Friday, March 28, 2008

Safaricom IPO goes tribal

Coming so soon after the bungled general elections and the subsequent flare-ups, the Safaricom IPO has since gone political and it follows that it will go tribal – if it hasn’t already. In the end, the Safaricom shareholding register will likely read more like a provincial rather than a national roll call. In a Television poll just yesterday, the question was ‘do you think the Safaricom IPO should be put on hold?” 55% said yes and 45% said no. True a TV poll may not be a true representative of the situation on the ground, but still the split was eerily similar to something we’ve witnessed recently. There are those, maybe not you, but there are those who will disregard the need for transparency and a clean fair market and go ahead to buy the shares based solely on where the leaders backing the IPO were born.

The IPO aside, what is more worrying is a scenario where the mobile telephone services themselves go the blue and orange way. If true Kenyan politics are anything to go by, and speaking strictly of the telecommunications industry, hitherto blue political areas could go green. And orange areas could go red in defiance. Kenya has been painted oranges and bananas in the past. After the blue and orange elections fiasco, you can be sure every national debate is likely to take a tribal angle and Safaricom is no exception. Is Kenya now about to be painted green and red? We have a knack for sweeping things under the carpet. There is peace thank God but let’s not kid ourselves - tribal tensions are still simmering under the surface and although they may not manifest in uprooted railways, they may take on a mellower but equally lethal angle. To this end, Michael Joseph might want to book an appointment with one Linus Gitahi for some advice.

Nobody wishes for a repeat of the chaos but if God forbid they return, looting and burning will depend on, among other things, the colour of your kiosk. Quiet Celtel will either benefit from some free marketing or be drawn into Kenyan tribal wars. Or both.

Na bado. That is just one sector.

1 Comment:

Taabu said...

My dear and I can see you title having shades of RED, kwani ushahama? Hope not lest you become a marked person. Nice prices though.