Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Staying off social media - a liberating experience

The past few months I have been very quiet on the social media front. Besides my regular twitter shares or an occasional photo of Captain Adorable, I have restricted myself from posting (and checking the "likes") as it was becoming part of my real life and I wanted some space.

The first few days were the hardest - but then I started using the Internet the way I always have - for getting reading material, searching key words or concepts and sending emails.

This process has led me to create a "pocket" (an offline article reader) as well as participate in free online courses.

It has been LIBERATING.

Of course I still peek at what my friends are doing - but it is not an addiction anymore.

Now I need to get back to blogging and writing my next book!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Media abuse and the citizen

The past few weeks (and years) there has been a debate in Namibia about the freedom of the press and more specifically the government's stated intention to regulate the media. The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) has also circulated a broadcasting policy which indicates certain regulations which will be imposed by government.

I wish to dissect this matter for those of us who are not in the media business who would like to have our media free from suppression, BUT, would also like to ensure that the media are held accountable for what they publish. In addition, most citizens are aware that we need to evolve new methods of management of social media posts.

What is Freedom of the Press?

Freedom of the press refers to the right circulating opinion in the media without censorship from the government. What is critical is that freedom of the press allows opinions (normally about leaders) to be circulated for comment among the general public. The Namibian Constitution in Article 21 on Fundamental Freedoms states "All persons shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media".
THUS, freedom of the press and the right to express an opinion (freedom of speech) is guaranteed in our supreme law.

What happens if Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press is abused?

Abuse of freedom of speech refers to a a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation. This abuse is referred to as "libel" which is a malicious, false statement in written media, a broadcast, or otherwise published words.

Note: Under common law the word "defamation" is used to indicate a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual person, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation. If defamation takes place in published works it is called libel; and when it is spoken it is called slander.

If you wish to take the process to court when libel occurs you must prove a civil wrong that has caused you to suffer loss or harm for which the person who printed the statement should be held liable.

How do I prove libel?

In general (please consult a lawyer) you must prove that the statement was false, that it has caused harm, and was made without adequate research into the truthfulness of the statement. In the first part of the statement I already had to state that a lawyer had to be consulted. AND that is the crux of the matter why citizens need some regulatory authority with teeth or a small claims court where they can makes such claims without the expense of a legal professional.


If we wish to establish mechanisms that will allow citizens an easy way to make the media pay for libel there are three options open to us:
1. The present self-regulating Media Ombudsman be empowered to give binding decisions when libel is found. (Also expand the system to allow for inputs by consumer groups)
2. Include measure in the Consumer Protection Act that will allow compensation if libel is found. This can be addressed through a Small Claims Court.
3. “Regulated Self-regulation” – where government regulators create the conditions in which media can demonstrate they are acting responsibly.

The need to hold the media and journalists for what they write or broadcast is clear. However, the government should not be allowed to use this sentiment to take away any of our hard won rights in our constitution.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Gift Economy - Rethinking GDP and productivity

Reading a very enlightening article about the "gift economy". The most common example is the donating of blood for free. That is not part of the "market economy".

In African terms this also refers to our caring for our relatives by paying for their studies, giving them room and board, etc. We have a more neighbourly approach to our community in which we share or give to others when they do not have.

It does not mean giving when I do not have, but rather haring when I have surplus.

"When a parent cooks for their family that is just as productive as a chef cooking for customers in a restaurant, but no cash changes hands in payment."

 In economic terms, when we give to our friends and neighbours it reduces GDP (Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary measure of the market value of all final goods and services produced in a period)

In today's world we need to rethink the measurement of our nationals wealth by only using GDP.

"We should think of the economy as an interacting mix of market and non-market practices"


Community is woven from gifts. Unlike today's market system, whose built-in scarcity compels competition in which more for me is less for you, in a gift economy the opposite holds. Because people in gift culture pass on their surplus rather than accumulating it, your good fortune is my good fortune: more for you is more for me. Wealth circulates, gravitating toward the greatest need. In a gift community, people know that their gifts will eventually come back to them, albeit often in a new form. Such a community might be called a "circle of the gift."

Friday, 5 August 2016

Economic Empowerment in Namibia - discussions on NEEEF

The Law Reform and Development Commission had a consultative meeting in Windhoek on 4th August 2016.
This is my contribution:
I am a previously disadvantaged person (PDP) as proposed under the New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework in the current from of a draft bill. I qualify as such because I was defined as non-white by the apartheid regime. This was not a name I gave to myself.
Some white business leaders act as if this legislation is not needed because after 26 years there is no more discrimination. I say to you that white owned business had 26 years to address the imbalances themselves, BUT, because they have not done so, Government is forced to make laws to address these economic imbalances created by our apartheid past.
We cannot expect the new law to be voluntary. That has been the case for 26 years and look where that got us. We must make mandatory provisions for, -
a. 25% PDP ownership; and
b. 50% PDP Management
for all business having more than 25 employees and/or making a net profit of more than 1 million dollars.
Keep in mind, previously disadvantaged white male business owners: The system of apartheid gave white privilege and this has continued without any willingness for redress from your side.
The Constitution of this country recognised this in Article 23(2) "Nothing ... shall prevent Parliament from enacting legislation providing directly or indirectly for the advancement of persons within Namibia who have been socially, economically or educationally disadvantaged by past discriminatory laws or practices".
As we all know our constitution, you should remember you knew this for the past 26 years. Why did you not prepare yourselves voluntarily?
I am a PDP and want to participate in our economy together with you. Let us make the more money in our company and that will make both of us richer. I do not want to take away what you gained irregularly, but rather address past imbalances so we can both benefit from the opportunities in our country.
Note: if you company cannot find a buyer for 25% shares, make your employees be that PDP shareholder. You, and them, will make more money through employee profit sharing.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The importance of a reliable database

First posted in New Era - 29 June 2016

Imagine waking up one morning and finding out that a relative left you some money you did not know about? Have you had that dream?
The insurance industry in Namibia is estimated to have over 2 billion dollars’ worth of unclaimed monies due to dependants of deceased persons. No accurate figures have been compiled, but industry experts predict that this relates to over 40,000 people who have money that belongs to them, but they do not know about it. The financial industry refers to these “unfound people” as dependants and make efforts, such as newspaper adverts, to find them. However, the longer the period of time has passed since the fund contributor died, the harder it gets to find a dependant.
Namibia has no home delivery postal service and there exists no national database of residential property and their occupants to enable NamPost to do door-to-door deliveries. This lack of residential information has also led to expensive exercises to register bank accounts correctly, under money laundering legislation, as well as higher interest rates charged to clients due to higher perceived risk by the banks.
These questions have laid heavy on the mind of Milton Shanika-Louw, founder of NamBizDotCom since the early 1990’s. He started his career at the Namibia National Chamber of Commerce and Industry where he was tasked with contacting business owners and getting them to become members of the organisation. In the formal, predominantly white-owned, business community this was fairly easy as most were registered with a local or national public organisation. However, the emerging, black-owned, business was largely unknown. For the next ten years, Louw collected business information by visiting each business in all corners of the country to publish the first business directory in Namibia that included street addresses and a sectoral classification of the business.
At the completion of this tough task, he was invited to Germany to learn more about business reporting for Creditreform in Düsseldorf. During this period, Louw came to realise the importance of a centralised citizens databases and the availability of residency information on the consumers in Germany. This capability allows German citizens to be “found” by government and the private sector as well as allowing personal delivery of information at the person’s place of residence.
Upon his return in 2004, he started the Namibia Persons Directory by collecting information from all public places such as local government, electoral registers, newspaper adverts, land evaluation registers, health certificate registers and professional bodies. This led to the publication of a “white pages” directory that included not only name, surname, postal and physical address, but also date of birth and contact telephone number. This database had 250,000 people registered by 2009.
This database exploded to more than 1,4 million records by 2013 when the first commercial product was made available to businesses and government. Unfortunately, most clients did not have the in-house capacity to handle such a large database, or they were confident they could collect their clients’ information through their own business networks.
In 2015, Louw started up his company again with the primary purpose of assisting consumers who were not aware that there was money due to them by the financial services sector. After an update of the consumer data, the database now has over 2 million records of which 950,000 have completed details including name, surname, date of birth, postal and physical address as well as contact number (90% cellular numbers).
The Namibia Consumer Database 2016 is now being marketed at insurance companies, banks, SME’s and government. The cost of the entire database (954,632 records) is N$ 95,000. Because many clients do not have the data mining capability or knowledge, NamBiz also offers training courses to their clients on how to manage and mine this data set.
NamBiz has always kept in mind that most consumers do not have the time or the money to search for money that may or may not be theirs. The company has thus decided to expand their services to include a probate research section. Probate research deals with finding heirs and proving their right to an inheritance. In some estates there may be no known heirs, or there may be missing heirs whose names are known but their contact information is not. In all these instances, professional probate researchers work to trace the next of kin. This service is being marketed primarily at the financial services industry.
Consumers who wish to have the company do research on their behalf may contact Louw on or send an SMS with their name and surname to +264 81 770 6502. Louw can also be contacted directly on +264 81 688 1368.