Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The problem with Ongata Town ....:)

Ongata Town on Google Maps

I start with a disclaimer: I'm not an expert on urban planning but I bet I can share my experience.

Basic info

As per the information on Wikipedia, Ongata Town had a population of 40,178 as at 2009 census. If you take a rough population growth rate of 30% per annum for this town, that will translate to a total of approximately 250,000 (0.25 million) as at 2016. But I think this population is much higher than this. Anybody with more accurate info on this?


Been staying in Ongata Rongai environs in the last couple of months and noted something queer, maybe it is so clear to me, as a visitor than the 'locals' who might not notice anything funny with this little 'diaspora town'; as 'Nairobians' would like to refer derogatively to this town in the larger former expansive Rift Valley Province!

Roads are really in a poor state. There are no stages for matatus and hence these characters drop and pick passengers in the middle of the road and hence the very presence of daily jams, Monday to Sunday, Sunday to Monday - all hours of the day. Traffic policemen are forced to be on the road all these days, unlike most roads where traffic policemen are not really needed on days like weekends.

If you want to have a really taste of the poor road infrastructure, just go past the main Magadi Road, which cuts right through the town, it is the only tarmacked area in the town! Other roads behind Magadi-Road-facing buildings, are not only not tarmacked but they are not passable; it is like some unwritten rule like those roads are only meant for 4X4 SUVs. The pot holes are huge, they literally swallow and vomit your car, not to the road, but to a ditch!

I can't completely comprehend why the County government cannot dedicate some few resources to create some sanity in this wonderful town, which I believe must be generating a lot of revenue in the whole county; in my approximate imagination, it can only come second to Kitengela.

What to fix

My plea to the County government is to improve Ongata town by carrying out the following activities, in order of priority and urgency:

  1. Bus stops for matatus and buses: start by constructing stages for these vehicles. Surely we cannot blame them for creating jam;  people need to alight and  others to board, indeed, it is not their problem, it is the people's problem - those boarding and alighting! 
  2. Tuskys Bus Stop: this being the main stage for all motor vehicles, improve on its status. Also, deploy your county askaris to man it - create some order, of vehicles coming in and going out - have one exit and one entry unlike the current madness where vehicles park where they want, and exit using any route. Have clear markings on this stage.
  3. 'Back streets status': improve on the status of roads bringing people to the town and also connecting buildings in the town, the only road I've so far seen in a better state is the one in front of the main Tuskys Supermarket. At least fill them up with even murram - make them all-weather - not necessarily to tarmack them, although that can be appreciated big time :)
  4. Garbage collection: Have better arrangements for garbage collection, the town is not yet in stinking status but left to its whims, this can be the worst nightmare. The strategy for this should include the town itself and its environs.
  5. Water provision: Is there piped water managed by the County government? I've no idea. Since water is life, manage this key resource. I've water in my house although I don't get it from the county government. Water is a key resource to be left in the hands of private investors.
  6. Connecting roads: the road between Kiserian Town and Ngong Town must be the the worst road I've driven in a long while. The road is riddled with pot holes, every few centimeters of the road is covered in potholes. Really? In this age and time? 
          The Pipeline Road is not  in a very good state either, but it is better than the Kiserian-Ngong               one. Fix it.Additionally, tarmac the road passing through Gataka - it will ease the jam on the               main Magadi Road, or at least make it motorable! If in a good condition, more people will                   prefer it - since it is a short cut to vehicular traffic heading to Kiserian.

Those are my thoughts for now and I believe that I'll be able to communicate more as I keep discovering this wonderful town.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Customer service? None I experienced!

The other day I visited Code d'Ivoire. The experience? What experience?

But then they say that any experience is an experience. Based on this, then I learned.

Disclaimer: no offense is meant by this post to my West African brothers, the Ivorians.

Lunch is strictly served between 12.00 pm and 1.00 pm. You come later than that, and sorry buddy, they won't even look at you twice! I asked myself whether these folks have heard something called customer service. I saw a business opportunity for my business-minded Kenyan brothers there but then I was told that taxes are prohibitive in this part of the world. But still, I believe there's something there.

Second surprise or is two in a package?

I went shopping in a relatively good looking supermarket. Did the shopping and at the point of sale, was told to have the exact cost of whatever I'd picked! Really? Yah! Take it or leave it. They had to remove some items from my shopping basket so that they don't give me any change! Was too shocked to complain or ask how or why. Next was 'give us a bag to pack these items'. Did not have any. Things were piled into a corner of the supermarket as I went back to the shelves to look for a paper bag or any carrying case. My expectation was that if this is what was expected from customers, they would have kept some cases like the chute bags near the tills or clearly indicated at the entrance or shelves that 'make sure you have a carrying case with you, before you go picking things from our shelves :)'.

The above incidents left me wondering whether this country cared that there are visitors among them who needed guidance or a little courtesy.

Bottom line, I experienced little customer care service, I think in my honest opinion, there was none. And since I did not want any more embarrassment or disappointment, I did the least shopping of any City I'd ever visited.


On a positive note, the City was pretty warmer than the cold Nairobi I'd left behind in my country. In addition to this, since the official language is French, I learned some few French words for the few days I was in this football-craze nation.
On the beauty side, the City seemed like it is set within lagoons, and hence it is pretty beautiful, if only they can beautify the seas shores? It will be a sight to behold.

Won't mind going there again, at least better prepared psychologically and linguistically!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Personal Data Management Perception Survey

Personal data has variously been described as the new currency. But what is the precise scenario in a country like Kenya?

In this regard, I'm carrying out a 'personal data perception survey' to gauge the mood of individual Kenyan citizens on what they think when it comes to personal data management.

The survey is available at the link:Personal Data Management Perception Survey.

Your feedback from the survey will be treated with utmost confidence and will solely be used for this research purpose.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Annual ICT Awards 2011

I attended the Computer Society of Kenya (CSK) organized Annual ICT Awards Ceremony for the year 2011 and was disappointed in most areas.

Starting from getting information about the awards ceremony: information about the event even from the CSK website were scanty. Just check the CSK website at and you will be deeply disappointed at the usability level of the website! Honestly, I believe a college student who has done some website design and usability analysis requirements for websites can do so much better. The site is not navigable in the first place nor is it informative, it is cluttered with adverts on key areas right on the home page.

Secondly, publicity for the event was not adequate. In this age where technology is driving what is happening in the world, such an event not being advertised even on social media (for heaven's sake this is free) is rather disappointing. I've not checked but I wonder whether CSK is on any social media platform; be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. [I've checked on Facebook and I've seen that CSK has a page which was last updated on 29th July - no mention of the just ended event]. How can a society which is supposed to shape the future of technology space be so behind in using technology to disseminate what I consider so key? How can they champion what they don't use? ...........

The event, as per the invitation card that I had, was scheduled to start at 6.30 pm and end around 10.00pm. I arrived at Laico Regency Hotel at at 6.33pm and to my dismay, I was told that they were arranging some tables ( or whatever) and I just had to wait for some 30 minutes. By 7.00 pm the event had not started and people who were arriving were told to hang around as the preparations for the event was not complete. Just hang around and do nothing and yet people rushed through the jam to be there in time? There was no courtesy even to provide seats outside where we were standing! I was dismayed and disappointed to the core.

The event ultimately kicked off at around 8.00 pm - that is 1 hour and 30 minutes past the scheduled start time. I left around 9.35 pm after the induction to the ICT Hall of Fame of Dr. Katherin Getao of the eGovernment Directorate and Mr. Harish Parekh of Computer Technics.

You can find the complete list of the awardees at the link:

My verdict: poor event planning, poor publicity. Can do better.

I will seriously consider attending another CSK event in the future.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

What is the 'real' value of certifications to companies and their customers?

 In the current Kenya setup, there are a number of companies that are aspiring to get coveted international certifications like ISO for quality management systems, environmental or security requirements compliance, etc. but how many are actually striving to improve their service offerings to their customers? Few. Many just want to flaunt them to their competitors and prospective customers but not on improvement of their service delivery.

Take the example of some public universities (I think almost all of them). They have ISO 9001:2008 certification. But how many lecturers and administrators in these universities appreciate that students are their most important customers? Very few. This is precisely the reason why you will have an ISO certified university that does not have a clear policy (or is it direction?) of where admission forms should be ‘deposited’ or returned to!

I had a nasty experience the other day where I had to shuttle between two university campuses trying to convince the secretaries (these are the people you will mostly interact with in a university set up) that, as per the forms, I was supposed to 'deposit' them at their offices. Ultimately, since I would not convince any, I left in a huff and waited to hear from my colleagues where the forms are supposed to be taken. This incident brings me to the question: this university being ISO certified, does it mean that there is no clear policy on where admission forms are supposed to be delivered? What about what is indicated on the forms? If there is, whose responsibility is it that it is adhered to, when prospective students are sent from one corridor or campus to another and they have no recourse? It is very disheartening, annoying and frustrating to say the least. Or just sort out the mess by implementing an online admission system. And issues will be sorted out, pap!

On another day, I'd the opportunity to walk to DT Dobie trying to locate some spare part for my car and I was indeed impressed by the service offered there. Honestly, those guys don't need an ISO certification, for as a customer, you feel adequately guided and valued as you enter the place. There is a place to pick an entry number, a clear way to queue to be served promptly, another place to pay and an additional place where to sit as you wait for the goods to be delivered (all this does not take more than 15 minutes). Also, all these activities happen within an area of less than 20 metres apart. Surely, does a company require an ISO certification to offer such services? My customers need to feel valued once they step into my 'shop'. This is what all companies need to do.

Inversely, an institution has all the certification it can afford to get but when a customer calls, nobody cares to pick the call and when he comes around, he is taken around the office as if he came for a tour of your offices! I have seen instances where corporations strive to be in their best behaviour when they hear that there is going to be an audit to be done. Is this the spirit of certifications? Nope!

There is a fallacy more so in government owned institutions where ISO certification is becoming part of their performance contract rather than an improvement on their service offering; before they can even think of any certification. How many institutions have the ISO certification but their inefficiency stinks to high heaven and conversely how many institutions do not have any certifications but their service delivery is superb? Private companies can survive if only their service offerings are better than their competition, but they also need to do that so that they can weather the storm.

My guess is that government institutions are being ‘forced’ to offer quality services by getting a certification! But is this helping? My honest opinion is No! It is not helping at all: until their business processes are refined or re-engineered and their culture turned on its head, theirs is a waste of money and it is indeed demeaning to Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) that they should certify some clearly incompetent entities. Let KEBS and their partners advise prospective certifees ( I hope there is such a term) that they need to put their house in order before that paper can be handed to them. It is my sincere hope that these certifications will not be considered a worthless paper by offering it to some dubious characters.

Customers demand quality services and not certifications hanging from offices’ walls!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The battle for dotAfrica; who will get the crown jewels?

This is an article which I penned in the Business Daily of 8th July 2011 concerning the battle for .africa domain name.

The article can also be accessed at - on the African Review website.

The same article can be found on the AllAfrica website at