Thursday, October 31, 2013

Richard Branson's Mahali Mzuri camp opens in Masai Mara ecosystem

Richard Branson celebrates the opening of Mahali Mzuri, the latest addition to the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio, by participating in a traditional Maasai ceremony.

The ceremony, which comes 6 years after Richard originally became a recognised tribal Maasai Elder in 2007, took place on the plains near Mahali Mzuri and began with opening prayers. Along with eight elders, Richard blessed Mahali Mzuri with prayers, honey and a little beer! A ceremonial fire using traditional fire sticks and olive branches was placed onto the fire to produce the smoke, which drifted through the camp as a sign of blessing. This was followed by the local Maasai community singing and dancing around the fire before leading the crowd in a march back up to the plains where they enjoyed a blessing feast.

Sir Richard Branson commented: “It was an honour and so much fun to participate in the ceremony. It’s a fantastic way to celebrate the official opening of Mahali Mzuri and I’m thrilled that so many of the local community have made it here today to observe and take part in what was a beautifully traditional and fitting way of launching our new safari camp.”

“I’ve recently been pleased to add my voice to supporters of the tourism industry in Kenya and we see this opening as a symbol of our confidence in its long term future.”

Joining Richard for this special opening ceremony were Kenyan President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretaries of Tourism and Transport & Infrastructure, Hon. Phyllis Kandie and Hon. Michael Kamau.

Hon. Phyllis Kandie said: “We are extremely delighted to welcome Mahali Mzuri into the staple of great tourism establishments in Kenya. This new camp is a testimony of how international investors like Sir Richard Branson continue to have faith in Kenya.”

Mahali Mzuri is situated within the Olare Motorogi Conservancy in the Maasai Mara ecosystem of Kenya, about 240km due west of Nairobi. Mahali Mzuri consists of 12 sleeper tents and can cater for a maximum of 24 guests at any one time. Rates start from USD $590 per person per night (based on double occupancy) and are fully inclusive of all meals, drinks & daily game drives as well as unlimited access to the Olare Motorogi Conservancy.*

Mahali Mzuri is a joint partnership between Sir Richard Branson and the Gehlot family, who run the Intex Group of companies in Kenya. Members of the Gehlot family joined Sir Richard Branson for the opening ceremony.

Dangote among top 10 most valuable brands in Africa

As a measure of its business growth and influence across the continent, Dangote Group ( emerged among Africa’s top 10 most valuable brands in 2013 according to a survey conducted by African Business Magazine.
The survey recognized Dangote as the most valuable brand in the consumer goods sector with an African brand value of 216 and overall 8th most valuable brand when placed against brands from other sectors.

The survey tagged ‘The Brand Africa 100 table’ (  was established in 2011 and seeks to identify, acknowledge and promote African and global brands that are catalysts for Africa’s growth, reputation and value. The survey further recognizes African brands which were beginning to challenge or lead global brands in Africa and across various industries including telecommunications.

Explaining its method at arriving at the brands’ ranking said “the study involved a comprehensive research among consumers 18 years and older, living in representative countries in metropolitan sub-Saharan Africa regions to draw up a list of the most admired African and global brands in Africa.   Each respondent was asked to mention the five local and global brands they admired.

Commenting on the recognition of Dangote brand, the magazine stated that: “… what is perhaps a little more surprising is that Dangote, the largest manufacturing conglomerate in West Africa, and Globacom, the Nigeria-based telecommunication provider, are also in the lists. Both brands have managed to win the hearts of the communities in which they operate.” 

Dangote’s emergence did not come as a surprise to industry watchers. The brand has steadily increased its influence in many African nations through establishment of cement factories. It operates in about 13 African nations making one of the most visible, recognized and admired brands.

Jamii Bora Bank to finance 30% tenders for youth, women and people with disability

Following the announcement by the government to allocate 30% of all tenders to youth, women and persons with disabilities, Jamii Bora Bank together with the Ministry of Devolution and Planning will take up various collaborative initiatives to support this move.

During a meeting in the Ministry’s offices held yesterday, the Cabinet Secretary Ms. Anne Waiguru and the Chief Commercial Officer, Jamii Bora Bank Mr. Timothy Kabiru agreed on financing of women, youth and persons with disabilities for infrastructure and agri-business projects on a county and national level in line with the 30% affirmative action.

Further to this, the bank will also finance all organizations participating in the tenders under this program through issues of bid bonds, performance bonds, LPO financing and invoice discounting with favorable credit requirements. It was also agreed in the meeting that Jamii Bora Bank will re-finance all Uwezo Fund beneficiaries who demonstrate outstanding repayment records and strong management capabilities guaranteeing the beneficiaries a continuous source of funding after their businesses outgrow the Uwezo Fund.

The government is currently in the process of registering and pre-qualifying enterprises owned by youth, women and persons with disabilities under the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) programme. Special interest groups will stand a chance to benefit from over Sh300 billion of the Sh1 trillion allocated to public procurement in this year’s budget.

Even though the government has waived several requirements to encourage special interest groups to participate in procurement, including scrapping capital minimums and tender fees, the major challenge that youth, women and persons
with disabilities will face is the high capital required in the procurement of the tenders. Jamii Bora Bank, alongside other institutions such as Uwezo Fund and women enterprise funds, will offer various financial instruments such as LPO financing and invoice discounting to these enterprises.Additionally, the bank has partnered with ATIX, a business advisory company for

SMEs, to provide training on how to bid for government contracts as well as assist in company/business name registration, registration with treasuries at both county and national level, completion of tender documents as well as follow ups on the procurement process of tenders.

Some of the contracts up for award are the supply and delivery of flowers, provision of cleaning services, photocopy and videography, and supply and delivery of mobile airtime.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Grohe, AAK host 3rd annual Architects Association of Kenya seminar

Grohe, the world’s leading premium brand for sanitary fittings, in partnership with the Architectural Association of Kenya, today hosted the third Annual Architects Seminar in Nairobi.
The forum held at the Intercontinental Hotel brought together top professionals from multiple sectors, ranging from project developers, construction companies, architects and contractors under the theme “Concrete Beauty.”
Gary Johnstone, Regional Manager – Project Channel of Grohe in Kenya said: “By being the gold sponsor of the seminar, we are re-affirming our commitment to play an active part in the continuous growth of the Kenyan construction sector.”
He further stated, “This once again proves Grohe track record and commitment in being a national and global leading premium brand by supporting this industry and presenting the highest quality end-result for the projects undergoing construction.”

The seminar which is part of AAK’s Continuous Professional Development activities will bring together top professionals to discuss solutions for facades and aesthetics that concrete and cement provides throughout Kenya.
The building and construction sector in Kenya currently contributes to 7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs more than one million Kenyans.

According to a report by the World Bank, the Kenyan economy is expected to grow by 5.7 per cent by the end of 2013 due to improved productivity in the construction industry and lower interest rates.
The industry in Kenya is expected to expand further as investors rush to meet increasing demand for decent housing. Construction in the area of upgrading informal settlements as well as that of middle and lower income housing means that there are immense investment opportunities in the manufacture and supply of construction materials and components.

The transport sector also offers huge investment opportunities especially in the renovation and rehabilitation of transport infrastructure.

Grohe recently sponsored the World Architecture Festival in Singapore as one of the founding members of the prestigious gathering of renowned architects from around the globe. The company is synonymous for aesthetics in sanitary products launching its unique space for exploring variety and depth by opening Live! Centres in major cities all over the world.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) hosts 150 travel trade representatives

Kenya has stepped up its marketing efforts to foreign tourists by hosting 150 of the most influential travel trade representatives from key tourism markets for more than a week.

The ‘hosted buyers’ who arrived in the country over the weekend is currently sampling different attractions around the country, and will attend the Africa Chapter of the World Travel Awards (WTA) tomorrow before participating in the Magical Kenya Tourism Expo at the KICC starting Friday.

“By exposing the delegation of hosted buyers and treating them to our warm hospitality, tasty cuisine and having them attend some of the key tourism events that we are privileged to host, we aim at fighting the negative publicity about the country”, said Kenya Tourism Board’s Managing Director, Muriithi Ndegwa.

He added, “As you know we are targeting to boost tourism numbers from the current average of million, to three million over the next five years. This visit will also address misconceptions about security in Kenya, showcase the upcoming facilities and highlight activities that tourists can enjoy in different counties”.

The team is comprised of travel trade representatives from Scandinavia, UK, US, Italy, the Benelux, Turkey, France, Spain, Germany, Australia, Austria, Russia, Czech , Poland, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Korea, India, Australia, Chain, South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia and Uganda.

They are visiting various national parks, conservancies, beach and golf properties among other unrivalled offerings in the country.

Muriithi noted that the delegation now joins the prestigious list of Kenya’s destination ambassadors who will be sharing the message with others about Kenya as an ideal destination that caters to all travellers.

WTA will serve as a precursor to the Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE 2013) hosted by KTB between the 18th–20th October, 2013.The Expo will be officially opened by Kenya’s President, His Excellency Hon.  Uhuru Kenyatta.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Davis and Shirtliff Unveil Pump Monitoring Technology

Kenyan based multinational Davis and Shirtliff, in partnership with solar pump manufacturer Lorentz, has launched the Lorentz pump scanner application for customers and technicians to remotely monitor borehole performance and stem water
wastage from boreholes. The launch comes as more Kenyans turn to boreholes as a source of water, with studies indicating that at the current rate of drilling, by 2015 there will be approximately 4,900 boreholes across the Nairobi groundwater system, pumping 184,000 cubic metres daily up from 4,130.

This is in addition to ongoing drilling initiatives in other parts of the country, including the recent find at the Lotikipi aquifer, which is estimated to hold 200 billion cubic metres of fresh water, expected to increase the country’s volume of accessible water by 8.5 per cent and double the amount of water available for consumption today, according to government reports.

“Customers are now able to track the pump performance and get a technician on site whenever they note an abnormal trend in their boreholes output, unlike before, when the biggest problem with boreholes has been that when they malfunction, a technician has to check all parts,” said Alec Davis, CEO Davis and Shirtliff Group.

“We developed the technology for preventive maintenance for clients and also to give customers more control of their pumps,” said Kai Reinecke Channel Manager at Lorentz.

The PS controller is available as an application for Android phones as well as accessible via tablets and laptops and is able to store data for up to 2 years, giving proper records of the pumping activities, including how much water is being produced, at what rate, the amount of power being used, and the length of each pumping session.

Once a pump is switched on, the PS controller sends data on voltage and pump rotation via GPS to the Lorentz database, where it is stored. It is then sent to the clients’ laptop or phone.

“Before, we only sent a technician to site when the client reported abnormal output, or the pump had broken down,” said Norman Chege, Solar Manager Davis and Shirtliff Group.

In Mombasa District, about 35 per cent of water demand is supplied by ground water sources, including Marere boreholes, which mainly supply the Likoni area. In fact, 13,286 out of the 183,540 households in the district are almost permanently dependant on groundwater.

“In such situations, where lives of thousands depend on the water from boreholes, any malfunction puts these families at risk. This system gives one time to organize for a technician to get on site before the system breaks down completely,” said Norman Chege.

The company also recently partnered with World Vision on a Sh3 million solar powered borehole pumping installation providing water to 2000 people and 20,000 livestock with 80m3 of water per day in Wajir, Northern Kenya.

The PS controller also enables one to remotely switch off a borehole thus enabling control of the amount of time a borehole is functioning.The device comes at an initial cost of Sh60,000 with a monthly service charge of Sh2,600 shillings.

The average charge for drilling and casing a Nairobi borehole is Sh1.365 million. Add to this about Sh500,000 for average pump, control panel, and piping costs and the total is Sh1.865 million, according to data from the World Bank.

“A borehole is a significant investment, thus the need for close monitoring to ensure that it runs efficiently,” said Mr Chege.

“Davis and Shirtliff is the first in the region to bring this product to full commercial use, and we are already seeing the impact it’s having on communities, especially in semi arid areas,” said Mr. Davis.

Davis and Shirtliff is a Kenyan multinational, operating through a network of Kenyan branches and regional subsidiaries in Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and DRC. Founded in Kenya in 1946, it is the leading supplier of water related and alternative energy equipment in East Africa.

Monday, October 7, 2013

World Travel Awards Africa Gala Awards still set for Nairobi, 16th October

World Travel Awards have confirmed the Africa Gala Ceremony will be taking place as scheduled in Nairobi Kenya on 16thOctober, 2013. Kenya Tourism Board extended the invitation to World Travel Awards to hold the event in Nairobi in March of this year as part of the world’s premier travel awards programme’s 20th Anniversary global tour to reward and acknowledge leading companies in the global travel, tourism and hospitality worldwide.

Graham Cooke, Founder and President of World Travel Awards declared; “The recent events in Nairobi were of course tragic, but postponing or cancelling our Gala Ceremony would not have helped the Government or the people of Kenya, for whom tourism forms a vital part of the country’s economy. We have not had one company who have been invited to attend the event cancel and we feel quite proud that the travel industry is showing solidarity to the Kenya Tourism Board.”

The Kenya Government has assured delegates of increased security measures from the airport through transfers and in the hotel venue where the gala will be held.  This being an international destination profiling event for Kenya, top government level representation and industry commitment to providing the best experiences for visitors to Kenya is assured.

Speaking at the WTA Gala dinner Awards Ceremony for Asia and Australia held in Dubai on 1st October, the Kenya Tourism Board representative on behalf of Muriithi Ndegwa, Managing Director welcomed the WTA team and reassured of the best WTA gala event in the tour. “ We are all excited to be hosting WTA Africa Gala event and we trust that our guests will take back home memories of the best event ever, where the true African spirit, warmth and hospitality of the Kenyan people will be sampled”, read Muriithi’s speech.

While confirming Kenya’s prowess in hosting events and conferences, Muriithi has further confirmed that Kenya has just recently hosted two successful international events: The Eco-Tourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference (ESTC 2013) and the Africa Hotels Investment Forum (AHIF 2013). The global endorsement of Kenya as a destination was further enhanced by Kenya’s recent win to host SKAL World Congress for 2015 in Mombasa.

‘We are glad that the government has reassured all visitors into the country that they are safe and will continue to enjoy unique experiences in magical Kenya’, added Muriithi Ndegwa. The unique experiences in Kenya this year include the unique occurrence that is set to excite tourists and astro-tourism enthusiasts from all over the world. The Hybrid solar eclipse which occurs on the 3rd November, 2013 with Sibiloi National Park in Turkana, Northern Kenya, offering one of the best views. The Kenya Tourism Board will also be hosting its 3rd edition of the Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE), from 18th to 20th October at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, which will see over 120 hosted buyers from 30 different countries converge for tourism networking and business transactions as well as sample tourist attractions in various parts of the country.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WTM invites buyers to its Cape Town hosted B2B buyer program

World Travel Market Africa, set to be the leading global event for the African travel industry, is inviting 300 senior buyers from across the globe to apply to be part of its Hosted Buyer Programme. The WTM Africa Hosted Buyer Programme is targeting those global buyers with direct purchasing responsibility for large volumes of African product.

WTM Africa will take place in Cape Town on Friday 2 and Saturday 3 May 2014 at Cape Town’s International Convention Centre. The event will be the leading B2B exhibition for the African leisure travel industry, bringing the world to Africa and promoting Africa to the world’s leading source markets.

WTM Africa will attract exhibitors from all categories of the leisure travel industry within sub-Saharan Africa as well as North African destinations. The event is part of the new Africa Travel Week which includes fellow Reed Travel Exhibitions’ events, IBTM Africa and ILTM Africa.

Cost and time efficient, the Hosted Buyer programme will allow buyers to pre-schedule appointments with exhibitors of their choice and benefit from complimentary flights, transfers and accommodation in Cape Town. Other benefits include access to a Hosted Buyer lounge and invitations to exclusive networking functions.

Furthermore, WTM Africa has recently recruited Paulina Lund, the Hosted Buyer manager from Reed Travel Exhibition’s meetings portfolio to run its Hosted Buyer Programme.

WTM Africa Event Manager Polly Magraw said: “Buyers from global tour operators and travel agents are a key target market for WTM Africa and our exhibitors. “I would encourage buyers to get in touch with us as soon as possible if they are interested in attending WTM Africa.”

2013 Kenya Airways Maasai Marathon to be held October 5th

Image - Maasai Mara Serian Camp 
Preparations have been finalized for the Kenya Airways Maasai Marathon 2013 that is slated for this Saturday, October 5, 2013.
Sponsored by the national carrier to the tune of KSh 58 million, this year’s edition of the marathon that is the biggest in East Africa, has attracted over 1,000 participants, both local and international. Already, registration for the marathon has been closed.
Kenya Airways’ Chief Executive Officer and Group Managing Director Titus Naikuni said that the airline is looking forward to welcoming the participants to the marathon, which has distinguished itself as a key fixture in the sports calendar since its inception in 2009.
“The Kenya Airways Maasai Mara Marathon has always been an important event to us because of the role it plays in not only nurturing and promoting talent, but also providing an avenue for spurring development in the societies that we operate in,” Dr Naikuni added.
The Kenya Airways Maasai Mara Marathon 2013, a joint initiative of the airline with the Lemek Conservancy Council, will also commemorate Kenya’s 50th anniversary this year.
The top five winners in this year’s marathon, which includes a 21 kilometer half marathon race for individual runners and a five kilometer fun run for individual runners or corporate teams, will be sponsored by Kenya Airways to participate in the London Marathon 2014.
The funds raised in the event will go towards addressing shortfalls in education facilities, access to medical infrastructure, improvement of sanitation utilities, anti-poaching projects and provision of clean drinking water to its residents.
Proceeds from last year’s marathon went towards a dining hall and dormitory construction project in Namunyak Girls Secondary school in Lemek, which is aimed at enhancing the educational experience for Lemek Girls who drop out of school due to long distance travel and the pastoralist way of life.
The Kenya Airways Maasai Mara Marathon has in the past been used by runners to hone their skills, with many of them proceeding to successful International athletic careers.

Kenya Airways moves domestic flights back to Unit 3

JKIA before a large fire that razed the arrivals section (centre) 
National carrier, Kenya Airways, is set to move   all its domestic flights to Unit 3 of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi with effect from Friday, October 4, 2013.
From Friday, October 4, 2013, the airline’s domestic departures and arrivals will operate from Unit 3 having been moved to the Cargo Terminal in August after a dawn fire   destroyed a section of the airport.  Unit 3 was until recently being used for departures by Kenya Airways for its regional flights as well as Precision Air.  At the same time all Kenya Airways international flights as well as operations of its partner/customer airlines are now consolidated at Unit 2 following refurbishment of additional departure lounges at the terminal. 
Speaking on the latest developments at JKIA, Kenya Airways’ Chief Operating Officer, Mbuvi Ngunze, said that the move will ensure greater convenience and comfort for passengers.
“We wish to thank the Kenya Airports Authority and the Government of Kenya for their efforts to restore airport facilities following the fire incident. We also appreciate our customers’ patience and understanding during this period, and reiterate our commitment to consistently improve our service offering   to them,” Mr Ngunze added.
Within the country, Kenya Airways flies to Mombasa, Eldoret, Kisumu and Malindi. These domestic operations generated six per cent of the airline’s total turnover, according to Kenya Airways’ annual report for the year ended March 31, 2013.
All international arrivals are at the JKIA Parking Garage, which has been converted into a temporary arrival terminal.