Category Archives: kenyamoneyinthepast

Kenya’s Money in the Past: Kalonzo Musyoka

Excerpts from his recently published official biography – Against All Odds. 


  • – He worked at customs department at the port of Mombasa where he was disgusted by the bribery he saw. He did his pupillage at Kaplan & Straton. Later he got a Rotary Club scholarship to study business management at Cyprus and he was poached to work at Manu Chandaria’s Comcraft in the legal department.
  • Lost the 1983 election and came fourth. But when the MP was shot two years later by a policeman, occasioning a by-election, Kalonzo reluctantly entered that and won.
  • He has always been touched by the poverty he saw when he grew up and launched the Kalonzo Musyoka Foundation in January 2006 which worked with Shelter Afrique to launch affordable housing for rural women in Kitui.

Cabinet & Economic Intrigues

  • KANU era: Mwingi is one of the fastest growing towns in Kenya because of the water it gets from Kiambere-Mwingi. But that was only after he fought off powerful forces after he secured $116 million from the Italian government – a powerful voice who wanted it to go to the National Water & Pipeline Corporation but Kalonzo steered it to TARDA so it did not become a white elephant.
  • CHOGM The Commonwealth Summit in New Zealand which was attended by Mandela was almost overshadowed by ‘Bull of Auckland’ incident. But Kalonzo explained the incident to officials there so that it did not reach the media there or affect the ongoing summit. But it did leak afterward in the Kenya media.
  • When Tony Blair praised him before President Moi after the 1997 CHOGM, he knew had lost his Foreign Affairs docket – and after the elections, he was moved to the Education & Manpower ministry.
  • In 1998 he fled teachers striking outside his office by hiding in his wife’s car. He then got Mulu Mutisya and elders to negotiate a settlement with teachers union (KNUT) and the strike was called off the following day.
  • Moi was shocked at the excesses of Mobutu when they visited Gbadolite – his hometown and said “River Ubangi could generate electricity for all of Africa.
  • South Africa: After Kenya had in 1963 turned down an ANC request to set up a base in Nairobi, Moi worked hard to mend fences with South Africa after Mandela was freed, and Mandela thanked Moi for $1 million that Kenya gave to ANC during apartheid struggle. Mandela also made a secret visit to Nairobi when he fell ill on a flight in April 1990, then returned for an official visit in July.
  • NARC: Free primary education was Kalonzo’s brainchild as education minister. When Kibaki became the NARC candidate in 2002, Kalonzo gave the campaign team all the papers and policies that he had written – including on FPE that was soon implemented by the new government. 
  • MOU breach: Happened when Kibaki moved Kalonzo from Foreign Affairs to Natural Resources. All NARC summit leaders had a choice of their ministerial dockets – and he had chosen Foreign Affairs, Raila had taken Roads & Public Works and Moody chose Home Affairs. 
  • Jubilee: After beating back a “feeble” Musalia (for president) effort, Uhuru and Ruto turned on to him; and his reunion with Raila started the day Uhuru and Ruto returned from the ICC hearings and after (vice president) Kalonzo had met them at the airport and driven around Nairobi with them.

The book is available to buy here.

Kenya’s Money in the Past: Indians in East Africa

Indian Africa, minorities of Indian-Pakistani origin in Eastern Africa, is a 484-page book with lots of information, charts, statistics and stories of the arrival and enduring impact of Indians in East Africa:

Some excerpts: 

  • Almost all Indian traders to East Africa were from the northwest (Sindh) now Pakistan, Gujarat, Punjab, and Maharashtra in India.
  • The Indian population in Kenya which fell to 78,000 in 1979 rose once again to stabilize at 100,000, half of whom acquired Kenyan nationality. The demographic resurgence was probably due to donor pressure but also favorable treatment under President Moi who got into a tactical alliance with high society to check the influence of the emerging Kikuyu middle class. Thus in 1986, Indians who had been dispossessed in 1967 returned to manufacturing, by buying out subsidiaries of multinationals.
  • Indians are in 80% of industrial sectors and control 90% of business activity in the textile industry through 50 mills and 350 other companies. In the pharmaceutical sector, they control 60%, 80% of the chemical/plastics, 80% of iron business, and 90% of electrical installation ones (French Embassy statistics).
  • 25 of the 44 banks are controlled by Kenyan Indians.
  • Family business structure: Capital raised stays with the founder (first generation) while the second generation (sons) assume managerial and administrative positions and prepare the business for expansion.
  • Business Capital: Most Kenyan Indians businesses are totally dependent on local resources unlike the perception that they get foreign capital – only 5% of 210 entrepreneurs surveyed said they had received such – and this was from expatriate parents in Britain, India, Dubai.
  • Business Finance: Bank loans are secondary sources of funding – only 33% had received them, while 67% never had. They have other informal sources of credit such as employer associations to which some Europeans and Africans all benefit – and 32% of interviewees were members of groups like the United Business Association. Suppliers are frequent credit sources for small merchants. To obtain credit, one must demonstrate honesty, good management and present minimum guarantees such as from family members, real estate collateral, and repayment schedule. There is also mutual help within communities on matters of illness, death, or when a business is failing.
  • The book has profiles of different types of duka wallahs (traditional shopkeepers) as well as chapters on the settlement and emergence of business communities in Kampala, Nakuru, and Dar es Salaam.
  • For Ismailis, health and education are their priority political commitments.

The book, edited by Michel Adam is published by Mkuki na Nyota publishers of Dar es Salaam and the French Institute for Research in Africa and distributed outside Africa by the African Books collective.

Kenya’s Money in the Past: Digital Kenya

Digital Kenya, by Bitange Ndemo and Tim Weiss, charts the rapid emergence of Kenya in the world of technology. Through stories and interviews with people in the sector, you learn about risk-taking and making policy from humble beginnings back in the mid-1990’s when the whole country shared 32 kbps, and the then telecom Kenya Posts & Telecommunications (KPTC) monopoly declared internet services as being illegal. At the time, KPTC was connecting about 10,000 users to the phone network, and with 77,000 potential customers waiting, they envisioned a 5% tele-density in Kenya by the year 2015. The tele-density in 2015 turned out to be 88% thanks to rapid changes that came after fibre cables and the cheaper mobile phones emerged.

One story is a narration of how, as a peace agreement was being signed in February 2008 to end the post-election violence in Kenya, the ICT Ministry managed to secure a guarantee to enable the laying of the TEAMS fibre cable that ultimately changed the face of ICT in Kenya. This came after the ministry had stepped back from another long-discussed  bureaucratic cable project – one called EASSY. This was one of the examples of government officials circumventing red tape for a good outcome. Another was the roll out of M-Pesa which is also cited here, ahead of regulations and thanks to some  individuals in government giving it their cautious blessing. Not all of them turned out well, and one case cited is of officials at the Postal Corporation sabotaging a land deal that would have led to the establishment in Nairobi of the headquarters of a multinational telecommunications organization.

There are many other stories that show issues of privatization, race, the lack of vision & finance, tech startups, the need for skills to scale, and the disconnect between local capital & the tech sector. It also shows the disconnect of ICT with both formal banking and also with the agricultural sector, two crucial links yet to be adequately bridged in Kenya.

Thanks to the Ford Foundation, the books is available free of charge and a free book download can be obtained.

Kenya’s Money in the Past: Old Books

I came across some old books this weekend; One was a collection of speeches by former Central Bank Governor, Philip Ndegwa, and the other was a collection of contributions made by MP JM Kariuki in parliament.

Philip Ndegwa

  • The Central Bank devaluing of Kenya’s shilling is not a bad thing, and the economic impact of this is  widely misunderstood.
  • Commercial   banks should be innovative and do more for rural Kenya; not just mop up their deposits, which they then only lend to businesses in urban areas.
  • Kenya’s population will double every 17 years, if the current population growth rate remains at 4% a year (speech he gave at a population conference in Nairobi).

old local books

JM Kariuki

  • There is a shortage of land for housing, and the  government should take back all urban land that remains undeveloped for over two (2) years.
  • Why do government officers remove fences inside (colonial) farms that the government is buying to restore people? After this is done, the new owners will still have to go back and install new fences. Farms should be bought with the fence divisions intact.
  • While’ Kenya’s coin currency have the face of President Kenyatta, they should also inscribe his name around the sides so that future generations will know who the president was.

Kenya’s Money in the Past: Diners Finance

Found an annual report from Diners Finance from year 1989.  Just 12 pages long, it ended in the month of November as the institution commenced operations on 1 December 1988.
Other excerpts 
Diners management

  • Diners had Kshs 200 million in assets, fixed assets were 1.8 million (1%), advances (loans) were 25%, and liquid assets were Kshs 143 M(71%).
  • The assets included Kshs 15M  million in cash, 104 M on short call, 23 M in treasury bills and 49 M in advances (loans)
  • They had public deposits of 176 million from  674 depositors.
  • The deposits and total assets are listed month by month from December 1988 to November 1989
  • The profit before and after tax was Kshs 831,970. Elsewhere, there was a mention of Kshs 109,000 losses that were to be offset against future taxes
  • The directors were A. Kassam (chairman),  and F. Levene who served from December 1988 till he resigned in March 1989, the same date on which A. Virjee was appointed. The secretary was Samvir management services. The accounts were audited by “Certified public Accountants” and the audit cost Kshs 75,000. Elsewhere Peat Mawrwick are listed as the auditors.
  • In his printed comments, the chairman noted that this was their first year of operation, and a very competitive one… increased oil prices and falling coffee prices affected the level of credit available. the shilling also fell greatly and the government in a bid to control inflation and reduce  the budget deficit, continued to issue treasury bonds in large quantities and at high interest rates that banks could not match – and this reduced the amount of money available  to other sectors of the economy . Diners finance extra services
  • Central Bank allowed banks to charge up to 18% for lending over 3 years and up to 15.5% for loans with a repayment of less than 3 years.
  • While commercial banks paid little or no interest to their current account holders, Diners was one of the first institutions to advertise in the media for individual depositors at attractive rates of interest. The incentive resulted in deposits of Kshs 170 million from 674 depositors  ensuring a well spread deposit base with an excellent foundation for Diners growth.
  • The book was designed and produced by ScanAd & Marketing and printed by Majestic.
  • in 1989,  US$1 was ~Kshs 19