Skip to main content

South Korea: Guest Post by Bitange Ndemo

A Section of the IAAF 2011 Men's Marathon
including several Kenyan athletes with a
backdrop of Daegu city in South Korea.
(Image Credit: www.sports24.com)

This is the first guest post on this blog since I started blogging in June 2007. The post is by Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Kenya's Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications.

Ndemo recently was on a visit to South Korea. He narrates his experience in South Korea, a country that was considered far less developed than Kenya in the 1960s and 1970s. At the moment, South Korea is a developed country and amongst the world's top 10 exporters. The country is also a top importer. This post was first published on the Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANET) mailing list.

I arrived in Korea yesterday for a Global e-Government conference.  ITU
ranks Korea as number one in ICT diffusion.  From the airport you see
people walk through with an e-passport using biometrics.  The New Incheon
airport is 70 Kms west of Seoul, the capital and largest city of South
Korea with some 11 million inhabitants. It is one of the largest and
busiest airports in the world actually the world's fourth busiest airport
by cargo traffic, and the world's eighth busiest airport in terms of
international passengers in 2010.


Korea is about 99,000 square kilometres or one half of the Rift Valley Province of Kenya with a population of 50 million and a GDP of $1 trillion (Kenya's
GDP is about $35 billion).  In the 60's it was largely a donor recipient
country with a GDP less than that of Kenya and more than 60% of its
population below poverty.  They have turned tables to be a member of the
OECD and a donor country over a short period.

For many years it mostly depended on the USA as its largest trade partner
but over a time they focused their energies on the Asian Markets.  Its
trade with China, USA and Japan in 2010 figures stands at %190, $98 and
$90 billion respectively.  They import a great deal of food and the reason
why we should not lease our land but use it to improve on our economic
growth.  A Kg of meat here is $100 imported from Canada and Brazil.

I asked our Ambassador why we cannot sell our meat here.  He says we do
not meat their standards.  This should not be a problem since we have
broadband in most parts of the country that we can keep pace with the rest
of the world in keeping the records especially those required by various
standrds organization.

Back to Korea.  ICTs are also deployed along the highways making it easier
to go through the toll stations and collecting all the revenues.  You can
get data from government at every hour.  You can for example know the
number of children born in a day through out the country.  There is CCTV
practically everywhere.  Crime is approaching zero.

There is an over supply of affordable public transport via the rail and
bus system all clean and on time.  If you choose to drive on your own, you
are taxed at every new turn you make.  The tax from the polluters who
cannot use public transport is used to subsidize the energy efficient
public transportation.

Every child after high school has to go through the Military thus
instilling the discipline required in this competitive world.  Because of
such discipline, they do everything very fast.  We were literally running
behind our hosts to catch up with them.  In the Newspapers there is a Bank
executive who has committed suicide because he gave questionable loans to
friends.  He killed himself for shaming his family and that he may not
have any friends.

My experience here confirms much of what we have been saying in this
forum.  The problem is how to inculcate such high levels of ethical
standards as well as feeling of shame.


Regards


Ndemo.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Kenyan in Addis Ababa (Part 2) - The "University Girls"

This post continues from Part 1. 

The residents of Addis are friendly too. On my first day, I did meet a guard at a hotel, who later offered to show me around. Among the places he suggested, was this place where some “University girls” were holding some "dancing ceremony". He added, that Ethiopians being Orthodox Christians, were about to go on a sex, alcohol and meat fast, hence the importance of this “ceremony.”
I had some suspicion that I was being sold to sex, but my guide insisted that this was not a sex sale. Just dancing University girls. We did end up in some nondescript compound, and into a house. There was sort of a sitting area, with a radio system, low benches and tables, and grass sprinkled around the floor. Grass sprinkled around the floor is an Ethiopian tradition that indicates you are welcome to a place.

It was about 5 PM,  and the hosts seemed not to be expecting any visitors at this time. My guide disappeared down some corridor into the back to call them. In…

Why Kenyans love Kigali (Part 2)

See part 1 of why Kenyans Love Kigali, which this articl is a continuation.

In my previous post on why Kenyans love Kigali, or Rwanda for that matter, I had mentioned on the security of the city. The post however widely dealt with the feel and appearance of the city, and a little bit of the country.

Both of my visits to Kigali have been through the airport, though you may opt for a more adventurous journey by road. Getting to Kigali then required a Kenyan passport, but no visa. Now, all you need to go through both Uganda and Rwandan borders are a National Identity Card.

For travel by air, Rwandair is a cheaper option for Kenyans as compared to our national flag carrier, Kenya Airways. Ironically, most other Africans get to Kigali via Kenya Airways, thought most Kenyans will opt for the cheaper Rwandair. The flights are comfortable and the service on board the 1 hour 15 minutes flight is great.

Depending on the weather, your landing can be quite full of turbulence in Kigali. The airpor…

Why we loved Mixcrate and Where to next?

There are two types of music listeners: those who listen by artist or by album, and those who listen by top hits. The second lot of us do not care much about what other music made it to an album besides the top 2 hits.

Mixcrate served the second lot of us very well. You could search for a song title or an artist, and you would have dozens of DJ mixes to choose from which contained more than the one hit you searched for.

Listening to music on Mixcrate also meant that once you settled into a mix, you had uninterrupted music for the next one hour.

Beers in Kenya: A sober opinion

I have had a short beer swigging stint in my life. It has however been long enough for me to share my opinions of Kenyan beer. Interestingly, over the course of sharing such opinions with other drunkards connoisseurs,  I have found that we all have different views as to what beer is the best, which one makes you too drunk, or which one gives a free,  extra hangover for every hangover you get from it.
For starters, like everyone else, I discovered that beer isn’t as sweet as it looks like in those adverts that show golden barley swaying in breezes,  happy men smiling and toasting chilled, foaming glasses of beer as a deep voice does some narration in the background.
Beer is bitter! Now, it turns out beer is intentionally made bitter. See,  beer shares the same ingredients as bread. The major difference is that bread isn't fermented. Bread is sweet, so why isn't beer sweet?

Medicines in Kenya: Cure or Poison?

Many of us do not like medicines or visiting health centres, not that we have a choice. When one is sick, they have to visit a health centre. It's at the health centres that one is given medicines, drugs that are expected to cure the ailment.

Prevention, we are told, is better than cure. For this reason, some of us will visit the health centres for preventive drugs - maybe we are a malaria prone area and are trying to limit our exposure to it.

Looking at the health sector in Kenya, it is far from reaching the health for all status. The country , like many of it's neighbours, faces an acute shortage of doctors. The number has steadily been rising over the years as the government tries to train more doctors to bridge the shortfall. However, bridging the shortfall has been made difficult by many countries that are ready to pay a premium for Kenyan Doctors, hence luring them away from the country.