Sunday, December 29, 2013

Joy to the world!

In many ways our world is getting better.
We are getting older 
Studies show that age brings an increase in wellbeing; people over 50 are less angry, less stressed and less worried than at any time since they were kids; and that the happiest people of all are in their 80s.  Also, dementia rates are falling. 

We live longer than ever 
Since 1900, life expectancy in the West has risen 50% and is still rising, ... even the poorest people in the world now live longer than the richest Victorians did.

Global inequality is falling
As recently as 1981, more than 40 per cent of the world lived on less than $1 a day. Today ... that share is down to 14 per cent.
More reasons for optimism
Environment-wise, some greenhouse gas emissions are down, some new species have been found, and the death-rate from weather-related natural disasters is down.  Meanwhile, childhood malaria rates are down by about half since 2000, the Dow (US) is up like mad, job growth is back, the Naira steadied...
Adapted from: Dare to be an optimist, by Margaret Wente for TheGlobeAndMail (Canada)

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Debt-free in Two-Oh-One-Three

I think I'm going to make it!  About to pay off the last little piece of long-term debt.  Yippee!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Gainfully Employed

"The difference between settling for a job and seeking to be employed can be likened to the difference between existing and living.  
The one contented with a job is comfortable with merely drifting through life, satisfying his or her immediate wants and perhaps the future ones.  
This is called existing.  
Those who settle for this become slaves at their professions.  
However, those who are gainfully employed are living their lives.  
They express their true self and they ultimately become stakeholders in their chosen fields of work.  
They are princes in their professions, growing up to become kings and possessors of those professions.  
A person who has a focus on a job follows the trends of the time.  
Whatever is in vogue and pays more is their veritable choice.  
They do not care about doing work they really desire to do.  
They flow with the tide and instead of living are being lived.  
They strive to compete with other people in their work, and they fail to a large extent.  
This is because they are not in their own territories..."
- in Don't Settle for a Job; Be Gainfully Employed,
by 'Fikayo Oyewale
Get inside
I'm learning from this book.  Here is another quote I just found in it:

"One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim in life.  The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community." 
- Albert Einstein.

I would like to help get this knowledge to a million more people.  Click to donate.

Monday, October 14, 2013

SLS is The Man!

One of the world's most respected Central Bankers is CBN governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.  That is a fact
He has received an unprecedented level of recognition (winning best Central banker multiple times apiece) from Emerging Markets magazine, African Banker, and so on. 

Friday, October 04, 2013


“The Indian tiger and the Chinese dragon have had their days; it’s now the African lion’s turn”
 says Ashish J. Thakkar
- 32 year old considered Africa's youngest billionaire
- Founder and CEO of Mara Group 
- First African ever on Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40
- World Economic Forum Young Global leader

Sources: bellanaija feature and venturesafrica story

Monday, September 23, 2013

Even Cinderella Had Till Midnight

I’m sure many would understand what it is like to get an inspiration on something to share, but never really get around doing it. That is the case with this post. As time passed I’ve also had different ideas on how to title it, from ‘Yes the grass may just be greener on the other side, but the owner of the field probably has blisters’ to ‘It’s not going to come or stay that easy’. Finally I decided on this perhaps because it’s the most recent.

For all who recall the famous Cinderalla story, her wishes did come true (courtesy of her fairy godmother) but then could only hold till Midnight. ‘Cos in reality, wishes are limited. They could set us off on the course but we have more to do in reality. And this actually is the message I’ve carried in my mind for so long, with too many incidents hitting it home over and over again.

Life allows us very often the occasion to compare. To look over the fence and often just wish for the results and accomplishments of others, but very rarely the efforts that have been put in. It’s about time we go beyond that, and consciously move to being deliberate and purposeful about what we truly wouldn’t mind, what we really want in every area of life.

 No relationship for example would blossom without being cared for. Be it with family, friends, colleagues or even God. It’s easy to watch others and desire the intimacy/rapport we see. But it wasn’t automatic for them. Choices were made, actions were deliberately taken that is why they enjoy what they have. Are you willing to be humble, to compromise for fairness, to serve, to give (hugs, kisses, time, encouragement and support or gifts), forgive offenses and even to pray? Are you ready to show courtesy, saying ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ at the right time and in the right way? So if you are fortunate to be married to a rare gem, you’ll need to brace yourself up more consciously for that gem to remain rare, even to you.

That child of yours is not going to be a believer in your faith, ideals and values just because you are. You need to make sure you walk the talk, in addition to teaching because that’s what kids know best. No school is going to make a genius out of your child (academically or in extra-curricular). Look out for the “outliers” in your child’s school, there’s definitely something different the folks are doing. What have you observed in your child? What have you done so far? Are you ready to motivate, encourage or pay an expert to coach to help him be the best he can be?

Yes you graduated the same year as that friend of yours. Probably you even got your great job months before he got his. How come he rarely complains of needing funds for personal things, he even just invested in another income generating opportunity. And he also gets to go on vacations to take a break now and then. Yet you don’t understand how your take home isn’t actually taking you home. You shouldn’t be wondering, instead ask questions, read books (e.g. the Richest man in Babylon, simple and practicable), make a plan, if possible get someone you can be accountable to, note your expenses and review it, save something as often as you can, invest in other streams of income…it won’t be easy but your grass will get greener.

The same applies to your health. How careful are you about what and when you eat? Don’t just sign up at that gym, get started. What of that skill/knowledge you gained a while back? It will only remain unproductive as long as you don’t upgrade or creatively apply it, even if voluntarily.

In all honesty, it’s difficult to push though on anything that doesn’t even mean anything to us. It’s tough to consciously study and learn about what we don’t value. Perhaps it’s a re-orientation that is required, to begin to value, and stop taking casually those things that really matter. But if for any reason, that relationship means the world to you, if your health should tell a different story in your lineage, if your child is indeed your treasure… by all means, go beyond wishing, become deliberate, even get the blisters because the sun and the rain would come and they will help guarantee the greenness of your field.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

With calls now averaging just under 20kobo per second, should telecomm service be so damn poor?

The good news with my Airtel line is that I get to call 2 special numbers for 2k/s.  Also with my Glo line I can call 5 special numbers for 5k/s.  The bad news is the two kobo service I'm getting.  Why?  Anytime me and my babyboo start to say something important, the call is dropped.  Every two to five minutes, a dropped call. 

But texts are worse.  In the past few days, I've recorded only about one in every four text messages delivered.  You can imagine the madness, when people exchange text messages and the sender gets billed (and gets a delivery confirmation) and the receiver gets nada, nothing to hint that a message was ever sent.  Things were better when text messages at least bounced with a "message undelivered" report, so you could retry or at least be aware that the message failed. 

Nowadays I just call rather than text if I want a little more reliability, before they spoil my market for me.  From the phone company's standpoint, that may be more revenue, but isn't it more channel-intensive to phone, and aren't the phone networks already congested, so shouldn't they encourage people to rather text than call, rather BBM than browse, until they can beef up their facilities?
Last week I sent a text to my friend who was sitting next to me in the car.  It arrived several minutes later.  :) 

It's been a terrible summer for Nigerian phone users.  I know we've said that before, but really things got better then got a lot worse this summer. 

As for internet, well...
The internet modem speeds have gone up on average.  Up-time too.  (I use Visafone.) 
That's the good news.
See a brief history of my internet service (disservice).

The blackberry plan by Airtel is currently quite rubbish (I'm mostly on Lagos Mainland, it might be much better on the Island or other states.)  I want a refund, seriously, the thing is down more than it's up.  And when it's up, it's most useful for sending quick emails.  It's also reasonably useful for BB chats, which I don't use.  But when I tried, chat messages took several minutes to zoom across the Atlantic.   
Using their so-called Complete Blackberry plan with a browser, e.g. searching for a word online in google takes real patience...enter the search item, count to 100 in Chinese, then MAYBE it will return a results page, or maybe you will have to retry/cancel your effort, or maybe you'll fall asleep waiting.

The blackberry plan by Glo was better, but then I switched my Glo phone to a non-BB to take advantage of their G-BAM with very basic internet for N5 per day.  I noticed Glo stopped deducting my daily five naira, which makes sense because the service provision was down to just about zero and I was starting to wonder if my N150 a month wouldn't be better spent eating cassava bread or something.  The great thing about Glo is that when they screw up, they fix it before people get too angry.  Unlike MTN which I wouldn't touch with a long bamboo stick.  Really.  MTN IS REALLY REALLY BAD.

There has to be a solution. 

I thought government said no more promos, but see the proliferation of promos and the death spiral of quality.  Can we really afford to have undelivered text messages (billed and masked as delivered?)  What if somebody dies?  What if somebody loses business?  What if me and babyboo break up because of this stupid service lol. 

Naija!  Naija! Naija!  How many times did I call you?  Are you the first ones to use mobile telephony?  Or to use electric power?  How come what works in other developed and developing countries would come here and suddenly be a source of drama?  Mobile phones and internet browsing are becoming more popular, does that not mean the phone companies need to increase or rationalize their resources? 
First, let me ask: 

Have the network engineers, telecom managers, been given any mandates to ease congestion
If so, aren't there methods out there to simply copy?  Google "Network Congestion Technical" or something.
If not, (more likely to be the case since there seems to be no penalty for bad service), then back to the regulation question.  Let me be paid (a refund plus 100%) for every bounced message.  Let me be paid a small apology fee for every dropped call.  Give me back my 400 naira plus an apology for the poor 'complete blackberry' service.  See how the quality of service can improve once it starts costing something to give poor service.
Another way to 'make it cost something' is to publish comparative data on the available services.  A weekly report, for example, showing for each service provider:
  • Up-time/Down-time?  (For phone, for internet, with reasonable thresholds/cut-offs, e.g. 5kb/s internet is off/down let's be real. Phone access switching between 0 and 1 bar is no access )
  • How many bars?  
  • Call drop behaviour?  
  • Failed texts?  (Failed texts should NEVER happen, it's just wrong and dangerous) 
  • Delayed texts?  (Texts delayed under 2 mins and texts delayed over 2 mins might be counted separately)
This might let everybody take advantage of the number-portablility to dump the worst service-providers. 

Monday, September 02, 2013

Social classes; definitions

Social class is not identical to wealth, but the two concepts are related (particularly in Marxist theory), leading to the combined concept of Socioeconomic status.
 Partly as a result of different economic conditions of life, members of different social classes often have different value systems and view the world in different ways. As such, there exist different "conceptions of social reality, different aspirations and hopes and fears, different conceptions of the desirable."
The way the various social classes in society view wealth vary and these diverse characteristics are a fundamental dividing line among the classes. Source: Wikipedia/Wealth

The lower class 
Those with the least amount of wealth are the poor.  Wealth accumulation for this class is to some extent prohibited...Most of the institutions that the poor encounter discourage any accumulation of assets.

The upper class

Upper class values include higher education, and the wealthiest people value the accumulation and maintenance of wealth, the maintenance of social networks and the power that accompanies such networks. Children of the upper class are typically schooled on how to manage this power and channel this privilege in different forms. It is in large part by accessing various edifices of information, associates, procedures and auspices that the upper class are able to maintain their wealth and pass it to future generations.

The middle class 
The middle class places a greater emphasis on income.
The middle class views wealth as something for emergencies and it is seen as more of a cushion. This class comprises people that were raised with families that typically owned their own home, planned ahead and stressed the importance of education and achievement.
They earn a significant amount of income and also have significant amounts of consumption.
However there is very limited savings (deferred consumption) or investments, besides retirement pensions and homeownership. They have been socialized to accumulate wealth through structured, institutionalized arrangements. Without this set structure, asset accumulation would likely not occur.

Source: Wikipedia/Wealth

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Process thinking

I once worked in a place where things would often go wrong, and the question on the boss's lips would be "Who...?" as in "who did this?" "who was in charge of this..." so that the person would be in trouble and presumably the problem would go away.  
Engineering processes
As an engineer, I found this to be the most puzzling thing.  Why waste your time on such an irrelevant question as "who"?
Because the more important thing should be maybe "what" happened, and then "why" it happened, and then "why" that happened, and in that case you find yourself with the "root cause" which you can fix (along with the team, the who's that run the process) and then hopefully that issue would not crop up again.
Good engineers are lazy
 Along with the inclination to abuse the "stupid employees" was this baffling habit of designing stupid processes, ones that put a great deal of strain on the boss and the people, and that relied more on hard work than on intelligence, and still produced a high error rate in the results.
I think the missing knowledge was of something called Process Thinking.  Process thinking is important.  It will make you calmer, and make your work many times easier and your results a lot better.
Individual and society
So too in my country in Africa, we think relationships are key to everything.  In the name of basic relationships (what does my wife or my father think of me is the familiar question) we have institutionalized actions that harm self and harm the larger population too.
We think in small groups (I better pass my neighbour, God give me promotion) but ignore the self (does this make ME happy, can I sleep at night?) and ignore the whole too (is this the right thing to do, does it hurt somebody else?)
This mindset is understandable because we've come so recently from small worlds - small village, small ethnicity, small clan - but in the current world we all see that it doesn't produce very good outcomes.  Individuals are frustrated and the country is poor.  Working harder may not solve the problem.  Defeating your neighbour, "feeling rich", getting promoted, "achieving success" may not be the answer. 
Engineering systems
Even on the political front, have some not tried to solve our misidentified "leadership problem" by replacing people?  But we come to the realization that no, we must re-engineer systems instead.  We must fix a risk-reward system at the individual, group, and institutional level.  This is to say, we might think of a country or an economy as an abstract thing, or as an organism, or as a machine, in order to repair it. 
School for intelligence
This is why I respect a good engineering education.  It's one of those things that (hopefully) prepares you to understand systems (like the human body, the global economy, or the market for films) and processes (like the workflow at a branch office, the election of a president, the Arab spring).
a sketch of a helicopter by Leonardo da Vinci 500 years ago
A decade ago, I read that engineering was "the new liberal arts" degree. Along with whatever specific facts and knowledge it might give a student, it would develop his/her critical thinking, systems understanding, process thinking, and design ability.  Then also it should broaden knowledge of the world and importantly of self.  It is a good training for an uncertain job title in an interesting life. 
Cartoon showing laziness as the mama of invention
 Links for more learning
Lazy engineers: Unusual habits of good engineers
Process Thinking: It can make you happier at work and at home
Policy analysis: The Nigerian subsidy example, The technocracy example

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

According to Okonjo-Iweala, this is how we can provide enough jobs...

  • CONTINUE ECONOMIC GROWTH: We must diversify our economies by focusing on alternative sources of growth and job creation, such as agriculture, manufacturing, ICT, and creative industries.
  • FILL THE INFRASTRUCTURE GAP: Invest proceeds from our natural resources in critical infrastructure like power, roads, rail, ICT, and water and sanitation.
  • DEVELOP HUMAN CAPITAL: Improve both access to education and its quality.
  • BUILD SAFETY NETS: Redistribute income to those at the bottom.
  • JOB-CREATION PROGRAMMES: Short-term fixes, which have included a community services programme for unskilled youth, a graduate internship scheme, a special fund to provide grants to entrepreneurs, ...

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Is Japan in trouble? Are we?

Discussions of the population problem have always had the capacity to stir up public sentiment much more than most other problems. - Gunnar Myrdal

I found the above quote on this blog about Japan's "aging population problem."
 In Japan, the average age is 46 years (and rising) and 25 percent of Japan's population is age 65 and up.  (Source: CIA World Factbook.) This fact is thought to imperil the economy and society since it implies a shrinking labour force and high dependency ratio, not to mention contracting demand.
Japan Population Pyramid (2006): Number of people in each five year age range

Compare Nigeria, median age 18, where only 3% of its population is over age 65.  Some people think we have a "growing population problem."  It's hard to push up per-capita income when the denominator (headcount) keeps growing so relentlessly that the NYTimes says "sub-Saharan Africa, which now accounts for 12 percent of the world’s population, [may] account for more than a third by 2100."  This Day presents a more local take in Nigeria's growing population might be a "time bomb."
Nigeria Population Pyramid (2006)
So now we have problematized low population growth rates as in Japan/Ukraine/Scandinavia, and on the other hand lament high population growth rate as in most of Africa.   Reminds one of the phrase "the problematics of government."  It's always something, ain't it? Modern policymaking is a business of solving problems (whereas I like a more "positive" approach, that appreciates and increases what's right - some zen shizzle I picked up in Cali.  For an example of how to do this, study the hopefulness in World Faces Aging Population Time Bomb, says UN - uh oh!)

Another quote from the same (Edward Hugh) Japan blog post
The future never resembles the past - as we well know. But, generally speaking, our imagination and our knowledge are too weak to tell us what particular changes to expect. We do not know what the future holds. Nevertheless, as living and moving beings, we are forced to act. - John Maynard Keynes

Our government might not be forced to act, but city-dwellers in Nigeria have already changed their behaviour in response to the strenuous costs of having children.  This is how someone put it: “Children were seen as a kind of insurance for the future; now they are a liability for life.”  Would you put it that way? 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bobby Jones Also Taught Me...

In my last post, I was able to share 3 of the lessons I took away from the movie on the life of Bobby Jones. Should I say in another way, lessons he taught me, even though we never met. This is often the case in life though, further enhanced by technology, the internet and social media. People we have never met and would never meet are influencing us and we them. More people can watch you, more can listen to you, more can read from you..., so what information are you sharing, what lessons are you teaching?

As Bobby grew older, he got involved in informal plays and then competitions. People began to notice him more, especially because he was so young compared to those he played with. On one of his trips at the early stages of his exposure to the limelight he said "I don't think I want to be famous...I just want to play". That definitely challenged me. One may say, he was just a kid, what did he know. But then, approaching life from a kid's perspective...innocent and pure (even in motivation) is usually a healthy approach. He saw what he did and was more into it for the fun he derived, he thoroughly enjoyed himself. That was why it turned out so differently for him. Later in life, he said again, 'once you play for money, you can't call it amateur'; he preferred to be referred to as an amateur. I like to use the word passion to describe this. I feel it's a differentiating factor and also a sustaining one. What you do now, is it fun? Do you enjoy it? If you never got a dime or recognition for it, would you continue all the same?... mhh, time will tell.

At one of the opens he played in, Bobby reported an infraction which set him back in the game and eventually affected his win. At that point, he displayed the height of sportsmanship. He was more concerned about doing it right than winning. We also do get to those points in life, when we have to make tough choices. Do we choose to show integrity or win (knowing, we've broken the rules)? If we become so overtaken by the sense of always competing, always wanting to be the first or the only ones achieving some feats, it's so easy to fall into this error. Sometimes never learning the rules (but then ignorance is no excuse), or knowing them and never truly valuing them. In addition to the dent to one's name or personality, what's the use of breasting the tapes and then getting disqualified for running so wrong? On the long run, truth, sincerity and fairplay always win. Some famous personalities especially athletes have suffered falls from this too....if only they had known. Learn the rules, play by it, sometimes it hurts, but then it pays.

Bobby played more, won more, and became very famous. This involved traveling more, practicing started to tell on his health, and even on his marriage. Tell -tale signs were blinking red lights...and then he stopped. He retired. He stepped out of competitions. Simply putting it, he knew when to stop. This is another challenge all of us face. The question 'when will you stop?' Or 'when will you say no'. If we get carried away by fame, always putting up a show, always being there, or perhaps the idea that without us, some things will never be, then we allow the more important aspects of our lives to deteriorate, and we eventually lose out. Watch your relationships, watch your health; those are usually the first to give warning signs. Do not take them for granted, besides, it's better to leave the scenes when you're still being celebrated. You really don't have to take up just any and every opportunity. Let's be careful and be bold enough to identify when to say no when we have to. Do you know when you've had enough, done enough and when to step out completely? ‘Cos truly, life never ends when this happens.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Six questions with Kunmi Otitoju aka minku

My sister was born an artist.  She was raised in Lagos, passed through the USA, and settled in Barcelona, Spain.  
At Tade Nursery School in those days, her favourite subject was PATTERNS.  She loved art throughout school (St. Mary's Private; Queen's College), and at home, she loved cutting and tearing, then stitching and glueing and just making things.   
Many years later, Kunmi attended the real HU, graduating summa cum laude in Computer Science in 2005.  She was a programmer and usability engineer and design fanatic who got to intern at Goldman Sachs and FAST (Microsoft), edit a magazine, see Europe, present research, learn languages, design corporate websites, and earn a Masters in Human-Computer Interaction from Virginia Tech, ...before making a return to creating objects, products, and culture via Minku, her bespoke leather goods company. 

For my second-ever UpNaira interview (see the first), I thought to ask minku to share some of that magical ability to be authentic, brilliant, creative, distinctive, eloquent, fashionistique...ok, I'm getting carried away here.  Let's go...

What do you love about working with leather and fabrics?
minku: I generally enjoy doing fun things with colour and texture: this exploration is the one thing that is consistently evident in the bags I make. When I was in art school here in Barcelona, I did not really care which media I used for my projects, as long as the colours and textures I was conveying felt right to me. So working with leather, which comes in so many colours and textures, is for me like being a child that can eat all the candy she wants.
The Fagunwa bag is a minku classic
Is minku loved by all, and if not, describe the typical minku loyalist.
minku: Ahh, loved by all ;-P
The typical Minku loyalist gets a kick out of knowing that hours of skilled blood sweat and tears went into making something, of which there is probably only one in the world. Maybe this makes them art collector-type people. They may not care much for Campbell soupcans arranged in a certain order, but they will spend hours lost in the intricate brushstrokes of Yayoi Kusama's White Infinity Nets, for example. The typical Minku loyalist has a strong ability to respond emotionally to everyday objects made in an unusual way.
This "man bag" is another minku classic
What is the financial potential for a company like yours?
minku: I ask myself this daily :-) Oh man. Considering that Louis Vuitton started similarly to me (as a malletier, making travel trunks for wealthy people on a one-on-one basis) and is now worth about $25.9bn, I think there is hope. It would take time though, years and years of building a base of trusting customers. But I am fine with this consistent-climb approach.

For me, part of the reason I love doing this is that I dream of a day that more sub-Saharan leather goods makers, with their heritage of excellent craftsmanship, would be as renowned as Hermes Paris, Prada Milan or Loewe Madrid. 
minku did Barcelona Fashion Week in January
Why did you study Computer Science in uni if you knew you were going to end up in design?
minku: I think that even though I used to make things by hand when I was younger, I did not know the word 'design' as it exists now. Fashion design seemed like something tailors or Paris Fashion Week designers did, and both seemed distant from my reality. Yet what I do now is somewhere between product design and fashion design. I did not know such a realm existed until during/after my masters studies at Virginia Tech.

My journey to design has been an interesting one, and I think my work is all the more interesting because I haven't been so schooled in design and materials use, so for example I don't care if a certain type of leather should only be used for shoes, or if aso oke should only be worn on heads and waists -- if I conceive a bag I can make with it, I will just follow through.

Actually part of the motivation for starting Minku was that I finally, for the first time in my academic life, got accepted into a design program - Stanford's mechanical engineering masters with the product design option. This was in April 2010. By this time, I was just loving Barcelona life and not sure I wanted to leave (the folks at Stanford were very understanding and let me defer for a year). During the year, I got to experiment answers to the question: "can I build a product-design project that would be on a similar level to if I were a Stanford graduate?" I had Virginia Tech's human-computer interaction masters and a handful of art courses under my belt by this time, and I managed to convince myself that though Stanford would be a super cool place to be, my combined educational and travel experiences had already given me a great foundation for what I wanted to become.

Having said these, computer science has been good to me, even as a designer. Knowing how to create the precise brand identity I want online, and how to modify my site and e-store without having to rely on someone else's timelines, have made my life easier.
What will your next collection be about?minku: My next collection will be about rebels. A working quote is "She wore her crown as an eyepatch and declared mutiny on the land."  I came up with it, if you were wondering, a few days after reading some Yalla poems on your site... you awakened my poetic side :-)
We did a preliminary photoshoot for the collection last month, and it is about subtle subversions of authority through dress.
Earlier this year, I attended a job interview wearing an afro. And that got me thinking: I had to wear my hair that way because the resources for the management of 2-inch long African hair in Barcelona are quite scarce. But in wearing an afro to an interview, something unexpected happened -- I felt cool, powerful almost, in being so "rebellious", considering how university career services counselors used to advise that we wear our hair for interviews.
For the collection, I am also creating a limited line of menswear and womenswear to help convey the theme. The bags would still play the prominent role of course.
The designer, chilling
You live in Barcelona but grew up in Lagos. Which is the more exciting city? 
minku: Both are exciting for different reasons. Barcelona has metro, Lagos has traffic. Exciting life can be witnessed while traversing the city in both...

minku's Twitter, Blog, Shop, Facebook

This is how much I pay for internet in Lagos

Visafone Nigeria $1 = 160 Naira
Five to ten thousand naira per month, for service that may be much improved from a few years ago, but is still very limited/limiting.  How much do you spend on internet monthly?

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

What Bobby Jones Taught Me

Unashamedly, I like movies. Infact I really enjoy watching movies, first for the entertainment derived and also the new things learnt. Apart from the effects that are achieved post production of some, I'm particularly thrilled by the creativity put into them - the plots, the quotes, the make up, props and costume. 

Like music and books I do stay away from certain genres. I know very well to guard my heart by watching the things I expose my eyes and ears to. Sometimes though, I struggle to watch some movies, consciously pushing out the 'behind the scenes' like locations of lighting, cameras, director, producers et al. This wasn't quite the case with Bobby Jones - Strike of a Genius. 

Ok, I don't play golf yet (I will definitely someday, outside of wii) and don't even know all the rules but I do like the little I know already. Probably this and the movie - The Legend of Bagger Vance, which I watched a while back motivated me not to change the dial. I'm glad I did not. Inspite of the not so encouraging reviews some have written about it, I still feel very positive about it. I learnt a number of things, but I'll pick my top two to share in this post. 

The early days of Bobby show him tagging along with his dad on golf courses (despite grandpa's disapproval). Watching and learning without paying a fee. What better way is there to stir up an interest in a person than starting casually, without cohesion, without duress, especially a young mind? Also, do the young ones around you know what you're passionate about? Are they opportune to watch, to study even leisurely? If yes, you might be raising a protégée without even knowing it. If no, you may want to create opportunities even deliberately to stir. 

Another learning point was while he (still so young) was at a tournament where the masters were competing. He knew them. He brought out a book (probably from his dad) and was pointing them out, and the peculiarities he knew about them to his friend. It got me thinking. Is it possible to be passionate about a cause or a field of endeavour and not know those topping the charts. Is it possible not to have heard of the works of the experts who have blazed the trail, the professionals who have broken records, the gurus who have left footprints in the sands of time in that area?In as much as one can't model one's life totally after any, their strengths (even weaknesses) and teachings are great learning points. Is it possible to say then, if you don't know or can't say anythng about anyone in this regard, perhaps, you're completely in a new terrain, or perhaps you haven't discovered what you're really interested in? And you may want to make an effort to discover and learn from them, or keep records of your learnings for others. 
To be contd... 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Nigeria breasts the tape


Humble web forum will be the first Naija website to crack the top 1000 by Alexa's ranking of 3-month average traffic.
More local sites will follow, as cheaper internet access (smarter phones for less, ISPs lowering rates) helps pump up the user base for all. By the way, around May 2011, when I worked at, we cracked the 5,000 ranking and "top 1000" quickly became the (quite achievable) mission, but the parent NEXT had to go and die that summer.  Bummer.

Other African sites in the top 1000:
Gumtree (South African marketplace à la craigslist), and a trio of Arabic-language Egyptian sites (youm7 - news service, fatakat- shopping, and  myegy - entertainment). 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Nigeria Premium on electric power generation cost

Worldwide, and for at least thirty years, the installation* cost of large-scale power plants has remained steady** at about $1 billion per 1,000 MW. 
Interestingly, in Nigeria, when projects or projections are announced, they drift far from this estimate, and I wonder why. 
An electric power system
* I mean the cost of building the plant, given in dollars per GW.  Different from the cost of running/operating the plant, which is given per MWh.  
**I'll try and find a reference.  I originally deduced the $1 billion / gigawatt estimate from a ?2009 Nigerian government planning document that showed a graph of of capacity vs. cost for dozens of large (roughly 0.1-10GW) power projects in various countries over the decades, and it struck me how power provision is a commodity, a thing that could be accomplished with cash and without any high-tech competence whatsoever. It also showed clearly that there is a stable price for this commodity.    
Aside, this is beautiful - all the large power plants in the world in one map: 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Nigeria is a certificate country?

Arrange in order of importance, placing the most important first:
Competence, Connections, Certificates.

Just your honest opinion, please. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

How to motivate your employees

Cool article on workplace incentives and motivation.  It focuses on the factors external to work itself such as: friendships/relationships, comfort, and psychic reward.  I like the cartoon pictures, so I'm reusing them here.
Source: How to Motivate Your Employees (

Create a Friendly Work Environment

Create a pleasant atmosphere

  • Use Food
    Take advantage of wall space

    Casual dress days
    Recognize and Reward Your Employees



    Develop Great Relationships in the Workplace

  • Thursday, April 11, 2013

    MINT-ing wealth

    They say the BRIC countries are over the hill, in terms of returns on hot-money investments, and it's all about the MINT group now, where Nigeria is the N.  I'm loving it (with due caution of course.)

    The private-equity wizards at the conference are excited about Africa’s prospects over the next decade.
    By 2050 [NIGERIA] will have a population the size of America’s. If it can make all those people more productive, Nigeria will be a “big, big economy”. How might it achieve this? The conditions that set the stage for faster growth are well known: sober monetary and fiscal policy; protection of property rights; education; openness to trade and technology. The search for the perfect policy mix is not what matters; the trick is to “focus on it”. Source: Africa's Economic Prospects

    BRIC: Brazil-Russia-India-China
    MINT: Mexico-Indonesia-Nigeria-Turkey
    You may also read Investors Turn From BRIC to MINT

    Friday, April 05, 2013

    Come in and play

    I love @cc_Hub , aka the co-creation hub in Lagos.  I urge everyone to visit who thinks creating through IT is cool and wants to see it in action (or join the action.)  This is Yaba as a tech neighbourhood.
    Click click click for a tour

    Wednesday, April 03, 2013

    Mobile Number Portability coming soon

    Number portability was coming soon three years ago, but now maybe it's really very near
    Been waiting so long, we don't really give a blank. 
    What I object to is the little symbol they at the NCC have designed to illustrate the program: it has arrows cycling merrily between the four major mobile companies: MTN, Airtel, Etisalat, Glo. 
    Source: Frequently Asked Questions on MNP, NCC
    From what folks are saying, the net change will be more like this:

    Anyway, information:
    Mobile Number Portability (MNP) is a service that enables you to keep your mobile phone number when changing from one mobile service provider to another.  So, if you switch between service providers, you do not have to go through the trouble of informing all your friends, family, colleagues, and other contacts because your number stays the same. 
    Mobile number portability will initially be available among the four GSM mobile operators. - (NCC)

    Saturday, March 30, 2013

    The site formerly known as BusinessDayOnline

    is now at 
    By whatever name, it's the best paper on the market (especially since I can get it at my university job for just 50 bucks.)
    Front page of the newspaper

    Friday, March 29, 2013

    Can My__ Make It? Part Two. But it's once again called myspace.

    Make a top 10 comeback? Probably not.  But its decline has slowed in the last two years. 
    Source: UpNaira July 2011 - can my__ make it?
    From around #12 most popular site in the world in 2009 down down down...

    Now outside the top 200, still losing ground but more slowly now.

    The "new myspace" announced around September 2012, then launched in January, seems to have helped.   Here are some reviews: 
    Techcrunch: Myspace squandered the only thing it had left - it deleted the f*ing fans.  Ouch. 
    TopTenReviews: Myspace has been at the top of the heap of social network sites, and then on the bottom.  It is now capitalizing on its music-lover niche.
     My review
    Good: I like the music and playlists and finding little-known artistes.  I like a comeback.
    Bad: The login process is confusing.  Even owner-investor Justin Timberlake's latest videos are not on his profile. 

    Is twitter gaining on facebook?

    In spite of the headlines, and the feeling I get that "everybody" is on twitter - highschoolers, college kids, brands and wannabe-brands, this is what a major web-traffic data site has to say about that question:
    Facebook remains heavily dominant over twitter
    Facebook, with its #2 ranking and 45% reach, maintains a 5-1 lead over twitter (about 9% average reach for Q1 2013 and ranked 10th most popular site in the world).  It's what the data says.  Now one could question the sample e.g. who uses the alexa tool? 

    Wednesday, March 27, 2013

    How to make work better

    Wall Street Journal Daily Poll: Suggestions for improving corporate culture

    Is your corporate workplace a healthy one?  What would make it more so?  (Comments)

    Friday, March 15, 2013

    Enterprise on the dumpsite

    You have to watch Welcome to Lagos, a BBC documentary featuring several Lagosians (notably a dude named Vocal Slender) , the massive smell-site called Olusosun, and some amazing lessons on wealth.
    Continued in Parts 1.21.3, 1.4, 1.5, and 1.6

    Monday, February 11, 2013

    Think Agric

    First thing on Monday mornings, 9:30 am on the radio: 99.3 NigeriaInfo , Oluwaseun hosts the inspiring programme Think Agric.
    This morning I almost cried to hear the vision of the guests for Nigerian agric-driven dignity and prosperity.
    The programme is rerun on Friday evenings too, in case you miss it. 

    Meanwhile, here's an introduction to Agricultural transformation in Nigeria, by a young lady named Tola Sunmonu who I've showed on upnaira before.  Please check it out (Tola Sunmonu: Agriculture - Nigeria's food for thought)

    Other really important stuff:
    Last night, we won at AFCON.  Oh how wonderful.  Nigeria, that didn't even qualify last year, slayed the giants, chickens, and eagles, and emerged the champions.

    Saturday, February 09, 2013

    Make it stopppp! How I unsubscribed from the pesky PM News Alert Service from Glo

    I tried a few things in the past: "Unsubscribe", "Unsub", "Cancel", I even tried a web search on how to stop it, and tried typing in "Menu" or "Help" to get the correct codes for ending the messages.  They didn't work.  I got messages like, "Dear subscriber, sorry the command format is wrong.  Please check and try again."

    I have no problem with the messages really, except that they claim to be taking money out of my "phone credit".   I get texts like, "Congratulations your Glo-PM news subscription has been successfully renewed ... for N25 only for the entire 7 days."

    Just now, in a moment of inspiration, I replied to one of these messages with four characters: Stop (enter) and it worked.  Victory! 
    Stop receiving unwanted texts from phone networks
    It says: "You have just been unsubscribed from the PM News Alert Service.  To subscribe again, send news to 30367."    Next I'll see if what worked for 30367 also works for the other nagging codes from Glo: 7728 (caller tunes) and others.  Just type STOP. 

    Any tips on how to stop unwanted messages from other networks? Please write in the comments. 

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

    People want to know...

    How many Nigerians are on twitter? 
    Yep, that's the number one "how many nigerians..." question in my google searchbar. 
    Here's one answer from the good old days:
    Tweet count of African countries
    #weirdfacts #twittersucks

    Previously on UpNaira