1. Well - it is hot, literally (around 26 degrees). September gave us 30 days of fabulous weather (sunshine and cloudless skies) but I heard on the radio news this morning that El Nino is due to hit as early as this weekend. Dread, dread – power cuts, pot holes, flooding - but right now it’s hot – geddit?
2. As I said before ‘Nairobi is on steroids’. The new Southern bypass is basically complete so we almost have a ring right around Nairobi now and people, we are getting street lighting! Street lighting gets a thumbs up from everybody and they are even putting up lights on the road outside our house. I often leave the house before dawn and it is terrifying trying to spot pedestrians in that half light. Evenings are just as bad and with the sun rising and setting here at 6.30 morning and night year round, while the population gets up to start their working day at 5am and finishes after dark, street lighting is good news – not just for road safety but also for security reasons.
3. Big-wig visitors. Okay, we all know that Obama came and visited. Yes! A great gesture hot on the heels of the UK/US Kenya travel ban being lifted. Perfect timing. Now please tourists, all come here in your droves. Zanzibar has a romantic name and I know that you have all been secretly sneaking off there but nothing beats the welcome and service you will get on the Kenya coast. And by the way, did you know that you can do kite surfing, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) and sky diving here too! So now, The Pope (November 2015) and David Cameron** (early 2016) are on their way – you just can’t resist can you?
4. Nairobi has established itself as a global centre of social entrepreneurship. The industry is booming thanks in part to the purely entrepreneurial nature of the city but also because there is tons of foreign investment coming in to foster sustainable growth. The Kenya population is young (over 60% of the population is under 25*) . If you have an idea for a start-up that will benefit young, lower income members of society, then the potential take up for your business idea is almost endless. People who come from overseas to invest feel that money and time spent is really meaningful here. That they are improving lives. They feel that they are gaining more traction in Nairobi than they would in Silicon Valley.
5. Raising the bar – The bar is being raised visibly in media and communications, service delivery and products that are locally available on the market. The construction of new malls, apartment blocks, office buildings and hotels in the city continues unabated (goodbye colonial era cottages and green gardens). However, I do feel that Nairobi is almost like a country within a country right now. Leave the city and you feel like you have been flung back 10 years. We are waiting to see a lot of this dynamism trickle down. One noteable exception that will ultimately affect a wider cross section of Kenya society, is the construction of the Chinese railway which is going great guns if our drive down to Mombasa last month was anything to go by.
|Chinese railway construction project in Tsavo|
Having said this - it’s not all good. The traffic continues to be dreadful, unemployment is high and National school teachers are still striking due to low pay. Sadly these are the critical months leading up to the end of the school year with important exams looming.