23 October, 2013

Sabre Launches New Travel Management Solution for Travel Agents in Kenya

Nairobi: October 22, 2013: The world’s leading provider of solutions for the travel industry, Sabre Travel
Network, has entered the East African market with its award-winning Sabre Red Total Travel solution designed for corporate and leisure travel agencies to manage every part of their business. At the heart of this is the Sabre Red Workspace, a highly configurable platform for travel agencies to shop, book and manage travel, while delivering excellent customer service.
Using Sabre Red Workspace, agents will be able to book air, car and hotel using format-free, point-and-click functionality in addition to managing every part of their business.
Sabre East Africa Managing Director Nazma Jamal said Sabre Red Workspace will greatly simplify bookings by travel agents and enable them generate additional revenue and new sales opportunities.
“The travel agency business is a highly competitive segment of the travel industry. To be successful, travel agents must maximize efficiency and productivity while at the same time delivering excellent and unique customer services, our Sabre Red App do just that for travel agents and their clients.”
Sabre Red Workplace provides travels agents with greater performance, experience and control. Additional tools such as Sabre Security, Business Intelligence, and Client Profiles enable Travel Agents to manage their business more efficiently and Sabre’s newest addition Mywurld™ will give Travel Agents opportunity to increase revenue.
“There is a growing demand from both travel agents and their clients for increased personalization and offers that are targeted to match traveler preferences. With Sabre Red Workplace we are enabling travel agents to merchandise in new ways through the Sabre travel marketplace to support their profitability and customer loyalty strategies,” she added.
The mywurld™ suite of products, will provide Sabre customers with a single solution to manage their GDS bookings and to access global content. The mywurld™ travel platform will enable travel agents to upsell GDS bookings with leisure components such as accommodation, tours and meet & assist by directly working with consolidators. Travel agents can then drive incremental revenues from existing air bookings.
“Sabre has put together a great product that provides travelers with more options in their travel experience," said Kalpa Shah, of Boma Holidays, whose agency is actively using the Sabre system. “Anytime we can add value to our clients and bring hotels and airlines repeat business, it's a win-win.”
Sabre Travel Network provides technology services to the travel industry. It operates the world's largest travel marketplace, connecting travel buyers and sellers through the Sabre global distribution system (GDS).
Its innovative technology connects 350,000 travel agents to more than 400 airlines, 100,000 hotels, 25 car rental brands, 50 rail providers, 13 cruise lines and other global travel suppliers. More than $100 billion of travel is purchased through this marketplace annually.

CCK readies for Phase one of analog signal switch off

Initial trial for digital television is complete, paving way for the biggest shake up in terrestrial TV viewing

Nairobi, 23rd October 2013… The government has today announced December 13th as the date that the analogue signal will be turned off in Nairobi and its’ environs, commencing the first phase of the switch to digital television.
CCK Director General with Cabinet Secretary for ICT together with Smart Joker and Principal Secretary ICT
Under this phase, the areas of and around Nairobi County, Kiambu County, Ngong, Ongáta Rongai, Kitengela, Isinya, Kajiado, Athi River, Machakos and Thika will go live followed by  Mombasa, Malindi, Nyeri, Meru, Kisumu, Webuye, Kisii, Nakuru and Eldoret  in phase two  (30th March 2014)  and the final phase for the rest of the regions by 30th June 2014. 
“Under the scheme the country will receive more than 40 free to air (FTA) high-definition channels, thanks to expanded channel capacity. The digital platform will make it possible to accommodate more broadcast content, therefore widening the consumers’ choice of viewership. The switch to digital broadcasting will mean more vibrant television viewing as more channels become available on the platform”, Said Dr.Fred Matiang’i – ICT Secretary.
Digital broadcasting is expected to cover at least 80% of the Kenyan population, bringing access to digital television and marking the end of the analog transmission technology.
“The digital platform will not only create more TV choice for consumers but also free up vital capacity that will avail a variety of enhanced broadcasting applications, multimedia data and entertainment services, providing a more efficient use of the country’s broadcasting frequencies”, Said Mr. Francis Wangusi - Director General, CCK.

An estimated 1.2 Million households have analogue television sets. More than 566,000 of these households in Nairobi and its environs currently have access to digital channels via the various modes of transmission, leaving slightly over 700,000 in need of migration to the digital platform before the switch-off deadline.
“In an effort to fastrack the migration process, the government has approved over 45 set-top box models for use in the country and eliminated duty on the same to encourage more Kenyans to purchase the gadget and access it more easily”, said Dr.Matiang’i
Digital transmission is poised to bring to the viewers picture clarity, sound access, availability of more channels and signal strength widening the reach of television services to all parts of the country.
“Consumer education on the migration process is necessary to give information about the acquisition of the set top boxes.  The phased approach to the switch off will give us sufficient time to pre-test the signal strength before the final national switch-off. By phasing out the process, the experience generated from the Nairobi switch off will inform decisions on how to switch the entire country to digital broadcasting”, added Mr. Wangusi.

The Country’s digital signal was launched in December 2009 and has since seen the regulator set an ambitious target for the country to fully migrate by June 30th 2014, ahead of the 17th July, 2015 global deadline- a universal undertaking set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Digital broadcasting carries more channels, which is hoped to give investors a window to acquire content provision licenses that have been limited under the current analogue regime due to unavailability of spectrum.  The release of spectrum from the digital dividend will enable more services to be deployed.

08 October, 2013

USA Redesigns $100 Bill

Washington D.C., October 8, 2013  — The Federal Reserve on Tuesday began supplying financial institutions with a redesigned $100 note that incorporates new security features to deter counterfeiters and help businesses and consumers tell whether a note is genuine.

Distance, demand, and the policies of individual financial institutions will influence how quickly the redesigned notes reach businesses and consumers around the world.

“The new design incorporates security features that make it easier to authenticate, but harder to replicate,” said Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome H. Powell. “As the new note transitions into daily transactions, the user-friendly security features will allow the public to more easily verify its authenticity.”
The Federal Reserve, U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and the U.S. Secret Service partner to redesign Federal Reserve notes to stay ahead of counterfeiting threats.

The redesigned $100 note includes two new security features: a blue 3-D security ribbon with images of bells and 100s, and a color-changing bell in an inkwell. The new features, and additional features retained from the previous design, such as a watermark, offer the public a simple way to visually authenticate the redesigned $100 note.
Consumers worldwide are advised that it is not necessary to trade in older-design $100 notes for new ones. It is U.S. government policy that all designs of U.S. currency remain legal tender, regardless of when they were issued.
For more information about the new design $100 note, as well as training and educational materials, visit www.newmoney.gov.


23 September, 2013

Kenya "Westgate Mall Terrorist Attack" Verified information Sources

Unfortunately the internet is awash with misleading information including reputable "foreign News Websites" whose local correspondents are peddling unverified information with intent to "be the first" in breaking out news.This is expected as the whole international attention is now focused on the terrorist attack attributed and claimed by Somali based Al Qaeda linked- Al Shaabab Militia.

For local Kenyan sources that are producing verified information please check up the following twitter handles:-

1.@Joelenku- Kenya's Cabinet Secretary Interior and Co-ordination of National Government
2.@kdfinfo- Kenya Defence forces official Information Channel
3.@InteriorKE -Official handle Ministry of Interior and C-ordination of National Government
4.@IGKimaiyo -personal account of the Inspector General of Kenya Police
5.@NDOCKenya -Kenya National Disaster Operation Centre

However please note that the official news sources from the Government are carrying news with abundant caution as the situation is ongoing and information being given out is measured.However their information may be more credible than speculation fuelled information from international news websites.

Popular Twitter handles being used in Kenya are #Westgate #Westgatesiege and #WeAreOne

Buzzfeed has terrifying photos taken by eyewitnesses at the onset of the attack, but i must warn you the images are uncensored and highly disturbing. JamboNewspot on Facebook is also carrying interesting news items but once again much of it is unverified but may prove useful.The Telegraph has a livefeed coverage on the event which is reliable to some extent.

On the other hand Al Shaabab are issuing their contradictory statements from the Twitter handle @HSM_Press2 which has now been suspended.Its funny how you condemn all issues about the West but use their resources(including their weaponry) to launch their warfare.Terrorism has nothing to do with religious beliefs but hatred!   

I will continue to issue other credible and reliable local information sources.

02 September, 2013

Explore the World with one of Emirates’ Best Offers of the Year

Nairobi1 September 2013 – Emirates, one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, is offering travellers in Kenya the chance to visit exciting destinations around the world for less, in a week-long promotion that ranks as one of its best offers of the year.

Whether to visit friends, family, or to experience a new destination or for business, the Economy Class and Business Class offer runs from the September 2-9 for travel between 15 September 2013 and 10 April 2014

Travellers seeking to bag a good deal can take advantage of these attractive offers to selected destinations on certain flights, with tickets prices starting from USD668 including taxes for return travel to Dubai, to Mumbai from USD620, to New Delhi from USD1, 087, to Guangzhou from USD1, 132, to Beijing from USD1, 435, to Kuala Lumpur from USD1, 556 and to JF Kennedy from USD1, 199. Emirates is also offering discounted Business Class return fares from USD 2,472 to Bangkok; USD2,774 to Haneda and USD3,951 to Beijing. 

Announcing the new promotional fares, Emirates Sales Manager Stephen Kisaka said: “We would like to make it as easy and convenient as possible for our customers to spend precious time with family and friends, or to enjoy well-deserved and affordable vocational or business trips. These offers provide an opportunity to travel to a wide number of popular destinations at greatly discounted fares and we invite all our customers in Kenya to take advantage of these fantastic value-for-money deals.”

“In addition to the value fares our customers will be able to experience the Emirates’ award-winning ice in-flight entertainment system with a choice of over 1,400 channels on-demand as well as meals prepared by gourmet chefs and award-winning service,” Kisaka added.

The offer has some restrictions and is available only on particular flights. It is not valid for travel during the Canton Fair (12-31 October), Christmas period (05 to 23 December), New Year (01-12 January 2014), and the Chinese New Year (08-15 February 2014). Check with your local Emirates sales office or travel agent for full terms and conditions.

This offer gives travellers the opportunity to experience Emirates award-winning service from its international cabin crew from more than 100 countries, gourmet cuisine and its renowned ice inflight entertainment system, which offers passengers hundreds of audio and visual entertainment. Customers travelling with Emirates benefit from a generous baggage allowance 30kg in Economy Class, 40 kg in Business Class and 50 kg in First Class.

Emirates operates double daily flights (14 weekly flights) between Nairobi and Dubai and onward to more than 130 destinations.

EK 719 departs Dubai International Airport every day at 1045hrs and arrives at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) at 1445hrs. The return flight, EK720, leaves JKIA at 1640hrs and lands in Dubai at 1040hrs.  Second flight EK 721 departs Dubai International Airport every day at 1505hrs and arrives at JKIA at 1905hrs. The return flight, EK722, leaves JKIA at 2250hrs and lands in Dubai at 0450hrs.

For more information on the offers, conditions and bookings customers can log onto http://www.emirates.com/ke 

25 July, 2013

H+K Strategies Expands Africa Footprint with New SA Acquisition

Global WPP public relations agency H+K Strategies expands its African presence through acquisition of South African consultancy Corporate Communications Consultants.
The South Africa acquisition increases the number of fully-fledged African H+K Strategies offices to six and builds on the company’s African expansion strategy announced in January 2013

Nairobi, Kampala, Dar es Salaam, July 25th, 2013: Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a leading global public relations and communications firm, today announced the launch of Hill+Knowlton Strategies South Africa following the acquisition of South African agency Corporate Communications Consultants (Corpcom).

“Corpcom has worked as an affiliate agency to H+K Strategies for 14 years. Through this relationship we’ve enjoyed an incredible exchange of knowledge and access to some of the world’s top communications experts. While we are very proud of the advisory work we do at the C-suite level, this change will allow us to broaden our service range and enter new sectors. We’re ready to take the next step and become a fully-fledged H+K Strategies office,” said Roz Thomas, the newly appointed Managing Director of Hill+Knowlton Strategies South Africa.

Corpcom was founded in 1989 and has been predominantly a B2B agency with sector strengths of financial services, professional services and ICT. A key part of the company’s work involves building a South African presence for multi-nationals clients including such as BlackRock, SanDisk, SES, The Dow Chemical Company, Citrix and Thales. The firm also represents South African giants such as the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, South Africa’s largest residential developer Century Property Developments and life insurance challenger brand BrightRock.

H+K Strategies entered the sub-Saharan Africa region in May 2009 through a joint venture with Scangroup - a Kenyan-based marketing and communications firm listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) – with an office opening in Nairobi.

Scangroup CEO Bharat Thakrar said: “We are delighted about this announcement as it fits with Scangroup’s vision to be Africa’s leading integrated marketing communications group.”

Early this year H+K embarked on an elaborate expansion plan for Africa aimed at offering consultancy services to businesses across the continent. As part of the strategy the agency appointed Alexander Döll, who successfully managed the East African to take up a new position as Chief Executive Officer of H+K Strategies Africa.

Speaking on the latest development, Mr. Doll commented; “This acquisition further expands our African footprint and is a testament to our belief that Africa will be the next frontier of growth for the company. Through our offices and extensive network of affiliates we are able to offer on the ground support in 27 African countries.”

In the past four years Hill+Knowlton Strategies has opened offices in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania and Rwanda. In Africa H+K Strategies supports supporting global brands, multi-national and local businesses such as Procter & Gamble, Nokia, Coca-Cola, Airtel, Nestle, Emirates, Standard Chartered, Sony, De La Rue, DHL among others.

Globally, H+K Strategies has 90 offices in 52 countries with a client base that represents 50 percent of global Fortune 500 companies. The South African office will offer clients a broad range of services such as corporate communications, marketing communications, internal communications, sports marketing and sponsorship, digital communications, issues and crisis consultancy and public affairs.

16 July, 2013


July 16, 2013 – Nairobi, Kenya: IBM experts have recommended strategies for improving the viability of vocational-technical education in Kenya, as well as for making health services more effective.

The 12-person IBM team hailing from six countries that proposed the plans had spent the previous 30 days in Kenya meeting with the public, private and not for profit sectors as part of an IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC) engagement. This initiative sends IBM's top talent to provide pro bono consulting services to non-governmental, local government and small business groups in the developing world on issues that intersect business, technology and society.

The blueprint for better education and job preparedness was presented to the Kenyan Ministry of Youth and Sports. It suggested ways for Youth Polytechnic centers to enhance their revenue and demand for their certifications. Enrollment is particularly poor in rural communities because of pregnancies, poverty and a transient lifestyle that disrupt studies.

IBM suggested that Youth Polytechnics should consider creating flexible programs of varying lengths that give trainees credit that can be shared between Kenya’s different educational institutions. To facilitate lifelong learning and make it easier for students to obtain degrees, credits should be counted toward future programs and degrees when former students have more time and resources.

The team also encouraged the inclusion of local businesses in the Youth Polytechnic’s activities. Their expertise can ensure that the skills taught are more practical and in-demand, as well as provide a ready market for graduates.

“As Kenya’s economy grows, we will require a steady stream of dynamic and sophisticated skills to drive the emerging culture of innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Dr. Dinah Mwinzi, Director Youth Training, Ministry of Education Science & Technology. “This initiative by the IBM experts will assist us in achieving our long and midterm goals under Vision 2030 of employment creation for youth.”

Some IBM team members worked with the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Design (KICD), where they developed a framework to identify and forge global partnerships to provide financing and the sharing of successful practices.

For the Division of Reproductive Health within Kenya's Ministry of Health (MoH), the IBMers built on a cancer screening framework that a previous IBM team developed in 2012. MoH was encouraged to improve the way it gathers, shares and analyses data that can build cancer awareness, increase technology adoption and improve resource training.

The projects were coordinated with Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the Digital Opportunity Trust.

“As we mark the 5th anniversary of IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, we are pleased to continue supporting the Kenyan Government in achieving its critical development goals particularly around empowering the youth to lead the country’s social and economic development,” said IBM Country General Manager, Tony Mwai.

The initiatives of the 7th IBM CSC in Kenya follows the launch of the latest IBM Corporate Responsibility Report last week, which outlines social responsibility programs aligned with the company's Smarter Planet strategy to protect the environment, strengthen education and economic development, enable humanitarian research and improve the quality of life in cities around the world.

IBM's Corporate Service Corps deploys IBM employees from around the world with expertise in technology, scientific research, marketing, finance, human resources, law, and economic development. Issues they address range from economic development, energy and transportation, to education and health care.

By year's end, approximately 2,400 IBM employees based in 52 countries will have been dispatched on more than 187 Corporate Service Corps engagements, and undertaken 850 team assignments in 34 countries since the founding of the program five years ago, in 2008. Over the last five years, the program has sent more than 638 employees on 56 teams to 11 countries in Africa, a growing market for IBM.

Follow IBM's Corporate Service Corps by visiting http://www.ibm.com/ibm/responsibility/corporateservicecorps/, or on the CitizenIBM blog at www.citizenIBM.com and on Twitter, at @citizenIBM.

For more information about IBM citizenship, please visit www.ibm.com/ibm/responsibility

02 July, 2013

Social Media Awards partners with Deloitte

July 2nd 2013: OLX Social Media Awards have partnered with Financial Services Advisory firm Deloitte for the audit of nominations which closed yesterday after 26 days of entries.
Deloitte East Africa will provide quality assurance in the voting exercise which has so far attracted thousands of entries and judges have a fortnight to select winners from the nominees. 
“We join hands in this venture as a sign that we fully understand the critical role that social media now plays in brand visibility,” said Martin Oduor-Otieno, Deloitte East Africa Partner in charge of Clients and Markets and a senior advisor in Financial Services Industry.
“Social media is now one of the key platforms used by firms to build image, brand and disseminate information on services and products offered.”
Rapid rise in the number of internet users in Kenya has accelerated the use of social media, igniting a steady increase in the number of businesses using social media platforms for brand awareness and customer service.  
Presently, 17 million Kenyans, 36 percent of the population, have access to internet according to the Communications Commission of Kenya. However, there are grim statistics that indicate the businesses are yet to optimize the use of social media platforms.  
For instance, 56 percent of customer tweets to companies are being ignored; this is according to all AllTwitter, an unofficial twitter resource. Martin Muli, one of the organisers of the recently unveiled OLX Social Media Awards, says most organisations have dormant social media accounts, and the active ones often bombard the public with bland company information.  
A quick review of comments from SOMA Facebook and Twitter accounts shows a serious contest between Safaricom and Kenya power shaping up for the customer care category of the Awards, with Orange and Faiba battling for the video of the year category.
Churchil Show, Tujuane, The trend TV are equally emerging as the favourites under the show of the year category, with Maina kangeni and Larry Madowo winning the minds of “netizens” for the media personality category as the voting process begins.
 “The OLX Social Media Awards are meant to spur professional use of social media and sustained conversation on these platforms,” says Mr Muli.  The Awards will bring together different social media enthusiasts and organizations to celebrate the tremendous contributions brought about by social media and at the same time appreciate and acknowledge those who have immensely contributed to the growth of social Media in Kenya.
“The power has truly shifted to consumers. A recent survey by TNS RMS, a research agency, showed that in contrast to Global internet use, Social Media is far more relevant then e-mail in Kenya. The survey actually discovered that out that 57 % of Kenyans believe that what other people say about brands online can be trusted more than what the brands say,” Peter Ndiangui, the General Manager of OLX, the leading online market place.
The Awards will culminate to a gala event to be held on 9th August 2013. “This is a first in Kenya, we’ve roped in experts from various fields to make sure the Awards are a success,” says Mr Muli. Other partners in the award include Trinc Media, the Public Relations Society of Kenya and Thinck, a content development firm, Bloggers Association of Kenya and Niaje.

01 July, 2013

Watch 'Verax" -Edward Snowdens Movie on Youtube

Verax is a five minute YouTube make believe movie trying to create conversation that the ex CIA Spy Edward Snowden may have had  with Chinese authorities at the Mira Hotel in Hong Kong.The amateur movie beats hollywood to a high drama movie surrounding the "rogue spy " Edward Snowden and is expected to go viral on the internet.The reality though is that "Verax" rather than satiate curiosity may just create the grounds for major movie on the controversial ex CIA Spy who has exposed Washington and the Obama Administration to major embarrasing diplomatic fiasco both among perceived foes and friends withthe EU expressing shock at the allegations that the USA has been spying on its European Allies and its member states.

However lets face it-spying never died down it went tech after the cold war and all those Countries exclaiming shock have major skeletons in their closets.Its one thing to speak what is amusing to the media and its quite another behind those sealed "secret/intelligence briefings or meetings"that each Country has.Furthermore if a Country has not been doing it,trust me they wish they had!

30 June, 2013

Nokia announces availability of Asha 210 in East Africa

A fast and responsive QWERTY phone - the most social Asha yet

Nokia today announced local availability of the Nokia Asha 210 across East Africa, bringing consumers more social experiences at an affordable price. The Nokia Asha 210, available in both single and easy swap dual-SIM variants, features a distinctly Nokia design, smart imaging and Wi-Fi to help people enjoy more of the Internet for less.

Available in yellow, cyan and black at a recommended retail price of:

Kenya:          KES 6,499
Uganda:       UGX 225,000
Tanzania:     TZs 140,000

Your social life at your fingertips
The Nokia Asha 210 has a QWERTY keyboard and a dedicated Facebook button for fast access to social networking. It also supports WhatsApp, Twitter and popular email accounts such as Gmail, to ensure that people are never more than a few clicks away from their friends and family.

Capture and share great images every time
The Nokia Asha 210 comes with a 2MP camera that can be accessed through a dedicated hardkey even when the keypad is locked. The smart camera also offers a choice of image capture, editing and sharing options, including: 
·         Self-portrait – for perfectly centred “selfies”, even without a front-facing camera. The built-in voice guides the user to ensure they are in the frame, before taking the shot.
  • Fast editing of images directly from the camera app and easy sharing of images to social networks

People can also share photos and other content quickly by using Nokia’s innovative Slam feature, which comes built-into the Nokia Asha 210. It works by enabling the transfer of content such as images or videos to another Bluetooth-enabled phone without the need to pair devices.

The new device also takes full advantage of the Nokia Xpress Browser which uses Nokia's cloud technology to reduce data consumption by up to 90 percent, helping people enjoy more affordable Internet access. The Nokia Asha 210 also features Nokia Nearby, a web app that lets people discover points of interest such as restaurants, shopping and ATM machines close to their location.

“The Nokia Asha range has already gained popularity in East Africa, especially amongst the youth,” says Bruce Howe, general manager Nokia East Africa. “Consumers love the freedom of choice that Asha offers. The new Asha 210 expands the family and brings a fresh design and great features for those that value being socially connected.”

Other key features for Nokia Asha 210 include:
·         Social phonebook integration
·         Preloaded YouTube launcher for direct video streaming
·         Chat screen notifications that keep users up-to-date on new conversations
·         WiFi On/Off control button
·         Long battery life: up to 46 days with Single-SIM and up to 24 days with Dual-SIM

28 June, 2013

How To Succesfully Add Facebook Comment Box/Plugin To Your Blog !

Successfully adding a Facebook comment Box has been a hard nut to crack for many bloggers who lack the technical know how.This is especially so if you are using the new interface blogger template. The code provided at the Facebook Developers page hardly renders thereby proving frustrating to a blogger who desires to incorporate the same into his or her blog. A search online on how to incorporate the code often times yields false starts,queer pages and your just too complicated instructions.

However thanks to the blog: blogofblogger one can get simple but detailed step by step instructions on how to install the Facebook Comment Box Plugin.It goes without say that Facebook is the most popular social network and if people are able to share or comment on your blog post ,then the bloggers article is rapidly spread over a massive friends network.The benefits of having a Facebook Comment Plugin is actually immeasurable and for serious bloggers a must have.Its true that Google wants to compete with their Google Plus (G+) comments initiative but they pale severely in comparison to Facebook.

Social networks have basically pushed traditional blogging to a backseat therefore an intelligent blogger appreciates the need to re invent his blogging by adopting a cross platform blogging technique and that is made easy by Facebook comments.Hence if you are blogging and are hardly on Facebook consider  reinventing your blog ,the benefits are immense

27 June, 2013

Lets Culinate People !

Lets Culinate People ! That has been a tagline especially on my Facebook profile after cooking a sumptuous meal, sometimes using your not so familiar ingredients or perhaps a french cookery term.I'm a foodie a great foodie at that! I try many things in the kitchen ,Im meticulous in my approach, widely self read from Julia Childs 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' to the Latest Edition of Wayne Gisslen -'Professional Cooking'  and for the Modern gastronome enthusiasts-yes i have all the six volumes of Nathan Myhrvold,Chris Young and Maxime Billet's -'The Art & Science of Cooking '.

I watch popular food shows- yes the new brand of celebrity chefs with almost a religious zeal .In a word im a foodie and a great foodie at that! My great interest in food-good food has made me ponder on the questions;Why is it that African cuisine with all its greatness and variety has little impact on the world at large,furthermore why is it that locally here in Kenya little is being done to put to task the restaurants to live up to their mandate to provide high quality food and service .Ive been to many high profile hotels only to be dismayed at chefs providing lackluster service,making all manner and kinds of short cuts and sometimes being extremely dishonest in describing the food items on their menu .

Perhaps you are beginning to develop an interest in cooking, baking etc where locally can you find vanilla pods ,or vanilla extract and by that i don't mean that substandard product you get in all the supermarkets by description vanilla essence(there's a huge world of difference between the aforesaid three items)know where to buy a rubber spatula, get a digital cooking thermometer or a pasta making machine?Where can i get absolutely nice cutlery without paying a bomb for it?Is there a Michelin star chef/hotel in Kenya(don't you just laugh when each and every new hotel describes itself as a five star hotel-who gave them the stars) or rather what is a Michelin star?where can i get a good cook book or which cookery app is out there that can serve me best with my limited budget?

With so many questions and so scanty resources out here; Enter the blog LetsCulinate .Its a revamp of my 2008 blog entitled Swahili Cuisines but this time the blog has more to offer ,great authorship from guest writers and chefs.It will feature popular and useful resources for wining and dining and cooking great food.Television show and cook book reviews ...etc etc.And you can get it right on your social networks especially on Google Plus.

For example consider this tip: Did you Know that you can order online from your favorite restaurant e.g China Plate,Mr Wok, Osteria, Southern Fried,Pizza World, Tin Tin Restaurant etc and have food delivered to your door step via the website:  www.hellofood.co.ke ,whether its Pizza, Italian,African,Indian or Chinese you can get your food ASAP thanks to modern technology plus there is a mobile app(IOS and Android) .Its that kind of information that many of us need.Therefore begin following the new blog LetsCulinate and grow your knowledge of food after all "There is no Love Sincerer than the Love of Food!

26 June, 2013

Application Now Open For GrowthHub 2nd Accelarator 2013

 (Must Read for Techies Needing Seed Funding) GrowthHub is seeking Motivated early stage entrepreneurs in the social enterprise space who are looking to build successful businesses. They support a variety of sectors, particularly: energy / environmental sustainability, mobile and IT, ago-processing, financial services and essential services (health, education, water & sanitation). Their programmes provide:
  • Access to seed funding (up to $100,000)
  • One on one mentorship and networking through a diverse network of thought leaders, experienced entrepreneurs, and investors
  •  Collaborative working space in the heart of Nairobi’s business district
  • Intensive series of workshops
  • Access to investors through pitch showcases

The GrowthHub is an impact incubator and accelerator that supports early stage entrepreneurs and start-ups in the social enterprise space in Africa who are solving today’s most pressing societal and environmental
problems. They provide them with mentorship, networking, access to seed funding, access to a collaborative
working space, and peer support from our space here in Nairobi, Kenya.

(a)Idea-to-Innovation ProgramWho May Apply?
Early-stage entrepreneurs with a mature idea.
We have a bias towards the following sectors:
  • Affordable basic services for the BoP,
  •  agriculture and agriculture technology with a high level of social or environmental impact,
  • education,
  •  energy/environmental sustainability (e.g. green technology, clean technology, sustainable materials),
  •  financial services for low income populations, 
  • water & sanitation, health care, urban challenges and mobile/ICT.
What  Is It About ?The Programme is tailored for entrepreneurs and their start-ups who have already come up with an idea, have validated this idea, and want to take it to the next level by developing a product / service and running a
pilot/test with the target market. The first round, 6-8 weeks, will involve 10-12 start-ups working with
facilitators, mentors, and entrepreneurs in residence. The second round will select 4-6 start–ups and provide
them with enough resources to execute their pilot/test over an additional period of 10 weeks

Why Apply ?
  • Accelerate your business idea, 
  • gain access to one on one mentorship and networking, 
  • win funding and in order  to execute your pilot in the market
Key Dates: Applications due by July 15
Information Sessions on July 1 and July 11
Programme Start: August 1

(b) Innovation-to-Impact Who May Apply?
Mature start-ups who have achieved customer validation (post-revenue preferred).

We have a bias towards the following sectors:
Affordable basic services for the BoP, agriculture and agriculture technology with a high level
of social or environmental impact, education, energy/environmental sustainability (e.g. green technology, clean
technology, sustainable materials), financial services for low income populations, water & sanitation, health
care, urban challenges and mobile/ICT.

What Is It About?
13 week accelerator programme, in partnership with Village Capital, that will take participants through 5 2-day workshops and other activities that provide an opportunity for them to sharpen their skills and more rapidlgrow their enterprises.

It is designed to help entrepreneurs who have achieved product / service validation to
build a sustainable business model. The program will culminate in December with 2 companies receiving a total investment of $75,000 from our fund

Why Apply?Accelerate your business, gain access to one on one mentorship and networking, pitch your plan to investors,and win funding (up to $75,000) from GrowthAfrica and Village Capital

Key Dates: Applications due by August 19
Information Sessions on August 1 and August 8
Programme Start: September 13


June 25, 2013... Leading integrated communications service provider Safaricom has in partnership with Green Dreams Limited officially launched iCow, an SMS based mobile application aimed at promoting smart dairy farming.

By subscribing to the short code, *285#, Kenya's 5 million dairy farmers can now access tips on better farming methods which will help them improve their dairy output and subsequently, their revenues for Kshs. 3 per message.

"iCow survey data shows farmers who have been on iCow for 7 months begin to realize an increase of milk of between 2-3 litres per animal per day. This is an increase of about 610-930 litres a year which translates into an average increased income of 25-30k per animal per year. iCow data shows farmers have reduced cow and calf mortality thus enabling farmers grow their greatest asset base," Su Kahumbu, Green Dreams Limited.

iCow, has three main features namely: Kalenda, Mashauri and Vet. Kalenda offers farmers nutritional and vaccination tips for their cows during the gestational period up to and birth.  Mashauri on the other hand is a service that sends farmers three SMS tips every week on dairy farming while the Vet and Artificial Insemination service links farmers with professional veterinarians within their respective geographical areas on demand.

"iCow is an easy to use, affordable and convenient mobile phone application which will empower Kenya's dairy farmers with global best practices. iCow is a clear demonstration of how technology is positively impacting key spheres of our economy," said Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore who spoke as he launched the service during this year's Brookside Breeders' Show.

Speaking during the launch, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Felix Koskei commended Safaricom for the innovative approach towards addressing farmers concerns.
He said, "ICT has over the years given the Agriculture Sector a wide berth. As a result farmers' yields have been on the decline and this has gradually seen the country lose its competitive edge to other countries."
"As a government, we believe that Kenya has the potential to provide agricultural produce to meet the country's need and even have enough for exports. We will therefore be looking for other innovators who will provide solutions to boost efficiency in our crop and animal rearing management, to help achieve this objective", he noted.

25 June, 2013

"MPigs" Exacerbate Teachers Strike and More To Follow

Tuesday, 25 June 2013,Kenyan parents ,public school students and teachers have a legitimate need to be concerned .The strike declared by the Kenya National Union of Teachers( KNUT) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers(KUPPET) is an ominous sign of further looming strikes exacerbated by the recent unrelentless push by Members of Parliament to increase their salaries despite resistance from the Constitutional Salaries and Remuneration Commission,the President himself ,Civil Society and other quarters.What that means is dialogue may take a back seat in negotiations and brain and muscle ala push and shove becomes the new norm of getting what one wants.

Simple logic is that Citizens tend to mimic or emulate their leadership hence the selfish push by the MP's in more than one way informed the masses of the need to resiliently press for better emoluments and salaries with little or no regard to the resources at hand.

Whereas i am not a politician nor do entertain any particular political ideals it is common sense that the MP's move was ill informed and the country should expect ripples and repercussions as more and more public and private workers employ a policy of no retreat no surrender when bargaining for better working conditions or terms for engagement.No matter what rationalization the elected members of parliament may have had ,they seem to have forgot that anyone may come up with any excuse or cogent reason for salary increase especially in this day and age where uncertainty in the economy, high inflation and interest rates coupled with unemployment and insecurity lay supreme.

All said and done, i believe that the teachers will have their way ,either now or in the long run to the detriment of the students and the parents and after the teachers watch the space for upheaval and strikes from other sectors.Thats the bare hard truth and bitter pill that Leaders have to swallow.They set the pattern!

I&M Bank Lists New Shares at the Bourse

Nairobi: June 25th 2013: I&M Holdings has officially listed its new shares at the Nairobi Securities Exchange after a successful conclusion of the merger deal between I&M Bank with investment company, City Trust through a share swap.

The ceremony was presided over by Central Bank of Kenya Deputy Governor Dr. Haron.

Speaking at the ceremony to mark the commencement of the trading, the Company Chairman Daniel Ndonye said the merger process now opens up to the Group a myriad of opportunities as it beats a new growth path.

“The success of I&M Bank’s merger with City Trust has opened a new chapter in the growth and expansion of our business in the region which comes as good news to our shareholders. It is now much easier for the shareholders of I&M Bank to trade in their shares at the Nairobi Securities Exchange and at the same time unlock the value of shares held by City Trust investors thus boosting the liquidity of these shares,” said Mr. Ndonye.

“The listing of the Bank also makes it easier for Kenyans to invest in this home-grown institution and share in its success,” he added.

The merger which concluded early June resulted in set up of a holding company, I&M Holdings Limited, in a transaction that enabled I&M Bank’s shareholders to exchange their shares for those of City Trust in a reverse takeover.

“We are excited about this transaction which has enabled the shareholders of the Bank to list on the NSE thus providing liquidity for our institutional, corporate and individual shareholders. The listing also provides us with the platform to raise additional capital in the future to facilitate the achievement of our long term growth and expansion strategy and to improve on our capacities to successfully manage the growth we have achieved in the last few years,” said I&M Bank’s Executive Director Sarit Raja-shah

Dr. Sirima noted that the I&M Bank transaction had been a learning curve for the regulator, who is in the process of undertaking changes in law to allow for the set-up of non-operating holding companies for banks.

“The new law is still in draft form, so this transaction has given the Central Bank of Kenya a good opportunity to test the law and note what may need to be changed and/or enhanced,” said Dr. Sirima.

Originally, City Trust Limited was listed on the alternative investment market segment of the NSE. Mr. Eddy Njoroge the Chairman of Nairobi Securities Exchange noted that,” This is truly a monumental occasion as it is the first reverse takeover that has been witnessed in our capital markets, where a private company’s shareholders exchange their shares for those of a public company , making the non-listed company a publicly-traded one. It is also a unique listing as I&M Holdings has used the reverse takeover of City Trust which was listed on AIMS to migrate the new firm to MIMS. The NSE emphatically congratulates I&M Holdings for successfully listing through this avenue and urges other organizations to take up this opportunity to list on the bourse as it is a cost effective avenue for listed and non-listed entities to raise funds.”

Mr Mathur, the Chief Executive said that the bank’s main focus is now turned on customer service and product innovation to enhance on it’s competitive edge. 

“The new growth path we have taken will give our network capacity to offer quality and efficient service to our customers as well as providing more innovative technology-driven products to our clients,” said Mr. Mathur.

As the new shares begin trading, the bank is making progress in its efforts to expand into the regional markets.

Central Bank of Kenya Deputy Governor Dr. Haron Sirima rings the bill to mark the beginning of trading in I&M Holding share after a successful conclusion of the merger deal between I&M Bank with investment company, City Trust  Limited through a share swap. Looking on is I&M Holdings Limited Group Chairman Daniel Ndonye  (immediate left), NSE Chief Executive officer, Peter Mwangi (second left), NSE Chairman Eddy Njoroge (immediate right), Dyer & Blair Chairman Jimna Mbaru (second right) and I&M Bank Chief Executive Office Arun Mathur  (far right), among other Directors of the Bank.  
“Our regional expansion drive remains a key focus for us for the better part of the remainder of 2013 and 2014 with feasibility studies going on for possible acquisitions or fresh licenses in Uganda, South Sudan and Zambia. In our recent visits to Tanzania and Rwanda we have witnessed growing enthusiasm towards I&M Bank’s regional platform renewing our belief that our regional agenda will meet our objectives and drive the development of the financial system in the region,” said Mr. Mathur.  

New Directors

The listing will see the reconstitution of the Board of Directors and a new shareholding structure of I&M Holdings. The new board led by Mr Daniel Ndonye as Chairman will include Mr. SBR Shah, Mr. Michael Karanja, Mr. Sarit Raja Shah, Mr. Madabhushi Soundararajan, Ms. Christian Gabener and Mr. Guedi Ainache.

Ziyungi Limited becomes the largest shareholder with 18.74% followed by Minard Holdings Limited with 17.27% and Tecoma Limited with 16.66%. Others include Biashara Securities (13.92%), DEG (6.25%), Proparco (4.43%), Prime Securities (3.65%), Bhagwanji Raja Foundation (2.41%), I&M ESOP Trust (0.35%), and the Public (16.32%). 

For avid Kenyan investors please take note that the shares started trading on the Nairobi stock exchange at the value of Kenya Shillings 90 and are currently trading at Kshs 103 as at writing of this post.Now that's a hot cake!!!!!

24 June, 2013

Back from A Blogging Hiatus-With a "Casual Courier" Tip !

Yes i am back...blogging again.The Hiatus is over, it actually needed to be. Interestingly this blog has its fair share of loyal readers for whom i am indebted and yes i promise to keep them regularly updated with whats up in the social sphere.

For some time now i was realigning my career goals with what would truly satisfy and make me happy inward and outward and that was an interesting period.I experienced a lot of learning had to make a lot of sacrifices and now i am starting to experience the dividends.For the time i have not been blogging i have brushed up on my french,taken my culinary skills and knowledge to a new height and given my family my all- that is so satisfying!

In fact i am out to launch a new blog that would take the term "food critic" to a new height within the African context.So catering establishments, the myriads of food shows sprouting up on local television shows better up their games.Use of french culinary terms does not impress me unless they are coupled with the requisite technique and skill.

Back to my blog , i was unpleasantly surprised that 'thanks to webring.com' this site was being automatically redirected to their home page.Now that's the kind of behavior that i do not tolerate nor allow for a third party website plugin .Consequently i have had to remove the link.

Speaking of interesting things on the web; i just read an interesting article on the British News site "The Telegraph " on how this reputable UK courier services company are paying ordinary citizen van owners to become "casual couriers" by transporting small parcels and packages along their travel route-now that's an interesting concept!Though it comes with its own intrinsic challenges but what an easy way of using technology in making money(see Wikipedia article ),however that's not the only ingenious courier product that the British Company Anyvan Ltd has come up with a visit to the site reveals interesting concepts on courier delivery.

Its such interesting concepts and actions on the Internet that keep me blogging .Therefore continue reading this blog for interesting tips ,techniques and advice who knows your light bulb may just light up!

01 May, 2013

Airtel creates borderless network to make voice, data and SMS roaming affordable to travelers

·          In addition to allowing customers receive free incoming calls whilst roaming across Africa & South Asia, the ONE AIRTEL service will give them access to SMS and DATA at an attractive flat rate.
·         Increased use of data whilst roaming makes the introduction of the ONE AIRTEL service timely and beneficial to millions of Airtel’s travelling population.
Nairobi, Kenya, 29 April 2013 - Bharti Airtel (“Airtel”), a leading global telecommunications services provider with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa has introduced the ONE AIRTEL service which will further ease the burden of roaming costs whilst travelling. The newly introduced service will further enhance communication for travelers from Africa by enabling them access data and SMS, in addition to the currently available voice roaming, at a flat attractive rate whilst  travelling within Africa and South Asia.

Commenting on the service, Andre Beyers, Chief Marketing Officer for Airtel’s operations in Africa, said: “Data usage has increased exponentially over the past few years, alongside the growing number of smart phones. There are an increasing number of excellent apps that can be used whilst on the go internationally. By introducing a flat and attractive roaming rate for data and SMS use, Airtel will help lower the communication cost for millions of frequent business and leisure travelers across the countries that we operate in.”

Airtel customers will not need to register or buy new SIM cards, as they are automatically enrolled in the ONE AIRTEL service.  In addition to enjoying flat roaming tariffs for data and SMS, they will also be treated as local consumers so pay local rates whenever they travel to nations where Airtel operates in. The service is available in Airtel’s operations across Africa in Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. In South Asia, Airtel is in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Mr. Beyers added “Whilst travelling, customers will feel right at home because they will be able to use their Airtel SIM cards in the host country. Airtel customers will also receive calls for free and have the opportunity to recharge their phone credit by using the host country’s top up vouchers. There is a nominal mark up on the local rate to cover for exchange rate differences and currency fluctuations.”

The service is poised to benefit not only the customers who want to be reached on their home number whenever they roam, but also all the high end smartphone users who will appreciate using the increasing number of data applications at a flat and attractive data rate.

With the ONE AIRTEL initiative, Airtel is fulfilling its vision of creating a borderless Africa. Personal and business relationships are no longer hindered by geography. Thanks to the mobile money platform, Airtel Money, financial transactions can also be done easily and affordably across the continent.


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