Kenya’s late foray into Goma shows our lack of foresight

Kenya’s late foray into Goma shows our lack of foresight

In 2015, I visited Gisenyi in western Rwanda on the border with DR Congo. Besides Lake Kivu and the active volcano of Mt Nyiragongo, which glows at night, I noticed Ethiopian Airlines planes flying to Goma, a vibrant town just across the border in the mineral-rich DR Congo.

Lake Kivu is Rwanda’s version of Naivasha.

I wondered why Kenya Airways (KQ) was not flying to this town. Why has it taken six years for Jambojet, KQ’s low-cost carrier, to fly to this town? READ MORE

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I suspect Jambojet’s foray into Goma has to do with prospects of peace in the troubled country following the exit of strongman Joseph Kabila and the ascent to power of President Felix Tshisekedi.

Remember Kenyan leaders frequent visits to DR Congo before the polls? Did you know that Kenya is providing troops to stabilise eastern DRC? Is this one of the dividends of peace?

Irrespective of who is in power in Congo, the country remains a lucrative export market and an attractive investment destination.

Why do we allow other people to make money as we watch? In the case of Goma, I noted that the most popular language is Swahili! Kenya Airways and any Kenyan investor would be at home there.

Landing in Goma long after our competitors is a failure in our strategic thinking and planning.

Never mind strategic management is the most popular area of study in our business schools.

Our lag in taking advantage of situations is not unique to the delayed Goma flights. Remember our celebration over direct flights to the US? Ethiopian Airlines had landed there 20 years earlier.It seems though we tout ourselves as the leaders in Eastern Africa, we take too long to see opportunities and exploit them.There are other examples. For instance, we took about a quarter of a century before facing East (read China). While China had opened up to the rest of the world in 1978, it’s only after Kibaki became president that we got into a serious dialogue with the “Dragon.”We still saw China as a communist country, not a market or investment destination.And even after we decided to engage, it has been about China building our infrastructure, such as roads and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), not investing there like South Korea, Japan, the US, Germany and other countries, whose brands reap billions of dollars in the country […]

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