Monday, May 24, 2010

Miss Twitter Kenya contest: Raising the stakes

Enjoying the
Miss Twitter Kenya contest
Which couple will be enjoying the luxury of a room
at the amazing Tribe Hotel in Nairobi?
On Friday I announced the first ever Miss Twitter Kenya contest, accepting nominations for girls to become Miss Twitter Kenya, based on free and fair online elections. Candidates should be on Twitter with quite interesting tweets, a rather beautiful profile picture, and an acceptable number of followers.

Since Friday, I have been receiving a lot of response on this contest, something I hadn't really expected when I launched it. And today, I received the excellent news on Twitter from @TribeHotelKenya that the fabulous Tribe Hotel in Nairobi, which is currently featuring on the prestigious Condé Nast Traveller’s Hot Lists for 2010, will be giving away one night for two in a Deluxe Room on Bed and Breakfast basis. Initially Tribe Hotel was asked to offer dinner for two, but they decided to raise the stakes by giving away a room! This now also makes it even much more fun for the participants and the voters, as it will be somewhat more 'tricky' for the winner of this exciting Miss Twitter Kenya contest to choose a partner for the night rather than just for dinner.

Tribe Hotel is an excellent example of a business that has fully embraced Web 2.0 tools such as Twitter and Facebook to interact with its customers and advertise its events.

UPDATE: 3 more sponsors who are active in the Kenyan Twitterverse have moved in. @SokoAnalyst announced that Hidalgo Group of Companies through its flagship brand Soko Directory will give Miss Twitter Kenya a shopping voucher of Ksh 3,000/- from Babawatoto@babawatotos themselves will be offering Ksh 1,000/- and Ksh 500/- worth of Safaricom or Zain airtime to the first and second runners up respectively. @FluidTees offers the winner a gift pack which includes a free ®FLUID design T-shirt, movie tickets and lunch invitation by the ®FLUID team. We are still welcoming other corporate sponsors for this contest, on the condition that they have a strong presence in the Kenyan Twitterverse.

Please keep on voting, we will close the polling stations later this week on Friday night (at midnight Kenyan time). Here are the candidates who have been nominated so far:

@joliea
@Joliea: Kinda crazy, unique girl, living in Nairobi, and on fire about human rights. And best of all... extremely open-minded. Follow her, and get to know her!

She's in very good shape, because she takes fruits for lunch and she oversleeps. She has managed to produce about 7,000 tweets about a diverse range of topics, and she is being followed by more than 400 equally diverse tweeps. She also joined the ever-evolving Kenyan blogosphere in March 2010, and she manages to update her blog regularly with interesting posts.


@Queen_Lucky
@Queen_Lucky: Fabulous, Fierce, Fun, Fiesty, Fearless, Flawless, Funny, Fine and Fantastic!

Her tweets are always fun to read. She seems to be a party animal. I thought she was Nigerian, but she claims to be Kenyan. She has heaps of followers. She is always full of herself, and she nominated herself for this contest. Am not very sure if those boobies are for real, but maybe ask her yourself if you really need to know. Me, I am just focusing on her soft lips. Focus, dudes, focus! She is considering changing her picture for this contest. Should she?


@luki_baby
@luki_baby: Fun and fierce!

Well, I don't know this lovely gal very well yet, but she was nominated by @kenyaizm, so I guess she could be hot. She has a few hundreds of followers, and her smile is irresistible. She doesn't need your warmth at night, as she sleeps under a duvet.


@nbad_kitty
@nbad_kitty: Kenyan metal head into photography, 17th-19th century English poetry, horrors, vampires, Marily Monroe and her guilty pleasure reality shows.

She is always updating us about the latest happenings at Kenyatta University and related businesses. Her blog is brand new and is already getting popular in the Kenyan e-space. She seems to be into SM from time to time. I like her one naked shoulder.


@Bevealry
@Bevealry: She loves her friends and family, she loves to be happy, loves to play, loves to party, loves to sleep, and loves Kenya.

Look at her hair! It almost takes your attention away from her well designed cleavage. Her tweets always bring us some new perspectives and dimensions, and she rarely retweets others.


@nina_lush
@nina_lush: She officially grew up, and she is not tolerating stupidity anymore!

I hope it is clear which girl we are talking about. She seems to be hardworking and trying to keep her tweets interesting. Her smile can make anyone happy. And her tweets are always very kind as well.


@HalimaMurunga
@HalimaMurunga: She is this vivacious, swanking babe out to take over the world.

Wait, what does she have on her forehead? Nevermind, her tweets are short and to-the-point and she has just crossed the 100 followers mark. Watch her space!


@ilovemesum
@ilovemesum: The coolest person you will ever meet! Creativity defines her being...

She doesn't have that many tweets yet, but she definitely is a girl to watch in the near future in the Kenyan Tweetspace. I love her glowing skin and hearty face expression.


@Nyamorabu
@Nyamorabu: She's the lady in the place with style and grace who loves science. She says there is a science to everything so there you have it.

She has more than 7,000 tweets and still counting. She really would like to know what the prize of this contest will be. She is a very intelligent daughter of Kenya with ambitions and plans to become a medical doctor.


@SonnieSoNice
@SonnieSoNice: Motivated, girlie girl but loves sports (Boston fanatic). Loves Jesus and loves writing... in the process of leaving a legacy!

She's among the coolest Kenyan girls in the diaspora. Her curves are in the right places. If you know her, you will have noticed she's a major shoeaholic - which is fine with me, I also started to love ladies shoes after Valentines 2010.


@FayBabyN
@FayBabyN: She's a mother's daughter.

She says Kenyans are drunks. You could fly to the moon by just looking at her earrings. She a blogger's best pal and a notorious gin drinker.


@caseylush
@caseylush: She's a socialite, way above your average! What you see is what you get! Casey case!

She has clocked about 4,000 tweets, some of them actually quite interesting. She always has some good advice for her fellow tweeps. Her cheeks seem to be waiting for a soft kiss, and I won't mention her lips. Where did she get those earrings from?

I have created the #MissTwitKE hashtag for this contest, which makes it easier for you guys to follow all the happenings. VOTING CAN BE DONE THROUGH THE SIDEBAR ON THE RIGHT OF THIS BLOG. We are closing the polls on Friday night 28th May 2010 at midnight. Cast your votes now!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Announcing the first ever Miss Twitter Kenya contest

Twitter has found its way into Kenya's bedrooms as well
Today I am announcing the first ever Miss Twitter Kenya contest. Am not sure if something similar has already been organized in other countries before, so I have no clear rules or regulations yet. I am basically accepting nominations for girls to become Miss Twitter Kenya. Candidates should have quite interesting tweets, a rather beautiful profile picture, and an acceptable number of followers.

Let me start by introducing you to the candidates who have been nominated so far:

@Joliea
@Joliea: Kinda crazy, unique girl, living in Nairobi, and on fire about human rights. And best of all... extremely open-minded. Follow her, and get to know her!

She's in very good shape, because she takes fruits for lunch and she oversleeps. She has managed to produce about 7,000 tweets about a diverse range of topics, and she is being followed by more than 400 equally diverse tweeps. She also joined the ever-evolving Kenyan blogosphere in March 2010, and she manages to update her blog regularly with interesting posts.

@Queen_Lucky
@Queen_Lucky: Fabulous, Fierce, Fun, Fiesty, Fearless, Flawless, Funny, Fine and Fantastic!

Her tweets are always fun to read. She seems to be a party animal. I thought she was Nigerian, but she claims to be Kenyan. She has heaps of followers. She is always full of herself, and she nominated herself for this contest. Am not very sure if those boobies are for real, but maybe ask her yourself if you really need to know. Me, I am just focusing on her soft lips. Focus, dudes, focus!


@luki_baby
@luki_baby: Fun and fierce!

Well, I don't know this lovely gal very well yet, but she was nominated by @kenyaizm, so I guess she could be hot. She has a few hundreds of followers, and her smile is irresistible. She doesn't need your warmth at night, as she sleeps under a duvet.


@nbad_kitty
@nbad_kitty: Kenyan metal head into photography, 17th-19th century English poetry, horrors, vampires, Marily Monroe and her guilty pleasure reality shows.

She is always updating us about the latest happenings at Kenyatta University and related businesses. Her blog is brand new and is already getting popular in the Kenyan e-space. She seems to be into SM from time to time. I like her one naked shoulder.


@Bevealry
@Bevealry: She loves her friends and family, she loves to be happy, loves to play, loves to party, loves to sleep, and loves Kenya.

Look at her hair! It almost takes your attention away from her well designed cleavage. Her tweets always bring us some new perspectives and dimensions, and she rarely retweets others.


@nina_lush
@nina_lush: She officially grew up, and she is not tolerating stupidity anymore!

I hope it is clear which girl we are talking about. She seems to be hardworking and trying to keep her tweets interesting. Her smile can make anyone happy. And her tweets are always very kind as well.


@HalimaMurunga
@HalimaMurunga: She is this vivacious, swanking babe out to take over the world.

Wait, what does she have on her forehead? Nevermind, her tweets are short and to-the-point and she has just crossed the 100 followers mark. Watch her space!


@ilovemesum
@ilovemesum: The coolest person you will ever meet! Creativity defines her being...

She doesn't have that many tweets yet, but she definitely is a girl to watch in the near future in the Kenyan Tweetspace. I love her glowing skin and hearty face expression.


@Nyamorabu
@Nyamorabu: She's the lady in the place with style and grace who loves science. She says there is a science to everything so there you have it.

She has more than 7,000 tweets and still counting. She really would like to know what the prize of this contest will be. Is her lovely curly hair for real? She is a very intelligent daughter of Kenya with ambitions and plans to become a medical doctor.


@SonnieSoNice
@SonnieSoNice: Motivated, girlie girl but loves sports (Boston fanatic). Loves Jesus and loves writing... in the process of leaving a legacy!

She's among the coolest Kenyan girls in the diaspora. Her curves are in the right places. She claims New York City is so small. If you know her, you will have noticed she's a major shoeaholic - which is fine with me, I also started to love ladies shoes after Valentines 2010.


@FayBabyN
@FayBabyN: She's a mother's daughter.

She says Kenyans are drunks. You could fly to the moon by just looking at her earrings. She enjoys sex most when the song Romping Shop by Vybz Kartel and Spice is on. She a blogger's best pal and a notorious gin drinker.


@caseylush
@caseylush: She's a socialite, way above your average! What you see is what you get! Casey case!

She has clocked about 4,000 tweets, some of them actually quite interesting. She always has some good advice for her fellow tweeps. Her cheeks seem to be waiting for a soft kiss, and I won't mention her lips. Where did she get those earrings from?


I have created the #MissTwitKE hashtag for this contest, which will make it easier for you guys to follow all the happenings. I have not opened the voting process yet, since I am still accepting more nominations. UPDATE: I HAVE NOW OPENED THE VOTING IN THE SIDEBAR ON THE RIGHT OF THIS BLOG. Suggestions for what prize to give away to the winner of this prestigious contest are also still very much welcome.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Great news: Buy Kenyan airtime online at a discount!

Enjoying the online purchase of airtime
Finally, we can buy Kenyan airtime online at discounted prices. Check out the brand new website http://www.airtime.co.ke. It's not a flashy site, but it works, and the airtime is cheap. The airtime actually comes with a discount of 2%, so 100 bob of airtime will only cost you 98 bob. That leaves you with 2 bob to buy a sweet. If you buy 1,000 bob of airtime, you save 20 bob, and you can buy a soda with that.

All you need is a VISA credit or debit card. You simply need to select a product (they do have Safaricom, Zain, Yu and Orange airtime with denominations as small as 100 bob), add it to your cart, and checkout. The PIN delivery is automated and instant upon successful payment.

Saving money online
Apart from the obvious conveniences of such a site in Kenya, I guess this site will also become popular with Kenyans in the diaspora and could provide some stiff competition for sites such as MamaMikes and Babawatoto; e-commerce sites where airtime vouchers are some of the most popular items but currently come at a 15-20% price premium. So the savings for Kenyans in the diaspora will be a lot bigger than just a sweet or a soda.

Mobile phone operators may also make online credit/debit card purchases of airtime possible in the near future, as is the case in several other countries across the world.

What do you think? Does this new site have the potential to become a success?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My day and night with Diondra Bridges

Diondra Bridges (image courtesy of show-mag.com)
Diondra Bridges. What a beautiful name! I met her on Twitter that morning. She was staying at Tribe Hotel, which is featuring on the prestigious Condé Nast Traveller’s Hot Lists for 2010. She was "just visiting", so I was "just welcoming her" to Kenya. She said Nairobi is a very beautiful city. She asked whether I had seen her at the hotel. No, but didn't I spot her at Westgate in the afternoon? In the branded Chrysler from Tribe Hotel? Yes indeed, so why didn't you say hi? Well, I was too shy. At that time, I was still "some random guy"...

So what are your plans for tonight? Let's go out! We may want to check out Black Diamond. Shall I pick you up in my Vitz at Tribe Hotel or do you prefer your branded Chrysler? Well, a Vitz is not a car, we are taking the Chrysler!

The rest is history.

Diondra is a fashion model, and at the same time an emerging actor, a perfect dancer, and an interesting student. She left the next morning for Cape Town. And me, I am still in Nairobi. But we will never be the same again.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oh yes we can!

Mobile phones are an integral part of the African revolution
Although many of Africa’s development challenges remain large and complex, the progress underway is remarkable and undeniable, according to a new study from the World Bank’s Africa Region, Yes Africa Can: Success Stories from a Dynamic Continent.

Finally a World Bank publication I actually like!

As part of the study, the Bank is examining more than 20 recent development successes from the continent and is disseminating lessons learned from each of them.

This study is not searching for a universal formula for success,” said Punam Chuhan-Pole, a lead economist at the World Bank who authored the report. “Rather, it is motivated by the idea that sharing knowledge on successful African experiences, strategies, and approaches will help other countries and communities in the region to design their own development strategies and programs.” According to Chuhan-Pole, the study offers practical lessons to inform policy making in Africa, with particular attention to transferability and adaptation.

A confluence of factors is responsible for the economic and development turnaround taking place in Africa: stronger leadership, better governance, an improving business climate, innovation, market-based solutions, a more involved citizenry, and increasing reliance on home-grown solutions. More and more, Africans are driving African development. Yes Africa Can focuses on successful development interventions across the continent.

The study features a couple of interesting stories from Kenya: one on M-PESA (a bit predictable of course), and another one on Kickstart Irrigation Pumps.

M-PESA is a small-value electronic payment and store of value system accessible from ordinary mobile phones. Once customers have an M-PESA account, they can use their phones to transfer funds to both M-PESA users and non-users, pay bills, and purchase mobile airtime credit for a small fee. The affordability of the service has been key in opening the door to formal financial services for Kenya’s poor. Three major lessons have emerged from M-PESA. First, it demonstrates the value of leveraging mobile technology to extend financial services to large segments of unbanked poor people. Second, it shows the importance of designing usage-based rather than float-based revenue models for reaching poor customers with financial services. Unlike a traditional bank, which typically distinguishes between profitable and unprofitable customers based on the likely size of their account balances and ability to absorb credit, M-PESA serves any Safaricom mobile customer who pays for an account. And third, M-PESA reveals the need for a low-cost transactional platform that enables low-income customers to meet a range of payment needs.

Starting in 1991, the nonprofit social enterprise organization KickStart began selling low-cost, human-powered irrigation pumps to enable smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa (mainly in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, and Tanzania, but also other countries) to enhance productivity, improve household incomes, and sustainably contribute to poverty reduction. Approximately 130,000 pumps have been sold across Sub-Saharan Africa, irrigating over 31,000 hectares of land. With a $35–95 MoneyMaker pump, a farmer can grow and sell enough additional produce to make considerable progress from poverty toward middle class. For the people using them, KickStart pumps have led to an increase in annual household income of 100–200 percent. Data from Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Tanzania, and other countries show that 440,000 people have been moved out of poverty through the usage of KickStart pumps. The pumps have also allowed for the creation of 87,000 small-scale agricultural enterprises across Sub-Saharan Africa. Further, the pumps have proven to be cost effective: the annual capital outlay required for a KickStart MoneyMaker pump, is approximately one-tenth that of a conventional irrigation system. The KickStart experience demonstrates that farmer entrepreneurship, in which agricultural enterprises are run as viable businesses and which is now fully integrated in Kenya, needs to be introduced in many Sub-Saharan African countries. It also shows that a participatory approach to rolling out a new technology infusion goes a long way in the absorption of the technology, and that technology evolution driven by users (this was done in the case of the Super MoneyMaker pump) can be powerful in this process. Additionally, the KickStart experience reinforces the idea that people in poverty have the desire to come out of poverty when accorded appropriate technology to generate wealth. Here's a short video that shows how this works:



The World Bank publication also features other interesting cases, such as growing mango exports from Mali, the ICT revolution in Africa, reviving the tourism industry in Rwanda and cocoa in Ghana. So go ahead, and read some good news coming from Africa now!

Strolling through 'History' on Soysambu

Destination - May 2010 issue
I have been buying the new local travel magazine Destination since its launch issue in March 2010. Why? I don't know. I guess because Twende is dead, and because I just have too much money (it retails at Ksh 350/- per issue) and time (you can flip through it in about 15 minutes, and read through it in about 2 hours) to spend.

Well, I was shocked when I read the article announced on the front page as Strolling through History in Soysambu and entitled On the Shores of Elementaita inside the magazine (pages 12 to 16). The article left me perplexed and insulted.

Why am I vomiting over this particular article? Because it is focusing too much on Tom Cholmondeley, and I feel the time is just not ripe for that. As you may know, Tom Cholmondeley is a Kenyan farmer of British ancestry. He is the great-grandson of the famous Lord Delamere, one of the first and most influential British settlers in Kenya. While Kenya's political elite families are now the largest property holders in the country – partly through corrupt deals – land ownership by white families remains a source of discontent among many of the landless poor.

In April 2005, Tom Cholmondeley shot Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) game ranger Samson ole Sisina on his ranch under the claim of self-defence. The murder case against Cholmondeley was dropped before going to trial. In May 2006, he was taken into custody and held at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison for shooting stonemason Robert Njoya Mbugua on his Soysambu estate. Cholmondeley's murder trial began on 25 September 2006. His trial gripped Kenya, it was one of the most sensational trials in Kenya's post-independence history. On 7 May 2009, he was acquitted of murder, but found guilty of manslaughter. He was sentenced to serve 8 months in prison and was released on 23 October 2009.

Now, let's be clear, I have nothing against Tom Cholmondeley, and I don't want to get into any discussion about whether he was guilty or not. He's a nice chap, and I actually love the work he has been doing on his Soysambu Conservancy and I agree with most of his ideas. I only have a problem with the author of the article, Brennen Matthews, who is also the Managing Editor of Destination. The way he writes about the place and mentions Tom about ten times without interviewing or quoting others is quite insulting to me. I hope the families of the victims never need the article. I am not related to any of the victims, but I still felt very bad about it. Here are some quotes:
"...a very special place that is blessed to be home to not merely a wide variety of wonderful wildlife and awesome scenery but fascinating history as well."
Then tell us about the fascinating history of this special place, dude!
"...envision how this small slice of Africa must have looked 100 years earlier when first visited by Lord Delamere."
Me, I would like to envision how it must have looked even before his first visit!
"...I was fascinated by the history that blankets this land known as Soysambu, history that belongs not merely to this land or the family who own it but history that belongs to Kenya as a whole."
The author then starts to describe this so-called history starting with the arrival of Lord Delamere, just like there was no history to this land before that... Sickening really. 'History that belongs to Kenya as a whole'? I don't feel part of that history for sure.
"History hangs from the walls in the form of pictures and paintings, books and old keep sakes, perfectly designed to jog the memory back to yesteryears."
"Chatting over a cup of tea, Tom's zeal for the local people and the 48,000 acres under his care is immediately evident."
Tom's zeal for the local people? Well, the article mentions potentially interesting people such as Mama Jane, a local business lady who started with a single small shop and now operates four. And another entrepreneur who began with a single table and now operates a thriving nyama choma joint. Well, the author should have gone out and interviewed them as well! I am sure Mama Jane also has a last name, and the entrepreneur also has a name... These people also have families, and these families also form part of the history of Kenya!

Sarah, the hot committed education
officer at Soysambu Conservancy
The Saturday Nation did a much better job when they featured Soysambu last month. The Nation article is letting Tom rest for a while, and I find that prudent and sensitive indeed. Rupi Mangat, the writer of the article, quotes interesting people like Narinder Heyer, a nature enthusiast with the Kenya Museum Society, and Sarah Omusula, the young education officer at Soysambu Conservancy. Destination could also have talked to one of the other guest bloggers of the excellent Soysambu Conservancy blog, they have excellent stories to tell, and they are also Kenyans.

Let me end this post with some good news as well. Serena Hotels is currently establishing the new Lake Elementaita Serena Camp, which will be located along the shores of Lake Elementaita within the Soysambu Conservancy. The new camp will comprise 25 luxury tents, a dining and lounge area, spa and swimming pool enjoying magnificent views of the lake. The Lake Elementaita Serena Camp is scheduled for opening on 15th December 2010. Maybe a nice place to spend a few nights during the end-of-year holidays then, to discover a more balanced view of our common history. Any takers?