Breaking Down A Billion Into Simple Consumable Terms: What Is A Billion?


If someone asked you today; what is a billion? What would you tell them? Would you tell them that it is “a lot of money”?

In the past, corrupt officials in government used to steal in thousands, graduated to hundreds of thousands, moved into millions, and now have upgraded into looting billions.

Kenya loses at least one trillion shillings annually to corruption. This is a third of our national budget going into the pockets of a few individuals.

So, what is a billion? Is it just some loose change? Should Kenyans keep on ignoring whenever someone in government steals some “few billions”?

Here is a billion. 1,000,000,000. (A billion is one million thousand). If you have 1,000,000,000 shillings today, eating 10,000 shillings day, how many days would it take you to finish?

Using 10,000 a day, it will take you 100,000 days to finish it. How many years are these? That is at least 273 years. Therefore, if you had 1,000,000,000 shillings, and you used 10,000 shillings daily, I would take you 273 years to finish.

Here is another scenario on how to understand a billion shillings. A 1,000 shilling note measures 150mm in length. 1,000,000,000 has 1,000,000 thousands. Take 1,000,000 and multiply it with 150mm, you will get 150,000,000mm. How many centimeters are these? We divide it by 10 to get 15,000,000 centimeters. How many kilometers are these? We divide the 15,000,000 centimetres by 100,000. We get 150 kilometers. Therefore, If you arranged 1,000,000,000 shillings in 1,000 notes along a straight line, it will cover a distance of 150 kilometers.

People are actually not stealing billions but the future of a country. Kenya’s economy will only rise if corruption will be fought from all fronts. But is this possible? SMEs are shutting down, people are losing their jobs en masse and there is no one offering them any practical help.

Anyway, what does a billion mean to you? Ama ni pesa kidogo?

READ: Where Did Ksh 896 Billion From Offshore Wealth Disappear To?

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