did you know?

Did You Know?

Facts

  • Why Kenya? A new Kenyan startup helps entrepreneurs without internet access sell products online

    Section:

    SOKO allows artisans in the developing world to create online storefronts

    “Emerging economies are really a hotbed of next-generation innovation.” – SOKO co-founder Gwendolyn Floyd

    -  The company uses an automated SMS form to let vendors sell their goods worldwide.

    - SOKO currently has about 250 artisans on its website and is adding more through a peer recruitment model.

    - The startup has raised $200,000 in grants and awards and almost $1 million in seed funding.

    Source: Upstart

    Kenya’s government is passing new laws to combat poaching

    Section:

    Kenya’s government is passing new laws to combat poaching

    New legislation approved by Kenya’s Cabinet will overhaul wildlife laws in order to protect rhinos and elephants

    New legislation includes:

    • The creation of an inter-agency security team to track down poachers in wildlife sanctuaries and private conservancies
    • Increased fines of up to one million shillings ($11,000) for poaching
    • A program to rapidly increase the number of Kenya Wildlife Service rangers by 1,000

    Source: Guardian

    Why Kenya? IBM Launches New Innovation Center in Nairobi

    Section:

    Kenya is attracting the attention of global technology and communications investors

    “Technology is playing a critical role in building stronger Kenyan and East Africa companies” 

    - Vision 2030 Delivery Board Director General Mugo Kibati 

    • IBM’s new innovation center will provide Kenyan entrepreneurs, developers, and academics with resources and training.
    • The IT sector in Kenya has contributed up to 40 percent of the economic growth in East Africa in the past 10 years.
    • Kenya’s IT industry is expected to grow 11 percent annually, increasing job opportunities for those with technological expertise and attracting outside investors.

    Source: Captial FM

    Honda Motor Co. created a subsidiary to produce and sell motorcycles in to meet local demand

    Section:

    Honda is building a new plant that is expected to open in September 2013.

    “With its well-educated workforce and relatively strong tertiary education sector, the country is well positioned to create the right environment for advanced manufacturing and the high-wage high-skill jobs it brings with it.”

    - Stepane Paquier, President, Dow Africa

    • The plant will have an initial production capacity of 25,000 units per year.
    • The Nairobi-based subsidiary is one of only three Honda has opened in Africa.
    • Honda expects local demand to increase as Kenya’s economy continues to grow.

    Sources: Japan Times, Business Daily Africa

    Kenya’s independent elections board works to provide election results quickly and transparently

    In anticipation of the March 4 elections, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is working to ensure:

    • Voting will be easy. Registered voters will complete a separate paper ballot for all six elected offices; the ballots have been color coded by office to reduce confusion, and will include a picture of each candidate next to their name.
    • Vote counting will be efficient. Polling centers will send the results counted from the paper ballots to tallying centers. The results can only be made official once the paper ballots themselves have been certified through a thorough verification process.
    • Results will be transparent. Voters will be able to watch the votes total in real-time on screens at tally centers, and view the verified results on IEBC’s website, vote.iebc.or.ke.

    Source: All Africa

    Kenya is developing its infrastructure with the help of the world’s biggest tech companies

    IBM, Microsoft and Google have invested in new technology and infrastructure in Kenya.

    “Nairobi has emerged as a serious tech hub and may become the African leader,” Google Chairman Eric Schmidt

    • IBM is using cell phones and security cameras to gather traffic data to help determine the best places to build new roads.
    • Microsoft is bring broadband to places without electricity, planning to give 6,000 people in the Rift Valley access in the next year.
    • Google provided seed money for iHub, which connects young entrepreneurs with mentors and investors.

    Sources: The Economist, Bloomberg, Newsweek

    Kenya just broke ground on Konza Technology City, the country’s future technology hub

    Section:

    The new city, which is being dubbed as “Africa’s Silicon Savannah,” is a $14.5 billion investment.

    “[Konza] is expected to spur massive trade and investment as well as create thousands of employment opportunities for young Kenyans in the ICT [information communications technology] sector.”

    - President Mwai Kibaki, January 23, 2013

    • 20,000 IT jobs are projected to be created in Konza by 2015, and more than 200,000 total jobs by 2030.
    • More than 250 foreign and local firms have already applied to invest in this project.
    • Konza is part of the government’s Vision 2030 initiaive to improve Kenya’s infrastructure over the next 18 years.

    Source: Business Daily, BBC

    Kenya ranked third among African countries for foreign direct investment last year

    Section:

    Foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Kenya increased 77% in 2011.

    Quote: “This attests to the ongoing institutional reforms in the country, development in infrastructure projects and the human resource capacity in the country,”

    - Esther Koimett, Investment Secretary at the Ministry of Finance

    • In 2011, there were 55 FDI projects involving infrastructure, real estate, manufacturing and tourism – a 77% increase from the prior year.
    • The increase came from companies seeking to invest in recent discoveries of oil and minerals.
    • On the African continent, Kenya placed ahead of Nigeria and Egypt. In the East African region, Kenya was the number one destination for foreign direct investment.

    Source: Daily Monitor

    Kenya will host its first live presidential debates

    Section:
    • Kenya will have its first-ever live presidential debates this election season, with the first debate set for November 26.  Two additional debates are set for January 14 and February 11 of next year, ahead of the elections on March 4.
    • The first debate will be broadcasted by eight television stations, 32 radio stations and streamed online.
    • Kenyan citizens will be able to submit questions for the presidential candidates and participate by expressing their opinions live through social media.

    Source: Voice of America

    Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is currently preparing for Kenya’s first set of elections since enacting its new Constitution in August 2010

    Section:
    • The IEBC is engaging with Kenyan citizens to ensure the March 2013 elections run smoothly. The IEBC is working to put polling stations in the best possible locations and ensure Kenyans are informed of their Constitutional rights when they go to the polls.
    • The IEBC has recruited and trained 290 new poll officials who will supervise and administer the vote.
    • The IEBC has begun to receive Biometric Voter Registration kits. The kits will allow the IEBC to register 22.5 million voters in 30 days and create a credible, accurate voter list.

    Source: Voice of America
    Source: Voice of America
    Source: Capital FM
    Source: All Africa

    Kenyan economy forecasted to grow 5% in 2012 and 2013

    Section:

    Economic factors point towards investor confidence in Kenya.

    “We believe with lower interest and inflation rates, macroeconomic stability and improved confidence, we think that 5 percent [economic growth] should be well within reach.” Domenico Fanizza, International Monetary Fund.

    • September marks downward trends in inflation for 10 straight months, as lower food prices offset upward pressure from a jump in retail fuel prices. The Kenyan shilling has also held steady against the U.S. dollar.
    • Kenya’s central bank began an easing cycle in July after inflation slid continuously since December and after the shilling stabilized against the dollar, restoring a measure of confidence in the economy and policymaking.
    • Kenya’s central bank has a high buffer of reserves to $5.2 billion, which also builds confidence in the economy.

    Source: Reuters
    Source: Reuters

    Kenya invests $25 billion in infrastructure to transport oil

    Section:

    New port, pipeline and roads will open up export routes, attract oil and gas investors

    Quote: “Right now our interest rates are extremely attractive in a global context to bring investors in.” –  Aly-Khan Satchu, CEO of Nairobi-based Rich Management Ltd.

    • The Kenyan government has agreed with South Sudan to build a 1,243-mile pipeline to the northern Kenyan coastal town of Lamu, providing a critical secondary route for oil exports.

    • It has opened a tender for the design and construction of the first three berths at Lamu, to be financed by the annual sale of 154.4 million of infrastructure bonds over five years.

    • The Lamu project is part of the Lamu Port-Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor project aimed at furnishing northern Kenya with roads, airports and a refinery, and help spur economic growth of at least 10 percent by 2030.

    Kenya will soon be home to IBM’s first research lab on the African continent

    Section:
    • Kenya will be the fourth nation, and the first on the African continent, in which IBM has opened a research lab in the last two years. Other countries recently selected for IBM research facilities include Ireland, Australia and Brazil.
    • IBM and its researchers will work with the Kenyan Government to develop solutions to common African problems such as traffic congestion and water shortages. Additionally, IBM will use the lab to help tailor products and services to African companies and governments.
    • The partnership with IBM represents a key milestone in implementing Kenya’s Vision 2030, a blueprint to transform Kenya into a middle-income country providing a high quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030.

    Source: Bloomberg
    Source: The New York Times
    Source: Financial Times

    Appointment of developers marks major step forward for Konza Technology City

    Section:

    HR&A Advisors appointed to initiate the $7 billion development plan to build Konza into the “Silicon Savannah,” complete with technology companies, thousands of residential homes, a central business district and even a university.

    Quote: “The implementation plan will recommend the appropriate strategies for attracting developers and private investment to the site. The construction of roads, utilities and buildings will follow subsequently.” – Shuprotim Bhaumik, partner at HR&A Advisors

    • The first part of the four-phase development plan includes the construction of an IT business park, residential and hospitality facilities as well as a science park.
    • Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Permenant Secretary of Information and Communications, says that the project has drawn interest from a number of foreign investors already.
    • A high-speed rail and World Bank-funded 60km motorway will connect Konza to Nairobi airport, while a dam for irrigation and electricity generation funded by the African Development Bank will be ready in 2013.

    Source: Financial Times

    Dallas Mavericks Superstar Dirk Nowitzki had a traditional Kenyan wedding

    Section:
    • NBA star Dirk Nowitzki married his longtime girlfriend Jessica Olsson, born of a Swedish father and a Kenyan mother, over the July 15 weekend in Kenya.
    • The Kenya ceremony was a traditional Kikuyu wedding ceremony, commonly referred to as Ngurario, meant to announce to the community that the daughter is engaged.
    • Olsson wore a traditional Kikuyu garment while Nowitzki wore a dark brown traditional outfit with orange hues. Jessica was also presented with a kiondo by elderly kikuyu women. After the ceremony, the couple and the guests danced to Mugithi songs, featuring one man guitarists strumming electric benga tunes.

    Source: Jambo News Spot
    Source: Newstime Africa

    Kenyan Track Star David Rudisha is a top favorite for the London Olympic Games

    Section:
    • Kenya’s David Rudisha broke the 13-year-old men’s 800-meter world record for the second time in eight days in August 2010. He clocked 1 minute, 41.01 seconds in the two-lap race meeting in Rieti, shaving 0.08 seconds off his mark set the previous weekend in Berlin.
    • He is the only runner to have run under 1 minute 43 seconds this year and has lost only one race in nearly three years – last September in a sprint finish at the end of a long season
    • London 2012 will be Rudisha’s first Olympic experience since an injury kept him out of the Beijing Games. Experts consider him a likely athlete for gold medal glory and even perhaps a new world record at the London Games.

    Source: Guinness World Record
    Source: Sport24
    Source: Vanity Fair

    If Kenya was in the Euro-zone, it would have the third lowest debt ratio

    Section:
    • Based on the IMF fiscal monitor, if Kenya was a member of the Euro-zone, its debt-to-GDP ratio would rank only behind Estonia and Luxemburg.
    • Kenya’s macroeconomic success is home-made. Through prudent fiscal policies—particularly strong revenue mobilization—and economic growth, Kenya has gradually brought its debt burden down 20 percent in five years.
    • Kenya understands that what matters is not the absolute amount of debt, but its proportion to the overall economy, and has therefore been praised for its wise fiscal policies and sound budget management. Through its economic reforms, especially in the service sectors, it has managed to open up the economy and create a growth momentum that has benefited the country over the last decade.

    Source: World Bank (blog)

    Kenyan CEO James Mwangi was named Ernst & Young’s World Entrepreneur of the Year

    Section:
    • In a ceremony held in Monte Carlo on June 9, CEO and Managing Director of Kenya’s Equity Bank, Dr. James Mwangi, was named the Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur of the Year 2012. He was picked from among 59 finalists from 51 countries vying for the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs.
    • Dr. Mwangi joined Equity Bank as finance director in 1994 when only 4 percent of the population had bank accounts. Now, 26 percent of Kenyans have one, and the bank manages more than 7 million bank accounts – over half of all bank accounts in Kenya. He became the bank’s chief executive in 2004 and he listed the bank on the Nairobi Stock Exchange in 2006.
    • Dr. Mwangi’s sees Equity Bank as transforming the economy of the East African region with its focus on providing services to the “unbanked” poor. Meanwhile, through the bank’s foundation, it now funds several philanthropic initiatives including providing healthcare to 1.8 million Kenyans, 10,000 scholarships to educate orphaned and children in need, and 1,300 university scholarships.

    Source: Financial Times
    Source: Ernst & Young

    World Bank says Kenya “is on track to reach middle-income status.”

    Section:

    The World Bank’s economic update on Kenya forecasts 5 percent growth in 2012, and found actions by the government successfully stabilized the economy.

    Quote:  “Kenyans have an opportunity to enjoy better standards of living as the economy progresses towards middle-income status in the coming years.” Johannes Zutt, World Bank Country Director for Kenya

    • The World Bank report projects that inflation will remain below 10 percent during the second half of 2012.
    • Interest rates are expected to fall and the exchange rate to return to “more competitive levels” that will spur economic activity.
    • Strong growth of the East African Community has created opportunities for Kenya to reduce its vulnerability from external shocks.

    Source: World Bank

    Kenya has achieved remarkable progress in implementing electoral reforms.

    Section:

    Did you know? Kenya has achieved remarkable progress in implementing electoral reforms.

    • Election commissioners are no longer appointed by the president without approval of parliament; they now face a competitive application process for the positions, which includes the approval of parliament. The commissioners, meanwhile, have the power to investigate and prosecute elections irregularities.
    • Kenya is utilizing technology to ensure the integrity of the next election. For example, a new biometric voter registration system is being implemented along with electronic voter rolls. Meanwhile, election results will be transmitted electronically from polling stations to a central tallying center once the polls close. All of these measures reduce the opportunities for improper voting or fraud.
    • The new, strengthened Judiciary is working hard to instill confidence in the courts and improve the credibility of the legal system before the election. The Judiciary has appointed a team of eight judges to help the courts prepare to handle election disputes.

    Source: International Foundation for Electoral Systems
    Source: Daily Nation
    Source: Reuters

    Nairobi continues its growth as a regional hub

    Section:
    • FirstRand is the fourth bank to open offices in Nairobi in the past four years, along with companies like Samsung and Nestle
    • The World Bank points to Kenya’s expanding working-age population, access to the sea, developing education system, and improving macroeconomic policies as qualities that make it perfectly situated for companies bent on regional expansion.
    • The financial sector grew 8.8 percent in 2011

    “We believe there’s a gateway, a pipeline of business that exists between India and Africa coming through Kenya,” – Jabu Khethe, head of Africa at FirstRand

    Sources:  Financial Times

    Kenya is set to be one of the first African countries with digitalized medical records.

    Section:
    • An e-health pilot program to digitally convert health records is underway at the Kenyatta National Hospital and a nationwide rollout should be expected within the next year.
    • The initiative to store health records digitally will make statistical information regarding the country’s health sector more accessible. This data enables medical researchers to consult with doctors in other countries and share best practices.
    • The pilot program will also include an electronic medical supplies procurement system aimed at making buying goods cheaper and more efficient. Digital medical records will also help cut costs by eliminating duplication of medical tests.

    Source: Business Daily

    Kenya leads its East African neighbors in judicial reforms

    Section:
    • The Doing Business in EAC (East Africa Community) Report compiled by World Bank and the International Finance Corporation cites the “case track” system introduced by the Judiciary in 2011 as one of the outstanding improvements in the region.
    • The “case track” system categorizes cases into three groups depending on their complexity, allowing for the strategic allocation of resources to avoid delays in commercial disputes.
    • In a bid to reduce congestion in courts and ensure speedy trials, the Chief Justice increased the limit of jurisdiction in certain courts to $6,000, to reduce the pressure on courts and reduce litigation and transportation costs. The inspection of serving judges and magistrates and the recruitment of new ones has also been put in place, to improve the legitimacy of the verdicts.

    Source: Business Daily

    President Obama recently honored the legacy of the late Kenyan activist Dr. Wangari Maathai, and has urged other countries to follow her example

    Section:
    • Speaking to ministers and conservationists at the Durban climate talks this month, Obama hailed Maathai’s life as “a testament to the power of a single person’s idea that the simple act of planting a tree can be a profound statement of dignity and hope first in one village, then in one nation, and now across Africa.”
    • Maathai’s legacy and accomplishments were commemorated last week in TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year” issue. Oprah Winfrey, writing for TIME, called Maathai a “peaceful warrior who used her voice for the voiceless.” She is also the subject of the 2008 documentary “Taking Root.”
    • In 2004, Dr. Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Green Belt Movement, a pro-democracy and women’s rights group that inspired activists around the world. She was the first African woman to receive the prize, as well as the first female in East Africa to earn a Ph. D.

    Source: The Guardian
    Source: TIME
    Source: The Green Belt Movement
    Source: “Taking Root” Website

    Kenyan runner Vivian Cheruiyot Was Named Sportswoman of the Year

    Section:
    • In a ceremony held in London’s Central Hall on Monday, February 9, Vivian Cheruiyot was given the Laureus Award for Sportswoman of the Year. Cheruiyot won both the 5,000 and 10,000 meter runs at last year’s Track and Field World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.
    • Laureus is an organization dedicated to bringing people together through sport. Cheruiyot received her award alongside Laureus’s Sportsman of the Year Novak Djokovic, and joined fellow Laureus award winners like golfer Rory Mcilroy and the FC Barcelona soccer team.
    • Cheruiyot, already a two-time Olympian, is among the favorites to medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

    Kenyans are among the most prolific users of Twitter in Africa

    Section:
    • A report by Kenya-based Portland Communications and Tweetminster titled “How Africa Tweets” found that with 2.5 million tweets over a period of three months, Kenya was the second most active country in Africa.
    • Uses for twitter vary: over 80 percent of those polled said they mainly used it for communicating with friends and 68 percent said they use it to monitor news. The study also found wide use of other social media services in Africa. Of the people using Twitter, 94 percent also used Facebook, 69 percent used YouTube, 46 percent used Google+ and 37 percent used LinkedIn.
    • Twitter became a key tool during the Kenyan constitutional referendum in 2010. Voters and poll watchers used Twitter to communicate in real-time, and help ensure a peaceful and successful referendum.

     

    Source: Washington Post
    Source: Christian Science Monitor

    Kenya has a sizeable and growing middle class

    Section:
    • A recent African Development Bank report found that “Strong economic growth in the past two decades has helped reduce poverty significantly and lift previously poor households into the middle class,” in Kenya and in other African nations.
    • With East African economies among the fastest growing in the world, and Kenya’s own GDP growing at a 5% clip, the Kenyan middle class is expected to continue rising, bringing Kenya ever closer to its goal of becoming a middle-income nation by 2030.
    • A burgeoning middle class has boosted Kenyans’ purchasing power, giving rise to a thriving mall culture and booming housing market, and a double-digit boost in domestic tourism.

    Source: AFP
    Source: CIA World Factbook
    Source: IMF

    Kenya is urging the international community to take action on climate change

    Section:
    • Kenya has emerged as a leader at climate talks taking place this month in Durban, South Africa, arguing vigorously for a legally binding agreement to curb harmful emissions.
    • As more established economic powers balk at efforts to forge a serious international treaty, Kenya continues to urge world leaders to “accelerate the process towards a new climate treaty” that will keep global temperatures at safe levels.
    • Kenya’s efforts for a concerted global response to climate change follow the commitments made at the 2010 Cancun climate talks, where the international community pledged $100 billion per year to combat climate change. And when it comes to renewable energy, Kenya has led by example: the country plans to generate 3,000 megawatts of electricity from clean energy sources by 2018.

    Source: China Daily
    Source: Kenya Broadcasting Corporation
    Source: Bloomberg

    Kenyan animators are using technology to reach a global audience

    Section:
    • Kenyan animators are now able to collaborate with production companies and other artists from around the world thanks to the arrival of fiber-optic cable in East Africa along with other technological advances.
    • Nairobi-based “Homeboyz Animation” offers the most recent success story. The company worked with a U.K. production company and the BBC to produce the popular children’s cartoon “Tinga Tinga Tales” (pictured above).
    • The future for Kenyan animators is bright. New opportunities for international collaboration, as well as rising demand for content from Kenya’s own broadcasters, means that entrepreneurs like Pete Mute, who launched  the animation company “African Sci-Fi Factory,” will be able to share their work with larger and larger audiences.

    Source: Variety

    Kenya leads Africa in mobile government services

    Section:

     

    • Africa is the world’s fastest-growing mobile market, and Kenya’s government is leading the charge. A recent report shows that Kenya is the second most ready African nation “to embrace mobile government services.”
    • In keeping with its commitment to transparency and good governance, Kenya is leading the quest to deliver public information and services via cellular technology, such as offering agricultural advice to businesses and allowing citizens to pay utility bills remotely.
    • A robust E-government is only part of Kenya’s broader effort to make its government more accessible. Earlier this year, Kenya launched its Open Data Project, a user-friendly database that includes national census data and government spending records, and even information of parliamentary proceedings.

    Source: Associated Press
    Source: Business Daily Africa

     

    Kenya is utilizing Twitter to inform the public about its military operation in Somalia

    Section:
    • Kenyan Military Spokesman, Major Emmanuel Chirchir (@MajorEChirchir) has been updating the public with information about “Operation Linda Nchi” (Protect the Nation) using the hashtag #operationlindanchi.
    • Major Chirchir said that Twitter is a way to quickly and easily communicate the military’s message. He also asked his Twitter followers to pass the word on to those residents who do not possess the technology.
    • In early November, Kenya’s military used Twitter to warn civilians about air raids near 10 Somali towns, affording them time to avoid danger.

    Source: Huffington Post
    Source: Mobiledia

    Kenya has just announced the construction of a state-of-the-art geothermal power plant

    Section:
    • Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) will work with an international consortium to build a 280 megawatt geothermal plant named Olkaria IV, which is expected to be operational in 2014.
    • The project, which enjoys international investment from the likes of The World Bank, Germany’s Development Bank KfW and the European Investment Bank, will help diversify Kenya’s energy base and reduce the country’s reliance on hydroelectric dams, whose output can drop during droughts.
    • Already the first African country to drill for geothermal power, Kenya has set a goal of producing at least 5,000 megawatts of geothermal power by 2030.

    Source: Reuters

    Kenya’s Transparency Ranking has improved for the second consecutive year.

    Section:
    • In its recently released annual index, Transparency International found that Kenya has improved governance and increased transparency – for the second consecutive year.
    • According to the report, Kenya improved more than three percentage points from its 2010 rating and more than 16 percentage points since 2009. Several institutions, including the Kenya Ports Authority, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife, improved so much that they were removed from the Index altogether.
    • A participant in the Open Government Partnership, Kenya is also using technology to increase transparency by digitizing government records and the government’s procurement process.

    Source: Transparency International

    Kenya now has its own YouTube domain, YouTube Kenya.

    Section:
    • YouTube announced the launch of YouTube Kenya (http://www.youtube.co.ke) in October 2011.
    • The designated domain will  make it easier for Kenyan users to find and view the most informative and entertaining video content from around the world through a local interface that promotes the content most relevant to Kenyans.
    • Speaking at the Nairobi launch event, Permanent Secretary of  Information and Communications Dr. Bitange Ndemo said, “Accessing relevant information and sharing helpful stories on the Internet is enabling people to learn, train and partner with each other to help better their lives.”

    Source: IT News Africa

    Kenya’s “breathtaking” wilderness is the subject of a new book by renowned photographer Michael Poliza

    Section:
    • Poliza, who has received acclaim for his pictures Antarctica, South Africa and elsewhere, has just published a volume of photographs of the Kenyan wilderness.
    • In the introduction to the new book, entitled “Kenya,” Poliza writes that the Kenyan landscape “offers an abundance of breathtaking unspoiled wilderness.”
    • The book features images of natural beauty throughout Kenya, including Mount Kenya, Aruba Rock, the Chalbi Desert and the Lake Turkana region – all, according to the well-traveled Poliza, among “the most unique areas of the world.”

    Source: The Huffington Post

    Kenya developers are creating innovative mobile applications.

    Section:
    • Simba Technologies has created an app called MedKenya, which delivers heath information to Kenyans via mobile phone. The company plans to launch an expanded version, called MedAfrica, to bring similar content to other countries on the continent.
    • Since 2007, Kenyans have used the mobile banking platform M-Pesa to transfer funds via text messaging. (“M” stands for mobile and “pesa” is Swahili for money).
    • In partnership with the World Bank and Nokia, Kenya recently created an “m-lab” to incubate more mobile application startups. According to Dr. Bitange Ndemo, the country’s permanent secretary of the Ministry of Information and Communications, thousands of young Kenyans are involved in app development.

    Source: Mercury News

    Kenya is digitizing government records to increase transparency and government accountability.

    Section:
    • Kenya is digitizing judicial records and land deeds, as well as the government procurement process, in an effort to increase transparency and eliminate opportunities for corruption.
    • Dr. Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary of Kenya’s information and communications ministry, said that Kenya plans to have e-procurement ready by early 2012. “If we automated [procurement], we’d find $500 million a year,” he said.
    • In September 2011, Kenya became one of the founding countries to launch the Open Data Partnership, a multilateral initiative aimed at fighting corruption and increasing the transparency of governments around the world.

    Source: The Wall Street Journal

     

    Kenyan runner Patrick Makau set a new world record at the 2011 Berlin Marathon.

    Section:
    • Makau finished the 26.2 mile Berlin Marathon in a record-setting two hours, three minutes and 38 seconds.
    • His victory shaved 21 seconds off of the previous world record set by Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie in the 2008 Berlin race.
    • Continuing Kenya’s tradition of marathon excellence, Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat also won the Berlin Marathon’s women’s race, clocking in at two hours, 19 minutes and 44 seconds.

    Source: The New York Times

    Kenya is one of the founding countries to launch the Open Government Partnership.

    Section:
    • The Open Government Partnership, launched in September 2011 by 46 countries including the United States, Brazil and Kenya, is a multilateral initiative aimed at fighting corruption and increasing the transparency of governments around the world.
    • At the launch, Kenya announced it will officially release its open government plan at the partnership’s next meeting in 2012. The plan is already publicly available.
    • Kenya is the first African nation to make its government data available online. The Kenya Open Data Project makes a wealth of information easily accessible to the public, including data on the national census, government expenditure and parliamentary proceedings.

    Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Kenya Open Data Project

    Google is partnering with Safaricom and Equity Bank to bring Kenya’s small businesses online.

    Section:
    • The Getting Kenyan Businesses Online (GKBO) project provides information and an online template for small and medium scale enterprise businesses (SMEs) to create their own websites for free.
    • With 10.2 million Internet users in Kenya, Google Kenya Country Manager Olga Arara-Kimani said the initiative will transform the online SME business landscape and make a positive impact on the economy.
    • The GKBO website is mobile and desktop compatible, allowing SMEs to personally manage their sites and update business information in real time.

    Source: IT News Africa

    Kenyans are using the country’s revolutionary mobile phone banking service to contribute to drought-relief efforts.

    Section:

    • Kenyans are using M-Pesa, a mobile phone banking service, to donate money to Kenyan drought-relief efforts.
    • Originally developed as a mobile banking service to allow users to instantly transfer money between phones anywhere in Kenya, M-Pesa is now also being used as a means of fundraising during a time of crisis.
    • Bob Collymore, head of Kenyan telecommunications company Safaricom, said that in the early stages of fundraising efforts, more than 86 percent of individual donations came through M-Pesa and totaled $1.7 million. The money is sent to the Red Cross and used to purchase food aid for Kenyans affected by the drought.

    Source: USA Today


     

    Kenya is home to some of the world’s earliest records of human existence.

    Section:
    • In the 1900s, scientists found evidence of man’s earliest advanced tools near Kenya’s Lake Turkana. Originally estimated to be between 1.4 million and 1.6 million-years-old, in 2011 geologists discovered the stone tools were approximately 1.76 million years old, making them the oldest known advanced human tools.
    • A skull excavated near the Turkana site in 2010 suggests that Homo erectus – one of modern man’s early ancestors – created these tools.
    • In 2007, 1.44 million-year-old Homo habilis and 1.55 million-year-old Homo erectus skulls were also discovered near Lake Turkana.

    Sources: The New York Times (1), The New York Times (2)


     

    Kenya’s judicial reforms continue with the appointment of a new attorney general and 28 new judges.

    Section:
    • As part of Kenya’s ongoing judicial reform efforts, Kenya appointed lawyer Githu Muigai as the new Attorney General. Muigai was sworn into office on August 29, 2011.
    • Kenya’s Judicial Service Commission has also appointed 28 judges to the country’s newly established Supreme Court, including 13 women and two members of the Kenyan Diaspora.
    • Chief Justice Willy Mutunga said the newly appointed judges will help ease the case load the Kenyan judiciary faces. In total, 120 judges will be appointed by the end of the year.

    Sources: Capital FM News, Daily Nation, Reuters Africa


    Kenya will soon break ground on its first ultramodern superhighway.

    Section:
    • The 31-mile Thika Road, expected to be commissioned early next year, will be Kenya’s first ultramodern superhighway, allowing for new business opportunities by reducing traffic and opening Nairobi up to increased investment. The highway is expected to make a positive impact on key sectors of the economy, including real estate, manufacturing, transport and the labor market.
    • Thika Road will also help reduce congestion in Nairobi by allowing for the development of real estate outside of the city along the highway.
    • The Kenyan government has invested more than Sh100 billion ($1.1 billion) in the construction and rehabilitation of key roads in the country, Permanent Secretary for Roads Michael Kamau recently said. In the past year, the government has repaired over 60 percent of Kenya’s major roads.

    Sources: All Africa 1, All Africa 2


    Kenya is cracking down on pollution to protect the environment.

    Section:
    • Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) recently issued tough regulations aimed at curbing pollution and protecting the environment.
    • NEMA Director General Ayub Macharia and Nairobi Provincial Commissioner Njoroge Ndirangu have announced that all buildings that discharge waste to the environment will be declared uninhabitable and forced to close down. Quarries operating without NEMA certification will also be shut within six months and car washes near bodies of water and those operating without a NEMA license have been ordered to shut down immediately.
    • The Kenyan government has enacted many other measures in recent years to protect the environment, including clean energy and reforestation projects throughout the country.

    Sources: All Africa, Global Energy Network Institute, Bloomberg, Daily Nation

    Kenyan women are some of Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs.

    Section:

    Kenyan women are some of Africa’s most successful entrepreneurs.

    • Forbes named Kenyan Njeri Rionge one of Africa’s “most successful and revered serial entrepreneurs.” Over the past 20 years, she has co-founded five multi-million dollar companies, including Wananchi Online, a leading Internet service provider that has become East Africa’s leading cable, broadband and Internet-based phone company.
    • Rionge also founded Ignite Consulting, a thriving business consultancy; Business Lounge, Kenya’s leading startup incubator; Ignite Lifestyle, a health care consultancy; and Insite, one of Kenya’s most successful digital marketing outfits.
    • Kenyan women are also committed to helping other African women succeed in business. The Kenya Women Holding offers business mentorship, leadership training and formal banking services to women to assist them in forming their own small businesses.

    Sources: Forbes, All Africa

    Nairobi serves as the African headquarters of a multitude of international companies.

    Section:
    • In July 2011, Pfizer, the U.S.-based pharmaceutical company, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Posterscope, an outdoor advertising firm, all announced plans to establish a regional hub in Kenya’s capital city.
    • General Electric, IBM, Google, LG and CocaCola have longstanding corporate bases in Kenya as well.
    • Kenya’s vast talent pool, strong Internet connectivity and stable economic environment make the country an attractive destination for investors and have firmly established Nairobi as a center for business in East Africa.

    Source: All Africa


    Kenya is home to nearly half a million Somali refugees.

    Section:

    • Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp – the world’s largest – houses over 400,000 refugees who have fled instability and famine in Somalia.
    • In July 2011, the Kenyan government announced that it would open a fourth settlement within the Dadaab camp to cope with the influx of refugees. Recent estimates place refugee arrivals between 4,000 and 5,000 people every week.
    • To help fight the famine plaguing Somalia and deal with the growing refugee crisis, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has proposed setting up feeding programs on the Kenya-Somalia border.

    Sources: AFP, CNN, Voice of America

    Kenya is working to develop a new electronic voting system.

    Section:
    • The Kenyan government recently announced it is partnering with IBM to develop a framework to support the development of an electronic voting system.
    • In July 2011, a delegation of IBM officials visited Kenya to help draw up the master plan that will aid the soon-to-be-formed Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in implementing the new voting system. Many hope the country could begin using the electronic voting system as soon as the 2012 election.
    • Kenya is steadily working to increase government transparency and public access to information. The recent launch of the Open Government Initiative has made thousands of official records available online to the public and is the first of its kind in Africa.

    Sources: All Africa, Business Daily, The Voting News

    Kenya is increasing government transparency and public access to information.

    Section:
    • In July 2011, President Kibaki launched the Open Government Data Portal, which for the first time makes several large government data sets, including national census data, available online to researchers and the general public. Through the Portal, users can compare different data sets, create maps and other graphics and directly download data for their own use.
    • Kenya recently partnered with Google to develop an online database of more than 2,000 copies of the Hansard, a record of parliamentary debates from the past 40 years. The database will enable Kenyans to see if their MP was present in Parliament on a given date, his or her contributions to the day’s debate, as well as his or her voting patterns, all at the click of a button.
    • These initiatives represent “a fulfillment of the citizen’s right to access public information, a right introduced by the new Constitution. This right places an obligation on the Government to provide public information in a time and form that is reliable and accessible to the citizen,” said Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza.

    Source: Business Daily

    Kenya is home to six United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites.

    Section:
    • Fort Jesus – constructed by the Portuguese in the late 1500s – and the Kenya Lake System in Kenya’s Rift Valley were both added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in June 2011.
    • Kenya is also home to four other World Heritage Sites – the Lake Turkana National Parks, Mount Kenya National Park and Natural Forest, Lamu Old Town and the Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forests.
    • UNESCO’s World Heritage List includes 936 properties around the world that form “part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee regards as having outstanding universal value.”

    Sources: AFP 1, AFP 2, UNESCO

    Kenya is forging ahead with the judicial reforms contained in its new Constitution.

    Section:
    • Following a stringent nomination, vetting and approval process, Kenya in June 2011 appointed Willy Mutunga, a former Ford Foundation officer, as chief justice of the country’s newly established Supreme Court, forging ahead with the judicial reforms enshrined in the country’s new Constitution. The country also appointed Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza and Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko.
    • The justices were sworn into office June 20, 2011 and President Kibaki signed a bill officially operationalizing the Supreme Court on June 22, 2011.
    • As outlined in the new Constitution, the Supreme Court will be charged with the interpretation of the Constitution and will hear appeals from the Court of Appeal and other lower courts.

    Sources: Daily Nation, Capital FM 1, Capital FM 2, Capital FM 3

    Kenya is developing a “Silicon Savannah” to foster growth in the IT industry.

    Section:
    • Modeled on the United States’ Silicon Valley, Kenya’s plans to revolutionize the country’s dominance in the global information technology market include the development of a university, science park, offices and housing in the Konza Technology City, a 5,000-acre site.
    • The development, to be ready by 2030, aims to have all the ingredients for entrepreneurial success in the same place in order to give local companies the opportunity to do business with multinational companies like General Electric and Microsoft, who have already established East African hubs in Kenya.
    • Kenya’s existing IT initiatives have already propelled the country to the forefront of the industry. In Nairobi’s iHub technological center, 3,000 innovators collaborate daily to share their tech knowledge and develop new web applications. Home to four undersea fiber-optic cables, Kenya’s technology sector is growing by 20 percent a year, outstripping all of the nation’s other industries.

    Source: The Financial Times


    Kenya saw a 15 percent rise in tourism in early 2011.

    Section:
    • Tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2011 increased 15 percent compared to the same period last year, with more than 300,000 visitors entering the country between January and March.
    • In 2010, Kenya hosted a record 1.1 million visitors and hopes to see two million by 2012, said Tourism Minister Najib Balala.
    • To tap into the flourishing market, international hotel companies, including Radisson and Crown Plaza, have invested in the construction of 17 new hotels in the country.

    Sources: All Africa, All Africa, Ministry of Tourism

    A Kenyan runner was named the 2011 World Athlete of the Year.

    Section:
    • Kenyan runner Patrick Makau was named the 2011 Association of International Marathons and Distance Races’ (AIMS) World Athlete of the Year, one of the most highly coveted awards in running.
    • Makau had an outstanding year in 2010, winning the 36th annual City-Pier-City Half Marathon in The Hague, the Rotterdam Marathon and the Berlin Marathon.
    • In winning the prestigious award, Makau joins the ranks of past Kenyan winners Benson Masya, Paul Tergat, Josephat Kiprono and Sammy Wanjiru.
    • “This is my first AIMS/ASICS Athlete of the Year Award and I hope it will be the first of many,” Makau said. “I am truly honored for my name to be listed among some of the greatest athletes and distance runners of all time.”

    Sources: Afrique Jet, Daily Nation, International Association of Athletics Federations


     

    A Kenyan scientist helped develop a groundbreaking new drug to treat Hepatitis C.

    Section:

    • Dr. George Njoroge, the Kenyan-born director of medicinal chemistry at the Merck Research Laboratories, was at the center of the development of Victrelis, which was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
    • The development of Victrelis is the biggest breakthrough in the treatment of the Hepatitis C virus in the last decade. The first-of-its-kind pill has been shown to cure more patients in less time than other drugs presently used.
    • “Victrelis is an important new advance for patients with hepatitis C,” said Dr. Edward Cox, director of the FDA’s office of antimicrobial products. “This new medication provides an effective treatment for a serious disease, and offers a greater chance of cure for some patients’ Hepatitis C infection compared to currently available therapy.”

    Sources: Daily Nation, Cox News

    National Geographic’s upcoming film “The First Grader” tells the compelling, true story of Kenyan Kimani Nganga Maruge.

    Section:
    • Maruge, a freedom fighter who helped Kenya gain independence from Britain, attended school for the first time in his life at the age of 84, alongside his grandchildren.
    • Maruge’s education was made possible when the Kenyan government in 2003 made primary education free for all Kenyans. Until his death in 2009, Maruge was the Guinness World Record holder for being the oldest person to begin primary school.
    • The film has received critical acclaim at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Telluride Film Festival and the Palm Beach International Film Festival, where it was named Best Feature Film. The film premieres in selected U.S. cities starting this month. For more info, visit www.thefirstgrader-movie.com.

    Sources: Indie Wire, The Seattle Times, Zenit

    Kenya is an African leader in developing innovative information and communication technology (ICT) initiatives.

    Section:
    • Kenya recently hosted Connected Kenya, a three-day ICT conference to discuss the newest technology developments in the sector, how to improve connectivity across the country and how the government and private sector can adopt technology to improve services and reduce costs.
    • Equity Bank announced at the Connected Kenya summit that it will launch a technology incubation and innovation center in Nairobi. The center will bring academia and technology together in the hopes of cultivating new application developers and helping them commercialize their innovations.
    • Kenyan ICT companies and entrepreneurial developers have created a wide range of innovative technologies enabling Kenyans to use their mobile phones to do everything from accessing banking services and receiving medical test results to tracking their vehicles.

    Sources: The Standard, IT News Africa, Business Daily Africa

    Kenya is helping developing countries gain access to clean energy.

    Section:
    • At the launch of the Paris-Nairobi Climate Initiative in April 2011, Prime Minister Odembo promised Kenya will assist other African countries in achieving the United Nations’ goal of universal access to energy by 2030. The Initiative will facilitate interactions between government ministries, development partners and energy experts to expand access to clean energy throughout the world.
    • The Prime Minister told reporters at the Initiative’s opening conference that the idea dates back to the December 2010 United Nations Convention on Climate Change. “France and Kenya saw the need to launch an initiative on access to clean energy in Africa and other countries vulnerable to climate change,” he said.
    • A secretariat for the Initiative will be set up in Nairobi and its head will be appointed soon, assured the Prime Minister, underscoring the Initiative’s importance. “This is not just about talk, we want to ensure that the whole exercise is fast-tracked,” he said.

    Source: Africa Review

    Kenya’s flower exports have blossomed by double digits over the past twelve months.

    Section:
    • Shipments climbed 10 percent to 22,000 metric tons in the first two months of 2011, signaling the beginning of a positive trend for the year. Earnings also climbed 10 percent from the same period last year to Sh7.7 billion ($91.6 million).
    • Better economic growth projections in Europe, the Kenyan flower industry’s key market, bodes well for continued increased exports. Kenya accounts for 35 percent of all flower sales in Europe.
    • The industry is expecting a “very good” performance for the year as a whole, said Kenya Flower Council CEO Jane Ngige. “Most of the sales are secured in the euro, which means that returns have been favorable.”

    Sources: Bloomberg, Business Daily Africa

    Twenty-five Kenyan men and women have won the Boston Marathon since 1988.

    Section:
    • Kenyan Catherine Ndereba holds the record for the most victories in the women’s division after winning the race four times in six years.
    • In 2010, Kenyan runner Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot won the men’s race for the fifth time and set a new course record of 2 hours, 5 minutes and 52 seconds. Kenyan Margaret Okayo set the course record for the women’s race in 2002 after completing the 26.2 mile course in 2 hours, 20 minutes and 43 seconds.
    • Kenyan Ambassador to the United States Elkanah Odembo ran the marathon in 1979.

    Sources: Wikipedia, Adventure-Marathon.com, RunWithKenyans.com

     

     

    Kenya is a leading producer of renewable energy on the African continent.

    Section:
    • On a recent visit, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon praised Kenya for its ground-breaking use of volcanic heat from the Great Rift Valley to generate electricity. The Secretary-General said Kenya is well on its way towards powering a “green economy.”
    • Kenya recently opened Africa’s first carbon exchange for the trade of carbon credits resulting from green energy and afforestation projects. The Nairobi Climate Exchange offers a revolutionary method of financing new generations of renewable energy projects and will encourage investment in those efforts.
    • Kenya is home to the United Nations Environmental Programme’s (UNEP) Africa headquarters, which recently completed construction on the agency’s new “green” offices. The building is entirely powered by solar power and has water collection and recycling facilities.

    Sources: Spero News, The Citizen, Africa Review

     

    Kenya is using the latest testing technology to combat tuberculosis

    Section:
    • In June 2011, Kenya will debut a new computer-enabled tuberculosis (TB) test that confirms results 600 times faster than current technology. Instead of waiting six weeks for test results, patients can find out if they are TB-positive in less than two hours.
    • Endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the test can also detect Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB), helping to ensure that patients receive proper treatment.
    • The first testing kits will be available at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinics in Kibera, Homa Bay and Mathare. The government plans to bring in more testing machines before the end of the year.

    Source: Daily Nation

    Kenya has its own version of the discount group-buying site Groupon

    Section:
    • Rupu launched in December 2010 and offers discounts of 50 to 90 percent at over 150 restaurants in Nairobi, Mombasa, Malindi and Diani. Soon, Rupu will expand to offer discounts at restaurants in Zanzibar.
    • Rupu benefits Kenyan consumers and businesses alike. Customers enjoy sharp price discounts while member restaurants benefit from free marketing and publicity, new customers and increased profits. The money from the sale of each deal is split 50-50 between the restaurant and Rupu.
    • Transactions can be completed online or by mobile phone through the consumer’s M-Pesa account. Customers will also be able to purchase deals with credit cards later this year.

    Source: Christian Science Monitor


    Kenya’s draft Cancer Bill aims to increase Kenyans’ access to cancer treatment

    Section:
    • If passed, the legislation will help decentralize cancer treatment facilities so that Kenyans throughout the country can access proper care. Early diagnosis could save thousands of lives each year.
    • The Cancer Bill will also provide funding for measures to improve Kenya’s cancer treatment technology and to train more oncologists.
    • Medical Services Minister Anyang Nyong’o has been instrumental in bringing attention to Kenya’s need for improved healthcare. The Minister went public with his recent battle with prostate cancer and has helped raise awareness of the issues impacting diagnosis and care.

    Source: Business Daily

    Kenya is home to East Africa’s only women’s university

    Section:
    • Nairobi’s Kiriri Women’s University of Science and Technology opens doors for women in the traditionally male-dominated fields of math and science.
    • The university engages its students in special seminars on women’s ability to excel and manage in the workplace, says Deputy Vice Chancellor Njeri Gikonyo. “When they graduate, they end up being very special and in that way, they make a name for themselves in the market,” she explained.
    • Educators say girls’ and women’s access to education is improving in Kenya as the country strives to reach its UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Vision 2030 economic goals. Last year, girls made up 45 percent of Kenya’s secondary school enrollment.

    Source: Voice of America

    Kenya plans to transform Nairobi into a major international financial hub

    Section:
    • Kenya plans to build a major financial center in its capital to help establish Nairobi as an international finance hub, Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta recently announced. This endeavor will support the economic pillar of Kenya’s Vision 2030 plan to help the country become a middle income economy within the next two decades.
    • Financial incentives will encourage investment groups, stock brokerages, pension funds, banks and insurance companies to set up offices at the Nairobi International Financial Center, said Alex Owino, a project manager at the ministry.
    • The financial center will help Kenya gain a stronger presence in sub-Saharan Africa’s growing financial services market. The finance industry accounts for 5.4 percent of Kenya’s gross domestic product and has the potential to expand to as much as 15 percent of GDP, Minister Kenyatta said.

    Sources: Bloomberg, Kenya Broadcasting Company

    Kenya hosted the 26th UN Global Environment Forum in February 2011

    Section:
    • Environment ministers from more than 100 countries, including U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, met in Nairobi to discuss the environmental impact of armed conflicts and natural disasters, new research on climate change, and how by adopting “green economies,” countries can ensure sustainable increased capital gains.
    • President Kibaki reaffirmed that the Kenyan government is seeking ways to utilize the country’s abundance of renewable energy to secure a future that is based on a sustainable green economy.”Kenya is committed to playing its role as host of UNEP and the entire UN fraternity,” President Kibaki said as he officially opened the meeting.
    • During his opening remarks, United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner commended Kenya’s new constitution, which provides for investment in geothermal and other renewable energy to increase electricity connectivity in the country.

    Sources: United Nations Environment Programme, Capital FM, Philippine Star

    Kenya Commercial Bank plans to open 30 new branches in South Sudan

    Section:
    • Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) says the successful referendum in South Sudan will provide an improved investment climate, and that the country’s “political stability and security in the south are likely to attract international investors.”
    • KCB is the largest bank in Kenya, ranked by assets, and hopes to serve nearly 100,000 customers across 30 new branches in South Sudan by 2015.
    • KCB CEO Martin Oduor-Otieno said South Sudan has “the potential to be the biggest economy in the region in the next 10 to 20 years.”

    Source: Reuters Africa

    HIV positive women in Kenya can receive medical advice via text message

    Section:
    • In July, the Kenya AIDS Control Project began sending a test group of nearly 100 HIV positive pregnant women messages to help guide them through a safe pregnancy.
    • The messages include reminders of weekly prenatal visits, medication reminders and diet recommendations.
    • The program, which is expected to continue through 2013, may begin using voice messages to further increase access to medical advice.

    Source: HIV/AIDS Resource Center for Women

    Microfinancing empowers women to start small businesses

    Section:
    • The Kenya Women Finance Trust Limited (KWFT) was established to help women entrepreneurs develop their business models through microfinancing.
    • In 2010 KWFT, planned to increase its clients to 600,000 and disburse Sh20 billion (nearly $250 million USD) countrywide.
    • The small to medium size business loans not only spur companies, but also create employment opportunities, especially in rural areas. Other personal loans allow women to access money for their children’s education so they needn’t siphon off money from their businesses to support their families.

    Sources: The Standard, KWFT (1), KWFT (2)

    A Kenyan scientist won this year’s Royal Society Pfizer Award for his research on childhood malaria

    Section:
    • Dr. Collins Ouma received nearly $1 million to study how the immune system responds to malarial anemia. The research has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives each year in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    • Upon presenting the award to Dr. Ouma in December 2010, the Royal Society said, “The work that African scientists do is hugely important in helping to relieve suffering on the continent…It is also very exciting that the prize will enable him to pass his expertise on and encourage other young African scientists.”
    • A portion of this funding will be used to establish a teaching and research laboratory at Maseno University in Kenya.

    Source: All Africa

    Kenya has played a leading role helping to stabilize South Sudan

    Section:
    • The government of Kenya has pledged over $2 million to train civil servants in South Sudan following the January 9th referendum. Kenya has already trained thousands of teachers in the region.
    • The government of Kenya has set up eight polling stations to accommodate the more than 15,000 dispersed Sudanese living in Kenya.
    • The Kenyan government served as a mediator and guarantor of South Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended decades of war in Sudan in 2005 and paved the way for the 2011 referendum.

    Source: The Standard

    Mobile phones put banking services in the hands of all Kenyans

    Section:
    • The ground-breaking M-Pesa money transfer service was launched in Kenya by Safaricom in March 2007.
    • “M-Pesa is the first product in the world that allows the unbanked, with no banking details, no registration, no bank account, no credit card, to do banking,” said former Safaricom CEO, Michael Joseph, last year.
    • By giving any M-Pesa customer the ability to start saving with as little as $1 and earn interest on the principal, mobile phone banking services have drawn in the country’s unbanked and enabled users to access and manage their bank accounts, make interbank cash transfers, pay their bills and apply for loans of up to Sh1 million (12, 410 USD).

    Sources: Business DailyDaily Nation

    Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat won first place in the women’s division in the 2010 New York City Marathon

    Section:
    • Kiplagat finished the grueling 26-mile race at 2 hours, 28 minutes and 40 seconds, 20 seconds ahead of second place women’s division winner American Shalane Flanagan.
    • Kiplagat, 31, is the first Kenyan woman to win the New York City Marathon since Margaret Okayo set the course record of 2 hours, 22 minutes and 31 seconds in 2003.
    • “This year has gone very well with me,” Kiplagat said, also referencing her victory in the Los Angeles Marathon earlier this year. “I am happy that I have closed the year with New York success.”

    Source: Kenya Broadcasting Corporation

    Britain’s Prince William proposed to his fiancée, Kate Middleton, in Kenya

    Section:
    • Prince William proposed while on holiday at the Lew Downs Safari Lodge, a 55,000-acre game reserve.
    • He proposed with his late mother’s 18-carat oval sapphire and diamond ring. Prince William said of the ring, “it’s very special to me. As Kate’s very special to me now, it was right to put the two together.”
    • Prince William’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, was in Kenya on a tour of the Commonwealth when her succession to the throne was declared in 1952.

    Sources: Suite101.comNYT EuropeBBC

    In 2009, Kenya was the largest inward investor in the East African Community

    Section:
    • Kenya has about 270 companies operating in Tanzania and many Kenyan firms have investments in Uganda and Rwanda.
    • Kenya’s dedication to investing in the region has boosted tax revenues and created jobs in many neighboring countries.
    • Kenyan companies like Kenya Airways have cross-listed their stock shares on the Kampala and Dar es Salaam stock exchanges, and the Kenya Commercial Bank has operations around the region.

    Source: Reuters

    Kenya has been the location for dozens of Hollywood films since the 1950s

    Section:
    • The 1986 Academy Award-winning film Out of Africa, starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, was filmed in Kenya.
    • World-acclaimed films like The Constant Gardener and the 2003 Academy Award winner Nowhere in Africa were also filmed in Kenya.
    • The 1966 movie Born Free, based on the true story of an orphaned lion cub raised by Joy and George Adamson and released into the wild as an adult, was filmed entirely on location in Kenya. The film’s stars, Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, went on to form The Born Free Foundation – a charity that continues to support conservation work in Kenya.

    Source: Kenya Film CommissionKenya High Commission

    There are over 6,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Kenya

    Section:
    • Approximately 5,500 NGOs are national organizations and the remainder are international NGOs.
    • Kenya has a National Council of NGOs that supervises and coordinates the affairs and functions of NGOs in Kenya.
    • Kenya’s National Council of NGOs carried out civic education projects ahead of the August 4 Constitutional referendum to ensure its peaceful passage.

    Source: National Council of NGOs

    Kenya is striving to be the African leader in using green energy by 2020

    Section:
    • Kenya plans to produce 3,000 megawatts of cleaner electricity by 2018, mostly through geothermal and wind projects.
    • This is equivalent to almost 50 percent of the country’s total electricity consumption at present rates.
    • The Kenyan government has set up a $2 billion energy fund that will lend to those investing in climate-friendly green electricity-generating projects.

    Source: BloombergDaily Nation

    Kenya has a large and prosperous stock exchange

    Section:
    • The Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) is the fourth largest exchange in Africa in terms of total daily trades and the fifth largest in terms of nationalGDP. Trading in the NSE is done through the Electronic Trading System, which was commissioned in 2006.
    • The 55-member Nairobi All-Share Index (NASI), has risen 43 percent this year, making it Africa’s second best performing market.
    • By September 2010, the value of stock traded in Kenya was more than double that for the whole of 2009.

    Source: Africa Business SourceBloomberg Businessweek

    Kenya has the second highest peak in Africa

    Section:
    • Mount Kenya, from which Kenya derives its name, is a dormant volcano that last erupted 2.6 million years ago.
    • At 17,021 feet, Mount Kenya is second only to Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro as the tallest mountain in Africa.
    • The mountain has 11 melting glaciers, which provide a steady water source for over two million people.

    Sources: Kenya Tourism BoardEarth PolicyUNESCOMt. Kenya.org

    The 2009 CNN African Journalist of the Year is Kenyan

    Section:
    • John-Allan Namu is an anchor, reporter, and features editor for Kenya’s Nation TV.
    • Previously, Namu anchored the Kenya Television Network’s “Business Today” program, the daily business segment of KTN Prime, and KTNWeekend Prime.
    • As the winner of the Television Bulletin, Television Features, and MultiChoice African Journalist of the Year Awards, Namu traveled to CNNoffices in Atlanta and met with 12 other international journalists to share their field experiences.

    Source: CNN

    Kenya is home to the oldest person to start primary school

    Section:
    • In 2004, Kimani Nganga Maruge started primary school at the age of 84.
    • Kenya’s introduction of free primary school in 2003 made it possible for Maruge to join two of his grandchildren at Kapkenduiywa School.
    • The great-grandfather held a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest person in the world to start primary school from 2004 to 2010. His story inspired the 2010 film The First Grader.
    • In September 2005, Maruge boarded a plane for the first time in his life to address the United Nations Millennium Development Summit on the importance of free primary education.

    Source: BBC NewsHollywood Reporter

    70% of Kenyan coffee is produced by small-scale farmers

    Section:
    • It is estimated that the coffee industry directly or indirectly employs 6 million Kenyans, including 700,000 growers.
    • The small-scale farmers are members of cooperative societies which process their own coffee.
    • The major coffee growing regions in Kenya are the High Plateaus around Mt. Kenya, the Aberdare Range, Kisii, Nyanza, Bungoma, Nakuru and Kericho.

    Source: BBC NewsHollywood Reporter

    Kenya’s Paul Kibbi Tergat is considered one of the most successful long-distance runners of all time

    Section:
    • Paul Kibbi Tergat held the world record in the marathon from 2003 to 2007.
    • During his career, he won a long list of gold, silver and bronze medals in running competitions around the world.
    • Since 2004, Tergat has been an ambassador for the UN World Food Program, which provided him with school lunch as a child, since his parents were too poor to send him to school with food. Tergat says he could not have finished school without this program.

    Source: Kenya Advisor.com

    Kenya is building a railway to connect four countries in East Africa

    Section:
    • In October 2009, Kenya and Uganda agreed to build and manage a railway between Mombasa, Kenya and Kampala, Uganda.
    • The railway will eventually link Uganda and Kenya to Rwanda and Southern Sudan, creating a much needed transportation network in the region.
    • Kenya currently has 1,654 miles of railroad connecting Nairobi to Kenya’s major ports and Lake Victoria.

    Source: Daily NationExpogroup

    Kenya is one of the top overseas destinations for American tourists

    Section:
    • In 2008, more than 89,400 American tourists visited the country, experiencing the culture and taking in the natural beauty firsthand.
    • More than 9,000 American citizens are currently living in Kenya.
    • To cater to the American audience, the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism is developing an Obama Route that will take tourists from Nairobi through the picturesque Rift Valley to Kogelo, the village where President Obama?s father grew up.

    Source: U.S. Department of StateGlobalAtlanta.com

    Kenya was named the best infrastructure regulator in Africa in 2009

    Section:
    • Africa Investor awarded the Kenyan Communications Commission the best infrastructure regulator award for creating an excellent and stable investment climate.
    • The Kenyan Communications Commission was also recognized for promoting public-private initiatives to eradicate poverty and grow the country’s economy.
    • The country’s broadband infrastructure and international fiber optics link are expected to drive more investment in all facets of the economy.

    Source: Business Daily Africa

    Kenya voted for a new Constitution on August 4th, 2010

    Section:
    • The new “Harmonized Constitution” will replace Kenya’s original Constitution created at the time of independence in 1963.
    • For the first time in Kenyan history, Kenyans will now be allowed to hold dual citizenship.
    • The Constitution creates Kenya’s first ever Supreme Court, establishes separation of powers, sets up a system of checks and balances and devolves power closer to the people.
    • Kenya will now have a Bill of Rights that ensures equality and freedom from discrimination, religious freedoms, a free press and the right to a fair and speedy trial.

    Source: ReutersUniversity of Wisconsin Law SchoolDaily NationThe Standard

    A Kenyan girl was the first African to be awarded an International Eco-Hero Award

    Section:
    • The International Young Eco-Hero Award recognizes young people for their environmental achievements.
    • Winne Owade, a 14-year-old girl from Kenya, was awarded third place in the 2005 International Eco-Hero awards for organizing a feeding program to sustain local monkeys that were damaging crops in the surrounding areas as they searched for food.

    Source: Free Press.com

    Kenya supplies over 35% of cut flowers to the world’s largest markets

    Section:
    • The Kenyan flower sector grows at an average of 20% per year.
    • The floriculture industry is estimated to employ over 60,000 Kenyans in rural areas.
    • In 2008, Kenya exported 93,000 tons of flowers around the world.
    • The main markets for Kenyan flowers are the Netherlands, UK, Germany and France.

    Source: Kenya Flower Council

    Kenya has the largest economy in the East African Community

    Section:
    • The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organization of five countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
    • The EAC will launch its Common Market on July 1, 2010, allowing the free movement of labor, goods, services and capital between member countries.
    • The EAC aims to widen and deepen cooperation between member states by implementing a Monetary Union by 2012, and ultimately creating a Political Federation of East African States.

    Source: BBCEast African Community Portal

    Kenya is home to the tallest tower in all of East and Central Africa

    Section:
    • The Times Tower is located in Nairobi and stands 38 stories high
    • This magnificent facility took four years to construct and was completed in 2000
    • The Times Tower is home to the Kenya Revenue Authority

    Sources: Howard Humphreys Consulting EngineersKenya Revenue Authority

    There is a 300-megawatt wind farm being developed in Kenya

    Section:
    • The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project is being developed in the hope of decreasing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and developing alternative energy sources.
    • Work has already begun on the $891 million project, funded by KenGen and KBC Bank NV of Belgium.

    Source: Global Energy Network Institute

    The Lion King’s song “hakuna matata” means “no worries” in Kenya’s national language, Swahili

    Section:
    • The Swahili language is derived from several globally spoken languages, including the local Bantu dialect and Arabic.
    • Swahili also incorporates German, Portuguese, English and French words into its vocabulary.

    Source: University of Toronto

    125 American companies have offices in Kenya

    Section:
    • Coca Cola, General Electric, and Google are among the many organizations that have their African headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
    • These companies have brought in over $200 million in investment.

    Source: Kenya AdvisorUniversity of Pennsylvania African Studies Department

    Kenya’s Lake Turkana National Park and Mount Kenya National Park are UNESCO World Heritage Sites

    Section:
    • Inaugurated in 1997, Lake Turkana, Africa’s most saline lake, is commonly used as a laboratory for the study of plant and animal communities.
    • The national parks serve as a stopover for migrant waterfowl and are major breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus and a variety of venomous snakes.
    • The deposits from Lake Koobi Fora are rich in mammalian and molluscan fossils, and have contributed to the understanding of paleo-environments more than any other site on the continent.

    Source: UNESCO World Heritage Centre

    Kenya is home to one of the world’s best marathon runners

    Section:
    • Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot is the four-time winner of the Boston Marathon, having taken the top prize in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008.
    • He also won the first ever Marathon Majors series, with three wins and a fourth-place finish in the most prestigious races in the world.

    Source: World Marathon Majors

    In 2008, Kenya had the biggest increase of foreign direct investment worldwide

    Section:
    • In 2008 alone, 25 international investment projects started in Kenya.
    • The highest numbers of investment projects were in the communications sector, which brought in $82.8 million worth of investment in 2008.

    Source: FDI Magazine