Why Voice Search Should be a Top SEO Priority

Internet users, until now, used to simply type anything that they needed to find through the search engine bar. These words are described as keywords or search phrases. Usually, these keywords are not types in complete sentences. Take, for example, the search ‘Italian restaurant NYC’ rather than typing in ‘I need an Italian restaurant in NYC’.

The keyword basically is an Italian restaurant NYC which in itself does not make complete sense. Google is intelligent — it takes the gist of it and then provides users with results that closely relate to the search.

Since speaking into a phone is much easier than typing, people are now turning to voice search to find information, especially local information. For example, saying ‘I need an Italian restaurant in NYC’ will bring up local options. You should focus on voice search, as its popularity is greatly increasing.

What is SEO today?

SEO is the practice of performing on-site and off-site strategies designed to help rank for specific keywords and search phrases. Take for example the website of any Italian restaurant in NYC — they would show up high in the results when someone searched for ‘Italian restaurant NYC’ on Google.

“It’s important to also understand that SEO involves providing the visitor with a pleasant experience,” says Darryl Howard of Boca Raton Med Spa. “You need content on your website that visitors can engage with, and you need your website to be mobile-friendly, allowing all visitors, regardless of their browsing device, to navigate effortlessly.”

SEO has advanced over the years, and it’s really important to focus on the consumer, and now with voice search becoming more important because of its convenience, it’s time to focus on this component.

How does voice search impact SEO?

It is no secret that voice search will revolutionize the way that content will be written. Since most people will now be speaking more, rather than typing, keyword phrases are going to be longer. Take for example, ‘I need an Italian restaurant in NYC’ — it is exactly the content that will be required to optimize for, rather than just targeting ‘Italian restaurant NYC’.

“Content quality has become more of a focus over the years,” says Dana VanDeCar, COO of Optimally Organic. “Back in the day, content and keywords were targeted that wasn’t natural, because the language types into a search bar was brief and not human-level. Now, with voice, searches are much more detailed.”

Publishing quality content that is focused around the user is always the best practice, and now websites with high authority are going to benefit even more. Voice searches will begin to trigger the content that was written naturally, as it now relates more to the type of searches that come via voice.

Keyword phrases are now more specific.

With the help of voice search, keyword phrases are going to become more specific. People are likely to speak specific details when they search for something by voice. Take, for example, a person may say ‘I need an Italian restaurant in NYC with a cozy atmosphere and seafood’.

The websites that have content which identifies them as Italian restaurants in NYC which particularly serve seafood having a cozy atmosphere will actually be ranked much higher and shown in the results. “In-depth content is now going to benefit websites even more, and those that adapted to long-form content previously are going to benefit greatly,” suggests Luqman Khan, Founder of Wireloo, a websites that just announced the best fitness tracking watch.

It’s not if — it’s when.

Content needs to include clear and short statements. SEO will soon be based on what people would say when they are searching for a particular thing by voice. “Content needs to cater to what people actually say when they are trying to find something online,” says Jake Braun of ChopperExchange, a website that features tips to sell your Harley.

This is not something that may happen or that some experts are predicting. If you look at any of the recent mobile-usage surveys, you will see that mobile use is climbing and voice search is being used more in everyday lives, thanks in part to devices like Amazon Alexa.

4 Reasons An Entrepreneur Should Hire A Life Coach

The day you decide to launch a business and tackle the journey of becoming an entrepreneur can be filled with lots of excitement. Many individuals who venture down this path do so because they no longer want to have to answer to a boss and they want to see their ideas come to fruition. Yet most who are overwhelmed with enthusiasm don’t recognize all of the challenges and responsibility that come with this choice.

Launching and running a business is a lot of work. Because you will need to overcome many obstacles and adversity, the path you are on is going to force you to grow and become a better version of yourself. This is why it can be very beneficial to hire a life coach.

A life coach is someone who can help you stay focused, remain organized, and can support you when many tough decisions come your way. Here are four more reasons for having a coach on your side:

1. Create A Balanced Life

All too often, when people jump down the rabbit hole of becoming an entrepreneur they find that their life gets out of balance. When this happens, it is quite easy to become unhappy and depressed.

While working twelve hour days can be common, it’s important to keep your life in balance so that you don’t feel bitter or resentful towards your dream. A life coach is someone who can help keep you honest when they see that you may be out of balance.

2. Less Stress & Anxiety

Having someone who can support you when things get hard is essential so that you don’t feel stressed out all the time. Your coach is going to provide you time every week where you can pause and reflect on what is happening right now in your life.

During this time, not only can you vent so that it does not stay bottled up inside, your coach will be able to help you put it into perspective so that you can get back to the task at hand and feel better about it helping to relieve any stress or anxiety it may have brought on.

3. Overcome Fears

Running your own business is going to challenge you so much that it will literally bring up every fear you have about yourself. When this happens, it can be very helpful to have someone to work with your through them so that they don’t get the best of you.

4. Be More Productive

Becoming successful as an entrepreneur is all about making the most of your time. From when you get up until you go to sleep you are going to need to squeeze out high productivity from each minute.

Working with a life coach will help you organize your time in a way to ensure that you are being as productive as humanly possible.

Fine Tuning Entrepreneurship Over Seas

“Music education opens doors that help children pass from school into the world around them a world of work, culture, intellectual activity, and human involvement. The future of our nation depends on providing our children with a complete education that includes music.”  –Gerald Ford

Across the world, children are reaping the benefits of the enriched education that music can provide. A musical education has been linked to breakthroughs in language development, higher IQs, growth in neural activities and in creative development. Children who grow up in introspective, musical environments benefit from a greater sense of self. Children learn to honor the process of learning and to bring an artful consciousness in all that they do, see and become.

For entrepreneur, Candace Chen, gaining a musical education was instrumental (no pun intended) to her success. Candace and her family left Taiwan when she was only three years old. Raised on a close to minimum wage salary, Candace’s single mother pushed her to work hard in school and supported her in her pursuit of learning how to play musical instruments. A classically trained musician, Chen played as a Pianist for 13 years, a violinist for 10 years, later becoming a self-taught guitar and ukulele player as well. She later went on to teach violin and piano to help offset the cost of college. This upbringing ultimately led to Chen’s MIT acceptance, where she obtained a degree in Mechanical Engineering, a milestone she considers to be her greatest achievement. Candace’s musical upbringing also laid the foundation for becoming a well rounded individual, capable of taking on a variety of diverse tasks throughout her career. As a solo (technical) founder, Candace now wears many hats in her company, handling design, copywriting, video editing, Facebook advertising and patent writing. She is also able to work well with limited resources available, using her bedroom 3D printer to prototype and test her designs.

In her successful, one-woman powered venture, Chen honors everyone around the world who has benefited from a musical education, as well as those who continue to hold a soft spot for music in their heart. Creating a travel-friendly ukulele instrument, Chen makes it easy for music lovers and adventurous travelers to bring the joys of music wherever they go. Her product, the Ava ukulele boasts an impressive model of unique features, in a market that has seen very little change. The instrument is portable and may be easily stowed away. Ava retains a bold sound, to be shared proudly with others. It may also be practiced quietly, in Silent Mode. Simple plug in your earphones and your solo jam session will remain barely audible to those around you.

The Ava ukulele came into being when Chen was setting off for a vacation in Costa Rica. Excited for a relaxing vacation, playing ukulele on the beach, she was devastated to find that her beloved instrument had been destroyed in her travels. For Candace Chen, whose life had largely revolved around music, this instrument was more than an object,  it was a friend. Empathizing with other musicians who have experienced the same heartbreak, Candace decided to create a compact ukulele that would not only withstand travel, but become an agent for social interactions and joy shared among others. “I want Ava to inspire people to get out there, travel, and share music with others,” says Chen.

For any entrepreneurial spirit out there hoping to follow your lives’ compass to the heart of inspiration, listening to Candace Chen’s story can help you get there.  Based on her personal experience, Candace offers the following advice to entrepreneurs in diverse industries:

Take advantage of the growing freelance economy (like Upwork and Fiverr)! I’ve found freelancers for electrical engineering, PR, marketing, user studies, creative copy, graphic design, patents, and video production on a per-project basis which keeps on-going expenses (like salary) low. This is crucial in the early stages when you’re bootstrapping or trying to manage your burn rate before that next investment round. 

Create prototypes to help answer questions and stress-test assumptions, not for sake of creating a prototype. A prototype at each stage (MVP, proof-of-concept, critical module, beta) are all different types of prototypes that help answer a different question. 

If you have an app idea, your first step is not to hire a developer. Rather, create an MVP mockup (there are drag-and-drop programs that let you do this with no coding experience), and test with your target users to figure out if this is something they’d want. Saves a ton of time and money.

You should be de-risking and refining at each step along the way (product-market fit, features, high-risk engineering modules), not at the very end where you present a final polished product and find out nobody wants it!


22 Uncomfortable Signs You’re Challenging Yourself On A Daily Basis

  1. You pretty much have no idea what you’re doing, every single day. Because on a near-daily basis, you are doing something new or trying something outside of your wheelhouse.   
  2. You’re constantly surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you, more talented than you, more developed in their skill than you, etc. You’re not satisfied unless you’re feeling constantly inspired to be better by those around you.
  3. You have a growth mindset, as opposed to a fixed mindset. Get yourself right by reading 300+ Top Inspirational Quotes & Quote Pictures | Quote Catalog
  4. You have learned that feeling unsure of yourself means you are doing something to get better or improve yourself, so rather than running away from this kind of feeling, you run towards it.
  5. You are out of your comfort zone ten times as often as you are in it.
  6. You consistently ask mentors and superiors for feedback, even if (and especially when) you know it will come with intimidating or uncomfortable criticism.
  7. You make decisions based on what will be most beneficial for you in the long-term, as opposed to what feels best or easiest right now.
  8. You are accustomed to doing things you don’t feel fully prepared for, and you have gotten comfortable with simply trusting that you’ll figure it out along the way.
  9. You pay very close attention to when you are actively forcing yourself to engage in much-needed relaxation, and when you are simply procrastinating.
  10. You know how to fail, and you fail often.
  11. And instead of this failure destroying you, it just fuels you to keep going. It may slow you down for a while, or bum you out, or even break your heart. But failure never stops you from trying again.
  12. No matter how hard it hurts or how much pain it causes, you still manage to look at failure as a learning opportunity – as a way for you to further get to know yourself, understand yourself, and understand how this will make you better and stronger next time.
  13. You have specific goals for yourself every single day, no matter how small or trivial they may feel in the moment.
  14. You find familiarity easy and comforting, but never invigorating.
  15. You are not afraid of admitting when you don’t know something. In fact, you are quite comfortable with it, because you know it brings you one step closer to learning something new or becoming just a little bit better.
  16. You do your best to be very conscious of and wary of criticizing or gossiping about others – because you know it usually means you’re projecting something you’re insecure about within yourself.
  17. You are way more afraid of plateauing than you are of failing.
  18. In your mind, ‘good enough’ is no different than ‘not good enough.’ You are never satisfied with ‘good enough.’
  19. You try every single day to find happiness in little present moments, because you’ve learned that there’s never going to be a moment when you simply reach your destination and no longer need to grow.
  20. You are very much okay with talking about those things you need to improve on. And being okay with it doesn’t mean you like talking about your shortcomings, it just means you know how to address them in a healthy and productive way.
  21. You ask yourself the hard questions – does this matter in the long run? am I just trying to take the easy way out? will this be a temporary distraction or will this actually make me better? does this challenge me? does being challenged by this bring me joy?
  22. You have found that you’ve grown to love the process just as much as (or even more than) the outcome.

50 Tiny Powerful Things Successful People Tell Themselves Every Day

  1. I am enough.
  2. I am not wrong or weak for feeling things deeply.
  3. I deserve to be happy.
  4. But that doesn’t mean I automatically deserve to have whatever I want, whenever I want.
  5. Tomorrow is always a new day.
  6. Everyone I know is a fully, three-dimensional person with feelings and insecurities and a life story that I haven’t heard – even if I don’t like them.
  7. I can do this.
  8. Bravery doesn’t usually come from feeling brave – it comes from doing something despite how afraid I feel.
  9. I cannot settle for mediocrity.
  10. The people I look up to didn’t get there by sitting on their asses.
  11. Sometimes a really tiny and simple thing can completely turn someone’s day around.
  12. Being in love will not always be easy and effortless.
  13. I am me, and that can be a lot of different things, and that’s wonderful.
  14. Being able to admit when I’m wrong is way more important than being right.
  15. Sometimes I will try stuff that I won’t be automatically good at. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try to get better.
  16. It is okay, and even necessary, to walk away from people who hurt me.
  17. The online version of my life is not what gives me meaning.
  18. Even my ideal dream job is still going to be incredibly difficult, because anything worthwhile takes blood and sweat and tears.
  19. When I am going through heartbreak, it means I am experiencing one of the most universal feelings on the planet. I am not alone.
  20. Sometimes maintaining friendships in adulthood is hard and that’s okay, as long as I keep trying with the people who matter to me.
  21. The people who really love me are the ones who are telling me what I need to hear, even if I don’t want to hear it.
  22. It’s normal that sometimes I truly crave credit or validation or praise. It’s part of being human.
  23. I can be a different version of myself in front of different people, and it doesn’t make me any less authentic.
  24. This doesn’t have to be where I end up if I don’t want it to be that way.
  25. Sometimes, I’m just going to have a really rough day, or week, or year. But I will survive it. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.
  26. My heart is fragile but my strength is unwavering.
  27. I’m allowed to leave a job I hate to find something better.
  28. No matter how careful I am, I’m going to make mistakes. What’s important is how I handle the aftermath.
  29. The times when I really don’t want to get out of bed are usually the moments when it is most crucial that I do so.
  30. Anxiety and depression and other mental health related struggles don’t make me weak. I just need to remember to be strong enough to ask for help.
  31. It’s important to tell the truth, especially to myself.
  32. Everybody is scared. I’m not the only one.
  33. Sometimes feeling lost is a good thing.
  34. Usually when I’m heavily judging someone, what I’m really doing is projecting something that I dislike within myself.
  35. Money can make things easier and less stressful, but it won’t make me happier or more fulfilled.
  36. I’m allowed to be proud of myself.
  37. I should never take advantage of the fact that my loved ones are only a phone call away.
  38. The only time procrastination feels good is in the moment.
  39. I can’t change the fact that my body will age, but I can control how I handle it.
  40. No matter how happy or put-together they seem, everyone is struggling with something, just like me.
  41. Regret is much scarier than failure.
  42. When I make others look good, I look good too. And it’s a much more joyful way to live.
  43. Admitting that I care about something is so much more fun than trying to play it cool.
  44. It’s important to be humble, but it’s also important to stand up for myself when I’m being treated unfairly.
  45. Just because someone is cold to me doesn’t mean I need to be cold back.
  46. There is no better quality than making others feel like, and understand that, they matter.
  47. Laughter should always be a high priority.
  48. Being warm to others can take me so incredibly far.
  49. I am here to do something.
  50. Looking for ways to feel grateful for things, instead of frustrated over them, can drastically change the way I look at the world and the way I feel about my life.

Article inspired by https://quotecatalog.com/quotes/inspirational

Minot Sober Living Home Offers Support to Women in Recovery

A sober living home called the Sanctuary opened at the beginning of the month in the city of Minot, North Dakota, to support women who live in the area and who are recovering from substance use disorders.

The facility focuses on promoting non-chemical coping skills, volunteer efforts, profitable employment, education, and action and bases its program on the 12-step model to recovery which involves structured environments, workshops, as well as spiritual teachings.

There is a total of 11 trained individuals who are involved with managing the sober living home, which can accommodate a total of 14 women for provisional periods in a four-bedroom house. The representatives of the center stated that, in addition to a double room, the large size of the bedrooms allow them to be shared by up to six women.

The staff members explained that they believe that the fact that the women have to share the premises prevents them from becoming isolated.

The Sanctuary features numerous other congregational rooms for the assisting women who have gone through detoxification for a drug or an alcohol addiction but haven’t returned to their homes or routines yet.

The first residents have moved to the center and the staff members are currently in the process of reviewing other applications that have been submitted by potential residents.

Applications from anyone who meets their requirements and is truly committed to achieving recovery will be accepted.

The women are required to go to 14 meetings every week across recovery programs — some of them that are held at the house and some are not, such as the meetings with peer support groups like Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.

The residents of the Sanctuary also have to participate in random and unscheduled drug tests, and due to the zero-tolerance drug use policy, anyone whose tests results come out positive gets evicted.


Higher Education and the World Bank

HOPES of higher learning institutions in the country of obtaining faster access to broadband space links on the basis of a project of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology forwarded to the World Bank for a loan facility have now evaporated. A ministry proposal for $7bn loan from the World Bank to finance access to broadband for close to 35 institutions of higher learning fell flat, partly because broadband communication is not a core business of the International Development Association (IDA(), its soft loans window. At the moment IDA is interested in the wider doing business environment, not big ICT.

It is undeniable that the ministry prepared the proposal in line with Vision 2025 and the Big Results Now program, without understanding that the notion of ‘development partners’ does not mean there is always an element of co-financing. The error of the ministry was to seek ‘big finance’ for a big ICT project, whereas it is more likely that IDA         would be safer extending leverage financing, so that it catapults project uptake by other stakeholders like commercial banks, bond holders of university investments like pension funds or private foundations, charities, etc. Asking the IDA for a $7bn ICT loan was faulty, an error on its strategies, mandate.

The lesson from this failed inititive is that Big Results Now has to be pegged more or less consistently to availability of local financing, and this doesn’t just mean the government budget or loans from commercial banks, Indeed it is hard to see how $7bn can be raised by commercial banks at the local level, but it is easier to see how foreign investors actually purchasing land, for instance that which bears this or that mineral, could ‘beef up’ owners of land with that sort of cash. It is a matter of strategy where the government skips its prerogative of owning the land, as that way it is compelled to bring up cash, instead of land raising it in being transfered.

Uplifting the country’s information technology level is vital in mapping out all issues of quality education as well as inserting small local firms, entrepreneurs in the local and regional market. They also need to make inroads into wider markets, where access to bits and pieces of information spread out in websites etc is key to success. Banks can supply much of this finance if they can take land as collateral.

What this drawback means is that the country’s doing business environment needs to be reformed in a way that is more radical than in current government programs, as a conservative attitude on land transfer and ownership presumes that one does not need the land to raise finance. It is to suggest that the government shall meet most of what higher learning institutions need and then it is supplemented by either World Bank loans or grants by donors, a modality that is now diminishing.

For instance Kenya has a fixed broadband subscription of upwards of 43,000 by mid 2013, Uganda upwards of 36,000 subscriptions and Tanzania slightly below 4,000 subscribers to broadband connection. Those who place their hopes in IDA loans should ask if it is the World Bank which facilitated our neighbours to obtain Big Results in the ICT broadband field? Not at all; they used local resources, and this means transferability of property and access to loans, not widening the tax base as some experts constantly scream at the government this side of the border.

Nobody has doubts that the current team of cabinet ministers, the veterans and the novices, all have great ideas about Big Results Now, the problem being that the Tanzanian bureaucracy has not yet come out of its planning mentality. They see achievements not as a result of an excellent business envirronment whose essential premise is the transferability of fixed property but elaborate or ‘deliberate’ plans and powerful delivery bureaus to ensure that results are registered as expected.  When we have one tenth of broadband connections at individual level (not at group level as in offices or internet cafes), and we depend on World Bank loans even to link up universities and colleges, loans we can’t get, do we wait for Big Results?

Questions for the Minister of Finance

FORMER Presidential Economic Affairs adviser and, later, chairman of the Civic United Front (CUF), Prof. Ibrahim Lipumba, is a respected name in the field of economic discussions. He has lately put up a much publicised query on the suitability of Ms Saada Salum Mkuya as the latest Union Minister for Finance.  His premise was that the parliamentary website does not show that she has the right qualifications.

Subsequently, the minister responded via the newspapers that she has two ‘Master’s’ degrees, and is pursuing a doctorate qualification. Excellent.

Still, glancing at the same parliamentary webside, it is unclear where the degrees or diplomas that the minister obtained were earned! For instance as late as 1995, she was just finishing high school… In 1999, she earned an Advanced Diploma in Business Studies… And then, apparently, she earned a Master’s degree in 2010.

Both titles are not identified from which colleges they were obtained, and it is not surprising that some knowledgeable voices query the minister’s actual qualifications for the job – that is, expertise in finance. Perhaps since then she has a second master’s degree.

If that is the case, it could be said that she has been hardworking since she started working in the Zanzibar Treasury as an officer in 2003, rising to administrative officer in 2006 and then becoming the Commissioner of Finance later in 2011. This position then catapulted her to Union Deputy Minister for Finance a year later… And, with the misfortune that visited Finance Minister William Mgimwa recently, she was appointed full cabinet minister. She thus has had sufficient exposure to ‘desk work’ in areas that the former economics professor, Dr Lipumba, noted – although, indeed, her governmental experience is rather limited.

For one thing, the CUF chairman had first to make a position on what he thinks of the usual tendency of President Jakaya Kikwete in picking his ministers: does he make an effort to establish quality and initiative, or is there a lack of it?

At the same time, there is need for constant reminders that pushing youthful but talented people to positions of authority has always been an aspect of organisation, so that public institutions are constantly having experimented and capable people. Otherwise, public offices would wait until a fellow retires to put another person to similar post!

Perhaps as a reminder, there is something in presidential style that Mwalimu Nyerere once confided in a question-and-answer session at the University of Dar es Salaam which educated individuals like Prof. Lipumba must be familiar with.

In 1981 (when Prof. Lipumba was away on his doctoral programme), Mwalimu told a meeting of UDSM staff and students that, when he appoints individuals for posts of minister, regional commissioner or ambassador, he usually knows them personally. But when he appoints persons to other posts – from district commissioners to regional administrative officials (or earlier, regional development directors), he was usually just signing on the dotted line!

In other words, it is true as the CUF chairman appears to be worried that there are appointments in Government where the president just signs; and there are those where the president is supposed to know the person, and evidently that includes who becomes Minister for Finance.

For one thing, it is evident that the president appoints an individual to such a position so that he or she assists him in one way or another, in which case there is something like harmonisation work to be done, in one way or another. When Zanzibar sees one of theirs at the Union Treasury, it eases the task!

Some criticism has also been raised in the direction of Prof. Lipumba that he was pursuing ‘gender discrimination’ in his query, which most reasonable people would reject as unfounded. There is nothing new in a lady at the helm at the Treasury, as Zakia Meghji was there before, an experienced cabinet minister up to that point… In which case, the issue comes back to background and qualification as a pointer to competence.

Given the sort of disputes that have occurred in Parliament – and even within the ruling party CcM – on cabinet performance, casting an eagle’s eye on a minister is right.

All said and done, however, Ms Mkuya is without doubt a bit of a newcomer… But she’s not exactly a novice, as she has learned a few things since mid-2012 as deputy Finance minister.

At the same time, analysts should take note of the fact that ministers are presidential advisers on the one hand, and representatives of major interest groups on the other… In which case, these are roles which she is ready to fulfill in one way or another. There is a strategic reason for her appointment, not just ‘godfathers’ and suchlike.

Turmoil with Banking Technology

VOICES were being heard late last week warning that a nationwide revolt or stoppage of commerce is being risked unless the government does away with electronic fiscal devices or places them in a competitive supply mode where the prices are affordable. It appears that the devices are a rip off organised by the higher fiscal authorities against traders, in like manner as speed governors were imposed on motorists and thousands of them had irreparably damaged vehicles, before that experimentation was quietly dropped. Who is right this time, indeed?

There has been an expanding, seething wave of discontent among traders, all the way from the Kariakoo commercial hub in Dar es Salaam to Mwanjelwa market in Mbeya, and in virtually all other major urban centres. It thus could not have been orchestrated by individuals, especially the usual political bogeys, for the traders class is not that amenable to placing livelihoods in peril to suit any individual’s conveniences. What they are pursuing is something they commonly feel, and it cannot be exaggerated, as otherwise it would be difficult to bring them all together.

Surprisingly enough, few other voices have been heard, or strictly speaking not one of them, in relation to the differences between the TRA and the trading community – such that Finance Minister Saada Mkuya moved to reiterate the government’s position verbatim. It related to the deadline for starting to use EFD as January 31, and beyond that legal measures would be taken on defaulters, and not a semblance of negotiation or dialogue seemed to be continuing or engaged with the revenue authorities or the ministry. It means that latter see no point in any such discussion.

It is also not surprising that the government has an intransigent attitude on the issue because it has the whole of public opinion behind it, by which is meant anyone who has doubts about integrity of Indians and Arabs who form the vast majority of shopowners where EFDs are required, To many people that sort of view or position looks patriotic; as a matter of fact it only echoes colonial reality where only Africans are indigenous, and they hold healthy suspicions on traders-foreigners. The matter is supposed to be discussed at the fiscal and governance level, as to why the government is so intransigent about the devices, not caring what price monopoly suppliers quote or indeed what level of shops ought to use it.

While it is easy to see why a supermarket needs to have EFD, and they had them before the current wave of disputation came up, that is, before anyone said they were necessary, the same cannot be said of a spare parts shop. It sells goods at intervals of anything between half hour and two hours, or longer, and trying to add Tsh600,000 into working capital to procure a device for the sake of it, is not quite rational as a measure. This is an example of an administrative measure conducted wholly in pursuit of conveniences of administrators, who hide behind the facade of tax evasion to impose any rule, wantonly, without due care for its actual relevance.

Looking at the manner in which EFD are used in supermarkets for instance, their more significant purpose is for internal accounting, that the cashiers do not engage in frauds like underquoting the price of an item if it is a close relative shopping, etc. There is often a guard standing not far from a cashier’s desk who casts a glance  at the sort of entries the cashier is making, if the price signal is heard to click and the price recorded on the register, etc. When a trader has no use of the device, that is, he can exercise internal control differently, why can’t TRA adapt to any other method as was usually the case, instead of forced use of a needless device in shop?

This habit of not paying attention to what a particular group in society says due to what the majority thinks of them is faulty and undemocratic, and it explains plenty of Africa’s woes. Most African governments rule only in order to please the sort of majorities that placed them in office, and even if it was a military regime, there would always be some majority opinion that enabled consensus to overthrow the previous government. Things come to a head, confusion and violence because a class of sentiments, or series of classes, won’t be heard; the majority ignores them.

Problems with the Port of Dar es Salaam

STAKEHOLDERS have finally signed an accord to enable the clearing of goods at the port of Dar es Salaam to continue for 24 hours daily, implying working in three shifts for port officials, or a breadth of them. The move is likely to diminish the trend at avoiding the port of Dar es Salaam that was already catching up among neighbouring countries, as Dar port takes an average of ten days to offload cargo and place it on a waiting lorry, while Mombasa was working to reduce the five days it usually takes.It is a good step for the port, but challenges remain aplenty.

For instance, the port of Mombasa did not have to turn to 24 hours of operations to attain a five day clearance schedule of goods, in which case Dar port will have a lot to show if extending some haulage activities at the entrance to the harbour is all what is required to cut down waiting time. At an earlier period the union of agents for importers complained that the move to enable the port to work 24 hours sought to bring them to sign a series of documents as to the time limit they will take to fill forms, pay up various fees, etc and left other stakeholders unscathed. For instance it wasn’t said how long Tanzania Revenue Authority may take to clear containers.

Not much has so far been divulged as to the final terms and conditions which enabled agents for importing companies to sign on, but management reflection would suggest that they don’t have much to choose from. In the final analysis they are clients to the port, itself a government department and not a company like others, hence they have clearly limited avenue to make such an agreement really an accord, as different from a different set of regulations issued by TRA and TPA, the ports authority. That is what it finally comes to, and their signing is meant to make it official or formal that agents will be there at midnight if need be, to clear goods.

There are some aspects in port management which are unlikely to have been covered in this accord, and similarly, such limitations may also be expressed in a different manner when the port works 24 hours. By definition only officials who are absolutely necessary to offloading and clearing will be there, while others will work normal days, plus some overtime. It may open up quite a few ‘opportunities’ for things that would otherwise not have taken place to be okayed with some ease, as procedures of checking  with relevant officials are skipped, rather conveniently.

Analytically speaking, working outside normal time is a disruption of what is called a ‘systems approach’ to work, that is, making decisions in real time as more or less everyone is on the job at that time. It is hard to believe that taking containers out of port is something that concerns desk officials, frontline people that an importing agent meets, standing at the head of the container as it is being offloaded, There are plenty of regulatory matters that need a minimum of decision making which shall either be determined in the absence of the container being at hand for inspection, or other formulas being used, as inspections shall be reduced,

Even when inspections are not reduced, the number of those who are present and the manner in which they can share out work, their presence at the premises, is going to be somewhat altered, and all this leads to disruption of controls in one way or another. This is not however something to totally regret, as it represents something of systemic correction to excessive inspection at the port, meant to ensure that no ’rounding off’ of revenue occurs, that every cent has to be paid. Techniques where container goods are sampled and verified on that basis were put aside for actual inspection in a thorough manner, leading to overwork, exhaustion.

Working for 24 hours is more or less like there were two ports to be handled by the same TRA, whose officials concerned with imports in particular will definitely not be working 24 hours, and even if there is overtime for a series of clerical officials, the manner in which the forms are treated at a professional and regulatory level will have to change. In other words TRA is being compelled to adapt as it can’t just double its employees to cater for the ‘night shift,’ or the ‘night port’ just launched. Not only has it got to deliver with what it has, but also start looking for ways to deliver in the same way within normal working hours, so that procedures are properly followed, many of which aren’t easy to observe …under cover of darkness.