat them with respect, and try to build personal relationships with them.

As a final note, if you are currently unemployed, you could try out this business. It doesn’t require much capital to start and it’s very easy to manage, if you know what you are doing.

Job is one of those young people who have mastered this art and they are making a living out of it, and I will not forget….Which business…..you have to be specific.

 

Beautiful Green City Kigali.

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The last time I was in Kigali I was traveling to South Africa. I topped for just a few minutes and made a mad dash downtown from the airport, but that’s not what I remember. What happened later is what has stuck with me for many year. My flight was to take off minutes before 12 midnight, but its was delayed without an explanation. Then the waiting arrival laung started filling up, and after my visit to the washroom, I had nowhere to seat. That night, I ended up sleeping on the cold floor till 5am when we were finally on our way to Jozi.

It’s always said that you can’t say anything bad about Kigali, but that was my worst in my travel journey. There are also things said about Rwanda and the President, things I will not talk about because being here I now know better. I have never seen a country that has a jail right inside the city, I mean the energy you use to go to the Library is the same energy they will use to send you to jail. A lot of stupid things you experience while travelling in other african countries can never be seen here.

The roads are clean, dust is minimal, the drive ways are beautiful running together with the walkways, and when night falls, its bright as day. People here are well mannered, the culture here is different, people feel safe. A friend who has always travelled for cms africa summit says that one of the reasons he feels safe in Kigali is because its a clean city. Clean it is, and so its green, in fact its so important they don’t joke with that, if you happen to crush in the big beautiful trees in a long the road you will pay a RW4 million fine, or go to jail or both.

But generally I believe Rwandans are just a polite people. They come from a really difficult past but they have managed really well to navigate the waters. Most of the people here believe that the government has their best interest at heart. They feel the impact of government’s development agenda. Rwanda is a country of 12 million people with about 2 million people living in Kigali. The unemployment is at 17% yes, am also shocked to learn. Here, it’s the Rwandan driving the economy in most areas. The ruling party here have a consortium that owns and runs most business here.

This time, it’s a wet weather, with rains arriving at a moment’s notice. In the morning a cloud arrents Kigali and make it difficult to enjoy the view from the hills in rebero a large new housing estate here in Kigali proving one of the top accomodations. The property we are staying in is very big accommodating all our team of 18 and still with more space. Booked on airbnb, Rwanda has really tapped into this technological advancement. The owner says it took him 10 years to build this place, and from what i see, it was truly a labour of love.

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There is good vibe here in Kigali. From what I have seen, the people here are very creative. Lots of nice product made in Rwanda are on display in all shops. I also paid visit to an exhibition just a few meters from the Marriott Hotel. I have loved how they have been able to fight the outside influence keeping local products thriving while partnering with foreign countries to manufacture locay. You will notice that many of the products made in Kigali world be a little expensive to an average citizen, but then I think in some way, Kigali generally is an expensive city.

My stay here will end on the 21st March, I had hoped to be here with my wife unfortunately she lost her grandmother. But am sure she would have loved it. We have our summit here the same week Rwanda is holding different conferences including the east african heads of state summit early next week. After our summit I will take time and tour Kigali and enjoy what this beautiful city has to offer.

If you are a traveller, this should be on your list, and I hope it will be as rewarding to you as ita has been to be. We keep travelling the world.

 

Uber Chap Chap Take on Nairobi.

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Nairobi has had its fair share of taxi trouble, just like any other big city. For many years it has been very expensive to pick and use a taxi, despite the fact that you could not compare Nairobi with a city like Frankfurt. We have very few happy stories to say about Taxis and Taxi drivers.

It was a celebration when Uber finally launched in Nairobi, but it did not come without a fight. Just like the story of Uber in New York, Brad Stone narrates in his book The Upstarts, the difficult road that Uber had to go through in San Francisco and New York City.

Uber fought all wars in those cities. They fought with the taxi drivers, they fought with the city authorities, they fought with the market and they had to fight technology too, making sure that it worked and improving on it on the go. In Kenya, just like any city resisting the disruption, Taxis wanted to keep their cake. Whether it has worked for them is their story to tell.

But slowly and surely this have really changed in Nairobi. I do not take Uber a lot but of late I have noticed the sudden influx of white miniature Suzuki Alto’s on the roads, all with ‘KCP’ number plates and branded “Uber Chap Chap”, Just like you, I have been asking a lot of questions.

Today while sitting with a friend at Java House on Wabera street, I requested for an Uber, this time the Uber Chap Chap, which was the cheapest of all on the offers I was looking at on the screen. But apparently our driver was really far and stuck in traffic, so we sat and waited. Later he called me and requested we change out pick up location to Sentrim 680 Hotel, he had just dropped his client somewhere downtown.

There we were in this small car, a Suzuki Alto, looking very new, with very less electronic operations but a good stereo. Its as white as the snow, with a 800cc engine resting in the hood. Five speed manual transmission gearbox, the driver….a very mature gentleman who didn’t mind telling me a little about Uber Chap Chap, and on this particular car, the mileage was at 5000 km.

Uber Chap Chap launched in Nairobi in February after a testing phase in late January and since then, they are literally in every stop of the road you would be looking at. Some of them come branded while others are not. An agreement between Uber and Stanbic Bank gives the rider a security-free loan which is payable over three years.

The Uber drivers with high ratings between 4-6 points are the ones who were lucky to get to this plan. The rider pays Ksh. 30,000 a month for three years. After which, he/she will gain full ownership of the car. The cars are straight out of the showroom and cost roughly Ksh 800,000. They are provided by CMC Motors Africa.

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For my friend, its not her first time on Uber Chap Chap, she has been a customer, she picked on and her bill was only Ksh80 from Yaya to her House. And she praised the driver who dropped her to town, a nice man with mature conversation. Today, our bill was Ksh220 from Sentrim 680 to Mimosa Court.

What i look for when moving from point a to point be is to just get there with less hustle. At least most of us look for that, and Uber Chap Chap has it. But then not more, if you are one of those people who want to as we say it “Arrive” then you picked the wrong car. The car can carry five people of average weight and that includes the driver.

My experience was wonderful, will I request again for  an Uber Chap Chap, why not. When you request yours, lets see how much you are paying.

Enjoy your ride, with Uber Chap Chap.

New Ways of Job Hunting.

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If you are like me, then you are familiar with the modern ways of job searching. You have your CV in a microsoft word edited and then converted to PDF and you click attach, then send. Before you did all this you created a Linkedin page, and a Facebook page and you went to all job advertisement sites. You picked up a newspaper and went straight at the back….home of all the jobs. You called people, or people called you, you got a forward message on your whatsapp ….from your former college or I forgot, maybe you knew someone or you just bribed someone.

This has become very common among job seekers in Kenya. There is this funny phase “Job seeking is a job on its on” a very common saying especially among the young people looking for jobs. For most graduates and Kenyan elites, it has been a heavy cloud hovering around concerning jobs even as the current economic status seeks to choke the air out of them.

Most of these people have experienced nightmares as various big organizations cut on their operation costs to remain afloat. This move has led to many organization cutting down their workforce while others lose their jobs in mysterious circumstances. The graduates stories are horrifying, they narrate stories that have very little hope, having sent over 200 applications, through mail, hand delivered or post, one can manage only two responses which will be regrets.

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Most of them can not afford to pay rent so they live with their relatives, some taking any available job. How would the same Government who paid for their fees through the Higher Education Loans Board turn around and deny them employment. The scenes of young people carrying placards on the streets seeking the attention of employers have become very common.

This way of job hunting brings new meaning to how desperate this young people want to get jobs, holding placards with their academic credentials in the streets. Several graduates have already landed interviews and jobs using this method. Though many sympathize, some think the young job seekers are taking it too far. But yet again, people are gifted with different courage, and its only yourself who knows your needs.

As much as there are very qualified young people out there, doing all they can to land a job, I must register my disappointment with the Kenyan companies (the employers). They act very hypocritical. They are very dishonest and I wonder what happened to corporate governance.

It’s definitely not easy for Kenyan employees but it’s even worse for the job seekers as their fate is unknown.

Facebook Marketing for Dummies.

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Kenya is one of the leading countries in Africa with the majority of its citizen on Social Media, therefore it only makes sense for your company to start utilizing social media and replace traditional marketing with social media marketing in Kenya.

Facebook is a complete network when it comes to business pages. When you create your account or business page, seek to know what are the tools that it offers you, the possibility to place information about your company and website, address and hours of operation. Also, you will know how many people visit your page, where they are and what content they liked.

Facebook is a competitive environment, and probably you will find dozens of competitors with well-designed pages. In this way, you need to think about what you can do to make your can stand out, is the way you put, the products features or any other characteristic that can differentiate you from the others.

Instead of posting anything, you must have a well-defined strategy. In it, you should lay down your goals that you want to achieve with the page, select which public you are targeting, what are your investments, put together a schedule of publications and put all the information that will help you in spreading your business.

With the amount of material available on Facebook, to ensure that you catch the attention of your followers you must have a content that adds value to whatever they already have. Use relevant information, talk about your products or services and be very objective in the texts. Also remember to use a language that is compatible with your audience, otherwise, if  they can not identify with what you posted they will no longer follow the page.

You are an expert in your business and therefore the customer needs you to make decisions. Think of the biggest questions and concerns that a customer may have which push them away from you. Then find a way of addressing them. Do you not know what to post? Ask your viewers what they would like to know or search pages in its segment about the most common questions people ask about your product or market.

It is important that you keep a set frequency of posts. Avoid publications with a very wide range, because the impression it gives is that your page is “start up” or you do not have much interest in publicizing your work. If possible, post every day. If not, post at least 3 times a week.

Another tip is to use the feature to schedule posts. With it, you can schedule posts to be served at the times you see fit. With this, your page will always be updated.

Do not leave your audience in a vacuum. It is important that you respond to all comments and messages you receive, thus creating a closer interaction with the people who like your page. Thus, these followers will seek to interact more often and recommend your page, since it is helpful to their audience.

One tip is to enjoy all the comments you receive on your page. Another important point is also to answer the negative comments.  If you see a criticism, ensure that you follow it up by email or phone.

Human beings are attracted by what they see, and rightly so it is important that your page has quality images. They will cause the first impact on your follower and will serve as an invitation for them to read the material you provided.

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Facebook Ads allow you to reach people who are of interest to your business. When creating ads, you will highlight the content that will be directly taken to the public that does not know about your work and may be interested in it at some point.

Today it is very difficult to generate significant results without investing in ads. More than 40 million businesses use the Facebook page to attract customers. Thus, investing in ads is important. Still, it’s very cheap to invest in campaigns on Facebook.

In addition to having a Facebook page, it is interesting that you have accounts on other on social networks like Twitter and Instagram, as this are other dissemination channels for your business, giving you the opportunity to reach more people. With this, you will attract even more people to your Facebook page.

But remember that each channel has a way to communicate with people. Avoid a repeat what put on Facebook  for Instagram, for example. Also, create exclusive content for each audience and each channel.

Facebook gives you all the information you need about your audience, such as age, location, interests, etc.Enjoy this data to create performance reports that show which posts were liked best, which yielded a low performance, who’s been visiting your page. Thus, you will improve your strategy and attract a more qualified audience.

CMSAfricaSummit 2018 Goes to Kigali.

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Happy New Year I should say, and Welcome to CMSAfricaSummit 2018.

About CMS Africa

CMS Africa is a Non-governmental organisation that seeks to engage and support students, graduates and start-ups that deal with web applications, frameworks and platforms using open source content management systems.

CMS Africa is a collaboration and partnership between companies (directly dealing with building websites, platforms, applications, and other related professions), and universities/colleges to help build students and graduates in their passionate desires to join in the movement of uplifting the African Continent through content management systems.

Summit in Kigali

Technology has played a big role in the development of various industries, it has changed the banking sector, changed education, changed the agricultural industry, changed the entertainment world, it has restructured many businesses. The impact of technology can not be measured because it is still changing the way we do everything.

CMS Africa summit is a premier Web, Business, and Mobile event in Africa that gathers developers, E-commerce professionals, ISPs, Web administrators, Telecoms and Open Source Organisations among many others in a 2 day summit.

Supported and sponsored by multiple organisations like Open Source Matters (Joomla), Automattic (WordPress), Snowdog, Governmental Institutions in Rwanda and other respected companies. CMS Africa will be holding it’s 5th annual summit. This event will be held at the Marriott Hotel in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 16th and 17th 2018. CMS Africa is organizing this in partnership with Rwanda Development Board.

Information and Communication Technology is a central engine to driving Rwanda’s transformation to a knowledge based economy, a fact Rwanda has acknowledged by allocating a budget to ICT – as a percentage of its GDP – that is at par with OECD countries.

Rwanda continues to be one of the fastest growing African countries in ICT and there are several avenues for growth for the ICT sector – from e-commerce and e-services, mobile technologies, applications development and automation to becoming a regional center for the training of top quality ICT professionals and research. A robust ICT industry can create wealth, jobs and entrepreneurs.

Rwanda emerged from the 1994 genocide that killed about 800,000 people with a severely impaired society, a traumatized populace and an economy in dire straits. Back then President Paul Kagame’s new government confronted enormous challenges at every turn: millions of refugees and displaced people to be resettled, genocide victims awaiting justice and an economy that needed restarting. Fast forward to 2011. There is much evidence that thoughtful policies are transforming an agrarian society into a sophisticated knowledge-based economy and instilling a sense of national identity and unity in Rwandans.

It is perhaps the government’s ambitious plans to transform Rwanda into a regional high-tech hub — or “Singapore of Africa” — that has fascinated many people, including sceptics. Its with this reason that Rwanda became the host of this years CMS Africa Summit.

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Implementing five reforms saw Rwanda rise 15 places in the 2018 World Bank Doing Business Report to feature in in position 41 globally.

Rwanda is 2nd on the continent behind Mauritius in the latest annual report released yesterday. The report examines the regulations and conditions that enhance or limit business conduciveness. Last year, Rwanda was ranked 56th globally.

The summit has lined up an interesting set of speakers respected in their fields from around the world. Among the 30 speakers, are Job Thomas, Gareth Allison and Sarah Semack from Automatic/WordPress, Kuba Zwolinski of Snowdog, Poland. Robert Jacobi President of OSM, Rowan Hoskyns-Abrahall department head of Events at OSM / OSM Director, Yvess Hoppe Department Coordinator for Programs /OSM Director and Abdulkadir Shehu Joomla Trainer in Malaysia. Rwanda’s very own Leonel Mpfizi, Alex Ntare, Arnold Kwizera and Jack Ngari.

In the days ahead, we will be rolling out the programme of events on http://www.cmsafricasummit.org. Tickets are on sale at $21 at www.eventbrite.com and http://www.tamudeals.com. Lets meet in Kigali Rwanda in March.