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

Nairobi's Top 4 Texas Brisket Places Reviewed and Ranked

What's the best place to have Brisket in Nairobi? What's even brisket?  Brisket is one of the toughest cuts in a cow, from around the belly. It is so tough that it has to be smoked for about 16 hours to tenderise. But that there, is the catch.  16 hours later, it is the most flavourful and softest cut you will ever have. So full of flavour and so soft you can pick it apart with your fingers.  However, due to the long cooking time involved, only a few places offer brisket in Nairobi.  The best so far is Texas Brisket which is located within Kikuyu Railway station.  They do the meat for a proper 16 hours, and will usually have a fatty or non-fatty portion. The fatty portions are more tasty. A 500 gram serving goes for KSh. 900 and a 1 KG order comes with a serving of free fries. Their brisket has a well smoked exterior coupled with a very juicy interior and is served on a bed of roast vegetables.  Texas Brisket is also the most affordable. If going there past noon on

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

Addis Ababa's Light Rail system runs through the middle of a street. The electrified light rail is still under construction, though mostly done 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 plac

Beers in Kenya: A sober opinion

Note: This is a dated post and has since been mostly passed by events. SAB Miller beers including Castle and Peroni are no longer widely available in Kenya after their exist. Sirville Brewery was bought out by Brew Bistro before being permanently shut in a tax dispute. Kenya is a land of milk, honey, beaches and taxes. I have penned, or is typed, a newer post here .  Peroni - One of the best beers in Kenya. Did a taste of canned and bottled Italian, and bottled Tanzanian I like the tangy flavour and body in Tanzanian Peroni. The can is close. Heineken drinkers will like the Italian one.  I have had a short beer swigging stint in my life. It has however been long enough for me to share my opinion 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 one free, extra hangover for every hangover you get

5 Kenyan Holiday Destinations in Turkana and Rift Valley

Much local holiday travel in Kenya involves going to the Coast. If not the Coast, most holidayers end up in Nanyuki or Naivasha. But what if you wanted to go somewhere else, what are the alternatives?  An interesting itinerary would be Lake Turkana, through the Kerio Valley and Kerio Escarpment. This is a trip doable both by public transport or as a self-drive. Given the distance, it takes at least 2 days by road - though it's manageable in one day if you have 2 drivers.  However, it would be more fun if you explored different destinations on your way up and back, which I'll highlight below.  1. Iten - Kerio Valley and Kerio Escarpment The Kerio Valley is a breathtaking valley within the Rift Valley, with the Elgeyo/ Kerio Escarpment forming one boundary of the Rift Valley and the Tugen Hills forming the other. The Tugen Hills are within the Rift Valley and one of the oldest features on the planet. The Kerio River flows in between falling over the esca

Counterfeit alcohol hits Nairobi

Counterfeit The Famous Grouse    bought at a shop along Nairobi's Dubois road, note the packaging. Dishonest dealers in Kenya are now repackaging various alcohols and selling them off to unsuspecting buyers. The scam appears to target a broad range of popular spirits, including Smirnoff Vodka and The Famous Grouse Whiskey. Various residents have reported that the drinks are sold in shops in down-town Nairobi and cheap clubs. Popular drinks are either substituted with similar looking forms of alcohol or blended with them. Vodka is substituted with chang'aa , a local moonshine drink while brandies are used to dilute, or wholly sold off as more expensive whiskies. There is suspicion that some of the alcohol used in this drinks is diluted industrial alcohol. Industrial alcohol is normally cleared, with tricks such as food colouring and perfume deployed to have the counterfeit alcohol look like the genuine one. The syndicate appears to be recycling bottles which are colle