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Archive for January 13th, 2012

Tom Brady’s wife samples village life in Kenya

Posted by Administrator on January 13, 2012

Gisele carries firewood on her head alongside Kenyan women

Gisele carries firewood on her head alongside Kenyan women

Brazilian multi-millionaire model Gisele Bundchen took time out of her busy schedule to spend a week exploring grassroots sustainable energy projects in Kenya.

As the mixture of poverty and entrepreneurship caught her attention, she decided to spend an entire day with Naomi, a widow with three children, who lives in Kisumu.

“Naomi lives in a small hut, with mud floors and walls. The house has one door and no windows. The house is divided into two with a bed that they all share,” Gisele told a press conference at the UNEP headquarters on Friday.

That mid-morning, the house filled with thick black smoke as Naomi tried to light a fire and make a meal. Gisele says she struggled to see and even breathe, but everyone else was used to it.

“Naomi also takes care of some six orphan children… We started the day by walking several miles to collect firewood. Because it was my first time the women gave me very little to carry on my head.”

Though she still looked stunning walking back with the firewood, Gisele was stunned by the differences in their lives. She felt that these women with the sticks on their heads, babies on their backs and young children tagging alongside were Wonder Women.

“Did you know that 1.4 million people are killed by this dangerous exposure to firewood every year? We can stop this,” she said.

Gisele and her husband Tom Brady, the New England Patriots Quarterback

Gisele and her husband Tom Brady, the New England Patriots Quarterback

“We saw amazing projects that the local communities had come up with, and they’re so simple. They are creating clean energy that they use in their homes.”

“It’s the 21st century. Nobody should be living without something as basic as electricity,” adds the UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

The UN is celebrating 2012 as the year for Sustainable Energy, and Steiner hopes Gisele will be able to share stories of her experience in Kenya, to highlight the problem.

Gisele, who was appointed as a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador in 2009, says the experience has taught her a lot.

“I’d encourage everyone to just volunteer at the local community level,” she said, so that the projects can multiply and create as much electricity (affordable) as is needed.

It was Gisele’s first visit to Kenya and she wouldn’t talk fashion – only saying that she would definitely add Kenya to her list of beneficiaries for her flip flops charity.

The mother of one visited projects in Kibera, Kisumu, and the Mt Kenya region, courtesy of local NGO Practical Action in partnership with UNEP. She also planted trees at various locations.

Source: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/lifestyle/2012/01/13/gisele-bundchen-samples-village-life-in-kenya/

Posted in Kenya | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Google Apologizes to Kenya Startup Over Dirty Business Tactics

Posted by Administrator on January 13, 2012

Google has confirmed as true allegations made on Friday by a Kenyan provider of online business listings, Mocality, that Google staffers attempted to undermine its business by lying to its customers and improperly mining its data.

“We were mortified to learn that a team of people working on a Google project improperly used Mocality’s data and misrepresented our relationship with Mocality to encourage customers to create new websites,” said Nelson Mattos, Google’s vice president for product and engineering, Europe and emerging markets.

“We’ve already unreservedly apologized to Mocality. We’re still investigating exactly how this happened, and as soon as we have all the facts, we’ll be taking the appropriate action with the people involved,” he said in a statement.

Mocality, which has compiled a large online directory of Kenyan business listings, alleged earlier on Friday that for months Google has falsely told Mocality customers that the two companies have a partnership and that Mocality charges for its services.

The calls started shortly after Google announced its plan in September to provide Kenyan small and medium-size businesses with freely hosted and designed websites, as well as a fee-based option to purchase their own domain, according to Mocality CEO Stefan Magdalinski, who published a detailed account of the claims on the company’s blog

About 30 percent of the 170,000 businesses listed in Mocality’s directory have been contacted by Google staffers in Kenya and by employees from a call center company Google apparently hired in India as part of the Getting Kenyan Businesses Online (GKBO) initiative, he claims.

“Since October, Google’s GKBO appears to have been systematically accessing Mocality’s database and attempting to sell their competing product to our business owners. They have been telling untruths about their relationship with us, and about our business practices, in order to do so,” he wrote.

Magdalinksi provides a variety of evidence to substantiate his claims, including IP addresses and recorded conversations between its staffers and callers representing Google, who thought they were talking to a Mocality customer.

Mocality’s database is its core business, and the company built it by paying Kenyans a fee for every business listing they submit and is verified as accurate. Over the past two years, it has paid more than $100,000 to individuals in Kenya as part of this “crowdsourcing” effort.

The news comes at a particularly bad time for Google, which this week has gotten hammered by various industry experts and organizations who argue that its latest search feature, which includes promoting Google+ business profiles in result pages, is unfair to competitors and potentially illegal on antitrust grounds.

Source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/248161/google_apologizes_to_kenya_startup_over_dirty_business_tactics.html

Posted in Kenya, Kenya_Technology | 1 Comment »

On the Bench: Miguna Miguna talks to Jeff Koinange on K24 TV

Posted by Administrator on January 13, 2012








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Kenyan children break Guinness world record

Posted by Administrator on January 13, 2012

On October 12 last year, 53,873 pupils from 60 primary schools around Nairobi all washed their hands at exactly 10:30am in their respective schools

On October 12 last year, 53,873 pupils from 60 primary schools around Nairobi all washed their hands at exactly 10:30am in their respective schools

Kenya has won the Guinness World Record title for the most number of people washing hands simultaneously in multiple locations.

Kenya also holds the world record for most number of people washing hands at a single location which was set in 2010.

The record was set during an event implemented by the Ministries of Public Health and Education, Nairobi City Council Education Department, the Kenya Private Schools Association with support from Unilever Kenya through its Lifebuoy brand to mark the Global Handwashing day last year.

On October 12 last year, 53,873 pupils from 60 primary schools around Nairobi all washed their hands at exactly 10:30am in their respective schools in an attempt October 12, 2011 so to set the new world record.

“We are very happy on this achievement and will leverage on it to push the message on the need to wash hands on key occasions especially among children,” noted Dr.Kepha Ombacho, the Chief Public Health Officer MOPHS on receiving the news.

The past record for the same category was held by the Department of Engineering of the Government of Bangladesh, Unilever Lifebuoy, UNICEF, NGO forum, Save the Children, Brac, Safe, Plan and Care that congregated 52,970 school pupils on October 15, 2010.

“The world record attempt was part of the Global Handwashing Day celebrations, observed on 15th October annually that aims to motivate and mobilize millions around the world to practice the simple habit of washing hands with soap as a key approach to disease prevention,” noted Unilever Managing Director, Yaw Nsarhoh.

Unilever has continuously supported the Ministries of Public Health and Education in raising the handwashing agenda in the Kenya through various avenues.

Through active promotion of handwashing with soap, Kenya will in 2015 be looking back to see how it has scored on the realization of the Millennium Development Goal, Agenda 4: Reduce child health mortality by two thirds by 2015.

The Guinness World Record handwashing attempt is in line with Lifebuoy Global Social Mission which seeks change the behavior of at least five million people globally to adopt the habit of hand-washing with soap at critical times into an automatic behavior by 2015.

In 2010, Kenya broke the Guinness World Record for the most number of people washing hands at a single location by bringing together 19,352 children at Thirime Primary School in Kikuyu on October 15th 2010.

The Guinness World RecordTM has been part of Lifebuoy’s active promotion of the practice of hand washing with soap using the proper techniques in Kenya since its re-launch in Kenya in June 2010.

Source: http://www.kbc.co.ke/news.asp?nid=74414

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Kenyan Found Dead in A House in Buffalo NY

Posted by Administrator on January 13, 2012

The Late Alfred Kioko

The Late Alfred Kioko

We announce the death of Alfred Kioko Kimeu in Buffalo, New York .

Alfred was the beloved son of Fredrick Kimeu Kitwa and Esther Ndunge Kimeu of Matetani, Kangundo, Kenya.  Husband to Genel Fraizer and father of Alfred Kioko Kimeu, Jr. of Buffalo, New York. Brother to Titus Nyamasyo Kimeu, Nelson Kitwa Kimeu, Bryan Mutinda Kimeu, Shadrack Mumo Kimeu and Gladys Katungwa Kimeu.

A Memorial Service will be held on Tuesday, January 17th at Greater Refuge Temple, 943 Jefferson Avenue, Buffalo, New York 14204 at 11.00 am to 12.00 noon.

Your kind financial assistance is requested to assist the family to transport the deceased to Kenya for burial.

Donations may be made to:
Account Name:            Genel Fraizer
Bank:                            M&T Bank
Routing No.:                022000046
Account No.:                9858257869
Checks may be sent to:
Genel Fraizer
162 Stewart Ave
Buffalo, New York 14211

Please contact the following should you require further information:
Antoine Thompson – 716-308-0945
Rhoda Mbato – 301-346-8359
Genel Fraizer – 716-541-7087
Titus Kimeu (Kenya) – 011-254-752-800924

Posted in Diaspora News, Kenya, Obituaries | 3 Comments »

HIV virus detected within five days of infection in unprecedented study in Kenya

Posted by Administrator on January 13, 2012

WASHINGTON — An unprecedented new HIV study may change how soon the virus can be detected in a person’s system — which scientists hope could lead to developing an effective vaccine.

Currently, it takes three months after the virus has been contracted before it can be detected by an HIV test. But nearly half of all HIV transmissions occur in the first few weeks after it is contracted.

A new test underway in Kenya has detected the virus within five days of contraction, says Fred Sawe, a doctor who has worked on the trial in Kericho, Kenya.

Researchers do stress that more study and follow-up will be conducted to determine the long-term significance of the trial results. In fact, subjects will be followed for at least two years as progression of the virus is monitored.

Sawe says understanding what happens medically in the first stages as HIV mutates and spreads throughout the body is the determining factor in conducting the trial.

“We need to know how what exactly happens, how does your body respond in the first few hours after acquiring the infection,” Dr. Sawe says.

Early results published in March of 2011 showed “acute” HIV infection was found in 26 of 32 cases, although researchers say the numbers, now, are much higher.

The term “acute infection” describes the the first few weeks after a person contracts the virus, and how it imbeds itself in the immune system.

Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Thailand are the sights of the trial. It’s being spearheaded by the U.S. Military HIV Research Program, which also published a groundbreaking vaccine trial conducted in Thailand in 2009.

Once a good measure of what happens in the body during the early stages of infection is determined, the results will be used by other research groups in trials to develop an HIV vaccine.

“We think one of the reasons why we’ve never developed a vaccine against HIV is that we were modeling our vaccines against the status of someone who has had HIV for a long time,” Dr. Sawe says.

Currently, more than 34 million people worldwide live with HIV.

Source: http://www.wtop.com/?nid=267&sid=2705288

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Why mobile money is popular in Africa, but not in the US

Posted by Administrator on January 13, 2012

For several years now, Western technology commentators and analysts have proclaimed the imminent rise of mobile cash – the ability of users to conduct financial transactions using an application on their phone. And for several years now, Western technology users have remained militantly uninterested. Analysts’ excitement for the technology seems to be based on solely on coolness and the search for profit. How cool would it be if we could pay for our meals with our phones? How profitable would it be for the companies who facilitated our payments were we to take care of dinner with our iPhone or Android?

But on a recent trip to Kenya to cover that country’s booming mobile applications industry, I was surprised to see that the futuristic world of mobile money was accepted by most Kenyans as the norm. There are, at last count, 17 mobile cash companies in Kenya alone. And that raised a question: Why would mobile money be more acceptable in Africa, a continent not generally known for technical innovation, than in America, reputedly the most advanced nation on earth?

After talking to a host of American tech professionals at a recent conference, ReadWriteWeb’s Dan Rowinski boiled down their assessment of mobile cash to: “This is not something I would use to buy a fridge.” In most parts of Africa, by contrast, where mobile cash is extremely popular, it is often the only way, excepting paper money, to buy a fridge.

RELATED: Think you know Africa? Take our geography quiz

The University of Nairobi’s Tonny Omwansa, who is writing a book on mobile money, believes the slow growth of mobile cash in the US comes down to Americans’ trusting relationship to banking institutions, despite recent protests.

“The little time I spent in the U.S., I noticed folks very confident of the (banking) system which is very much accessible to them, unlike many African countries,” he told the Monitor. “Rarely would you find a rural poor (African) asking ‘How secure is M-Pesa?’ But this question easily comes up when I meet typical Americans.” M-Pesa is the most popular mobile cash app in Africa.

In Africa, mobile cash has been going gangbusters for years. The reasons are both structural and cultural, even among those who use a traditional banking institution.

“Besides accessibility, most banked people in urban Kenya prefer mobile money for its convenience and speed,” said Omwansa. “Keep in mind that Internet penetration and use of e-banking and e-commerce is low, so mobile money just fits the bill.”

Simeon Oriko, mobile technologist at m:lab East Africa, a mobile development lab in Kenya, described  the popularity of mobile cash in Africa as a family affair.

“Mobile money for me is a cultural issue,” he said. “It has very little to do with the technology itself. Mobile money channels in Kenya generally flow within family units. Secondly, mobile money offered a way for the unbanked to bank their money in a way that’s personal and that fits right within their lifestyle.”

Ben Lyon is the co-founder of Kopo Kopo, a Nairobi-based company that helps businesses accept mobile-based payments from its users. He explained why mobile money has been so popular and successful in Africa, especially in East Africa where the industry dominates.

“It has been so successful in these markets because it leapfrogged the payment card industry,” he said, “which requires expensive ATM and Point of Sale (POS) networks to function. ATMs and POS Terminals require regular maintenance and, with ATMs, regular liquidity balancing.  By leveraging third party retail outlets and making the phone the primary means of exchange, mobile money bypassed the need to distribute ATMs and POS Terminals. The reverse is true in the US: mobile money isn’t leapfrogging the payment card industry, it’s augmenting it.”

One of the reasons that mobile cash has yet to catch on in the US, aside from the (sometimes too-open) access to credit and to banking services, is the complexity. M-Pesa and its competitors have to make their services as responsive and simple as possible to accommodate a wide spectrum of user needs, education levels and technology types. But here in the US, mobile cash comes in a bewildering variety of types, none of which have much common ground.

Google Wallet is a near-field communication tool, which allows a mobile phone owner to make a payment by tapping or waving it “near” the pay-point or cash register of a store. That’s great, if your retailer of choice has an NFC reader. Such readers are becoming more common, but by no means ubiquitous. It also requires a credit card. Mastercard’s PayPass requires, well, a Mastercard. Zong charges purchases to your mobile carrier. Square uses a dongle to swipe credit card numbers, but does not pay out.

There is, in essence, too much complexity and too little utility for mobile money here in the US. There is no shared platform for payments and most of the current offerings are merely wrappers for credit cards. And, most importantly of all, in the Western world, mobile cash is, depending on whether you’re an entrepreneur, a financial institution or a user, an opportunity, a potential for growth or a convenience. It is not the solution to a problem.

Source: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/Africa-Monitor/2012/0113/Why-mobile-money-is-popular-in-Africa-but-not-in-the-US

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Google rips off Kenyan start-up business

Posted by Administrator on January 13, 2012

Mocality is an African startup that has a Kenya-wide business directory. There is no Kenyan yellow pages, so the directory was crowdsourced, paying thousands of Kenyans to help create and validate its database.

When the businesses in Mocality’s database started asking them about the premium service they  were offering with Google, Mocality was puzzled. They had no joint venture with Google, and they had never charged any business for inclusion in their database. When they examined their server logs, they saw a large number of hits to the records for the businesses that had been cold-called from the same IP range.

So Mocality laid a trap: when that IP range next visited the Mocality site, they fed it fake phone numbers that went to Mocality’s own call center, where a Mocality operator pretended to be a business-owner and recorded the conversation. In that conversation, the caller identified himself as a Google employee, calling about a joint Google-Mocality venture, and asking the business to pay Google for a Kenya Business Online website with its own domain on that basis. This was, of course, absolutely fraudulent. There was and is no Google-Mocality joint venture.

Shortly after, that IP range stopped visiting Mocality’s servers, but another range, this one registered to Google’s Mountain View headquarters [edit: this address has previously been used to conduct official Google business in India], began to query its database. Again, Mocality served a fake result with its own call-center number, and an hour later, they received a call from someone identifying herself as working on Google’s behalf, asking for money for a joint Google-Mocality product.

The conclusion is hard to escape: Google — or people working on its behalf, with its knowledge and cooperation — took the numbers of tens of thousands of Kenyan businesses from Mocality’s database, then fraudulently solicited money from them by claiming to be in a joint venture with Mocality. This seems to me to be outright criminal activity, and Google has a lot of explaining to do.

Update: I have contacted Google Africa’s press address and asked for an on-the-record response from a named spokesperson.

Update 2: Julie Taylor from Google has replied saying that Google will have a statement soon.

Here’s Mocality CEO Stef Magdalinski on the subject:

Since October, Google’s GKBO appears to have been systematically accessing Mocality’s database and attempting to sell their competing product to our business owners. They have been telling untruths about their relationship with us, and about our business practices, in order to do so. As of January 11th, nearly 30% of our database has apparently been contacted.

Furthermore, they now seem to have outsourced this operation from Kenya to India.

When we started this investigation, I thought that we’d catch a rogue call-centre employee, point out to Google that they were violating our Terms and conditions (sections 9.12 and 9.17, amongst others), someone would get a slap on the wrist, and life would continue.

I did not expect to find a human-powered, systematic, months-long, fraudulent (falsely claiming to be collaborating with us, and worse) attempt to undermine our business, being perpetrated from call centres on 2 continents.

Google, what were you thinking?(Thanks, Stef!)

Source: http://boingboing.net/2012/01/13/google-fraudulently-solicits-f.html

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Kenya polls in 2013 unless government dissolved

Posted by Administrator on January 13, 2012

A Kenyan voter gets a blank ballot to fill at a local polling station in Kilgoris (AFP/File, Tony Karumba)

A Kenyan voter gets a blank ballot to fill at a local polling station in Kilgoris (AFP/File, Tony Karumba)

NAIROBI — Kenya will hold general elections by mid-March 2013, unless its coalition government is dissolved before then, the high court ruled Friday on a controversial dispute.

The date of the general elections, the first since deadly post-poll violence four years ago, has sparked heated debate with rival politicians proposing wildly differing dates from August this year to March 2013.

Parliament “expires on 14 January 2013, the elections shall be held within 60 days of 15 January 2013,” Judge Isaac Lenaola said.

However, the polls could be held this year “within 60 days from the date on which the national coalition is dissolved by written agreement between the president and prime Minister,” Lenaola said in the ruling.

The court’s date can still be challenged.

“We are conscious that our findings may be unpopular with a section of Kenyans who have preconceived notions about the elections, but we hasten to remind Kenyans that our undertaking is not to write or re-write the constitution to suit popular opinion,” Lenaola added.

“Our responsibility is to interpret the constitution in a manner that remains faithful to its letter and spirit and give effect to its objectives.”

The decision “now introduces some level of certainty,” said Charles Nyachae, chairman of the Constitution Implementation Commission, after the ruling.

“The court has the final word on it. The process of interpretation is not an exact science. The important thing is that they took a decision,” he said.

Kenya plunged into violence after the December 27, 2007 general elections in which then opposition chief Raila Odinga — now prime minister — accused President Mwai Kibaki of having rigged his re-election.

What began as political riots soon turned into ethnic killings targeting members of Kibaki’s Kikuyu tribe.

They launched reprisal attacks in which homes were torched and people hacked to death in the country’s worst violence since independence in 1963.

Kibaki will not contest the next elections.

Kenya is also eagerly awaiting a decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on whether it will proceed to trial against six prominent Kenyans suspected of organizing the post-electoral violence.

Two of the six — Uhuru Kenyatta, finance minister and the son of the country’s first president, and William Ruto, the former agriculture and higher education minister — intend to run for president in the poll.

“The court’s (ICC’s) ruling will introduce an additional — possibly crucial — factor into an already pivotal election,” the think tank International Crisis Group said in a report this week.

Charges against the six include murder, deportation, rape, inhumane acts, persecution and torture.

Political campaigning has already begun in Kenya with colourful rallies across the country.

Electoral rules have changed under the new constitution that provides for a devolved government, with Kenyans voting for governors and local assemblies for the first time.

Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5g4XmrhikBv1UkchNY8FotwQoTOtg?docId=CNG.f54e246715993dc0eea4a9a2ef5c83ae.81

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