Tuesday, 29 June 2010

EAC: Much Hype About Little

From watching the news, it is clear that MPs, News Anchors and anyone hyping the free movement of Labour, Capital, Right of Residence and other benefits of being a citizen of EAC member states haven't read the EAC Protocol document and its annexes. Am trying to find what's gonna be different effective July 1st, and "Not much" seems to be the answer.

For one, there really is no such thing as free movement of labour.The Annex on Free Movement of Workers unsays that. I had held out on reneweing my work permit, but my employer will still need to part with the money. I actually consider myself lucky since most of my friends have had to pay for their permits. I think what the EAC protocol document does is 'steamline' the application for work permits; whatever that means. So friends and relatives, please stop calling me for job opportunities in UG, will you?

Here is another fallacy that Kenyans in Uganda are spreading; that after the 'borders open' on Thursday, Kenyans can come here and buy up land and property in the name of Right of Residence and Free Movement of Capital. Again, "The Partner States hereby agree that access to and use of land and premises shall be governed by the national policies and laws of the Partner States". The Land Act in Uganda is very clear. All land belongs to the citizens, and a company is only considered citizen if its majority shareholding is by a Ugandan(s). Non-citizens can lease land for upto 99 years, but the Investment Act says that non-citizens can't lease land for crop and animal production-unless they are helping Ugandan farmers. So beware, take calculated risks if you must, but the law is not on 100% on your side.

The Customs Union Protocol Article 10(Internal Tarrifs) states: Save as is provided in Article 11 of this Protocol, the Partner States shall, upon the coming into force of this Protocol, eliminate all internal tariffs and other charges of equivalent effect on trade among them, in accordance with the provisions of Article 14 of this Protocol.

Then Article 11 States Thus: The establishment of the Customs Union shall be progressive in the course of a transitional period of five years from the coming into force of this Protocol.

Going back to Part 2 of Article 10:

2. The Partner States agree that upon the coming into force of this Protocol and for the purpose of the transition into a Customs Union:
(a) goods to and from the Republic of Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania shall be duty free; and
(b) goods from the Republic of Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania into the Republic of Kenya shall be duty free.
3. Goods from the Republic of Kenya into the Republic of Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania shall be categorised as follows:
(a) Category A goods, which shall be eligible for immediate duty free treatment; and
(b) Category B goods, which shall be eligible for gradual tariff reduction.

That gradual period is five years. Five Years. Five...

There, you have it! I had to verify that I have the current document.

Me, I will believe the hype when I see it.

Monday, 07 June 2010


A friend of mine recently-if January is recent- quit her job and joined another company that doubled her salo and transferred her to Kenya. She said the former business was a one-man show, with the majority shareholder making decisions alone, most of the time. She didn’t feel fully utilised, and felt that her opinion never mattered. It made me think of how many businesses are so dependent on individuals that they are almost sure of collapsing or having near-death experiences when that individual is absent. Here are a few more examples. I won’t name most names;

• The Forex Bureau opposite KCB Kampala road; it has probably the best rates in town. Even the first M-Pesa guy in Uganda goes there-we call him Mapesa. I like using it because it’s right opposite KCB, so if I need Ksh, I’ll buy go to KCB, withdraw UGX , cross the road, buy Ksh and deposit in my (or my mum’s or my brother’s) account. Of course I could just buy at KCB, but their rates are not customer friendly. So one Sato about a month ago, I went to the FX Bureau, and was surprised to find the closed before 2pm. I asked the askari what was going on and he said they were closed because mzeyi (mzee) was sick. This came as a surprise because besides three or so other employees, there’s this guy I always thought to be mzeyi’s son and imagined he would run the show.

• The fuel station next to City Oil on Bombo road. I have another friend who is in the fuel industry. Any time you want to give him directions or get directions from him, the easiest landmark for him is the fuel station in that area. So you are telling him to take turns and he’ll be like “which is the nearest fuel station”. Guess you have to know who your competitors are. So one day we are going to Luweero, or somewhere in that direction, and he mentions that City Oil on Bombo is probably the busiest station in K’la. Right next to it they have Java’s, the coffee shop which gave birth to Cafe Java’s at Oasis Mall where Nakumatt is located. I admire these guys; I think they started with City Tyres, went on to City Oil, then Java’s and then Cafe Java’s. Now, right next to City Oil is probably the deadest fuel station in Kampala. Reportedly, it was there first. Juzi while on Bombo road with another friend, I mentioned how unbusy it was-even their restaurant is no longer operational, I think. My friend said (he had heard) that the business owner suffered a stroke, and the business never recovered.

• A Kenyan construction contracting company gone regional. The Man used to work for them in Kigali, but now, you wouldn’t convince him to work for a one-man-show business again. I’ll keep this short.

• Talking of Kigali; I think Rwanda is a one-man show country. But the guy has a strong PR team, at least internationally. I used to think that if African countries were corporations, Rwanda would have the best CEO. Not so much now. In other countries, when a guy is president for 23 years (16 so far, the presidential term is 7 years and he will win), he is called a dictator. They have what the world calls a benevolent dictator. Maybe, just what they need? Na akienda, je?

Sunday, 06 June 2010

I'm Famous!

Jana I was just minding my business on the internet and saw the comment on my last post by Raymond Chepkwony. Not sure how I missed that in the newspaper. That's right guys, PKW is in the papers! Not just any paper, but the Friday Nation. Page 16 of the print edition of Zuqka, to be precise.

There was one or two un-facts but this made my day; "The ones weaned on Cerelac, Conrflakes and Weetabix until their hearts were broken-and not by too much carbohydrates-don't share the same sense of pride as those who hot-combed their hair from a smoking, broken piece of pot bottom in an open-air salon in Kanyenya-ini village". He he, memories are made of this.

Up next; Mauano with akina Raymond, where I'll clear the humongous bill as per the Proud Kikuyu Woman I am- you wish!