25 January, 2011

Nairobi Nights Blog: A Kenyan Prostitutes Building A Brand Online !

The Kenyan blogosphere has just recently been graced by not your usual blogger and not your usual genre: a street prostitute's experience and opinions including how the blogger allegedly escaped arrest by the police. The Blog is Nairobi Nights written by a self confessed Kenyan Prostitute under the pen name "Suzy".

I had the privilege of interviewing her for GlobalVoices online. In this interview she reveals more about her blog, some issues of concern to Kenyan prostitutes including security, legalization and what drives her to blog. here's her takethese issues(this interview was first Published at Global Voices slightly modified)

This is how she describes herself:

My name is Sue. I practice along Koinange Street, Nairobi. These are thoughts, observations and experiences from my prostitution world. Nothing of the soft, sympathy seeking topsy turvy kind. But straight talk, hard facts and real anecdotes. They are worth something.

Koinange Street is a major red-light district in Nairobi, Kenya.

At the time of writing, she had published 12 episodes with titles such as "Of Coming Out Of The Closet", "The Spiritual Role Of A Prostitute", "When Sex Is No Longer Sin" and "Just Call Me Malaya [Malaya means a prostitute in Swahili]".

1. For how long have you been blogging?

For about three weeks now

2. What is it that prompted you to come up with the blog "Nairobi Nights" and to document your experiences online?

I have been writing one or two things, some sort of diary about my work..But a close girlfriend of mine encouraged me to start a blog.

When i started writing my experiences and thoughts just started

flowing. And talking about my experiences and thoughts gives me some sort of relief.

3. I see in the blog you have hardly revealed any information about your identity and prefer going by the pseudo name/title "nairobi nights". What has prompted this? Any particular reasons?

I am not sure how people would react if they knew I am a prostitute. I have family, parents, brothers and sisters. I fear they would get hurt.My parents if they got to know would feel I have let them down. I also don't see any benefit of giving my real identity.

[caption id="attachment_189270" align="alignleft" width="385" caption="A road sign that reads: Attenzione Prostitute. Photo source: Adam Crowe's Photostream on Flickr"][/caption]

4. When i first read you blog, my attention was captured by your use of words, composure and manner of writing. I am sure many readers of your blog and the general audience would like to know what led you specifically to the trade? Correct me if I am wrong, is it a social misconception that the well educated and/or enlightened would get involved with this type of trade?

Sure and I have written about what society expects a prostitute to be. To some extent it is true. But interaction with prostitutes is so business like and at times in not sober circumstances. This does not provide room for men to gauge the prostitute intellectually. Even the 'not read' prostitutes have their experiences and views, but don't necessarily get to talk about to them to clients or friends.

As to why I got into it, I would say its a little complicated but I am planning on writing about it soon. I have started writing about it, but after the first paragraph, I found myself not wishing to write about. My strength and will were gone. But I know very soon I will be over it and write.

5. Often when people leave prostitution they ascribe having been drawn into the trade due to financial difficulties, family problems, rape etc. Is this always the case in your opinion?

Not necessarily, there could be many other reasons. Some with nothing to do with poverty but circumstances which shape a person's character.

6. I have just read your latest post on legalization of prostitution in Kenya. Whats your take on this issue? Do you think that this may be possible in the present "conservative" Kenyan/African environment?

I think there are advantages and disadvantages of legalization. For instance, police and city council harassment would stop if it's legalized, but then there might be so many locational or client restrictions, which may affect things like our income. Same way with the new alcohol laws. Its possible for prostitution to be legalized, but not any time soon. After the passing of the alcohol bill, the country, right or wrong, seems to be moving towards some sort of 'morality'. But it may change in the future.

8. Do you have a lobby group or support group that perhaps is assisting you in pushing forward this agenda?

Lobby group? No and I wouldn't want to be working for such. I speak for myself. If I work for a lobby group I would be speaking for all of us. I have no right to do so.

9. Do you think that prostitution has many inherent dangers as was exhibited in the latest case of the suspected Kenyan serial Killer Mr Philip Onyancha? What are the greatest dangers facing "street" prostitutes at the moment? [Phillip Onyancha is a Kenyan serial killer who is known to have killed people in his pass time]

The constant danger is you can never be sure what will happen when you go out with a man. Rape, death, drugs, non payment, lost of public respect. You can never know.

10. Do you believe that the present Kenyan laws accord prostitutes appropriate human rights, dignity and protection?

I cant exactly blame the law until prostitution is made legal. Maybe we could have some partial legalization. Maybe freedom to operate within certain areas at particular times, or something of the sort.

11. Back to your blog, what normally prompts your post?

I write what is inside me. An experience will come up and I will write about it..Some are more fresh or provoked by 'last night' happenings so I write about it.

12. Where do you see your blog at in the next few years to come?

I started the blog simply, with no really big ambitions. Some readers are encouraging me to be more serious about it but at the moment i have no major plans. I even don't know for how long I will write.

13. I had someone read your blog and they doubted that the blog is being written by a prostitute who plies the streets, if anything perhaps an upmarket call girl in some plush residential place in Nairobi: What is your response about your genuineness?

There is not much difference between the 'upmarket' prostitutes and some of us on the streets. I don't find it necessary or with an obligation to prove my genuineness to anyone at the moment. But time will answer the question about my genuineness, and very soon. When I sort out my conscience I will meet some of the readers who have asked to meet me.

14. I see you have advertisement on your blog, are there problems for you getting advertisers? I am assuming that some might not like to be associated with your content.

The one advertiser I have on the website approached me. I haven't gone out there seeking for ads. I am exactly sure whether I will do it and how advertisers would react. Its not a priority at the moment.

When people pay they will expect something from you, I will be under pressure to satisfy them and my thoughts wont flow as naturally as they do now. They might also be tilted towards making people happy. I did not want that at all. I want to get something out, not necessarily please or answer to someone.

15. You had a subscription model before on your blog, why did you change it?

When my girlfriend who encouraged me to start the blog read some of my pieces, she suggested I should make people subscribe, after a day or two, I felt its not exactly the thing I wanted. I want to write without any pressure.

Thank you Suzy for your opinion and perspectives revealed on this interview

18 January, 2011

Nokia advocates for robust, industry-wide anti-counterfeit rules

…counterfeit mobile phones draining billions of shillings from Kenya’s economy
Nairobi, Kenya, January 18 2010: Kenya’s economy could be losing up to Shs 3.2 billion in taxes through influx of illegally-imported counterfeit mobile phones, denying the country significant economic benefits, a Nokia Anti-Counterfeiting expert has said.

Mr. Abdulla Hasayen, Brand Protection Manager for Middle East & Africa said high penetration of fake devices is negatively impacting on performance of operator networks and customer satisfaction, lowering operator profits and government tax income. He was speaking when he conducted training for officials from the Weights & Measures Department, the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the Anti-Counterfeit Agency. The training, which was attended by over 25 officials from the government departments, is a part of Nokia’s ongoing anti-counterfeit programme.

Mr. Hasayen said poor protection of intellectual property is making establishment and running of information and communication technology (ICT) companies conducting research and development significantly risky in Kenya.

“Fake devices are imported illegally without import duties or VAT paid. This creates a tax loss of between Shs 2.8 billion and Shs 3.2 billion (US$ 35-40 Million) annually for an average African country. Counterfeits are also undermining attractiveness of local economies because international companies direct their investments elsewhere to countries which can protect their Intellectual Property,” he said.

Counterfeiting is the illegal use of intellectual property rights including trademarks, patents, designs and copyrights. Globally, the spread of counterfeit products has increased in recent years due to the transfer of technology, ease of trade and export transactions through the internet, in addition to the recent economic crises.

“As a global company, Nokia takes a leadership position in offering genuine and quality products and partners with a broad network of organizations including the Coalition of Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR) and International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC). We continue to advocate for legislation, regulation and enforcement of anti-counterfeit policies to protect the broader industry because we believe companies conducting genuine business should be supported in their operations,” said Mr Kenneth Oyolla, General Manager, Nokia, East and Southern Africa.

“Customer care and quality is important to Nokia and our advice is that customers should buy Nokia products from authorized distributors and retailers and ensure they get their 12-month warranty. And if a product is purchased from a location other than an authorized dealer then exercise extreme caution especially when the price is substantially less than being stated by Nokia authorized dealers,” said Mr. Oyolla.

Nokia is recommending a robust enforcement program, essential to protect legitimate businesses from counterfeiting. Mr Hasayen said the program should cover both shipments imported at border level and goods sold in the market.

“Brand owners should provide inspectors with regular product training on how to distinguish between fake and genuine products. This would enable them to flag or suspect a shipment. Different government departments should also collaborate to implement a proper enforcement program. A joint task force to manage the enforcement program would be a good option. This would help protect consumers and legitimate business and will create an attractive environment for foreign investment,” he said.

Mr. Hasayen noted that although Nokia is already co-operating with relevant government departments, an elaborate industry-wide program would help accelerate the elimination of the counterfeits in Kenya. 

Mr. Hasayen said fake devices are not covered by warranty, resulting in poor consumer satisfaction and impacting negatively, particularly to low-income consumers.
Fake mobile phones are manufactured from sub-standard components containing dangerous chemicals including lead and mercury and do not follow safety standards such as radio emissions. They therefore endanger safety of consumers, said Mr. Hasayen.

It is estimated that counterfeiting and piracy cost G20 economies US$ 85 billion a year in lost taxes and higher spending on unemployment benefits. The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) has estimated that international counterfeit trade is worth $600 billion a year and makes up 5-7% of world trade.

About Nokia

At Nokia, we are committed to connecting people. We combine advanced technology with personalized services that enable people to stay close to what matters to them. Every day, more than 1.3 billion people connect to one another with a Nokia device – from mobile phones to advanced smartphones and high-performance mobile computers. Today, Nokia is integrating its devices with innovative services through Ovi (
www.ovi.com), including music, maps, apps, email and more. Nokia's NAVTEQ is a leader in comprehensive digital mapping and navigation services, while Nokia Siemens Networks provides equipment, services and solutions for communications networks globally.

For further press information, please contact:

Dorothy Ooko                                                                                                   David Kimondo
Nokia                                                                                                                Hill and Knowlton
+254 720 630 074                                                                                              +254 721 610 103
dorothy.ooko@nokia.com                                                                                  David.Kimondo@hillandknowlton.co.ke

17 January, 2011

The Open Innovation Africa Summit 2010 – Summing It All Up !

Naivasha, Kenya……Sustainable entrepreneurship. Innovation ecosystem. Technology platform. These are some of the catch-phrases bandied about during the first-ever Open Innovation Africa Summit, which was held in Kenya from November 29 – December 1st.
The Summit brought together over 200 selected thought leaders from 25 countries across the world to stimulate critical thinking about the role of innovation in sustainable socio-economic development and to contribute to creating a conducive environment for innovative entrepreneurial activity in Africa. The OIAS was designed as an energetic learning environment that featured visualisations, parallel working, feedback, and open dialogue.
“Every individual in this room already possesses an answer”. This was just one of the interesting quotes displayed in the plenary hall throughout the Summit. True to this, delegates came up with a joint vision for an innovation ecosystem and sought to foster trust between stakeholders. This was partly through building networks and establishing partnerships to stimulate collaboration. Delegates also highlighted critical policy recommendations and best practices in sustainable, open innovation as well as the vital role played by mobile and other technologies in building an information society and stimulating entrepreneurship.
The Summit also identified priority projects in an attempt to answer pertinent questions. Some of these included: how can we stimulate innovation? How can we create an environment that allows innovations to trickle down and positively impact society? Who are the players in innovation? How do these players interact? Can entrepreneurship be both profitable and sustainable? How can we stimulate local content and software development? What role does technology play in stimulating human capital growth?
Discussions on these and other topics took place under four thematic areas of African Innovation Ecosystem: enabling innovation for sustainable socio-economic development; Emerging Market Business Models: building African success stories; Technology Platforms: leveraging technology to deliver public and private services to the underserved; and Human Capital – Education for All: developing skills using technology.
The vision for an open innovation ecosystem
From the Summit, it emerged that an open innovation system demands that a variety of players from diverse dimensions of innovation be involved. These players work together to develop and make available new products and services that sustainably improve the livelihoods of members of society, and particularly low-income earners. An open innovation system therefore recognizes the unique roles of all players including (grassroots) communities, academia, and the private sector and fosters their substantive participation in innovation.
The 2020 Africa open innovation ecosystem recognizes innovation as a systemic activity and therefore facilitates interaction between key stakeholders. There is a clear, interactive policy process; partnerships are innovative and aligned such that the unique strengths of each actor are optimally combined. There is meaningful cross-collaboration between ministries and multi-sectoral plans and platforms are in place. This enabling environment provides private sector/innovation support services, innovative funding mechanisms and breaks down barriers to business so that small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which play an immense role in innovation, can flourish.
The envisaged Africa innovation ecosystem incorporates the other tenets of innovation such as improved investment in research and development, multi-helix arrangements that go beyond public-private partnerships and commercialisation of innovations. The 2020 ecosystem also considers the changing nature of innovation from an isolated “ivory tower” activity to one of networking where players bring ideas together online through simulations and other contemporary approaches. This results in the creation of wealth and jobs.
Local innovations and the role of “new” education
People are inherently innovative. In the 2020 Africa innovation ecosystem, local/grassroots innovations based on the potential of communities and on ready opportunities re particularly encouraged and prized; entrepreneurs from all spheres play a role in transforming impoverished communities to basic-needs consumers. This means that the 2020 innovation ecosystem recognizes the central role of education in building creative, confident, inquisitive and problem-solving mindsets and fostering a culture of continual learning. Traditional, exam-centred education systems are not applicable in the envisioned innovation ecosystem. Instead, there is a move towards creating a more flexible education environment to foster and facilitate progressive learning, experimenting, innovation and keeping up with global trends. Such an environment equips students with the relevant knowledge to stimulate ideas and translate these into innovations that benefit society.
Thought leaders in the ICT sector have often considered mobile phone technologies as a wasted resource in “Education for All” policy and advocacy. “Education for All” is one the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that are set to be achieved by 2015. Mobile phone technologies are especially important in the African context considering the increasing orientation towards new media and the astounding growth of mobile handset penetration on the continent. Africa is a book-poor but relatively mobile-rich society; while only about 7% of schools have a well-stocked, functioning library, mobile handset penetration ranges from 45-50%. Mobile learning (m-learning) therefore presents huge potential for both learners and educators in Africa. The introduction of m-learning and other contemporary approaches to education begs the question of content for Africa – what are the possibilities for the continent regarding the generation of local and affordable content that is relevant in the global context?
Africa must harness the immense human capital that it boasts. One way to do this is to develop holistic “ICT for Education” policies to harness the power of the numerous emerging new technologies as well as to participate in the development of new technologies for better learning.
Sustainable innovation “by users, with users and for users”
The resulting new, profitable and user-driven products and services developed by, with and for the so-called Base of the Pyramid (BoP) are sustainable as they are relevant to the market and can attract private sector investment. Base of the Pyramid is a socio-economic designation for the 4-5 billion people that live at the base of the income pyramid and an emerging business strategy that focuses on products, services, and enterprises to serve this income segment. 60-95% of Africa’s population can be considered as belonging to the BoP.
Africa should develop new models which will sustain delivery of services and provide new opportunities for wealth accumulation and empowerment at the BoP. These new models would partly consist of sustainable value chains and services which incorporate policies that stimulate community innovation, support the creation/scaling up of new businesses, enable wider and faster distribution of services and products, and expand the role of the BoP from being mere customers to becoming distributors and suppliers. Sustainability models for the BoP should strengthen the link between BoP consumers and Research and Development (R&D) and provide creative financing to support consumer-oriented innovation. BoP innovators also need help in articulating a clear value proposition and building trust and confidence in the value chain.
Room for high-tech thinking
Innovation entrepreneurship in Africa would also benefit greatly from designated innovation hubs “i-hubs” that provide the infrastructural and knowledge links across the region and make use of various technologies to stay abreast of global trends. Already, a number of African countries have set up “i-hubs”. 
Increasing interest in the role of the internet and growing capacity in the development and use of mobile technologies on the continent provides fertile ground for Africa to compete effectively in the technological marketplace.

12 January, 2011

Rising Voices Citizen Media Micro Grant

RisingVoices a Global Voices Project is offering micro grant funding for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or individuals engaged in Citizen Media projects outreach from underrepresented communities that are poorly positioned to discover and take advantage of tools like blogging, video-blogging, or podcasting . The fund amounts varies up to $4,000 USD.

For detailed application criteria and information on the types of projects eligible for the 2011 Micro grant funding, kindly visit the Rising Voices website for this years press release.
Qualified and Interested applicants are invited to submit their online application form at the following  Website Link before the application deadline on 4 February 2011 at 11:59 p.m, GMT.

08 January, 2011

Sudan Referendum Vote Monitoring Site 2011

You can now live monitor the voting results and incidents of the Sudan Republic Referendum 2011 poised for Sunday 9th January 2011 at the following website: SUDANVOTE MONITOR , On twitter , bloggers will be using the hashtag #SudanRef #sudanvotes2011 to keep the World abreast on the developments in both North and Southern Sudan in this historic referendum that will determine whether the South will remain or secede from the Northern Sudan.

By and large the referendum in Sudan is expected to be peaceful save for the area of Abyei where a separate referendum may have to be slotted due to volatility and high violence incidence risk due to separate claims of historical pasturage grounds (See this article by Global Issues based on an Al Jazeera News Item) .

This blog will be monitoring the events and keep you updated....


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