Nairobi Land Rates II

I wrote a few months back about the hassle of trying to pay land rates in Nairobi. It turns out the problems are more than I realised at the time.

Apparently, there are at least two systems by which you can pay land rates – via M-Pesa (mobile money) as shown on the county payment portal, which apparently goes to the National Bank of Kenya, or via Co-Operative Bank. There seems to be a problem with the interface between the National Bank of Kenya’s system and the system used by the county government to record payments. The result is that the payments made via M-Pesa are not reflected in the county’s records. This, in turn, results in the paid amount being seen as still unpaid, and this, again, in turn, results in penalties being calculated on the ‘pending’ amounts.


This is an insecure system. It directly violates the principle of data integrity – the accuracy, completeness, consistency, and validity of an organization’s data (Fortinet). Further, incomplete data (on payments) is used to generate further invalid data (penalties).

It appears that this problem has been there for more than a year. An employee at the county said that there is a stack of papers on the boss’ desk, waiting for the data to be corrected. Payments made last year are still not reflected.

As I suggested in the earlier post, if this were a private firm, it is unlikely that this kind of thing would be allowed to continue for any significant time. In this case, it continues and there are probably many Nairobi residents paying way more than they should be, trusting that the computer is generating accurate invoices.

The Lessons

  1. Test your systems. This is the obvious one that I also mentioned in the other post. Test your systems thoroughly and if there are significant issues, then turn off the system and use manual systems.
  2. As a user, verify the data you receive from systems. You should have a rough idea about the figures you are expecting so that you can tell if there is a problem.
  3. As a user, keep a copy of your receipts.
  4. Some problems have a snowball effect. The non-posting of payments led to the invalid application of penalties. Also, as I was leaving the county council offices, a lady just outside the gates asked me if my problem had been addressed and offered to help me get it sorted out. I politely declined her offer. Non-functional systems create opportunities for ‘brokers’ and other players of unknown character.

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