Category Archives: Masai Mara

New Bank, New Stockbroker (II)

Women’s Bank: They may not have been able to get special seats in Parliament, but women can count on having their own bank when the Kenya Women’s finance trust converts to a commercial bank, probably in 2008. Having a women’s only bank is a long-running proposal to address some of the challenges women face as borrowers and bank customers.

KCB has diversified into asset finance, a field dominated by Barclays, Diamond Trust, CFC and market leader NIC (which was a Barclays spin-off initially)

A survey ranks Citibank as the top Kenyan bank and finds that 3 banks dominate the country.

Renaissance Capital was all set to be the next stockbroker at the Nairobi Stock Exchange, until Old Mutual snuck in and doubled their bid with an astonishing ½ billion shilling ($6.5 million) offer. That leaves Renaissance to have to buy into one of the smaller stockbrokers, some of who have been patiently waiting for a big payday.

In an unprecedented move, Kenya Airways postponed it’s 2007 AGM. A mail mix up is to blame, and to think how for many years shareholders heaped blame on Barclays registrars, but at least they got the mail part right. KQ this year was handled by the ambiguously named Custody and Registrar Services. 

Kenya RE fractions: Retail investors are not likely to get more than 200 shares apiece.

Communications
Safaricom ball: Having pulled out the rug from the Kalonzo Musyoka side with a party takeover this week, Raila Odinga’s next move was to step in front to halt the Safaricom IPO, which most investors can’t wait to receive (and which could be a vote winner).
– The Government has reduced the local ownership requirement in the telecommunications sector to 20% from 30% before. The 30% rule has derailed three ventures in the last three years and so far it appears the Sameer Group is the only local company to have invested more than 30% in any venture.
– Blogger Gathara points out another equally troubling aspect about the media bill.

Trade & Aid
Going to China: The Kenyan Ministry of Trade has opened a commercial office and posted a commercial attaché in Beijing, China.

CARE Cares: CARE has handed a lifeline to African farmers by turning down US Food aid.

Energy: The Olkaria geothermal plant to expand as a Mitsubishi consortium has been awarded a contract to add a 35MW plant for Kengen there

Tourism
– The Narok county council has stopped the development of Wasafiri tented camp on the outskirts of the Masai Mara but other camps are still being put up (read here)
– Fly540 to start flights to newly reopened Wajir airport, Jetlink will start international flights (probably in the region), but the Kenya wildlife services have been refused a license to offer passenger flight services.

Upcoming
– Bioken, a new distiller factory in Athi River.
– New hotel in Gigiri.
– Three hills housing estate (6,000 houses) in Mwakinye, Mombasa.
– New casino at Nyali Cinema, Mombasa.

Opportunities

– Opportunities for artists from Nairobinow
– MD of the Kenya Film Corporation. Apply to info@filmingkenya.com by 21/8
– Transformation manager at the Kenya women’s finance trust. Details here and D/L is 30/8
– Join the Kwani sales team. Contact marketing@kwani.org
Pan Africa Trust Fund: Chief Executive Officer, Grant Administrator, and Finance Officer. D/L is 24/8
– Business executives at the Standard / KTN

Running the Mara

The outcry from President Kibaki’s decision to return the Amboseli Park to the Masai community prior to the 2005 referendum was probably influenced by the impression that community was incompetent and would run down Amboseli reserve in no time. But the Masai Mara, Samburu, Baringo and other reserves are all run by local communities and rather successfully – even from before Kenya got its independence (in 1963).

Narok County Council: Said to be the richest council in the country, thanks largely to its stewardship of the Masai Mara. I can’t vouch for its financial efficiency but they have maintained the park well. They collect gate fees (no KWS smart cards here), undertake road repair within the parks, approve construction/expansion of lodges/camps in the park and hires rangers to guard the animals and the surrounding forest. The revenue collected is meant to be shared among communities and the council also controls the issuance of title deeds to the community with a subtle view to discouraging transfers to ‘outsiders.’

Roads: You need a true 4WD to get around the Mara which can get muddy and flooded when it rains. There is some serious road repair work going on, and roads inside the park are generally better than those leading to the park. However, I get the feeling that it doesn’t bother the tourists as much as it does locals (vehicle owners, hotel suppliers, tour operators) since it’s all part of their TIA experience.

Numbers to know:
5 – The number of airstrips in the Mara
4 – Types of hyaena exist – and that’s how it is spelt, not hyena
0 – Number of lodges that will be constructed inside the Mara as the council feels it is too crowded. Hence new projects are coming up along the fence or just outside the Mara.

More on property development at other parks

Neveready for Mara

This is a brief story about why there are no pictures to post from a trip to the latest wonder of the world – the Masai Mara

We were scheduled to leave very early one morning. So the night before, I went to the ATM withdraw some cash to buy some batteries for a digital camera. However, the ATM was acting up (no cash on Sunday night) and so I went to Uchumi with whatever cash I had left in my pocket. I didn’t have enough for any of the alkaline batteries (about 230 shillings for 4 AA) and so I settled for some “super heavy duty” Eveready batteries.

Early in the trip, I started taking some pictures of road construction work around Narok area, but soon the low battery prompt began to blink at the corner. I ignored it, as the batteries were new, and continued on taking pictures.

At the gate of the Mara, that garden full of almost every significant animal found on the continent – the camera conked out. The last picture the camera I was able to take was of a group of Masai ladies dancing and trying to sell some beads to a minivan of tourists. So much for the super heavy duty batteries, which only lasted for about a dozen pictures.

Great Mara: Driving through the Mara (no game drives or searching for animals), we were able to see buffalo, zebra, giraffe, waterbuck, baboons, monitor lizard or crocodile (dived into the bush near a river as soon as we approached), wildebeest, gazelle, warthog, and ostrich. The only ‘kill’ I saw was a secretary bird stomp a green snake and swallow it in about 3 seconds.

Also encountered, separately walking along the road was a hyena and a jackal, whose odd location could probably be attributed to tourists who had (illegally) thrown scraps of food at them. In addition, outside the park (which is not fenced), there were considerable herds of gazelle, wildebeest and zebra grazing close to herds of cattle watch over by Masai lads. There are no photos of these animals as I was neveready for the Mara.

Tourist economy/inflation: Back to the dead batteries. One peeve of domestic tourists is the inflated price of everyday goods sold at (and around) hotels and resorts. The batteries I couldn’t buy at Uchumi for 230/= were being sold at a kiosk outside the park for 500 shillings and at 700/= at the hotel shop. Eventually, I had to relent and buy them for 550/= at another shop we stopped at. These 100% mark-ups on the price of everyday items like toothpaste, slippers and batteries are a nuisance and should be cut down as the hotels/vendors don’t add any value to them.