We need more investments in technology – Daily Nation


By SAM WAMBUGU
More by this Author

In recent times, we have witnessed a trend of copycat business models.

One company adopts a strategy for growth and many others follow suit.

Before long, the strategy comes a cropper. None of these models are technology-driven.

Here are some examples. Uchumi supermarket’s main undoing was expansion at a pace that wasn’t sustainable.

Its competitor, Nakumatt, seems to have fallen into the same trap that doesn’t bring projected returns.

Universities have followed the same path. In the past few years, many opened campuses at nearly every town.

Some towns have several campuses of the same university.

Just like the supermarkets, universities are now realising that rapid expansion of brick and mortar classes is not sustainable.

The overheads are way too high to sustain these schools.

Expecting to run them on fees paid by a dwindling number of students is to build a business on quick sand.

It doesn’t require the skills of a business analyst to see that the many malls sprouting on every road and street will be unsustainable.

One wonders who these malls are meant for, at a time when many businesses are taking smaller spaces and going digital.

In the property market, there is a spirited dash to buying and subdividing land.

Looking at the insane amount of money being spent on land and buildings, one wonders whether this is the best investment option, at personal and country level.

At the moment, the country is grappling with basic survival issues such as food.

Maize flour, the country’s staple food, is scarce.

The reasons why we can’t feed ourselves are many, but one of them is because we have severely damaged the environment.

Over the years, the forest cover has been dwindling and the effect has been clear and dire — less rain, low food production and high cost of living.

The question is, if we continue subdividing the land and erecting buildings, where will food come from?

What’s the comfort of erecting malls and apartments costing billions yet we can’t grow food?

Around the world, the most profitable technology-based ventures have little dent on environment.

Think of Uber, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter and Safaricom.

Can’t business leaders and government educate Kenyans to invest in these lasting ventures?

Instead of building malls and supermarkets where others already exist, think about online retailing options.

You will not have to pay for licences and hefty fees required to start businesses.

Through technology solutions, you will connect your services and products to consumers and make money from anywhere.

There are many case studies of how simple technology solutions such as M-Pesa, online car track, messaging applications and on-line retailing have become big businesses.

We have also seen how technology is changing nearly every sector.

Online trading is gradually pushing out brick and mortar malls.

E-learning is getting more and more attractive in this era of traffic jams and rising cost of education.

Smartphones and tablets are becoming powerful and cheaper every year.

Internet connection is getting more and more affordable, and wider in coverage. An army of tech-savvy young people is growing.

The population is also gradually warming up to transacting online.

All these create an enabling environment for investments in technology.

It’s about time we think, train and encourage people to invest in technology with the same zeal they have portrayed in the property industry.

Technology is the profitable property for this century. We are only limited by our imagination.



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