Thursday, 4 December 2014

Moving Africa Forward: Understanding The Challenges From Within.

The 21st century has been touted as the century in which the continent of Africa is expected to register resounding and tangible growth in several facets which include the political aspect, social aspect and most importantly the economic aspect. The progress of Africa, in general, depends on how well growth and development of these various aspects will be stimulated and sustained effectively in order to register substantive development in the continent. In moving Africa forward, there is need to re-visit the opportunities available in the continent, review the  present challenges and the available and/ or possible threats.

Africa is undoubtedly well-endowed with natural resources. These resources range from the wildlife comprising of the varied species of the flora and fauna, the different types of minerals, agricultural land among several others. The various African governments have always talked and continue to do so about the diversity of the natural resources that are available. Little, however, has been done to ensure that utility is derived from such resources.

It is also worthy to note that as a continent we have not maximized the cultural diversity that is visible from north to south and east to the west of Africa. Instead, most Africans have used the cultural diversity to fuel negative thoughts, beliefs and attitudes and this has created a negative base that has propagated divisions and animosity among the African people. A good example of this is the negative ethnicity that is common among many African nations and states.

All the problems and challenges that eclipse Africa at the present moment are as a result of either having wrong institutions or weak institutions in place. There is urgent need to review the existing institutions and either phase them out or to strengthen them in order to establish institutions that are strategic. The various problems and challenges that we experience as a continent are varied and they range from famine, hunger, diseases, negative ethnicity, poor governance, poor infrastructure and many others.

In as much as significant progress has been achieved in promotion of good governance in Africa, it is certain that more needs to be done if at all we are to realize the renaissance of our beloved continent. It therefore the responsibility of every citizen to fully aware of the principles of good governance. But awareness will not aid much if such principles are not upheld and put into practice by the leaders and the led in general. The principles of good governance include:
·         Public participation especially in decision-making.
·         Application of the rule of law.
·         Transparency in governance processes and institutions.
·         Responsiveness whereby the existing institutions are supposed to serve people within a reasonable timeframe.
·         Consensus orientation.
·         Equity.
·         Effectiveness and efficiency in realization of results by the institutions.
·         Accountability.
·          A strategic vision on promotion of good governance and human development.
The application of the above principles in the existing institutions and processes would act as a springboard towards pushing Africa into following a growth and development trajectory that is efficient as well as effective.
It is imperative that in moving Africa forward, the governments need to hugely invest in both physical and social infrastructure. We need to have very good roads, airports that are well constructed, efficient sea ports, electricity generation and distribution that is good, proper built and well equipped health facilities, a reliable education sector among others. Infrastructure is the most fundamental aspect towards the realization of notable development. The African governments should be aware that failing to heavily invest in infrastructure is failing to spur growth and development.

Cases of famine and hunger simply imply that we are still faced with the challenge of food insecurity. A country that cannot adequately feed its people cannot effectively develop. It is high time most of  the rigid governments to allow the Genetically Modified Crops which mature within a short span of time and which can be specifically engineered to suit the climatic conditions of Africa. Assurance of food security will help to cut off the reliance on food aid which has often times jeopardized the running of the affairs of most African governments.

Nevertheless, terrorist groups in some parts of Africa are a major hindrance in realization of notable development. In West Africa, especially in Nigeria and now Cameroon, the Boko Haram threat is evident. In the Horn of Africa, the Al Shabaab threat is still present. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the dangers posed by the several rebel groups can clearly be seen. To move Africa forward such groups need to be decapitated to allow for normalcy and stability to set in. a continental comprehensive security approach ought to be put in place to address the  security threats occasioned by the terrorist and rebel groups.

In conclusion, the bottlenecks that are limiting Africa to consistently move forward are basically poor governance, security threats, low infrastructural investments and food insecurity. The time that efforts will be synergized and all aspects systematized to deal with the aforementioned challenges then positive progress will be inevitable. To move Africa forward, understanding the problems and the challenges from within is very crucial so as to institutionalize effective mitigation measures.

Leadership: A General Perspective.

We often talk and think about leadership in our daily lives because it is an important aspect that cannot be ignored at all costs. But most people’s thinking is that they associate leadership with politics. From my own viewpoint, leadership entails a number of facets beginning at a personal level to more complex levels such as the military and sophisticated levels like managing tech firms that are in involved in constant and continuous innovation.

Leadership should be first exhibited at a personal level. If we desire to attain all the success and accomplish all the goals that we set at a personal level, then we undoubtedly need to refocus on how well we are in charge of ourselves. To be properly organized at a personal level then an aura of leadership should surround us. Personal organization is depicted in the manner in which we effectively manage our time, how we manage our finances, how we dress, how we communicate, how we relate with others and so on. In any case, if you desire to hold a very senior leadership position sooner or in the near future, then carry out an audit of how you are fairing on at a personal level. The bitter truth is that if you are incapable of leading your own self, then you should have dim if not dimmer hopes of leading others.

At the family level, leadership is imperative as the family is the tit bit of all forms of social organization. The father or husband in a household needs to give direction to his family. The children usually look up to their fathers and mothers to provide leadership at any given time. Lack of effective leadership  at the family level is the root cause for broken homes. Nevertheless, the spiraling number of single women can be attributed to some men who have failed to take up on their responsibilities. Irresponsibility is a clear indication and manifestation of the lack of leadership. There is no leadership if there is no responsibility period! Having successful relationships and marriages is an absolute function of strong and effective leadership and responsibility amidst all the challenges that exist.

That weak leadership translates to weak results is a factual statement that cannot otherwise be subjected to debate. Countries, entities and other organizational forms that have once been victims of weak leadership have at one point of time paid for the incompetence of the leadership. Uganda under the rule of Idi Amin had to bear the consequences of poor leadership. South Sudan I believe is grappling with weak leadership that has consequentially led to the re-emergence of civil and tribal wars. Weak leadership at the Interior and Coordination of National Government Ministry formerly led by Joseph ole Lenku could be largely blamed for the spate of insecurity attacks in Kenya.

For corporates that are in constant competition, innovation is the bottomline of leadership. Corporates that fail to carry out innovation in whatever business segment they operate in risk having low sales and eventually exit the business environment. In general, lack of innovation by corporates signals a lack of leadership. This is the main reason why electronic firms like Panasonic and Phillips have arguably struggled to maintain and cut out a market niche for themselves. Innovation is what the late CEO of Apples, Steve Jobs used to propel his firm to be a leader in the production of electronic devices. Lack of innovation is what forced Eveready to close one of its branches in Nakuru, Kenya. Profit-based firms’ leadership is judged on how well they carry out innovation to have diversified goods and services in order to maintain relatively higher profit margins. Safaricom Company is a good example of this as they resorted to have several services other than just relying on voice call revenues for their profits. This is the main reason why it is the leading communications entity in Kenya.

On a general scale, one does not need an office, a title or a position to be a leader. Note that once a leader, always a leader. This is a philosophical statement that I strongly agree with. However, when in charge of a certain group, organization, entity or even oneself, remember that leadership comes with a great sense of RESPONSIBILITY. Therefore, any aspect of life at a personal, family, organizational or national level demands that we exercise leadership at its fullest.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Living A Purposeful Life.

It has been said time and again that life is what you make it to be. However, we have to consider that at the end of it all, the choices and the decisions that we make often determine the direction that our lives are going to. In the quest to live a life full of purpose, certain fundamentals ought to be taken into account but these are from my own observations. Therefore, I consider them as the basics that are going to change the course of somebody's life:
  • To start with, you've got to establish your main goal and objective on this planet. Living a purposeful life begins with you as an individual by putting down your main objective. Goals and objectives act as guides towards re-shaping and re-engineering our lives. Sticking to the various objectives that we have noted down helps us to be focused in life and thus at the end of the day we shall be able to attain meaning in our lives.
  • Secondly, we need to cut out all the negativities that are present in our lives. We therefore have to replace these negativities with positivities. However negative the situation may seem to be, always seek to have a positive mind and you'll be surprised at how eventually the negative situations may positively turn to your favour.
  • Most importantly, to live a purposeful life we need to review the list of those that we closely associate with. These associates, confidantes or friends in simple terms, will always determine the direction of our lives. Carry out an evaluation of your associates and make a decision of whether to continue furthering your relationship with them or to terminate it all together. To simply put it right, you associate with a failure and a loser, you'll end up being one and this the bitter truth. Try as much as possible to foster relations with individuals who will add value to your life. But we have to remember that we should also be close to those who seem to have veered off the way and try as much as possible to aid them to restore their lives.
  • In finding purpose in our lives, we have to remember that our future is more important than the past. However, we need to note that the present is equally vital in helping us to have a brighter future. It does not matter where you have come from but where you are heading to is what will be used as a gauge to measure how effective you were in attaining your goals. Thus, we should cease living in the past and focus our energies on doing our very best at the present moment which will help in establishing a strong foundation for the future.
  • We should take time to appreciate those who have assisted us in various ways whether materially or emotionally. Remember that making it through life is not all about the individual effort but also the efforts of  other well-wishers who strived to see that we live a fruitful life.
  • Living a purposeful life demands that we have to drop the tag of laziness. Most people are lazy and they expect to change their lives to be completely different. This is a fallacy as living a purposeful life demands that we wake up from the slumber and push ourselves out of the comfort zone so as to achieve all the aspects of greatness that we have forever thought or dreamt about.
  • Very effective and proper time management is a basic aspect in giving proof of whether we are leading a life that has purpose or we are simply going through life. We ought to have it in our minds that time is the most important resource that is freely disposable to any person and hence it all depends how best we make use of it. Living a purposeful life entails, therefore, that we should utilize efficiently the time that we have but it should be remembered that a rest is paramount for us to rejuvenate ourselves.  
It is my hope that we should be able to find purpose in our lives and this demands that we evaluate and assess all the aspects of our lives to know where we have come from, where we are and where we are heading to. Goodluck and have a purposeful life!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

The 17 Principles of Success by Napoleon Hill.

As we begin the month of November, I have found it necessary to share with my esteemed readers this article from Napoleon Hill’s works in order to inspire and propel you towards greater heights of success and achievement. It is my sincere wish that it will act as an impetus for both the current and future successes of those who will spare time and read it.
Develop definiteness of purpose. Success and progress towards achieving your goals in life begin with knowing where you are going. Any dominating idea, plan or purpose held in your conscious mind through repeated effort and emotionalized by a burning desire for its realization is taken over by the subconscious and acted upon through whatever natural and logical means available. Your mental attitude gives power to everything you do. If your attitude is positive, your actions and thoughts further your ends. If your attitude is negative, you are constantly undermining your own efforts. The starting point of all human achievement is the development of a definite major purpose. Without a definite major purpose, you are as helpless as a ship without a compass.

Establish a mastermind alliance. This consists of two or more minds working together in perfect harmony towards a common definitive objective. Through a mastermind alliance you can appropriate and use the full strength and experience, training and knowledge of others just as if they were your own. No individual has ever achieved success without the help and cooperation of others. The value of gathering those of a like mind  is self-evident. A group of brains coordinated in a spirit of harmony will provide more thought energy than a single brain, just as a group of electric batteries will provide more energy than a single battery.

Assemble an attractive personality. A positive mental attitude is the right mental attitude in any given situation. Courtesy is your most profitable asset…and it is absolutely free! Emotions are nothing but a reflection of your mental attitude, which you organize, guide and completely control. Your personality is your greatest asset or your greatest liability because it embraces everything you control…your mind, body and soul. To be happy, make someone else happy.

Use applied faith. Faith is awareness of, belief in, and harmonizing with the universal powers. Faith is a state of mind which must be active and not passive, to be useful in achieving lasting success. Close the door to fear behind you and you will quickly see the door of faith open before you. Fear is nothing more than a state of mind, which is subject to your own direction and control. Faith will not bring you what you desire, but it will show you the way to go after it yourself.

Go the extra mile. Strength and struggle go hand in hand. Render more and better service than what you are paid for and sooner or later you will receive compound interest from your investment. The end of the rainbow is at the end of the second mile. The quality of the service rendered, plus the quantity of service rendered, equals your compensation. The more you give, the more you get.

Control your attention. Keep your mind ON the things you want and OFF on the things you don’t want! It is much easier to focus your attention on something you believe will happen than on something you believe is unlikely. Controlled attention is the act of coordinating all the faculties of your mind and directing their combined power to a specific end. Positive and negative emotions cannot occupy your mind at the same time. Independence starts with self-dependence.

Inspire teamwork. There is no great contribution to civilization without the cooperation of others. Enthusiasm is contagious and teamwork is the inevitable result. A good football team relies more on harmonious coordination of effort than individual skill. Most people will respond more freely to a request than they will to an order. Helping others solve their problems will help you solve your own.

Learn from adversity and defeat. Everyone faces defeat. It may be a stepping-stone or a stumbling block, depending on the mental attitude with which it is faced. Failure and pain are one language through which nature speaks to every living creature. You are never a failure until you accept defeat as permanent and quit trying. Thomas Edison failed 10000 times before perfecting the electric light bulb. Don’t worry if you fail once. Every adversity, every failure, and every unpleasant experience carries with it the seed of an equivalent benefit which may prove to be a blessing in disguise.

Cultivate creative vision. Creative imagination has its base in the subconscious and is the medium through which you recognize new ideas and newly learned facts. Synthetic imagination springs from experience and reason; creative imagination springs from your commitment to your definite purpose. Imagination recognizes limitations. Creative imagination sees no limitations. Your imagination faculty will become weak through inaction. It can be revived through use. The man who dipped a chunk of ice cream in chocolate and called it “Eskimo Pie” made a fortune for five seconds of imagination it took to create the idea!

Maintain sound health. To maintain a positive mental attitude and develop a healthy mind and body, you must conquer fear and anxiety. Anything that affects your physical health also affects your mental health. A positive mental attitude is the most important quality for sound mental and physical health. Exercise produces both physical and mental buoyancy. It clears sluggishness and dullness from mind and body. If you haven’t the willpower to keep your physical body in repair, you lack the power of will to maintain a positive mental attitude in other important circumstances that control your life.

Budget your time and money. Tell me how you use your time and how you spend your money and I will tell you where and what you’ll be ten years from now. Take regular inventory of yourself to learn how and where you are spending your time and money. The secret of getting things done is: DO IT NOW! Time is too precious to be wasted on arguments and discontent. Some mistakes can be corrected, but not the mistake of wasting time. When time is gone, it is gone forever.

Use of cosmic habitforce. It takes a habit to replace a habit. All of your successes and failures are results of habits you have formed. The orderliness of the world of natural laws gives evidence that they are under control of a universal plan. For every result, there is a cause and results are brought about through the use of cosmic habitforce. First you get a habit, then it gets you.

Create personal initiative. It is better to act on a plan that is still weak than to delay acting at all. Procrastination is the archenemy of personal initiative. Personal initiative: is contagious, succeeds where others have failed, creates work, creates opportunity, creates the future, creates advancement. Procrastinators are experts at in creating alibis. Personal initiative is the inner power that starts all action.

Build a positive mental attitude. A positive mental attitude is the single most important principle of the science of success, without which you cannot get the maximum benefit from the other sixteen principles. Success attracts success and failure attracts more failure. Your mental attitude is the only thing over which you and only you have complete control. A positive mental attitude attracts opportunities for success, while a negative mental attitude repels opportunities and doesn’t even take advantage of them when they do come along. A positive mind finds a way it can be done… a negative mind looks for all the ways it can’t be done.

Control your enthusiasm. To be enthusiastic-act enthusiastically! Enthusiasm is to progress towards success, as gasoline is to a car’s engine. It is the fuel that drives things forward. Enthusiasm stimulates your subconscious mind. By feeding your conscious mind with enthusiasm, you impress upon your subconscious that your burning and your  plan for attaining it are certain. Enthusiasm is a state of mind. It inspires action and is the most contagious of all emotions. It is more powerful than logic, reason or rhetoric in getting your ideas across and in winning over others to your viewpoint.

Enforce self-discipline. Self-discipline is the process that ties together all your all your efforts of controlling your mind, your personal initiative, positive mental attitude and controlling your enthusiasm. Self-discipline makes you think before you act. The subconscious has access to all departments of the mind, but is not under the control of  any. If you don’t discipline yourself, you are sure to be disciplined by others. Without self-discipline, you are as dangerous as a car running downhill without brakes or steering wheel.

Think accurately. Thoughts have power, are under your control and can be used wisely or unwisely. Accurate thinkers accept no political, religious or other type of thought, regardless of its source, until it is carefully analyzed. Accurate thinkers are masters of their emotions. Accurate thought involves two fundamentals. First you must separate facts from information. Second you must separate facts into two classes; the important and unimportant. Accurate thinkers allow no one to do their thinking for them.

Goodluck as you create an atmosphere and environment that is success-oriented.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Contextualizing Kenya’s Agricultural Sector Development Strategy.

Over the years, the agricultural sector has been and continues to be the leading sector in Kenya’s economy. Several policies concerning and dealing with agriculture have been formulated in order to spur and accelerate growth in the sector. Some of the noticeable policies include the Strategy for Revitalizing Agriculture of 2004 and Vision 2030. The Agricultural Sector Development Strategy was formulated to cover the period 2010 to 2020.

The main objective of Vision 2030 is to push Kenya towards the attainment of the middle-income status by the citizens. In this particular working paper, the manufacturing sector is anticipated to be the leading sector. However, it is impossible to be able to set up a strong manufacturing industrial base if a strong foundation in agriculture is not going to be laid down. It should be noted that agriculture contributes directly 26% of the Gross Domestic Product and about 25% of GDP indirectly. It also accounts for 65% of Kenya’s total exports and more than 70% of employment opportunities in rural areas.

In striving to make strides towards enhancing and promoting efficiency in the agricultural sector, the government of the day and the would be successive governments need to pay attention to certain fundamental aspects without which such efforts would only remain as a mirage. The starting point to accelerate performance in this sector is by ensuring that budgetary allocation for the sector is increased not marginally but substantially. Kenya’s allocation to the agricultural sector in the national budget can be termed as meager considering that the total allocation for the sector is way below 10% of the total national budget.

Our previous governments and the current government ought to peg allocations to the sector on the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security of 2003 formulated under the auspices of the African Union. This declaration sought to compel the African governments and administrations to at least have 10% of the total national budget going towards the agricultural sector. It thus remains imperative that a substantial allocation of funds towards agriculture will lead to immense growth of the sector.

To establish or to create an enormous manufacturing sector in Kenya, it is vital to develop agro-based industries in which the latter will act as a strong base for the establishment of the former. With the presence of the agro-based industries, other related modern industries will automatically develop through forward and backward linkages and hence bringing to real existence of the modern manufacturing industries.

Another fundamental aspect in ensuring efficiency in the sector is to enhance effective training, research and development programmes. This can be done by developing the existing agricultural institutions by ensuring the curricula and programmes offered are up to date and the usage of the latest but appropriate technology in training the manpower. These days, some regions hardly have the field officers attending to the needs of the farmers. This situation has created a gap that has consequently led to low production and poor quality products.

In addition, genetically modified and engineered organisms need to be introduced if we are yearning to increase our levels of production and to boost our food security. However, this should be strictly on the crops and not on the animals. Genetically modified crops mature faster and their yields are also high and from my own viewpoint, this would initiate better food security, high surplus which will lead to increased exports. It should be noted that the introduction of such crops is subject to a sober and mature debate.

Most importantly, injecting efficiency in the agricultural state corporations is a key aspect towards the realization of the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy and the overall improvement of the sector. Most of these problems have been affected by the maladministration syndrome which has caused most of them to be run-down. A general and thorough audit of these firms needs to be carried out to determine the various strategies to be executed in order to ensure they have par performance in their operations.

To increase the market surplus, the small holder farmers need to access agricultural credit very easily and cheaply. Banks and other financial institutions need to reduce their conditionalities on loans and other inputs that they offer to the farmers. This will increase the capital base of the farmers and with proper management contribute towards high yields. A lot of emphasis should be laid on the small scale or small holder farmers as they form the largest bulk of farmers nationwide.

Furthermore, reducing reliance on rain-fed agriculture is another vital aspect which this working paper seeks to deal with. This has an implication that a lot of irrigation needs to be done. The present government has made a significant step towards allocating some funds towards several irrigation projects notably the A Million Acre Scheme in order to increases the yields and promote food security. However, the government needs to be at the fore-front in ensuring that the aquifers in Turkana County are drilled so that water for irrigation is easily available. Also other arid and semi-arid lands(ASALs) should also be effectively utilized in agricultural terms through the practical use of technology and irrigation.

In conclusion, the bottomline for actualization of the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy remains increasing  the budgetary allocation towards the sector. Without having enough finances, then realizing all the other strategies put in place to improve the sector would remain all but a dream.