Kenya beats Germany in internet service

Access Kenya workers laying internet cables along Nkrumah road Mombasa on 11th November, 2013. /Elkana Jacob
Access Kenya workers laying internet cables along Nkrumah road Mombasa on 11th November, 2013. /Elkana Jacob

I love going back to Germany. Hamburg Fuhlsbuettel is a pleasant airport and as soon as you step off the aircraft, German-ness kicks in. I can let myself into the country through an e-gate.

And you know that little opening where the luggage gets popped out on the luggage belt?

Well, the Hamburg ones have sensors, so suitcases only get chucked out when they sense an opening. No pile up of bags. The day I realised this, I felt the most soothing sense of order.

And so on. Roads are great. The road of my forest run is not so great, even though the surface is still better than Rhapta Road, but there’s a warning sign that says ‘Not so great road’.

Electricity stays on even when it rains (how even? witchcraft?). All those years in Kenya made me deeply appreciative.

But then this: On a recent visit, I had been typing away like a fiend on a deadline, when suddenly the internet went off. Restarting things didn’t do anything, so I waited for my dad to come back and call the Internet Service Provider.

When he did, he found out that this was a problem that required a technician to come in person and fix it. It was on a Saturday, but it was fixed on Tuesday.

Now I love to hate my Nairobi ISP who shall not be named (but they have a very short name and sit at the end of the alphabet).

Love to hate them. I hated them so much recently that I had a meltdown in an email to the MD, copied to a board member. But for all their flaws, not once has my end-of-the-alphabet ISP taken four days to send me someone to restore my connection.

Because I was desperate, I ran down to the supermarket where I had seen SIM cards. I found a dongle – one of those things I haven’t used in Kenya for several years. It said ‘1GB’ on the cover, which looked fine.

Sneaky packaging, stupid Andrea, because there was no GB on that dongle. If you don’t want a monthly contract for 1GB, you can buy a EUR10 token for 1GB.

But only in specific shops (not in the village) and online only if you make a transfer from a German bank account. Debit card? Hahahaha. No.

So I bought some more airtime for my Kenyan number directly from my Kenyan bank account, via the mobile app.

And then I used my Kenyan roaming connection to email my file to my client. Go Kenya – you just beat Germany, and it had nothing to do with running.

Andrea is an independent analyst