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LIFE IN KENYA: BANKING THAT WORKS; THE PRICE OF ELECTRICITY AND BLOOD; PIRATE DVDS – THE KENYAN SOLUTION; DRIVING FROM MERU; AND “SERIOUS DEATHS”

LET’S HEAR IT FOR BANKING IN KENYA!

MPesa: Kenya leads the way...

Some things really work in Kenya, in fact in some matters we lead the world.

The MPESA system (for non-Kenyans – M stands for ‘mobile and ‘pesa’ is Swahili for ‘money’), the transfer of money via mobile phones, was launched in Kenya in 2007, originally to help move cash to micro-finance projects. Since then its use has become ubiquitous throughout the country and the idea has spread to Tanzania, Afghanistan, India, Egypt and beyond, but Kenya led the way.

Walking from a cash till the other day, having just drawn out Sh10,000 to pay an electricity bill, this Kenya Forum correspondent’s mobile phone beeped and vibrated. A message from the bank, not one minute after the money had appeared from the hole in the wall, read: ‘Dear customer, you account has been debited with KES 10,000 for ATM cash withdrawal. If unaware of this transaction, please call our Care Centre on…’ Brilliant, efficient, helpful and perhaps surprising but well-done the Kenyan bank that introduced such a service.

LIFE IN KENYA: THE COST OF ELECRICITY…

Some things work in what we might call the more traditional Kenyan way.

...No change here...

Having just received the message from the bank I walked the few yards to the nearby post office to pay an electricity bill of 9,857 Shillings and handed over the 10,000 in cash. “Do you mind if we make it 10,000?” asked the post office clerk, “We’ve got no change”.

This response was from a business that sells stamps, lots of them every day, each for a few tens of shillings, so they must have change. Having informed the clerk of this fact suddenly it was found that change was available. In short, the post office clerk was trying to scam 43 shillings. It’s not much but multiply it by just ten customers every day and it’s a useful addition to one’s daily pay. Every little helps.

LIFE IN KENYA: THE PRICE OF BLOOD OR TAKING THE URINE?

A friend had been feeling unwell. He went to a hospital in central Nairobi for some tests to try and work out what the problem was. It took a few days for the test results to be ready so he returned with Ksh 2,000 to pay for them. He left empty handed, the guy at the hospital wanted Sh4,000; that’s Sh2,000 for the test results and another Sh2,000, just something small, to hand them over.

PIRATE DVDS IN KENYA: A VERY KENYAN SOLUTION

Another friend bought a DVD player from a large Nakumatt store and unusually he also purchased some real, legal, non-pirated DVD’s of some of his favourite films. The DVD player wouldn’t play them, only the pirate copies he bought out the back of the store. In its own way it’s brilliant! In Kenya you can buy a DVD player that only plays pirated DVDs!

LIFE IN KENYA: THE ROAD FROM MERU

Now it was the same friend, who perhaps unwisely and certainly rashly, bought a car via website from an American in Meru area. The car was driven to Nairobi by a member of the American guy’s staff and was due to arrive at about 1pm.

Come 3pm it hadn’t arrived. “My driver says he’s just passed Nanyuki, the American told the purchaser, “He’ll be there about 5pm”.

Come 5pm and still no car. “My driver says his near Thika”, reported the American over the phone. “He’ll be another two hours or so”.

Come 8pm, and still no car arrived. “We’ve lost him”, said the American, “I think he’s gone straight to his digs”.

To cut along story short, the car did finally arrive, much later. The American hadn’t been lying he’d just been relying on what his driver told him as to the progress of his journey but when the latter said he was in Nanyuki, in reality he still hadn’t left Meru. The result of that little untruth was that he had to keep making up a story as to where he was for the rest of the day.

LIFE IN KENYA: SOME DEATHS ARE MORE SERIOUS THAN OTHERS…

How serious does a road accident death have to be?

And finally to our friends in the Kenyan media. The Forum was told this story the other day but unfortunately we do not have the press cutting to prove it (we have thousands of press cuttings but not this one), we just hope it’s true and thought our readers would like it.

From a news report about six months ago in one of Kenya’s major daily newspapers: ‘Last month there were 274 deaths on the roads in Kenya, 70 of which were very serious’. So that’s not so bad for the other 204 not very serious deaths then!

President Kenyatta declared winner.

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