Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mutua/Media Council beef all about superiority

Media audit was a great idea. It would have been good to have a clearer picture of how the media performed. I was waiting to see which media house will be indicted. It did not matter who is doing it, at least we would have had a process in place, capable of being improved on in future.

But the credibility of such a process seems to be dented. Why?

The on going tug-of war between the Media Council and the Director of Information Ezekiel Mutua seems laughable, they all want to impose their superiority.

When Mutua says “I am the appointing authority and can disband” it sounds like the whole issue is all about who has the power to do what to who and nothing to do with the media audit.

Wachira Waruru on the other side seems to be looking down on the person issuing the threats and wants to prove that nothing can be done.

From the time he was Secretary General of the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ), Mutua has locked horns with media owners. He has been confrontational and demanded improvement on journalists’ packages, albeit for those working in “big media houses”.

He may have his own shortcomings like all of us but Mutua cannot be faulted for shying away from confronting media owners during his time at KUJ. He demanded action and faced managers in ways probably others did not.

The way he was bundled out of Nation left a lot to be desired, he was deemed to have rubbed the powers the wrong way.

From such confrontations and the call for the media to self regulate like the Law Society of Kenya, Mutua seemed to have the interests of journalists at heart. Even though he says only fools do not change their minds, I expected him to be a fool in the cause!

That is why his remarks about the media came as a shocker to me and made me feel that the confrontation had not to do with the media and the audit but the control of the whole process.

Eric Orina has had a long running feud with Mutua so I could not listen to him much. Yes I was prejudiced because there was no way Orina was going to be objective in handling the matter.

The beef is rather manifest.

The fiasco means that the audit will proceed but with a lot of controversy, and will be trashed by either party. Either way, it will be hard to know and quote the true position.

At the end of the day, the battle was that of personalities and nothing to do with the media audit.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Where is CCK?

When the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) board was disbanded by former Information and Communication Minister Raphael Tuju, there was outcry from the local and international Information Society.

I recall that Steve Lang, an editor from South Africa called me, wondering whether the gains of WSIS had been reversed. Kenya played a pivotal role within WSIS, chairing the all important Internet Governance track. There was hope that the move was all for the better.

But with time, it seems what was supposed to be changed actually never changed per se. The industry hoped that CCK would play a more pivotal role in regulating the telecoms industry.

In the CCK website, it talks of tariff regulation within the telecoms sector as well as the postal sector. The write up is so brief and there is no evidence that CCK has done anything to address interconnectivity tariffs within Celtel and Safaricom.

By interconnectivity tariff, my lay understanding would have expected CCK to address why it is cheaper for callers within one network to call each other and more expensive to call across networks.

Sample this: one can call at shs 4 within Celtel or shs 8 per minute within Safaricom (take your pick). Why does it cost me shs 40 to call Celtel from Safaricom? Or better still, why is it damn expensive to call across networks?

The 26% duty aside, it means that terminating a call in any of the two networks is actually low and I am only charged high because the two networks want to limit me within their network hence the high charges.

As a consumer and tax payer, it is reasonable for me to expect CCK to address these pricing issues. I am not expecting CCK to set the prices but what is regulation about? Bring the respective heads to a negotiating table and document it on the website, that way, we know who is stubborn, Safaricom or Celtel.

I am sure it will not be rude to demand an online source in this information age; otherwise the post office will take longer to deliver it to me.

This is just one issue, am sure marketing needs another post.

CCK marketing has a serious job to do, yes, they sponsored the Africa Cup of Nations and I enjoyed my game, but please get over that football referee/ moving goal posts advert.

Post on marketing to follow.

Michael Joseph and Safaricom congestion

The other day I was listening to Michael Joseph (MJ) Safaricom CEO talking about Safaricom's recent switch to better equipment to address the perenial congestion within the network.

Though I did not listen to the whole speech, he made an interesting observation that Nairobi CBD has the highest number of callers in the whole world. That could as well be true because many offices in London, New York and J'burg have land lines.

But the question is, if MJ knows this, why not invest in several base stations instead of only one. With the kind of profits Safaricom makes, I am sure that investment will be worth it.

It has been argued that Kenyans have peculiar calling habits and even when the network is congested, we still insist on sticking to the network even when the network gives almost zero call completion rate.

I have always wondered why interconnectivity between Celtel and Safaricom is so expensive. Forget about the 26% duty levied by the government, if i can call Safaricom to safaricom at shs 8 per minute, why do I have to pay shs 23 per minute to call Celtel?

Assuming that at shs 8 the network is making money, it means terminating a call to the other network is cheaper.

In other countries, interconnectivity is easier but it seems in Kenya the desire to outdo each other in profits outweighs the overall goal of ensuring access.

I wonder what CCK has to say in all this, or maybe they have done a study which is busy gathering dust somewhere.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Talking to the beneficiaries

hospital film crew1
Originally uploaded by phat_controller
The film crew hears stories from the actual beneficiaries.

French pilot

Originally uploaded by phat_controller
Lawrence was the pilot, very humorous. He said he does not know Swahili, but he does. We went to one lunch joint and he asked for "kuku matiti" (chicken breast).
So much for the little swahili words......

Quite distant....

Originally uploaded by phat_controller
The clouds looked more like a bed.......

A view from the sky

Originally uploaded by phat_controller
It helps when one has a serious camera. Tony showed us how to go about it.

One last time

Originally uploaded by phat_controller
Still waiting for the sun....

Tough mama

woman in red bike tanz
Originally uploaded by phat_controller
On the way to one remote hospital, Tony spotted this mama and was very amused.

The ultimate flying experience

gladys flying3
Originally uploaded by phat_controller
There is nothing that scared Gladys as turbulence in the small plane. During turns, and those times that it hit the clouds, we all looked at Gladys to see her facial expression.

Gladys poses

gladys amref plane
Originally uploaded by phat_controller
Gladys demonstrates the reality of the "village" pose as we gunned to outdo each other. With this pix, we can actually prove that we have touched a plane. Mtajua aje?

Gladys has committed her time to improving access to computers and other pieces of technology that make it better for us to get quality life.

Landing on a grass runway

becky plane1
Originally uploaded by phat_controller
I knew that planes can land on murram roads but I did not know that they land on grass. Ofcourse the grip would be affected if it rains.

This was in Bukoba. Its such a nice, green place and I had to show off my primary/ high school photo pose.

Waiting for the sunset

Originally uploaded by phat_controller
I sat at the Lake Victoria beach waiting for sunset.

Doing the pole

becky flag1
Originally uploaded by phat_controller
First stop was in Mwanza, we could not take off because of bad weather, but we did the following day.

Flying without wings

becky flying1
Originally uploaded by phat_controller
From the grin, it looks like it was my first time on the plane. But again, I dont show my teeth often.

We were on our way to Northern Tanzania to witness how telemedicine is changing people's lives. Medical help has become more accessible to the poor.

These are baby steps but even the longest journey started with a single step.
For Computer Aid and AMREF, the journey has just began. There are about 160 rural hospitals that expect to enjoy the facilities.

I will help tell the story to the world.