*The downward trend at KICC & Nairobi’s CBD Must Be Halted.*

Founding Father Had a clear vision . He was on the same track that Malaysia and Singapore used.

This past week I spent the entire week in Nairobi attending our annual Magical Kenya Expo where Kenya Tourism Board invites leading agents from around the world to Kenya to see first hand what Kenya has to offer.

This year’s event was a huge success with good quality buyers and the agents all had nothing but great memories of our country Kenya and they will not hesitate to redouble their efforts to keep selling Magical Kenya. I met a MICE expert from Singapore, hungry to sell Kenya since he has sold enough of South Africa and his clients want to see more of Africa .

*Well that is as far as Good News goes.*

On the other hand our host venue *KICC* and host City Nairobi sadly are letting us down.
It has been a long time since I attended a fair at our main convention centre in Kenya.

I am afraid to tell you that the state of KICC which is meant to be pulling in world class events is nothing but a pale shadow of its former self.
In the process they have starved off hotels in the CBD who would have benefited greatly from the delegates at this centre. The fact that CBD traffic is heavy is not helping matters hence KICC is meant to be the lifeline for the likes of Hilton, The Stanley, intercontinental, Serena et al .

The Kenyatta International Conference Centre – KICC was commissioned by our founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta the 1st President of the Republic of Kenya, in 1967. He did not cut corners, he went for quality.
It was designed by a Norwegian architect Karl Henrik Nøstvik and the construction was carried out by contractors Solel Boneh & Facta.

This was done in three phases.
Phase I was the construction of the podium.
Phase II consisted of the main tower and
Phase III involved the Plenary.
Construction was completed in 1973, with the opening ceremony occurring in September 1973 presided over by President Jomo Kenyatta.

Folks setting up such a great facility – 28 floors and huge space for meetings that can accomodate 5000 delegates way back in 1967 is driven by sheer passion and VISION.

The lack of maintenance over the years and lukewarm support by the exchequer meant that the place is simply not able to maintain standards and the results is all to see from broken tiles to pot holed car park , broken toilets , non functining water fountain to dangerous makeshift steps amongst many others which are tell tale signs of neglect which makes this facility a shame in the heart of our city.

Once a nice fountain which is now in a sorry state. Turning it into a nice rock garden would make more sense .

On the other hand the City itself is not doing any better, the City has also not been spared the neglect by the city fathers who have decided to focus more on internal fights rather than fix the city where 60% of Kenyas economy is based. What an irony that these two facilities face each other while our National Assembly which is equally not short of drama looks on as a witness between the two and the Judiciary is a witness to it as well all as they share a wall.

Pavements with dangerous gaping holes making walking downtown a dangerous affair

KICC is meant to attract and pull in International Conventions that will in turn keep all the hotels in the CBD busy.
With the current state of affairs at this centre, it is indeed a long shot to compete with other Centres and Cities Globally – hence even Kigali is now having our lunch while Ethiopia is preparing to eat our dinner.

While all this is happening, I could not fail to notice the never say die Spirit of the Kenyan entrepreneurs. I counted No less than 10 new world class restaurants in the CBD while hotels like – The evergreen, The Stanley a Heritage Hotel by Sarova Hotels have maintained its 5 star status including a new 4th floor spanking brand new VIP lounge aptly named 1902 Club deriving its name from when the hotel was set up. Keep in mind they also have the classy Exchange bar on the 1st floor where Kenya’s 1st stock exchange was traded . Well Done Jimmy Kariuki and Sarova Kenya Team.

The Stanley’s 1902 Club . Great addition to continue with its 5 Star rating

I could also not fail to notice Nairobians support for all this new restaurants and pubs where the city remained alive till past 10pm even on a weekday despite all the challenges they face. Give it to Kenyans we are very hard working lot,only let down by the public sector.
*We must speak. Silence on our part is not acceptable. What became of the once vibrant NCBD ??*

Charlie’s one of the new eateries in the CBD close proximity to KICC. Kenyans are enterprising despite the challenges .

All is not gloom though, I noticed that hawkers were not there around the CBD and the notorious street families were all gone save for one or two. Boda Bodas that were all over the place a few months ago are also gone.

While I point out issues it is also my nature to give a simple way forward.

Nairobi CBD

Please we need a walking city. Please fix all those dangerous pot holes and pavement that can easily leave one badly injured .

We should also have pavements that are level where you can easily pull your stroller to carry your stuff when going to the fair at KICC even as Kenyans and Nairobi residents need that. This is what happens in London or Johansburg and most serious cities around the world where our MCA’s have visited on numerous occasions .

Nairobi CBD is beautiful and restoring it to its one time glory is possible .

Governor Sonko ought to borrow a leaf from his friend our Mombasa Governor and fix the pavements. Visitors will only spend money if they can get out of their hotel rooms. Please make it easy for them to spend money in our shops and restaurants . Allow them to pump in money into our economy . Allow them to put money in our pockets. In the absence of that they simply go back with their money which they had planned to spend in NAIROBI, but you refused to allow them.
I recall respected Pastor T. D. Jakes who told us as much .

To matters KICC.

To My Bro CS Balala, we have had this debate for ages on the future of KICC.
When Raphael Tuju then Minister Of Tourism stormed KICC to evict KANU we all believed that KICC was going to turn around but nothing much has happened.
To make it worse the neglect of this iconic centre is now at an all time low and we can no longer wish it away.

Setting up the convention bureau is yet to happen while neighbours are moving and moving pretty fast. Setting up a bureau will also be pointless if the Infrastructure is not fixed and that should come first .

Let’s be honest with ourselves Goverment is simply NOT able and trust me, NOT willing to do it.
KICC in the Scheme of things is not on the priority of issues facing GOK today.
It is high time private sector was allowed to take over KICC and let GOK remain a landlord.
A serious private sector player will build a 5 star hotel with enough parking space ( tower ) at the convention hotel while the extra delegates will fill the hotels in the CBD.

Let me be clear I have NOT said sell , lease it out.
If a 1902 hotel, The Stanley can maintain its 5 star status it means age is nothing but it all has to do with working ethos and commitment.

Last year Cape Town attracted 56 International Conventions while Kigali attracted 23 and we could only attract 18 which should not be the case. They say talk is cheap. Can we now see serious tangible action.

I noticed that some work was going on to fix KICC but I am afraid this piece meal approach will not take us anywhere.
Cape Town Convention centre pumped in 1B Rand Ksh 8B hence they can attract serious conventions yet they are located further down in Africa while Nairobi has a God Given central location which we have REFUSED to exploit.

Attracting 800 delegates each week 3 weeks in a month in 11 months each spending on average $120 in a Nairobi hotels means Ksh 1.6B direct as hotel accommodation only excluding many other extras.

Numbers Don’t Lie

*Verdict.*

KICC scores 4/10 while Nbi CBD scores 3/10 and my hotel you score 9/10. Well Done The Stanley. It’s clear what private sector can do and truth be said you and many other investors deserve better.

*Well as always I choose to remain an optimist. It’s about time we all spoke.*

Mohammed Hersi.
Chairman – Kenya Tourism Federation.

To CCK & Legislators, your never ending dominant player claims is not helping Safaricom. Let them be.

The debate of Safaricom dominance does not seem to be going away. It was the first agenda item for MD Safaricom Bob Collynore on his return from lengthy sick leave to make appearance at the National Assembly ICT committe who picked cue from CCK who are hell bent to slow Safaricom growth and dominance while flashing the dominant player card.

Safaricom did not succeed from the blues , it was made to made to happen by smart and visionary leadership whose foundation was set up by Michael Joseph and then followed by current MD Bob Collymore.

While CCK is fixated with Safaricom dominance they don’t appreciate the fact that Safaricom was late to take off from the starting block thanks to GOK red tape then where Kencell now Airtell had the head start .

Around 2002 Safaricom had 918,779 subscribers while Kencell now Airtell had 1,627,378 . The rest is history . I was one of the Kencell pioneer subscribers with a 0733 line but I left them on my own accord to a more customer centric provider.

In 2000’s While Kencell were busy chasing corporates and billing per minute, Safaricom opted to go for Wanjiku and charge per second . While Kencell focused on urban centres Safaricom went to the villages . Many urbanites holding a kencell line realised that their rural folks were all on Safaricom .We all recall the fight then between the two firms and at one point Kenyans were described as peculiar lot by MJ . Indeed we are peculiar to date since we are now unhappy with runway success and we want to slow down Safaricom. Safaricom also opted to go big on data and avoid a bloody unnecessary war on voice. Later Mpesa came and that was the last nail on Airtell coffin and other providers and Safaricom was airborne.

Market dominance is not a bad thing if the dominate player is not abusing that monopoly and Safaricom have really not abused their position. For anyone to insist that Safaricom must share it’s infrastructure is akin to asking a new state of the art hotel to allow a dingy hotel next door to acess and use Its kitchen .

CCK is now seeking interventions that will not allow Safaricom to introduce any products or services unless they are replicable by other operators. What hogwash .

To quote Bob Collynore ” The success we enjoy is the result of being a purpose-driven, insights-led, customer-obsessed business with a robust strategy that we execute with great precision.”

Domestic monopolies can become dominant in their own territory and then penetrate overseas markets, earning a country valuable export revenues. This is certainly the case with Microsoft. This is what CCK and GOK ought to be saying and not to attempt to slow down Safaricom.

It has been consistently argued that monopoly power is required to generate dynamic efficiency, that is, technological progressiveness. This is because:
High profit levels boost investment in R&D. Safaricom invest loads of money in research and new products. Innovation is more likely with large enterprises and this innovation can lead to lower costs than in competitive markets. The cost of Safaricom product and services is affordable and more importantly reliable .

In simple economics a firm needs a dominant position to bear the risks associated with innovation.
Firms need to be able to protect their intellectual property by establishing barriers to entry otherwise, there will be a free riderproblem. The likes of Airtell and Telkom should not be allowed to harvest where they never sowed. Safaricom were forced to set up masts in far flung regions and the ROI is almost nil while the competition would like a free ride on same.

The million dollar question then, Why spend large sums on R&D if ideas or designs are instantly given acess to rivals who have not allocated funds to R&D?

Safaricom may feel big by Kenyas standard but when placed at global scale , it just entered recently the top 10 telecommunication company in Africa let alone globally.

Google and Microsoft gained monopoly power through offering innovative new products. The same applies to the likes of Apple and Amazon. In this case, it is their market dominance which comes from being innovative and meeting a consumer demand.

It is hig time we closed this dominate player debate and allowed Safaricom a Kenyan company to continue to focus on what makes them tick. Let us not waste their time with unnecessary summons that add no value to them, be it shareholders and even to us the subscribers.

To our regulators and legislators instead of celebrating our only homegrown example of a world leading corporate, you are busy trying to emasculate it at the behest of a company from another continent and country . India jealously guards it’s corporate frontiers, and aggressively promotes Indian corporates to compete at global levels. Imagine for once would India ever entertain Safaricom entering that market and asking for Bharti Airtel to allow Safaricom acess to all her infrastructure including intellectual rights ?

To CCK and Legislators ask and encourage Safaricom to go beyond our borders and replicate their success out there. At some point Sumsung , Toyota and even Tata were playing small in Korea , Japan and India respectively . We should be asking and pushing Safaricom to go and conquer the world . I am afraid someone somewhere is trying realy hard to arm twist Safaricom .We cannot also not rule out a financial shakedown in a country where serious firms have not been spared.

If GOK and our Legislators would like to help the consumer please head to Kenya Power & Lighting that has the monopoly to keep us in darkness not to mention the ever increasing power bills .

It’s about time you left Safaricom alone unless you really miss once upon a time useless Kenya Posts & Telecommunication.

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

After the logging ban , timber merchants have now descended on coconut trees. Stop Them.

In light of ban on logging , timber merchants have now shifted their focus to the coconut tree.

It takes decades for a coconut tree to grow to maturity. Fact is that most of the trees along the Kenya Coast were planted way before independence while our ethos is also weak when it comes to renewal. We are not planting new coconut trees. Irony is that we actually have a goverment parastatal dealing with coconut.

Coconut as is has over 40 other uses which is sustainable. Cutting it down is a one time benefit and that is the end of the story.

Kenya Coast currently is facing serious shortage of Makuti thatching and soon Madafu and coconut itself will not be easily be available. We are busy destroying what we inherited and coconut is now regarded a super food. Try to buy fresh Madafu in London you’ll pay through the nose.

When the furniture makers started they are not targeting living trees they were opting for dead trees which was fine but due to demand and ban on logging they have now descended on our coconut trees.

Kwale . Kilifi and Mombasa even Lamu county ought to wake up and put a stop to this mess.

A living coconut tree is more beneficial than a dead one.

Well the choice is ours and I still choose to remain an optimsit that we will act .

Open Letter To Students Turned Arsonists

Open Letter To Students Burning schools

Dear Student,

This might come as surprise but you really are not the first human to “dorn” the title “student” in Kenya. Let me point out that at some point in our lives we were also 14 and 15 years old.

Now as you exercise your stupidity by burning your school,please note that this is happening in rural areas where most of you are in all honesty ‘’of humble background”.That means your hardworking parents are far from rich but they are trying to give you the only avenue out of poverty and how do you thank them?

By burning the only means of emancipation from financial depravity that they can offer. Calling you a moron would be polite. In case it hasn’t occurred to you, your fellow rich kids in posh schools even public ones are going on with their classes.

We had issues as well. But we had listened to our parents and learnt an art since lost, the art of communicating. Of being able to express ourselves without resorting to idiotic violent means. If the Headmaster failed to listen ,there was always the District Education Officer, now under the County Government,(but you wouldn’t know that since you burnt all the books).In extreme cases parents were involved.

I recall walking from Meru School to Meru Town with my classmates to seek audience with the District Education head then and he did help us resolve our issues.

Fast forward to 2018 , you now have loads of luxuries we never used to have . In our days even a kiosk on site was such a luxury . Many things you take for granted were privileges then.

As a student it is NONE of your business who should be the school head or Principal. At your age, your only job is to study and make proper use of the 4 years. Once you leave school everyone will be on their own. Trust me the 4 years are everything. Time flies unless you want to remain under your parents’ roof forever.

If a fellow student or even an adult is trying to influence you to torch your school , please refuse and report them to the authorities . Even better reach to
your parents and tell them.

The world has close to 7Billion people and we are around 50 Million of us in Kenya. The world owes you NOTHING besides you found it here. The fact that you can read and write means you can understand and weigh what is right and what is wrong and criminally wrong.

Take a quick glance and you will see 90% of the schools going up in smoke are village schools where your parents are already poor enough . I am addressing you as a Kenyan who came from a humble background similar to most of you.

Do you know that your poor parent will still be made to make good the damage you have caused ?

Some of you believe that you can switch schools , I hope you now realise that no school will accept a young criminal if anything you should be in jail. DCI has already issued a warning ” Ifikiemastudents”

Let me now tell you some the hard truths .

1. Exams will happen whether you like it or not . I am made to understand you will sit the exam even under a tree if you remembered to plant trees that is.

2. If you never prepared you will fail .This exam is the main foundation of your life.

3. The school principal you are rejecting because he or she is not a local will continue to be your school principal. Let me tell you that 90% of my teachers were not from my community or my region. It is said a fool who only eats his mother’s cooking thinks she is the best cook.

4. To torch a school is not an easy thing , you must be high on something and I know that it only takes 5 bad boys to do it. Majority are good hence you must stand up for what is right and be a voice of reason .

Don’t try to be some Hollywood actor by torching your school or savagely attacking your teachers. It’s barbaric to even insult your teacher let alone lay your hand on them.

If you physically harm a teacher rest assured that full force of the law will hit you and hit you hard. If you can commit the crime then you can also serve the term in prison and that is where you belong . In prison you will meet others like you who will teach you a lesson. The world will not come to a stop because you have been jailed , remember we are 7Billion + on mother earth.

To parents please don’t try to help your rogue child escape justice . Continue burying your head in sand , they’ll eventually kill you. Protecting a rogue boy is totally wrong.

To the adult mafia behind the unrest you should be ashamed of yourself. Trust me your days are numbered .

If you are an adult reading this please share with that 15 and 16 year old who needs some serious reality check and mental reset.

#Mtihani Mtafanya Penda Msipende.
Stick to your lane and be a good respectful responsible God fearing youngster.

Good Luck and God bless.

Mohammed Hersi

Green Gram glut in Kitui, Governor Ngilu ought to be congratulated not condemned

Allow me to take you to the county of Kitui. I went to school in neighbouring Mbere where drought was a constant threat and Kitui was not any different. Kitui has been known to be a food relief recipient over the years but that has slowly been changing and changing for the better.

Governor Ngilu came up with a campaign for famers to embrace Green Gram farming or as we know it Ndengu / Pojo or Mung. There was also a promise by India that they will buy the produce from Kitui. With such positive development farmers in Kitui had to be upbeat .

Suddenly India declined to buy the supplies due to a bumber harvest and Kitui has now been left holding a large stock of green grams. My basic research has found that Kitui is holding close to 20,000 tonnes which is double the size of its normal production.

Kenya consumes close to 120,000 tonnes and you then wonder why are the famers in Kitui made to feel so desperate, why would anyone make Governor Ngilu feel guilty on such a noble project.

I would like to congratulate Governor Ngilu for managing to help famers to increase their production in a rather arid and semi arid region. Well as usual others will try to make a political gain out of it . If the export to India worked very many people would have loved to be associated with the project but now that it did not work as planned it suddenly is a Ngilu problem. It is said success is claimed by many fathers while failure is always left an orphan .

Fellow Kenyans I have taken the liberty to share the health benefits of Ndegu and you will be surprised that we are indeed sitting on some super food. As usual Kenyans love to make a political capital out of anything and everything while the real positive twist to an issue is never seen .

From being Anti Cancer to helping in reducing bad cholesterol the health benefits are amazing . Green Gram is a rich source of protein competing with meat and fish.

Way Forward:

1. We must address the free import flooding the market . We must support our famers . We must protect our farmers. If USA , India Canada do It all the time why do we throw our hard working farmers under the bus ?

2. Help farmers to address the issue of storage and ensure that bugs don’t attack their produce. I know some progress is being made.

3. Why would a farmer sell his produce at Ksh30 while a supermarket in Kitui and other towns is selling the same stuff at Ksh 200. Farmers need to be helped to value add , cleaning and packaging the same ain’t rocket science. They can also be helped to mill the same . It can also be eaten as dumpling and many other ways .

4. A campaign ought to be made so that we can embrace a culture of eating green grams which is 100% better than maize and even beans.

5. Council of Governors, we have hungry counties . Buy the produce from Kitui.

The fact that Kitui and Ukambani famers have been able to produce so much green gram is huge progress and ought to be lauded . Famers in Kitui should not be left feeling hopeless and in despair to sell their produce to middle men who act like vultures.

Some middlemen even lied to the poor farmers that a ship destined for India would leave Mombasa in 3 weeks hence they should not miss out lest they are left with dead stock . Many fell for the lie and sold off their stock at Ksh30.

Our schools and prisons require source of protein and the so called Kitui green gram glut of of 20,000 tonnes or even 50,000 Tonnes should not give Governor Ngilu sleepless night. Kenya is a hungry nation hence we should buy the whole lot at Ksh100 and above .

Well as always I choose to remain an optimist.

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

Allowing other airlines into Mombasa will not hurt KQ. It will wake them up.

Connectivity is key to the success of any destination .

Mombasa and Kenya coast has traditionally been a charter destination.

At one time during our peak times Mombasa was attracting 42 charters a week from continental Europe. This was in 2007 which is considered the most successful year for coast tourism then infamous post violence (PEV ) election happened and we lost everything. While we were fighting hard to regain lost grounds terrorism came calling and non essential travel advisory was imposed on . Mombasa and Kenya coast suffered even more. Charters at one point reduced to less than 5 a week.

It has never been the same again .

Currently charters hardly hit 10 flights a week with NONE from UK a key source of tourists for Mombasa and Kenya coast.

Charters means that an investor has to commit huge funds and many destinations get support from destination governments . It happens in Egypt, Tunisia etc and many other destination that are in recovery mode. Not many investors are keen to do that besides the charters business is equally a shrinking market. Many younger holidaymakers prefer scheduled flights .

We were left with no option but to fight for open sky policy . Were it not for Turkish Airlines , Ethiopian and to some extent Rwandair , Mombasa and Kenya coast would have been dead and buried .

Of course our national carrier KQ still remains the single largest carrier bringing in numbers to the coast but they all must transit through Nairobi . This is done ostensibly to support and build JKIA as a hub pushing Mombasa to a lesser position yet we have space close to 35+ charters that was left behind when the charters stopped coming in . It also means that the 30,000 beds in our resorts remain empty save for the seasonal domestic market and the conference segment . It also means Mombasa and Kenya coast will not see the full benefits of a thriving tourism industry.

We have been pleading with KQ to fly direct into Mombasa from London and direct to Malindi from Milan even if it was just once or twice a week. They have clearly told us that it makes no business sense for them hence they’ll continue to transit through Nairobi which means that many potential tourists would opt to avoid Mombasa and Kenya coast .

Ethiopian which is connecting Mombasa to over 120 cities around the world has been quite a saviour and the second flight is music to our ears. Turkish Airlines operating from the heart of Europe fly 5 times a week to Mombasa and we cannot wait for more frequency. Rwandair is also flying in 3 times a week Kigali Mombasa Dubai which has also been a success. It means that Ethiopian 14 Turkish 5 and Rwandair 3 which comes to 22 flights a week are giving 50% of what we lost with the charters .

Turkish alone flies to no less than 20 cities across Germany which means any German tourist can come to Kenya coast with ease. When will KQ ever fly to 20 cities in Germany? Ethiopian has just added Manchester to its cities which means anyone from. Manchester can visit Mombasa. When will KQ ever fly to Manchester even it was from Nairobi ?

What pains me is our business editors always insisting that KQ is going to suffer , how will KQ suffer when you don’t serve a particular route , how do you loose something you’ve never had in the first place ? Why would anyone deny Mombasa and Kenya coast hotels the much needed guests by denying other airlines the right to fly to Mombasa.

We denied Ethiopian a second flight for a long time and we are now also insisting that Ethiopian should also be given a chance to fly into Malindi from Italy since the Italian market is asking for it and there is no iota of a chance of KQ doing it anytime soon.

We are not the first ones to allow other Airlines to our second or third cities. Durban and Cape Town all receive direct flights including our own KQ flying direct to Cape Town from Nairobi . Why would KQ or GOK get upset or protective when it comes to Mombasa while they fly to Cape Town whivh is equivalent to Mombasa in addition to Joburg.

In aviation world , every country must reciprocate when they get flying rights to a destination . Ethiopian has given carte blanche to KQ to fly to any city in Ethiopia.

I know that KQ is busy restructuring and I have no doubt in my mind that under the able leadership of Michael Joseph and his team KQ will soar again. For KQ to soar and thrive it does not mean that we block other airlines from Mombasa and Kenya coast that is still struggling to fill the gap that was left behind by the charters. We are not even halfway yet .

Denying other airlines is blind protection because a potential tourist not able to fly direct into Mombasa will simply opt for Zanzibar or Sharm El Sheikh afterall we ain’t alone . Travellers always avoid switching once they get to destination. Immigration and customs in Nbi plus that long walk to cross ovet to thr domestic terminal is not helping matters.

You only thrive when challenged , baby sitting KQ will not help our national carrier. Anyone attempting to do so is also killing Mombasa and Kenya coast as a destination. We will not allow that to happen.

Can we now get Qatar to fly into Mombasa . We denied them in 2010 and they happily opted for Zanzibar .

Bottom line we aint the only beach destination. The world is not short of options.

As always I choose to remain an optimsit that there is plenty out there . Africa is poorly connected when it comes to air travel hence there is enough to go round. We must vanquish this scarcity mentality that looks like a permanent tenant in the minds of business editors and policy makers.

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

Rwanda Arsenal shirt sponsorship a masterstroke , Ignore the noisemakers

Rwanda & Arsenal Shirt Sleeve Sponsorship.

My other African favourite nation Rwanda after my home country Kenya has lately been trending for all the good reasons. Simply put Rwanda has been trending months before the English premier league season even starts in August.

To Daily Mail & BBC your ignorance tinged with arrogance is not helping you to understand Rwanda the new kid on the block.

Rwanda is a tiny African nation right in the heart of Africa. The International community could not easily place Rwanda during the terrible 100 days of Genocide in 1994. A ragtag army led by Paul Kagame managed to bring the killings to a stop and they say the rest is history. Rwanda is not seeking sympathy from any corner , all they want is understanding and to be treated with dignity. If you cross their line they will not hesitate to put you in your place . BBC’s John Humphrys got a taste of same from Clare Akamanzi CEO Rwanda Development Board when he attempted to be condescending while trying to paint Rwanda as a desperate starving African state.

Listening to BBC Radio 4 interview you could feel the ignorance by the radio host who kept referring to Rwanda as impoverished African country led by a dictator while Daily Mail reporter was also not left behind to expose his ignorance about Rwanda.

Rwanda is no longer dependent on aid . Rwanda hardly gets 15% of its budgets from aid hence the often reported claims that Rwanda is run through aid is not only misplaced but loads of hogwash.

Rwanda is a tiny land locked country with very limited resources hence in their Vision 2020 they have identified people as their main resource.

Rwanda has identified Tourism as the main driver to help bring in the much needed foreign exchange Rwanda targets high end tourists who mainly come to see the endangered mountain gorillas and lately Kigali has become a leading MICE destination attracting key meeting to the ultra modern Kigali Convention Centre. Vietnam, Cambodia have used tourism as means to reduce and eradicate poverty. Tourism is labour intensive hence Rwanda is also following the same script.

Rwanda is busy restocking Akagera National Park so that they are able to attract safari seekers in addition to Gorilla trekking enthusiasts .

Allow me to share just five reasons why partnering with Arsenal makes business sense.

1. Partnering with Arsenal was a true coup and a masterstroke move. Spending $30M or $40M over 3 years is no big deal when in 2017 Rwanda earned $440M from tourism and they are focused to double that to $800M+. It means it is costing Rwanda on and about $10M per year which is less than 3% of tourism earnings in one year . If Rwanda is to gross $2B over the next 3 years it means they would have spent a mere 2 % of their total earnings. Next door Kenya a parastatal just lost double that amount in some fishy deals where we are still trying to figure out how it all happened .

2. Arsenal is not an ordinary football team , it’s a very successful business. They may not have been very successful lately in collecting silverware but as a business it standing at No 6 as the most valuable soccer team in the world. In broadcasting alone Arsenal raked in close to $1B.

3. The social media power of Arsenal is not a pushover either with 60Million followers across various platforms . On the other hand a single player like Ozil boasts of 60Millions followers . Ozil is very influential across his ancestral home Turkey. Germany his adopted home and UK where he plies his football trade. The entire Arsenal team command 1 Billion + followers which Rwanda will be accessing by default.

Advertising on BBC or Daily Mail does not deliver even a fraction of that .

4. Rwanda is looking far beyond tourism in clinching a deal with Arsenal . Both Arsenals Men and women team will be visiting Rwanda once a year. Please show me any African country that has had such a visit by a leading football team . Please note all these players who earn millions are investors in their own rights.

The fact that Arsenal both senior and under 23 including the women team visiting Rwanda every year for the next 3 years means that Rwanda will use this visit to tell the world more about the positive things . To the BBC and Daily mail reporter you can walk past midnight in Kigali and you are safe. Try doing that in London , you could end up becoming a stabbing victim.

5. Rwanda football will greatly benefit from the Arsenal deal where many talented young Rwandans may find themselves at Arsenal youth team and in the process get into serious professional football . Rwanda has already invested big time in world class stadiums not some soup kitchen for street families.

To the ignorant and ill informed BBC and Daily Mail host and reporter a quick facts about Rwanda will help.

1. Rwanda is one of the few African countries that have almost achieved the Millennium Development goals now sustainable goals. A simple google will help to enlighten you . It has majority female legislators beating even the Scandinavian countries.

2. Rwanda has been ranked as Africas most efficient goverment followed by Mauritius and South Africa in the global competitive report. Rwanda was also ranked 7th most efficient goverment globally beating many EU countries.

3. Ease of doing business Rwanda is now ranked No 2 behind Mauritius beating South Africa and North Africa countries . It climbed 15 places in 2018 to position 41 globally and their goal to top 20 is looking more realistic. To appreciate Rwandas hard work and discipline my own Kenya is ranked 80 and Botswana 81 globally.

4. On the bribery index Rwanda is ranked 48 out of 180 countries while the rest of the East African countries keep each other company in the 100+ zone which is a familiar territory for African countries and thaf is the expected by the likes of BBC , Daily Mail et al.President Paul Kagame and Rwanda are fighting hard to leave that club of notorious corrupt countries and they are determined to do just that .

5. Rwanda is a nation of many firsts in Africa , open door policy with least visa restrictions, business licensing in less than 3 hours , construction license in less than 6 hours , they banned plastic ages ago and Kigali has been voted cleanest city in Africa on numerous occasions and Rwanda has just said NO to second hand clothes which Trump and USA have punished them by taking them off the Agoa list.

President Paul Kagame is one very focused leader who listens but at the same will go for dignity above anything else.

Finally on that perrenial reminder about dictatorship by Paul Kagame , Dambisa Moyo in her book Dead Aid said ” What poor countries at the lowest rungs of economic development need is not a multi party democracy , but in fact a decisive benevolent dictator to push through the reforms required to get the economy moving ” simply put rushing to elections before economic growth has proven not that successful. Many African countries go to the polls every 4 or 5 years yet the same has not translated to economic prosperity. Please go to Libya now that ” Dictator” Gaddafi is no more.

President Kagame and Rwanda value more trade than aid . It is said give a man a fish and you feed him for a day , teach him how to fish and you feed him for life. Well PK and Rwanda Inc have opted to go fishing rather than wait for that fish with millions of strings attached.

Bottom line the deal with Arsenal is a good one , may the games begin.

As always I choose to remain an optimsit

Mohammed Hersi
Kenyan Hotelier & Governance Trainer