Category Archives: ideaexchange

Money-WiseKE: Safeguarding families using Wills

Last week, Money-Wise with Rina Hicks had a nice talk on “Safeguarding your Family after you’re gone: Wills and More”. Her guest was Leah Kiguatha, a family law expert who said that in the court processes encountered, only 10% of Kenyans of African descent have written wills.

Other excerpts of new stuff (from a male perspective!)

  • Why write a will? Make a decision, as if you don’t decide, someone else, who is handling a hundred other disputes, who does not know the pain and peculiarities of a family, will make that decision for you. Whether you write a will or not, there will be a court process.
  • Spousal Status Changes with Death: If a man has a secret wife and kids, he should mention and provide for them in the will. When he is alive, they may not be recognized, but once he dies, the law allows them to become wives and dependents for purpose of succession. (Laws made by a heavily-male parliament in the 1980s!)
  • Register Land: As joint ownership or in common as this enables you to by-pass the will process. Register land with someone so they are not harassed when you die. Also if a wife dies, and she expects that her spouse will remarry, through in-common ownership, she can ensure that 50% of the matrimonial house passes to her children.
  • Bank Access: Have your spouse or some older children to be signatories to a bank account and know your card PINs. If you are the only one who can access money, your family will be scrambling to feed mourners, pay school fees, and be disturbed by landlords – as it will be a year before they can access that money and after hiring a lawyer.
  • Update Records: Check your will every 5 years. Also, update your insurance, SACCO and pension beneficiary details every few years. Insurance does not have to go through a court process if a beneficiary is nominated a beneficiary, but if different people show up to claim it, they will leave it to courts to settle. Sometimes, as a widow is mounting, a brother or mother of the deceased has rushed to the employer to claim they are the intended beneficiary.
  • Reduce Unintended Beneficiaries: A will safeguards your family and minimizes disputes, and as dependent fight it out, assets and estates go to waste, or are exploited by opportunistic people. If you don’t have good records, squatters or a county government will benefit along with banks, insurance, and the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority. It is estimated that over Kshs 200 billion deposited in banks belongs to families who are awaiting court grants to release the money to them.
  • Oral wills: Are only valid for three months unless one is in the military. Also, they must be witnessed (heard) by two people, who are not beneficiaries.

The full hour is online, and you can watch it here.

How competition agencies should reorganize themselves to mitigate the impact of Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has occasioned an unprecedented humanitarian and economic crisis across the World whose impact will be felt for quite some time. 

All stakeholders, including Governments, regulators and other State agencies, have to implement their mandates to ensure that markets remain open, functioning, and competitive. They also need to develop and implement policies that ensure the impact of this crisis is short-lived, while also mitigating its effects.

Recently, heads of Competition agencies across Africa congregated virtually under the auspices of the African Competition Forum (ACF) to deliberate on how we can prepare ourselves for an uncertain future. The meeting also recognized the critical role competition agencies play in ensuring that markets continue functioning competitively.

Competition agencies have in recent weeks attended to infractions like price gouging, abuse of dominance, cartelization, and abuse of buyer power. The purpose of such conduct is private gain at the expense of consumer welfare and, in the current emergency, is antagonistic to containment efforts.

In order to continue playing their role in the post-pandemic era, it was noted that Competition agencies should reconfigure their operations from at least four perspectives; organizational, regulatory capacity, enforcement priorities, and policy advisory role. 

Competition agencies should be prepared to work with limited resources due to decreased Government revenues, even as demand for their mandates expand. As a matter of priority, agencies should review their strategic objectives and refocus their interventions in favour of fewer but highly impactful activities. 

They should also enhance collaboration and cooperation with regional Competition agencies and, nationally, with respective sector regulators. 

Competition agencies should also entrench a culture of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) and Business Continuity Management (BCM). At the Competition Authority of Kenya, implementation of ERM and BCM, coupled with the digitization of our core mandate processes in mid-2019, is enabling the organization to weather this storm with minimal disruption to service delivery. 

However, automation begets risks such as cyber-attacks and breach of client confidentiality and therefore specific measures should be taken to insulate an automated organization.

From a regulatory perspective, it is critical that agencies review their laws to ensure that they are results-oriented, while at the same time flexible to deal with emergencies. The Competition Act No.12 of 2010 has enabled the Authority to attend to supply chain and consumer protection challenges. 

Agencies should also align their interventions with the country’s industrial policy. For instance, Competition agencies need to think about how they can ‘lower their guns’, albeit momentarily, to support a certain threshold in the growth of our Nation’s industrial capacity.

Competition agencies are likely to experience an upsurge in joint venture applications and distress mergers, more so from the airline industry. It is also expected there will increased merger activity in the online and e-commerce space.

On the flipside, killer mergers could also increase where dominant incumbents seek to acquire upcoming competitors, more so in the digital economy which has become indispensable in the pandemic. Towards this, the Authority has realigned its workforce to enable critical review of all merger applications, but within the law.

Further, the Authority is finalizing investigations in the retail sector regarding allegations of a few supermarkets failing to pay their suppliers on time, which is against abuse of buyer power provisions under the Competition Act. Unfettered supply of essential commodities to consumers is paramount during a pandemic.

Lastly, the Covid-19 pandemic has seen some countries revert to price controls. As competition agencies, we need to advise our governments that price controls are counterproductive since they ultimately harm consumers, more so by facilitating the proliferation of black markets. Quality and the safety of goods is also not guaranteed.

Fortunately, the Kenyan government has attended to the market distortions during this pandemic through the forces of supply and demand. Specifically, the Government has ensured that essential supplies in the market are available.

Regulators should not strive to go back to the pre-Covid-19 dispensation, in terms of how we organize and manage our agencies, but instead, let us embrace the new normal way of doing things that is far from normal.

Mr. Wang’ombe Kariuki is the Director-General, at the Competition Authority of Kenya. He is on Twitter at @wang_kariuki.

Black Panther vs. Wolf Warrior

How do you write about a movie without giving away parts of it to anyone who has not seen it? I was spurred to see the movie “The Black Panther” after attending a networking dinner where half the guests had seen it and eagerly wanted to talk about it across the table while some of us pleaded that there not be any discussion until the rest of us had seen it.  

As I write this, the Black Panther has crossed the $1 billion revenue mark. When I saw a preview of the movie sometime in December it looked like another mindless action movie set in an American city. But the film with a predominantly black cast is set in Los Angeles, Seoul, and primarily in a fictional African country called Wakanda. 

The movie has been well received in many markets due to its positive portrayal of Wakanda which has massive mineral wealth reserves that the residents have harnessed to develop an advanced technological economy while remaining hidden and portraying themselves to the world, as another poor African country.

It has a mix of new and-well established stars, as familiar faces like award-winning Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Lupita Nyongo have meshed well with several upcoming stars who have worked hard in their careers to get to their big break in the Black Panther. Fred Swaniker, the co-founder of the Africa Leadership Academy, recently wrote about Danai Gurira, a Zimbabwean college-friend of his, who he advised not to study theatre, as it was a waste of time; but she ignored his advice and now portrayed the scene-stealing female general in the Black Panther. 

Black Panther is directed by young black director Ryan Coogler who has a knack for turning movie budgets into large paybacks. And Black Panther is now the 20th highest-grossing movie of all time on a list dominated by comic and children themed movies. Films get on this list when audiences enjoy, re-watch, and tell others to see them. And local entrepreneurs and celebrities have offered to pay for whole groups and classrooms in cities like Atlanta and Kisumu to watch the Black Panther. 

For Kenyans, the film has been well received, and one report that it is probably one of the largest-grossing local films due to Lupita’s appearance.  I got in touch with my friend Chris Foot, Chairman of the Kenya Film Commission to ask about if Black Panther could have been shot in Nairobi and he mentioned that Coogler had actually visited Kenya for research but ultimately the producers decided that the movie would be primarily filmed in the US. 

What’s remarkable about the Black Panthers’ billion-dollar haul is that it was achieved before the movie was shown in the large China movie market. In reading about expectations ahead of Black Panther’s opening in China I came across this article which looks at if the Black Panther movie would change the views of Chinese citizens about Africa.

The article mentions a movie, called the Wolf Warrior II, which was released in July 2017 and became best-selling Chinese movie in history, grossing $874 million. Wu Jing directed and stars in it as an indestructible Chinese soldier who foils rebels in a fictional African country where senseless wars break out that have soldiers shooting at each other and killing civilians even as an Ebola-like disease decimates communities. In it, Chinese are revered as do-gooders in medicine and industry who are not to be harmed in Africa, except by the white mercenaries who are orchestrating the wars. 

Finally, the imagery of Africa in Wolf Warrior II, which was filmed in present-day South Africa, is more realistic than Black Panther’s futuristic utopia of Wakanda. And the global success of the Black Panther movie will not change American or Chinese views about Africa but it may inspire more interest in African countries, stories, and projects.

This was written in March 2018 but not approved for publication as my regular column on financial issues.

Edit: Reading “The Ride of a Lifetime”, Robert Iger’s autobiography of his time as Disney CEO, in which he made three huge acquisition – of Pixar, the Star Wars franchise and Marvel comics into the Disney empire, he writes that one of the proudest creations of his tenure was the Black Panther movie. 

It defied the notion that a black-led superhero movie could perform at the box office, on top of challenging a prevailing view in Hollywood that movies with predominantly black casts and black leads struggled in international markets. This had resulted in fewer black-led films being produced, with fewer actors, and smaller budgets to mitigate box-office risks. 

Antler Nairobi Demo Day

VC funder and startup accelerator Antler Global held a demonstration day yesterday in Nairobi where founders of four companies got to explain their practical solutions to existing challenges in the sectors of health, fintech, advertising and e-commerce.

The Singapore-founded Antler has offices in London, New York, Amsterdam and now Nairobi, among others. Antler aims to turn exceptional individuals into great company founders through networks of advisors and by providing funding to enable the building of strong teams to launch and scale ideas. They currently have a portfolio of 120 investee companies.

The four new ones in Nairobi are among fifteen companies that have received pre-seed funding of $100,000 from the Antler East Africa Fund. They are drawn from 1,250 individuals who applied to join the Nairobi program which started in August 2019. The Demo day talks were by:

  • AIfluence: an Artificial Intelligence-based platform that connects influencers with brands and measures the impact and ROI of their campaigns. The company has lined up additional funding and advertising deals with Tik Tok.
  • Anyi Health: Enable patients to apply for credit right at hospitals.
  • ChapChapGo: Aims to fix the broken supply chain of fast-moving consumer goods, in which 70% of trades are still informal – with these purchases happening in a 19thcentury system where people queue to buy, queue to pay and arrange their own delivery. The company aims to leverage on wholesalers through an app, and by using WhatsApp for customer service and sales, to deliver goods at prices that are up to 25% cheaper for consumers.
  • Digiduka: Enables kiosks and shops receiving cash from low-income buyers to also process digital payment on. Many kiosk merchants find mobile money payments too costly and make many trips a week to purchase goods and permits in cash. The company aims to have kiosks double their income by offering digital services that will see them earn 75% of the commission, with Digiduka keeping the 25%. The founders say that pilot has been viable, with a payback period for kiosk owners of one month.

Baraza Media Lab launch

This week saw the launch of the Baraza Media Lab in Nairobi as part of an initiative to foster more collaboration towards a better future for journalists and media to tell their stories.

The Baraza Lab is a $1 million investment that is supported by the Luminate Group which is a spinoff of the governance and citizen engagements funded by the Omidyar Network. Ory Okolloh, the Managing Director, Africa for Luminate said that different media organizations were dealing with their industry problems in their own silos. The new Baraza lab, which is being run in collaboration with Mettā Nairobi, is a place where like-minded creatives could meet, share, and collaborate on the future of media.

At the launch, it was said that no industry has been as disrupted by technology as much as the media, whose business models have been eroded by new advertising platforms. This is also a time when propaganda and fake news divides societies and where personalities had more followers than countries. Yet media remains a necessary arm of inclusive and democratic societies, and organizations such as AmaBhungane and Africa Uncensored were cited as two entities that had done a great deal to expose corruption issues in South Africa and Kenya, respectively.

Media coach and “recovering” journalist Uduak Amimo, who was the keynote speaker at the launch, spoke about the revelations and opportunities brought on by new media in the last few years. As an example of collaboration, she said that the data dumps by Wikileaks had not made much sense until the organization partnered with traditional media houses. But the opportunities for media had been hampered by a focus on profits over purpose, media that shared messages that they had not checked or analyzed, pay discrimination and tolerance of harassment among other factors.