Why I love Nairobi

Nairobi I believe is one of the most beautiful metropolitans in Africa if not the world. I mostly enjoy the walks I take in the morning to and from work through the city so I decided to document some of the beautiful sites it has to offer.
It’s basically a good contrast of dawn and dusk, the sunrise and the sunset that are so breathtaking from the little glimpses the concrete jungle allows. Here are some of my best moments, taken from my camera phone as I walked along the various streets in the city.

This is Moi Avenue in the morning, looking all peaceful. The hustle and bustle of hard working Kenyans on their way to work. The Sunrise above the National Archives building is just breathtaking. A new day, a new dawn, another day to make a difference in the world.

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City Hall Way in the evening can be so beautiful. This is one of my best streets in Nairobi. The Plush green trees, the clean pavements, the flowers by the side, the street lights as the dark creeps in. All is one marvel that brings a smile to my face even after a really long day.

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This is a beautiful evening shot of the famous Kencom building. Since back in the day when cell phones were non-existent, this was the de-facto meeting point for people in Nairobi. Dates would be set months in advance and the activity around this building still makes it a central meeting point for people to this day.

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Mama Ngina Street. This is one street that I really love; The trees that have taken ages to grow, and of course it hosts my favourite coffee shop. Nairobi Java will always be my favourite coffee shop, it fuels my coffee addiction and life would just not be complete without it.

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Parliament way. Such a beautiful street to walk on any time of day. The human traffic on this is very minimal which ensures that you enjoy the scenery of the Parliament buildings and the Jomo Kenyatta Mausoleum.

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Kaunda Street. Such a serene walk way, not too much traffic and gives a vibrant feel of the Nairobi culture with a selection of shops of all accessories. 20140131-191823.jpg

Another great shot of Parliament way by the wall of the Parliament Buildings.

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This is by far one of the greatest shots of the Nairobi sunset I have taken. It was a long day after work and I was walking down Utalii Lane on the way to meet a couple of friends for coffee when i saw this beautiful sight. The golden sunset illuminating the clouds and the light reflecting on Utalii Building. It was such a breathtaking experience all round, i felt refreshed just by looking at it.

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Another Sunset shot on Kenyatta Avenue. The green on this street is just amazing and the light reflecting on the buildings was just awesome. It also captures the extremes of a great peaceful walkway and the busy Nairobi evening traffic.

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A dawn shot of the usually busy Moi Avenue. This street was virtually empty at this hour, it was so peaceful walking to work on that day. 20140131-192245.jpg

Muindi Mbingu Street. I feel in love with this particular part of the street because of all the green around me in the middle of this concrete jungle we call Nairobi. Such a beautiful sight.

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To cap it all off, the walk way in KICC, I am glad I took this short cut through the grounds, it’s always such a beautiful sight. 20140131-192328.jpg

Nairobi sure is beautiful, amid the social, economic and political things that are around us each day, we all need to pause and enjoy our streets. Who knows, some of these great sceneries might just influence us to relax and re-evaluate our perspectives on every day life.

VALUE FOR MONEY IN PROCUREMENT

Traditional approaches to achieving value in procurement underscore cost savings. Contemporary procurement on the other hand, takes a holistic view that transcends cost savings, delving into other forms of value addition that are realized by organizations through procurement functions.

This report highlights the different forms of value that can be realized through procurement. It is aimed at ensuring that procurement professionals appreciate the concept of value for money; so as to design & implement the structures, systems & processes that would promote the delivery of value to their respective organizations through procurement.

One of the key factors in achieving value for money is coming up with a comprehensive procurement strategy. A good strategy should incorporate key services or goods for various units/programs/departments, an assessment of how these goods are purchased, performance of key suppliers & the scope to improve value for money & quality of service. A good procurement strategy should also cover the whole process of obtaining the goods, services & works from third parties. This strategy should link the procurement goals & the achievement of the overall organization objectives.

Procurement has direct control over huge amounts of money in an organization & therefore there needs to be continuous development of procurement staff to further enhance competence development.  This ensures that through this, they are able to identify areas that can be maximized on & those that can be improved to further ensure that they realize value for money for the organization in terms of procurement.

Value can be realized in terms of viewing an asset to be purchased in a whole life perspective which incorporates initial cost, maintenance of that asset, warranties & guarantees, support services, obsolescence & the cost of disposing that asset when the time comes.  A good example of these would be the buying of vehicles for an organization: some brands of vehicles are expensive to buy, maintain but overall, have a high resalable value even after long periods of use, compared to vehicles that are cheap to buy & maintain but end up in a scrap yard after a couple of years because no one wishes to purchase them. An organization should always look at opportunities to gain some money off disposals that can be utilized for other activities.

It is crucial for users in an organization to include procurement when they are defining their needs. This allows procurement to advice on areas that savings can be achieved & avoids unnecessary purchases that become expensive especially when specifications are not well defined. Incase it’s a project based procurement, early procurement involvement makes sure that the users are able to anticipate potential problems  & proactively deal with them, still at the planning level.  This saves on times & cost. In terms of aggregating procurements, the procurement department can pool together needs from the various departments/users, standardize on the specifications & at the same time save on costs in terms of volume discounts from suppliers.

The foundation of any value that an organization can gain in a contractual arrangement will be based in the structured contracts. The ability to remove possibility of variability in the duration of the contract is vital in achieving on time delivery and on budget & thus realizing value for your money.  It is important that in the planning process of a project, everything is taken into consideration since midstream re-evaluation of needs & specifications will translate to more costs that those initially planned for. All stakeholders including procurement need to be involved in the planning process & look into ways to deal with supplier delays, fluctuations in products costs & how these are incorporated into a contract. A good example of this is a company that enters into a contract with a contractor to build a road, but the contract is time based & not performance based. The contractor can delay the project, bill at the specified periods be it quarterly & at the end the organization ends up paying the full amount, long before the road is even done. The key here was even if litigated, the contractor was within his rights to be paid without completing the project based on the contract that was signed.

Procurement risks can be managed by avoiding unnecessary purchasing. There needs to be clear justification of need for goods and services.  It is also good to note that price does not necessarily represent value for money, it is always advisable to purchase through competitive bidding. Assessment needs to be done to ensure that goods are not purchased in uneconomic quantities, & right quality is maintained.  It is good to note how to allocate the various risks across the supply chain to the party best placed to manage that risk. Some of the risks that an organization takes when purchasing a particular product are: will the product perform adequately, will the supplier deliver in time, what happens when the supplier fails to deliver & also the reliability of the product in question. All these risks need to be looked at in case they occur & how they will be handled.

Procurement audits also need to be done once in a while.  These audits help to identify weaknesses and areas of non-compliance in the procurement system, ensure implementation of intervention measures & ensure the application of fair, competitive & transparent procurement activities.  It is also advisable to audit the procurement policies to check if they are realigned to achieving the organization’s strategic objectives.  Procurement audits should look into random procurements to check if the right procedures were used in the planning & specifications identification, whether the bids sent out were standard, conform to the public procurement Act, conditions & specifications were clear, the choice of the procurement method,  how the bids were opened & were committee meetings maintained, how were the late bids treated. How was the evaluation of these bids done? Was there consistency in application of the evaluation criteria? Was the evaluation report prepared & duly signed?  After award, it needs to be established if simultaneous notification to successful & unsuccessful bidders were sent out, the contract issued was based on documents, award decision, and notification of award.  All this cries for proper maintenance of procurement records that are transparent & show the entire procurement process.

In a nutshell, it is good to note the key drivers for value for money for the organization. These are focusing on whole life costs of a product, integrated planning & design, deriving proper specifications, continuous improvement of skills & expertise, best value evaluation of bids & proper contractual terms.

A Society Of The Extremes

What am i doing exactly? I have asked myself that question repeatedly over the last half hour that i have been seated here. I am in a night club, yet i am seated, looking on uninterested at a football match, all the while as the music blares on.
Am i am old geezer? No, i don’t believe i am, am i sick? not that i know of, am i bored? well maybe, am i that antisocial? sometimes. All these questions, or the answers to them, might explain why i am still seated as Billie Jean comes on, but i haven’t the faintiest answer for any one of them.
Wait, watching people is fun! I get to see all sorts of characters come to light. The lady in green is playing so hard to get, yet its obvious she is a jealous woman ready to claw one’s face. I get to see the lone ranger dancing by himself beer in hand, yeah, its clear he has been at it for a couple of hours, i pray he gets lucky sometime in the night. There is a couple, well i can call them a couple, after all they have been grinding each other all night, i wonder who between them plays ‘husband’, Yes, both are women.
Maybe its by chance that i am seated here, maybe fate wanted me to experience this. Maybe fate wanted me to see how much society has grown & become so diverse over the years. We have become a tolerant society, we have become an adventurous society, we have become a society of the extremes.
On one side we have the perfect ‘couple’, on the other we have the lone ranger hoping to get lucky, & on the other, we have the lady in green acting like an obnoxious nobody yet all she would like is a a guy who can see beyond her fake mask & offer to buy her a drink.
The lone ranger represents so many people in our society. Those that toil day after day, doing everything by the book, seeking for the elusive acceptance, someone to acknowledge that they exist. Most of these people are perfect in every way, the only thing they lack is the confidence of being outspoken individuals. They easily fall prey to manipulation because they embrace the acceptance that they seek so easily, no matter the form in which it comes. They are the perfect human beings, successful, yet lonely.
The lady in green represents individuals in society who paint their lives according to how they think the society wants them to be. These are people who have no idea who they are, their persona has been lost within themselves. They crave attention, yet they put up a face suggesting the contrary. These are individuals who are so lost within themselves, only an exorcism can save them.
The ‘couple’ dancing the night away represents how tolerant our society has become of same sex relationships. It is no longer an alien phenomenon, it has become so widely accepted in a way that has left clergy men in complete confussion. The tolerance shows that the society has become so diverse in a way that no one really cares, its  has become a society of everyone for himself & God for us all.
That is just my opinion, i think my question at this point would be, who would you rather be?
Or, you can chose to be like me, sit back & enjoy the show.

50 Years of Independence and alot to hope for.

A greater 2013; I have a dream that this year, we can overcome bounds of oppression, corruption & overall moral decadence in our society.
This is a momentous year for Kenya, with us having elections this year. An election that the world over is keeping tabs on. The transition after elections will be very crucial. 2007 will always be a dark smudge on this country’s history and one we must show the world that we have learned from. Kenya is a major regional business hub with Nairobi being a regional headquarter to a number of multinationals. Peaceful transition will mean greater economic expansion, steady growth forecasts and a greater platform for achieving vision 2030.
This year will also be the year that arguably the new constitution will go full throttle in terms of implimentation. We all hope that the sanctity of the constitution that has been defiled ever so often the previous year by legislators will be upheld by a new and better elected group of legislators.
This year i hope that the greed that has corrupted this country will end. Greed has come in so many forms for this country; Poachers have continued to plague this country, most recent being the slaughter of a family of 11 elephants for ivory in the Tsavo. These natural resources that we leisurely take for granted are the blood line of our economy and its time we stopped chopping off the hands that feed us. Another plague for this country has been corruption. It is my opinion that trying to get rid of corruption sorely by legislative means is not the solution. Corruption is a moral/social issue that most of us grow into; we have been raised to think that money is the solution to all problems and more so getting rich quickly. Corruption mentality must be rid off from the younger generation, they are the future of this country. Kenyans need to be more aware of their rights, we need to be aware that we do not have to bribe to access basic public service. Access to public service is your right as a Kenyan, we need to instil this to the younger generation and everyone for that matter. Mechanisms need to be throughly effective to deal with corruption, the penalties should be as harsh to the taker as they are to the giver of bribes.
This year i pray that morality that has avoided our society in recent times gives us a second chance. Good morals are the pillars of any society and we need these pillars to achieve the dream of being a greater nation than we already are. It is always sad to wake up to news of a 5 year old kid or anyone else for that matter brutally raped everyday. Instead of blaming the way the ladies of our society dress like Swaziland does, we need to educate young men in our society on how to respect and treat women. I only hope that one day all this decadence will end.
2013; This will be the year of hope, the jubilee year as many have called it. We need to show the world that 50 years down the line, we have grown into a great nation, one they can be look up to, one that we can be proud of.

My Prayer As A Kenyan

What happened to the good old days when we had extensive tracts of land under vegetation? What happened to the good old days when peace prevailed everywhere? What happened to the culture of being good neighbors? what happened to the days we used to be proud of our dignified leaders? What happened to the days when university dining menus would have chicken everyday? What happened to the pride civil servants once had when they woke up each morning to go work for their country? What happened to ‘Maziwa ya Nyayo’? What happened to the decency of society? What happened to the good old days of co-existence regardless of tribe? What happened to the council of elders in various communities? What happened to the morality of the ruling society? what happened to the beloved country i grew up being proud of my nationalism? What happened to my beloved Kenya?
Kenya has been degraded to a mere joke, our moral standing has sunk so low, so low such that we have allowed ourselves to be manipulated like puppets with the promise of a few coins. Kenya has become a haven for the buyers of souls. Kenya has become a habitat of selfish, immoral, corrupt and undignified leaders. Leaders who are so power hungry, they have sold their souls. Leaders so unfortunate to be called human beings they have incited the same people who choose them to take up arms against each other. Leaders so ugly inside they have the ‘courage’ to back to the electorate to ask for votes after a term of no development for their constituents. Leaders so power greedy they start campaigning for the next election 3 months after concluding elections. Leaders so sick they have the audacity to call themselves ‘underpaid’ after taking a million home every month. Leaders who lack vision, leaders who leave on foreign trips with their whole extended families on public funds. Leaders so shameless they pay followers of low moral fibre to lie about miracles to fill their churches.
I pray that Kenya finds its way. I pray that we find ourselves, i hope that we can regain the moral standing we have soiled so much. I bank on the honest and hardworking mwananchi; the grandmother taking care of orphans, the mama mboga up at dawn every morning to head to the market, the matatu driver up late to take people home after a night out, the teacher who loves her job albeit deplorable working conditions, the farmer up at 4 am every morning to milk his cow to sell his milk at the dairy, the nun taking care of the homeless in shelters, the doctor working with poor quality equipment to save lives; I am banking on all of you, I am hoping that together we can change the direction our country has taken. It starts with me and you, it starts with electing worthy leaders, it starts with saying NO to inciters, it starts with respecting ourselves. After all, we are Kenyans and i think we were built special. Lets start by building up the pride we once had. Lets build a better Kenya for the next generation. This is my prayer as a Kenyan.

A Reason to live

The estimated number of animals on our planet falls somewhere in the vast range of 3- 30 million species (Erwin 1983, Wolosz 1988). Of all these species, insects- in particular ants fascinate me a great deal. The Amazon rains days on end and somehow these really small beings have found a way to survive.
It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon that has puzzled biologists for decades: Place a single fire ant in water and it wil struggle. But a group of fire ants will bind together and float effortlessly for days.
My friend has to me, much in common with a fire ant in a flooded rain forest; only this time round, the forest is the outside world. She has beaten the odds- amid great challenges, she has told the world to watch her shadow as she marches on to greatness.
Friends and family have ensured that she stays afloat, they have given her the strength, the courage, the will to fight on, the reason to believe, they have brightened up the future and ensured she lives to see the beauty the world is yet to give.
After a diagnosis of Systemic Lupus Eurythmatoses, that led to end stage kidney failure she had to undergo a couple of transplants. Many would have given up, but not her and in the end, she still stands, smiling at her woes and fighting on.
So full of life and new found confidence, all we can do is cheer her on. I remember at a talk she gave- a statement “Information is your best friend”. Couple that with family and friends and you have a perfect recipe for fighting any illness.
As a champion in her own right, I salute her as i jump up and down at her corner cheering her on. I hope and pray that her story touches others in the same situation, that it may give them the strength to fight on, that it may let them know that there is a God, and you are never alone. we are none of us alone.

Patience-Are you Clever enough to accept it?

A friend once told me that being too passive has its perks, but on the other hand, it also has its pitfalls.

Many a time, when one is too quiet and unconfrontational, he is considered weak, uncapable or worse, a plain old coward. What people don’t figure out is, that person is a calculative, patient, and one who has mastered the art of choosing his battles really carefully.

Ofcourse in some aspects such as business, this passiveness translates into numbers, those translate into profit margins, those translate into expenditure reviews, those translate into job losses, those tranlate to family detriments and so on. On the other hand, the passive nature might be viewed as the ‘fall before the rise’. This can be in terms of long term strategies, taking hits in the short run but hoping for significant positive results in the future. These days young entrepreneurs have less stomach for such concessions, they opt for business opportunities that produce returns in the shortest time possible. Many of them will, don’t  or do not want to understand the concept of Treasury Bills/Bonds, Life Insurance or Education insurance packages. When some businesses will yield returns in a relatively shorter period, this has also led to the emmergence of fraud that target less informed- in terms of business related terminologies and practices people. Pyramid schemes is a classic example, efforts to clamp it down by the goverment in the near recent past have been fruitful.

Patience is a virtue that we all have to find again. It has been lost to most of us, it has been eroded by our greed, our lust for success, our bid to base success in terms of monetary status; which all calls to question if Maslow’s heirachy of needs really works. Patience in business is paramount, many would put it- ‘Rome, with all its architectural magnificence was not built in a day.’ The groundwork must be right- the foundation in which the business is built must be good, the strategy must be decisive as it is realistic and above all else, the right people for the job must share & believe in that dream. Starting a business venture is never a smooth sailing affair, many who have trodden on this path can attest to that. After all the scuffles, after all the dust biting, after all the end months with little or no paychecks, in the long run, its all worth it.

Employment is based on the same concept. A classic example- over 90% of CVs people submit, the single most used sentence is ‘To be a successful ptofessional in my field……..’ but, do people really know what it takes to do that?

Never think that armed with a  degree, your first job will be a managerial post. It starts with picking up coffee for your bosses, photocopying reports, picking up dry cleaning for your boss, buying and writting cards for your bosses wife, filing. If you are lucky, paper cuts will leave your hands as soft as they were. Many do not have the stomach for that and end up quiting after a month. One of the dreams many people have straight from College is to get a highly paying job, enough to buy a car, that will never happen, and the earlier these poor kids realize that, the better it will be for them to adapt to this harsh world. Patience, quick on-the-job learning will get you to the top, accept that and you are home free.

Patience as simple as it may sound is the key to everything in life, the question is, are you clever enough to realize that?