bag with no bang

Over the last few months I have been in and out of Kenya several times and I must say …. Kenyans have a pretty cool way of reaching handas in Kenya and marakan in Ethiopia.

So over the next couple of posts I will share my surprise visits to the high echelons of power to the sublime and also not fancy street corners where dollars are exchanged at buyer’s say where fake means actually feasible and where original costs the right connections.

so brace yourself for what i have been through in the most entertaining way (i was entertained by it) hope you do.



One Network (started by Zain) is a borderless mobile phone network across the Airtel Group which will enable customers to move freely between the countries in which Airtel operates, and be treated as “virtual” local customers of the visited network in terms of pricing, while retaining their home network service functionality.

One Network allows customers travelling to One Network countries to make outgoing calls/SMS at the same rates as local customers and recharge with local top-up cards or with home network top up cards while using the same number and SIM. Incoming calls however are charged at between $0.03 – 0.15 depending on the country the call is received from.

Well all this is not so….

Mid May while in the streets of Nairobi, I decided to buy an AIRTEL sim card. Why because of the above promised ‘ONE NETWORK’. But to my chagrin this was not the much touted service or platform.

First after crossing the border to Museveni’s territory, me phone went off thinking that it was a phone setting. For some reason my phone a Nokia E5 has very good specs and for all my world I wouldn’t have thought that AIRTEL would have any network coverage problem. For the record I did use the sim card while in Nairobi so I know the sim card works…but not in Uganda which is part of the so called one network.

So if cannot get any network signal on my phone from airtel then it’s unlikely for me to get zapped with money from my friends…. Wait damn it in Uganda the services is called airtel money not zap. Now if the names do not get in sync then be sure that zap is not airtel money even though airtel owns zap and airtel money.

I may be jumping to conclusions here since I heard that airtel Uganda is restructuring or something like that….but until then I am stuck with a new sim card that is registered but cannot work part of the network and I do suspect that if were to go to Tanzania the damn thingy won’t work there as well.

Now I have forgotten the telephone number I bought in Nairobi. I must be losing network or something


What a weekend it was…. First it was rather peaceful as the adversaries were all kept 5 minutes apart in Nairobi as their lieutenants back home in Uganda were re- recuperating.

Recuperating is a good well rounded name that is commonly being used in good old Uganda. So what happens when you have to recuperate in Uganda?

It involves a lot of insects, beer, plantains and lots of noise.

NSENENE is a nice tasty dish whose main dish is the grasshopper. Every night in the darkness of Africa, entrepreneurs in Uganda light up their roofs (it helps when the roof is flat) with spot lights turning their home into stadium-like structures.
The first time I say them I thought,, hmm here is a nice place to have a drink only to realise that the lights are used to attract and trap the grasshoppers.
As the insects follow the light, smoke is released and knocks down them crawlers into barrels. Tis in the morning that the entrepreneurs will come for their harvest.

The nsenene is either sautéed or deep fried to be like crackers. When sautéed the hoppers have some onions on them that give that tingly taste. The deep friend crackers type goes down with beer and is a good party thingy.
A handful of this nsenene will cost you about 1500 to 2000 Uganda shillings which is about 300 bob Kenya shillings. So you will be finding most guys seated somewhere chewing on them while listening to music, soccer commentaries and other things.

It is after chew this nsenene at around 10pm that the beer starts flowing down faster than Usain Bolt. Our Uganda relatives do drink faster and a lot and when it gets out of their control some just sleep where they find the most comfort.
On this weekend at my local kafunda(local pub) the beer was rudely interrupted by the noise of a neighbour kafunda….

Curious as always my Uganda relatives ran to check on the noise.
A group of guys had been arguing over who will take the bar maid. The argument was abruptly ended when one of the men decided to end the fight. He took a long stick and smacked the barmaid sending her crushing to the ground. She was out for 30 minutes as I came to know later.

The guy who hit the lady ran away from the scene, the other guys chased after him, the witnesses ran away in the other direction and I was left alone in the kafunda. When I about to leave 45 minutes later, the barmaid came for her bill, she said ‘the nsenene was on the house’

By the way nsenene is a big business here. very big. ask the car dealers in kampala they can atest to that.


The pearl of Africa is a beautiful place to be in, that’s if you do take public transport to work because the authorities in this country seem not happy with the notion that exercise is indeed good for well being and that reflects well on the taxes that the taxman collects.

You see this idea of eating breakfast then taking a bus to work then an elevator to you office floor then calling Becky to bring over the burger and fries then taking the elevator down to the next floor to give meet your boss then take the elevator a floor up then sit on moving chairs then swing to the printer then to the walk to the elevator when it’s time for home then drop yourself down to the ground floor then get into the taxi then get home sit in front the television.
That adds up to a very unhealthy human being which is very bad for the economy as whole.

And if you are asking about why am ranting about this then let me illustrate to you how a day in Uganda is like together with all that niceties.

Early morning is breakfast and unlike what I have been used to in Kenya, bread and coffee well in this blessed country there is something called KATOGO. Katogo means a mixure and its meant to be a small meal consisting of banana stew, Irish potatoes, rise, some meat (beef) and ground nut source all these taken with tea, coffee or juice… and you thought cereal and an egg completes your breakfast……keep walking I say again.
And with all this energy in your system you would probably say let me walk to work since it’s not more than 1 km. Well no no no since if you have a Uganda brother, they will suggest a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) since the office is to far very far. ….I am still try to understand how my Uganda brethren understand the word distance. Surely we did have the same colonisers and English must be the same. Anyway at 10 am some fellows will always go for tea break not ze Kenyans.
Lunch time is also another ceremony of foods with the main dish either being cooked in ground nut source or plain. When they see someone eating the main dish source without any sniff of groundnut then you must be alien. And dinner is the same.

So with so much in the system I would have thought the walk to work thing may have help the government in shedding some of the overweight in the Uganda people but then what do I know about politics.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2010. That’s about 29 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 10 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 71 posts. There were 2 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 123kb.

The busiest day of the year was June 24th with 150 views. The most popular post that day was THE VERDICT : N96.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for nokia n96, n96, lg, nokia n97, and n97.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


THE VERDICT : N96 March 2009




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N96 BORING AND SEXY February 2009
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For die hard Nokia fans, in a couple of days hopefully they will be able to enjoy what is now touted to be the Finnish Tech company’s Flag ship mobile device. If my friend Dorothy Ooko and her team at Nokia are right, it is a must have gadget. So I shall be making many many many calls to my people at this office in Ngong Road…..ha well to why the flagship.

Nokia N8 is by most of us geeks the now officially the Nokia flagship mobile device. The N series gadget data range and general aspect is impressive and boasts of GPRS/EDGE class 33, 3G, HSDPA, 10Mbps,WiFi 802 and a lot of stuff.

The memory also offers the user unlimited entries and fields in the phone book. The internal memory is 16GB, 255MB RAM, 512 MB ROM. You can also buy additional 16 GB memory.

The display has a multi-touch input method with proximity sensor for auto turn-off Accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotate and scratch resistant Gorilla glass.

The camera well for you who are constantly snapping this way or that way is 12 MP, 4000×3000 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, autofocus, Xenon flash.

With such features (check out full specs on, I see why it is indeed the brand new pennant from Nokia. But to know how it tastes I will have to connect with it. Hope someone heard that cry for the N8. Ken, Dorothy….anyone?

Anyway it’s about to dock, grab one if you can. It’s a must have. Price range on or near  50k

NOKIA Kenya: the best yet to come

Nokia’s joint anti-counterfeit efforts with state agencies start to bear fruit

Efforts by global mobile phone solutions company Nokia to fight counterfeits through collaboration with state agencies have started bearing fruit, offering hope for increased tax revenues and job opportunities lost through importation of fake goods through the country’s points of entry.

A Somali businessman Mr. Ibrahim Khalif of Salihiya Cargo and Shipping Agency Ltd was fined Kshs 1.5 million by an Eldoret court after thousands of suspected counterfeit Nokia accessories which included Nokia handsets, batteries, chargers, imported through the company’s name, were seized in a warehouse at the Moi International Airport, Eldoret.

Mr. Kenneth Oyolla, General Manager Nokia, East and Southern Africa said: “Following our complaint with the Kenya Bureau of Standards’ Weights and Measures Department, a raid was conducted at the airport warehouse where the suspected products were stored before distribution, 17,783 counterfeit Nokia handsets and accessories were seized.”

After a number of court hearings, the court ruled in favour of the Weights and Measures department, ordering the destruction of the goods and a fine of Kshs 1.5 million. The fine was paid by the importer and the goods have now been destroyed according to Mr. Kephers Ndika, an officer from the Ministry of Trade.

Hailing the raid as an encouraging step by government authorities, Mr. Oyolla said Nokia will continue with its collaborative efforts through training of Kenya Revenue Authority and the Kenya Bureau of Standards officials to distinguish the fake from genuine Nokia products. The company is also organizing training for immigration officers at border entry points to arrest the entry of fake handsets.

Mr. Oyolla said although the government removed 16 per cent Value Added tax (VAT) on mobile phones in the last year’s pre-budget, significant gains could be eroded by the influx of counterfeits.

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

He said the recently-enacted Anti-counterfeit Law was a shot in the arm for the economy and a major win for legal businesses such as Nokia that have invested heavily to offer customers genuine products. The Anti-counterfeit law spells out harsh penalties including a fine Kshs 500,000 or five years imprisonment for those guilty.

According to Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM),  the Kenyan economy loses about Ksh 50 billion annually to counterfeiters  and the extent of the problem exacerbated last year, when the figure went up to Kshs 70.2 billion. Directly, KAM estimates that the government is losing Kshs 19 billion annually.

“Counterfeiting is an illegal activity that affects many successful consumer product companies on a global basis in a wide range of industries and the national economies in which they do business. This illegal practice has a debilitating, draining effect on the Kenyan economy through lost revenues, fewer jobs in legitimate local businesses and law enforcement costs among other things,” said Mr. Oyolla.

The malpractice is also threatening regional  economic benefits of the East African community with KAM’s Standards and Regulatory Committee estimating that counterfeit and substandard products cost the East African region over Kshs 40 billion (US$ 500 million)  in lost government tax revenue annually.

He said Nokia will continue to undertake consumer awareness especially on how to identify genuine Nokia products right from the packaging, features, pricing and warranty period as well as risks of using counterfeited products.

“As a global company Nokia partners with and takes a leadership position in a wide network of organizations to advocate for legislation, regulations, procedures and other enforcement policies to protect the broader industry, including Coalition of Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR), International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC), Quality Brands Protection Committee (QBPC) among others,” said Mr Oyolla.

NOKIA Kenya: the best is yet to come

A few years ago election monitoring and reporting was a tricky, tiring and often thankless affair. Dealing with Kenya‘s elections processes in the last decade, in particular, has largely involved sending hordes of polling clerks, election observers and monitors, with paper files stashed in their underarms, to far-flung areas to help record the goings-on election and referenda. Apart from being slow, unreliable and erratic, such processes have proved risky for election officials especially if violence broke out.

But things are changing. Mobile phone technology is rapidly transforming the way these national and other crucial life-changing activities are carried out, bringing with it faster, reliable and credible relay of information from outlying areas.

Apart from elections reporting, the ubiquitous device, owned by nearly 20 million Kenyans, has also helped stem incidents of violence that have in the past rocked various parts of Kenya notably in 2007 elections. A lot depends on how transparent such processes as elections are but the mobile phone is taking a lion’s share of the contribution toward this positive change.

In a ground-breaking project in conjunction with the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), Safaricom, Kenya’s largest network operator, the world’s leading mobile handsets-maker Nokia supplied over 18,000 Nokia 1680 phones to be used by the electoral body’s returning officers and clerks in various part of the country.

IIEC had picked Safaricom after, inviting Kenyan telecom operators for a partnership with it with the objective of running an efficient and credible referendum process.

“Key to this was information management with planned innovation of using mobile and fixed data infrastructure to transmit results quickly and cost effectively. Safaricom responded with a fully fixed and data proposition to meet this need. The mobile data solution included 3G modems and 18,000 Nokia 1680 handsets,” says Mr. Kenneth Oyolla General Manager, Nokia East and Southern Africa. The Nokia 1680 is one of the most affordable, internet-enabled mobile phones and boasts of a long battery life.

Safaricom then installed specific elements on the GPRS-enabled handsets including a customized application with a special interface for submitting results. It was a basic interface that has a ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ options for feedback. The phones were then installed with an Internet Protocol (IP) address- a numerical label that is assigned to devices and which helps to uniquely identify each device.

The phones were also installed with an access point name (APN) which enabled the phone used by every presiding officer to be authenticated as genuine when they relayed results electronically to the computers at the tallying centre. . As a result the IIEC was able to get timely feedback in its centre, hubbed at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi. By the time the clock ticked midnight of August 4 most of the results had had trickled from remote areas in Mandera and Malaba, near the border with Uganda.

“The sheer ubiquity of mobile phones is bringing with it one of the biggest leaps in history, in many spheres of our lives. Whether it’s the good, old text message or the new, snazzy features such as mobile chat- which are gaining huge popularity in Kenya and in Sub-Saharan Africa-the mobile phone is bound expand the possibilities. The revolution has just started,” says Mr Oyolla.

So what does the mobile phone revolution portend for people’s livelihoods? With progressively lower calling rates people are already interacting more on phone. In its latest quarterly report, covering January to March 2010, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) says the total number of mobile traffic grew by 19.9 per cent from 4.2 million minutes in the previous quarter to 5.1 million minutes. This represents a 118.6 percent increase, compared to the same period of the previous year.

At the end of the 2009, the penetration rate of mobile service had risen to 49.7 per 100 inhabitants. This compares favorably the world average of 49.8 per 100 inhabitants, as rated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), World Development Index 2009 from 2007 data. The recent tariff reductions by Kenyan mobile operators are destined to perk up these figures. Analysts say this is, potentially, good for the economy, with possibilities of people engaging in productive interactions such as seeking jobs, market-related requests and the like.

Soon, says Mr. Oyolla, mobile technology could play a significant role in detecting, mapping and responding to epidemics as happened in a recent polio outbreak in Kenya recently. With handset-makers like Nokia championing manufacture and use of low-priced, internet-enabled devices, players in the industry are expecting even more interactions on the mobile phone.

The mobile phone is already bringing unprecedented impact in other areas such as finance, education, health and environment. The talk of M-Pesa, revolutionary money transfer service pioneered by Safaricom, and a world’s first, has brought about ground breaking and positive effects to the Kenyan economy.

And in neighbouring Tanzania, Nokia is already providing technology leadership through Bridgeit locally known as Elimu kwa Teknolojia (Education through technology) in Tanzania using convergence as a platform for learning for children in developing economies, many of whom lack access to basic learning materials.

Mr Oyolla says the project, a multi-sectoral partnership with International Youth Foundation, the Tanzanian Ministry of Education and others, has brought about a “unique convergence of mobile telephony and satellite technology designed to deliver digital multimedia learning materials to teachers and students who otherwise would not have access to them. Plans are now well underway to kick this program off in Kenya before the end of the year.”

The mobile phone may have been alien to many Kenyans just a decade ago, but the socio-economic significance of this device might not meet its technological match in the next century.