Thursday, Jan 29th 2015

Andrea Bohnstedt

Entrants Must Pay Attention To Kenyans' Peculiarities

Saturday, January 24, 2015 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
Samuel and I have been together for a good 10 years, I think. Sometimes I stray, I admit that – and sometimes Samuel will help me do so by sending me his brother, or one of his sidekicks (hello David, George, Peter, Evans!). I’m talking about my cabbie, of course! Like many Nairobians, I have ‘my guy’. Samuel – located mostly at Sarit Centre – is the man: I’ve sent him off for errands, to fetch new gas bottles, pay in cheques. I gave him my house keys when I left the country and he passed them to a friend arriving the next day to stay at my house. He once drove a bunch of friends and me...

To Nurture Business, Kenya Must Fix Obvious Concerns

Saturday, January 10, 2015 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
A quite critical Reuters article on the Kenyan start-up sector has generated a bit of discussion recently. From the introduction: "Kenya’s technology rush gave hope that new ideas would help millions of Africans use their mobile phones to circumvent poor infrastructure, but local start-ups are failing to draw major investors or create profits. Lack of talent, problems in attaining seed capital and ideas that cannot be sold to a mass market or easily monetized have so far held back hundreds of Kenyan start-ups. Many were drawn to the tech sector by the Kenyan government’s push for a 'digital...

Decline Of Tourism Industry Is A Time Bomb

Saturday, December 13, 2014 - 07:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
VISITOR: Tourists arrives at the Airstrip of Diani.Photo/File
VISITOR: Tourists arrives at the Airstrip of Diani.Photo/File
I probably sound like a broken record about this, but what’s happening with the sad state of Kenya’s tourism? A sector that is enormously important for incomes of a large number of people with precious few alternatives is dying before our eyes. It’s easy to look at tourism and just count the hotel jobs. You could also say it’s not really that important since a lot of the profits stay abroad with foreign owners or agents. But that’s only half of the story. Tourism is a sector that provides a lot of employment beyond the immediately obvious; all the suppliers to the hotels, for example, food...

Top Honchos Not In Touch With Insecurity

Saturday, November 29, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
I try to be a decent citizen. You know, not throw litter on the street, not hit pedestrians, let other cars in, stuff like that. But this is clearly not enough. The president said in his recent speech: ‘No matter how much we do, there will never be one policeman for everyone and unless we work together with the security forces, the responsibility lies on me and you.’ Following this encouragement, I looked inwards, harder, to see what I can do about security. I have decided that I will play my role by helping men. I will help them not to assault me by not walking home from yoga anymore. I...

Is Singer Bob Geldof A Tone-Deaf Investor?

Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
Time for a rock star update! Bob Geldof had run around a bit at conferences berating people and institutions for not investing in Africa. I can’t really argue much with that message as such – more investment is a good thing – but I am as ever puzzled by why anyone would invite Bob Geldof to speak at a private equity conference. Yes, there’s his 8 Miles Fund, but that’s hardly been a shining light in either fundraising (launched in 2010 with the ambition to raise $1 billion, they decided to scale this down to a possibly more realistic $450 million in 2014) nor deal making (they finally got...

Africa Is A charming Mixture of Glee And Glum

Saturday, November 1, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
My favourite story of this week is probably #JollofGate: British celebrity/TV chef Jamie Oliver had done what he [or his web editor] referred to as ‘Jamie Oliver’s twist’ on a Jollof rice recipe. The entry on his website came with a little paragraph on the Wolof people in Senegal who (reportedly! Because we’re generally treading on thin ground here, as you will see shortly) invented it, before it travelled across the continent as far as Ghana and Nigeria. And the version published is not the original recipe if there is such a thing at all: “Some nations use coconut milk, others nutmeg or...

State Stifling Growth Of The Film Industry

Saturday, October 18, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
A film-maker.Photo/File
A film-maker.Photo/File
There are many things that you can say about Kenya. That it’s a stunningly beautiful country. That it’s full of enterprising, creative people. That it has many interesting stories, rural and urban, to tell. And I’m glad that more and more of those stories are being told and told for bigger global audiences. ‘Nairobi Half Life’ travelled the world. Or ‘I will not be silenced’, the documentary about my friend Charlotte’s seven-year battle (seven years, just let that sink in again) to get her rapists convicted, which is now going to be screened at international film festivals. A big part of her...

Sensible Laws Being Eroded By Bribe Culture

Saturday, October 4, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
A police officer receiving a bribe from a motorist on Ruaka Limuru road. Photo/Albert Nyakundi
A police officer receiving a bribe from a motorist on Ruaka Limuru road. Photo/Albert Nyakundi
I once spent a good bit of time and effort on trying to find out from Nairobi County Governor Evans Kidero and his deputy why the traffic lights in Westlands weren’t working. And also if there was a link where one could download the traffic study. I asked those questions for many days, without a response. Which suggests that Dr Kidero’s office is a little old school about social media, not using it as (subject-related pun ahead!) a two-way street, but to talk at people. Anyways. The traffic lights in Westlands have been resurrected, finally, if a bit haphazardly, so that’s progress. Sadly,...

Is Devolution Providing Value For Money?

Saturday, September 6, 2014 - 00:00 -- By ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
It’s the Tibetan prayer mill of Africa’s new oil countries: Of course we’ve studied the case of Nigeria’s Niger Delta carefully, and of course we’re going to avoid this. Because, you see, we’ve studied this, and we say so because we’re serious. And credible, too. That is what any government would tell you, and just as obviously you will take government statements at face value at your own peril. Economist David Ndii didn’t look towards the often-referenced Niger Delta to sound a warning to Kenya. Instead, he looked at Ghana: A country that discovered oil at roughly the same time as Uganda,...

Do We Need To Start Offering Poacher Tours?

Saturday, August 23, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
The impact of insecurity in Kenya on its tourism sector should be one of our biggest concerns, not the least because it will further increase overall insecurity if nothing is done about it, soon, and credibly, tangibly so: So many jobs, especially in the semi formal and informal sector, depend on it – and the formal sector is relatively small to start with. Many of those jobs aren’t particularly good or promising ones, just things to get by on. The current situation is particularly bad at the coast. Still, I find this a difficult one: Two female tourists were shot dead on the streets of...

Why Ebola Is A Tough Business Case

Sunday, August 10, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
It is difficult to disengage from the Ebola coverage at the moment. Even if you follow it from a public interest/current affairs perspective, I am sure you probably have had some very emotional, personal reactions, too. Two of those stayed with me: One to a comment from a doctor that there was no good death to be had with Ebola – that you die not just miserably, but in isolation. And then to the story of Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian American man who flew from Liberia to Lagos despite knowing his health status and died shortly after his arrival, infecting more people. It is easy to hate and...


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