Thursday, November 28, 2013

18 Leadership Quotes To Help You Grow & Inspire Others By Joel on July 1, 2013

18 Leadership Quotes To Live By

Jack Welch Leadership Quote “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch

Martin Luther King Jr Leadership Quote “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” - Martin Luther King

Henry Ford Leadership Quote “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

Charles Swindoll Leadership Quote “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” - Charles Swindoll

Eleanor Roosevelt Leadership Quote “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

 Jim Collins Leadership Quote “‘Good’ is the enemy of ‘Great.’” – Jim Collins

John Quincy Adams Leadership Quote “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” - John Quincy Adams

Ralph Nichols Leadership Quote “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.” - Ralph Nichols

Helen Keller Leadership Quote “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” - Helen Keller

 Ralph Waldo Emerson Leadership Quote “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Steve Jobs Leadership Quote “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs

Max Lucado Leadership Quote “A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” – Max Lucado

Charles Darwin Leadership Quote “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

Lao Tzu Leadership Quote “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu

William Arthur Ward Leadership Quote “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” - William Arthur Ward

Maya Angelou Leadership Quote “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou

Jim Rohn Leadership Quote “Help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better.” - Jim Rohn

Margaret Mead Leadership Quote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My list of great men every African should know about....... Published on Tuesday, 28 August 2012 12:29 Written by Wandia Njoya

That’s bein’ a man,” Socco said. “Pain in your heart and your dreams – that’s the test of a man. If you can live life day after day with men treatin’ you like a dog but you never bark or howl, cower or beg – if you can be a human being when they want you to be an animal – that’s got man all ovah it.”

From Walter Mosley’s The Right Mistake. My spirit has been bruised, my soul has been weary, listening to the backlash against women in a country with so high a literacy rate as Kenya. We have goons in parliament sucking this country dry and leaving our economy too weak to create employment, stirring up hatred just so that they can get into power, flooding our country with drugs and destroying our young men and women, but in the midst of all that, some Kenyans will still say that the problem facing young men is women activists for the girl child. And no matter how much I point out how absurd that statement is, people still focus on the activists. They say that there’s no one to mentor the boys, but if you ask them whether the women activists should mentor the boys, you are met with silence. This contradiction – of lamenting for boys but not wanting to do anything about it while blaming others for not doing it – is the dilemma of male supremacy.

But since no one will listen to me saying that we need to transform our society so that our boys can thrive, I’ve decided to go on the offensive and draw up a list of those whom I consider to be men that every African should know about. (Note the word “consider”: it’s just an opinion). These are my criteria for real manhood:

  • Must love his wife and family and his country, enough to want society to change so that his children and others’ children can live in a better world 
  • Must admit that he is human, recognize his weaknesses, acknowledge his mistakes, and be engaged in a personal struggle to become a better human being 
  •  Must recognize the importance of reading and of education. 

So here’s my list:

 Malcolm X (need I state the obvious?): This man came from a broken background, difficult family circumstances, became a hustler in his teenage and ended up in prison. While there, the power of faith and of books transformed him. He was a great reader. When he left prison, he spoke the anger and pain of his people and warned those who committed violence against black people that black people had the right to defend themselves according to their own terms. He later recognized that his adoration for Elijah Mohammed was misplaced, and after his Hajj to Mecca, he announced that he would be changing tactics in his fight for the dignity of black people around the world. He read a lot, and often told the youth that the best thing they could have in this world was education. I think Ossie Davis said it best about Malcolm, “however much I disagreed with him, I never doubted that Malcolm X, even when he was wrong, was the rarest thing in the world among us negroes: a true man.”

Boniface Mwangi, Kenyan photographer activist: This man also came from a difficult background and suffered the odds to become a great photographer. He recognized that despite her flaws, his mother did the best she could with the difficult circumstances she was in. I’ve heard few people speak of their mothers as people with dignity. Boniface took pictures of Kenyans at their worst, and unlike most journalists – most people – he felt the pain of the people he saw, he cried for us, and committed himself to that never happening again. Boniface is the only Kenyan activist I’ve heard use the word “love” as a reason for his protest against injustice. And we saw that love at the Ballot Revolution protest where he came with his family and walked on the streets with the rest of us. There is no greater love than that of a man showing his children and the rest of us his commitment by example. Boniface has created a space called PAWA 254 where young people who want to have a social impact gather together.

 Patrice Lumumba: I don’t know whether this happened in real life, but there’s a scene in Raoul Peck’s movie “Lumumba” that to me, shows how Lumumba valued what young Congolese would learn about themselves. In Brussels, as King Bedouin was generously “giving” independence to Congo, Lumumba’s friends discouraged Lumumba from giving a speech in which he would affirm the dignity of the Congolese, rather than thank his majesty for independence. In the movie, Lumumba asks (my paraphrase): if I don’t give this speech, how will we explain this whole situation to our children? And to the podium he went, and gave one of the greatest speeches of our time, in which he addressed the Men and Women of Congo, (not the King) and told them to remember independence as a great day about which they would teach their children. He said that Congo and Belgium were two countries relating as “equal to equal,” and he reminded the Congolese that it was by fighting that they won their freedom. In his letter to his wife” before he died, he said: “I would like my children, whom I am leaving and may perhaps never see again, to be told that the Congo has a great future, and that it is up to them as to every other Congolese, to carry out the sacred task of rebuilding our independence and our sovereignty, for where there is no dignity, there is no freedom, and where there is no justice there is no dignity, and where there is no independence there are no free men.”

 Barack Obama: Obama is the man we love not because he became the first black President of the United States, but because he shared his journey with us. Through his books, he shared his struggles as a man grappling with his identity, with a father he barely knew, and the usual issues young men have. He has opened the White House to children. His government has been committed to improving early childhood education. He has started the Commencement Challenge in which the winning public school gets him as their Commencement speaker. He has campaigned to reward and recognize teachers, and has been committed to empowering teachers so as to attract the best and brightest minds to the teaching profession. This “people’s president” was raised by a woman, is husband to a brilliant, educated woman, and father to two great women.

Nelson Mandela: Mandela embodies the spirit of freedom, determination and love for his country. After his release from prison, he stood by his wife Winnie to the best of his ability. He asked black South Africans to do the impossible, which was to value truth and healing over revenge. I hate the way Eurocentrism has turned that into proof that we should not hold grudges against whites (as if we care for grudges – what we want is justice), but that’s not Mandela’s fault. He is a lesson in what it means to retire in dignity – with the world cheering you on as you live your best life.

 Thomas Sankara: Of course this young, handsome man who became president at 35 and died four years later had to be on my list. Out of the many great things I could say about Sankara, these are the ones I’ll mention here. First, his commitment to women’s freedom as human freedom, not as “women’s rights.” Like he said, a society cannot be free if half its population is in bondage. He was also an intelligent and widely read man, as one will see in his speeches. Under his term, literacy shot up, children immunization improved so much that Bourkina Faso was soon helping other countries with their immunization programs. He often spoke of the injustice of foreign aid. He kept emphasizing the importance of education, and my favorite quote from him in this regard is “A soldier without political education is a virtual criminal.”

 SM Otieno: I’ve put this Kenyan lawyer on my list based on what his wife Wambui says about him in her autobiography. This was a Kenyan man who married a woman with a difficult history, encouraged her not to dwell on the pain of the past, and supported her political ambitions, and raised and supported several children who were not his own. It is a pity that we know more of him in death than in life. But trust a woman to keep him alive.

 Paul Kagame: I know I’m going to get a lot of criticism for putting him on my list. I may even regret it, given what’s happening in Congo. But for now, I consider him one of Africa’s most intelligent and articulate leaders. His RPF was different from the bands of chaotic criminals we see in the Congo who maim the people Lumumba gave his life for. RPF soldiers were expected to read and take lessons in political education. Kagame has fought tirelessly for a country that was abandoned to genocide by a world that now has the audacity to demand that Rwanda follows the path to healing on terms other than Rwandans’ terms. He has put school attendance and health insurance at 98%. More than half the Parliament is made up of women. His country has abolished the death penalty when it had the right to maintain it. He has asked victims of the most horrific crime to live with their former tormentors who confess. He is not afraid to subject himself to press conferences again and again in which journalists (including African ones) will do nothing original but hold up the racist stereotype of Africa producing nothing but dictators and expect him to defend himself. To his critics, he does not say “you don’t know what you’re talking about,” but “come to Rwanda and see for yourself, and speak to the Rwandan people.” I don’t know any living African leader who has told the world: we know what we’ve been through, and you have no right to dictate to us how we are going to go forward.

 The men on this list are not perfect. And that’s precisely the point. We need to teach about people who are more human so that our youth know the power of hope and of education. That’s why I didn’t put Jesus and the saints like Martin Luther King on my list.

 I hope Kenyans reading this list will not settle for criticizing it for including or not including so-and-so. Draw up your own list, mentor and educate with it, get to the bookshops, surf the net, educate yourself and read to others. Don’t sit back and blame women activists for what you should be doing yourself. The men on my list recognized that people must be constantly educated, and education was not just about schooling but also about reading and critical thinking for life. And they knew that people lead as good as they read.

Source: Zeleza Post

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Are Insurers losing relevance?

During a presentation at the 2012 IIS Seminar in Rio De Janiero, Michael McGavick, CEO of XL Group P.L.C said that "insurers are struggling to maintain their relevance for policyholders as new risks emerge for businesses and the businesses themselves grow more comfortable with retaining risks."

He brought up that the insurance premium share of worldwide gross domestic product had shrunk from 3.4% to 2.8% over the past 10 years and said that insurers are failing to meet business needs in three key risk areas, technology, energy and supply chain.

Is McGavick right? Are insurers losing relevance? And if so, how do they regain it?


SADC - Committee of Insurance, Securities and Non-Banking financial Authorities of SADC (“CISNA”)


Extracted from the SADC Protocol on Finance and Investment.




The High Contracting Parties:
RECALLING that the Committee of Insurance, Securities and Non-Banking financial Authorities of SADC (“CISNA”) was established in June 1998 by the Insurance, Securities and Non-Banking Financial Authorities in the SADC Region (“the Authorities”);
NOTING that a strategy was developed to give direction to the activities Of CISNA and to contribute to the sound regulation, effective supervision and rapid development of the financial services industries;
REALISING that financial institutions supervised by the Authorities are critical for mobilising savings which are important for the expansion of productive capacity and that such institutions require a supporting regulatory framework:
(a) which will attract the investments required for creating economic development within the Region;
(b) for managing the financial risks faced by the financial institutions and users of financial products and services in the Region; and
(c) which must not only be efficient but also properly enforced;
AWARE that there should be close co-operation between the Authorities for the purpose of carrying out CISNA’s objectives in the pursuit of complementary goals to achieve an integrated and credible SADC capital market;
NOTING the increasing need for internationalization, and harmonisation of financial institutions and the interdependence of the activities of financial institutions due to the use of modern technology and closer co-operation between financial institutions;
RECOGNISING the need to mobilise savings that can be used to expand SADC’s productive capacity;
FURTHER NOTING that broad objectives have been set in the CISNA Strategic Plan to achieve the successful regulation and supervision of non- banking financial institutions and the need to share information.
CONSCIOUS that the achievement of the objectives referred to in the CISNA Strategic Plan will be accomplished at different times and in different phases;
NOTING the establishment of CISNA, the adoption of the CISNA MOU and 100 the obligations imposed on the Authorities in the said MOU HEREBY AGREE as follows:


1. In this Annex, terms and expressions defined in Article 1 of the Treaty shall bear the same meaning unless the context otherwise requires.
2. In this Annex, unless the context otherwise requires:
“Authority” means any organ or entity responsible for the regulation and supervision of non- banking financial institutions in their respective jurisdictions within SADC or any designated representative of such authority;
“CISNA” means the Committee of Insurance, Securities and Non-banking Financial Authorities of SADC and the Authorities;
“CISNA Strategic Plan” means the CISNA Strategic Plan set out in Addendum A to this Annex;
“non- banking financial institutions” means any provider of financial advisory and intermediary services, collective investment schemes, insurance institutions and retirement funds regulated or supervised by their respective Authorities;
“financial products and services” means long-term and short-term insurance contracts or policies, benefits provided by retirement funds, financial advisory and intermediary services, shares, debentures, bonds and other forms of securitised debt, futures and derivative products including commodity derivatives, participatory interests in collective investment schemes, and other securities traded in the respective jurisdictions of the Authorities;
“financial services industry” means the supply of financial products and services by financial institutions throughout the Region;
“jurisdiction” means the country, state or any other territory, as the case may be, in which an Authority can exercise its powers;
“IAIS” means the International Association of Insurance Supervisors;
“IOPS” means the International Organisation of Pension Regulators and Supervisors;
“IOSCO” means the International Organisation of Securities Commissions;
“Requested Authority” means the Authority to whom a request is made in terms of this Annex ;
“Requesting Authority” means the Authority making a request pursuant in terms of this Annex;
“securities” means bonds, shares, stock, debentures, securitised debt instruments, equity instruments, debt instruments, futures and derivative instruments (including commodity derivatives), participatory interests in collective investment schemes, and any similar securities to, or combination of, the aforementioned.


There is hereby established a Committee of Insurance, Securities and Non- Banking Authorities of the Southern African Development Community.


1. There should be high-level contact between the Authorities in order to inform each other of any significant changes in their respective regulatory environments with a view to harmonizing each Authority’s approach on the subject covered by the shared information.
2. The Authorities shall put one another on their mailing lists for the receipt of periodicals and other important communications.
3. The Authorities will encourage and enhance contact amongst the staff of the Authorities


1. The Requested Authority should use its best efforts to obtain information from its own records or from institutions within its jurisdiction in order to provide a Requesting Authority with information that will allow such authority to fulfil its regulatory and supervisory responsibilities.
2. If any Authority comes into possession of information that would be likely to assist another Authority in administering or enforcing the laws or regulations for which it is responsible, the first-mentioned Authority will endeavour to notify the other Authority of the existence of that information.


1. The provisions of the Annex on the Exchange of Information and Surveillance of Securities, Insurance and Retirement Activities will, with the necessary changes, apply to: (a) requests for information and assistance; (b) the execution of such requests; (c) the permissible uses of information; (d) the rights of Requested Authorities; (e) confidentiality; and (f) the costs of investigations.


1. In order to assist the legislature with the drafting or amending of legislation that is compliant with international standards, the Authorities shall:
(a) undertake in their respective jurisdictions a diagnostic study, analysis or assessment that focuses primarily on assessing the regulatory framework and supervisory practices in terms of the objectives and principles of the IOSCO, the IAIS and the IOPS;
(b) before submission of the assessments verify such assessments through Authority peer or third party review; and
(c) adopt and develop the required structures in line with the objectives and principles recommended by IOSCO, IAIS and IOPS, if the assessment demonstrates that is what is required.


1. The Authorities should:
(a) become members of and liaise with IOSCO, IAIS and IOPS; and
(b) disseminate to other Authorities, who are not members of IOSCO, IAIS and IOPS, information derived from those institutions.


1. State Parties agree that, the Authorities should, in order to develop focused programmes for their respective financial services industries, assess the level of development of their non- banking financial institutions with regard to, inter alia:
(a) the supply and use of financial products and services;
(b) level of competition; and
(c) any barriers to development.


The Authorities shall work towards the harmonisation of their respective laws and regulations and regulatory and supervisory practices with the aim of preventing or reducing regulatory arbitrage.


The Authorities shall:
(a) ensure that both local and foreign training opportunities are developed, expanded and hosted throughout the Region, and made available to the staff of all Authorities;
(b) identify their training needs;
(c) explore the development programme(s) suitable for their needs;
(d) assist as much as possible with the presentation of such training programmes;
(e) organise and encourage attachments throughout the Region or abroad to provide on-the-job training;
(f) organise attachments and shall mutually agree on the duration thereof.


1. The Authorities:
(a) shall identify cross-border activities that could form the subject of cross-border co-operation amongst Authorities, and between Authorities and foreign counterparts (i.e. the prevention of unscrupulous operations, increased access to information, dual listings, the introduction of legislation to prevent money laundering, including the financing of terrorism); and
(b) are committed to facilitate mutual exchange of information and assistance.


1. The Authorities shall:
(a) assist each other with the introduction of suitable consumer awareness campaigns for their respective jurisdictions;
(b) share with one another problems identified and methodologies used to promote their respective awareness campaigns;
(c) identify the consumer awareness campaigns and initiatives already introduced in their respective jurisdictions to inform and educate consumers of financial products and services; and
(d) assess whether adequate programmes have been introduced and implement initiatives that will enhance consumer awareness.


1. The Authorities shall meet as often as deemed necessary but at least twice each year; and shall by consensus, appoint a Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson for a period of not more than two years.
2. The Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson so appointed will represent CISNA at meetings of the Senior Treasury Officials.
3. The Authorities shall determine the rules and procedures of all meetings.
4. The Authorities may, by consensus, set up such sub-committees as may be deemed necessary to carry out any specific assignment or duty of CISNA.


If any Authority believes that a matter falls more appropriately within the jurisdiction of another Authority, or that some joint action is required in dealing with the matter, such matter should be referred to the other Authority as soon as is reasonably practicable.


An Authority or designated representative of such Authority may not cede, assign or transfer any right or obligation granted under this Annex without the prior written consent of all the Authorities, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld.


The Authorities shall assist one another to develop approaches for strengthening the regulation, supervision and the efficiency of the financial institutions in the Authorities’ respective jurisdictions while avoiding, where possible, conflicts that may arise from the application of differing regulatory and supervisory practices.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Value of Happiness

The Value of a Happiness Economy 

John C. Havens - Executive Vice President - Strategy and Engagement - | 17 Aug 2012 

What if generosity were a currency? 

This was a question posed by the Danish chocolate company Anthon Berg for its recent Generous Store campaign. The company opened a pop-up store for one day in Copenhagen last winter, and distributed chocolate as payment to individuals who promised to perform a generous deed for a loved one.

Chocolate lovers posted to the company’s Facebook page, sharing promises like “serving breakfast in bed.” Then they picked up their chocolate payment at the store and essentially broadcast to their social graph to “pay it forward.”

Research suggests that paying it forward is something the average person enjoys. Søren Christensen, a partner in Anthon Berg’s ad agency, says his company’s findings showed that seven out of 10 people were happy when they did something good for other people. But only one out of 10 people ever experienced generosity on a daily basis.

Why the disparity, and why does it matter? 

Two reasons. First, there’s a growing movement to standardize the metrics around well-being that can lead to happiness. Second, the combination of big data, your social graph, and artificial intelligence means everyone will soon be able to measure individual progress toward well-being, set against the backdrop of all humanity’s pursuit to do the same. In the near future, our virtual identity will be easily visible by emerging technology like Google’s Project Glass and our actions will be just as trackable as our influence. We have two choices in this virtual arena: Work to increase the well-being of others and the world, or create a hierarchy of influence based largely on popularity.

Metrics Not Mood 

 If you’re thinking the study of happiness and well-being seems flaky, you’re missing a major trend that’s beginning to influence a number of global economies.

At the recent United Nations Summit, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that, “Gross National Product (GDP) fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress.” In other words, measuring well-being is not the pursuit of identifying the ephemeral emotion of happiness.

It’s about looking at a deeper level of “economic, social and environmental objectives that are most effectively pursued in a holistic manner.” And economics alone are not the primary driver of well-being. Statistics show, for instance, that after a person or family receives a salary of $75,000 per year, increasing the amount of money brought home doesn’t increase a feeling of well-being.

Jeffery Sachs, the renowned economist from Columbia University who edited the first World Happiness Report for the UN, certainly comes to the same conclusion. He said, “The U.S. has had a three-time increase of GNP per capita since 1960, but the happiness needle hasn’t budged.” The report, which provides scientific evidence that happiness can be reliably measured and is meaningful, notes that the U.S. has not as happy as other countries because of a too-prominent focus on boosting the economy — while largely ignoring long-term effects on environment or holistic education. (The Danes, however, were listed as the happiest people on the planet by Sachs’s report — apparently Anthon Berg is onto something with their Wonka-onian economics.)


The study of happiness is a burgeoning field of study around the world, with scientists and other experts providing hard data as to the benefits of a balanced approach to well-being versus too singular a focus on money or self.

 “Our goal is to get people thinking more deeply about what happiness is and what is the connection between themselves and their community and world,” says Laura Musikanski, the executive director and co-founder of The Happiness Initiative, an organization inspired by Bhutan’s ideas on Gross National Happiness, also known as GNH. They even created a survey geared to measure 10 metrics of well-being, which include material well being, physical health and time balance.

Her site also contains an excellent history of Happiness Research that provides important data-related insight. For example, although ephemeral happiness may come about due to a combination of luck, timing or fate, the emerging science of happiness proposes that “our actions determine 40% of happiness, and that well-being can be both synthetically created and habitually formed.”

 This may be the biggest reason for our desire to measure this space, and several takes on measuring it have popped up. The Quantified Self movement has exploded and Nicholas Fenton’s practice of chronicling information for his annual life’s report has inspired others to follow his lead via Daytum and other self-monitoring services.

Ariana Huffington also recently announced her GPS for the Soul, an app that launches this June that provides a “course-correcting mechanism for your mind, body and spirit.” The natural next step in this process, then, is to marry the collective metrics of individuals to form a collective virtual picture of a community or country.

Mirroring the goals of GPS for the Soul, it would be simple to map GNH/well-being metrics to existing technology like that provides updates on how to maintain material well-being or Project Noah that encourages more access to nature. Via this methodology, our lives could become a virtual H(app)athon, with technology doling out advice on how to flourish, while proactively helping others.

The Efficacy of Fun 

But as with any behavior or state of mind, it will take a village. “A really important part of changing behavior is social reinforcement,” says C. Lincoln (Link) Hoewing, Assistant Vice President for Internet and Technology Issues for Verizon and frequent contributor to Verizon’s Policy Blog. “You start seeing and comparing yourself to others more when you know that other people can find out what you’re doing.” This form of Accountability Based Influence (ABI) is most effective when eliciting a positive response. As an example, Hoewing noted Volkswagen’s Fun Theory campaign, whose Piano Stairs YouTube Video has received almost 18 million views to date. For the campaign, a set of stairs in a Stockholm subway were outfitted with full size piano keys that played notes as people walked on them, resulting in 66% more people than normal choosing the stairs over the nearby escalator. It’s a simple leap to picture this event being geared toward a community metric of well-being, where the GNH for Stockholm would have risen the day of the campaign.

The Currency of Community 

Brands are certainly learning to leverage well-being in the form of corporate social responsibility known as shared value. While bringing happiness to consumers via a product or service is not unique, bringing happiness to a community is just coming intro widespread acceptance. “We want to set in motion an upward spiral of confidence,” stated Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz in his Letter to America last August. This included the company’s Create Jobs for USA program that has seeded $5 million to provide capital grants for under served community businesses. “The idea of the initiative is to create happiness coming from economic well being,” states Adam Brotman, Chief Digital Officer for Starbucks. The company also recently announced its Store Partnership Model where pilot community organizations in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood and Los Angeles’ Crenshaw neighborhood will share in the profits of a Starbucks store. A minimum of $100,000 for each organization will seed programs geared toward job and life skill development, positive learning environments and overall health and wellness in the community. “We’re in the happiness and people business,” says Brotman, referring to the shared value mentality that a social business can be generous and profitable at the same time. “A thriving or happy community is something that’s good for everybody.”

When Actions Create Identity 

In about three to five years it won’t matter if you’d rather not project your actions to the world — your virtual footprint will simply be too hard to conceal. Your preferences combined with the data generated by external forces will in essence make everything, including objects, inherently interactive. “What’s a social network for data?” asks Jim Karkanias, an executive at Microsoft who runs the company’s Health Solutions Group, and has been working on a range of projects that broach the physical and computing worlds. “We’re imagining biology versus silicon as the next platform in which we write software.” Karkanias uses a form of prototyping for his work based on Project Hieroglyph, a movement that encourages science fiction writers to infuse their work with optimism that can inspire a new generation to ‘get big stuff done.’ “Science fiction sets the stage for people to imagine things bigger than reality,” says Karkanias, noting that adhering to practicality in ideation tends to create a narrow experience that limits imagination and hinders happiness.

Data already has its own social networks: RFID tags, M2M (machine to machine) sensors in cars and the Internet of Things let machines trade information without the need for human intervention. The self-tracking craze with humans combined with this ubiquitous data means highly personalized and proactive information can be aggregated to inform our actions on a minute scale. The advent of things like Google Goggles means we’ll be able to virtually see other people’s data as well as eventually record our entire existence. Our lives will be tagged and ranked as semantic information fed into a massive global algorithm that could be geared toward inspiring positive behavior.

Karkanias agrees: “Artificial Intelligence in the form of a perpetual life coach will live at the information level providing guidance on every aspect of your day.” Technology of this kind will likely manifest itself in a reverse Siri interface, with a GPS-like voice guiding you on issues both personal and macro. The societal impact could shift negative personal patterns as well as a community or country’s Gross National Happiness. Karkanias provides an example of this model where you’re in your car and take a route that passes a McDonald’s. As your coach knows your health issues regarding cholesterol, it adjusts the route of your self-driving car to the nearest Whole Foods to map to your GNH/well-being metric regarding health. Likewise, cameras in a subway car utilizing facial recognition technology might scan the face of a woman who is four months pregnant and send you a text to give her your seat to map to her GNH/well-being metric of psychological well being. Emerging services like Sickweather will provide health-related predictive data that will affect whole communities regarding metrics of time, balance and well-being.

Inspiration Versus Ignorance 

Some pundits say that privacy is disappearing, but that doesn’t mean we should let our identity be dictated by outside forces. Unfortunately, people are largely unaware of the repercussions of giving away personal information as we enter a virtual era where information can be accessed by so many parties so easily. “People are not fully aware of the data they generate and how that’s coupled with Artificial Intelligence learning algorithms. It’s creating a different social and economic order and we’re in the midst of that happening now,” states John Clippinger, Founder and Executive Director of and a Scientist at the MIT Media Lab Human Dynamics Group where he is conducting research on trust frameworks for protecting and sharing personal information. He feels the inevitable onset of ubiquitous data meshing with synthetic biology and people’s social graphs can be a positive evolution if the whole process takes place in the open.

This transparency is the key. Fostering a culture based on GNH and mapped by existing technology provides a positive path toward the future. We should emulate chocolatier Anthon Berg and let generosity be our currency. Our lives will be sweeter for the choice.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

What really drives value in corporate responsibility?

What really drives value in corporate responsibility? Few companies are clear about how investing in social initiatives will change stakeholder behavior or the harm a bad strategy can cause.

Source: 2011 

• CB Bhattacharya, Daniel Korschun, and Sankar Sen

Now that stakeholders—including consumers, investors, and employees—pay increasing attention to the social and environmental footprints of business, corporate-responsibility efforts have moved into uncharted management territory. We see companies reengineering supply chains to make them “greener,” supporting social causes through volunteer programs for employees, or lobbying for human rights in far-flung corners of the globe. As this tide swells, many executives are left with the nagging sense that such investments rest on a shaky understanding of how corporate responsibility creates value, both for their companies and for society. Some investments, of course, produce immediate and quantifiable gains, such as those from recycling or from manufacturing processes that save energy. But often, social investments are expected to yield longer-term benefits as engaged consumers step up their purchases, a broader investor base develops, or new talent flocks to a company’s recruiters. In these more ambiguous cases, how is a manager to know whether stakeholders will indeed respond positively?

Our research, described in greater detail in our recent book, Leveraging Corporate Responsibility: The Stakeholder Route to Maximizing Business and Social Value, suggests that while stakeholders’ interpretations of corporate responsibility are multifaceted and far from uniform, it is vital that managers avoid creating an impression that such activities are crowding out core business priorities. In fact, some well-meaning corporate-responsibility activities can actually harm a company’s competitiveness. Consider an experiment. We had consumers rate their own purchase intentions for computer accessories after learning about a company’s product quality and corporate-responsibility activities. Descriptions of the company as having high product quality had a modest positive effect, but for a company with low product quality, the consumer’s willingness to make a purchase actually decreased when it engaged in otherwise positive corporate-responsibility activities (exhibit). In this second case, consumers were wary of these activities, thinking that the company ought to give precedence to product quality.

Related research shows a similar dynamic at work with investors: highly innovative Fortune 1000 companies derive greater financial returns from their corporate-responsibility activities than their less innovative counterparts do. By following a few basic principles, leaders can increase the likelihood that stakeholders will interpret corporate-responsibility initiatives more accurately and thus more positively. Don’t hide market motives. Stakeholders are remarkably open to the business case for corporate responsibility, as long as initiatives are appropriate given what stakeholders know about the business, and as long as companies genuinely pursue and achieve the accompanying social value. Companies should understand that they can pursue profitable core business and corporate-responsibility objectives in tandem, without trade-offs. Serve stakeholders’ true needs. Consumers are drawn to products that satisfy their needs. Likewise, stakeholders are drawn to companies whose corporate-responsibility activities produce solid benefits, which can be tangible (such as improved health in local communities) or psychological (for instance, volunteer programs that help employees better integrate their work and home lives).

Before investing in corporate responsibility, however, managers need to set clear objectives that companies can meet and then, ideally, create programs together with key stakeholder groups. Test your progress. Corporate responsibility acts as a conduit through which companies can demonstrate that they care about their stakeholders. A company should assess its initiatives regularly to ensure that they foster the desired unity between its own goals and those of stakeholders. Calibrating strategy frequently improves the odds that corporate responsibility will create value for all parties.

About the Authors:
CB Bhattacharya is the E.ON Chair in Corporate Responsibility and dean of international relations at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT), in Berlin;

Daniel Korschun is an assistant professor at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business; and

Sankar Sen is a professor of marketing at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business.

Notes 1
CB Bhattacharya, Daniel Korshun, and Sankar Sen, Leveraging Corporate Responsibility: The Stakeholder Route to Maximizing Business and Social Value, New York: Cambridge University Press, November 2011.

Our research examines the two most important stakeholder groups—consumers and employees—to understand how and why they react to corporate-responsibility initiatives. The insights we gained helped us show how companies can develop, implement, and evaluate social-responsibility programs that foster stronger relationships with stakeholders and thus create value for them and companies alike.


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Africa Insurance review magazine

Page 11 tackles my views on where African Insurance is headed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A word of warning on unregulated cross-border reinsurance transactions....

"The great flexibility of reinsurance treaties that allows effective tailor-made solutions to meet individual insurance company's needs has been abused in the past to design tax avoidance, money laundry and other illegal activities...." Radolfo Wehrhahn- Introduction to Insurance, World Bank Primer series.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Legislative changes Insurance Industry Malawi.....

Gazetted on 4th March, 2011, the directives, according to the Insurance Act, 2010 are indicated below as to be enforced by the Regulator- Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM).  

Risk Management Directive
This directive, gazetted on 4th March, 2011 is formally referred to as Insurance (Risk Management Framework for Insurance Companies) Directive 2011.

The directive requires insurers to have a risk management framework that includes a written management strategy and a risk management function with a person individually responsible for that function. It also requires the board to provide the registrar with risk management declarations signed by two directors. Insurers are also required to maintain a business plan for three years approved by the board.  

Fit and Proper Persons Directive
The directive is formally referred to as Insurance (Suitability of persons associated with ownership and management of insurers and insurance brokers) Directive 2011; it was gazetted on 4th March, 2011.

 Under this directive, the board is responsible for ensuring that responsible persons of an insurer are fit, proper and defined. The insurer is required to implement a written fit and proper policy of fitness and propriety of responsible persons. Initial appointment or change in appointment of a responsible person is to be submitted to the registrar for approval.

The board is also required to assess fitness and propriety of responsible persons annually. The principal officer of an insurer shall be a chartered insurer and have at least 10 years experience of in the industry. Similarly, the principal officer of an insurance broker shall be a chartered insurer or have at least 10 years of senior management experience in the industry.

Technical functions of claims, underwriting and reinsurance are to be managed by chartered insurers. The accounting function of an insurer is to be managed by a qualified or chartered accountant (ACCA/CIMA) and must to be a member of SOCAM. External auditors are required to have appropriate qualifications, and be registered in Malawi with three years minimum experience.  

Corporate Governance Directive
 This directive, also gazetted on 5th March, 2011 is formally referred to as Insurance (Minimum Standards on Corporate Governance for Insurance Companies) Directive 2011. It applies to insurers licensed under the Act.

It is read and applied with the Code of Best Practice for Corporate Governance in Malawi (Malawi Code II) published by the Board of Directors in June 2010. The directive has several provisions applicable to boards of companies.

Among others, the board shall have a minimum of 5 directors and the chairman shall be a non-executive director. Majority of directors and the chairman of the board shall reside in Malawi and the maximum time an independent director may serve on the board is 6 years.

The insurer is also required to have an independent internal audit function, publish summaries of financial statements in a local newspaper and its annual report on its official website not later than 4 months after closure of financial year. The company secretary shall be a chartered company secretary, a lawyer or an accountant.  

Maximum Capital and Solvency Requirement Directive
The directive is formally referred to as Minimum Capital and Solvency Requirement for General Insurers. It was gazetted on 4th March, 2011 and applies to licensed and registered financial institutions transacting general insurance business in Malawi.

The minimum paid capital for a general insurer shall be MK 50,000,000.

An insurer shall be deemed to have sufficient margin of solvency, if it has a solvency ratio of not less than 20%, being a percentage that adjusted net assets of an insurer bears to the net written premium for the corresponding period.  

Premium Payment Directive
This directive, gazetted on 31st May, 2011, is referred to formally as Insurance (Premium Payment to General Insurance Companies) Directive 2011. It applies to general insurance companies, insurance intermediaries, including brokers, agents and all financial and other institutions engaged in the selling of general insurance products.

This directive addresses the problem of outstanding premium to ensure that premium is received by an insurer as and when insurance cover is provided to enable insurers build up appropriate technical reserves. Intermediaries shall cause policy holders to make out all premium cheque payments in favour of insurers.

Quantum of commissions shall be agreed between the intermediary and the insurer or as prescribed by the registrar. If premium on a general insurance product is outstanding for more than 30 days, the insurer shall lapse the cover in the policy and thereby and not pay claims.

The above directives apply to insurance companies doing insurance business in Malawi and applicants for license to conduct insurance business in Malawi. Penalties exist for non compliance.

This development should be viewed as the positive way forward as the industry will have well capitalized companies and policyholder safety will be guaranteed.  A well capitalized, properly run and managed, and open industry will benefit all stake holders in the insurance business.

Excerpts from

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Grabbing the Bull by its horns: The Planned Economic Emancipation of Malawian Masses on my mind....

Madam President, Congratulations are in order.....Politics are not my forte, only one thing is my demand while you are in office.....the empowerment of the indigineous population......this is no racist proposition, it is a plea to put a proud Nyasa people on even keel with investors that have long had the advantage of better banking access, better formulated business plans etc.....I do not wish to see my people in pepertual cycles of servitude and economic desperation which seems to be the current direction, no madam no, it is a truly torturous thought......I do not wish to explain to my children how we became estranged from our ancestral Madam no......only one wee wish your excellency: indigenous equity participation in the most complex form in all commercial ventures, tea plantations control in a way illegal capital avoid investors that pack and go finally truly economically empower the local citizenry and avoid us singing empty national anthem wishes allow true participation in the profits that flow to enabling disposable and discretionary income .......and another little thing Your Excellency, lets sober up the land madness, this issue of mad prices of land will take us nowhere......we can have no proud Malawian man who is unable to provide a home for his family....... and another little thing Your Excellency: pavements for the real masses that make the towns work, folks from Chilomoni, Ndirande who walk to work etc., these folks have to endure the rugged sidewalks of the Kamuzu era dilapidated sidewalks, arriving in town with considerable dust "mileage" deposits on their footwear on a lighter note (thats the Tonga in me speaking); more importantly the comfort of the poor masses Your Excellency- How can we ensure that? can future designers of roads ensure that there is room for both cyclists and pedestrians, as the absence of this at the design stage, results in a constant fight for the scarce resource: the all important Malawi paved road, a nightmare for drivers and perhaps a source of unnecessary accidents...... I beg you Your Excellency in this noisy din where we have all become smart adviser(s).......this time round let us be pro-poor first, then we will see a growth in the middle income sector, a rise in national savings, true economic empowerment to the masses.......Free medication for the over 65 Your excellency in a quasi welfare state these for me are truly orgasmic thoughts.....

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Premiums to be based on actual risk- Motor Insurance, South Africa

Premiums to be based on actual risk New technologies that track and monitor the driving behaviour of motorists are set to revolutionise the motor insurance industry in South Africa, providing businesses and consumers the opportunity to significantly reduce the premiums they are paying. According to Stewart Somerville, Managing Director at Geotab, the asset, vehicle and personnel tracking group, premiums charged by the short-term motor insurance industry have traditionally been based on the potential, rather than actual, risk that each customer poses. "Insurance premiums are based on a range of factors but are mainly decided through predictions made by a company's actuarial division on the perceived risks that consumers pose." He says that while actuarial forecasting does have merit in enabling insurance companies to assess the likelihood of a claim, new technology can now track and monitor the driving behaviour of individual consumers, enabling an insurer to provide a fairer premium to each customer. "While some insurers are already utilizing similar technology in some form, these advancements mean that insurers can base the level of premium that a customer pays on the actual scientific data collated from their client base rather than a general assumption of the risk they pose. "Statistics do show that the frequency and severity of motor vehicle accidents is highest in the younger age bracket, particularly among young men." "However, there have also been cases where young drivers have automatically had a claim repudiated due to an assumption of wrongdoing on their part without any proof and have been forced to appeal to the Short-term Ombudsman." Somerville says the fact is that some motorists, regardless of their demographic, are more dangerous on the roads than others and should be paying accordingly, while responsible younger drivers should also be paying in accordance with their behaviour. "By using new hardware such as accelerometers in a vehicle - which measures the degree of braking, swerving and harsh turns - an insurer can monitor the behaviour of a driver and consequently offer a reduction in premiums to those who drive responsibly." He says the same technology can also be used to help to prevent insurance fraud - which according to recent estimates by Santam, costs the industry between R2 - R4bn each year. "Accident reconstruction technology now enables one to see detailed analysis of the last 100 minutes of a trip prior to an accident, up to and including impact. This technology is so accurate that it often serves as evidence in legal cases. "For individuals who face having a claim repudiated on the basis that an accident is believed to be their fault this technology is critical in proving their case." "Likewise, for insurers who are often forced to pay out on fraudulent claims, the technology can also be used to strengthen their case, which should eventually translate into lower premiums for the rest of their client base."


Thursday, March 08, 2012

Time to Dollarise Malawi....

Our Malawi local currency stands no chance in the globalised set up. An excursion outside our borders is proof enough, no one seems interested in the Malawi Kwacha unless they are coming to Malawi. Our currency's journey so far seems to be on persistent nose-dive value-wise in relation to say the US Dollar or British Pound; on the basis of that I understand the reluctance to devalue as per the GOM plc current stand-off with the IMF. Time to "Dollarise" Malawi......time to go back to the Bretton Woods Institution "approved" currencies :-(.

Considerable depreciation in value of the Malawi currency unit the Kwacha from its originally very strong one Malawi Pound/Kwacha to one British Pound exchange rate in 1971 under the British Pound Sterling/Malawi pound par value system of 1965-1973......... the local currency‟s devaluation continued via a number of exchange rate value systems; (a) Peg to weighted Basket of British Pound and the US dollar (1973-1975), (b) The Peg to the IMF SDR (1975-1984), (c) Peg to the Weighted-Basket of Seven Currencies (1984-1994), and finally the (d) Floatation of the Malawi kwacha (February, 1994) (Reserve Bank of Malawi [Online], Evolution of Exchange Rate Determination in Malawi: Past and Present, Available at:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Venus Hottentot, Josephine Baker, now Beyonce

Venus Hottentot, Josephine Baker, now Beyonce

Wandia Njoya's picture

It is only in France that people will come up with a ludicrous idea of co-opting a clueless black American diva in their reduction of Africa to blackness. It is in France in the 19th century that Venus Hottentot was displayed like an animal and her genitals preserved in a museum. It is France in the 20th century that convinced Josephine Baker that she was affirming human solidarity across racist boundaries by wearing bananas, coconut bras and sisal skirts. But the feminized blackness in the museum and film archives was about to run out, so now it has gotten a boost in the 21st century through Beyonce in blackface. And the editors of L'Officiel, which commissioned the photo-shoot, would have us believe that the pictures are a celebration of African beauty.

They could have saved alot of trouble if they went for a genuine dark-skined African woman. There is Alec Wek, Ajuma Nasenyana and whole lot of African beauties who would have worn those clothes better than Beyonce.

Beyonce has always degraded black femininity by commercializing it - but this time she has hit an all-time low. But although I feel thoroughly insulted by this attempt to sanitize racist sexism, I'm really not surprised; we've seen this before coming from la ville des lumieres (City of Lights) and the "home" of human rights.

However, the most offensive thing of all is the fact that Beyonce was not painted all over her body in blackface (that's why they call it black "face"). In some pictures, she holds up her arms closer to her face, as if to remind us that she is not really black but acting black. She is only black for a moment when she choses, and it will soon be over when the makeup is washed off. She should have stuck to bleaching her face, since that was more personal and did not involve as much those of us who are proudly wear the skin that the good Lord put us in.

And once again, the French "cultural" experts have insulted Africa again, while clothing their insults in benevolent rhetoric about African beauty and recognition of our humanity thanks to the French revolution. Behind this rhetoric has always been the idea that normal Europeans find Africans ugly and semi-human, but praise God, there are extra-ordinary Europeans who have done us the favor of recognizing our humanity when they are under no obligation to do so.

The argument that life has changed (Oprah is rich, Obama is president) and so blackface does not mean the same as less than a century ago is equally as racist. It suggests that Africans have either no historical memory or have no right to it. Wasn't it Hegel who said that history does not include us? The fact that life has improved for black people following the struggles of our ancestors (not the benevolence of Europe) does not mean that we do not remember from how far we have come. We remember our history of pain, oppression and humiliation, and to dismiss it so nonchalantly is to dehumanize our ancestors and by extension us. If there are historical events in Europe about which humor is not entertained, why are those rules relaxed when it comes to us Africans?

I bet at the bars where these so-called artists are sipping wine and nibbling at cheese, they will dismiss the pain they have caused us by expressing some self-righteous horror that their blackface is linked to American racism. France has always used the United States to define itself as anti-racist, and whatever racism there is is confined to invidual flaws. In Fanon's Black skin, white masks, there is an anecdote in which a French colonial officer in Algeria quipped that Africans should see Sartre's play inspired by the Scottsborough Nine so that they could appreciate how good they were having it under French colonialism. When I lived in France, a Senegalese man incredulously praised France as less racist than the United States because they don't lynch black men for sleeping with white women. I was sadly amused at his surprise when I reminded him that we were talking in 2003. During the infamous 2005 urban riots in Paris among immigrant communities, Dominique de Villepin vehemently argued that comparisons should not be drawn with the inner cities in the United States. So now, unlike the United States where blackface symbolizes racism and oppression, some French magazine would have us believe that blackface can be a compliment because of the good heart of the photographer and the magazine editor.

The obsession with sexual relations as a space that transcends racism makes the fact that the blackface caricature was a woman, not to mention the voluptuous Beyonce, all the more problematic. It confirms what African feminists like Obioma Nnaemeka have remarked about the curious obsession of the West with African women's sexuality.

But once again, Africa is expected to praise the gods because France does racism differently. After all, since racism against us is inevitable, why not have it expressed with some panache?

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Uprisings: Islam and the Arab revolutions

Source: The Economist.

THE sight of corrupt old Arab tyrants being toppled at the behest of a new generation of young idealists, inspired by democracy, united by Facebook and excited by the notion of opening up to a wider world, has thrilled observers everywhere. Those revolutions are still in full swing, albeit at different points in the cycle. In Tunisia and Egypt they are going the right way, with a hopeful new mood prevailing and free elections in the offing. In Libya, Syria and Yemen dictators are clinging on to power, with varying degrees of success. And in the Gulf monarchs are struggling to fend off demands for democracy with oil-funded largesse topped by modest and grudging political concessions.

So far these revolts have appeared to be largely secular in character. Westerners have been quietly relieved by that. Not that they are all against religion. Many—Americans in particular—are devout. But by and large, they prefer their own variety to anybody else’s, and since September 11th 2001, they have been especially nervous about Islam.

Now, however, there are signs that Islam is a growing force in the Arab revolutions (see article). That makes secular-minded and liberal people, both Arabs and Westerners, queasy. They fear that the Arab awakening might be hijacked by the sort of Islamists who reject a pluralist version of democracy, oppress women and fly the flag of jihad against Christians and Jews. They worry that the murderous militancy that has killed 30,000 over the past four years in Pakistan (see article) may emerge in the Arab world too.

Islam on the rise

In Libya the transitional national council, slowly gaining recognition as a government-in-waiting, is a medley of secular liberals and Islamists. There are Libyan jihadist veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan among the rebels, though not in big numbers. An American general detects “flickers of al-Qaeda” among the colonel’s foes being helped by the West, raising uncomfortable memories of America’s alliance against the Russians with Afghanistan’s mujahideen, before they turned into al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which has branches all over the region, is the best-run opposition movement in Libya and Egypt; and last week’s constitutional referendum in Egypt went the way the Brothers wanted it to. Its members have long suffered at the hands both of Western-backed regimes, such as Hosni Mubarak’s in Egypt, and of anti-Western secular ones, such as Bashar Assad’s, now under extreme pressure in Syria. In Tunisia, too, the Islamists, previously banned, look well-placed. On the whole, these Brothers have gone out of their way to reassure the West that they nowadays disavow violence in pursuit of their aims, believe in multiparty democracy, endorse women’s rights and would refrain from imposing sharia law wholesale, were they to form a government in any of the countries where they are re-emerging as legal parties.

All the same, the Brothers make many people nervous. At one extreme of the wide ideological spectrum that they cover they are not so far from the jihadists, many of whom started off in the Brothers’ ranks. The leading Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, an offshoot of the Brotherhood, has been delighted by Mr Mubarak’s fall. It has in the past carried out suicide-bombings in the heart of Israel and refuses to recognise the Jewish state. Some liberals say that more extreme Islamist groups are riding on the more moderate Brothers’ coat-tails. In the flush of prisoner releases, hundreds if not thousands of Egyptian jihadists are once again at large.

Don’t despair
Use the interactive "Graphics Carousel" to browse our coverage of unrest in the Middle East

Islam is bound to play a larger role in government in the Arab world than elsewhere. Most Muslims do not believe in the separation of religion and state, as America and France do, and have not lost their enthusiasm for religion, as many “Christian Democrats” in Europe have. Muslim democracies such as Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia all have big Islamic parties.

But Islamic does not mean Islamist. Al-Qaeda in the past few years has lost ground in Arab hearts and minds. The jihadists are a small minority, widely hated by their milder co-religionists, not least for giving Islam a bad name across the world. Ideological battles between moderates and extremists within Islam are just as fierce as the animosity pitting Muslim, Christian and Jewish fundamentalists against each other. Younger Arabs, largely responsible for the upheavals, are better connected and attuned to the rest of the modern world than their conservative predecessors were.

Moreover, some Muslim countries are on the road to democracy, or already there. Some are doing well. Among Arab countries, Lebanon, with its profusion of religions and sects, has long had a democracy of a kind, albeit hobbled by sectarian quotas and an armed militia, Hizbullah. Iraq has at least elected a genuine multiparty parliament.

Outside the Arab world, in Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia, Islam and democracy are cohabiting fairly comfortably. Many devout Muslims among the Arab protesters, including members of the Brotherhood, cite Turkey as a model. Its mildly Islamist government is showing worrying signs of authoritarianism these days, but it serves its people far better than the generals did. Iran, which once held so much sway, is not talked of as a model: theocracy does not appeal to the youngsters on the Arab street.

Still, Muslim countries may well make choices with which the West is not comfortable. But those inclined to worry should remember that no alternative would serve their interests, let alone the Arabs’, in the long run. The old autocrats deprived their people of freedom and opportunity; and the stability they promised, it is now clear, could not endure. Algeria’s civil war in the 1990s remains a horrible warning against depriving Islamists of power they have rightfully won.

Islam will never find an accommodation with the modern democratic world until Muslims can take responsibility for their own lives. Millions more have a chance of doing just that. It is a reason more for celebration than for worry.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Insurers profits sink as catastrophes rise

By Suzanne Kapner in New York

Published: July 8 2010 05:38 | Last updated: July 8 2010 05:38

Earthquakes in Haiti and Chile contributed to record losses for insurers against natural catastrophes of $22bn in the first half of the year, well above the past decade’s average, Munich Re said on Wednesday.

Insured losses exceeded the amount in 2008, when the last previous record was set. Overall economic losses in the first six months of 2010 from the disasters, which also included an earthquake in China, the volcanic eruption in Iceland and the winter storm Xynthia that swept across western Europe, totalled $70bn, more than the losses for the whole of 2009.

The single most expensive event in the first half was the Chilean earthquake, which cost insurers an estimated $8bn and created an overall economic loss of $30bn, according to Munich Re.

The Haitian earthquake was the deadliest, killing 223,000 people, but because much of the area was not insured, the cost of $150m was modest compared with the destruction.

Analysts said the costly first-half tally was unusual, given that the second half of the year, marked by the hurricane season in the southern US, tends to have the highest losses. They said, however, that the losses were not bad enough to allow insurers to start to increase premiums.

“On a combined basis, including casualty and property insurance, prices will continue to drift down,” said James Shuck, an analyst with Jefferies & Co in London. He said that return on equity for big reinsurers had drifted to the high teens from a peak of 20 per cent last seen in 2008. “The question is, how far do returns have to fall before insurers can start to raise rates?” he said.

The combined effect of higher losses and weak pricing power can already be seen in earnings. In May, Swiss Re said operating income for its property and casualty division had fallen 69 per cent in the first quarter to $259m, compared with $846m the previous year, mainly as a result of a “high level of natural catastrophes”.

Swiss Re estimated its claims from the Chilean earthquake at $500m and said it would have to pay another $100m in relation to Xynthia.

Insurers have largely escaped one of the largest natural catastrophes of the year, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster. Only about $1bn of the rig leased to BP is insured. However, legislation seeking to eliminate liability caps “could significantly increase the cost of reserving against future claims,” Mr Shuck said.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

McKinsey & Company Quarterly on Africa.

McKinsey Quarterly has a new package on Africa.

After decades of stagnation, Africa's economies experienced a marked acceleration in growth during the past ten years. The magnitude of the continent's development story is startling in its specifics and the potential opportunity it presents. This new package explores what factors underpinned Africa's growth and the continent's prospects.

Coverage will include the following perspectives: "Africa's growth story," "Doing business in Africa," and "Improving lives in Africa."

We will be posting links to some of the articles on the McKinsey Quarterly Facebook community

To read all of the content, including articles by McKinsey consultants and outside experts, as well as interviews with prominent Africans, visit McKinsey Quarterly throughout the month of June.

-- McKinsey Quarterly

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy New Year and all that!

Its been ages, for a whole host of reasons including firming other areas but mostly because of a lost password; now it all went like this, the blog was hacked with a floating banner that carried an Anti- Israeli message, it was a simple hack that I corrected by removing the naughty script from my template, I figured to be safe I ought to change the passwords every week... until I couldn't remember which one was the correct one.... anyways great to be back!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Illicit financial flows, also known as Illegal capital flight from an economy are manifested in different forms and are most likely to be conducted in currencies that are easily exchangeable internationally (US Dollar, UK pound, ROC currency), trying to exchange or sale a couple million Malawi currency notes in for arguments sake London would be a near impossible sale. The Argentine economic crisis of 2001 and Venezuelan crisis of 1980 were arguably to a large extent attributed to massive capital flight. Understandably this is an area of concern for the Malawi authorities, while the reasons for legal or illegal capital flight may vary; their cumulative effect negates the foreign exchange rate of the affected economy/country. Malawi continues to grapple with foreign currency challenges as witnessed via the print media of innovative but blatant foreign currency infringements such as the attempted smuggling of temporary under-garments fashioned out of US Dollar bills.

The author accords due recognition to the many subtle and legal ways of externalising funds, local commentators have cited the importation of items such as toothpicks, chickens etceteras as an unnecessary drain on the country's foreign currency reserves, an area that the author is qualified to comment on however is that of insurance premiums. Insurance companies are tasked with keeping a contractual promise; to repair, replace or reinstate property damaged, lost or destroyed within the definitions of 'damage' as per the agreed insurance contract otherwise commonly termed 'policy' document. Insurance companies usually only keep this contractual promise if due consideration (Premium) is provided or paid by the party requiring insurance (The Insured). It is this premium payment that the author argues must be tied in to Malawi's foreign currency reserves.

Insurers ordinarily take up huge risks such as a state of the art plant costing mega Malawi Kwacha and decide prudently to share that risk with another insurer (re-insurer) to 'hedge' or minimise its loss outlay should a total loss event occur, this practice is called re-insurance and necessitates that the insurer that decides to 'hedge' its losses share its premium as paid by the insured with the elected and accepting re-insurer epitomising the 'sharing of risks' concept. It is common to have bank 'x' insured in Malawi but shared percentage with reinsurers in Zimbabwe, South Africa, the UK, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, USA etceteras. Re-insurance is a rather delicate, technical and usually complicated matter that cannot be discussed in this brief article alone, suffice to say that reinsurance is practiced on truly global scale, it is an utmost necessity and respective insurers in every country need international reinsurers.

The author must argue that there may be times when local capacity can and must be totally satisfied before employing the scarce foreign reserves to purchase re-insurance internationally. The questions the author poses are; when does insurance premium externalisation become detrimental to the Malawi economy? Who is responsible for deciding when to externalise insurance premiums from the Malawi economy? Who should be responsible? Should it be the insurer, a collective body of insurers as approved or the insurance regulatory authority (Reserve Bank of Malawi) responsible for approving externalisation of premium to curb excesses, if any? Is the regulatory authority at present regulating this insurance premium exportation in line with the other 'citizens' and sectors of the economy that seek approval prior to externalising funds?

Rather than provide answers to the questions posed, the author would suggest an alternative scenario, wherein each insurer must be obligated to ensure that all licensed local Malawi insurers are approached to participate or share in the excess risk so offered and their written acceptance or declinature provided before the concerned insurer externalises the insurance premium, in this set-up the insurance regulatory authority (Reserve Bank of Malawi) would then provide consent to enable the insurer externalise the risk. Only then would the insurance industry exemplify responsible foreign currency utilisation. The author was privileged to be part of such a practice at work in the Tanzania insurance market. It worked well although it meant more administrative work for the insurers; it also meant that there was enough 'pie' to go around all licensed insurers. Perfect? Definitely not, but protective of our foreign currency reserves all the same.