"CEOs can't wait to read Sunny Bindra's articles every week."

Facebook eye
Sep 11, 2016
Mark Zuckerberg passed through. So what?

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, was in Nairobi the other day. I thought we would note that and get on with our lives, but quite a sensation was created. I am really reluctant to add to the commotion, but I feel a couple of observations are necessary. Facebook is undoubtedly one of the most important […]

Read More
obamacametokenya
Aug 09, 2015
So Obama came to Kenya. So what?

The visit was epic. As I wrote here last week, US president’s long-awaited visit to Kenya had it all: spectacle, glamour, drama, sensation. New words entered our vocabulary, and even our child-naming lexicon: POTUS, Air Force One, Marine One, The Beast. And then he was gone. And a thoughtful Kenyan must ask: so what? After […]

Read More
xenophobia
May 03, 2015
Xenophobia comes from small minds entertaining small thoughts

Xenophobia never died. That intense, irrational hatred or fear of “the others” is alive and kicking. It thrives, paradoxically, in South Africa, a country whose rebirth was predicated on the principle that “separateness” was wrong. It emerges, predictably, in Greece, where immigrants provide a convenient scapegoat for self-inflicted economic woes. It even threatens, bafflingly, to […]

Read More
koreanair
Jan 18, 2015
The ‘nut rage’ incident that had consequences

You must have heard about “nutgate.” In a nutshell, here’s what happened. A passenger aircraft was about to take off from JFK airport in New York. A lady seated in first class was served macadamia nuts. The nuts were served in their bag, rather than on a plate. The lady was deeply offended. She lambasted […]

Read More
Dec 21, 2014
Do people really change that much?

Back in the nineties, Kenyans were really fed up of their leaders. The country was in dire straits, and there seemed to be no light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel. In those days, our only symbols of hope were a group of people not in government: opposition politicians, young activists, […]

Read More
Sep 21, 2014
My 600th column: Kenya’s true economic engine

This is my 600th column on this page, and to record the milestone let us take another look at this country of ours – through a different lens. Recently, feeling depressed by the state of the nation – the self-centred, money grabbing politicos and their relentless noise, the unending terrorist attacks, the spiralling epidemic of […]

Read More
Aug 03, 2014
Societies explode when equality of treatment is missing

I can’t watch the news anymore. I can’t watch any more images of children being maimed and mangled as rockets rain on them out of the sky, because of ancient hatreds that they know nothing about. I can’t watch any more images of people hell-bent on killing other people within their own borders, because of […]

Read More
Jun 29, 2014
Ever wonder why we make way for the Big People?

You’re stuck in traffic. If you live in Nairobi as I do, there’s nothing special in that statement. We’re mostly stuck in traffic jams, most of the time. It’s the way we’ve become, numbed into the acceptance that wasting time in a vehicle is a natural state of being. Kenyans talk about jam so much […]

Read More
Jun 01, 2014
Why the fights for flags and titles?

Why do so many of our leaders in this country fight tooth-and-nail for titles, like “your excellency” or “the honourable” – even when they are worlds away from being either excellent or having any honour whatsoever? Why are there ugly squabbles perpetually happening for the right to fly the national flag on vehicles, or to […]

Read More
May 18, 2014
When governments spend big, taxpayers do not

The grand projects are in full flow, and the media applaud enthusiastically. A new railway, laptops for the children, roads for the counties, WiFi for the towns. All of this is described as largesse, generosity on the part of enlightened government, freebies from our favoured development partners. The money is flowing, and boom times are […]

Read More
Feb 16, 2014
Let Kenya finally focus on the causes, not the symptoms, of hunger

I was flicking TV channels a while back and came upon the spectacle of assorted GoK bigwigs flagging off something. They weren’t launching a race or opening a road; they were flagging off a convoy of relief food. For the long-starving people of Turkana. I tweeted at the time: you don’t flag off relief food […]

Read More
Feb 09, 2014
Watch all these jobs disappear

This column often highlights the various technological disruptions that will change all our lives – for better and for worse. As I have written before, this is a time of phenomenal economic and technological change, and the ramifications will be felt far and wide. One of the issues we will have to deal with in […]

Read More
Dec 08, 2013
In honouring Mandela, please don’t do these two things

Nelson Mandela is no more. You have read gushing tributes, noble quotations, effusive obituaries. Bear with me here; I come to bury the great man, not to praise him. Great he undoubtedly was. For one man to have demonstrated the resolve, patience, dignity, forgiveness and unselfishness that he did is a most unusual occurrence, one […]

Read More
Nov 24, 2013
The elite are not spared the effects of a society in decay

There is a piece of writing that has been on the wall in front of my computer for a decade. It is a succinct poetic depiction of the inter-connectedness of things. Every bit of life depends on every other bit. The piece of paper (or device screen) on which you’re reading these lines contains everything […]

Read More
Oct 13, 2013
Why tax the tools of knowledge?

If you want to develop a nation, what do you do? Several essentials must be in place. You need your people to be free from hunger and have access to primary health facilities, so that they can do the work they need to, in good health. You need to have the rule of law, so […]

Read More
Oct 06, 2013
It’s time for this nation to press the ‘Pause’ button

There comes a time when an entire nation needs to pause. Two weeks after the Westgate atrocity, this is such a time. That savage terrorists could plan such a complex attack with such ease, and execute it with such disdain, should give us pause as a nation. For that cannot be done without willing internal […]

Read More
Sep 08, 2013
Kenya’s ‘tenderpreneurs’ are killing its entrepreneurs

Our enterprise culture is one of Kenya’s greatest assets. Kenyans have a ‘can-do’ attitude, often overcoming great odds to establish businesses small and large. The rate at which we start businesses and sustain them is the envy of our neighbours. It is the engine that drives economic growth and creates employment, formal and informal. What’s […]

Read More
Aug 25, 2013
Who cares enough to make things better?

I’ve just come back from another bout of travel (hence the brief holiday from this page). Regular readers will know that I’m a most peculiar traveller. The highlights of my holidays tend not to be great tourist sites or memorable meals. Instead, interesting processes, interesting individuals or interesting technologies are more likely to linger in […]

Read More
Jul 14, 2013
Where else would you rather live?

I get this all the time. People will ask me: how are we supposed to live in this country? It’s a complete mess. It is corrupt to the bone, and corrupts anyone trying to earn an honest living. Easily solved problems like traffic and power supply and cleanliness are left to fester. Leaders are self-interested […]

Read More
Jul 07, 2013
Why do we only want to look good for others?

When I was a boy, my mother had a particular dinner set of crockery and cutlery that was “for guests only.” This expensive set would only be brought out when special guests were invited home for dinner. Our regular set was a much more ordinary affair. And every other household I knew had exactly this […]

Read More
Jun 24, 2013
Kenya has great runners, so why not footballers? An economist explains…

“At the London Olympics, Kenyans won eleven medals, two of them gold. Although more were expected, Kenya remains the global powerhouse in running…Many other countries can only dream of achieving Kenya’s Olympic performance. At the same time, Kenya is underperforming in many other sports, especially in the nation’s other favourite: football. Why such a difference?” […]

Read More
Jun 17, 2013
Is traditional marketing dead?

“Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead. Many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they’re operating within a dead paradigm. But they are. The evidence is clear.” BILL LEE HBR Blog Network (9 August, 2012) Is marketing, as we’ve known it, dead? Bill Lee, […]

Read More
Jun 09, 2013
A poorly managed government is an oppressive government

Imagine you are convicted of a crime, one which you remain adamant you did not commit. Imagine that the court system eventually allows you to post bail on appeal. The bail is set at the equivalent of modest US$ 180. But you are poor, and such a sum is beyond your reach. What would happen […]

Read More
Jun 02, 2013
Entrepreneurs are heroes. So why do we treat them like villains?

Kenya’s economic salvation will not come from its government, no matter how big it becomes. It will not come from its huge corporations, no matter how many bumper profits they declare. It will not come from its mineral resources, no matter how vast their quantities. Kenya’s economic heroes are not politicians, bureaucrats, technocrats or executives. […]

Read More
May 26, 2013
The Germans play for the long term

Last night, the 2013 UEFA Champions League final was played. I have no idea who won, as this column’s copy deadline is long before Saturday. But I can safely predict that a German team took home Europe’s premier club football trophy. This, of course, is not because I have particularly strong powers of prophecy; it […]

Read More
May 19, 2013
Let us not be seduced by false consensus

The mood was upbeat. Speaker after speaker had highlighted the fact that Kenya is on the move, that the direction is right, that the economic fundamentals are now very attractive. Then the final speaker stood up, and struck what felt like a false note. He asked us to be careful. He wondered what Kenyans being […]

Read More
May 12, 2013
A simple economic truth: performance before pay

The teaching of economics appears to have failed utterly in this country. I blame this on the teachers. I remember my own first teacher of economics: he would walk into the room, start writing lines and lines of notes on the blackboard and expect his class to copy it all down. At the end of […]

Read More
May 05, 2013
Should Kenya make toothpicks?

My friend and fellow columnist Charles Onyango-Obbo asked an interesting question on Twitter recently: why don’t Kenya and other African countries make toothpicks? I promised to answer, so here is a response. Perhaps the question is better framed in the way that many of Charles’s followers seemed to put it: why can’t we even make […]

Read More

Archives