Thursday, 2 June 2011

Delay in Issuance of National Identity Card

Without the National Identity Card, one cannot engage in any official transaction. Consequently, delay in issuance of the national identity card is adversely affecting many people especially the youth.
The delay in the issuance of national identity card by the ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons is making life difficult for those who applied and are still waiting. Some have waited as long as 7 months and are still waiting. When an explanation was sought from the ministry officials, they said that the contract awarded to the company which provided the services was terminated. The ministry is in the verge of finding another contractor to produce new generation identity cards.
New Generation IDs
The existing old generations IDs are simply designed to verify someone’s identity just by physically looking at it. The proposed new generation IDs are said to have Radio-Frequency Identification Chip (RFID Chip) which will be read by use of a card reader, a device which reads biographic information, the digital photo and fingerprints. It allows an official to check details against the person presenting the card. The proposals currently under consideration could potentially see ID cards used to perform new tasks-such as authorizing online transactions using chip and PIN and verifying the holder’s identify over the internet. This will come in handy as the government has invested in Information Communication Technology (ICT), e-government. Individuals will be able to carry out some transactions over the internet without necessarily visiting government offices. In addition to that, the new generation will be able to capture the county residence of a given individual due to the enactment of the new constitution. About a week ago, the cabinet approved provision of 2 million old generation ID temporarily to ease the overwhelming demand but the long wait is not yet over.
A national identity card is usually required almost in all official transactions and without it one can hardly do anything. For instance, many youths have been forced to let go job opportunities which otherwise they have qualified for just because they don’t have a national ID. Some on the other hand have not been able to enroll in institutions of higher learning since they can’t be categorized as either international or local student. Those who have business ambitions have been constrained to shelve them till they get the IDs. They require the ID in acquiring business license, opening bank account or even applying for loan. In other cases one cannot buy high value assets such as land, vehicle or a house.
Lack of national ID can bring one’s life into a stand still. The new generation identity card is a brilliant idea and it should be hastened. Meanwhile the production of the approved 2 million IDs should be done urgently.

Is ODM Committed Towards Dispensation of The New Constitution?

The deadlock being witnessed in the parliament committee of Justice and Legal Affairs as a result of ODM withdrawing its members from the committee has left people questioning its commitment towards implementation of the new constitution.
Last week on Thursday, ODM announced the withdrawal of its members from the parliamentary committee of Justice and Legal rebel MPs. The standoff emanated from the leadership tussle of under siege and has received strong opposition mostly from the PNU MPs to step down. They argue that the chairperson is partisan and is working according to the ideology of his party. The speaker, Hon.Kenneth Marende convened a meeting in White sands Hotel, Mombasa in an attempt of finding a breakthrough in the prevailing stalement but in dismay of everyone, the ODM delegates were conspicuously missing. The action above brings to the limelight the level of commitment by the ODM party towards implementation of the new constitution.
ODM was one of the most vocal parties that were spearheading the campaigns for adoption of the new constitution last year August. Their principles and core values in their manifesto does not reflect what they are currently doing. Some of the ODM leaders are arguing that there must be consultation as provided for in the national accord 2008.This is a sheer lie and is misleading the public since the accord provides for consultation between the principals in the government but not in parliamentary issues. If Raila still has the presidential ambitions, then it is high time that he his house in order lest he regrets.

As a matter of fact, parliament is behind schedule in the debating and enactment of various bills that makes the new constitution operational. The legislation to be enacted by parliament  before August next year include: Kenya National Human Rights and Equity Commission(Article 59),Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission(Article 79),legislation on elections(Articles 82),Electoral Disputes(Article 88),Legislation on political parties(Article 92),System of Courts(Article 162),Vetting of judges and magistrates(sixth schedule, section 23),and Urban areas and cities(Article 183) among others. There is no doubt that the parliament has more work to do and delays caused by such standoff will derail the implementation of the new constitution. Politicians should desist from playing politics and focus on the interests of the citizens. Let them put their differences aside and work together towards realization of the new constitution.

Mobile Number Portability: A Hit or A Miss?

Kenya recently introduced number portability service but the demand has been much lower than anticipated. So was it a success or failure?
Kenya’s telecommunications market has four mobile operators namely: Safaricom, Airtel, Orange and Econet’s YU. Some argue that this number is way above the market. At one point Rene Meza, the Managing Director of Airtel Kenya said that the Kenyan market can accommodate a maximum of three mobile operators beyond that, it is saturated. I don’t know how true that is but what I know there is a vigorous battle among the mobile operators ranging from price wars to alleged sabotage. Mobile phone users have been the greatest beneficiaries of the mighty battles. The rates of calling and sending SMS have drastically reduced.
The market is largely dominated by Safaricom which boasts of approximately 17 million subscribers but of late they have been given a run for their money by the new operators who have joined the market.Most people are hesitant to change their mobile network operator for fear of losing their established contacts and also to avoid the inconvenience of broadcasting the new number to friends& relatives. Some of the operators launched complaints to the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) alleging over dominance of other companies. It is against this background that the government through Communication Commission Kenya (CCK) which is mandated to oversee smooth operations in the communication sector decided to award tender to a company to work on the modalities of number portability. Mobile number portability (MNP) is a technology that enables mobile phone users to retain their mobile telephone numbers when changing from one mobile network operator to another.
The tender was awarded to Porting Access Kenya and after so much wait, the service was rolled out in 1st April 2011.The service attracted mixed reactions from mobile phone users. Some welcomed it and have seen it as a move to reduce dominance of some mobile operators and prevent one from being “a slave” to a specific operator. However, others viewed the service as being much expensive than acquiring a new number altogether. For one to port to another network he/she has to part with Ksh.200 while when acquiring new number it costs Ksh.20.It is 10 times more expensive than acquiring a new number of the network one wishes to transfer to.
Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) had anticipated that the service will have a high demand but to their surprise the reception has been rather low such that after a week of the service being rolled out only 300 people had ported to different networks. The reception has not increased any further since the service was introduced. This is low considering that there are over 20 million mobile subscribers. It may be considered to be a success from the perspective of technological advancement. Otherwise, it is considered to be a failure on the basis of the number of people who have ported since its introduction. There may be other factors that could have contributed to the low pick-up of the number portability but what I think for sure is that the cost of the service is the foundation of the low reception.


Speculation is rife as to what is happening in Raila’s world as far as his presidential ambitions are concern. This comes at a time when he is perceived to be losing grip of his support.
Raila has been considered to be enigma in Kenyan political arena for quite a long time now but of late, the incumbent Prime Minister is perhaps facing one of the most exigent times in his career. First, according to the last polls by Synovate Group he is losing his popularity despite the fact that he is still the leading presidential aspirant. Secondly, ODM his party in which he is the leader is under siege. This began when he differed with one of his close ally, William Ruto regarding some national issues which included Mau Forest Conservation and the prosecution of the post election violence. Ruto who also happens to be the political kingpin of the Rift Valley Province decided to launch rebellion against Raila and his allies. They walked out of the party leaving it relatively weaker than it used to be. This has sent shock waves and panic to party supporters across the country. The party is losing its ground and cannot comfortably win debates in parliament owed to reduced numbers. The rebel M.Ps accused the party leader of undermining democracy in the running of the party affairs. Last week, the party had to withdraw its members from Parliament Legal Affairs Committee. The chairman of the committee, Ababu Namwamba, who was from ODM was embattled and due to inadequate numerical support in the committee.
In out of the ordinary move, the rebels M.Ps have joined forces with the PNU party who at one point they couldn’t see each other eye to eye. It’s true; there is no permanent enemy in politics, so I heard. They are in fact in the offing of forming a political alliance. Members from different parties including the rebel have come together in what has been seen as an attempt to lock and fix Raila out of the contention of presidency. This move also shows how this man, Raila, is powerful in the political arena. Up to now, he has not taken any concrete action in an attempt to counter the popularity and influence of the alliance which seems to be posing an imminent threat to his political career. What baffles his supports and the opponents too is his continued silence regarding the issue. So what exactly is cooking in Raila’s kitchen? Anyway the political temperatures are set to rise as individuals jostle for position and campaigns for 2012 take top gear. As for Raila, it is wait and see as his supporters wait observe how he will redeem himself from the current political grave in which he is.


The recurrent fuel shortage year in, year out has reached a point that it is exasperating and permanent solution should be sought by the various stakeholders.
Fuel shortage is not a new phenomenon in Kenya and another episode has just ended after week long of scarcity           .Last week saw, Mombasa and Nairobi being faced with an acute shortage of fuel. Motorists had to queue for several hours just to get that precious commodity. Some consumers ended up reaching home as late as 1am.Kenya Pipeline Company and Kenya Refineries Ltd had about 5900000 litres of oil just before the festive season. The government alleged that the oil companies didn’t apply for new stock since they were anticipating tax reduction so that they could buy it on low price hence leading to acute shortage of oil. In Mombasa, some of the oil marketers were accused by the residents of hoarding the product. I have already stressed how unethical hoarding is in my previous article.
The high cost of living has already caused enough stress to the mwananchi and when coupled with shortage of the black gold which is also expensive, it becomes too much for one to handle. I would blame the reoccurrences of this situation upon the country’s poor planning and the ubiquitous corruption in the energy sector which shall be a discussion for another day. This is not the first time we are experiencing this debacle. The country’s policies and strategic plans tend to be short term and cannot be viable in the long run. It concentrates only the immediate demands leaving out future demands thereafter leading to shortage.
The petroleum industry requires a complete audit to find out where the problem is. The respective stakeholders should come together to discuss the findings, recommendation and implement the solutions so as to create a conducive environment for each one of us. Millions of money is lost when there is slight delay in the manufacturing industries because lack of fuel and not to mention the transport sector. I have two recommendations: first, the Kipevu Storage facility in Mombasa should be expanded to have room for more oil. Could we be affected by the current high oil prices if we could have bought oil say for the next two years? The additional space would have stored the excess thus the prices would have been normal since we would have a buffer. Secondly, the planning should focus on the current demand and the future demands too. The time has come for us to find a long term solution lest we continue to suffer year in, year out.