Monday, September 29, 2008

Just kill the pirates!

Why aren't the world's navies simply blowing up the pirates' ships/boats...?

Just send a few planes to bomb the somali ports... and blow up any boat that looks remotely like a pirate ship...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kenya's inefficient refinery at it again...

The government needs to stop dragging its feet and tell Kenya's refinery... its do or die... and sell its shareholding asap if it does not want to invest in the refinery...

Warped priorities at Kenya Ferry Services

The KFS is installing LED screens at KShs 50,000,000.

A good idea for revenue generation but... the ferries are old, prone to stalling and will sink one of these days... Shouldn't they be looking at buying new/better ferries???

Thursday, September 04, 2008

mswati - paedophile?

Not my usual topic... but is mswati of Swaziland a paedophile?

Whereas there may be some cultural reason or justification... I just can't wrap my mind around it. It is abhorrent to me. Or am I being Euro-centric?

He is 40 years & is looking at marrying girls who are barely 16 years. He could have daughters that old!

In Kenya, we have the founder of Java Coffee House in court on charges of paedophelia. Should mswati be allowed to enter Kenya? Has he ever been to Kenya?

(My advice... if mswati is in town... lock up your daughters!)

What say you?

P.S. My personal opinion is mswati should be deposed, castrated then jailed for life.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Kenyan Banks - Not up to par for Retail clents

Experiences vary but Kenyan banks need to improve! Asap. Various experiences of friends & family (reatil clients) below... Most prefer a low balance Savings Account with a Cheque Book.

Keep at least 2 accounts if you can afford it just in case a bank's ATM is down or you need access to a branch for services not available at an ATM.

Equity Bank
- Long lines at both the branches & ATMs... BUT what I like about Equity is that they introduce new solutions e.g adding branches, adding ATMs, internet access & access through mobile phones... They to maximise Finacle's functionalities e.g you can get upto 30,000/- cashback from any Nakumatt (some are open 24 hours) & avoid visiting an ATM or branch! The hours are so-so... BUT... among the best banks in Kenya.
Equity is going regional in Uganda & S.Sudan.

Conclusion: Definitely a good innovative bank for most but not all Kenyans... Equity credited all their customers' accounts with Safaricom refunds on the same day! Their customers seem happy & Equity gets a thumbs up.

NIC Bank - Lousy for retail customers. The customer service staff is friendly but generally clueless. The right CSR can make a huge difference. Their 'Orchard Account" which offers a cheque book needs a 50,000/- (formerly 20,000/-) minimum balance or a fee is charged. Even though they have online banking, folks want to ditch them. The previously free chequebook now costs a whopping 500/- (previously you only paid for the CBK/revenue stamp). Customers I spoke to plan to close their accounts or 'downshift' to other accounts to avoid the fees. BTW, their menu of retail accounts suck! Hours are pathetic... The Westlands Mall branch opens from 9-11.30am on Saturdays!

Conclusion: Nyet! No way Jose!

I&M Bank - Great service. This makes a huge difference. Slightly expensive but the service makes it worth the fees. It has been described as an affordable 'upmarket' bank.
Nice - 'fancy' by Kenyan standards - branches though sometimes the service is a little slow since the customer base has grown substantially over the past 2 years. Varied & affordable range of accounts. I&M has been aggressively marketing credit cards. Finacle (banking platform) installed in July will allow them to expand through the internet & mobile phones. Only 12 branches in Kenya (10 in Nairobi) but growing. Latest branch in Ongata Rongai while all others in CBD or upmarket areas. Electronic statements & balances via free sms i.e. they do not charge the customer when they an sms. No extra charge to sign up for the e-banking. Savings account with a chq book needs only 10,000/- minimum. Weekday hours suck vs other banks but longer hours are coming soon at selected locations. The employees are often available for meetings & discussions beyond 5pm... Now... that is GREAT...

Branches: One each in Mombasa & Kisumu. That is limiting for folks who travel all over Kenya. No regional expansion though they have a subsidiary in Mauritius.

Conclusion: Yes... A bank for those who want value. You pay for the service BUT actually get the service. Nice website though a work in progress! They need to expand their reach asap.

CFC-Stanbic Bank - Avoid like the plague. No more Savings with a chq book. Instead you get a Current Account with fees. Expensive. Hours are so-so... Unless you do lots of business in Africa, it is not a bank for the local retail investor. And they have the lousiest forex rates. Except for NIC Bank. Only star is CFCFS. I think Stanbic will scare the customers away! Imagine there is no internet banking for retail customers!

No... Nyet... Hapana...

Diamond Trust - The "Open" account if it makes sense for me. Seems decent but fee heavy. Relationship managers all around... Nice branches. Clientele is mid to upper market. Fees are negotiable. Forex sales & purchases ($5,000+) are negotiable.

Conclusion: Neutral for Kenya but great if you do business in E.Africa.

Standard Chartered - The X account is intriguing. 1,250/- per month gives you multiple benefits. No idea but the 9am-9pm at Nakumatt Ukay is an excellent idea.

Conclusion: Neutral coz untested.