Tag Archives: Kenyan Economics

QUESTIONS WE NEED ANSWERS TO: HUDUMA NUMBER

I hate being forced to do things. That’s exactly what I felt was happening when our government started pushing us to register for the mysterious ‘Huduma Number’.

We’d never heard about this number before the beginning of year, and all of a sudden, the government has put registration of all Kenyans as its top priority.

Not the hunger that was ravaging many parts of this country because this same Government didn’t use the data it already has proactively.

Not the spiraling public debt that could throw our economy into turbulence.

Not the surge in mental illness that is turning our men and women into killers.

Nope. Its top priority is getting us registered for God knows what reason.

The government is threatening to deny its services to citizens that do not have the number (which, btw is actually illegal).

This ‘super-helpful’ process is costing us Ksh 6 billion just ahead of an 18 billion shilling census.

Can you imagine that! More than 24 billion spent on collecting citizens’ personal data in a year that the government is supposed to be implementing austerity measures.

This Government is a punishment for our collective stupidity, greed, and naivety as a populace.

Back to Huduma Namba

I and millions of other Kenyans including children had to waste an entire day at least once in the last 45 days, queing in order to register for this supposed elixir for proper service delivery.

We are not even sure as to how this number is supposed to help us.

I have never heard anyone complain that we have too many identification numbers. Each one has a specific purpose, and keeping them separate is ideal when you live in a country run by a government gone rogue.

That aside, I don’t think our government has the capability of delivering to all of us these squeaky clean numbers that are meant to be the gateway to all of its services.

Epic fail best describes this government, and perhaps deployment of the Huduma Namba will be nothing but a pipe dream, and the citizens can rest a bit easy knowing that an incompetent government doesn’t have in its possession all of their data in one centralised location.

Some of the questions I have regarding this number include:

Is it going to improve service delivery?

How is one number the magic trick for fixing everything that is wrong with our government?

How is this unique identifier different to the other unique identifier numbers we possess?

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to declare our national IDs the only identifier?

Do we really need a census after this harrowing experience? Doesn’t this entity already have all the information it needs?

Will corruption holes in government be sealed as a result of this number?

Where did this idea come from?

Did it come from the Chinese?

Which case studies did they use as proof that this will work?

Is our data secure?

Although most of the data we are providing is already in government records, won’t centralising this data make it easy to steal.

If someone stole this information, what exactly would they do with it?

Will this data be used to monitor us as citizens?

We already live in a failed state; we don’t want to live in a police one too where all of your movements are monitored and trackable.

How is a democratic state supposed to run when the Government can monitor, and quell any opposing individuals?

We will be in a lot of shit when our government finally figures out how to control what we do online and offline.

Who stands to benefit from the tenders associated with registration and maintenance of Huduma Namba database?

Some of the companies awarded the tenders were the same crooks that sold us the registration kits for last elections. They did less than a stellar job, so what makes the Government think they’ll do a better job this time?

Will the maintenance of this database be done at the national or county level?

What happens to kids born after the deadline? How will they get registered?

Who should be held accountable in the event that a data breach occurs, and personal data ends up stolen?

Who should be held accountable if the constitutional rights of citizens to privacy, movement, freedom of speech, and freedom of association, are curtailed as a result of this massive collection and storage of citizen data?

Everything is a bit up in the air at the moment, but, soon we’ll know the truth about this number, and who it is truly supposed to benefit.

Let’s just hope the government effs this up like it does everything else so that we don’t pay the harsh consequences of mass registration.

Advertisements

IS A GLOBAL RECESSION IN THE OFFING?

This post is not meant to alarm you, although to be honest I am a bit alarmed myself.

It seems that a global recession is in the making. This is according to Tiz Gambacorta, an investor, serial entrepreneur, and a reputable digital marketer. I subscribe to his weekly newsletters, and last week’s newsletter was discussing a looming global financial recession.

Tiz is not the only one who thinks like this. Many economists, financial market analysts, as well as big-time investors have been saying the same thing for the last couple of years, but their predictions have not come to pass ‘convincingly’.

Unfortunately, that does not mean that it is not coming. And the way Tiz put it on his website actually had me freaking out.

Here in Kenya, the perception is that the economy is always bad, so most people would not pay heed to alerts over a global recession. Well, maybe until it is about too late, and there is practically nothing we can do (except politicize the matter).

Whether these predictions become actual state of affairs is a matter of time. What I do know is that it is going to hit our country hard, mainly because of the perilous position we have placed our economy in.

For those who do not know, we are in the throes of a Chinese debt trap and IMF has backed us into a corner in regards to increasing the tax on petroleum and other basic goods. The cost of living is absurdly high at the moment, and our country’s economic activity is sure to take a hit as a result.

Let us not forget that just last week, we lost access to the IMF Standby Credit Facility, exposing us to a myriad of risks occasioned by external financial shocks. Our economy could collapse because we do not have protection from global economic shocks.

Yes, we are in trouble, and we are about to be in even graver danger if what Tiz and his fellow analysts are predicting about a looming global financial recession comes true.

There is reason to fear. The signs are there, and they are pretty convincing.

Let us start with an obvious one – the contraction of activity in major markets across the world.

Most markets have seen a reduction in activity for the better part of the year. We are talking about the Asian markets, the European markets, the Latin American markets, as well as the African emerging markets.

Most alarming are the major Chinese markets performing extremely poor this year. Granted, the slipping has a lot to do with US-China trade wars that have continued to take centre stage throughout 2018. However, the poor performance of the Chinese markets could point to a major decline in global economic activity away from its catastrophic side-shows with America.

China’s year to date market indices have continued to drop into double digits. She is currently the world’s largest producer, and its markets’ contraction means that most countries have slowed down their importing activity.

The US could also tip towards recession if it continues to escalate this trade war with China. Most of her imports come from China, and the additional tariffs on Chinese imports could crumble American businesses (it is a strong hypothetical).

The year to date market indices of the European markets is not fairing as well either. Germany is Europe’s main manufacturing powerhouse, and its markets continue to post poor results. This demonstrates that there is a reduction in activity in Europe as well.

The screenshot below shows the major markets’ indices across Europe, Asia, and America. If you look at most of the YTDs across the markets, you will see that they are red in colour, indicating a decline in performance. The Chinese markets are especially doing bad because their YTD performances have slipped by double digits.

According to Tiz, and other like-minded market analysts, the problem began in the Latin American countries, and owing to the contagion effect, the contraction of economic activity has continued to spread throughout the world.

We should also be very concerned at the rate at which global currencies are weakening, some even into double digits. This is a snapshot of some of the worst performing global currencies at the moment based on their year to date percentage change against the US dollar. Majority of the globe’s currencies are sliding in value, and not just the emerging and poor markets captured in the snapshot.

Perhaps one of the biggest tell-tale signs of a looming global recession is an inverting global yield curve. According to several financial publications such as this one, the average global yield curve is inverting, and history dictates that when the yield curve inverts, a recession is in the making.

When a country’s yield curve inverts it means that investors expect higher short term returns on bonds rather than the norm, which is higher returns on long term investments in the bonds.

Usually, long term bonds attract higher interest rates than the short term ones. However, the opposite occurs when investors perceive that short term investments are riskier than long term investments.

The flight to dollar is another clear indication that we are facing turbulent economic times. This characteristic has been a consistent early warning sign of a recession.

Investors, businesses, and other governments see the US dollar and her debt as a safe haven when the global economy is going south. Hence, there is a higher demand for US currency and debt as entities around the world try to brace themselves for an economic downturn mainly by stocking up on dollar reserves.

This flight to dollar is probably the reason the US dollar is still going strong, and its individual yield curve has not inverted yet.

So there you have it. An inverting global yield curve, weakening of currencies’ performances, declining performances in major markets, as well as the flight to dollar are some of the major signals that a global recession is in the offing.

Kenyans, brace yourselves! It is going to be a bumpy economic ride.