I got the email below from a friend, and wanted to share with all of you out there …
In a nutshell, appreciate what you have, and be content with what you are blessed with.
A Boat Docked in a Tiny Mexican Fishing Village
A tourist complimented the local fishermen on the quality of their fish and asked how long it took them to catch the fish.
“Not very long.” they answered in unison. “Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?”
The fishermen explained that their small catches were sufficient to meet their needs and those of their families.
“But what do you do with the rest of your time?” “We sleep late, fish a little, play with our children, and take siestas with our wives. In the evenings, we go into the village to see our friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. We have a full life.”
The tourist interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”
“And after that?”
“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man,
you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants
and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City!
From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.
“How long would that take?”
“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years.” replied the tourist.
“And after that?”
“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting”,
answered the tourist, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!”
“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the fishermen.
“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”
“With all due respect sir, but that’s exactly what we are doing now. So what’s the point wasting twenty-five years?” asked the Mexicans.
And the moral of this story is:
Know where you’re going in life…. you may already be there.
The beginning and the end of truth is truth.
My next blog entry will be on Thursday October 07, 2010.
On Tuesday September 21, 2010, Google announced their newest tool, the Transparency Report, which illustrates where and when Google sites are blocked.
Everyday Google receives requests from governments to take down certain content or hand over personal user data for an investigation.
Google believes that this new tool will show the extensive amount of government requests for censorship and data handovers worldwide.
What would Google accomplish by making this tool public? I believe that is to deter continued censorship; and in the process gain the trust of people all over the world.
Google Transparency Report will document not just government demands for Google to take down sites and hand over information, but also how often Google complies with these demands.
When a company such as Google publicly documents incidents with their service and how/when they responded, it gives them more accountability and thus more credibility.
It is re-assuring to know that Google has made its transparency report public, giving us the chance to see which country is blocking and censoring search results, and any information on the Internet.
Looking at the report, there is no a single African country listed in the interactive map reported for the period of 6 months, January 2010 to June 2010:
You can also see the report by country for a specific period of time in this graph:
Below is what is found in Google’s website
Transparency is a core value at Google. As a company we feel it is our responsibility to ensure that we maximize transparency around the flow of information related to our tools and services. We believe that more information means more choice, more freedom and ultimately more power for the individual.
We’ve created an interactive map of Government Requests that shows the number of government inquiries for information about users and requests for Google to take down or censor content. We hope this step toward greater transparency will help in ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests.
Our interactive Traffic graphs provide information about traffic to Google services around the world. Each graph shows historic traffic patterns for a given country/region and service. By illustrating outages, this tool visualizes disruptions in the free flow of information, whether it’s a government blocking information or a cable being cut. We hope this raw data will help facilitate studies about service outages and disruptions.
So, what do you think? Isn’t it great to know who has blocked that important information you were looking for? I do really appreciate this service. Thank you Google for yet another great tool!
My next blog entry will be on Thursday September 30, 2010.
Ethiopia has devalued her currency, the Birr.
The Birr (ETB) has been declining in its value for the past several years now. During the communist Ethiopia era (1974 to 1991), the currency was held at a constant exchange rate of $1 USD to 2.10 ETB.
The current government devalued the Birr back in 1993 to about 1 USD = 5 ETB. Since then, the Birr has been falling against the dollar. For example, about 2 years ago, in 2008, the exchange rate was $1 USD to 9.50 ETB. Then, $1 USD was trading at about 13.75 ETB for the past year or so.
Now, in its most recent adjustment on September 1, 2010, the Central Bank of Ethiopia has set the exchange rate at $1 USD to 16.35 ETB (that is about 17% devaluation).
Birr to other currencies converter is found here. You can also find other currency converters here:
Yes, when the Birr is devalued, it is good for those of us living abroad as our money goes further. However, for the vast majority of Ethiopians who are living in the country (now over 80 Million), life will get expensive as Ethiopia is a net importer of goods; from gasoline to machinery, to consumer goods.
Below is an article by Bloomberg news regarding the devaluation:
Ethiopia devalued its currency, the birr, by 17 percent against the dollar, the third such move in the past 14 months, according to the National Bank of Ethiopia.
The exchange rate was quoted at 16.351 per dollar today compared with 13.628 yesterday, according to the website of the Addis Ababa-based central bank. It was trading at 11.381 on July 10 last year.
The devaluation will crimp imports and make it easier to boost foreign currency reserves. Ethiopia needs to raise its reserves to 3 months of import cover from 2.3 months to cushion its economy from external shocks, a June report from the International Monetary Fund said.
There is a “need for a 10 percentage point real exchange rate depreciation” in order to achieve that goal, the IMF said in the report.
Ethiopia’s trade deficit was expected to grow to $7 billion in the fiscal year to July 7 from $6.3 billion the year before, according to IMF figures.
Where is the ETB exchange rate heading? As I mentioned in my previous post, the Birr exchange rate to the dollar is estimated at 22. It is being artificially kept at a higher level.
The above Bloomberg article also suggests that, the the Central Bank of Ethiopia might need to devalue the currency to about 18 ETB to the dollar in the near future. So, those of you residing abroad, wait a while before purchasing a big ticket item in Ethiopia; and those planning to sell in Ethiopia and bring your proceeds abroad might want to sell now before the ETB is devalued again.
Photo: Professor Seid Hassan
My next blog entry will be on Thursday September 23, 2010.
I have come across some people, including some Ethiopians, who want to live beyond their means. Some actually keep dreaming to become millionaires. That is a great dream. But, if one plans to become a millionaire, saving and working starts at an early age.
The common trend among all millionaires and billionaires is that they tend to be very frugal with their money – after all that is why they have a lot of it because they save it and invest it.
According to the article below, there are 1,011 Billionaires in the world. One of them is an Ethiopian born Mohammed Al Amoudi.
Al Amoudi has chosen to invest a lot of money in Ethiopia (now over 2 Billion dollars). He is the second employer, after the government, in Ethiopia. Politics aside, I have seen first hand how the investment by Al Amoudi has paid off for so many. Some people have stated businesses by either getting grants from his office or working for one of his companies.
Unofficial website about Al Amoudi is found here.
Check out the following 2 links (videos) to see how the generosity of Al Amoudi has helped a lot of people in Ethiopia:
For those who are foolishly spending their hard earned money with out any financial plan, the following article by Investopedia’s Jean Folger is a must read.
7 Spending Tips From Frugal Billionaires
By Jean Folger, Investopedia
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Carlos Slim Helu (Carlos Slim), a telecom tycoon and billionaire with well-known frugal tendencies, has a net worth of U.S.$60.6 billion according to Forbes. Assuming no changes in his net worth, he could spend $1,150 a minute for the next 100 years before he ran out of money. To put this in perspective, he could spend in 13 minutes what a minimum-wage earner brings home after an entire year of the daily grind.
Granted, the world’s billionaires (all 1,011 of them) are in the debatably enviable position of having, quite literally, more money than they can possibly spend, yet some are still living well below their means, and save money in surprising places. Even non-billionaires (currently 6,864,605,142 of us) can partake in these seven spending tips from frugal billionaires.
Keep your home simple
Billionaires can afford to live in the most exclusive mansions imaginable – and many do, including Bill Gates’ sprawling 66,000-square-foot, $147.5 million mansion in Medina, Wash. – yet frugal billionaires like Warren Buffet choose to keep it simple. Buffet still lives in the five-bedroom house in Omaha that he purchased in 1957 for $31,500. Likewise, Carlos Slim has lived in the same house for more than 40 years.
Use self-powered or public transportation
Thrifty billionaires including John Caudwell, David Cheriton and Chuck Feeney prefer to walk, bike or use public transportation when getting around town. Certainly these wealthy individuals could afford to take a helicopter to their lunch meetings, or ride in chauffeur-driven Bentleys, but they choose to get a little exercise and take advantage of public transportation instead. Good for the bank account and great for the environment.
Buy your clothes off the rack
While some people, regardless of their net value, place a huge emphasis on wearing designer clothes and shoes, some frugal billionaires decide it’s simply not worth the effort, or expense. You can find David Cheriton, the Stanford professor who matched Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page to the venture capitalists at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (resulting in a large reward of Google stock), wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of the furniture company Ikea, avoids wearing suits, and John Caudwell, mobile phone mogul, buys his clothes off the rack instead of spending his wealth on designer clothes.
Keep your scissors sharp
The average haircut costs about $45, but people can and do spend up to $800 per cut and style. Multiply that by 8.6 (to account for a cut every six weeks) and it adds up to $7,200 per year, not including tips. These billionaires can certainly afford the most stylish haircuts, buy many cannot be bothered by the time it takes or the high price tag for the posh salons. Billionaires like John Caudwell and David Cheriton opt for cutting their own hair at home.
Drive a regular car
While billionaires like Larry Ellison (co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation) enjoy spending millions on cars, boats and planes, others remain low key with their vehicles of choice. Jim Walton (of the Wal-Mart clan) drives a 15-year-old pickup truck. Azim Premji, an Indian business tycoon, reportedly drives a Toyota Corolla. And Ingvar Kamprad of Ikea drives a 10-year-old Volvo. The idea is to buy a dependable car, and drive it into the ground. No need for a different car each day of the week for these frugal billionaires.
Skip luxury items
It may surprise some of us, but the world’s wealthiest person, Carlos Slim (the one who could spend more than a thousand dollars a minute and not run out of money for one hundred years) does not own a yacht or a plane.
Many other billionaires have chosen to skip these luxury items. Warren Buffet also avoids these lavish material items, stating “Most toys are just a pain in the neck.”
What we can learn
Some of the world’s billionaires have frugal tendencies. Perhaps this thrifty nature even helped them make some of their money. Regardless, they have chosen to avoid some unnecessary spending (at least on their scale) and the 6,864,605,142 non-billionaires out there can follow suit, eliminating excessive, keep-up-with-the-Jones style spending. No matter what a person’s income bracket is, most can usually find a way to cut back on frivolous spending, just like a few frugal billionaires.
So, what do you think? Do you spend your money foolishly or do you have a financial plan?
My next blog entry will be on Thursday September 16, 2010.
Ethiopian Airlines and The Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority have made us proud once again. I was happy to see this news release recently and wanted to share it with my readers. It feels good that Ethiopia is leading the aviation industry in Africa.
Recently, Ethiopian Airlines was ranked as the #1 profitable airliner in Africa, and #16 in the world. At this time of depressed economy, it is truly inspiring to read such good news from Ethiopia.
August 5, 2010 – Ethiopia, one of the first African Countries to transition from AFTN to AMHS, decided to do so with the assistance of ICAO and chose Radiocom, Inc as the supplier of excellence to design, supply, install and set to work an AMHS Extended Service. This turnkey installation was carried out by the Radiocom, Inc. experts, who put forward a solid well designed project to suit Ethiopia’s immediate needs, with the possibility of further expansion as required.
The contract was signed in 2009 and after the initial presentation to the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) carried out in Addis Ababa in June last year, the fine tuning began, the system was assembled in Radiocom, Inc. headquarters pre shipment, where the system was thoroughly tested. Once the equipment had arrived in Addis Ababa and customs formalities were under way, a team of 6 engineers and technicians flew to Addis Ababa to commence the installation. Additionally, the system for ECAA was complemented with two specific application data banks DBAIS and AeroBilling (see below).
For this contract, four (4) locations had to be equipped, ECAAs headquarters in Addis Ababa and a number of locations around the Bole airport, Mekele airport, Bahir Dar airport and Dire Dawa airport. Bandwidth needs had to be a big consideration (see below).
Additionally the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority requested the installation of an AMHS Training Facility. This is the first TRAINING CENTER of its kind in AFRICA; it is fully equipped to handle the training of in house personnel as well as hosting international training courses for neighboring countries. This is a service that is very needed in the region and could prove to be a very important, positive and popular asset for ECAA.
Both systems installed are AMHS Extended Service, with specific benefits when evaluating bandwidth requirements. The Radiocom, Inc. system is based on X.400 and X.500 protocol sets particularly X. 400 P3 communicating between the Message Transfer Agent (MTA), the Message Store (MS) and X.400 P7 communicating between the MS and User Agents (UA). This means low bandwidth requirement for communication between the MTA/MS in Bole and the remote location terminals in Mekele, Bahir Dar and Dire Dawa (all hundreds of miles away) need not be more than 9.6Kbit/s, and not the high bandwidth requirements that HTTP based systems require (for the same communication links with the remote location terminals, at least 64Kbits/s may be needed). This helps keep the cost of communication usage right down.
The complete system was left operational on April 30th, 2010 by the Radiocom, Inc. personnel. A further visit was carried out in June for final system acceptance.
Radiocom, Inc. supply a complete range of optional AMHS data banks, including a AIS data bank (DBAIS), a Meteorological data bank (DBMET) an Equipment Systems and Services data bank (DBESS) and an Airport Services Billing data bank (AeroBilling).
Radiocom, Inc. is looking forward to working with more African nations in their transition from AFTN to AMHS. This is a rapidly expanding region and Radiocom Inc. who has a good relationship with ICAO is ready to support their efforts to achieve a speedy and smooth transition throughout the continent.
Source: Radiocom, Inc.
My next blog entry will be on Thursday August 26, 2010.
Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, has been ranked as one of the cheapest cities in the world by Mercer’s 2010 Cost of Living Survey.
Mercer’s Top 50 expensive cities are found here.
Addis Ababa is ranked at 208th position out of the 214 cities surveyed. According to the survey, “the cost of housing – often the biggest expense for expats – plays an important part in determining where cities are ranked”. Based on this fact, I expected Addis Ababa to be in the top 20.
Please keep in mind that the survey is for expatriates, not for local people. Typical expats in Addis Ababa include embassy officials, NGO employees and those in other similar positions.
I must say that I do not agree with the report when it comes to Addis Ababa. How can Addis Ababa be one of the cheapest cities in the world? A decent family home, say, 6 bed room house with 2,200 sq. ft with 7,000 sq. ft lot is going for $200,000 to 700,000 USD depending on the location of the property. You can check house for sale and rental prices at Ezega’s website.
The exchange rate for $1 USD is about $13.75 EBR (Ethiopian Birr).
I read a good news this week that an Italian-Chinese business venture is opening a factory in Ethiopia to produce a practical and affordable electric car. Just last month, Rwanda launched its first bio-diesel bus.
Even though there is a power shortage, at the present time, in Ethiopia, especially in the capital city Addis Ababa, it looks like that this venture could be successful.
Ethiopia is only the second African country to launch an electric car, after South Africa.
Carlo Pironti, general manager of Free Style PLC, the company that will be producing the Solaris electric cars, said, ” Ethiopia’s current electricity shortages were not a major obstacle to operating an electric car”. He believes that in the future, “Ethiopia will have lots of power supply”. Free Style PLC has been doing business in Ethiopia for the past 15 years in the areas of renewable energy supplies, including solar and wind power.
For those who have concerns about Ethiopia’s power supply, Mr. Pironti said, “In any case, the car can be recharged by generator and by solar power.”
Photo: Solaris Elettra Electric Car in Addis Ababa
In addition to my ramblings about Ethiopian related socio-economic and political issues, I plan to write a maximum of one Internet /webmaster related post each month. All tech posts are scheduled to be published on the third Thursday of the month.
Therefore, today, as my first tech post, I just want to start by writing about the size of the Internet.
I launched this blog on September 10, 2009, just in time for the Ethiopian New Year. My first post was entitled, “Happy Ethiopian New Year to All!”. I published a few more posts after that – To Buy a House or Not to Buy (Parts 1), To Buy a House or Not to Buy (Parts 2), To Buy a House or Not to Buy (Parts 3), Thanksgiving and the Ethiopian Community of British Columbia (ECBC). Now it is time for a technology post, which I am very much interested in.
Before I start talking about how big the Internet is, I just want to say a few words about the history of Internet in the Vancouver area.
- VAT Exempted Items in Ethiopia
- A Boat Docked in a Tiny Mexican Fishing Village
- Google Announces Transparency Report
- Ethiopia Devalued Its Currency (The Birr) by 17 Percent Against the US Dollar
- How Do Billionaires Spend Their Money?
- Owely: Instant Screenshot Capture & Sharing
- How Your Wireless Network is Getting Hacked
- Ethiopia The First in Africa with AMHS Extended Service from Radiocom, Inc.
- Ethiopia: Utilizing Solar and Wind Power Energy
- China’s Solution for Mass and Green Transportation: Build Straddling Buses
- Come Out and Celebrate Ethiopian Day on August 28, 2010 in Burnaby, BC
- Ethiopians: Come Out And Celebrate The Caribbean Day Festival In North Vancouver
- Canadian Patriotism
- Ethiopian Adoptions
- Ethiopian Alphabet
- Ethiopian Businesses
- Ethiopian Calendar
- Ethiopian Careers
- Ethiopian Citizenship
- Ethiopian Culture
- Ethiopian Dating
- Ethiopian Education
- Ethiopian Food
- Ethiopian History
- Ethiopian Holidays
- Ethiopian Investments
- Ethiopian Languages
- Ethiopian Media
- Ethiopian Music
- Ethiopian Parenting
- Ethiopian Patriotism
- Ethiopian Politics
- Ethiopian Professors
- Ethiopian Proverbs
- Ethiopian Relationships
- Ethiopian Religions
- Ethiopian Restaurants
- Ethiopian Socials
- Ethiopian Sports
- Ethiopians & Technology
- Ethiopians and Drugs
- Ethiopians and Khat
- Ethiopians Back Home
- Ethiopians in Vancouver