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 Mobile Loans

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Apply For Mobile Loans From Your Phone Easily!

Back in the day, cyber shopping meant shopping on a desktop computer. As laptops became more powerful and affordable, shopping on the go became more popular. With Smartphones and tablets mobile shopping really took off. It was only a matter of time before mobile loans would begin to be offered. Today, it’s possible to initiate mobile loans through dedicated mobile loan apps and through websites that have been optimized for mobile devices.  LoanNow also offers mobile loans with the same great lending experience that we provide through our full website.
Mobile Loan Apps:
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Mobile Loans One of the main advantages of dedicated apps for mobile loans is that that security is integrated into the programming.  One of the main disadvantages of dedicated apps for mobile loans is that adequate security may or may not have been integrated into the programming.  Before submitting your sensitive personal and financial information to lenders utilizing dedicated apps for mobile loans, check out their security information and privacy policies.
Mobile Loan Websites:

Many lenders, including LoanNow, feature websites that are optimized for mobile devices.  The process for applying for mobile loans is similar to the process for applying for online loans on your laptop or desktop computer.   A major concern with applying for mobile loans is the security of your personal information.

Lenders are responsible for securing your information during the application process for mobile loans.  For instance, LoanNow features bank level security for its online lending process whether you apply on your computer or through a mobile device.  LoanNow also does not share your personal information with marketers or other third parties.
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You also bear responsibility for securing your Smartphone or tablet while applying for mobile loans, just as you would secure your desktop or laptop computer.  Your device should be running the most current version of its operating system. Apps such as Lookout are available for both iOS and Android devices to monitor signs of malicious activity.  Additional apps for virus checking and malware removal are also available for Android-powered devices. These apps are often available free or for modest prices.

LoanNow Mobile Loans
Additional Security Measures:

Beyond securing your mobile device and dealing only with lenders that take security seriously, you should also be smart about when and where you apply for mobile loans. Think twice before using a public Wi-Fi connection.  While it’s understandable that you would want to spare your precious data units – the money you save by tapping into a public Wi-Fi network can be wiped out if your tablet or Smartphone is compromised by a hacker or a spammer. Using a virtual private network minimizes the risk of accessing public Wi-Fi networks.  By utilizing safe mobile access practices along with our secure mobile website, your borrowing experience with LoanNow can be both safe and convenient!
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8 ways to Get Instant Unsecured Loans in Kenya.

Have you ever been in a situation where you were in dire need of a financial boost but nothing was forthcoming. Well, I have. The first thought that came to my mind was to borrow from friends and family which I find a tad disturbing (ego and all). The other option would be to go to a Shylock who will most certainly under value my collateral and charge an exorbitant amount of interest on the loan, that wouldn’t be wise either. At this point it would seem like all is lost, right? Wrong.
In dire need of a financial boost but nothing was forthcoming

In dire need of a financial boost but nothing was forthcoming

Due to the technological milestones that have taken place over the years, innovative minds have devised ways of creating platforms that provide unsecured loans with zero paper work or guarantors (Faulu Sacco) and you don’t even have to step into a bank.

I’m talking about Mobile Micro Loans. These are the likes of MShwari and KCB/Mpesa loans. Here with is a  compilation of eight Mobile Micro Loan schemes from the most familiar to the least that you can use to get a bit of a boost in those tough times…

Mshwari . 

This is a paperless banking service offered through M-Pesa, it was conceptualized by Safaricom and Partners with CBA (Commercial Bank of Africa). It began operation in the year 2012 and has been active since.
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To be able to access loans from Mshwari you have to be 18 years of age, have a registered and active Mpesa account for at least 6 months and have the updated Mpesa menu that facilitates Mshwari. The minimum loan limit is 100 shillings and the maximum loan limit is unknown. Repayment duration is 30 days and the interest is set at 7.5%.   In case you default the 30 day extension and a further 7.5% facilitation fee will be charged on the outstanding loan balance.


KCB/Mpesa Loan.

It started in 2015, it is a savings account that allows you access instant loans of up to a million Kenyan shillings by dialing *844#

You are even able to borrow instantly without saving. Disbursement is to KCB M-PESA Account and the  Loan limits are between Kshs.100 to KSh 500,000 and with an option to top up.

There is a flexible repayment program of 1 month at 6%, 3 months 5% per month and 6 months 4% per month. via KCB M-PESA Account, M-PESA, and Mobi/Branch/Mtaani. Partial payment option is also provided.


To qualify for loan and get a KCB M-PESA Account, you will need to: Be a registered Safaricom M-PESA customer. Have an active Safaricom M-PESA account. Have in your possesion any one of the following identification documents. Kenyan National ID, Kenyan Passport, Alien ID, Diplomatic ID (Registered on IPRS), Military ID

All frequent users of Safaricom services and existing KCB account holders will be allocated a loan limit upon opting into the KCB M-PESA Account. Please note that not all customers will qualify automatically for loans.

Tala (Formerly) Mkopo Rahisi

Tala began operation in 2014 as Mkopo Rahisi but Rebranded to Tala. To qualify for a loan on Tala you have to Download and Install the application known as Tala from Google Play Store and then link the App to your Facebook account.
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There is a list of personal questions that you have to answer so as to qualify for the loan. The minimum Loan offered is 500 and the maximum is 50,000. Repayment is 3 equal weekly installments at 15% interest. The loan will be submitted to your Mpesa account and repayment will be via Mpesa to 851900 as the Paybill number.

Branch LOGO

Branch LOGO

Branch is a San Francisco and Nairobi based company that was Founded in 2015. Its primary objective is, by using technology deliver financial services to emerging markets at a reduced cost. The first product that they chose to begin with is providing a short term credit facility to their customers.
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To be legible for this service you have to be a registered Mpesa user, you must posses a Facebook account that bears the same name as your legal documents. You will need to download and install the Branch app from Google Play Store. Link the app to your Facebook account. Fill in the required details. Mpesa number, National ID etc. You will also have to verify your account by clicking on the link that will be sent to your phone via SMS.
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The minimum loan limit is 1000 shilling and the maximum is still unknown. Disbursement and repayment mode is via Mpesa on 3 weekly installments. The interest will be determined by your repayment, and ultimately increase or decrease your credit score/ worthiness.


This is another mobile based money lending service that offers loans to customers at an interest rates that are tailored for the customer. To be legible for this service you have to be an active M-pesa user. You have to make calls receive and use data services daily. You also have to Download and Install the Saida App from Google PLay Store. Fill the required information to request for an invitation. The Invitation could take  3 to 7 days.

The least amount that can be borrowed is 600 shillings and the maximum limit is 25,000 shillings.

Loan repayment is via M-Pesa on paybill number 854400

Defaulting of payment might lead to you being handed over to a collection company or even being listed on the CRB as a defaulter.

Pesa Na Pesa

This is another mobile phone based borrowing and lending product developed by AVL Capital ltd that offers emergency loans to persons that  need short term emergency financing.  This facility is payable within 7 days for amounts up to Kes. 5,000.
pesa na pesa logo

pesa na pesa logo

The interest rates are at 10% but early repayments will attract no charges.

Disbursement of funds is to a customer’s M-Pesa account and repayments are to AVL CAPITAL on Paybill Number 990390 and the account number as the borrowing phone number. To avoid delays in updating customer details pay using the borrowing phone number.
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To register dial *415*33# and follow the system prompts by filling your details.

An automatic limit will be given to you.

Kopa Chapaa.

This is a product of Airtel Ltd that began operation in 2012 and partners with Faulu Kenya. To be legible for this service you have to be a registered and active Airtel Money user.  The loan limits are 500 shillings minimum and 10000 maximum. To apply for Kopa Chapaa, you dial *305*2#  and follow the prompt. Repayment is via Airtel money. Loan interest rates vary with the amount.

Pesa Pata

This is another way to not only borrow money but to also lend money.  It is called peer-to-peer lending. It allows lenders to interact with creditworthy personal loan borrowers, so both receive a much better deal. Peer to Peer lending (P2P) offers both borrowers and lenders significant efficiencies over the traditional banking model. This is done by cutting out the large financial institution in the middle, lenders receive great returns and borrowers receive low interest and flexible loans.


To be legible for this service as both a lender/ borrower you dial *269# Follow the easy prompts and become a member. There are minimal charges for both the lender and borrower. Follow the prompts and complete the process but if you experience any difficulty in any stage of this process please visit

Getting instant loans in Kenya has been eased greatly by the platforms listed above and many more not mentioned. You only need to have a phone and mostly an active M-Pesa account to access funds and avoid the stress of having to borrow from friends or Shylocks

With the information we provide about   quick mobile loans in kenya

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Prospects and Dilemmas of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in University Education in Africa: The Case of Kenya.

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Maurice Nyamanga Amutabi,
J.W Fulbright Fellow,
Department of History,
University of Illinois at
309 Gregory Hall,
810 S. Wright Street,
Urbana IL 61801, USA.
E-mail: or

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Paper prepared for the UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION (UNESCO) Forum for Higher Education, Research and Knowledge: Colloquium on Research and Higher Education Policy conference on “Knowledge, Access and Governance: Strategies for Change”,
Paris France. December 1-3, 2004.
Prospects and Dilemmas of Information and Communication Technology in Quality Education in Africa: The Case of Kenya.

By Maurice Amutabi.

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 Prospects and Dilemmas of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in University Education in Africa: The Case of Kenya.

“Africa has just two percent of the world’s telephone lines and one percent of the World’s Internet connections. Clearly the continent remains disconnected from the world of modern electronic communications and, as a result, has been denied access to the wealth of information, including scientific and technological information, that is found on the Internet.” 

The principal of a leading girls’ school in western Kenya was ambushed one early morning in February 2002 by a distraught father who had something to complain about one of the teachers in the school. First he wanted to know whether the teacher was male or female, for if he was male, he certainly seemed to be overstepping his mandate, and if female, she was obviously spoiling the girls. Second, he wanted to know whether the school allowed things out of the school syllabus to be taught by teachers. Finally, the parent wanted to have a one on one conversation with the said teacher. The shock came when the parent revealed the name of the teacher, s/he was called  “Internet”. The principal was lost for words, wondered whether to laugh or cry. This was too funny, very hilarious, she thought. But the parent was serious, and was not done yet. “It is apparent that ‘Internet’ is not a bad teacher,” the parent continued, “although there are certain things that s/he teaches that are embarrassing and way above our child as she comes to find out more from us at home. Can you ask this teacher [“Internet”] to limit this?”
However, it would be a mistake, perhaps even naïve to imagine that changes brought about by transformations in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) affects only less informed, may be less educated and gullible villagers such as the parent above. In 1996, I encountered two university professors arguing about what an Internet publication was. Although they never quite reached an agreement on what an Internet publication was, they were both wrong.
     Electronic technology was in the past very mystified. It was extra-ordinary and belonged only to the experts and specialists. Yet in the past ten years electronic technology has been transforming learning at all levels, removing inhibitions, obstacles and challenges that were hitherto thought insurmountable.  Computerization has set off new, powerful energies that have precipitated an explosion in the proliferation of new images, identities and subjectivities in the learning environment, in labor now facilitated by the Internet, television, film, radio, newspapers, popular music and aesthetic culture generally.  It is therefore not surprising that modern curriculum, instruction and education policy thinkers and practitioners allover the word have been swept off-balance by the new technological transformations taking place around the world, where learners are more informed about the possibilities that a computer can provide more than their instructors.  At the universities learners are moving ahead of their lecturers, thanks to the Internet. Learning has become a two-way process; it is a discourse more than a dialogic monologue of one who knows telling others what they do not know. The information superhighway is offering many possibilities.
It is moments like this that we realize that Paul Freire’s Pedagogue of the Oppressed has been vindicated. The Internet learning environment is not oppressive, and distributes power between the learner and the instructor. The all-knowing hard-nosed spectacles-dangling professor has been replaced with a humble consultative and listening instructor-learner who must be ready to make concessions with the old yellow-notes that were invaluable source of information. The professor must not be pretentious and get frightened when told in the course of the lecture what s/he is saying is not true, according to the current information. Even search engines at times turn out nothing -  “Nothing matched your search,” you will be told. At other times, it will bring out many hits, making the searcher even wonder where to begin.
So the Internet is not about “this is how we do it” but rather it has become “how best do we do this” as chances are that there are several who know the best way forward and perhaps better than their instructor because of prior knowledge. It has become apparent that a lot is taking place in info-techniques and info-based-learning, communication-linkages and instruction and techno-learning.  There are several critical developments now transforming social and cultural life outside and inside institutions of learning around the globe based on new possibilities brought about by techno-instruction and cyber-instruction.  These developments have enormous implications for pedagogical practice and the educational preparation of university students and their lecturers, even in Kenya.  Techno-ignorance and info-shyness is converting many lecturers and instructors across the world into academic and scholarly dinosaurs before their time. In Kenya this is happening faster than it was imagined possible.
This paper examines problems of access and utilization of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education in Africa, using Kenya as a case study. It interrogates the role that new forms of ICT such as the Internet have played in higher education in the past decade. I argue that ICT is not very well spread and utilized in Kenya’s institutions of higher learning, mainly because of poor communication network, limited access to ICT hardware and software. The paper recognizes ICT-related knowledge gaps between Africa and the North. In Kenya, policy makers are increasingly calling for the need to go ICT in education, and not be left behind. Due to the scramble, traditional approaches to learning are being abandoned, before even the efficacy of these ICT-related fads in education are proven. This paper attempts to provide some answers to the problem associated with the utilization of ICT in Kenya arising from the rapid introduction and use of the new technology in many universities. I use six case studies of Kenya’s public universities. It is basically a discursive assessment based on interviews with lecturers, university administrators and students.

Research Background.

Information for this research paper was gathered through interviews with lectures and students at Kenya’s public universities and other tertiary institutions.  Information was also gathered from numerous files on correspondence, internal reports, minutes of meetings and committee reports at various universities together donor reports and newsletters and brochures, besides articles from journals, magazines and national newspapers the sources of information for this article is wide. There were also attempts made in interrogating protest and criticism from the public in Kenya, especially academics, practitioners, politicians and opinion leaders on declining academic standards in learning institutions and their relationship to facilities and equipment. Observation also served me well as participant in one of the public universities (Moi University) where I was a lecturer from 1992 to 2000.
This paper is based on a study conducted in six universities in Kenya. Results from the interviews and informal conversations indicated that senior administrative executives of the university were not only aware of the key role that ICT played in the university but were also supportive of its widespread use. What made my research enterprise gratifying was the fact that by 2002, there was more ICT awareness compared to 1997 when I first wrote a research paper on ICT on Kenya. Many at the universities have undergone computer literacy courses or familiarization through self-tutorship, organized at the work place or at home. The vision of senior administrators vis-à-vis ICT is also broader compared to five years earlier. They are now confident of ICT, and spell out the strategies they have laid out for ICT development and utilization in their institutions. They realize the need to expand computer facilities; training of faculty and all staff in computer literacy, and improving terms of service to be to attract and retain the scarce ICT qualified personnel in Kenya. From 200 when this research was conducted, some of these strategies have since been accomplished through the implementation of bilateral donors such as Britain and he Dutch and others such as the World Bank and other donor funded projects.
Out of a total of 200 questionnaires that were distributed to informants and sent out to respondents in the universities, a total of 86 were returned, giving an acceptable response rate of 43%.  Part of the reasons for non-response from 57% of the questionnaires was attributed to ignorance of ICT issues, lack of interest due to social resistance, the newness of the ICT research in Kenya, fear of exposure of their ignorance, and partly the length of the questionnaire (4 pages as opposed to standard 1, or maximum 2 page rule) and the small details that were needed such as if the informants/respondents had e-mail addresses and by what domain/organization, when they first opened an e-mail account, how regular they surfaced the internet and what types of issues they pursued through the internet. Whereas many were aware of the differences, some confused e-mail with Internet and vise versa, which is a general confusion even in the North.
The responses indicated that about half of the people in the sampled responses had e-mail addresses, majority of this were students compared to lecturers. Younger lecturers (below 45 years) were more amenable to change as majority had e-mail addresses outside the university such as yahoo and hotmail compared to those over 45. Both lecturers and students had spent more of their time on the Internet on e-mail-related issues. A few lectures had surfed the Internet for conference announcements and to see journal sites. Still others were able to download papers from various sites.
However, students had spent more time on the Internet visiting alternative sites including pornographic ones, besides entering online chartrooms. The findings also showed that the average number of years the respondents had used a computer was 1.3 for lecturers and 1.8 for students, meaning that students and therefore the younger generation were less resistant to ICT. On the use of the computerized catalogue at the libraries, more students used them compared to lecturers who preferred the old card system, indicating resistance to change among older people. This was surprisingly not different from 1997 when I wrote, “But why do lecturers resist ICT? …their unfamiliarity with technologies; the additional time effort necessary for their effective use; and the feeling that the ICT poses a threat to their professional role and image; too large classes and number of students that cannot be conveniently taught using ICT [such as use of PowerPoint in classrooms of over 500 students], obsolete computers that are not capable of using up to date software; ill-trained [ICT] assistants [proctors]…”  The situation had changed very much, over five years later.
But how do you encourage participation by lecturers? You do not encourage them when you expose them to the same catalogues as students as they fear to fumble in front of their students. They will need training that is strictly for their kind, with people who can be trusted, if possible fellow lecturers not undergrad and master’s students studying computer science. It also emerged that the average number of years working on an online or a network facility was only 0.4 for lecturers and 2.2 for students. The responses showed clearly that there was a serious problem of computer literacy at the time of the interviews at the universities particularly among lecturers.
Of those few cases that had some computer skills, 22 (or 13% of the informants/respondents) acquired their knowledge in computer literacy from self-study, peer influence and guidance and 34 (or 19% of informants/respondents) attended some formal training, normally from one of the several private training centers that have sprung up in major urban areas in Kenya to cash on the ICT revolution. The rest of the informants/respondents, 30 (or 17% of respondents) were computer illiterate. Majority of the computer illiterate were old lecturers. Many gave interesting reasons why they had not found it necessary to acquire computer skills. One stated that he was about to retire and would not need the skills at home, another said that he had a secretary and did not see the need to acquire the skills, another pointed out that he was interested in knowing but had no access to computer. The average length of training in computer literacy was 10.5 weeks and most of this training (50 cases or 29.1 %) was at an elementary level. Only in 4 cases was the computer literacy training at higher-level cases (6 at intermediate and 3 at advanced levels).
The average length of time per week spent on using a computer at the work place for the computer literates was found to be 5.5 hours, and given that only a small number of users had access to computers this gave cause for concern. It was apparent that majority of the users were from my control pool of the research with used secretaries in administrative and academic departments who used PC mostly for word-processing, doing memos and office-related stuff.  The use of other application software such as excel, PowerPoint and spreadsheet was used (spreadsheet - 7 cases, and databases - 6 cases). Asked whether PC’s were useful or not, an overwhelming number of them (84 or 97.6%) agreed in the affirmative and only two (or 2.3%) disagreed. Although the universities have developed ICT policy plans, many of the informants/respondents (46 or 53.4%) said they were not aware of the existence of these policies and what they stated. This indicated that users were either not involved in their preparation, or the universities have not disseminated their contents to existing and potential ICT end-users.
Using a 5-point scale to measure certain perceptions, with the low values on the 5-point showed by those ranked below 3 and higher ones at above 3. In either case, responses ranged from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), with 3 being neutral. It emerged that users have a clear perception of their concerns regarding what they have and what they believe they ought to have. With regard to information systems, majority of users indicated that they were unhappy with the shortage of ICT-related technologies at the universities. On whether the universities could do more, majority thought so. By indicating high values for the kind of information systems they required, they showed that they were keenly aware of their own needs. On whether the end-users were aware of the constraints that their universities faced in providing them with adequate ICT appliances and equipment, majority of informants/respondents were in the affirmative. Majority thought that their institutions could do much better. Informants/respondents were also asked about the benefits of information systems that they currently had compared to those that they thought they required on the same five-point scale.  The responses indicated that they were aware of the great potential of ICT and thought that their universities could do more, and better.
Majority of the informants/respondents thought that lack of ICT maintenance staff was a real problem at university campuses. Majority of those employed were ignorant. Minor technical hardware or mere software updating problems easily lead to prolonged computer downtimes. In some cases computers assigned to some departments were not in use due to a lack of qualified personnel to use them. Senior administrators, faculty and members of staff had accumulated PCs from various projects and kept them in their offices while junior members of staff and faculty did not have any. This was particularly acute at Moi and Egerton universities. This was hoarding as in cases where users needed permission from their seniors to use computers that were free most of the time. It indicated lack of willingness to share scarce resources equitably on the part of the senior members of staff. However, there was little evidence that even those who had PCs in their offices made good use of them. They were clearly not deriving great benefits from them, or maximizing on their potential, as some owned them as “souvenir” or “trophy” computers.
The study showed that the introduction of computer technology has created awareness among the users at universities and that the senior individuals in administration were aware of user requirements. The university administrators were also supportive of the development and widespread utilization of ICT in the universities. Groups (staff members and students) were aware of the problems that the universities faced vis-à-vis acquisition of ICT related hardware and software. Since the ICT situation was shown to be generally poor with regard to the user requirements, the study revealed there was need to increase the availability of ICT at the work place beyond the present levels.

The Romance and Dilemma of ICT in Kenya.

The study findings raise many questions: Is Kenya ready to embrace the “fourth industrial revolution” (Internet)? Or will Kenya be left behind again? University are not connected to a level that learning institutions should be. They are still privileging bureaucrats who have very little use for the Internet, and given that they are not the nerve center of learning. Cursory glace at university websites in Africa is appalling. The websites are poorly done and look like undergraduate practice web creations in the North. It is therefore not surprising that contemporary electronic research publications are lacking in articles by Kenyan and African scholars, and yet that is the medium of dissemination in the world today.
In fact all universities in Kenya do not recognize online publications during promotions, even peer reviewed and refereed online publications. How can we then embrace ICT while at the same time not fully recognizing its fruits? This is a misleading notion. Should Africa be striving for online education or should it instead concentrate on enabling more people to participate in higher education? It is true that there is a huge amount of interest in computers, the Internet and other ICT-related technologies that can be offered, but how they are creating a knowledge-gap by way of access remains very miasmic. Internet cafés are emerging everywhere in Kenya but institutions of higher education remain unconnected because of inadequate resources. Quality Education (QE), which is the current fad and buzzword in education, especially in distance learning in higher education, is predicated on ICT, and yet this is the area in which Kenya is least advantaged.
In 1997, in a conference paper that I presented at an ICT conference in South Africa, I wrote: “The fact that Kenya has not developed an adequate information and communication technology (ICT) system means that it has missed out on important aspects of the current global dynamism, and will continue to miss out unless the situation is remedied” (Amutabi, 1997: 17).  The situation seems to have changed slightly since. There is certainly more use of ICT in every imaginable place in Kenya particularly the spread of the cyber cafes and the increasing percentage of Kenyans that are surfing the Internet. Access in ICT at universities is a very important theme, where access is defined by the availability of equipment, machines and several appliances, besides online resources and associated infrastructure such as availability of up to date computers, software and communication network that is efficient, effective and affordable.
Access in ICT for learning purposes also means that faculty and students enjoy support services that make learning and studying effective, such as an efficient library and fast and current computers with high and continued connectivity to the Internet. Access also means that students have adequate reach to faculty for professional guidance and advising that is effective and meaningful, that there is interaction between and among learners, through the Internet. This interactive interchange and learning is what makes ICT exciting. Access also means that students are receiving examinations that are really suitable but not convenience exams, that is, those that are administered just because they are easily compatible to the computing programs at the universities.
In as much as there is awareness of usefulness of ICT in Kenya, majority of learners and teachers are still ICT-marginalized. In Kenya, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has created syllabi for computer studies but the computerization project in Kenya’s secondary school education is still in its infancy, and at tertiary level, very jumbled. Supporters of ICT argue that quality has and will continue to increase rapidly due to ICT, creating a new educational dynamics and culture in higher education. Admirers of ICT in Kenya perceive no intrinsic obstacles to total quality assurance in higher education using ICT. In fact, Total Quality Education (TQE) was the guiding framework in the recommendation of Kenya’s 2000 Education Commission (Koech Commission) Report, but which was not implemented apparently for lack of funds. Although the then government rejected the Koech report, one of the aspects of critical concern was the recommendation that ICT be emphasized in education.
But research reports on the performance of the World Bank’s African Virtual University (AVU) project have pointed out the structural and logistical weaknesses and viability of this ICT-based project in Africa. Poor infrastructure and limited access are some of the clear problems, which ICT cannot resolve in higher education in Kenya.  My research unearthed some fundamental problems such as poorly functioning equipment and lack of quality in courses delivered by ICT in Kenya. For example, at AVU centers, students choosing online courses are not getting the education they pay for, and one wonders whether universities should be providing such low quality instruction. In brief, the prospects of quality education vis-à-vis ICT are very bad, especially online learning. Seemingly, there is emerging concern whether ICT will still guarantee quality education in higher education in Africa, and whether in fact ICT is the panacea to problems of higher education in Africa.
The use of ICT in Kenya has only intensified since the 1990s. Thus, IT is not very well spread and utilized in Kenya’s institutions of learning, mainly because of poor communication network and limited access to IT hardware and software due to economic factors. The paper takes cognizance of the fact that IT is less spread in its use in Kenya’s education institutions compared to the institutions in the West. Is Africa ready to embrace the “fourth industrial revolution” (Internet) or will it be left behind again? It is frightening that Africa, which has never been able to catch up with the first world in industrial development, is on the verge of being left out of the current clamor for IT in education and other sectors. I argue that quality education (QE), which is the current fad and buzzword in education, especially in distance education, is predicated on IT. The article raises questions and concerns on the challenges on QE and IT in Kenya and how these challenges can be addressed.
There is increasing interest in the role of information and communication technology in making quality education available in Africa.  In much of Africa, there is a huge amount of interest in computers, the Internet and other technologies that are on offer in the realm of ICT. Internet cafés are emerging in very remote village. Everyone, from telephone and computer companies, to educational institutions and shrewd businesspeople are on the run, trying to cash on the rush for information and communication technology. It is therefore not surprising that contemporary research in Africa is suddenly fascinated with ICT and quality education, especially online learning. Equally, the role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education in Africa has become a big theme in education conferences and academic publications. Policy makers are increasingly calling for the need to connect, and not be left behind. It is as if everyone has to embrace ICT despite some of the negative effects that the North in already experiencing due to this. Due to the rush, traditional approaches to learning are being abandoned, before even the efficacy of these ICT-related fads in education are proven.
Apparently, there is emerging concern on whether ICT will still guarantee quality education in Africa, and whether in fact ICT is the panacea to all the development problems in Africa. Should Africa be striving for online education or should it instead concentrate on enabling more people to participate in education? This is a more pertinent question given the large number of those school age learners still outside the formal education sector in Africa. The level of illiteracy in African countries in fact complicates this further, where in some countries illiteracy stands at below 50 per cent. Even where literacy is seen to be relatively better such as in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Botswana and Zambia, it is on average around 60 per cent of the relevant population. Many countries such as Somalia, Mozambique, Angola and Namibia are still very far below the average literacy levels in the developing countries that stand at 48 per cent (UNESCO, 2002:41). Even the better performers such as Egypt, Tunisia, Seychelles and South Africa are far from attaining near-universal literacy in the region of 90 per cent. With these very low literacy levels, should Africa ignore the Internet revolution, the fourth industrial revolution? What are the advantages of ICT to education in Africa? Is it only through ICT that Africa can provide quality education to its citizens?
From the amount of research and the rate at which articles and books that are coming out on total quality education, it is apparent that there is a lot of excitement in the air, in Africa, concerning the role of ICT.  Of course, quality education is the aspiration of every nation and even global organizations involved in education today are going out of their way to provide frameworks and models on how this can be attained. African governments are embracing this thinking. In Kenya, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST) has created syllabi for computer studies and the computerization project in Kenya’s education is being planned.  Increasingly, it is common to hear arguments that instructional technology will be the key to educational quality in this millennium (Amutabi, 1997 and Nafukho, 2004). From the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to other development agencies that are investing in educational technology is urged upon policy-makers with disturbing frequency since the 1990s.
This technological imperative and approaches by supra-national agencies is seen as the path to educational quality.   In fact, supporters of educational technology argue that quality has and will continue to increase rapidly, creating a "new educational culture" (Connick, 1997). Critics argue that this is however not always the case (Sifuna, 2000).  Enthusiasts believe that whatever problems exist are seen as ones which can be handled through better administrative and technological planning. Enthusiasts in technology perceive no intrinsic obstacles to total quality assurance using information and communication technology in higher education (Roth and Sanders, 1996). Total Quality Education (TQE) was the guiding framework in the recommendation of Kenya’s 2000 Education Commission (Koech Commission) Report. Although the report was rejected in toto by the then Kenya African National Union (KANU) government, the relevance of the aspects that the report recommended is still relevant then and now. One of the aspects of critical concern was the importance attached by the Commission report to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) especially its envisaged role in the education sector.
Some scholars question the rationale and justification for educational technology as a panacea to Africa’s development problems. In their assessment of the World Bank’s African Virtual University (AVU) project, Amutabi and Oketch (2002) have pointed out the structural and logistical weaknesses and viability of this technology-based project in Africa. They argue that poor infrastructure and the problems of access are some of the clear problems, which technology cannot resolve. Cardenas (1998), for instance, has written on the problems associated with technology in the college classroom in terms of issues such as poorly functioning equipment, over-promotion of technology-based learning to students, and lack of quality in courses delivered by technology. An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on critics of educational technology who say students choosing online courses are not getting the education they pay for, and question whether universities should be providing such instruction (Guernsey, 1998). The American Federation of Teachers and other faculty organizations have also raised serious cautions about web-based education (Mingle and Gold, 1996) and have even gone on strike over it.

ICT in Kenya: A Country Problem.

There is this whole broad set of processes that has come to be known as "globalization" or the intensification and rapidity of movement in information and communication technology (ICT) has changed everything in learning, teaching and dissemination and Africa and Kenya cannot escape this transforming movement.   Driven forward by the engines of the internet and modern methods of instruction and research and the expanded interests brought to the fingertips of learners through the mere pressing of a finger the potential is limitless. Search engines are increasingly providing access to more hidden knowledge much faster than before. Google, Ask Reeves, AltaVista, Netscape, Smart Search, are the places to be, the modern student will tell you. Dissertations that took years to write are now taking months.
In Kenya, the mood has been euphoric, like it must have felt when the first Trans-Atlantic flight successfully landed. So it is possible. How was it out there? How long did it take? The pioneers must have been asked many questions just as today’s Internet ‘surfers’ are asked. Flying today is no longer mythical as even cows, chicken are flown across oceans to be eaten, as monkeys are on their way to zoos. Everyone can fly. The myth of the Internet was short-lived, in the 1990s when owning an e-mail account was like how it felt owning a radio in the 1910s. Today, the Internet is commonplace, at airports, in cafes, hotels, homes, schools, churches, and bars, everywhere. The beginning of wireless Internet connection has even widened the possibility. It looks like for the first time, African might leap into technological advancement now that no complicated fiber-telephone connections will be required to be “connected.”
Yet in Kenya, some are still asking, how excellent is the Internet as a medium of learning and instruction? Others are still spending long lines at the post office to say post letters saying a mere hello to relatives and friends far away. Snail mail will still be necessary even in the distant future. Paper letters can and will be never be replaced by the e-mail but what we are saying that this will be the exception rather than the rule. Teenagers in Kenya are pouring into Internet cafés every day. They are entering chat rooms where they are engaging in dialogue with people far and wide. It is simply amazing!! With these changes and transformations in technology, the needs and desires of ordinary learners allover the world, have widened. These communication and processes are rapidly shrinking spatial relations learners and teachers, between hitherto far-flung parts of the world and, as a consequence, deepening the imbrications of the local in the global and the global in the local in the whole learning process as Anthony Giddens maintains (1994).
Many Kenyan scholars recognize that the expansion of representational technologies in learning and teaching has increased potential and capacities in all learning environments that are connected. This has meant that teachers and learners now put together their sense of learning and their very destinies in ICT in collusion with new mediascapes. These new internet-created mentalities are scaring. They are re-defining learning, creating new self-imaging, creativities, all propelled by an ever-expanding technological framework that disappears as soon as it comes, and shifts generationally. There is therefore the struggle to remain current in many universities, yet as Denning has argued, what we consider current today might already be a past technology.
There are new critical discourses and technologies of learning that have been generated largely outside the field of education, to address the challenges of this new historical period, the “ICT-age”, the “Internet Generation”. As teachers and learners, we are living in the age of the centrifugal proliferation of information and communication technology that cannot be ignored.  As a consequence, new critical discourses abound in education. In Kenya for example, these discourses include ways of incorporating the info and techno-shy and societal laggards. Moi University has gone a step further to launch radio communication between its three campuses. The linking of the three campuses using a radio network is particularly important due to the fact that there was previously a serious lack of inter-campus communication. The same has happened at Egerton and Jomo Kenyatta universities.
The problem for Kenya is that these new changes in ICT and the excitement they are causing do not seem to permeate the entire society. It is mainly the youth who are really interested. Of course ICT is a tool, it is a facilitator of learning. It does not belong in the realm of the popular, nor is it not presented in the discourses of interpretation that are formulated in the language of discouragement and panic to new users. Everyone can use the Internet. Like any useful device (not skill) everyone can use it, is all that we hear around the globe. One however needs to be literate, and this we are not told.
Some critics argue that ICT does not carry the obverse language of panaceas and instant fixes now deluging the modern development even if promises to do so much. But there is a certain amount of panic, even some fear permeating those who do not know it. There are even problems that the Internet brings about that society has to deal with, major problems and not the small mail con artists.  I am talking here about the panic/panacea discourses of psychic networks, extreme sports promoted on-line, stock options, E-trading (especially e-bay), retirement annuities and the like that now dominate commercial advertising and the calculations of private citizenry as well as business. All of these developments represent the triumph of ICT and carnival of ICT in education now dominating and overtaking our daily lives. And, they incite, in the Foucauldian sense, new tasks and new challenges for the practices of teachers and learners and the practices of classroom pedagogy more specifically. Indeed, we are being compelled at every point to reconsider what pedagogy means in these circumstances.
Against the tide of these currents of change in ICT however, educational thinkers, particularly in the United States, have tended to draw down a bright line of distinction between the established university curriculum and the teeming world of multiplicity and hybridity that now flourishes in the everyday lives of youth bought about by the internet beyond the institution of learning. These educators still insist on a project of homogeneity, normalization and the production of the socially functional citizen.  This is true, even of contemporary progressive approaches to curriculum reform such as multiculturalism that have sought to bring the problems of multiplicity and difference into a framework of institutional intelligibility and manageability. Thus proponents of the modern curriculum have sought to emphasize a technicist discourse--a discourse of experts, professional competence, and boundary maintenance that has separated, for example, the Internet from real learning in the classroom.
Compared to many African countries, Kenya’s telecommunication infrastructure is rated very highly thanks highly to the presence of United Nations Organizations like United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and Habit, the only two UN agencies with headquarters in a Developing Country. The telecommunication sector in Kenya is the responsibility the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCM). Prior to 1998, the defunct Kenya Posts and Telecommunication Corporation (KPTC), a state corporation was the sole provider of basic telecommunications services and the X.25 data services (KenPac). Now the sector has also been liberalized.  Kenya’s telephone network has about land 400,000 lines for 28 million people. The quality of the network has improved substantially over the past few years and recently Kenya Telecommunications Corporation modernized the national and international digital leased line service (KenStream). It has also established a VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) network called KenSat for outlying areas, which now is able to connect to the public switched network and KenPac or KenStream.
With the decline of the analog system, the digital network now serves all areas. This has marked a new era in connectivity in Kenya. Mobile or cellular telephones have also made their debut in Kenya and the sector is expanding fast, in fact exponentially. And there are private companies that have entered the market by providing some 5 million cellular lines, almost one million annually and the number of subscribers is increasing, from market women to matatu  (taxi) touts. Today there are over 4 million Kenyans that have subscribed to mobile phone companies since 2002. Kenya has other advantages. Kenya hosts the African Advanced Level Telecommunication Institute (AFRALTI), an intergovernmental International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Anglophone sub-regional training center. In addition, there is a local training institute, Kenya Communications Institute (KCI), at Mbagathi in Nairobi which provides local training in telecommunications, while the Gilgil Telecommunication Institute (GTI), assembles and produces telecommunication equipment, such as modems, handsets, for the local and regional markets. With the liberalization of the market and the establishment of Internet Service Providers (ISP), access to the World Wide Web (WWW) is becoming common, but many people still have neither telephones nor electricity in their homes, and this is a limiting factor for their access to the WWW.
However, as Mohammed Hassan has noted will no longer a problem thanks to increasing availability of wireless connections. He says, “…advances in wireless digital communications allow countries with poor telephone systems to leapfrog into the information age by avoiding the construction of costly wired telephone networks…. The result could be that Africa becomes part of the electronic communications network faster than anyone would have thought possible” (Hassan, 2003:39). This certainly creates a lot of hope for countries like Kenya as it gives such nations that have previously been left behind in the ICT revolution a chance to get tools they need to catch up quickly with the North.
Kenya electricity supply, because of its erratic behavior and scarcity perhaps another major undoing for ICT. This is because ICT relies on stable supply and distribution of electrical power. In Kenya, as in many other developing countries, power supply is limited to mostly urban areas (92%) especially to industries requiring power and to providing electricity to homes more cost-effectively due to high concentrations of populations in urban areas. In rural areas, the situation is different. Few areas, 8% of the population, are supplied with electricity despite much effort being put into this project by the government. In addition, the sources of electricity, which are mostly hydroelectric, and to a small extent geothermal electric, are few, have limited power and, for hydroelectric, are seasonal. A small percentage of power is imported from Uganda.
During the long dry season, when the level of water is low, power rationing becomes the norm in Kenya. This affects industries and institutions alike. In addition, the erratic and unstable nature of the power supply affects many electrical appliances such as computers. For this reason many organizations spend a lot of money on uninterrupted power supply (UPS) units and maintaining the damaged ones; a small number of organizations have their own standby generators as a strategic measure to provide continued service. The power sector has, however, been liberalized, so that various private companies have now been established to supply electrical power to supplement that which is produced locally, and with this development the situation is likely to change in the near future. In this respect the KenGen Company has been created to oversee the generation of electricity in the country. The distribution of electricity is the responsibility of Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), which is state owned. The power supply from the national grid Kenya Power & Lighting Co. - KPLC) is reliable by Kenyan standards although frequent blackouts arising from power surges are common. These affect electrical appliances and systems that depend on electricity such as computers and communications. Telecommunication is provided mainly by the Communication Commission of (CCK) Kenya, previously a government monopoly, but one that is now undergoing liberalization through privatization and opening up the market to private investors. The capacity and quality of communication lines are low. Since the university has three campuses, communication and transportation of staff and students between them are serious problems.
The politics of ICT in Kenya and ICT at Kenya’s public universities have often contested against the open possibilities of knowledge production and technical affiliations that are fore-grounded in cutthroat competition, for ICT and courting of donors to support these programs. A similar trend was noted in the United States in the past as Richard Katz, et al, have noted.   This competition is not the type covered in the postcolonial theory, postcolonial and postmodern global-scopes where there are competing paces for the canon and the traditional. I believe that addressing these critical issues of ICT and the organization of knowledge at universities is pivotal in a time in which there are deepening patterns of balkanization in learning, some elements of  ‘apartheid’ and isolation in Kenya for those that are compliant and those that are ignorant. There is a gap that is fast opening up between science and technology on one hand and humanities and social sciences on the other. There is emergence of disciplinary insulation in educational institutions--a product of the uncertainty precipitated by the proliferation of difference as a consequence of technologization as Richard Katz have noted above. It is creating technological segregation. This is a process governed by the strategic alienation of “un-technologized other” in forms of knowledge building, genres of ICT, models and programs, and the deployment of technically complex devices that alienate them. We see this in operation in the whole contemporary stance in educational institutions in Kenya, towards issues of stratification and difference.
One sees all of these ICT dynamics at work especially now in the fratricidal wars going on Kenyan campuses across the country over the question of who has got the latest ICP server, and the fastest one. There is dissipation of debates and interest in crucial issues such as the canon (standard) versus multiculturalism and the traditional disciplines versus alternative forms of knowledge such as cultural studies and postcolonial theory that were prevalent in the 1990s.
          These vastly transformed circumstances consequent upon the arrival of ICT and its transformative dynamics, functioning and collision stages of technologies, software imposes new imperatives on curriculum and pedagogy in schooling. But, in Kenya’s competing models of university education and campus competitions, we seem evermore to lack the qualities of empathy, the desire for collaboration and cooperation and negotiation, or the magnanimity of spirit to engage with the other as a member of our community or even our species. 
University lecturers just like school teachers need to be prepared in instrumentation and current technological imperatives of instruction. It has to do with training. The quality of lecturers also depends on the available support their environment provides just like that of schoolteachers. Kaplan and Owings (2001) defined teacher quality within two broad areas: teacher preparation/qualifications and teaching practices. The term teacher quality concerns what the teachers bring to the learning environment, including their demographics, aptitude, professional preparation, subject majors, teacher examination scores and certification and prior professional work experiences. Teaching quality, on the other hand, refers to what the teachers do to promote student learning inside the classroom such as creating a positive learning climate, selecting appropriate instructional goals and assessments, using the curriculum effectively, and employing varied instructional behaviors that help all students learn at higher levels.
With the rapid infusion of information and communication technology (ICT) in Kenya in the past ten years, organizations are now realizing the critical role that ICT can play in the development process. Public universities in Kenya as agents of development and custodians of societal technological transfer in the whole country are organizations that play key roles in the field of ICT. Much is expected from them by other organizations to provide leadership in the management and utilization of the new technology in addition to scholarly research and dissemination.
The worldwide spread and evolution of information and communication technology (ICT) during last 40 years has been rapid and challenging to many organizations. Many organizations are grappling with ICT – related problems. During this period of ICT-ization in the world, new structures have been created; new problems have cropped up related especially related to plagiarism. Lecturers that are not knowledgeable in ICT are caught off-guard. There is all types of downloading of all kind of materials by those who are knowledgeable in ICT use, without knowing the bounds of copy rights, which creates new responsibilities, all requiring new management strategies by all players. New systems have been, and are being developed, which profoundly affect the ways in which organizations operate leading to the need for innovative organizational and ICT management. The effects of the new technology are profound and have been felt far and wide, including public universities in Kenya.
The rapid infusion and diffusion of information and communication technology into public universities in Kenya has raised significant user and management issues for senior administration and technical staff at the universities and tertiary institutions. In most cases ICT is employed in organizations to gain an advantage over old ways of doing things, but it appears this has not been very successful in Kenya’s institutions where even mundane features such as memorandums are still delivered in the old hard copy forms. This has been very disturbing. There have been projects that connected all offices sponsored by various donors at Moi University, Kenyatta University, University of Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) for example and one would have expected the full utilization of these resources, including sending of simple memos and response to simple inquiries. There is a gap in modern approaches to management of information systems at Kenya’s public universities and other institutions. This is noticeable in the establishment of many computer centers in public universities, which are very skeletal and with very basic facilities. Many have been set up without clear vision, plans, purpose and control. This has led to an alienation of these centers from the organizations that they are meant to serve, making them to operate largely independent of the organizations they are meant to serve. This is due, in part, to misalignment of institutional intentions.
On average each public university in Kenya has about 2,000 PCs of various makes, types and capacities scattered over several campuses, in various faculties and/or departments, in administrative offices, computer laboratories and centers. In the academic offices, the computers are used as word processors just to process student-related issues such as marks and grades at the same time preparing internal memos and an occasional external letter. Many computers in administrative offices are more of souvenirs than of any useful purpose and are often in excess. In many offices of university administrators these computers are gathering dust as secretaries often do the work in the office. Many of the computers are often upgraded or replaced with newer models even before being touched. There are also instruction televisions and other media resources that are never used, as lecturers are stuck to the old ways methods of instruction, lecture notes and chalkboard.
The internet cafés on campuses are often run down, the university do not pay telephone bills regularly and they are often cut of by telephone companies, the systems are down most of the time as a result of technical problems that are internal, there are often very long lines of frustrated users especially where students and lecturers are sharing the same facilities. Many ICT resources are out of order for lack of management, control and maintenance and vital replacement parts. In a small number of cases, PCs are connected to form local area networks (LANs). The rest are a virtual collection of autonomous islands of technology isolated from other units although they structurally belong to, and should be used to support, the same organizations. The University of Nairobi, which is the largest in terms of population, has about forty thousand students and four thousand workers and none-academic staff, and one thousand five hundred teaching staff.
Amutabi and Oketch (2002) have stated that interest in the adoption of ICT has emerged in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), including Kenya, for several factors.  The revolution in ICT has resulted in computer hardware and software becoming cheaper and, therefore, more widely available. At the center of this development is the ever powerful and ever-present microprocessor whose second hand versions from the North are being reconditioned and shipped to many parts of Africa. In Nairobi, mitumba (second hand or used computers) go for as little as US $ 300 unlike in the 1990s when they often went for as much as US$1000. Things have surely changed in terms of affordability, making computers easily available to many people.
The substantial, value added, utility of ICT in the provision of, and access to, information services for improved planning and organizational management has become more widely recognized in Kenya and other African countries. There is increasingly computerization of many firms and even government departments. Increasingly, universities have established websites, even if they are rudimentary and never updated. The student population has increasingly brought pressure to bear on their institutions to introduce Internet centers on their campuses. Unfortunately, it is students more than lecturers who are ahead in utilizing these services. When yahoo and hotmail free e-mail address providers became available in the 1990s in Kenya, it was in fact the students who embraced the notion more than faculty or teaching staff. Today, there are some members of the teaching staff in Kenyan universities who do not have private e-mail accounts save for the official ones which they have been allocated by virtue of their employment (such as Moi University’s or Kenyatta University’s and which they never use because of lack of computer skills. Many of this type pretend that it is the lack of access to the Internet, which is to blame. This is surely exaggerated in a country where Internet cafés are springing up even by the roadside in most parts including the rural areas.
Many public universities in Kenya have embraced ICT through global imperatives, to remain connected. Much of the ICT infrastructure has been occasioned by the assistance given by the international development agencies and donor countries have exerted significant pressure upon many governments, institutions of higher learning and other recipients of their aid, in developing countries to adapt the extensive use of ICT to improve their workforce performance and organizational management.

Some Fundamental Problems at Universities with regard to ICT.

There is no doubt that the use of ICT in public universities in Kenya is increasing rapidly. The various ICT resources acquired over a period of twenty years, from early 1980s to date differ in models, ages, efficiency, compliance with latest software and other characteristics and this increases the complexity of managing the resources in the dynamic world of ICT and the global economy. The lack of a close relationship between the processes, the ICT, and ICT management, often adds to the challenge in Kenya.
Universities have serious problems in their use of ICT in Kenya. The lack of trained and experienced technical personnel to manage, control and maintain the increasingly large numbers of these resources means that their utility values, effectiveness and efficiency, cannot be ascertained. The lack of theoretical knowledge and practical management, control and maintenance skills of ICT staff leads to these units being managed, controlled and maintained virtually on trial and error basis. Some of the technicians are untrained or semi-trained in the real sense of ICT training. Most of the ICT technical staff is trained initially not in computers but in other technical fields such as electronics, librarianship, or mechanics and only later on switch over to managing computers, creating a continuity and credibility gap between professions.
In the Kenyan universities, users have yet to fully adapt and to internalize the new ICT technology so as to appreciate and make it one of their own day-to-day instruments and equipment of work. The lack of computer culture in public universities impedes rapid diffusion of the new technologies. Very often the aims of the ICT management units and those of the universities as organizations are not aligned, creating autonomous units that consume huge financial resources but which do not result in many benefits for their organizations. However, this argument does not imply that there is lack of appetite for computer technology in Kenya. On the contrary, one may indeed hypothesize that whereas all societies resist change, all human societies abhor a technological vacuum, and based on this proposition, the Kenyan society, once it has acquired it, may not be prepared to give it up unless there is a better technology to replace it.
Ignorance is the biggest problem facing universities with regard to ICT. Many university managers have never experienced an environment where ICT is at full throttle like in many universities in North America. This makes them less appreciative of ICT. The Limited knowledge of functions and operations of ICT as reflected at the level of senior administrative staff of universities makes matters worse, especially on technical issues and need to invest in ICT. Many senior and influential university officials with positions of responsibility requiring decision-making received their education and early work experiences well before the advent of ICT. Many started their careers in the age of the typewriter, before the wide-scale introduction of the computer technology at universities and find it very hard to fathom many things in ICT. They also did so in environments where the capabilities of what ICT was available, were very limited indeed compared with those of contemporary period. It is, therefore, not surprising that these administrators and lecturers lack sufficient grasp of the issues related to ICT resources and its management, and struggle to provide adequate and effective managerial direction and support that is so much needed. The students have taken advantage of this and are exploiting the lecturers and the university ignorance. Many are plagiarizing papers from the internet knowing very well that lecturers and the university have no way of finding out.
In Kenyan universities, there is lack of standards on access and use of ICT to all members of staff. There is lack of standards but reliance on some ad hoc pseudo ‘standards’ that differ enormously, which introduce real challenges to achieving desirable results, capacity and effort required to use the facilities optimally. More often than not, the universities are competing against some back street Internet cafés and dubious ICT centers. In addition, the rapid increase in quantities of ICT resources and establishment of ICT centers in many universities across the country has created a rapid turnover of the few available trained technical personnel making it hard for the less endowed organizations to fail to attract and retain competent computer staff because they cannot offer competitive salaries.
Consequently, this creates huge financial constraints on the public universities. This is because public universities depend on the exchequer or government for staff salaries, which are usually low compared to large to medium private companies that rival them for manpower. Many cannot therefore compete fairly against the well-paying institutions. The universities end up being stuck with the mediocre individuals that are unable to attract better jobs on the fast growing ICT market.
It must be noted that the manner in which ICT was introduced in Kenyan public universities was haphazard, and this is a major problem. It was initially piecemeal, uncoordinated, and in most cases disorganized. Senior university management officials often had little control over the acquisitions of ICT as agreements were largely made bilaterally between external donors and the respective departments and faculties concerned. To-date, there exist very few budgets for the development and management of ICT in faculties and departments leave alone the main university expenditure. This points to a lack of recognition by the university management of the importance of ICT to their organizations. Often, there are no policy frameworks, at either organizational or national level, to guide the adoption of this technology to realize its full potential benefits.
Within a short period of time, public universities in Kenya have had to cope with a diversity of new ICT related problems over and above their old ‘normal’ problems on the economic, social, governmental and political fronts. The new problems, which are closely linked with the introduction of the computer technology, include low computer literacy among staff, securing and installing ICT resources, hiring and training of technical personnel, and managing, controlling, and maintaining ICT within a rapidly changing environment. The effects of globalization mean that universities in Kenya have to deal with more problems than their western counterparts in their effort to catch up with the North. The result is that the external supporters (donors) and other stakeholders fail to understand why their financial, material and other forms of aid have not brought about the desired results of enhanced performance. Planning, development, implementation, utilization, exploitation, management, control and maintenance of information systems in many public universities in Kenya are caught up in a lot of secrecy.
The external donors and other stakeholders have little knowledge of the decision-making processes, university activities, including teaching, research, and administration, which the donated ICT is, in theory, intended to support, nor of the situational or contingency factors that act on the processes and activities in the universities within the milieu that they operate. An examination of Kenyan university documents on ICT reveals in many cases that hardly any policy framework exists to guide the development, adoption and management of information and communication technology. Various parts of a university develop their own information systems independent of others with no common standards. In many cases the technical staff that manage the information systems lack the necessary skills and knowledge and experience required to manage, control and maintain ICT to support their organizations, effectively and efficiently. One observation in these universities, as in many other organizations, is that, due to their lucrative nature top positions in ICT projects have attracted individuals that are not ICT specialists. These are the individuals that currently hold ICT positions.  This poses a major problem in the development, utilization and exploitation of ICT. A lot of these individuals have very little knowledge of ICT itself and in most cases have no experience at all of intensive work and management of ICT projects.
From the documentary evidence gathered from the mid 1980's to date, several ICT consultancy firms, both local and foreign, were contracted to give training to ICT staff at public universities in Kenya. In particular, Moi University has received financial support from donors such as the World Bank, the Dutch NGO known as MHO (Dutch), Regional Informatics and Networks for Africa (RINAF) and Department for International Development - DfiD (British). Funds from these agencies have conducted several ICT-related user and management training seminars. In many of these endeavors, training of staff has often included as part of major ICT projects, and it was aimed at equipping the staff with the skills necessary to enable them to use and manage the ICT resources effectively. Local firms, such as Informatics for Partnership in Africa, ICL Kenya, and local university in-house training staff, being new in the field of ICT management and lacking the necessary capital and experience, often prove to be largely ineffective. Most of the training tasks were not completed, and the few that were, were poorly done and left the intended users and technical staff with few ICT skills despite the fact that the firms were often fully paid for the work. The lack of a strong legal system in Kenya means that such firms often get away without being held responsible and accountable. The foreign ICT companies are usually more expensive than the local ones and they lack knowledge of the local conditions. The case of ICL (UK), contracted in 1994 to train staff and service ICT of the British government funded Margaret Thatcher Library (MTL) project at Moi University, is one such case.
Due to the high costs involved, the periods of contract periods are often reduced. This leaves the recipient institutions with uncontained and unresolved problems and instead the problems keep growing and threaten to get out of hand. The researcher, who participated in some of the projects, can bear witness to some of the cases cited above.
On the individual level, users try to find solutions using the few sources of literature on ICT but the literature is often out of date and lacking relevant material since local conditions were not taken into account. Attendance at in-house or local and international workshops is popular but this is often short in duration and irregular. They are also prohibitively expensive and only a small number of staff can be allowed to attend them.
With the dwindling financial donor support situation, it is unlikely that things will improve much. These examples clearly highlight the ICT related problems faced in the Kenyan public universities, and also that the solutions attempted to date are inadequate and lack relevance. Since this also, by extension, affects other real processes in the universities, the poor performance in ICT inevitably affects the performance of these activities. This also clearly shows that there has been no lasting solution to the growing problems despite many attempts having been made to find one. One concludes that there is a compelling need for alternative solutions to the ICT problems found in Kenya’s public universities.
The establishment, development, funding and staffing of public universities in Kenya represents a huge investment. It is estimated that each university costs the government over $10 million a year, and being non-profit-making public institutions, their returns on investment (ROI) are difficult to determine since it is not possible to quantify in monetary terms the trained personnel produced by the universities. Over the past years, a poor economic situation has forced the Kenyan government to reduce its spending on public universities and it now expects the universities to find alternative ways to supplement the reduced funding. This consequently implies that many of the universities are compelled to search for alternative sources of funding including income-generating activities, and increased support from external donors. They are also expected to restructure and streamline their operational activities to survive in a fast changing world.
Organizational downsizing, known in Kenya as staff retrenchment has also affected teaching and use of ICT at universities. The World Bank and IMF pushed have been pushing and hammering on the song of downsizing programs since the 1990s. The aim was to enable the universities to operate effectively and efficiently with a smaller and more motivated, well-paid staff. The better-remunerated staff has been a pipe dream. As for motivation, I am sure that as a university employee in Kenya I am. The lecturers just ended a one-year-old strike over salaries and terms of service just this year (2004). The hope is that ICT should offer a new and opportune alternative to overcome some of these problems in a manner that could not have been foreseen. On improving quality through ICT this has not worked, neither has been retrenchment. Retrenchment has never worked because the university managers have often replaced the retrenched workers with even more mediocre staff, often their relatives and friends.


The rapid technological developments that characterize the present era have left a great impact on public universities in Kenya. The winds of technological change keep have been blowing hard in the direction of public universities in Kenya as they do in those of other organizations, not only in the developed world but also in the developing world. The Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW) now play a significant role in the transfer of technology from the North to the South. Today, cyber space or the information super highway is king!  Even though, the kinds of hardware and software these universities in Kenya have are comparable to those found elsewhere in the developed world, technological absorption has been slow and full of hiccups and this is understandable.
Much of what ICT has to offer and its potential has not yet been fully deployed and internalized in Kenya’s public universities. Lack of funds represent a serious obstacle in the process of technology acquisition, adoption, utilization and management. For example, due to lack of funds, Kenyan universities are not able to phase out old ICT resources, such as Intel 80286, and 80386, and IBM 386 and 486 that were first acquired in early 1980s, and IBM 586 acquired in the 1990s. Instead they have been struggling to maintain both the old and the new technology that now includes Intel 80486, Pentium, Pentium II and Pentium III, thereby creating systemic complexities that are increasingly becoming difficult to sustain. The universities have achieved a high degree of development with respect to ICT, in particular the acquisition of hardware and software and the setting up of local area networks (LANs) mainly as donations.
It is instructive to note that an implemented information system need not necessarily have a technical aspect; however, when it does have a technical aspect, it is the social. The justification of this process in public universities in Kenya is based on the observation that technological changes take place very often and there is a clear need to be able to keep abreast of the changes when they occur without losing out on quality. However, this process is either not well-established in Kenyan universities or if established it is not enforced, hence and its introduction and application will improve the quality of service to users.
 That would enable them integrate a range of ICT- enhanced activities into their teaching range of multimedia resources, as well as through a web environment.
The research study's overall recommendation is that new digital technologies are appropriate for use in the Kenyan context and have the potential to revolutionize the quality of training and status of lecturers and students at public universities. Most significant of all the use of ICT in the remotest university in Kenya such as Laikipia Campus, Western University College, Kisii Campus or Maseno University, carefully planned for and implemented, could have a significant impact on the self image, confidence, knowledge and professionalism of lecturers and students form those institutions as it will enable them to participate in the carnival of knowledge.
The wireless Internet connection is the best opportunity for Africa to catch up in the ICT revolution. It means that new digital technologies can have a significant role to play in transforming the opportunities for lecturers and students in Kenya. Thus, lectures and students in Kenya’s public universities have of benefiting from the many advantages that ICT is currently affording richer peers, whilst leap-frogging expensive mistakes made in more developed countries. Mobile digital devices, that have, to date been largely aimed at the business market, can be exploited by universities. Most significant of all, perhaps, the use of ICT in some of the most remote campuses of Kenya, if well planned and implemented, can have a significant impact on the self-image, confidence and professionalism of lecturers and students, feeling like the others in Nairobi and the rest of the world. In this sense ICT offers the potential to redefine and enhance the status of learners and lecturers, although granting that a lot more still needs to be done in harnessing ICT in Kenya’s public institutions.


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Amutabi, M. N. (2002). The African Virtual University (AVU) and the Paradox of the World Bank in Kenya,” Paul Tiyambe Zeleza and Ibulaimu Kakoma (eds). In Search of Modernity: Science and Technology in Africa. Trenton, New Jersey: African World Press, 2003. Pp. 309-332.

Amutabi, M.N and Moses Oketch. (2003). “Experimenting in Distance Education: The African Virtual University (AVU) and the Paradox of the World Bank in Kenya”, International Journal of Educational Development, 23 (2003), 57-73.

Amutabi, M.N, (1997).”Globalization and Its Impact on Higher Education in Africa: The Case of Kenya.” In Jan Van Der Vyver (ed). Transforming Education: Southern African Experiences. Volume 1. Johannesburg: Southern African Society of Education. Pp. 1- 18.
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Barnard, J. (1997). The World Wide Web and higher education: The promise of virtual universities and online libraries. Educational Technology, Vol. 37, No. 3 (May-June): 30-35. Special issue: Web-Based Learning.

Benner, C. (2003). “Information Technology, Employment, and Equity in South Africa: The Role of National Policy”, in Paul Tiyambe Zeleza and Ibulaimu Kakoma (eds). In Search of Modernity: Science and Technology in Africa. Trenton, New Jersey: African World Press, 2003.

Castells, M. (1996, 2000) The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture. Volume I: The Rise of the Network Society. Volume II: The Power of Identity Volume III: End of Millennium. Malden, MA: Black well Publishers.

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Giddens, A. (1994). The consequences of modernity. In P. Williams and L. Chrisman (eds.), Colonial Discourse and Postcolonial Theory (pp. 181-89).  New York: Columbia University Press.

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Mansell, R. and Wehn, U. (1998) Knowledge Societies: Information Technology for Sustainable Development. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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The 11 Best Low Risk Investments for High Return

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The 11 Best Low Risk Investments for High Return

The 11 Best Low Risk Investments for High Return - The thought of low risk investments makes many people feel comfortable about their money.

I remember the first time I stood at the top of the high dive at the rec center pool, I was a nervous low risk investments with high return

Until that moment, I never realized how afraid of heights I really was.

For many that have never invested before, they feel this same apprehensive feeling about where they place their money.

With the rising cost of living, it’s imperative that we invest, whether that be investing $10000 or the best way to invest $100000 (preferably with the lowest risk possible) to generate high yield returns.

High rates of return on your investments are wonderful because it means you don’t have to invest as much capital to reach your investing goals. Yet, the higher return you want, the more risk you’ll have to accept.

As you get closer to retirement (or if you are managing investments for your high school senior’s college fund), your appetite for risk drops precipitously. You simply cannot afford to see a huge drop in the market right before the time you need to begin withdrawing funds from the investment accounts. Though with this anticipation of investing, it really has never been as easy with such online brokerage accounts to help you know what is best for your financial situation, such as Betterment Investing, to help you take your next steps.

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If you find yourself in this camp, you may need to shift a large portion of your portfolio to low risk investments – or even look for ways to earn a decent return with no risk at all. Low risk investments will generate a lower return because you aren’t taking as much risk, but you might be okay with that at this point in your life. When you’re nearing retirement, capital preservation is more important that astronomical growth rates. You need to know your account won’t drop 25% in a year and severely impact your investing goals. Check out some of our great reviews to help you get a better grasp on what will meet your investment needs:

    Motif Investing Review
    Lending Club Review
    OptionsHouse Review

Best Low Risk Investments

When it comes to investing with a low appetite for risk, you will face a wide array of options – each of which can be confusing on their own. Here are a few of your best low risk investment options to consider for your portfolio – along with some ideas to earn cash with almost no risk at all.
1. Peer to Peer Lending

P2P Lending is a completely different type of investment, it is also one of our highly recommended short term investments as well. Instead of buying shares in a company (and its future profits) you are lending your money to someone else with the hope they will pay you back. If you screen your loans poorly, peer to peer lending can be extremely risky. However, screening properly and choosing only the best rated loans is a great way to secure a decent return with little risk on your part.

For example, one of the most popular peer to peer lending platforms, Lending Club, is averaging a default rate of just over 5%.  If you screen your loans well and avoid some of these defaults, then you can earn some really nice returns.
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Fortunately, peer to peer lending companies have worked to offer screening tools and portfolio settings for your investment gain. Instead of having to go through every single loan (which you can still do), their online tools allow you to target a certain rate of return and search only through loans that fit the bill.  I have been investing in Lending Club and Prosper for several years and have had less than 3% default rate while getting a total annual return (after defaulted loans) of 8.33%.

What is even better is that you can invest as little as $25 in a loan to get started. So, if you want to avoid the bulk of potential risks – or simply spread it around – you can spread your investments out over hundreds of different loans if you want.

If lending money on the internet sounds scary, you can rest assured it isn’t. This is mainly due to the superiority of the company’s collection process. Lending Club in particular has done a great job in setting up their collection practices in order to protect their investors. (Lend Academy did a great interview with LC’s Head of Collections.)

Learn more about how I did with P2P lending in my review of LendingClub or Prosper or get started with Peer-to-Peer Lending with companies like Lending Club and Prosper. Depending on your appetite for risk and how much capital you have to invest, you could score some decent returns without the stress that comes with high risk investments.
2. Credit Card Rewards

The idea that credit card rewards could provide a low-risk return on your money might sound preposterous, but it’s not that off the wall when you really think about it. By picking up a cash back credit card, you earn “points” that translate into real money. And in reality, the “rewards” you earn with some of the top cards are far more lucrative than anything you might earn with a Certificate of Deposit or online savings account.

Here’s how these offers work:

Let’s say you picked up a Chase Sapphire Preferred® card and put your regular spending on it to earn the signup bonus. Once you spent $4,000 on your card in 90 days, you would earn 50,000 points worth $500 in gift cards or cash back. If you spent that $4,000 on bills you would normally pay like groceries, daycare, or utilities, and paid your card off right away, this is the closest thing to “free money” you’ll ever find!

Here are a few cash back offers that come with the lowest risk:

Chase Freedom® – The Chase Freedom® card offers $150 in free money after you spend just $500 on your card within 90 days. In addition to the signup bonus, you’ll also earn 5x points on your first $1,500 spent in categories that rotate every quarter, plus 1x points on everything else. Redeem your point for statement credits or gift cards, or use them to shop directly on

Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ – The Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ offers an alternative to the traditional Chase Freedom card. With this new card option, you’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back for every dollar you spend. In addition, you’ll also get a $150 signup bonus after you spend just $500 on your new card within 90 days. If you don’t like keeping track of rotating categories, this card is an excellent alternative. Best of all, there is no annual fee.

If you want to learn more about the easy money you can score with credit card rewards, check out our guide on the best cash back credit cards.
Very, Very Low Risk Investments

These investments are probably some of the most boring things you can do with your money, but if you are looking for the lowest possible risk, then this is where to go.
3. Certificates of Deposit
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low risk investment with bbva compass CDNo matter how hard you look, you won’t find an investment more boring than a Certificate of Deposit. If you’re in the market for one of these low-risk investment vehicles, you can get one through your bank, credit union, or even through your investment broker.

With a Certificate of Deposit (CD), you deposit your money for a specific length of time in exchange for a guaranteed return on your money.

With a CD, you get a set interest rate for that period of time that will not change no matter what happens to interest rates. You are locked in until maturity of the term length, although you can usually choose to withdraw from the CD early for a penalty that is normally equal to 3 months’ worth of interest.

As long as you get a certificate of deposit with an FDIC insured financial institution, you are guaranteed to get your principal back as long as your total deposits at that specific financial institution are less than $250,000. The government is guaranteeing you cannot have a loss, and the financial institution will give you some interest on top of that. How much interest you earn is dependent on the length of the CD term and the current interest rates when you purchase your CD. Interest rates are generally fairly low at the moment, but you can usually get more interest if you get a certificate of deposit for a period of at least 1-2 years.
Earn a risk-free return on your cash with a Certificate of Deposit. You can open a CD with great interest rates with BBVA Compass Bank, Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct), and Discover Bank.
4. Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS)

The US Treasury has several types of bond investments for you to choose from.

One of the lowest risk is called Treasury Inflation Protection Securities, or TIPS. These bonds come with two methods of growth. The first is a fixed interest rate that doesn’t change for the length of the bond. The second is built-in inflation protection that is guaranteed by the government. Whatever rate inflation grows during the time you hold the TIPS, your investment’s value will rise with that inflation rate.

For example, you might invest in a TIPS today that only comes with a 0.35% interest rate. That’s less than certificate of deposit rates and even basic online savings accounts. That isn’t very enticing until you realize that, if inflation grows a 2% per year for the length of the bond, then your investment value will grow with that inflation and give you a much higher return on your investment.
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TIPS can be purchased individually or you can invest in a mutual fund that, in turn, invests in a basket of TIPS. The latter option makes managing your investments easier while the former gives you the ability to pick and choose with specific TIPS you want.
Want to protect your portfolio from inflation? Purchase TIPS through a great broker like E*TRADE, TD Ameritrade, or Scottrade.
5. Money Market Funds

A money market fund is a mutual fund created for people who don’t want to lose any of the principal of their investment.

The fund also tries to pay out a little bit of interest as well to make parking your cash with the fund worthwhile. The fund’s goal is to maintain a Net Asset Value (NAV) of $1 per share.

These funds aren’t foolproof, but they do come with a strong pedigree in protecting the underlying value of your cash. It is possible for the NAV to drop below $1, but it is rare.
You can park cash in a money market fund using a great broker like TD Ameritrade, Scottrade, and E*TRADE or with the same banks that offer high interest savings accounts. While you may not earn a lot of interest on your investment, you won’t have to worry about losing vast amounts of your principal or the day-to-day fluctuations in the market.
6. Municipal Bonds

When a government at the state or local level needs to borrow money, they don’t use a credit card. Instead, the government entity issues a municipal bond. These bonds, also known as munis, are excempt from Federal income tax, making them a smart investment for people who are trying to minimize their exposure to taxes. Most states and local municipalities also exempt income tax on these bonds, but talk to your accountant to make sure they are exempt in your specific state.

What makes municipal bonds so safe? Not only do you avoid income tax (which means a higher return compared to an equally risky investment that is taxed), but the likelihood of the borrower defaulting is very low. There have been some enormous municipality bankruptcies in recent years, but this is very rare. Governments can always raise taxes or issue new debt to pay off old debt, which makes holding a municipal bond a pretty safe bet.
You can buy individual bonds or, better yet, invest in a municipal bond mutual fund at brokers like TD Ameritrade, Scottrade, E*TRADE,

best low risk investments for high returns
7. US Savings Bonds

US Savings Bonds are similar to Treasury Inflation Protected Securities because they are also backed by the United States Federal government. The likelihood of default on this debt is microscopic which makes them a very stable investment.

There are two main types of US Savings Bonds: Series I and Series EE.

Series I bonds consist of two components: a fixed interest rate return and an adjustable inflation-linked return. They are somewhat similar to TIPS because they have the inflation adjustment as part of the total return. The fixed rate never changes, but the inflation return rate is adjusted every 6 months and can also be negative (which would bring your total return down, not up).

Series EE bonds just have a fixed rate of interest that is added to the bond automatically at the end of each month (so you don’t have to worry about reinvesting for compounding purposes). Rates are very low right now, but there is an interesting facet to EE bonds: the Treasury guarantees the bond will double in value if held to maturity (which is 20 years). That equates to approximately a 3.5% return on your investment. If you don’t hold to maturity you will only get the stated interest rate of the bond minus any early withdrawal fees. (Another bonus to look into: if you use EE bonds to pay for education, you might be able to exclude some or all of the interest earned from your taxes.)
Looking to purchase some Series I or Series EE Bonds? You can do that directly through
8. Annuities

Annuities are a point of contention for some investors because shady financial advisors have over-promoted them to individuals where the annuity wasn’t the right product for their financial goals. They don’t have to be scary things; annuities can be a good option for certain investors who need help stabilizing their portfolio over a long period of time.
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If you’re in the market for an annuity, however, be aware of the risks and talk with a good financial advisor first. Annuities are complex financial instruments with lots of catches built into the contract. Before you sign on the dotted line, it’s important to understand your annuity inside and out.

There are several types of annuities, but at the end of the day, purchasing an annuity is on par with making a trade with an insurance company. They’re taking a lump sum of cash from you. In return, they are giving you a stated rate of guaranteed return. Sometimes that return is fixed (with a fixed annuity), sometimes that return is variable (with a variable annuity), and sometimes your return is dictated in part by how the stock market does and gives you downside protection (with an equity indexed annuity).

If you are getting a form of guaranteed return, your risk is a lot lower. Unlike the backing of the Federal government, your annuity is backed by the insurance company that holds it (and perhaps another company that further insurers the annuity company). Nonetheless, your money is typically going to be very safe in these complicated products.
9. Cash Value Life Insurance

Another controversial investment is cash value life insurance. This insurance not only pays out a death benefit to your beneficiaries when you die (like a term life insurance policy), but also allows you to accrue value with an investment portion in your payments. Whole life insurance and universal life insurance are both types of cash value life insurance.

While term life insurance is by far a cheaper option, it only covers your death. One of the best perks of using cash value life insurance is the accrued value can not only be borrowed against throughout your life, but isn’t hit with income tax. While cash value life insurance isn’t for everyone, it is a clever way to pass some value onto your heirs without either side being hit with income tax.
Some Middle Risk Investments to Consider
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Low risk investments that offer high yields

If you don’t want to go “all in” on the riskiest class of assets, you can still generate higher returns by taking a few steps in that direction. Here are a few investments to consider to add a bit more risk to your portfolio.
10. Dividend Paying Stocks and Mutual Funds

One of the easiest ways to squeeze a bit more return out of your stock investments is simply to target stocks or mutual funds that have nice dividend payouts. If two stocks perform exactly the same over a given period of time, but one has no dividend and the other pays out 3% per year in dividends, then the latter stock would be a better choice.
- medium risk investments

Of course, picking individual stocks isn’t easy (use some of the trading tools at Scottrade or E*TRADE to help you target dividend stocks) and comes with risk that the company may falter and take your investment down with it. A safer bet would be to invest money into a dividend stock mutual fund. With this type of mutual fund, the fund company targets stocks that pay nice dividends and does all of the work for you. You also get diversification so that one or two stocks can’t tank your entire investment.
Want to add some dividend paying investments to your portfolio? TD Ameritrade, Scottrade, and E*TRADE, can help you narrow your investment selections down to these types of investments.
11. Preferred Stock

Adding on to the dividend stock theme is preferred stock. Preferred stock is a type of stock that companies issue that has both an equity (stock) portion and a debt portion (bond). In the hierarchy of payouts to forms of investments, preferred stock sits between bond payments (which come first) and common stock dividends (which come last).

Preferred stock are not traded nearly as heavily as common stock, but do have less risk than the common stock. It is just another way to own shares in a company while getting dividend payments.
You can track down preferred stock investments at TD Ameritrade, Scottrade, E*TRADE, and Trade King.
Best No Risk Investments to Consider

Now that we’ve talked about some low risk and middle-of-the-road investments to consider, let’s look at a few investments that come with absolutely no risk at all. While you may not earn a ton of interest with any of these options, you won’t have to worry about losing a cent of your initial investment. And if you’re nearing retirement or already there, that extra peace of mind might be worth it.
No Risk Investment #1: High Yield Savings Account

If you’re looking for a risk-free way to earn some interest on your money, a high yield savings account might be your answer. With these accounts, you’ll earn a nominal amount of interest just for keeping your money on deposit. Other than opening your account and depositing your money, this strategy requires almost no effort on your part, either.

The best high yield savings accounts offer competitive interest rates without charging any fees. When choosing an account, you’ll also want to look for a bank with a good reputation for providing quality customer service, easy access and online account management, and easy deposits. If you’re interested in my thoughts on which bank to go with, check out this post:

    The Top 5 Best High Interest Savings Accounts

No Risk Investment #2: Online Checking Account

Just like high yield savings accounts, online checking accounts let you earn small amounts of interest on the money you deposit. If you’re going to park your money in the bank anyway, you could surely appreciate earning some interest along the way. Best of all, many online checking accounts charge zero or minimal fees to get started.

When looking for an online checking account that actually lets you earn interest, look for a bank with excellent customer service, a user-friendly online interface, and competitive interest rates. If you want utmost flexibility, it’s also important to seek out an account that doesn’t impose account minimums or deposit requirements. And if you want to withdraw money frequently, you’ll want to make sure you have access to local, no-fee ATMs as well.

If you want to learn more about our suggestions for the top online checking accounts, check out this post:

    Best Online Checking Accounts

No Risk Investment #3: Bank Bonuses
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If you have some extra money you won’t need for a while, you can occasionally earn some free cash with a bank bonus. Most banks will offer a bonus as an incentive for you to sign up, and these bonuses can be worth several hundred dollars on their own.

Bank bonuses are sometimes regional, however, and can depend on the local banks in your area and the products they offer. I have seen Capital One offer bonuses worth $50 or more, and Chase Bank is almost always offering a $150 or $250 bonus for individuals who open a new checking or savings account.

In exchange for your bank bonus, you’ll be asked to keep your money on deposit for anywhere from 6 to 18 months. In addition, you may have to set up direct deposit to your new account, or use a bank-issued debit card for a certain number of transactions within the first few months. Just remember to read through all the fine print to learn about any fees that might be levied and how you can avoid them.

By jumping through these hoops, you can usually earn a few hundred dollars for your efforts. Best of all, you won’t have to worry about losing a single cent of your deposit. And if you decide not to keep the account for the long haul, you can always close it once you earn the bonus and meet all of the bank’s requirements.
The Bottom Line

As you get closer to retirement, it’s important to reduce your risk as much as possible. You don’t want to start losing capital this late in the game; since you have many years of retirement ahead of you, you want to preserve your cash.

The best low risk investments can help you do just that. By letting you earn nominal amounts of interest on your money with little risk, you can help your nest egg keep up with inflation without losing your shirt. Just remember to read the fine print and educate yourself along the way. And if you’re ever in doubt over an investment product or service, speak with a qualified financial advisor and ask as many questions as you can.

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