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

Achieving a BRT and Car Free Days takes more than a can of paint and banning cars .

While I support a good idea that may solve a problem I am equally surprised how we go about things in Kenya .

Let me focus on two issues.

1. The Planned Bus Rapid Transport System ( BRT)

2. And now the planned car free days in Westlands

Both ideas are great but it only ends there , just an idea.

When Bogota , Istanbul and next door Dar implement a BRT it takes time and loads of planning to ensure everything falls in place . For BRT to work , you don’t wake up one morning and decide this road is wide enough to donate a lane that can be converted into a BRT. For BRT to work you need to have a well planned demarcated line which includes clear separation to avoid a non BRT from attempting to use that lane .

Since it is meant for public transport you also need to put up stations that will enable passengers to board and disembark with ease with safety being a paramount consideration. Taking Thika highway and giving say 5 stations only for a distance of 40KM makes no sense . I am waiting to see how this will work. The tragedy is that it makes us look really bad. We learn all the good principles of planning and then execution but we don’t see this on the ground . If we serious about a BRT in Thika Highway then let us go beyond just a coat of paint. We are all too aware about the design challenges on Thika Highway has had and adding adding a BRT as afterthought is pushing our luck too far . We end up looking quite rudderless.

2. On car free days , again a brilliant idea but only qualifies as another knee jerk move. If you wish me to leave my car at home then give us a working public transport system , trust me many of us would love to leave our cars at home . Many of us would love to sit in a commuter train reading a book or catching up on mail like it happens in many other civilised cities. Well next door Ethiopia have their sky train working .

Goverment cannot afford to shoot in the dark hoping something will work. Fix the potholes in Westlands, fix the drainage , as senior officials stop over lapping with some chase cars loaded with overzealous police officers who wag a finger at you to give way, give way to where ? Please go back and deliver the basics before you attempt to copy past what Kigali is doing .

For Kigali to get where they are they have made sure that the public transport indeed works and works well.

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I would love to see all these good things happen but it is also important that we get realistic with our ambitions. It takes foresight and planning to do these things.

If we are serious about a BRT then start with The notorious Mombasa Road . It can do with a BRT well planned and built . It can run from Kangemi to Athi River. We have enough road reserves from Athi River to Nyayo Stadium. We can even add a skytrain . From Nyayo suspend it as an overpass all the way to Kangemi and we shall have one of the best in the region. Then add a line to JKIA.

I am not an Enginner but with our travels we see how other countries have delivered a BRT and Car free days . GOK officials travel more frequent than many of us and including benchmarking trips. It makes one wonder what do they see on those trips?

It takes more than a can of paint and new buses to deliver a BRT and an order to leave your car at home to decongest The CBD and Westlands.

Abraham Lincoln one time said ” give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. It is clear that we are spending less time sharpening the axe but hoping to get an excellent result.

Well as always I choose to remain optimist

Fake China Stuff Killing Kenya & Africa

I recently decided to take a walk on Moi Avenue Nairobi and I ended up visiting some of the stalls . You can see and smell fake stuff from clothes to plastic shoes that emit that acrid smell when the sun is hot.

In the past 70s to 90s we could buy a decent Made In Kenya shirt on Moi Avenue from a Patel or a Kantilal shop . Tanznaias founding father Mwalimu Nyerere once told his people ” Ukitaka London , Jirani Nairobi ni London Ndogo”. ” If you want to experience London simply go next door to Nairobi ” Sadly not anymore.

You could even buy yourself a good leather shoe I recall special brand called Tiger. It was leather company employing many local guys and of course our own Limuru Bata or even African Boots on Kenyatta Avenue all local stuff. Tiger shoes was even available in a small town like Embu where I went to school

What we have now done is to open our doors wide open in fact there is NO door . The amount of cheap and I mean cheap useless stuff that does not last even 2 weeks will shock you from toys to shoes to cloths and now even food.

Those same useless plastic stuff is what is chocking our environment. We have seen accolades being given to Eastleigh which in my opinion is the HQ of most of these fake rubbish . The so called door to door delivery from China and Dubai is the source of most illicit and fake useless stuff . Go to any rubbish pit and see the amount of toys and plastic shoes. They can still do business but bring good quality stuff even if it’s not the designer labels. China has top end , first copy all the way to most useless .

Two days ago I was in Old Town Mombasa same plastic Chinese rubbish stuff.

Folks take time off from the serious malls that are also guilty trying to make a killing. So called malls that would choose to unpack a pair of five socks or under garments and try to sell them per piece ostensibly trying to make more money, talk of greed reloaded. Then they wonder why no one is buying , their target market are not that market ignorant and they travel so they know .

Go to these many stalls and see what is being sold to majority of Kenyans which all add up to the unfavourable balance of trade with China.

Simply put Kenya is one BIG dumping ground for fakes. Well we can that claim Oh we have Kenyans earning a living but at what cost ?

It’s just not former decent shops on Moi Avenue the mess is everywhere Muindu Mbingu street or even in Westlands is nothing but one stall after the other . Chinese and more cheap fake Chinese stuff.

Go to industrial area where manufacturing used to happen is now nothing but warehouses for more and more Chinese cheap stuff from Generators to Furniture to houseware the list is endless . Don’t even get me started on edibles from powerdered milk to Fish to Garlic .

What we fail to realise is the damage these cheap plastic imports is doing to our environment.

Kenya is one BIG hawking nation. Just look at all the fake stuff guys will try to sell to you when you are stuck in traffic from a phone charger that hardly lasts 24 hours if you are lucky to make it work that is . Power banks that only go to damage you expensive phone not to mention the danger . It is only a peculiar Kenyan who will buy a genuine phone but choose to hunt for a fake dangerous power bank

As we address ourselves on how to improve manufacturing can we first fix back the door to Kenya. Fake stuff just streaming in helping the Chinese economy. KBS, KRA in one long slumber.

The irony is that the same China will make a genuine Reebok or Nike sneakers but choose to send rubbish here while our inspectors are least bothered .

If anything please give me Mitumba from Europe that will last for long to spare our rubbish pits from these Chinese disposables . The cost of going cheap will come back to haunt us decades down the line when our waterways are all poisoned. It is not too late to take action but time is not on our side.


If in two weeks we don’t get Nyayo Or Kasarani ready Gor Mahia will play in exile 😂😂

Folks you may or you may NOT be a football fan.

Allow me to give you a quick update matters football and state of stadias in Kenya . Gor Mahia has qualified against all odds for the next stage by kicking out a well funded South Africa Side Supersports United in the CAF Confederations Cup. Congratulatory messages poured from all corners , you see success has many fathers.

Then someone in Nairobi decided they will renovate ( I call it dig up ) both Nyayo Stadium & Kasarani . It is a no brainer that you CANNOT revamp the two stadias at the same time then suddenly the planned renovation fall behind schedule . Machakos stadium thanks to Governor Mutua has been the saving grace but not anymore since the facilities there do not meet the next round of plays.

In 2018 , fifty five years after independence one of our team Gor Mahia will be forced to seek for a venue outside Kenya may be in Dar or Kigali which means we play both Yanga and Rayon Sports of Kigali twice in their backyard. When did the rain start beating us ?

Folks playing outside your country only happens due to war or when safety of the visiting team cannot be guaranteed . We are not at war but we have a war with mediocrity where sense of urgency is alien and accountability is non existent

On one side we claim to love and support sports . In 2018 someone is just not able to understand that football is BIG business globally. Talented footballers have single handed transformed their villages and in some cases their home towns and even their economies . Look at all the stars from latin America and West Africa who earn millions and they play alongside one of our own Victor Mugubi Wanyama. It’s very sad the people who are meant to sort such things out don’t see anything wrong .

Even at our lowest point as a nation in the 90’s we never ever forced our football team to seek refuge in a neighbouring country. It’s pains me a great deal when hopes are dashed by people who care less. We have less than 3 weeks to get either Nyayo or Kasarani ready.

If you cannot build the 5 new stadias at least maintain what you you found . I don’t think we are asking for too much. Sports tourism requires enablers like physical stadias and not some artist impression.

To Gor Mahia remain focused whether you play at home or in Siberia . Keep your eye on the ultimate goal, The Cup 🏆🏆.

As always I choose to remain an optimist but at times it gets really hard to keep the optimism thought alive.

Mohammed Hersi

That young backpacker is our future high end tourist. Please treat them well.


To My fellow Kenyans allow me to share some insight that many of us would not notice .

A tourist is not only that guest who is choosing to stay at some fancy 5 or 4 star rated hotel or resort. Anyone who leaves their normal aboard and pays for accommodation in another town let alone another country and continent qualifies to be a tourist. Many of us are tourists by default.

We have many International guests who choose to stay at various budget Bed & Breakfast in Nairobi and Mombasa including homes now that we have AirBnB.

I chose to do a quick glance at two Mombasa budget hotels . These are outfits that will cost you less than $25 some even $20. They attract International guests and they are happy to stay there. Majority are students on gap year while others are seeking experiential Tourism and keen to mingle with the locals.

To these budget hotels , please be nice to all these young people staying with you . If they are happy they are the best brand Ambassdors and they’ll in turn encourage their parents to visit Kenya who will happily stay in that 4 or 5 star property.

One more thing they ought to be safe , if anything happened to them they may be a Belgian , British , Australian tourist et al they still remain a subject of those countries . They will NOT be classified as that Australian or Japanese in a budget hotel. Help us avoid unnecessary travel advisories.

To my tourism colleagues it is in our best interests that we embrace and positively influence these budget hotels because majority host future tourists to our 4 or 5 star hotel and resorts besides these young people truly experience the real Kenya . It is in our best interest we mentor these homestays and budget outfits.

To the owners of these small hotels you now all pay catering levy which means you are entitled to free training by Kenya Utalii College during their annual refresher courses that run between April & June. Please be on the look out and get as many of your staff to attend . It makes a huge difference to have skilled staff.

To CS Balala and our Tourism ministry we must help these budget outfits to get more professional and for them to truly understand and appreciate that they are a key cog in the wheels of tourism trade.

It is totally wrong for anyone to say we don’t want ” cheap ” tourists . Well even in leading cities around the world you can still get a B&B for under $25. It is NOT a Kenyan thing besides it’s a free market hence every hotel or resort has its own target market.

My fellow Kenyans when you see that group of young back packers at the SGR or aboard a bus or Matatu to Mombasa or to Western Kenya please note you have just made contact with a future high end tourist and for now a brand Ambassdor for Kenya if treated well.

As always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman Kenya Tourism Federation

To The Corrupt, Kenya has enough for our need NOT your GREED

This is meant for all those corrupt people in our country.

Science has proven that irrespective of how much you own you can never improve the quality of life beyond a certain point.

Reality is that you can only sleep in one house, sleep in one bed , drive only one car at a time , you can only holiday so much , your kids can only attend one school at a time and the list can go on.

I am NOT against wealth , by all means make your genuine wealth . The ” wealth ” you make from stealing from the public is nothing but poison in your wallet or account. Don’t look too far when you realise that things are not working out in your family . You can compromise an already compromised authorities but there is one Almight God that you cannot compromise. The punishment comes in form of Karma and Karma they say has no deadline . When your only daughter or son ends up in not nice places then know that karma is paying you back in kind.

Fact: Guys who’ve made their money through genuine business are all too happy to give it back to society. Talk of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet et al. Genuine wealthy people lead very simple lives. Majority who flaunt their wealth especially in Africa are not clean. Many would hide their loot in some secret accounts in off shore places. The loot hidden out there is so much that many loose track of it and end up as unclaimed funds. Tragedy is that the same poor folks back home who stole from would be asked to contribute via Mpesa upon their demise.

How on earth do you enjoy sleep when you steal funds meant for ARV’s or medicine for public hospitals , how ??

Folks the world and let me say Kenya has enough for our needs but not enough for our GREED. Allow me to echo the words of Mahatma Ghandi.

I wish you all a pleasant week ahead and as always I choose to remain an optimist. Evil will NOT prevail for ever.

Mohammed Hersi

KQ now on right flight path but more support needed at JKIA hub.

Ethiopian has just a announced 10 new destination in six months . This is good stuff and I am very happy for our northern neighbour Ethiopia. I am sure many of us will be quick to condemn KQ. Please don’t.

KQ is now in safe pair of hands, so what next?

Big up to our govermrnet for coming to help KQ after a decade of bad governance. If our national carrier KQ is to do well then more support is needed at Operational level and they MUST be treated as the favourite airline at our JKIA hub. If you study Ethiopian , they’ve done well no doubt but the amount of support they get in a virtually closed aviation industry in Ethiopia cannot be compared to KQ. Aviation business is cut throat . I am afraid KQ does not seem to enjoy such preferential treatment. If we add the operational hiccups at our main hub then it just takes way the only major edge they would have had over the competition.

KQ team is more than ready to launch new routes that make commercial sense but they will need full support to acquire new planes.

KQ has been in clean up mode and addressing it’s huge debt portfolio which has now been sorted out. Next is to help them acquire new planes for new routes and also regain its lost market share on the African continent .

The constant litigation and never ending CBA wars is something that has constantly distracted our national carrier. Labour issues is something that never bedevil Ethiopian. We may be more capitalistic in nature but many a times we go overboard to the point of self cannibalizing.

KQ has done very well in the past and I believe we can do it again more so when someone like Michael Joseph is at the helm as chair and Sebastian as the CEO.

Basic support at JKIA must be there if we ever expect them to match Ethiopian. KQ despite all the challenges they fly in the largest number of visitors to Kenya. It is in our best interest that we have a working airline .

Please note I am NOT taking anything away from Ethiopian . They have done really well for themselves.

As always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi
Kenya Tourism Federation.