Thursday, January 31, 2013

What is the true cost of good customer service?

So she said;

Am kind of impressed with Umeme. I reached home last night and found no kara. I called the chaps and directed them to our area. They actually came to the rescue and sorted us out and even called to confirm that power was back. At this juncture I am glad to be a shareholder.

But he said;

Am still glad I am not a shareholder. Do you for instance happen to know WHY the power was off? It merely takes an accomplice to turn off a circuit breaker, log your call as a complaint then requisition 'materials' for repair. This in addition to fuel for 'going to site' since a shareholder has called. From this fuel they allow the pump attendant 5k of the 30k ghost fuel as well as justify the need for a multitude of technicians (basing on the no of complaints received from previous years' records), increased number of call center staff to receive these complaints.... and it goes on and on perpetuating itself. The end result to me, the ordinary mwananchi? Is a higher power bill, as UMEME seeks profits which translate into higher prices of local goods... This leads to lousy imports from China choking local business because the natural mingis that are involved in the imports don’t pay taxes...... I could complete a full 32 page kasuku explaining just how terrible that 'wonderful' customer service is for you and I but it’s cyclic and would still not end. For God and my country!
Think about the real cost of customer service next time you dial 0800185185.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Is Kenya really better than Uganda?

It is interesting the amount of comparison that goes on between people in life and yet many of the races we run are or should be with ourselves. From the positions in school; I have a friend whose son has been scarred for life because he is always the last in a class of 20, despite an average of 80%. Now he has no interest in school because he is convinced he can never win.

So she looks enviously at neighbor Kenya and its recently opened metro station and flyovers, and the planned silicon valley project. She complains loudly about how useless we are in comparison because of all the dust in our city and corruption everywhere. As far as she is concerned Kenya is better than Uganda.

So let us examine this Kenya that is turning out to be our role model or pace setter. After independence they were ruled by a chap who considered himself the only one with a vision. In fact he had fought for independence based on this conviction. When he died, his chosen successor continued with his vision leading to this sole vision being in control for close to 40 years. During that time the level of corruption in Kenya was such that Kenyatta's family is still considered one of the richest in Africa.

I think Kaguta studied that formula well. His sole vision is now entering 26 years and soon a handpicked successor should be in place to keep that going. I think with oil coming, the levels of corruption will soon match those of the visionary Kenyans. Already the travails of Bassajabala are looking very similar to those of that Muyindi from the Goldenburg scandal.

In short, what He is saying is that we shall soon have flyovers, metro trains and hi-tech cities too. Just as long as Kagu continues to bless us with his vision. Long live Kaguta and long live the NRM. Down with unpatriotic Ugandans allowing to be used by foreigners to derail us.

He is laughing so loudly that his side hurts. She said he is stupid...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Uganda Oil Debate

So she said...
For some reason, I was taking a critical look at the quality of Uganda (and Kenya) oil and this time I didn’t let my dislike for Kagu cloud my head. Tested samples of Ug oil is actually described as  sweet and waxy. Now the quality of crude (and therefore it’s commercialblity is) is graded as follows:
1) How vicious is the product (ability to flow with heating)?
2) What is gravity (density) of the product. (Density compared to water)?
3) What is sulphur content of the product. (Sour or sweet)- One of the needs of refining is to get of sulphur form finished product, since sulphur is very bad to engines and to humans.
Now UG’s oil ranks well on the sulphur spec. It’s crude is considered SWEET. It avg sulphur ranges btwn 0.1% to 0.2%. Industry standard is anything above 0.5% is considered high sulphur.  That implies sulphur levels in Ugandan crude are some of the lowest in the world, the simple meaning (which is govt position) is that a refinery processing Ugandan crude would have the advantage of requiring less investment in desulpherisation units, making the refinery potentially more profitable- (Although I would regard that too simplistic an analysis and conclusion!)
On the other two specs API (density) and Viscosity, UG’s crude wouldn’t be ranked among the world’s best. UG/Kenya crude API ranges between 24-33 deg. Anything above 30 deg is considered HEAVY.  On the viscosity, UG’s oil is heavily viscous (HEAVY & WAXY). It basically doesn’t flow at room temperature and must be kept at temperatures not less than 60˚C to maintain flowing and prevent wax deposition in pipelines. For it to be pourable, it must be kept at least at 40˚C.- (This again is the argument of the govt against building a pipeline for export- that it will be expensive)- Again I say this a simplistic way of looking at it.   
So, my take is this:
1.       Govt has a valid a point to consider refinery built
2.       Oil companies have valid point to export (this basis refinery economics viability vs exports economics- this I will discuss in detail another time)
3.       My main concern in this is that UG reserves are quite limited 3.5m bbls. These could run out in 25-35 years (like what happened to Dubai). So if not well managed, our children, grandchildren will never see benefit of this oil before it runs out. Dubai run out of oil, as they had limited reserves (maybe close to +4mbbls) but they had the foresight to use oil revenues to guaranteed in flows after oil had run out.

So he said...
I have always been of the view that the person who is important is the person closest to me. I have thus always been narrow minded in my view of potential benefits. The fact is the world will never be fair and we shall not find ourselves all happy and singing kumbaya until we reach heaven.

I will use Nigeria as an example because it is well known that those guys have severely misused their oil wealth. Nigeria is not Uganda by any stretch of the imagination. They have one of the biggest economies in Africa. Their infrastructure and cities are far better than what we have in East Africa. As such I would very much like for Uganda to have more of what Nigeria has. My needs are simple. All I want is a good road to my house and electricity most of the time. Considering my current income level in Uganda, which I think is middle class, there is every likelihood (unless God forsakes me in a big way) that I will continue to remain in the middle class. Remember I said my needs are simple, as such being rich is a nice to have, but not essential to my life.

There is absolutely no amount of thuggery that can take place that will prevent me from being better off because of the oil, IF it starts flowing in my time. I cannot speak for my kids and it will be up to them to sort themselves. I leave other people to worry about ending poverty in Uganda. I will concentrate on avoiding poverty of Magero.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Its a new year

So it is 2013 finally. They say it is going to be worse that 2012. The good thing is that I am already in the brace position ready for the crash.

Right now I am a single parent. Yes, the wife went off to bang kyeyo. My opinion is that she is on a paid holiday as parenting these kids is not simple. But it has given me a chance to try out all my theories on parenting without the benefit of contrary feedback from the wife.

When my 2 year old spills anything on the floor, I send her to get a rug and mop it up. Subsequently the amount of spills has reduced dramatically. When any of my kids hurt themselves and start to cry, I wait for them to come to me seeking comfort rather than running over to find out what happened. Now there is less crying due to simple knocks. Soon I will start to send my 6 year old to the distant super market on her own.

The interesting thing is that most of my peers think that I am being mean. But they are the same people praising my kids for being so independent and mature. They like the end but not the means. Personally I just wanted to try giving them the sort of childhood I had. As such I have not invented anything new. My childhood was great and I think it made me the person that I am. So it should be obvious that I would want the same for my kids.

And let us be clear, he did not say that you should all do as I do. What he said is that this way is working for him. My oldest, she said; '... with daddy we do whatever we want. But with mummy there is too much shouting and smacking.' She forgets that he smacks too.