Connect with us

Featured

The world after corona: The big, bad disruption wolf is here with us

Published

on

Loading...
WALE AKINYEMI

By WALE AKINYEMI
More by this Author

For the past few years, we preached the gospel of disruption, saying it was not a matter of if but rather, when.

We shared examples of entire industries that vanished, and of companies that were once market leaders but had to close shop. We told clients that it would shake up everything they knew to the core.

We told them about the difference between reacting and responding and how most people react to disruption instead of responding. That is why such services are called rapid response and not rapid reaction.

Well, disruption did eventually come in the form of an unseen enemy—a coronavirus —Covid-19. The world will now be classified into pre-corona and post-corona eras.

When we sounded the alarm of the impending disruption we were classified in some circles as prophets of doom. Now, we have another prophecy and this is even graver than the first.

The greatest attack of Covid-19 has been on health and life. Hundreds of thousands of people are getting infected and tens of thousands dying.

Advertisement

The greatest post-corona challenge will be the disruption of human behaviour. Experts say that social distancing and home-stay will go on for a while. 

They are talking in terms of months and not days. By the time it is over new habits will have been established and new realities will be in place. Now why is this important for business?

In my youth, the emergence of video cassette recorders was huge. The exchange of videos among friends became common practice because it was not practical to own all the movies you wanted at home. Now this led to a whole new industry as it were – the emergence of video shops and rentals. 

Loading...

Blockbuster, for instance was so big that at its peak in November 2004, employed 84,300 people worldwide. Then smart entrepreneurs came up with online streaming that tolled the bells for Blockbuster. As at March 2020, there remained only one Blockbuster shop on Earth.

Business strategy is built around consumer habits. Success is largely dependent on how well to read human habits and create products and services aligned with these.
The post-corona era will be ruthless and unforgiving to organisations that are unable to accurately read the post-corona habits.

Coronavirus has forced new wine skins upon us and how we respond will determine the future of organisations.

How have customer habits been affected and how are we able to create solutions for the new ones? Human resource officers also need to ask how employees’ habits have been affected.

In spite of people not physically coming to work, interactions and business still got done via online platforms. What, therefore, is the compelling need for huge office spaces and for people to drive to work spending countless hours in traffic?

If there is no such need, money can be saved on utility bills for those spaces, furniture and security.

It is at the aftermath of war where nations are rebuilt or broken. Coronavirus has waged its war but it is the aftermath that will give birth to the corporate champions of a post-corona world.

Wale Akinyemi is the chief transformation officer, PowerTalks. 

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading

Featured

Profiteers on the prowl as mass ‘blindness’ is loosed upon us all

Published

on

Loading...
JENERALI ULIMWENGU

By JENERALI ULIMWENGU
More by this Author

A motorist suddenly stops in the midst of a rush-hour traffic jam and starts flailing his arms before his face in obvious panic. Then another driver, then another, then another.

The traffic jam is building behind the first commuter, until somebody from the long line behind the first character moves over to the car causing all the blockage, and discovers in horror that the man they have all been hooting at is blind as an owl, and is totally helpless.

This is the beginning of Blindness, a superb novel by Portuguese winner of the Nobel award for literature, Jose Saramago, now sadly passed, a novel that frequently reminds me of how a sudden affliction can change the way we behave with ourselves and with each other.

In Blindness it soon becomes clear that nearly everyone in that town (no name places, no country, no people names, no dates, no season) is going blind, and in a short time a new order is established where practically everyone is blind, and a new hierarchy and social order establishes itself along the lines of the limitations imposed by the mass blindness.

But this is society, and it shall, perforce, be social; this means it has to adapt to the new realities of sightlessness. Some members of the society are apparently able to see a little better than others, and this gives them a slight advantage, although they pretend to be as blind as any other member; and others develop alternative faculties that set them apart from their peers.

Everyone who has some advantage or other, though blind, finds a way to pull a fast one over the others and to maximise their gains, especially when it comes to accessing goods and services whose supply is becoming strained by the affliction that has struck the whole town. (Instructively, at the very beginning, the person who “helps” to drive the first blind man home steals the blind man’s car).

Advertisement

Government responses are understandably confused, seeing as it is a mighty unusual situation and no one knows how to handle it. Patients are herded into quarantines centres, and the conditions there are unbearable, with excrements and dead bodies clogging the corridors.

Rations are erratic and fought over, and those who can cheat to have extra portions have a field day. Soon there are organised gangs grabbing anything they can loot that is destined for those in the detention centres, who cannot get out because troops have been stationed outside the gate with orders to shoot any escapees.

Loading...

As conditions worsen, all sorts of systems for the exploitation of the weakest members of the cohort come to the fore, with quarantine inmates forced to trade whatever earthly belongings they have, just to stay alive, until they run out of anything they can trade for a little food. Soon, the age-old sexual exploitation of women shows its ugly head.

It’s this last act of abuse perpetrated against the women of the community that spurs an uprising led by the females who throw themselves against the hoodlums who have dominated them using the scourge of blindness that has afflicted their community as cover. The women thus become the spearhead of a popular uprising that overthrows the oppressive system.

Saramago’s is a frightening story, but one that is easy to recognise in our present realities imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The fact that even the most distinguished virologists and epidemiologists have so little knowledge as to how this pandemic will eventually play out, makes us all blind.

As devastating as the pandemic will prove to a great many people around the globe, the smart alecks will try to take advantage of this calamitous situation, and the masses, with their usual credulity, will fall victim to all sorts of schemes and stratagems.

A short while ago I was contemplating the messaging put out to the people in Tanzania. Shall we now all come out and celebrate because we have vanquished the virus? Or, shall we continue taking all the precautionary measures to halt its spread?

In Dar es Salaam, I have witnessed people do the two at the same time, and I have wondered what the double messaging could be in aid of.

The blindness in Saramago’s novel need not be the physical unseeing such as our gallant ophthalmologists have to deal with.

Blindness can be bestowed on a people–or, rather, a people can bestow blindness on itself—with fully functional biological eyes that have been made to see nothing.

Jenerali Ulimwengu is chairman of Raia Mwema newspaper and an advocate of the High Court in Dar es Salaam. E-mail: [email protected]

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading

Featured

MWAURA: Burning questions readers would have wanted Head of State asked

Published

on

Loading...

By PETER MWAURA

In his self-appraisal published last Saturday, Mutuma Mathiu says President Uhuru Kenyatta had the better of him during the interview encounter at State House. But that was only because “he brought all his friends and neighbours to the fight”.

Mr Mathiu goes on to say: “Had he shown up alone — or only with a few friends — I’d have nailed his hide to the State House walls and he wouldn’t even have felt my knife.”

The NMG Editorial Director said he had brought along broadcaster Joseph Warungu, a “wonderful, experienced and calm interviewer”, to spearhead the exclusive interview. “My plan was quite simple. I was going to let Joseph take the interview. I would fly in his slipstream, breaking cover only occasionally to fire a bunch of carefully selected provocative questions at the President then slide back.”

But he was informed at the last minute that “only one of us would conduct the interview and it wasn’t Joseph”.

If there’s a rematch, he now can find comfort in the readers of the Nation. At the time of writing this, 2,385 of them had posted comments on Facebook about the interview, many of them containing burning questions that would help him to nail the President’s hide to the State House walls, and then some. With the questions, he can impale the President on a spear and exhibit for all to see.

Here are some of the questions. But before dealing them out, it’s fair to state no journalist has ever toppled or trampled over a President in a State House interview. We respect our President and we don’t have Stephen Sackurs of the BBC Hardtalk. Times are changing, though.

It’s also fair to state that Mr Mathiu had a plan of attack: Establish rapport, then ask tough questions. “Mr President, I don’t know whether it would be in order for me to start by congratulating you for the good news in the family,” he said.

President Kenyatta looked at him inquisitively, bemused and amused. “How do you now?” he asked. “Mr. President I’m a Nation editor, it’s my business to know….” Then the two burst into a hearty and infectious laugh. The audience is not told what the good news was.

Loading...

It was a brilliant opener, a great ice-breaker. Mr Mathiu went on effortlessly to ask about the President’s daily routine and the Covid-19 crisis before moving on to sensitive politics. The interview yielded a series of news stories, and tremendous reader interest, leading to the grand finale broadcast by NTV on Sunday.

Now the time has finally come to deal out the questions from readers. The questions may be indelicate, naïve, embarrassing or offensive, but there is no recourse but ask them. We might even be surprised by the frank replies that we might get from the President.

Let’s plunge into the question that was most commonly asked: Mr President, Why did you cheat Ruto that you would rule for 10 years and then he will take over for another 10?

I will leave out related questions — because they are superfluous — such as those concerning David Murathe’s pronouncements, erstwhile attempts at demonising Raila Odinga in central Kenya and the about-face.

So, let’s go on to the other questions: You say we should not politicise the fight against corruption yet it looks some people are targeted, others not? Why did you allow the demolition of Ruai and Kariobangi houses, throwing children and the elderly out into the cold in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis?

Why has Francis Atwoli and other politicians not been arrested for breaking Covid-19 rules and curfew by holding meetings in his Kajiado house? Why have you not reined in or condemned police brutality and corruption while they’re enforcing the Covic-19 curfew and rules? Don’t you think you should always be seen in public wearing a mask as a way of leading by example?

You say the SGR is one of the achievements you would like to be remembered by, but are you satisfied that its cost was not a rip-off for the Kenyan taxpayer?

The questions went on and on, almost ad nauseam.

Send your complaints to [email protected] Call or text 0721 989 264

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading

Featured

MATHIU: Quickest way out of virus grip is to test, test, test, treat and prevent

Published

on

Loading...

There are three things in the current Covid-19 discourse that I not only disagree with but which I believe reflect a lack of empathy and a detachment from reality, possibly borne of doubts as to whether the lives of ordinary Kenyans are worth fighting for too hard.

As expected, today the explosion of coronavirus infections in Nairobi is in the informal settlements and slums. The slums were not locked down because, after debates about cash transfer systems and food vouchers and all that, it was probably decided that it was too difficult, would expose troops and police, required to enforce the lockdown, to infection and, therefore, compromise national security. Other than the curfew, folks were asked to wash their hands, wear a face mask and social-distance.

Once again, the language is changing and we are saying that asymptomatic people will be asked to go home and choose whether to spread death or spare their families by self-quarantining until they either get well or become sick enough to qualify for hospital attention. And I ask myself: If you live in a one-room tin shack with your three children, wife and sister-in-law, how do you isolate yourself?

In treatment centres, patients get supplements, are encouraged to take exercise, drink lots of water and eat lemons. They don’t have access to drugs and they have no opportunity to infect anyone else. Back in the slums, life does not beat to that rhythm: There is likely to be no lemons, no regulated hydration, no supplements, no privacy and no social distancing. The temptation to numb the fear of the unknown at the busaa den, thereby infecting countless others, is probably impossible to overcome.

Every effort must be made to reduce the volume of infections by isolating the infected and doing contact tracing. If it means setting up field hospitals, so be it. Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho set up one at the Technical University of Mombasa and it looked really nice and ready for use. Are we saying it was set up by Martians? Why can’t such hospitals be set up in other parts of the country for the management of those with mild or no symptoms? Kenyans pump trillions of shillings into the Treasury. Use some of that money to save lives.

Secondly, I have heard the argument that mass testing is “a waste”. Yet, you can’t really tell the prevalence without a large number of tests. Today, we are doing less than 3,000 tests a day. Some people that I have spoken to think that you need between 10,000 and 15,000 tests a day to establish the status of the disease and therefore be able to take the necessary decisions. In other countries, every decision — including being allowed back to work or checking into a hotel — is led by testing.

Loading...

We have the capacity at Kemri and the National Influenza Lab to scale up the testing to a level that the country requires. But we can’t seem to get things moving; if it’s not reagents it is something else. Nothing of value is easy to achieve; of course everybody in the world is looking for reagents, of course there is a global shortage, of course it will require ingenuity and innovation to solve the problem. Kenya can’t lapse into its usual lack of initiative when its people are at risk.

People have been talking about the relaxation of restrictions, reopening of schools and a return to normality. How can you take such decisions without testing data? And we don’t always have to use the PCR test, which, even though more accurate, is slower. Why not use some of the rapid testing kits that are in use all over the world and make provisions for the higher margin of error?

In my view, mass and fast testing is not negotiable. And the only way we can safely allow people from high infection areas into the rest of the country is by testing them. And if this requires technology, I am sure our innovative young techies can come up with a quick, mobile-based, cost-effective solution that allows the authorities to track the infection status of an individual and guarantees integrity.

My final beef has to do with the balance between livelihoods and lives in determining whether to open up or not. I have seen studies that strongly suggest that brutal lockdowns in Italy, New Zealand and other places helped to either control the virus or ensure that it did not take hold at all. Countries such as Rwanda, which are very efficient in policing lockdowns and are, fortunately, small, have not had a single death.

Covid-19, with its capacity to infect patients many times, can easily lead to the swamping of health facilities and kill huge numbers of people. It is like a fire. The only way to control it and douse it is by denying it fuel — new victims to infect. Right now, many of us are suffering massive loss of income. But we know that so long as we are alive, we can rebuild.

In this crisis, there are some irreducible minimums: We must fight for every life with everything we have. Decisions must be data-led; meaning we must test on a large scale. And there must be no false equivalencies between livelihoods and lives: Life comes first.

[email protected]

Comments

comments

Loading...
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Loading...
Advertisement
Loading...

Trending