Monday, November 27, 2006

One Day On The Train.............

It was a cold morning on the bilas train. Nick tried to munch on a pallid oily chapati left to him by his former seatmate, Movie Buff continued to type her critique on poorly made movies, Mocha played with her turntable, Devious One wistfully looked at a picture of her cat which she couldn't bring with her, Shiroh continued to hone her c.v on her laptop while Kenyanchick was engrossed in last week's issue of Pulse magazine. They all raised their heads as they noticed the train slowly come to a stop at a platform engulfed by the morning fog.

Nick whipped the condensation from his window and looked outside. Little was visible in the fog but he could see the silhouette of what appeared to be a single figure. The figure moved majesticaly towards the train with the fog seeming to part before his strapping frame.The train's doors slowly hissed open.

The mysterious figure strode into the carriage with everyone wondering who it was. When they saw who it was, mini chaos broke out. Nick dropped his chapati in shock, Movie Buff broke into tears, Mocha let the record skip on her turntable, Shiro threw her lap top in the air but luckily it landed on the seat behind her and Devious One fainted.

The Acolyte was back on the bilas train......................................


Majonzi said...

ahhh... it was you!! I really need to get over myself!! there I was thinking, being the new kid on the block and all, I would be creating all this chaos!! great writing btw! oh, and I am first!! I beat all ur regulars ;)

gishungwa said...

*Breaking into song* Werocamu werocamu na wakinya kwa traini siti downi. I knew you wouldnt stay away for long not sure if its appropriate to say good to have you back but now that you back first , pole sana kwa msiba then welcome*passing the thermos*

Half 'n' half said...

EEEh, I confess am abit on the blonde side this evening.

Couch 'tato said...

ha haha

-woiye poor 0.5n0.5 is totally clueless
-as gishungwa wud say siti downi!

and that train be jisty as hell...ama its coz i on the inside lookin out?m

Aegeus said...

ROTFL! The ruckus at the front of the train rouses Aegeus from the land of Nod. As he wipes the white lines of drool off his face and stands up he notices the Acolyte and with a knowing nod, he slumps back into his seat and retrives his ipod which had slipped under the seat while he was asleep.

mocha said...

Had to come out from hiding to comment on this one.

Welcome back Aco....the wait was waaaaaayyyy overdue!!! LOL!

Movie Buff said...

LOL.... You is a damn FEWL!

Dont think I did not notice the whole chapo reference....


Hell be calling you man!!!!!

POTASH said...

Is it me Acolyte or have you happened on an exciting way of saying nothing?
Well put mate!

kenya77 said...

Does economic growth ever signify improved fortunes for the citizens? This is the important debate that has been raging as two separate but somewhat related events took place in the last two weeks. On one hand the World Economic Forum held its annual meeting on Africa, under the theme 'Going for Growth'. The meeting acknowledged that Africa's average economic growth rate of 4.5% last year was inadequate to generate enough employment.

In Kenya the annual Economic Survey was released indicating that the economy grew by 5.8%, heralding much debate on the figures presented. Mine is not to digest economic theory but to ask 'where do we go from here?'

A few issues have since crossed my mind. One I was reminded that in order for a nation to double its per capita income it must grow at an average 8% for a successive 10-year period. ( Before you dismiss me do your math and check out how long that 1,000 shillings will translate into 2,000 if it was earning an 8% interest per year.)

Secondly I was reminded that we have over 2 million unemployed Kenyans while close to 450,000 join the job market every year on completion of schooling at various levels of education, yet the government gets bashing over the issue of 500,000 jobs per year, instead of focussing on how we can increase the number of jobs created.

These realties therefore must form the basis of our national debate on the way forward on matters economics.

When President Kibaki took over the management of the country's affairs he set out a target economic growth rate of 7% by 2007. In 2002 the economy grew by 1.8%, which means that in his fourth year in office the President has moved the growth rate 4 percentage points and could as well be on course to achieve the 7% growth by next year.

The President deserves more credit for his economic stewardship than he is currently getting. Politicians who had previously dismissed his leadership are thinking twice, and must make their contribution to focussed debate on issues that can help consolidate the economic gains.

In his June 1st speech President Kibaki outlined ways of ensuring that the country's growth is shared and felt by more Kenyans who have had to suffer the pain of poverty. The President fully acknowledged that ' some sections of our country are yet to feel the full impact of our economic growth', but clearly outlined what measures he is undertaking to correct this state of affairs.

Slow return on social investments

If truth be told the current government has engaged in one of the most ambitious social investment programs in the nations history. Social investments in areas like education and health are long term in nature and take time to pay dividends. South Korea for example achieved universal access to primary school education in 1960 and this was to pay-off in their industrialisation age with a steady flow of skilled and semi skilled labour in the nascent industries in textiles, electronics, vehicle manufacturing and assembly.

Challenges and Realities

We are also facing other stark realities in some of the growth sectors, where growth may not have translated in more jobs or increased wages. For example in tourism, after years of slow tourist arrivals we are now witnessing a steady flow. More people are now assured of their jobs for a longer period of time- those who only secured employment for the four months high season are now getting more months employment- so jobs may not have increased but they are more regular.

If you look at the tea and horticultural sub-sectors and E.P.Z.'s, the increased export earnings may not be translating in an increased wage bill, but what we should be debating is how employees in these areas can earn a fairer wage that will not out price Kenya in the global labour market.

In the public service the government has made effort to better pay the public service, leading to a higher wage bill. The government is however focussed on having a leaner, better paid and motivated public service that can guarantee efficient service delivery.

Productivity curve

Again here we must subject both the public service and our better paid members of parliament to the productivity curve. This curve basically indicates that the productivity of any employer rises with increased pay up to a certain level when productivity stagnates and thereafter any further pay increases actually lead to reducing productivity.

Economic model

Debate is also raging on what economic model we shall adopt as a country. Kenya now has a rich history of ups and downs. The government for example cannot completely withdraw from business. The China economic model is based on one big entrepreneur called the government that is able to control the whole production cycle - from cost of power, cost of money and transport to the value of the local currency vis-a vi the dollar. This has helped Chinese goods and services to be some of the most competitive around the world.

In Kenya, the government should be allowed to play some role especially in agriculture that is our mainstay. We cannot subject our farmers to extremes of external competition while remaining at the mercy of extremes of weather.

Kenya government can be a price stabiliser - e.g. the role of K.C.C., K.M.C an d N.C.P.B.

But while encouraging our farmers we should strike a balance between good producer prices for our farmers and urban consumers who must not be subjected to high food prices especially day to day consumables like maize flour, milk and sukuma wiki.
Way forward-sharing growth

So what are some of the suggestions and current interventions?

Value addition in agriculture is a must- if we are to deal with poverty- there must be as few middle men from the moment our farmer harvests his French beans to the time when the product lands in the supermarkets and kitchens of Europe.

The Land reforms that the government has begun should be supported and encouraged not politicised. Land still remains the biggest factor of production in an agricultural country like ours.

It is important to encourage new age industries in I.C.T. but we must remember that even countries like India that embraced I.C.T. over ten years ago, only 250,000 jobs can be directly attributed to the sector. The fact is that an agrarian revolution still remains our best bet at poverty alleviation.

Infrastructure development- need for innovative ways of raising funds locally. Initiatives towards introducing infrastructure bonds should be fast tracked, as suggested by the President in his Madaraka Day Speech.

We must unlock the funds for small enterprises- President has made several appeals to parliament to pass S.M.E. laws- big business should be encouraged and made to feel obliged to supporting local artisans and entrepreneurs.

C.D.F.'s must be taken to the next level- a people who were punished through harambees as their chicken were forcibly sold to raise funds must demand a say in the use of C.D.F money. These must not be used to satisfy the whims of the political class but there must be a deliberate effort at funding poverty alleviation projects.

Water access must be a priority - the benefits of saved time by our mothers who have to fetch water and the hygiene and health benefits of access to clean water cannot be overstated. Constituencies should have goals of reducing the distance families have to travel to fetch water- and this should be brought down every year, through CDF initiatives.

Planned urbanisation- what the President has consistently called making our urban centers better and more secure places to live and work in. The rallying call of turudi mashambani may have been a well- intentioned policy but now we must face the reality that as our people get more educated the attraction to urban centers is very real. This is the reality check that will see more investments in our upcountry urban centers and make them more attractive and ease the pressure on the city.

Form of protection for local industries- even if not on the scale of the import substitution scale for our industries. The protected young Asian industries producing sub-standard goods in the 60's and 70's are today the multi national corporations producing goods for the world that Europe and America can no longer produce competitively. In another few years the labours costs of Asia will no longer be competitive but the shift of the production bases will only be to countries that are well prepared. The debate on our competitiveness should be getting good coverage in our media.

Kenyans must get value for money- President has already asked that the timeline and cost of roads be published along roads under construction-bonds for infstraructure development.

Democratising our co-operative societies that remain the best avenue of mobilisng savings and cheaper credit

Constitution and coalition politics- need for future power sharing agreements to be based on a new or current constitution to avoid the kind of impasse Kenyans were treated to in the first 3 years of NARC rule and which is already exhibiting itself in current political re-alignments.

Improved security-need for all to support community policing

Dealing with AIDS, malaria and tuberclosis- as the First Lady Mrs Lucy KIbaki has said we must stop glorifying condom use among the youth. It has been proven that Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centers remain a great leap forward in the fight against HIV/AIDS

Finally I wish to emphasis the importance of the media in re-focussing debate and its important role in determining the national psyche.

The media deserve great credit for informing Kenyans on the opportunities of the just concluded KENGEN I.P.O. and should do more to educate Kenyans on some of the opportunities that exist in the economy. Getting our people to enjoy the full benefits of shared economic growth will benefit from sharing of information relevant to the challenges of our times.

(The writer is the Director of the Presidential Press Services)

Acolyte said...

@ Majonzi
Nani kama mimi!You're welcome!
@ Gish
It is sad being back but it had to happen.
@ half n half
Being on the bilaz train means being in a situation of getting no more strokes ie in my case being bila mama or jump off.
@ couch tato
You do know that when I get on the train it upgrades chap chap!
@ Aegeus
We most def have to share tracks while we are riding!
@ mocha
LMAO! Kumbe it was you who cursed me!Move up!
@ movie buff
You know I had to do it!I know I wont be there alone!
@ potash
Well you have to play the hype man at times you know!
@ Kenya77
I am going to leave your comment up for a while because I am feeling too lazy to delete it, I know who you are and you are not the Director of the PPU!
Feel free to set up a new blog to air your views, that is the best place to do that.

Couch 'tato said...

@kenya77: u give a new meaning to guiest bloggin.damn and i thought i had perfected that art

i wonder if he pressed ctrl v by mistake?

saskarama said...

I am guessing this is the soundtrack on that train, au siyo?

bankelele said...

Everyone punches a ticket on the train every now & then (even those who have cars & blicyles) - the trick is to not miss your stop
I see the Kenya 77 bug has hit you too.

Girl next door said...

That famous train...very well written!

Are you lost or just hunting for an audience?

Rista said...

Heh heh. Pole sana kijana. Now ebu take gentleman-101 in order to ensure you get right and (become) get a good (for you) person.

Kenya Imagine said...

my apologies Aco, wacha I do this....> kenya77, here is a website that would really love to hear from you...Kenya Imagine

Kenya Imagine said...

oops Kenya Imagine

cafenol said...

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOL ati what ?? for starters, yes I like my mnyama but i dont beba a picha of ehr and think aabout her like that. lol

As for you joinin the bilas train, I was recently promoted to conductor so lipa fare chap chap before I shukisha U in the next stop....