Lessons from Communities..

These last two weeks were shocking to me in terms of how much you can be taught by a grandfather about Facebook in a rural village. Yes, they are connected and knowledgeable!

When leaving college one of my colleagues of Asian origin was very friendly to locals who were well connected to corridors of power. He was clear on going into business and using his connections but was called by elders in his community who told him they would give him start up capital but he would have to choose which shoulder to lean on. He chose his community and is today a leading player in the communications industry.

As i discovered – silence is not ignorance. – THE SAME APPLIES IN RURAL UKAMBANI and a good example are the regions elections this year where the regions 1st senator was known to personally respond to any official enquiry to his desk and his people responded to him likewise.

Simply put: choose to do business eg printing, seek advisory services, consultancy services, buying products from other communities etc – don’t expect taxes from the community you ignored! People are very clear even rural folk. How do you expect to pick taxes from someone you snubbed with your resources where will the money come from? i.e. don’t turn back to me in time of your needs too! (choose “Wheelbarrow” products over local – pick your taxes from wheelbarrow)

Here’s some local business being keenly followed:

Recently the Kenya Technopolis Development Authority Draft Bill was put out for public to comment (Thank you Government!) Some issues noted by communities were:


  1. Page 14 Regulatory Provisions 25(2) License to operate in Konza fines touches on those abusing this law plus the fines.

–          *In light of financial magnitude of investments mostly corporate running into 100’s of millions of Dollars a fine of Ksh 5million cannot deter someone eying a million Dollars+. A lifetime Jail term or Ksh50 million fine would clearly leave those who intended  to abuse the facility with HARD Choices if it’s worth getting involved!

  1. Page 15 Licensing Qualifications 26 (a) there’s an appendix 1 defined at bottom of page that considers any kind of legal entity including a branch of a foreign company. This document needed to clearly DEFINE a ‘legal entity’ in Kenya i.e. that for any business to operate in the land Kenya it needs to be duly Registered according to our country laws/constitution and in a manner that doesn’t contravene International Law’s so that should any issue arise later the laws of the land would guide/apply. It also closes the “loophole” where businesses can open establishments and register the company in their mother country thereby running the establishment according to their countries laws as was said to take place with accommodation in  someprivate coastal houses. Taxes then were said to be transacted in the mother country of registration.

 2. Page 15 Licensing Qualifications 26 (c) reading own or lease land for a minimum of 30 years

–          we thought the Government bought the land so as to lease out to investors (ie land leases) thereby accruing land rates annually! *By creating the option to buy it created room for individuals to acquire Government land in the facility using the law. This we felt may open the facility to insider trading where individuals buy land wanted by a foreigner to sell to him a process that may become a dangerous trend on public resources.

 3. Page 17 (30-32) Exclusion from provision of Acts i.e. State Corporations, Urban areas and cities & physical planning Act

–          Our understanding is that these acts set minimum standards of operation, more like supervisory and by exempting yourselves who then supervises you to ensure that you meet those minimum standards of operations on behalf of Kenyan’s as a whole?

4. The Authority shall be exempt from ALL existing and FUTURE taxes and duties payable under Kenyan Law

–          This was too open for abuse especially in the area of Tax free purchases through the Authority by staff. Exemptions for a short period (specified) to allow them get on their feet may have been wiser

5. Schedule 1 (2) page 21 on committees 3(1-3) Disclosure of interest by Directors

–          Fines stipulated (ksh. 200,000) were too minimal considering size of contracts in the facility despite integrity in selection of board members. Ksh. 2million or more would be more reasonable considering habit of canvassing in our society.

6. Schedule 3 on Page 24 section 28 (a)Establishment in Konza

–          We felt this should read “establishment in ‘Konza Technopolis’” as ‘Konza’ can be construed to include Konza Ranch, Konza township or anywhere Konza.

7. Exemption of custom duties on goods or services imported we saw would preferably have been under certain conditions giving priority to locally available goods or services (still duties free) as it’s subject to abuse with companies preferring to use consultancy/products only from their countries of origin.

*The same applied to exemption from P.A.Y.E by services provided by Non Resident Employees encouraging foreign outsourcing.

8.       The Authorities activities touched on the city but already have had Adverse effects beyond the city eg activities in the envisioned 10km Buffer zone that extended to Machakos County, Kajiado county, and Kilome (Makueni County) mostly affecting land owners who are ill informed as meetings took place in hotels in towns away.

*Representation of local resident land owners from each county on the board would greatly inform the board when dealing with issues local. This comes from being informed having lived in both the city and in the rural area. These individuals MUST be PRESENT residents in that county, owning land in affected zone having never engaged in political office.

– this proposal could affect the section in your draft that stipulated about Disclosure of interest

That was the local input to the draft bill. 

PS: as a by the way is how locals are creatively staying abreast and adapting to technology. As print books get VAT’d locals have started carrying their bibles on phones for 20/= down from the print versions that cost 300/= plus

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