Sunday, October 18, 2015

Leverage ICT to Tame Petty Corruption in our Counties and Government Agencies

To tame petty, tender-related corruption in Kenya, the Public Procurement Oversight Authority should take the route of information technology to evaluate applications before tenders are inflated.

The Principles:

      a) Goods supplied to Government and other Public Agencies in Kenya will be sourced locally, supplied by qualified Kenyans, and 30% by Women, the Youth and the Disabled;
      b) Any Kenyan has the right to establish and conduct business anywhere in the Republic, and
      c) Public Agencies must procure high quality goods and services at the best possible value.

Information Technology will avail potential benefits, such as that it:

       1) Removes bias, by ensuring every application is evaluated, without arbitrary hiding of applications.
       2) Will allow comparison of Primary Producer Prices, e.g. Farm or Factory prices.
       3) Ensures suppliers will compete on Function, Price, Quality, and Speed of Delivery.
       4) Removes multiple brokers from the equation – why buy from a broker when the producer is bidding?
       5) Permits the purchaser to set maximum price differentials and expected margins.
       6) Will have basis that any price quoted includes taxes and margins for the procurer.
       7) Can be evaluated by the Public Procurement Oversight Authority.

Therefore, set up a nationwide system of integrated procurement software that allows for evaluation and aggregation of all Supplies Tenders by Public Agencies.

Suppose you want to supply office biros to a Public Agency:

      A) You must be a registered seller of biros. How else would you supply what you don’t sell?
a.       A general merchant, hawker, shopkeeper or kiosk-keeper;
b.      A bookshop,
c.       A wholesaler,
d.      An agent of a manufacturer, or
e.      A Manufacturer of this commodity.
      B) You must indicate your tax payment status, and the tax component of your bid, which will be withheld and paid to KRA by the procuring agency.
      C) You must quote at least three types of biro pens, and your capacity to supply them:
a.       Pen type 1, its attributes, and why it fits this tender;
b.      Pen type 2, its attributes, and why it fits this tender;
c.       Pen type 3, its attributes, and why it fits this tender;
d.      The manufacturer, wholesale and retail price of each pen type.
      D) You must indicate own quoted price for delivering this pen type to indicated place of use or storage, and why it is superior to the manufacturer, wholesale and retail price.
a.       Your quoted price must not exceed the Manufacturer price by more than 15%
b.      Your quoted price must include all relevant taxes payable to government.

The buying agency has a responsibility, when buying standard goods, to buy from the lowest priced 20%. For procuring non-standard goods and services, the tender must be open to international bidding.

Each supplier can only submit one application, but is allowed to amend it once, to remain competitive.

Each application will be filed for free, to encourage as many applications as possible.

Anyone resident in Kenya can submit an application.

Each application will be aggregated with the preceding supply tenders, and each attribute averaged, as a guide to any other applicant willing to participate. The system will display the leading bid code at all times.

They software system will suggest the top five leading bids for further evaluation.

All bids will be presented in Kenya Shillings.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

On Elections Held in December

It takes a newly-elected government at least four months to install itself comfortably into the nooks and crannies that characterize the corridors of power. Selecting nominees for the many offices and committees that usually need reconstituting - due to executive privilege, or resignations of holders with viewpoints opposed to the incoming administration. Vetting procedings, as well as general familiarity with new official environments, rearrangements and general euphoria that characterize accession to power, take time to settle.

In my opinion, the last four months of the year are just the right time for such elementary proceedings. Which is why elections should be held earlier; in August preferrably, so that by January of the following year, everything is set for a neat take-off. Voters allow themselves the chance to bond over the festive season, and easily overcome the tensions of a charged elections season. Schools and businesses can look forward to a complete new year devoid of distractions, when the festive season ends; and the new year has a psychological starting point from which to evaluate its progress.

When the country votes in December, just the opposite happens. Nobody really has a festive season, as the days are consumed by political tension and noise. These spill over into the new year, and literally waste away the first few months, as a new government strives to install itself, while meeting the challenges of a demanding public. In temporal terms, two calendar years are lost to politics. Should schools be opening, or should we await the Supreme Court's ruling on the presidential election? Should you, instead, be flying away to the holiday you could not award yourself due to your civic commitments over December? It is unnecessary messiness. And it wastes the natural tendency of people to work harder towards the end of the year.

Every time you mix two high-tempo seasons, someone is bound to come out a loser - either emotionally or even economically. That hurts the nation, deeply.

Seeking Rationality, I Must Shift From DStv to GOtv.

In Kenya, the digital migration wars are roiling. As the ITU mandated deadline for migration from analogue television broadcasting technologies to the more efficient digital systems elapses, a momentous court battle is raging between the industry regulator, the Communications Authority of Kenya, CA, and the three largest terrestrial broadcast networks in Kenya. Senior Counsel Paul Muite and a battery of awe-inspiring laywers are pitted against the regulaor in various courtrooms, from the High Court all the way to the Supreme Court.

Whereas I feel for the broadcasters in their battle against a hard-tackling regulator, I am not particularly perturbed by the possible outcomes. You see, I migrated from analogue to digital, at a household level, in May 2009. Five and a half years ago, as I write this. For those years, I have paid subscriptions to MultiChoice Kenya, for their lowest-priced satellite bouquet. That serves my need for news briefs, a bit of live sport and quite an array of dated culture shows - not being a real television buff.

However, with the recent transition to digital terrestrial broadcasting technology, their offerings on GOtv have shifted my allegiances. For a slightly lower fee, I have access to seven or more channels that were previously unavailable to me. CNN, MTV Base, Sony Entertainment, Sony Max, one or other of those Nigerian movie channels and an Events Channel that has recently been broadcasting the African Cup of Nations extravaganza in Equatorial Guinea. I might not receive the RAI channel, Bloomberg, NDTV or the debased CNBC Africa, but I am fine, thank you.

The decorder allows me to view quite a number of local free to air channels that are not available on the satellite platform. That is a huge value proposition for me. As a message to MultiChoice? Don't miss me too much on satellite, because I am fully grounded at home on DTB.

Now for an appeal: satellite broadcasting required a smartcard in the decorders as a buffer to signal misappropriation by clients. The new terrestrial technology, without smartcards, should be cheaper for all of us. Why, wouldn't MultiChoice consider winning the decorder wars in Kenya, by placing all the premium content channels on GOtv, so as to reach a bigger market, with lower costs both for themselves and the clients?

I would not mind a super dose of live sport and headline cinema, at a lower cost. After all, Kenyans are known to love buying things in small quantities, only more often. As a rational consumer of television, I hedge my bets with GOtv, and have given up on exclusive satellite feeds.