After reading Kenyan Entrepreneur's blog entry on "niches" & "creativity" I think Kenya needs to find a niche... that niche is providing services to primarily Africa(ns) and beyond.
University Education & Research
- We don't need to send KShs "Billions" to Australia, USA, Malaysia or the UK for tertiary education when we can/should set up WORLD-CLASS universities in collaboration with top-notch universities, departments or research centers around the world. Singapore & Dubai have done it. So can we.
- The cost of living in Nairobi is much lower than S.Africa, Dubai or the UK. In addition, it is cheaper for African students to fly to/fro from Nairobi than many of the other cities.
- We can attract students from Africa while providing Kenyans with jobs (lecturers, clerks, janitors, etc). These students become ambassadors for Kenyan universities. This has bee proven time & again by American universities' African alumni.
- We can attract African talent to these universities & think tanks to provide African solutions to Africa's problems. They understand Kenya's problems as we understand theirs. This allows for collaboration of peers.
- Networking opportunities arise from the interaction of African professionals that allow the expansion of inter-African commerce. It is a fact that "connections" spurs investments. The connotation is not about "corruption" but "connections" between classmates.
- Kenyans spend KShs "Billions" on treatments abroad. Our so-called "leaders" lead the way to more waste of funds... kibz went to UK, dan moi recently went to Germany. All the "heart" operations that are done abroad since we lack the facilities. The less well-heeled go to S.Africa & India.
- Medical facilities will encourage research that can boost Kenya's stature beyond the HIV & Malaria programs.
- Kenya has 2 medical schools & can expand its facilities to ensure we produce more doctors. We can then keep them in Kenya instead of "exporting" them to UK, USA or Australia!
- Kenya "exports" nurses to UK. We can keep them in Kenya by offering them better opportunities within Kenya!
- India has taken up the concept of "Medical Tourism" with gusto & it is a major growth industry for them. The benefits of Medical Tourism then flow to the rest of the population as the latest technology is used & personnel trained.
- Nairobi has become the premier airline hub for the East, Central & West Africa region - multiple carriers e.g. KQ - with the necessary connections to Nairobi. Kenya can effectively compete against S.Africa to become the preferred choice for medical treatment.
- The medical per capita "spend" is much higher than regular tourism! Of course, the patients' guests/visitors might tour other "touristy" locations e.g. Game Parks.
- The knock-on benefits for Kenya's construction sector, industrial (e.g. BOC Gases), education sector (nurses, doctors, technicians), agriculture (food, flowers) & tourism (relatives, friends visiting parks) are tremendous.
- We can capture some of the growing BPO market from India or complement India.
- There is need for BPO services for many African countries as these countries' economies expand.
- The fiber-optic broadband systems (planned) could substantially reduce the cost of telecommunications between African countries.
- Kenya needs to expand language classes in German, Italian & French since these countries may not be effectively served by India.
Problems & Challenges for the Service Economy
Kenya needs to work on the high levels of insecurity prevalent today.
- Being "poor" is no excuse for being a thief. And being a violent thief is worse!
- I support brutal suppression of the "violent" elements. Yes, it will not be popular with the "human rights" folks but I would rather a thief is killed than my near & dear hurt. That's my opinion... What about my Rights to enjoy my hard-earned cash & life?
- My "little finger" is more important to me than the life of a violent thief! I would rather the police kill the thug/crook/thief before a single hair on my head is harmed.
- We need a 24-hour "economy" especially if we want to serve the BPO market in the USA.
- JKIA's utilization can increase substantially if insecurity is not an issue since the travelers may start their journeys much earlier & fly in much later.
- The transport industry - using lorries - can be boosted if these carriers move goods at night without fear. This means that the roads are "clear" for passenger & tourist traffic during the day!
- Despite advances in telecommunications, the cost of phone calls remain much higher than necessary. We need more competitors as well as increased "openness" for them then operate effectively.
- Data costs too much to access. Hopefully, the government will get its act together or allow private firms to lay fiber-optic cables all over the country (without onerous conditions/permits/fees) as well as international connections.
- Progress has been made with EaSSy & TEAMS but the there have been too many delays.
- Political & ethnic conflicts (esp violent clashes) e.g. Mt. Elgon clashes in 2007 need to be stopped asap. Even if it requires a military response. Nevertheless, the cause roots need to be examined.
- Property rights should be supreme. Kenya should not succumb to a "tribal" or "nationalistic" tendency that tramples on Human Rights that will dissuade further investments & aggravate poverty e.g. mugabe's antics in Zimbabwe.
- Politics seem to be a 24/7 obssession with Kenyans. No wonder we remain poor since "talking politics' takes precedence over "work productivity".
- Kenyans spend less time working, even at their jobs, than discussing politics!