Sep 14, 2011

The young (backspace) scribe

 Its a rainy morning. The muddy road from the house is like a potato ground yet one must find his way to the office. No matter the weather, situation and trouble, one must be available for work. After a horrific and dangerous motorcycle ride, one arrives at the office, opens the morning papers, reads emails, replies and dashes off to meet a source. The source will in one way or another come be late. Since the source is late then all other daily appointments need to be adjusted. 

After meeting the source, it’s time to make a few phone calls to verify and give the story some more flesh. The calls will be turned down or endlessly referred to someone else.
 “Call me back in 20mins' and then 20mins later 'I will call you back'. And they won't. So you have to go through the same process again and again until a response appears. 

For others you will send an email and they will ignore or bluntly tell you “I did not receive the email” or “I have been too busy to reply” yet they hold fancy phones that they flash around in public. 
Others will tell you how they cannot respond but will be quick to send you information on how their company has donated one computer (used) to a school. Huh!!! 

 By the time one decides to stretch, its 1pm which typically lunch time. By this time you have out spent yourself in terms of airtime (Blame the telecom companies), transport and drinking water. The day is more or less halfway so you dive into endless research material. There is so much information to read and only a few hours later its 3pm. It’s time for to some event/press briefing. You arrive on time but the event starts a after an hour (4:30pm). At the event you are showered with corporate jargon and numbers. You ask a question and it’s ignored or “Please note, that question is not relevant to this event.” 

To make matters worse, you are "bull shitted" (Not sure whether this word is formal) and taken for granted by the PR agency. Take note that after a few days your phone will be buzzing off the hook, “where is my story?” someone from the PR agency will stalk your phone endlessly, yet you had not made promises. 
6pm and it’s that time when people are going home. The editorial deadline is approaching and there is nothing to show the editor. 

You ignore your meeting friends for the evening and decide to get some work done.  You type away on the laptop and by the time 1,000 words are completed, its 8pm. Its dark outside and you are the only one in the office. Time to close-up, the cleaners have walked in the office.  Time to shift the office your one roomed home. 

As the office is locked up you realize that the tummy is almost empty. But while walking home, all the thoughts are on the incomplete work and the interview you have to do in the morning. You get home, only to be welcomed by a heat wave (backspace x2) darkness. The power distributor has decided that due to the shortage in generation then having power is a liability. 

Since its 9pm, you rush to the nearest bar, plug the laptop power cable in the socket and type away. Hungry. At 10:30pm you decide to get back home. Back to darkness. You get a cup of tea, sip and bite some white bread. The alarm is set for midnight so you can wake up to do some work. You sleep (rather take a nap). At about midnight the alarm goes off. You snooze it for about 30mins. At 1:00am, the covers are off and back to work. Tick tock. 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am and then you slide in between the sheets at 4:15am. At 6am you are up to polish the story and 8am its back to the daily routine of a scribe. 

“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” 

Sep 5, 2011

Hashtag Kirya live

He started waving to his fans and the screaming ladies did want the show to end. He offered his hand and there was a gold rush for it. They wanted to touch it, feel it and confirm whether he was human real. 
 'Maurice, 'we love you' some were screaming. 'take me home' others would say and 'please don't stop' others said. Maurice Kirya had put on such an electrifying/amazing concert which explains the endless screaming.

Fatal attraction? hmmmmm 

The arrivals "lounge" at Serena Conference Centre was beginning to fill up with ladies and gentlemen waiting to watch Maurice Kirya #live on stage in Kampala. The ladies were probably looking good. Probably is an understatement. They were dressed for the evening Maurice. Maurice Kirya is on path to greatness. A path to success after years of hard work, scorning and determination. After the RFI award he won last year, Maurice Kirya went on a world tour of West Africa, to Paris and also the US of A (He performed alongside Jordin Sparks). Ugandans however would only get to see Maurice Kirya on TV, Arts concerts and the experience. #Kiryalive was his turn to give back to his loyal fans. Maurice has a huge fan base by the way (Watching from the sidelines most seem to be ladies after his heart). 

Maurice doing his thing. Photo by Meltem Yasar 

The Misubbaawa fame star, clad in a black jacket and black trousers, started in Rock Star style. The drummers, guitarists, and the lights seemed to be inviting a rock star. He is a rockstar in his own making.  
Yes, he entered like rockstar and invited fans to move closer to fill the standing space. This made it look more of a concert rather than the corporate tables that usually fill that space. He had made a statement. One with no jibber and jabber of the corporate sponsors that like to take credit for things they have not helped as much. With the a very raised stage, one could tell Maurice was about to pull off one of the best stage performances. Once he was on the stage, boom and Slappadass (word picked from Urban Legend) prevailed. There was endless screaming, dancing and singing. The chattering on Twitter using #Kiryalive proved that Maurice had made his mark. Not only by singing but taking off with hearts many ladies. We are still trying to find space for him on the walk fame. A star on the Ugandan boulevard but we ain’t got one at the moment. 
After singing Misubaawa (my favorite off the album), the lovely, beautiful and good looking Valerie Kimani showed up on stage. And in a lavie davie sort of way both Valerie and Maurice performed Village girl

Maurice and Valerie "lavie-davie". Photo by Meltem Yasar 

Maurice came back and constantly saying 'listen to this' before any song. Impressively almost every song Maurice Kirya would sing, the ladies at the front seemed to nail it by singing passionately. Maurice can be proud of himself, had pulled it off. The sound was great (for once I don't have to take a swipe at Silk Events). The lighting, the smoke that comes from the ground was also very timely. Maurice proved why he is an artiste.  

 Photo by Meltem Yasar

Maurice crowned this performance with the famous boda boda song (And his brother Vampino also showed up on boda boda with Valerie Kimani) which gets us to where we started. 

Sep 1, 2011

Uganda Telecom (UTL) Commits to pay Airtel - Press release from Airtel

Press Release

19th, August 2011– Airtel Uganda has announced new developments following
its decision to discontinue interconnection with Uganda Telecom (UTL).
After meetings convened by the Minister of Information, Communication and
Technology and Uganda Communication Commission to facilitate a settlement
of the dispute, a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the two

Mr. V.G. Somasekhar, airtel Managing Director said, “I am pleased to
announce to airtel customers and Ugandans at large that Airtel and Uganda
Telecom have now reached a settlement and agreed on a Payment Plan for the
outstanding debt. Subsequently, come Monday September 5, 2011 airtel will
stay its decision to discontinue interconnect services with Uganda Telecom.

Somasekhar also noted that it was a tough call to terminate interconnectivity

with Uganda Telecom as fellow Ugandans on both networks would suffer

inability to communicate with each other. “It therefore gives me pleasure to

have reached a settlement and airtel will look forward to commencing greater

relations with Uganda telecom,” he added


MTN Uganda increases tariffs due to "recent economic changes"

MTN Uganda today circulated a press release that announced a change in in its tariffs. This may appear as an ultimate shock in the market and among consumers but the Telecom giant is here to make money and thus with increasing operational the company had to adjust. However do customers get value for money?

In the press release, the company announces that effective Saturday 3rd September, 2011 customers on MTN per second will pay 4 shillings for calls to MTN and 4 shillings for calls to other networks.

MTN Chief Executive Officer Themba Khumalo said that for the last 13years MTN's investments of more than US$1billion were supporting network infrastructure for close to 8 million subscribers.

"We have absorbed a number of operational expenses and ensured that we do not pass them on to our customers, to the extent that we even dropped tariffs by employing innovation in our product and service offerings," Khumalo said in the press release.

"In light of recent economic changes, however, the tariff structure is not sustainable for increased business roll-out. The industry is at risk of self-destruction to the detriment of consumers and other stakeholders. At the current rate investments in the sector will decline with the associated quality deterioration. We have a responsibility to protect Uganda’s telecommunications sector and ultimately the customers," Khumalo said.

He explained that over the past couple of months, the telecommunications sector has been struggling as a result of the steady increase in input costs.

“It has become very expensive to do business in Uganda especially over the past few months particularly with the depreciation of the Ugandan shilling by over 20%. The new tariffs will enable us to offset these costs and in so doing ensure that the business is able to be run in a more cost efficient and sustainable way, which provides more reliability of service for our subscribers,” Khumalo added.

Among the costs that the telecommunications firms incur are fuel costs, as all base stations are run using heavy duty generators. "The price of diesel, for example, has gone up from Ushs1, 500 a few years ago to Ushs3, 500 today - but we have avoided increasing tariffs accordingly," Khumalo said.

My Verdict;
1. When tariffs increase we also hope that MTN can improve its voice service. Dropped calls and poor network need to be dealt with so that a customer can also benefit. MTN needs to improve on service delivery if they are to justify any tariff change.
2. Price wars were always going to be unsustainable considering the operational costs involved in the telecom market in Uganda. It is very understandable when profit margins dwindle in the face of competition then survival in the market is the only option. Orange Uganda CEO Philippe Luxey once said that the current price wars are not sustainable.
3. MTN is probably the only telecom that is in profitability at the moment but as seen in the press release is the only one that is increasing its tariffs. Will others follow suit? I suggest they do because it doesn't make sense providing cheap services with no profitability.