Sunday, 19 March 2017

Out with PayWay and in with ChapChap.

Nearly 1 year and 6 months ago, I ranted on about the inconvenience in trying to credit my Yaka account using the PayWay service. This post is not a rant, it is a solution to the dilemma that we all have when we need to top up and get units for our Yaka devices when the PayWay or Mobile Money network is down. You have all experienced this once or twice before.

I had resigned myself to being content with the way things are in Uganda (the status quo) and even opted to do bulk purchases for my Yaka meter once a month, always making sure to top up when I was left with not less than 15 units. Yes, I mentally created a minimum top-up level for myself on my phone with audio alerts (desperate times call for desperate measures).  This is no way to live, I told myself as I remembered my terrible experience I previously had with PayWay.

Then enters ChapChap a new mobile payment platform that allows you top-up, pay other bills and earn/ save money while doing so. Check out their website on  

You can top-up you on airtime on UTL, MTN, AIRTEL, VODAFONE, SMILE DATA, Smart Airtime and AFRICELL Airtime. For bill payment, you can pay for NWSC, UMEME, Startimes, DSTV, GOtv, URA and KCCA. Given my limited needs, I have only used the platform as a user and not an agent for purchases of airtime for UTL, Airtel and MTN and top-up for my Yaka.  So begin I downloaded the App off play store and entered my sponsor agent number which is a telephone number after which I got a license.  

So to pay for YAKA of 100,000, I made sure I had 100,000 on mobile money but that was not enough I needed a service charge of 3,000 from MTN to also be available on my mobile money account as well. (Please note that the service on charges vary depending on the payment)

Step 1: I went onto the downloaded ChapChap from my Google Play store using my MTN number for registration. and I purchased stock worth 100,000 on ChapChap. To pay using this platform is a little different, it is not like using Mobile Money where you send the money using instructions such as *160*2… (You know what I am talking about).  

Oh before I forget, since you use both  MTN number and email to register you can access it online using a computer/laptop to print out receipts in the cases where you use this service for work-related purchases and accountability is needed.

Email receipt on email confirming purchases of stock, you can also extract for any payment transacted off your account on their system.

Step 2: No you need to buy digital stock worth the value of the transaction you want to make. So go to buy stock, select your mobile network and enter your mobile number and package (payment amount value from menu options).

You will be asked to confirm payment using your Mobile Money PIN so have it handy.
The great thing about this platform is you get SMS notifications at every stage of the process. So here, you get SMS notifying you of completion of the stock purchase and highlights the amount. If it was not successful it means that you do not have adequate funds on your MM Account.

Step 3: Go to the pay bills sections and select YAKA or any other payment you would like to make.

Step 4: You enter your YAKA Meter number and then below enter the amount you intend to pay and click proceed.

Step 5: If you have adequate funds (10o,000 stock) + (3,000 MTN fees) you get an SMS alert showing you your receipt and token number to activate your top up as you would usually find on your Yaka Payment slip issued by PayWay. 

Step 6: You get a cash back for using the service, for YAKA it is 600. So can only be cashed and used if you are an agent.

Personally, the fact that I don’t need to use PayWay again is awesome so the cash back is just icing on the cake. The convenience, ease and user-friendly customer service support team that I called late at night (11:00 pm) on a weekend make this platform a must-have. A pal of mine, downloaded this App onto my phone and activated it for me with him as my agent and I whined the entire time but believe me I thanked him afterwards.

So this runs on Android based platforms but that did not stop me from telling my sister about it. Sadly, I am a few light years from her in tech terms so she kept saying, it is called what Chap sap, Sap sap…..

Saturday, 25 February 2017

The Mbale local council fraudsters.

As a business owner/ manager, I tend to deal with all sorts of issues and people from the farmer we source vegetables, to the district local council member. Allow me to discuss the latter group of local council officials whose office I personally choose to call an evil in itself.  

Now as the year kicked off, I asked my shop manager to follow up on the renewal of the trading license for my Mbale shop by end of week 1 of 2017. Sadly 4 days into the New Year before she could even get the process started, we had visitors from the Mbale municipal council. She was called off to the entrance of the Coffee shop to speak to a lady and gentleman who informed her they were there for shop inspection. When she agreed to let them go about looking at our premises they said they needed an inspection fee before they commenced.

Please note, as these two individuals asked for this inspection fee not one of them moved an inch towards the door even as the shop manager motioned them to the entrance so that she could show them around. I know this because I was sitting about 150 meters from them on a conference call. So the two officials then asked to see the owner and the manager walked towards me and waited for me to get off the phone. I paused my phone conversation and she brought me up to speed.  So I asked,

Me: "How much for inspection?’’

Shop manager: ‘’ 70,000.’’

Me: ‘’Ask them to provide identification and a letter of introduction stating that they are authorized to inspect at the given fee mentioned,’’ I said as I got back to my phone call.
The shop manager walked towards them and after a brief conversation, I saw her walk back towards me.

Shop manager: ‘’They say we will be fined for arguing and disrespecting officers from the municipal council.’’

Me: ‘’Asking for proper documentation is not a crime. Ask them to give me 5 minutes and I will come and take them around when their paper work is in order.’’
However, by the time she got to me I saw the lady and gentleman whisper to each other and before I could get up from my seat they had left the shop in such a rush they seemed to have been fleeing from a ghost.

Moral of the story, Ugandan officials in authority, why do we have to be so dishonest? Can we change the mentality and stereotype of what Uganda is? People in authority can we stop frustrating Ugandan owned and ran businesses because these are the businesses providing employment to other Ugandans who need and value their jobs.

Two weeks later after a great deal of back and forth by the shop manager between the municipal council office and the shop, we processed our trading license and certificate of and suitability of premises to prepare and serve food customers. 

Now here are a few pictures of the lovely shop that these people wanted to put out of business for a 70,000 bribe.

 This story has a happy ending, but it could have ended a whole other way with me paying the bribe, going back to council later and being told that my application had not been processed at all. Sadly, I did not get any names of these fraudsters so I could not follow up on this issue any further which greatly frustrates me because I detest Ugandans who continue to give professional people a bad name because of the vices that are ruining this society and country we live in. 

Think of our children, your children; are these are evils that you want them to deal with 10 years from now?

Thursday, 12 January 2017

The hustle of selling data in this Ugandan economy.

Given my profession as a marketer, manager, blogger, student and digital enthusiast, my circle of life is greatly driven by internet and data service. However, the dilemma is that it is extremely difficult to get a reliable provider at an affordable rate.

Vodafone is my current service provider, however, recently I went to DFCU Acacia branch for my usual weekly ATM withdrawal when I run into a Smile telecom agent with his assistant. The 2 agents set up a promo tent right next to the entrance of the bank. Ordinarily, I would have walked past this tent with not even a glance but this time there was a new and enthusiastic agent who was on a mission to sign me up for their service.

Smile Agent: ‘’Hello, could I interest you in a smile router?’’

Me: ‘’No thank you,’’ I politely responded.

Smile Agent: ‘’We have awesome packages both for office and personal use at affordable rates. You look like a good candidate for a weekend bundle package.’’

Me: ‘’No, I already have a provider and I have no complaints.’’

Smile Agent: ‘’Which provider?’’

Me: ‘’Vodafone.’’

Smile Agent: ‘’Well the thing is I have you ever tried Smile?’’

Me: ‘’Yes I have and I had an issue with your connection at home, frequent outages during peak (working) hours and an inconvenient recharge process.’’

Smile Agent: ‘’Wow, very detailed feedback. When did you last use our service?’’

Me: ‘’ A year and a half ago.’’

Smile Agent: ‘’Well that was a long time ago and our system has greatly improved since then. Also, Vodafone offers are too good to be true.’’

Me: ‘’Hahaha! Well I have no complaints.’’

Smile Agent: ‘’ Give me your number and I check whether your device is still active.’’
Me: ‘’Why would I do that?’’

Smile Agent: ‘’So that when they finally let you down you can come back home.’’

Me: ‘’Really! ‘’ I responded in shock mainly because of the underhand tactics being employed by this sales man.

Me: ‘’ So smile is home?’’

Smile Agent: ‘’Yes totally, take my number so that when that happens you can come back home.
That day I left the bank stunned at how cut throat the sales in the internet (data) service industry had become since I last worked for an advertising agency and was glad I did not have to hustle with the rest of these salesmen today.

I am still waiting to see when I can finally go back home since this chance meeting with this salesman 8 months ago.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

The MC who had more fun than the wedding guests.

In a bid to break my antisocial habits I made a decision to attend my cousin's wedding. Aside from this new resolution, it is also extremely difficult to dodge a wedding when your personal invite has been delivered to your workplace. However, at the end of the night, I was glad that I showed up because the MC really did make the night – all by himself. I experienced something I have not in a really long time, an MC who thoroughly enjoyed the wedding more than the guests and the bridal party.

I must note that the MC was not the only highlight of this wedding, there was this instance just after the cutting of the cake when the bride was scheduled to throw her bouquet (yes it was scheduled on the program), that he got every single bridesmaid and friend of the bride to come and take part.

MC: ‘’Hey, if you are single or he has not put a ring on it I expect to see you here.’’

The single ladies were a little shy and most did not respond to his calls to participate so he amped it up and resorted to calling out names.

MC: ‘’If you are single and you are not here, do not complain if this favour passes you by. This is a divine moment, your husband could be in this very place. Can I hear an Amen.’’
I was so amused I burst out in laughter only to see one of my aunties ahead of me turn and motion to me to go in front and join the group. I politely declined and unfortunately that would open me up to a whole other grilling session I would be a part of where I would have to explain why I had not declared my status to them as - dating. (Let me not digress)

As all this commotion was taking place, at the table right behind me there were ladies in their late 30’s and early 40’s who had been dancing the entire wedding and talking so loudly I would often hear them above the MC’s baritone.

Lady 1: ‘’Athieno, why aren’t you getting up to go in front?’’

Athieno: ‘’Because I am not single.’’

Lady 2: ‘’ No, but the MC did not say if you have a man hanging around you. He said if you don’t have a ring on your finger.’’

Athieno: ‘’But I am not searching.’’

Lady 1: ‘’No you are not but Oboth is clearly still searching. Do you see him around there, over there chatting with those younger ladies.’’

Athieno: ‘’Maybe they are his nieces.’’

Lady 2: ‘’ If my husband held his niece's handbag and hand like that he would not have any supper.’’

Athieno: ‘’Well me I am content, God will sort me out.’’

I could not help but snicker as I listened to them from my seat and watched this drama play out before me almost play like in this mix of a blend of a modern and traditional wedding setting.

MC: ‘’Okay time is up. Mugole (bride), we are going to count down from 5 – 1 and then you can close your eyes and throw the bouquet.

The crowd went wild into laughter as the last 3 girls shot out of their seats and run to join the group waiting to catch the bouquet.

MC: ‘’Wow, these ladies really want to meet Mr. Right and all the single brothers say……’’
The crowd shouted back in response, ‘’Amen.’’

MC: ‘’Single gentlemen and especially those in the groom’s party, I hope your eyes are open and you catch this vision. Okay, let’s count down 5, 4, 3, 2……..1.’’

When the bride closed her eyes and threw that bouquet I could not help but feel glad that it was a non-living thing. There was 1 lady from the group of 3 who had joined last that jumped so high that she mimicked a high jumper at the Olympics. She grabbed the tip of the bouquet as another lady grabbed a hold of it as she was descending mid-air. We all watched in shock as the Olympian nearly elbowed the other lady to a point she let go.

That squabble was not the least of the excitement with the most shocking part of the entire bouquet toss being during it. Now a word of advice to every young or middle aged lady going for a wedding. ‘Be mindful of what you are wearing.’

So the 20 something lady who won the bouquet toss was wearing a short and flimsy dress and had not thought through her actions before she decided to take part. She had jumped so high that due to the laws of gravity, her dress joined in the jump exposing her now not so private parts to the rest of the guests at the wedding.

I thought she would have been so embarrassed that she would have left the wedding celebration immediately but to my surprise, she fell to the ground into a squat with the bouquet and composed herself as the MC said.

‘’Wow, dear single brothers this is serious.’’

The rest of the crowd burst into laughter while a more senior lady held her mouth as she tried to recover from the shock of what they had just seen. The bouquet toss winner got up, laughed it off and walked off grinning from ear to ear with her prize.

What a wedding and who said weddings are boring?

Monday, 22 August 2016

My know it all classmate

As an adult, we are continuously plagued by the perils of professional education.  No one wants to do the work but we all want to benefit from the results of these new found insights that comes from studying a professional course. 

Not to digress, I was recently at Uganda Management Institute for my Saturday morning class for one of my final papers for my course.  Sadly, I was the only student in class that day with my tutor for close to an hour before anyone else arrived. Then in walked a middle-aged gentleman who asked;

Student 1: ‘’Is John around?’’ he asked he pointed at the tutor’s laptop which was open at the head of the long table.

Me: ‘’Yes he is,’’ I responded as I looked up.

 Student 1: ‘’Where is he?’’

Me: ‘’He stepped out to go and get some airtime.’’

Student 1: ‘’Are you on a break?’’

Me: ‘’Yes,’’ I said as I went back to my crunchy pack of cookies.

The tutor returned after a brief while and found us seated across from each other on either side of our long class table and after glancing at our new addition to the class he asked;

Tutor: ‘’Jim, where is your material for class? Where is your laptop, notebook, pen and flash disk?’’

Student 1: ‘’I have it with me.’’

Tutor: ‘’Where is it? I do not see a laptop.’’

Student 1: ‘’I do not need a laptop, all I need is,’’ he said as he tapped his forehead and I allowed a chuckle to escape under my breath.

Tutor: ‘’Okay, well will that capture your assignment? The assignment for your December sitting is out, give me a flash disk.’’

With a grin on my face, I watched the gentleman dig deep into his pockets and fish out a flash disk which he passed on to the tutor.

Tutor: ‘’So why did you come to class, ….now how are you going to view what am giving you as we read through the assignment.’’

Student 1: ‘’………,’’ he paused for a while as silent as a bat before responding, ‘’I was on my way somewhere when you called me so I came to class.

Tutor: ‘’So you did not receive the class timetable?’’

Student 1: ‘’Yes I did but I did not expect you to come to class for the first lecture.’’

As he spoke these words the other 2 members of our class snuck in behind the tutor as he faced the soft board. When he faced the class again, he saw 4 instead of 2 faces and said;

Tutor: ‘’Eh, we keep multiplying.’’

Student 2: ‘’Yes, we were not sure you would be coming to teach today.’’

Tutor: ‘’Yes, this is level 7 so there are no games. So did you also bring just your heads? Where are your class items, study material?’’

Student 2 & 3: ‘’……’’ There was dead silence as the students looked on stunned. Jim and I could not help but laugh because we were the only ones who could understand this joke.

The moral of the story is if you are going to show up, own it and make sure you are not simply physically present.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Lovers quarrel at the sauna

After a long trip to and from the Eastern region, I decided to treat myself to much-needed sauna session at Paradise gym  to relieve myself of some of the fatigue that comes with driving a long distance. I had not had one in 6 months so I thought I deserved it enough especially since I could do with the quiet time to reflect. 

Anyway, enough about me, so I checked in at the front desk and after 1 session I came out to decompress and saw a young couple in their late 20’s and I thought to myself, how cute. I quickly forgot about the 2 love birds and went in for my second session only for them to follow me in and for my flowery impression of them to quickly dissipate.

Lady: ‘’I want to buy a watch so could you call the other guy who had the 2 cute white watches? After the gu thief grabbed my watch I need to replace it.’’

I sat there as I closed my eyes and had no choice but to take in their conversation that seemed very innocent but suddenly took a sour turn.

Gentleman: ‘’So do you have money to buy the watch?’’ he asked.

There was a long drawn out minute of silence with no word spoken from either party until the young lady broke the silence.

Lady: ‘’So you think that your girlfriend can not afford to buy herself a watch?’’ she responded spitefully.

Gentleman: ‘’I only asked, whether you have money to buy the watch if you recall I bought the last one.’’

Lady: ‘’Which one, mine or Shakila’s? You remember that there were only 2 pieces of the same design and I bought one the other you bought her.’’

Gentleman: ‘’Stop talking nonsense!’’

Lady: ‘’Hm, should I show you the picture she sent you on WhatsApp showing you how lovely it looked on her arm?’’

Gentleman: ‘’Where did you see that?’’

Lady: ‘’On your phone. We could go out, get the phone and I show you where I saw it. Are you denying it?’’

Gentleman: ‘’Who gave you the right to check my phone?’’

Lady: ‘’Are you denying it?’’

Gentleman: ‘’Are you idle, or don’t you have anything to do?’’

Lady: ‘’Are you also, are you so idle enough to be fooling around with Shakila.

At the sound of that, my eyes burst open as I could not block out this conversation that had quickly turned into a lovers quarrel. The gentleman stormed out of the sauna into the sitting area and I believe that even though the young lady had made her point to her beau, she had crossed a line. The young lady followed him a few minutes later and even though I found her sitting next to him when I noticed that he was definitely giving her the silent treatment. She tried to engage him so that she could break the ice but he was clearly engrossed in his mobile phone and given how tense the situation was I preferred to go back for my third session. When I returned from it the love birds were gone.

The moral of the story for me was, even when you have all the ammunition and are the offended party, learn that there is a time and a place to bring up such torrid details and a public area is not the place. If only that gorgeous white watch knew how much drama it had caused, it would have never run off with that petty thief that snatched it. :-) :-)

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Double Star Hotel Mbale that became a Single Star

During my recent travel to Mbale, I stayed at the double star hotel for a couple of nights. Now whereas the first night was decent, the nights that followed were very uncomfortable and constituted very odd conversations with the lady at the reception with the most peculiar taking place on night 2. I returned to the hotel after a long and tiring day and found that the lady at the reception had made an error and given away my perfectly lovely room to a new customer.

Me: ‘’Hello, can I please check into my room?’’

Reception Lady: ‘’Eh, you have come back!’’

Me: ‘’Yes, when I checked out for the room to be cleaned this morning I told your other counterpart I would be coming back.’’

Reception Lady: ‘’No, you did not communicate so we gave it away.’’

Me: ‘’Fine, give me another room at the same rate.’’

Reception Lady: ‘’I only have 1, room C305.’’

Me: ‘’Okay, fine.’’
I carried my luggage upstairs and sat down to do some work for an hour or so after which I decided to charge my laptop only to realise that none of the sockets were working. 

I tried to turn on the TV and realised that socket too was not working. I went into the bathroom to turn on the heater and yes you can guess it was not working as well. In frustration at about11:30pm, I went down 3 flights of stairs to ask to be moved to a new room.

Me: ‘’Hello, me again. Can you move me to another room, I need to charge my gadgets (mobile phone and laptop) but the sockets are not working and neither is the heater.

Reception Lady: ‘’That is the only room I have available at that rate, can I give you another room at 7,000 extra?’’

Me: ‘’No, fine I will bear with it, ‘’ I said in response as I walked away very disappointed.

I continued to work for 30 minutes longer and then went to try and take a bath with cold water that I had mentally prepared myself to stomach. Sadly, when I stepped into the bathroom to shower the faucet for the tap for the shower was off and it did not work and the sink did not have any running water either. That was the final straw for me, I packed my luggage and carried it downstairs the 3 flights of stairs.

Me: ‘’Can I be moved to another room at the same rate now?’’

Reception Lady: ‘’Did you use the room?’’

Me: ‘’Of course I used it I have been in it for 2 and a half hours.’’

Reception Lady: ‘’Yes, but did you use the bathroom to shower or the bed?’’

Me: ‘’I sat on the bed to work but I have not showered in the bathroom,’’ I said although this was the oddest question I have ever been asked during my hotel stay for all my travel.

Me: ‘’No I have not yet showered.’’

Reception Lady: ‘’Eh after 2hours in it.’’

Me: ‘’Yes, after 2 hours. I was working.’’

Reception Lady: ‘’Okay, so I move you to the other room and you pay extra?’’

Me: ‘’I am not paying extra for a mistake you made by forgetting that I was coming to stay here for an extra night.’’

Reception Lady: ‘’But the only rooms I have left are doubles.’’

Me: ‘’Madam either get me a room with running water and sockets that work or refund my money and I check out and find another place to sleep for the night.’’
Now as I said this I was well aware that it was midnight and this lady probably thought I was half mad but I was not bluffing.

Reception Lady: ‘’Okay take A102, it has 2 beds but only use one. Make sure you only use one and I will talk to the manager in the morning so that you pay the same rate.

Me: ‘’Fine, I said as I carried my luggage back 2 flights of stairs to the 2nd floor and went to shower.

As much as I have constantly passed through Mbale on the way to other destinations, I finally have a memorable reminder of my travel as a local tourist within my country.  But on a serious note, people who come from Mbale how would I possibly be able to sleep I 2 beds?

Ariel shot from hotel roof

Ariel shot of near by bar