Covid 19 Video Calls

A four way video call with some old friends last night means I have some homework to do. I was recommended two books to read.

In my quest to connect South African and Kenyan businesses they seem quite relevant, so I bought them on amazon while i was still chatting on the call:

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (Grove Art)


It’s Our Turn to Eat
Follow the links for Kindle editions of the books

One thing this Covid 19 virus has shown us is how useful virtual meetings can be. The various services available (Skype, Hangouts, Zoom etc.) have experienced a massive surge in demand and use over lockdown periods around the world. Zoom in particular has become very popular and very varied in its use cases. Security issues are popping up due to the scale and choices they made with their software. Still, it’s changing the options for work and socialising – all due to a lockdown.

Last night we swayed between a Whatsapp chat group and a Google Hangouts chat. Hangouts was clearer and easier through the laptop compared to Whatsapp.

Our call was full of stories about Kenya days growing up, nostalgia, catching up on news. I really enjoyed it and can’t wait to read the books I was recommended. The call was cut short by my friend who needed to join another Zoom call straight afterwards. A sign of the times.

Those times are changing fast. Stay safe and keep in touch out there! Chats like this are golden and good for the soul.

Happy Thursday Chimps.

Kenya vs SA – Resilience

The FM Global Resilience Index is an effort to show resilience at a national level (although it sometimes splits a country up into regions such as USA – coasts are vulnerable to flooding compared to mainland USA).

The results from 2019 are interesting – Kenya ranks 99th (just dropping into the 4th quartile) vs South Africa’s 47th (hitting the middle of the world rankings after some poor performance leading up to the rankings themselves).

From my experience this difference makes sense. Infrastructure is one of the most obvious difference in the two countries for me (SA scores 59 vs Kenya’s 39) – a factor with direct impacts on resilience. For 30 years or so, Kenyan governments almost refused to invest in infrastructure. For a variety of reasons, roads went to pot(holes) and electricity became a punchline. This can’t be good for a country’s resilience and as a boy arriving in SA I would be astounded at the smooth highways, the lack of power cuts. It bears mentioning that SA is heading down the same path. Watch this space.

In 2019, South Africa fell eight places in the overall Index (from 39th to 47th), in part due to its 20-place drop in the corporate governance ranking (from 14th to 34th). Those state capture cases are biting the country hard. Kenya is hardly able to gloat on this though – fraud and corruption has blighted the East African country for decades.

So the obvious test of these rankings is now upon us. Which country can respond better to the COVID 19 pandemic? There’s a positive spin on things – let’s see this damned virus as a “test of resilience”. I hope both these beloved countries can make it through relatively unscathed. I fear for the worst though.

To all in SA and Kenya – Keep healthy and well – then let’s rise up the ranks.