Mara River Drying should be a wake up call. Reboot our brains

Once mighty Mara River now facing serious crisis

It is now official Mara River has virtually dried up a scenario never witnessed in the last 100 years.

Myriad of factors contribute to this state and key amongst them is the destruction of Mau forest which is the source of most of the rivers flowing across the greater Mara and finally Serengeti. That is not the aim of my piece this Sunday morning . Finger pointing won’t help us. We are also quick to blame global warming but truth is that 80% this is a self inflicted disaster.

On other hand wrong tree types replaced the indigenous trees at the water towers and the main culprit is the notorious Euclaptus trees that sucks water from the ground like no other trees does . This factor is also fueled by tea farms that are looking for easy quick cheap source of fuel to dry the tea leaves. Well the dry weather has now come to bite the same tea farms where 40,000 tea farms workers have been sent home.

Closer to my heart is tourism where we have marketed indeed over done it by selling Mara as a migration spectacle and indeed it is or was. Sadly we reduced Mara to a 3 months destination yet some of the best times to visit Mara is outside the migration period with less crowd and more cats and grazers. Simply put Mara is an all year round destination.

The news that Mara river is facing serious crisis is no longer news and I do not want to join the doom and gloom bandwagon. Yes it has dried , what next ?

Mara River virtually gone as we wait for rain water to replenish it.

Truth be said , most of our resources is God given and as Kenya we have put in almost no investment to sustain them. It is now time we did it and more so Narok county who draw resources from this great place. Kajiado, Nakuru , Taita Taveta are all yearning for an opportunity to manage Amboseli, Lake Nakuru and Tsavo respectively.

Is it about time that we considered several small dams in the Mara and regulate the rain water from upstream , I think my answer is yes . We have become so much used to free flowing water that we have taken it for granted that it will never dry.

What will small dams across Mara do ? Micro climate will be created while consistent flow of the river will be guaranteed throughout the year and even Serengeti downstream will be happy to see that the flow of the river is year all round .I may not be a scientist but i believe daming a river that is turning to be seasonal is the only solution in the short term. Once the animals have enough grass and then water to quench their thirst they will thrive . Water bodies world over is a birds paradise and today we are looking at loss of our birds due loss of our habitat. Evidence of habitat loss is when bird species start to vanish.

Long term we must go back to the root cause of the problem up at the water towers . Reforestation and at the same a goverment order that will ban notorious Eucalyptus ( Muyua Mai, there is a reason why Late Wangari Mathai hated this tree that was imported from Australia ) . The same tree is also wrecking havoc in Central Kenya where rivers once flowed freely they are now all turning to be dry rocky river beds. At this rate even River Tana is no longer safe which is source of our hydro power.

Then finally to my fellow tourism players , it is about time we reboot our mindset how we sell and package Mara. It is about time we sold Mara holistically year all round and not reduce Mara to a migration phenomenon. We all know that the Mara river is facing serious challenges and that may just may be force us to put on our thinking hats and sell Mara as Mara and not as a three months migration phenomenon.

Botswana , Namibia and even South Africa do not have rivers flowing year all round but they attract tourists year all long. Botswana is one dry Okavango delta most of the year but they attract high end tourists so is Namibia a dessert . Why do I get the feeling that nature is now forcing us to reboot our brains. To Narok county , it is about time you invested back into this cash cow called Masai Mara and bit by bit you can set up the dams and trust me micro climate will be created and in the process Mara will rejuvenate as nice premium park.

Those saying Mara is now dead without the Mara River are pessimists. Mara is not dead , it will only be dead if we refuse to think beyond the free God given resources. Mara is 1/16 the size of the massive Serengeti . In Mara you can see the big four in under one hour and sometimes even the big five.

Folks the Cheese has moved , it’s time we woke up to smell the coffee. Is saving Mara possible , of course it is .

As always I choose to remain an optimist.

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

*Is it about time we completely privatised KQ.*

Considering the unnecessary heat the KQ / KAA proposed deal has caused is it about time we completely sold KQ. Then only serious and ethical companies will be fit enough to do business with a new KQ. Those who love cutting deals will be locked out while no more tax payers bailouts will be needed. To nationalise KQ should NOT even be considered. We have been there before. We just do not have the discipline in respecting what is a GOK business. Ethiopians and the Emiratis are wired differently.

Safaricom was born out of that useless cash cow called KPTC which was milked dry by half literate political appointees of the 70s and 80s . Rest as they say is history. USA does NOT have a national carrier so can we.

Instead of trying to craft a KQ / KAA deal what about crafting a deal to off load GOK shareholding but with a rider that the name is retained . With MJ as Chair at KQ he handled the incubation of Safaricom before it was airborne . We can also get investors who will turn KQ into a Safaricom like outfit and privatisation will keep the lazy thieving hands at bay.

I am pretty sure many serious investors will pick KQ without thnking twice . KQ is a good viable business and there is no doubt it can regain its groove. Kenya is strategically located for any serious airline that wants to penetrate Africa. Kenya is only hours flight to any corner of Africa and that is a God given plus.

I really don’t mind KQ operated by Emirates, Delta or even Singapore Air, afterall Vodacom call the shots at Safaricom.

We can then focus to make our airports efficient and KAA will have to up its game as well . For now they may claim they are financially better off than KQ but it does not mean that KAA operations is anything to write home about. It’s about a dwarf insisting to be declared the tallest in the pack.

As long as we have KQ and the red tail, who owns it is really not an issue and we can say goodbye to constant bailouts.

Maybe jusy maybe the current team at KQ could be tasked to help in privatising KQ . With a single move the ongoing debate and labour issues will stop.

It is said it is only a fool who doesn’t change his mind others call it a paradigm shift and as always I choose to remain an optimist .

Mohammed Hersi

Eucalyptus Tree introduced in 1902 is causing havoc to our water table ( Africa In General)

I have been meaning to post my views regarding the Blue Gum tree or Eucalyptus. Last week I travelled through Central province tower on my way to Isiolo . Mount Kenya is a major water tower . Well it is now facing imminent danger.

Right from Thika I noticed miles and miles of Eucalyptus trees on virtually every available space. What many Kenyans don’t realise is that the Eucalyptus tree also known as Blue Gum is not an indigenous tree. It was introduced to Kenya around 1902 from Australia. It is a source of timber and fuel . It also fast growing. Many Kenyans have also been made to believe that they can sell the poles to Kenya Power who have now opted to use concrete poles which means many farmers will be left with poles that will end up as firewood or timber or left to continue to grow.

Now the sad part . Late Michuki warned us to uproot this trees from river banks while Nobel Laurette Wangari Mathai did not have kind words for it . She detested exotic trees for good reasons moreso the Blue Gum .

Entire 250KM + is nothing but Eucalyptus trees. Each tree gulps anything between 60 to 200 Litres a day

During my trip I only saw two rivers flowing while a decade ago there more than 10 rivers. When I see news that Mwea Scheme is now drying up I am not surprised . Uncles Michuki and Nobel Laureate Wangari Mathai who are both deceased warned us ( May their souls Rest In Peace ) but we never listened.

Eucalyptus tree gulp between 60 and 200 litres a day per tree depending on age of the tree . Even wetland grabbers use them to drain the grabbed land . Note how Nairobi is also full of these trees.

This tree is also not kind to other plants . It releases a chemical that kills most other plants . Even birds dont find it attractive to build nests and the soil is left dry without any moisture. Even butterflies disappear. This aint rocket science , please visit any place with Eucalyptus trees. The soil is dry and cracking. No sign of moisture.

We plant the wrong tree and on the other hand we keep drilling more boreholes , folks the future ain’t looking good at all. If anything this tree should banned or strict controlled growing of same .

Kenya is officially a water stressed nation. If we fail to take action , one day you may have the money but there is no water to buy. Scary Isn’t it .

I have also said on numerous occasion that a messed up environment hits back with a vengeance. Nature does not file case in court .

I am NOT a science student but where have all the environmentalist gone ?

Way Forward. Farmers ought to get rid of this tree and replace with Bamboo which is more soil friendly and quick growing.

Looming disaster indeed but as always I choose to remain am optimist .

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman

Kenya Tourism Federation

Restoring Kibarani is a good thing but please spare us the articial turf & wildlife sculptures.

Artificial turf and wildbeeste sculptures at new Kibarani is a No No

While we commend Mombasa County and our Governor H.E Hassan Joho for cleaning up our city and closure of Kibarani we must also point out when things are not moving in the right direction.

Restoration of any site and more so a former dumpsite we must engage environmentalist and we are certainly not short of them . True environmentalists are like Doctors , they are so passionate about matters environment in that it is almost a calling.

I am an not environmentalist but I take very keen interest and I read widely on same besides without a healthy environment we can kiss goodbye to tourism.

I am shocked to see artificial turf being laid out at Kibarani. Artificial turf is not creative at all for a park . A park is meant to absorb heat , dust and rain. A park is meant to help a city breathe. Someone at the county is now getting obsessed with artificial turf and if it is a case of supplies let the contractor do some serious work of natural restoration. Laying an artificial turf is simply being lazy.

Artificial turf for the island kerbs along Mwembe Tayari we can live with that but at a public park which you are trying to restore is a big No .

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel , simply borrow a leaf from Haller Park and see what a true restoration should look like .

Man made pond in Butterfly Pavillion in Haller Park. Mombasa

We need indigenous trees , we need plants that can help clean the toxic dumpsite. We need to see water features to attract birdlife . When we have good growth of different species you attract insects, when you attract insects birds will follow and if you give them appropriate trees to nest then that becomes their home. A park is where you go to be with nature and some artificial turf is NOT nature. It does not absorb any heat it is the wrong thing to have .

A park is where you have benches and go to relax. Giving us sculptures of wildbeestes in Mombasa is a No No . Marine life is facing serious dangers , why not focus on endangered marine life ? Use the same to help our children learn about marine life . Set a marine theme around it .

I am afraid someone who is not creative is making nonsense of a very noble project . If they did JKIA with animal sculptures I am sorry this is the wrong concept and waste of time and money. My Bro Joho please don’t allow this to happen .

It is NOT too late and we can still do the right thing . Restoring Kibarani dumpsite with artificial turf and sculptures of wildlife is simply a shortcut and lacking creativity.

One final bit , let’s not get overly excited about removing the causeway . That causeway is holding 50 years of trash. Are we ready for all that trash to swamp the beach and our waters ?? We must mitigate how to keep away the trash from moving across to Tudor, English Point open seas then to Diani and Watamu . It will be catastrophic.

Think hard folks

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

Kenya We Are UNBOWED.

The Kenyan Smile qualifies to be The Big Six

On behalf of Kenyas tourism fraternity we would like to send our heartfelt condolences to all those who lost their loved ones . Those of us in the hotel industry we lost people known to us . Many innocent Kenyans going about their daily chores met untimely death.

To the injured we pray for your quick recovery . To the affected businesses we pray for you to rise like the proverbial bird Phoenix .

To our gallant brave forces YOU guys are special , Kenya Red cross and very many brave Kenyans and many other people including members of the International community who took part in the rescue process we cannot thank you enough.

Kenyas Special Elite Force swing into action.

We are unbowed and as Kenyans we are stronger more than ever before .

Terror attacks should NOT define Kenya. We are peace loving people. We are ONE of the friendliest humans on mother earth. A Kenyan smile is so natural that it compliments the Big 5 that attracts millions to visit Kenya . The fact that many Diplomats and expatriates would find any reason to remain behind after their term of office is enough proof that Kenya is one of the best places to call home. I would never trade Kenya for anything else.

Within hours of the attack Kenyans of all walks of life rushed to the nearest hospitals that were expecting casualties to donate blood. Within an hour blood banks were full and a stand down was issued. As night fell at the scene of the incident ordinary Kenyans came to serve a hot meal to the rescuers. An old lady was on site on her own to serve hot tea to keep everyone warm as they worked hard to secure safe passage for anyone still trapped in the building. This is the true spirit of Kenya , this is who we are .

For tourism , 5 or 10 years ago the world would have isolated us when such an attack happened but not anymore. The same has happened in far more sophisticated cities like London , Brussels , Paris New York et al. No city in the world can claim to be 100 insulated from a terror attack . We thank the International community for standing with Kenya and these days they are not quick to judge and punish the victims a second time with painful travel advisories. When it happened in Paris , world leaders converged there as a show of solidarity .

We are down but never out. Kenyans are resilient, our will to thrive is as strong as steel and as brave as a lion. If you had planned to come to visit Kenya please do so , nothing should stop you . We live here close to 50 million of us , We are not about to relocate. We sleep and wake up here. Our children go to school right here . We lead normal lives so anyone asking you to defer your travel plans would be totally ignorant. You are not any safer in LA or New York , London or Mumbai , Paris or Madrid.

To the media including the local media, to report you must but do it with decorum and civility. The victims are already traumatised enough . Splashing their terrified faces as headlines in your papers is quite insensitive . To the likes of New York Times you cannot have two set of rules . We have never seen a picture of the hundreds killed by shooters across America. Journalism ethos is global and victims anywhere in the world deserve their privacy.

Our security forces have nibbed many other planned attacks behind the scenes . When one one attack happens please keep in mind that 10 others have been foiled some very serious ones and our security team work 24/7 round the clock to protect us. If Kenya is safe for ordinary Kenyans then it should also be safe for you as our visitor.

God Bless Magical Kenya and as always I choose to remain an optimist.

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

Nairobi Traffic Mess. We need a mass system like Bangkok & Addis. Not more roads.

A sky train saves on space .

Our city of Nairobi is slowly grinding to a halt and thanks to the traffic mess and clueless city fathers for the last many years . None other than Ricahrd Quest of CNN noticed the snail pace of vehicular traffic which undermines all the efforts by the goverment to attract any FDI. A couple of years ago I did share my thoughts on how to rid Nbi off traffic gridlock and why I felt building a suspended road along Uhuru Highway was such a bad idea.

My position has still not not changed. I have been fortunate enough to visit Bangkok and next door Addis Ababa who recently launched their light sky train. We need a sky train in the middle of Mombasa Road and Uhuru highway and NOT a suspended highway.

I note that GOK seems to be in the final stages to build a suspended highway that will also serve JKIA and hopefully they claim it it will be on a toll charge.

In light of the recent mess , what Nbi needs is NOT more roads . What Nbi now needs is an orderly mass transport system .We claim Nbi’s population is now too high , please allow me to remind you that Bangkok is hitting 20 Million while Cairo is also very similar while Nbi is yet to even hit 4Million officially and we are already tired with traffic gridlock. What will happen if we do nothing and we get to 10 Million?

Addis sky train . If Addis can do it let it inspire Nairobi

Nairobi and even those who own cars would be happy to take a sky train and leave their cars at home . I will be happy to take my train at JKIA to downtown Nbi .

What we need in Nairobi are three major lines just like Bangkok. One line should run from Athi River and in future Machakos all the way to Kangemi through Uhuru Highway.

2nd line from Ongata Rongai through Haile Sellassie through Kariokor along Thika Higway to Thika and Makutano.

3rd line outer ring to serve Eastlands. Close the rubbish tired Kenya Railways.

Each train has close to 8 coaches and each coach can take 60 pax which means 3 Manyangas or 25 seater PSV . Goverrmnt and Nairobi county under a PPP will build the line then Matatu Saccos will lease the coaches which means the current Matatus workers will be absorbed to run these lines which means job loss fears would have been addressed.

This could be Mombasa Road / Uhuru Highway

Many Nairobians drive to town . Get a secure parking and hit the city on foot. If given an option they will happily leave their car at home sparing Nbi the traffic gridlock.

I am not a transport expert but I keep my eyes open when I travel so how comes our policy makers cannot see such simple options to fix our traffic gridlock.

As you read this over the weekend, it is my prayer that our go goverment and donors abandon the suspended road from the airport but opt for sky train.

Without addressing a good mass transport system I am sorry anything else like extra road Thika highway style is waste of time . It will be just a matter of time before traffic takes over. You can build nore roads in future but first we must prioritise a mass transport system

Well as always I choose to remain an optimist but sadly time is of the essence .

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman

Kenya Tourism Federation

KQ workers strike call ahead of Nbi/ New York inaugural flight in bad taste .

The call by KQ staff through their union to strike is in very bad taste.

Very many players have worked very hard for this Nairobi / New York flight . I am not suggesting that union issues are ignored , far from it .

Why does the union want to make it look like the Nbi / NY is a one off flight ? It’s like if  they don’t get a deal before this flight then  it is the end of negotiations , It is not . They are already doing long haul Nairobi London . Nbi Guangzou etc. I am pretty sure the management will strike a deal.

KQ is just getting out of its financial troubles yet the same staff were all silent when the airline was literally destroyed by inept leadership that ended with one of the largest loss any corporate has ever registered in Kenya. KQ was looted to the core with all kind of financial malpractice you could imagine. They were all silent then.

Banks have turned their loans into equity reluctantly , is this how to reward that sacrifice ? GOK is bailing you out with tax payers money , is this the reward you are giving us ?

The staff at KQ must get serious and I am afraid this time round you are treading on dangerous grounds. Your call for a strike is nothing but sabotage and ought to be dealt with accordingly. Union issues is work in progress and should not be allowed to jeopardise our first Nairobi / New York flight. We have worked so tireless to get it on the  runway ready for take off  and any hurdle placed on its way is nothing but pure sabotage and lack of patriotism.

We should borrow a leaf from Singapore Airline when staff repeatedly called for strike and Lee Kuan Yew then Prime Minister read the riot act . He clearly said that he was willing to ground the airline to teach them a lesson , since he has had enough. I think it’s high time we dealt with these bad apples once and for all.

Well as always I choose to remain an optimist that common sense will prevail

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

Most of the illegally stashed funds in foreign accounts end up as unclaimed funds .

This week we came to learn that several Kenyans are hiding their wealth both lawfully gained and some illegally made in foreign secret accounts across several countries with the bulk domiciled in Europe.

Dogs moreso the mongrels that roam urban centres love to bury the bones they grab from weaker dogs .

When I teach Governance I give the dogs analogy matters corruption in Africa. A dog and moreso the mongrels that you find in urban centres love scavenging . They will attack a weaker dog and take away the bone it has been eating. Instead of eating that bone as a start , it will go and bury it then come back to attack the next weaker dog. The Ill mannered mongrel is purely on a hunter gatherer mode driven by a serious scarcity mentality.

It will do this over & over again in the course of the day until there are no more weaker dogs with a bone . A dog has a habit of burying bones, it might be due to an intense hereditary survival instinct. Dogs in the wild buried bones as a means of storing them to use at a later time.

Well with nature sometimes it starts to rain the dog feels hungry & naturally it will remember that oh I had a bone somewhere . Now dogs are not very good with their sense of smell more so in a rainy wet environment. It’s muddy, messy & it finally goes to sleep hungry and cold. More often than not it may never find that bone & most likely it will be swept away by the floods.

Now the corrupt humans mostly from developing world holding public office will hide their loot somewhere in Europe. I have heard many times that no civil servants should have a foreign account . You certainly need good amount to sustain a foreign account. Most of the funds are wired to some secret accounts that even their loved ones including wife(s) do not know they exist . We are all too familiar with the Panama accounts.

In old age their memory is failing them & they are no longer able to remember where they stashed the loot ( where they hid the bone ) . Most of the accounts dont even bear their names let alone remember them . Sick ,frail with failing memory ordinary the looter will recall noyhing . Orodnary people ( smaller dogs that lost their bone ) will then be asked to contribute for their medical & even for their funeral.

Hiding their loot is very similar to what the dog was doing. The weak dog is Eg funds for free primary school , youth fund , funds meant for ARV’s , hospital funds , water projects etc. If only the dog enjoyed that one bone , if only the real looters could be limited to that one bone , if only the loot could have been invested in Africa to create employment etc it would have made a huge difference.

At some point close to £360M stashed by one Sani Abachi was sent back to Nigeria at least this was not marked as unclaimed funds. Please don’t be that dog attacking weaker dogs. If you must please when you hide that ‘ bone’ share the location so that it does not go unclaimed .

Jim Nyamu , The Elephant Man Needs Your Support .

Please send your donation to the Mpesa Bill No 891300 Account ENC

#WhyILoveKenya

This Sunday allow me to focus on one man Jim Nyamu ( The Elephant Man ) . He had dedicated all his life in conserving the African Elephant that is under extreme pressure poachers from bloody poachers and ivory traders.

Zambians were elated to receive Jim

Jim has walked from Nairobi to Mombasa, Nairobi to Marsabit Moyale then London to Bristol in biting winter , Washington USA across several states.

He is currently on the road across Southern Africa having covered Tanzania. Malawi . Zambia . Zimbabwe and he is leaving Botswana today heading to South Africa.

At each border crossing the support has been overwhelming

Unlike the office conservationist and activists Jim is a man of action. Jim has been stopping along the way to speak to villagers , school children and everywhere he has been received so well in some cases officially by goverment officials . In Zimbabwe ZANU PF the old grand party received him .

Jim does not have any major sponsor and depends on well wishers. I am today on his behalf seeking support for Jim’s campaign across Africa to save the African Elephant . Please join me to support him and send your donation to the

Mpesa Bill No :891300
Account: ENC

To Jim we are behind you , many of us could not join you in that long walk but we are with and we say a silent prayer for your well being.

Jim would engage children at each urban centre on matters conservation and they will give the little they have inform of a prayer

Keep walking and stay safe .

Toa Ndugu Toa Dada…..

As always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi
Chairman
Kenya Tourism Federation

*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.