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Archive for January 27th, 2012

The Life of a Kenyan girl child in the slums: The story of Molly

Posted by Administrator on January 27, 2012

The first scenes Molly recorded were in her home, where she introduces us to her cousin who’s learning to count to 100 in English. We also meet their neighbour who breaks out into a dance routine for the camera inspired by Michael Jackson.

In this episode, Molly shows us around her neighborhood and talks us through an ordinary day. Between school work and chores at home, Molly keeps herself busy, but still finds time to look in on some of the neighborhood children and note that kids do a much better job of looking after the environment than adults do. Her day ends much as it began with Molly pouring over her school books by torchlight.

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Online community Reddit raises $65,000 for Kenyan man hacked on the face in Longonot

Posted by Administrator on January 27, 2012

Omari who was hacked in the face by a machete caused an internet frenzy with online community contributing $65,000. The initial requested amount was $2,000.

Omari who was hacked in the face by a machete caused an internet frenzy with online community contributing $65,000. The initial requested amount was $2,000.

A few days ago, a Kenyan man named Omari was released from the hospital after recovering from injuries sustained while defending an orphanage from a band of roving thugs— by himself. They slashed him in the face with a machete, leaving him with a large wound that required stitches. After the incident, a founder of the Logonot Education Initiative appealed to community members of Reddit, asking for $2,000 so the orphanage could build a wall to protect them. A modest request for a worthy cause. So, how much did they raise for Omari and the orphanage?

The Reddit community raised more than $50,000 to help Omari and the children of the Faraja Orphanage in Ngong, Kenya. Holy balls. The internet can be pretty damn decent sometimes.

Thirty-five children between the ages of 2 and 17 currently live in the Faraja Orphanage, and they’re all cared for by Omari’s mother. She and the children raise chickens and vegetables for food, but they struggle to make ends meet. According to a representative of the Logonot Education Initiative, after the attack that left Omari disfigured, the children were afraid to reenter their home, afraid that people were still waiting inside to attack them. “Invasions” and attacks by roving gangs of thugs aren’t uncommon in Ngong, and Omari was fairly certain that the attack that injured him wouldn’t be the last. The representative promised that if the effort raised anything over $2,000, the group would use it to buy food and supplies for the kids.

Donations poured in, and within hours they’d surpassed their goal. But Redditors weren’t done yet. After 14 hours, they’d reached the final $50,000 figure, and it seems that donations haven’t stopped. Included in the orgy of giving was a $10,000 donation from Weebly, a company that allows users to create their own blogs and websites for free.

It’s kind of amazing to follow a live comment thread of people gathering together to perform an act of incredible goodness for a group of strangers. Even though the drama is unfolding between thousands of people separated by thousands of miles, the aghast updates from the foundation representative are enough to make even the most shriveled of hearts grow three sizes.

Omari, meanwhile, has become a bit of an of-the-moment folk hero on Reddit, with members discussing sending him a tank, photoshopping his head onto suits of armor, and asking to write him letters.

Much deserved, and a great example of what can happen when people on the internet get together and do whatever the opposite of bullying is. Oh yeah: “helping.”

UPDATE: According to an updated post on Reddit, the effort has now raised $65,000 for the kids.

Faraja Orphanage in Ngong, Kenya thanks Reddit for their support

Faraja Orphanage in Ngong, Kenya thanks Reddit for their support

Omari shows his appreciation to Reddit

Omari shows his appreciation to Reddit

Source: http://jezebel.com/5879983/man-hacked-in-the-face-defending-an-orphanage-justifiably-rewarded

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CABINET MEETING ON DIASPORA — Diaspora requested to participate.

Posted by Administrator on January 27, 2012

REPUBLIC OF KENYA

OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER

27th January, 2012

RE: DIASPORA STAKEHOLDERS MEETING

The Prime Minister of Kenya RH Raila Odinga will be chairing a Diaspora Stakeholders cabinet meeting on February 1st, 2012 at his office in Nairobi. The purpose of the meeting is to gather views as well as come up with resolutions that are specific to Diaspora participation in the forthcoming general elections.

Members of the Kenya Diaspora have been requested to participate in advance by sending their views or issues in regard to this subject to John Maina using the following email: jmaina(at)primeminister.go.ke

The emails you send regarding Diaspora Registration and Voting will be shared in this cabinet meeting. Please limit your email to a paragraph or less and be specific.

John Maina

Diaspora Affairs Advisor,

Office of the Prime Minister,

Harambee avenue,

Nairobi, Kenya

 

Email: jmaina @ primeminister.go.ke

Tel: +254-(0)20-3247000 Ext. 047

www.kenyadiaspora.go.ke

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Kenyans will vote electronically – IEBC

Posted by Administrator on January 27, 2012

Mr Joseph Kinyua (left), PS Ministry of Finance and IEBC Chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan during the official signing of a project document for support to electoral reforms and processes in Kenya at Treasury building, Nairobi, Friday. Photo: Jonah Onyango/Standard

Mr Joseph Kinyua (left), PS Ministry of Finance and IEBC Chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan during the official signing of a project document for support to electoral reforms and processes in Kenya at Treasury building, Nairobi, Friday. Photo: Jonah Onyango/Standard

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has said it will embrace Electronic Voting Systems in the forthcoming General Elections to avoid a repeat of ballot stuffing and other malpractices experienced in the 2007 polls.

IEBC Chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan said elections needed a credible management system adding many African countries were now embracing electronic voting.

Many countries are now seeing the value in embracing technology in managing elections,” said Hassan.

He said that the electronic system was more transparent and made it easy to monitor election malpractices.

Hassan was speaking at the Treasury where the IEBC signed a project document to support electoral reforms and processes funded by donors to the tune of Sh11 billion.

He said the commission would in a fortnight advertise the tender for the electronic voting systems, which will be sourced from the most competent bidder.

Hassan said the commission and its predecessor had tested an electronic voter registration system in several constituencies adding the system captures a voter’s information electronically and uses this to create digital registers.

He said the commission introduced the now popular Electronic Voter Registration (EVR) and Electronic Vote Transmission (EVT) systems, both which have successfully been used in the referendum and a number of by-lections with results being announced in a matter of hours.

“That’s why we are pushing for the electoral body to embrace technology in registration of voters, transmission and display of results,” said Hassan.

He said the benefits of Electronic voting which is an evolving technology are clear adding that it reduces cases of double listing and fraud.

Finance PS Joseph Kinyua, IEBC acting CEO James Oswago, IEBC Vice –Chair and UNDP resident representative Aeneas Chuma were also present.

Kinyua said that the government was committed to ensuring that the elections are free and fair.

He said that political stability was critical in any country’s development agenda adding that instability scared away investors.

“The 2007-08 crisis was a wake up call for the country to get it right this time round,”

said Kinyua.

Kinyua said IEBC needed more resources to ensure that the required reforms in the electoral process are achieved.

He said funds allocated to the government by various donors for use by line agencies must be utilised in a transparent manner.

SOURCE: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/InsidePage.php?id=2000050898&cid=4&ttl=Kenyans+will+vote+electronically+-+IEBC

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The flipside of wealth in Kenya

Posted by Administrator on January 27, 2012

A man pushes a wheelbarrow through Nairobi

A man pushes a wheelbarrow through Nairobi’s Kibera, a vast shack settlement that lacks even basic services. Many of the residents are angry that while prices of food have risen, wages have not. Only a few of them can afford to make their way to a mall to buy tiny portions of food. Pictures: Reuters

IN A cafe on the terrace of a Nairobi mall, well-heeled Kenyans sip coffee as shoppers in the car park navigate between BMW X5s and Toyota Landcruisers. A nearby cinema last month advertised an array of Hollywood fare including Brad Pitt’sMoneyball.

Sales at this Java House outlet along the Ngong Road were up last year, says Kevin Ashley, a Californian who co-founded the chain of 14 coffee houses 13 years ago. Kenya’s rich and new middle classes have a growing taste for lattes and ice cream.

That’s just one sign that African states such as Kenya are changing. Even as rich countries face a slowdown, sub-Saharan African economies are expected to post nearly 6 percent average growth in 2012, according to the International Monetary Fund.

A study by the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank, has pointed to the potential of the continent’s more than 1 billion people, millions of whom have moved out of subsistence agriculture and into urban jobs over the past decade. Such promise has helped fuel foreign investment.

Kenya alone has had a capital influx of billions of dollars in recent years: the latest official figures show around $800 million (R6.4 billion) came in in 2008.

But the wealth on show at the mall has a flip side. The consumption boom has been fuelled by fast-growing credit. In Kenya and elsewhere that has sucked in imports – cars, shoes, clothes, wines and whiskies – and swelled the current account deficit. Inflation in Kenya is now nearing 20 percent.

As always, high inflation hurts the poorest most.

An interior view of a Nairobi Java House outlet in Nairobi. Kenya’s rich and new middle classes have a growing taste for coffee and ice cream. That s just one sign that African states such as Kenya are changing.

An interior view of a Nairobi Java House outlet in Nairobi. Kenya’s rich and new middle classes have a growing taste for coffee and ice cream. That s just one sign that African states such as Kenya are changing.

Java House employs 700 workers and plans to open new outlets soon, but its co-owner worries about price rises. The cost of sugar, electricity and petrol has doubled. A volatile currency has fed into coffee prices, which are paid in dollars. A sack of green coffee costs close to $500, up from $150-$200 a sack three years ago.

Dangerous

“This particular case right now of inflation is a dangerous phase,” Ashley says. People who were taking a bus to work may now walk, somebody who was driving may take a bus, and somebody who was eating in Java might now carry their own food to work.

The risk is that Africa’s consumers are harvesting their gains before their economies can bear it, economic analysts say. As more people see inequalities widen, that could fuel unrest.

“Minimum-wage earners in urban centres in east Africa are encountering a simply unprecedented squeeze,” said Aly Khan Satchu, a Nairobi-based independent trader and analyst, and himself solidly middle class. Inflation was a major concern, he said.

“It creates a sort of reverse Robin Hood effect where the poor carry the main burden.”

Western investors have become accustomed to Africa as a boom story in recent years. As demand from places such as China and Brazil pushed up commodity prices, investment poured in. Since the financial crisis, investors have ventured into Africa in search of higher returns.

In Kenya, firms have been hiring and property prices have risen exponentially, creating a feel-good factor for homeowners, especially in towns and cities. That, in turn, has fed the appetite for consumer goods.

“Africa is about consumers,” Stephen Murphy, managing director at private equity firm Citadel Capital, told a conference in Nairobi last month.

“It is about high-impact infrastructure investing and it is certainly about value-added exports and not just commodity exports.”

But not everyone has welcomed the growth. Food prices – especially meat – have risen sharply. In a rain-soaked field outside the Kenyan capital, it’s easy to see why. Farmer Joseph Kiarie puts the fertiliser on his crop of cabbages by hand from a plastic bucket, and says rising costs have cut his earnings by two thirds in the past year.

“This has been a terrible year,” he said.

Razia Khan, the head of Africa research at Standard Chartered in London, says the problem is an Africa-wide one.

“More rapid growth was accompanied almost everywhere by a surge in imports, especially capital goods imports related to infrastructure development.”

Like other African countries, Kenya has yet to make good use of the capital pouring into the country and encourage manufacturing.

“It is good if people think Kenya is a good place to park their money, but what Kenya needs most is long-term investments that go into productive industries,” said Wolfgang Fengler, the lead economist at the World Bank office for Kenya.

Unlike countries such as Ghana, Nigeria or Zambia, Kenya does not have significant mineral or oil resources. But its economy has been lifted by infrastructure investment – including a high-speed internet connection.

That should help spread the wealth, and is attracting home thousands of skilled, educated Kenyans, many of whom work in the booming financial sector.

Satchu, the trader and analyst, is one of them. He returned five years ago after working with various banks in London all his adult life, at one point managing a balance sheet in excess of $17bn for Sumitomo Bank.

When he first returned, Satchu went straight to Mombasa, a port city on the Indian Ocean. In the back garden of his home he erected a 52m tower to get a decent connection to the internet – speeds via commercially available internet service providers were capped at 32 kilobytes a minute – and access the New York Mercantile Exchange. A neighbour was so puzzled he asked Satchu if he was prospecting for oil.

In 2009, though, a high-speed undersea cable plugged Kenya into the global grid. Encouraged by new tech-friendly policies, Kenya has pulled in investments from firms like Britain’s Vodafone, France Telecom and India’s Essar Telecoms. Mobile commerce is growing.

Now Satchu has moved to Nairobi and follows the global markets through 3G technology.

“I have a supreme conviction that the African convergence with the rest of the world has begun, therefore I needed to place myself not on the beach, but in the thick of things.”

Satchu has a well-honed urge to consume. He likes to wear pricey Canali suits and Hermes ties, and drives a Nissan Patrol, a behemoth four-wheel-drive.

“I prefer to drive a Maserati or a fast car, but it is just not practicable on our roads,” he said, pointing to one of Kenya’s persistent shortcomings.

Eventually, improved infrastructure might allow him to drive that Maserati. For now, analysts fret about whether Kenya’s exporting capacity can keep pace with its imports.

“In most frontier markets… we haven’t seen sufficient evidence of this,” Khan said.

“Exports go up, but not nearly by enough, and imports – especially of consumer goods – go up even more.”

Such imports – combined with rising prices for domestic goods such as food – speed up inflation. That’s a worry for people like Vimal Shah, a third-generation Indian-Kenyan whose grandfather first came to Mombasa to work on the Kenya-Uganda railway. He now runs Bidco Industries, which was started by his family 25 years ago, and sells 30 brands of soap and edible oils.

Bidco is based in Thika, a manufacturing town half an hour’s drive from Nairobi, which made a name for itself in the 1970s as “The Birmingham of Kenya” because of its thriving textile factories, bakeries and motor vehicle plants.

In the early 2000s, though, it grew to symbolise Kenya’s decline. Plants closed, unemployment and poverty grew. Today, it feels like a typical rural Kenyan town – open-air markets brimming with fresh cabbages and potatoes, streets crowded with the small minibuses known as matatus.

Shah’s firm Bidco survived the hard times. It exports 20 percent of its output to other African countries, with a value of $40m a year, he says.

A fast-spoken father of one, Shah believes Kenya should be well positioned to export to markets in east and southern Africa, thanks to regional economic groupings.

The World Bank’s Fengler agrees Kenya could turn Mombasa into a trans-shipment hub to serve the east African region, which has fast-growing landlocked nations like Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.

“It is a serious opportunity,” says Shah in the company’s boardroom, furnished with comfortable, leather-padded seats and sound-proofed to muffle the noise of machinery.

“All we need to do is work on our costs of doing business.”

Energy, transport and labour costs are hurting manufacturing and exports, Shah says.

“Our cost of power is more than 20 US cents per kilowatt hour today. If we compare with Egypt, we are eight times higher.”

For him, the most important thing for Kenya is to turn its raw materials into things it can sell for more money.

“Why export cotton when you can export shirts? All that tea and coffee we produce, we should package it and send it straight to Starbucks.”

Or perhaps a home-grown cafe such as Java House. The outlet in Ngong Road is not far from Nairobi’s biggest slum, Kibera, a vast shack settlement that lacks even basic services. Many Kibera residents – there are hundreds of thousands of them – are angry that while prices of food have risen, wages have not. Many say their families now have to forgo meals.

Nothing

A year ago, 300 shillings (R28) bought breakfast, lunch and supper, “but now that is nothing”, said Jane Mwalugha, a married mother of five children aged between three and 15, in her one-roomed house.

“We have had to cut out lunch this year, so we just take supper. Bread is now a luxury, so we have cut it out.”

A few Kibera residents make their way to supermarkets in a nearby mall to buy tiny portions of food. But they are well out of reach for most.

“The government should construct supermarkets for the rich and let us have our own because they have decided in life that there are two tribes, the poor and the rich. They should let us have poor people’s shops,” Mwalugha said.

Ashley says that cellphones and the internet mean Africa’s young people understand the opportunities that people in richer countries enjoy.

That will increase the pressure to get the economy right.

“As policymakers and business leaders, we need to make sure that not only are we creating wealth at the top,” he said.

“We need to be creating lots of jobs down there for that group of young people coming now to the workforce.” —Reuters

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Social media becomes Kenya’s new watchdog

Posted by Administrator on January 27, 2012

Kenya has a police force whose officials are renowned for their large bellies and a predisposition towards getting a buck or two under the table in return for a “get out of jail free” card.

Though steps have been taken to reform the police force, corruption remains high (a website called “I Paid a Bribe” has just been founded because of this) and there just is not enough effective policing to curb many of the problems that Kenyan citizens faces every day.

This inefficiency gap is nevertheless starting to get filled: by social media.

Recently, hundreds of Kenyans have used the hash-tag #twitterbigstick to voice their frustrations over a range of issue from bad driving and perceived injustices to poor services. When dealing with traffic related “offences” Twitter has been given a watchdog role; “tweeps” (Twitter users) name and shame those who choose to act outside of traffic regulations, recording number plates and taking photographs of the offenders.

Primarily driven by Sunny Bindra (@sunnysunwords), a renowned management consultant, writer and educator, the hash-tag has managed to elicit responses from a variety of big companies including Kenya Power and Kenya Railways.

Mr Bindra has managed to translate the messages from his book on customer care into action as organisations are forced to become efficient. The sheer volume of “tweeps” who get involved means that the companies have no choice but to respond to complaints and comments by users.

 

Bandwagon

Kenya has a highly active civil society who are also very active on social media sites: just this week anew report placed Kenyans as the second top users of Twitter in Africa. The variety of users is astounding; corporations, politicians, musicians and everyone else has jumped onto the bandwagon.

Source: AFRICA REVIEW

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