Monday, April 30, 2007

Feeding patients Bacteria for Better Health

[Nairobi, Kenya]
MOST people who know me all too well can attest that I am a health freak. Well, what do you expect? I was raised by 4 strong-minded women (grandmother, aunt, mother, stepmother) when I grew up in Barbados, Canada and the USA. Heck, they were always cleaning, and I had regular chores (vacuuming, doing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, etc.) to do around the house. It wasn't that bad though. Now, I kind of like doing dishes. To me, it's very therapeutic. Go figure!

Prevention: the secret to good health
Furthermore, I like to take care of myself by going to the gym, rollerblading, playing pick-up basketball, running or any other enjoyable form of exercising.
My motto when it comes to health is "pay me now or pay me later." In other words, I prefer to exercise, eat healthy, etc. in order to prevent or delay health problems. Why? Because I absolutely hate hospitals and the toxic drugs that doctors like to push on their unsuspecting patients - usually at the request of unscrupulous drug companies.

I figure that if I take preventive measures today (pay now), then I shouldn't expect any nasty
surprises in the future (pay later). Right? Anyhow, the following Wired article brought back some wonderful memories because I have fed my body probiotics (good bacteria) after undergoing a colon hydrotherapy courtesy of an amazing Naturopathic Doctor in Canada. In short, it's an excellent remedy for detoxing your body of years of unwanted, undigested stuff, which means that your body will be thanking you for years to come.

Here's some good food for thought courtesy of the above link:

Modern humans are bacteria-killing machines. We assassinate microbes with hand soap, mouthwash and bathroom cleaners. It feels clean and right.

But some scientists say we're overdoing it. All this killing may actually cause diseases like eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and even diabetes. The answer, they say, is counterintuitive: Feed patients bacteria.

"Probiotics (pills containing bacteria) have resulted in complete elimination of eczema in 80 percent of the people we've treated," says Dr. Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr., a practicing physician and former member of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy. Pizzorno says he's used probiotics to treat irritable bowel disease, acne and even premenstrual syndrome. "It's unusual for me to see a patient with a chronic disease that doesn't respond to probiotics."

Clinical trial data on probiotics is incomplete, but there are many indications that hacking the body's bacteria is beneficial. {source}

As you can see, we're able to control our health to a certain degree if we take prevention seriously. Probiotics, if used wisely, can provide your body with a resilient health insurance package if you get with the program today. And try to remember this quote by Dr. Tim O'Shea who happens to be my favourite Naturopathic Doctor on the planet:
How do the friendly bacteria, called probiotics, keep the bad bacteria in check? Well, think of a crowded theatre. You walk in, and there's no place to sit; all the seats are taken. So you can't stay. Same thing with bacteria. There's only a certain number of "seats" in the colon. If they're all taken by friendly bacteria, then there's no chance for the bad bacteria to set up shop and start to duplicate themselves. According to most researchers, like Simon Martin, normal probiotics should be more numerous than the cells of the intestinal lining itself.

Here's why probiotics are so important. Normal people generally have some cancer cells, Candida yeast, E. coli, staphylococcus, strep, and any number of other potentially bad organisms you can think of in their tract most of the time. But they don't get any disease. Researchers know, for example, that 50% of men over age 75 actually have prostate cancer, found on autopsy, but only 2% die from it. Why? The body encapsulated the cancer: limited and controlled its growth, walled it off. The discoverer of the HIV virus himself, Dr. Luc Montagnier, said that HIV alone cannot cause AIDS. (The Coming Plague) Depressed immune environment is also necessary. Same with Candida or most other bacteria; normally they'll be held in check by sufficient friendly bacteria. E. coli is actually a probiotic when held in check by normal friendly flora. It's only when the friendly probiotic bacteria get killed off that the potentially bad organisms get a chance to get a foothold and take over. The bad bugs are then called opportunists.

So probiotics (friendly bacteria) are extremely important. The whole key is balance. Problem is, our friendly bacteria are constantly being killed off. How? Same culprits as cited in the ALLERGIES chapter: {source: Journey to the Center of Your Colon }
Here's to your good health.

Related links:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Business Opportunities in Africa 2

[Nairobi, Kenya]
THE TIME is now to get the show on the road here at Go Africa go! By now, you know that Africa is the place to be since business is booming. Right? Well, what's holding you back? It's time for you, fellow citizen, to pull your socks up and get that business you've been talking about started. Now! What, you have no ideas on what to start?

Okay, then try this idea out - courtesy of Yahoo's amazing small business portal. Heck, there's more information here than you can shake a stick at. Go Yahoo go!
Do My Stuff and Get Paid
By Sarah Pierce -

Who: Darren Berkovitz, 23; Omri Cohen, 24; Stacy Stubblefield, 25; David Gonen, 26
What:, an online marketplace that outsources chores, errands, projects and other tasks to local help
Where: Beverly Hills, California

Like most people, Darren Berkovitz and his partners were experiencing a common dilemma: too much to do and not enough time to do it. They did, however, find the time to create a solution. The result is, an online community where busy people can quickly find assistants to handle their errands and tasks. "Outsourcing is a huge buzzword right now," says Berkovitz, who owns an internet incubating company with Omri Cohen, Stacy Stubblefield and David Gonen that outsources projects to other businesses. "We thought, we outsource so many things, why not outsource our daily tasks?" {source}

Well, have you decided what business you're gonna start in order to take advantage of the booming economy right in your back yard? No more procrastinating. Okay? :-)

Your thoughts?
Please don't hesitate to leave a comment here. I'm curious to know what you're thinking with regards to starting a business here in Africa. Who knows? Maybe I'll be able to provide you with some quick tips or advise.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Web Forum Watch: issue 1

[Nairobi, Kenya]
I FIND the Internet fascinating as hell. Why? Because you're able to quickly get an idea of what its tech-savvy population is thinking, simply by peeking web discussion forums regarding a multitude of topics. You just can't get that on the idiot box (oops, I mean TV).

Go Mambogani go!
Today, I want to share with you a few web forums that I was peeking. The site I chose was Mambogani.
Here's a description of the site if you happen to browse one of their pages: "Mambogani Kenyan Portal - Forums, News, Chat, Kenyan Music Videos, Blogs, Photos, Kenya Business Directory, Free Kenya Classifieds." If you're looking to peek their excellent forums, just go here:

The good stuff
Anyhow, the following forum topics really piqued my interest, and I'm grateful to those peeps over there who created said discussion threads. After all, knowledge is power. Right?
If you run across any interesting discussion forums, please send me the links. I just might include them in an upcoming Web Forum Watch issue.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Cotton: World's Most Toxic Crop

[Nairobi, Kenya]
THEY SAY humans are the most intelligent creatures on the planet. Perhaps so. What's shocking, though, is how the majority of the world's population allow certain toxic industries to flourish. I'm talking about industries that pollute our fragile environment every day -- especially when greener alternatives exist. You need an example? Cotton farming. Hemp could replace this crop while making our world a cleaner, more livable place over night.

I will leave you with this article (see Google cache) below, courtesy of the Washington Free Press, which is a "bi-monthly newspaper from Seattle highlighting labor and environmental issues. Emphasis on local issues, with some national and world-wide news." It's based in the beautiful state of Washington (USA.), which is located in the Pacific NorthWest -- a region with tons of avid green citizens who love the outdoors. Cities such as Portland, Beaverton, Vancouver, Seattle, Olympia and Tacoma are located here. By the way, don't forget to take a peek at an earlier Go Africa go! blog post I wrote last month in Tanzania: Hemp Farming in Africa: A Billion Dollar Industry? After you read it, prepare to be very angry. You'll also realize that Africa could be raking in billions of dollars simply by growing hemp.

Dude, why're you wearing that shirt?

Cotton: World's Most Toxic Crop
by Organic Consumers' Association
Cotton is the most toxic crop on the planet. While only three percent of the world's farming acreage is cotton, these crops are sprayed with up to 25 percent of the world's pesticides and herbicides, including some of the most toxic ones, such as aldicarb. And of course cotton is present in many other consumer products besides garments--food products, tampons, bandages, baby diapers, mattresses, bed linen, etc.

According to, "the simple act of growing and harvesting the one pound of cotton fiber needed to make a T-shirt takes an enormous toll on the air, water, and soil, not to mention the health of people in cotton growing areas. The cotton grown for just one T-shirt requires a third of a pound of agricultural chemicals."

Moreover, some 60 percent of a cotton crop, by weight, enters the food chain in the form of cottonseed oil which is used widely in processed foods, and as cottonseed feed for cows, ending up in meat and dairy products. The pesticide residues from these cottonseeds concentrate in the fatty tissues of these animals, and in turn are passed on in meat and dairy products to consumers.

Genetically engineered (GE) cotton is another problem. Playing on concerns about pesticides, Monsanto has pushed GE cottonseeds onto the market in more than a half-dozen countries as the "green alternative" for cotton growers. In terms of human health hazards, herbicide-resistant GE cotton plants--and their oil and seed derivatives--contain foreign proteins, bacteria, viral promoters, and antibiotic resistant genes--food ingredients that humans have never eaten before. These GE plants and their derivatives are unlabeled and untested for hazards to human health and the environment. Over ten million acres of genetically engineered cotton are now being grown across the US. These cotton plants are gene-spliced so that the cotton plant emits its own pesticide, or else the plant is genetically engineered to be able to survive mega-doses of powerful pesticides.

Biotech cotton is a mortal threat to organic cotton farming, the real "no pesticide" alternative. This threat is two-fold. First of all, it is a source of genetic pollution (like GE corn or canola), spreading its altered DNA. Even worse, it is slowly but steadily building up resistance among cotton pests, creating the preconditions for cotton superpests to arise.

Don't forget to post a comment. Tell us what you think.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Using mobile phone network for security

[Nairobi, Kenya]
WITHOUT a doubt, there are tons of security companies here in Africa protecting the fortunes of the wealthy. Now, I wonder if this blog post over at Engadget will make a light bulb go off inside the heads of some security executives in the vicinity. What if surveillance cameras were able to beam images of a customer's property that's supposed to be under surveillance to their cell phones for peace of mind? This would use mobile network technology such as HSPDA or EV-DO. Unfortunately, Safaricom and Celtel are still in the EDGE/GPRS era so it won't work over here. Boo to them. However, you just might be able to pull it off with Zantel (EV-DO) or Vodacom (HSPDA) in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) -- assuming they have the capacity in their network infrastructures.

By the way, it's amazing how cheap cell phone rates are in TZ. Could this simply be due to real competition? I think so. Let's see. You have Zantel, Vodacom, TiGo, and Celtel over there. Did I forget someone? Now, here in Kenya, Safaricom and Telkom Wireless have Telkom Kenya as their parent. What's got me puzzled is that Celtel seems like they're asleep at the wheel. I don't know, but something just doesn't feel right. You see, I once saw a TiGo advertisement in Dar es Salaam bragging about TSh 1 per minute rates. Fat chance of getting that kind of rate over here. :-) Hopefully CCK will make it easier for new competitors to enter this expensive (and very lucrative) mobile phone operator market.

Free powerful Intranet software with XAMPP

[Nairobi, Kenya]
I'M BULLISH on Intranets as the foundation in which to deliver all sorts of powerful web-based applications (accounting, customer service, ERP, HRM, asset management, eLearning, etc.) for any organization (SMEs, NGOs, government, large companies, educational institutions, etc.) that's looking to save big dollars on their IT budgets. What's amazing is that this software can be obtained for free. All that you require is a decent PC (about 512 MB of RAM, P3 or higher processor, a network card, and a fast hard disk) running Windows (preferably 2000/2003 Server) or Linux (also free), and then the fun begins.

Next up, you need to install a web server (Apache is free) running PHP (also free), and an RDBMS (Relational Database Management System) like the ever-popular MySQL or PostgreSQL, which is hailed as the world's most powerful open source database manager. Oh, both of these apps are free too. Isn't this amazing? Heck, a few years ago, this entire setup would've been very expensive if you had to pay for all the software.

XAMPP to the rescue

Now, setting up Apache, PHP and a database manager on your Linux
or Windows PC was not always a pleasurable task. But that was the past. Thanks to the IT gurus from Apache Friends and their free XAMPP (LinuX, Apache, MySQL, PHP/PERL) executable download, any one can set up a powerful Intranet server. And you don't have to know "jack squat" about configuring or installing all of these separate applications. Trust me. This is a huge time saver. By the way, here's the latest set of goodies that you get when you download XAMPP. This is from the email I just received from Kai Seidler of Apache Friends:
New XAMPP version for Linux and Windows

After two months of hard work we are proud to announce a new release of XAMPP
for Windows and Linux. New in both releases of XAMPP are MySQL (5.0.37), PHP
(4.4.6), phpMyAdmin (, and OpenSSL (0.9.8e). The Windows version also
contains up-to-date versions of: FileZilla FTP Server (0.9.23), ADOdb (4.94),
and Zend Optimizer (3.2.4).

With XAMPP 1.6.1 we tried to make the Windows version ready for Vista. The
beta tests were very successful and most people reported a very smooth XAMPP
under Vista but there were also people having still problems. Please get in
touch with me if you also encounter problems on Vista. Currently please avoid
installing XAMPP into the Program files folder.
One other thing. When you install XAMPP on your Windows machine, it doesn't mess around with your registry or any of that silly nonsense. Kai and his friends truly pay attention to detail without annoying users.

The main benefit of running an Intranet throughout your organization is simplicity. There's no doubt in my mind that the web browser has become the universal GUI (graphical user interface). Furthermore, system administrators don't have to worry about configuring desktop applications for every user. Instead, you simply update the web-based software on the application server. This now becomes your company's most important IT asset. That's why I think it's wise to spend a bit more money on this machine so that everyone gets a nice quick response in their web browsers. One other thing. Your network infrastructure is very important because everything's running over the TCP/IP (http, https. ftp, smtp, etc.) stack, which is the universal transmission standard for all Internet/Intranet data traffic.

I strongly believe that XAMPP will make have a huge impact on the bottom line for any organization in Africa looking to streamline it's IT operations. That's why it makes a great Go Africa go! story. Why? Because key business applications are running safe and secure on a locked-down server. Hence, end users simply have to point their web browsers to the appropriate internal IP address in order to get down to business. How much simpler do you want it? The other side benefit of this solution is that scalability is easy as pie since you simply spend a little more money on hardware (faster processors/network/hard disks, more RAM, etc. ) in order to improve performance as more users (browsers) come aboard. In the past, programmers would have to re-write the application in order to improve scalability. This is way more expensive as opposed to throwing money at hardware. Got it? :-)

Happy computing!

Related links:

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Coming soon to Go Africa go

[Nairobi, Kenya]WELL, I've got tons of stuff to write about right here on the Go Africa go! weblog, so keep an eye out for some regular posts that highlights something positive about Africa. Or that fits in well with the site's theme. Here are some ideas running through my head.
  • Best cyber cafes in Africa (or maybe Cyber cafe of the Week)
  • Communications spotlight (a look at an ISP or mobile operator making a difference)
  • Women on move (a tribute to African women who are getting things done)
  • Small business success story of the week (maybe month)
  • Movers & Shakers (a look at someone in politics who's making a real difference for their community...maybe!)
  • Artist/Performer of the week (month)
  • Faces of Africa (showcasing beautiful African women with that natural everyday "girl next door" look)
  • Mobile phone review (if possible...since this is main mode of communications)
  • Education Watch (a profile of a school, training facility, etc. that's making a difference for its students)
  • Night life spot of the week (maybe month)
  • City (or country) on the Move (a look at a city or country that's making the right moves)
  • Great finds (unique businesses that offer excellent products or services that myself or a reader have stumbled upon)
  • Places to go (a look at destinations and sites to visit)
  • and much, much have any ideas?
Well, what do you think? If you have a suggestion for a re-occurring blog topic, please post a comment here. I'm hopoing that said topics will keep readers coming back for more good stuff.

Microsoft offers $3 software for developing world

[Nairobi, Kenya]
GREAT NEWS for Africa. Microsoft is about to steal some thunder from Linux by offering some of its crown jewels (Windows, Office, etc.) for a paltry $3 to developing nations, and needy people right in their own back yard (USA). I really don't what to make of this. Well, I do.

The rise of Linux & software pirates
You see, Linux (see pics of Tux the Linux mascot on this page) is a free open source operating system that's been making a lot of noise in developing nations since it doesn't require a serial number or activation code to install. In essence, it's FREE - like air. You can copy it as much as you like without worrying about the "pirate police" from the Software Publishers Association (now renamed the SIIA) showing up at your company's front door looking to throw the book (and a huge fine) at you. In addition, commercial pirates in places like Asia (Thailand, China, Hong Kong, India) make illegal copies of Windows for resale, but you'd never know the damn CD with your new computer was a fake. This was (is) costing Microsoft hundreds of millions of dollars in lost sales.By the way, you can see what Linux and the open source movement is all about from some of my old posts on my Max The IT pro weblog.
My kingdom for $3
What can I say? My hats off to Microsoft for finally seeing the light. Let's face it. The writing was on the wall once Linux entered the lime light. And it didn't help that Windows had a reputation as being buggy and virus-prone. Only naive software executives believed that Linux was just a fad. Not so. Anyhow, here's the scoop on $3 deal:
In an effort to expand its global reach in computing, Microsoft plans to offer a stripped-down version of Windows, Office and other software for $3 to people in developing nations.

The program, which is being announced in Beijing Thursday by the Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates, represents an ambitious expansion of efforts to introduce products to those who have lacked access to personal computers, especially in developing nations.

While these countries have a growing appetite for technology as a means to spur growth and raise living standards, they also have very limited budgets. Some governments have encouraged alternatives to Microsoft's Windows, notably Linux, a free operating system.

The Microsoft push comes as a nonprofit project, One Laptop per Child, plans this year to start producing machines priced at about $150 — with a goal of reaching $100 — that will run a version of Linux. Several countries, including Argentina, Brazil and Nigeria, have made tentative commitments to distribute the laptops to millions of schoolchildren.

Microsoft has offered discounted versions of Windows selectively in the past, to a few developing nations like Malaysia and Thailand, priced at $30 or less. But the new program, called Microsoft Unlimited Potential, goes further with more software and deeper price cuts and extends to all developing nations, said Microsoft's senior vice president for emerging markets, Orlando Ayala. {source}

Again, this is an excellent Go Africa go! story because access to quality, low cost ICT software is necessary in order for developing nations to move up to the next level. It would also help if countries like the US and those in the European Union stop protecting their farmers with huge subsidies that are unfair to food exporters here in Africa. But that's another story. Right? :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Watch out for the US dollar

[Nairobi, Kenya]
ONE THING that businesses in Africa have to be weary about is the state of the US dollar. Why? Because a lot of transactions (tourism, import/export, etc.) are conducted in said currency. There's an old wise saying in business: "Buyer beware." Well, I feel this saying is soon going to take on greater significance as the US dollar continues to lose ground to other major currencies: "Hey, can you pay me in Euros?" :-) What, you think I'm kidding around? Well, take a peek at this.
The dollar hit a 26-year low against the British pound and neared an all-time trough versus the euro on Wednesday as expectations of U.S. rate cuts contrasted with prospects for more monetary tightening in other countries.

The dollar was down across the board, hitting a 22-year low versus the New Zealand dollar on Wednesday and holding near Tuesday's 17-year low against the Australian dollar.

The fall in the dollar was exacerbated by below-forecast U.S. core consumer prices for March released on Tuesday. The U.S. data contrasted sharply with a jump in UK consumer prices that stoked expectations for a rate hike, driving sterling above $2 for the first time since 1992 when Britain was forced to exit the Exchange Rate Mechanism, and then higher still to levels last seen in 1981. {source: Dollar takes pounding, 26-year low}

Signs everywhere
Look at it this way. China and India are 2 economies that are booming due to their exports to the US. This means more US dollars are leaving the US, which also means that more of said currency is held in other countries where it was not originally printed. So now, who do you think has more influence over the US dollar...Americans or outsiders? Okay, here's some more food for thought on why the US dollar is going to the dust bin.
So people cast doubt on the "dollar-devaluation" theory. They found that the root cause behind the sharp rise of US trade deficits was not the greenback's high exchange rate, but the extremely low bank savings rate of Americans who excessively spend future money on current consumption. The comparatively weak demand for US goods in some sectors of the world market is also to blame. {source: RMB no scapegoat for US woes}
Oh, don't forget about that huge national US debt which is now hovering close to $9 Trillion. Yes, I said TRILLION. Furthermore, with more manufacturing jobs moving over to Asia, this means that a lot of good income paying jobs are being lost only to be replaced by low-paying, service-oriented jobs.In closing, my advise to African businesses is to start looking for an alternative currency to replace the US dollar when dealing with foreign transactions. Heck, don't be afraid to ask if you can be paid in Euros, Swiss Francs, or British Pounds. Why should your business suffer just because American politicians have mismanaged the US economy. :-)

Here's hoping to a very profitable future for all businesses throughout Africa.

Related links:

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Business opportunities in Africa 1

[Nairobi, Kenya]
ONE THING that's exciting about being in Africa is that you get a bird's eye view of the plethora of business opportunities that exists right now. It just boggles the mind. Anyhow, I was just reading an interesting article over at the International Herald Tribune, which is one of my favourite news site on the planet. This is probably due to the well-written, objective articles that are published over there.

Retirement homes in Africa?
Why the heck not? If you're into real estate or the health care industry, I would suggest you take a serious look at the lucrative field of retirement nursing homes. Take a peek at this:

Old age in Europe is not what it used to be. Traditionally, Spanish seniors like Feliz had few alternatives. They stayed with their family, or those who were utterly alone would check into hospital-like residences run by nuns. But now, adult children with demanding jobs are less inclined or able to care for parents, even in Mediterranean countries with tight-knit families. Seniors themselves are demanding more independence in the lengthening, post-retirement stage of life.

In Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark only 1 of 25 elderly people lives with their offspring, according to a 2006 report on long-term care by the European Commission and the American Association of Retired Persons.

Meanwhile, demographics are shifting: By 2050, people over 65 are forecast to make up one-third of the EU population, a jump from 16.5 percent today. As the old safety nets erode, European states are searching for formulas to reduce health care and retirement costs in the face of strong demand for services. {source}

Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that labour, property (land, construction), and food costs are considerably less in Africa compared to expensive Europe. In addition, retirement homes over there (Spain too) aren't able to offer their customers scenic tours (to see exotic animals, landscapes, mountains, etc.) to some of the best tourist attractions on the planet. Right? In other words, this industry has huge upside potential. Any takers? :-) By the way, my mother works for Central Park Lodges in Ottawa, Canada. Incidentally, they have been aggressively buying out smaller retirement nursing homes over the past 10 years throughout Canada and the USA. She has been with Beacon Hill Lodge since the mid 1970s, but they became a buyout target around 2000 or so.

Happy investing!