When the rains failed to come last year in central Isiolo County, Kenya, Mohamed Dahir figured he might lose 40% of his herd of 400 sheep and goats. Like several million other pastoralists in northern Kenya and across the border in Somalia and Ethiopia, Dahir and his herd live migrating between pastures.
Dahir did indeed lose some animals, but he received a payout from an emerging kind of livestock insurance: based on predictions of vegetation growth in the area and how many animals that might harm, his index-based livestock insurance policy gave him 50,000 Kenyan shillings (about £370) in cash before the drought and its consequences really settled in. He was able to buy enough hay from distant counties to save 95% of his herd. Continue reading
Nichole Sobecki/Feature Photo/IBM
Debates about how best to avoid Nairobi traffic can take nearly as long as a drive across town. The city has three dozen traffic cameras downtown, but that’s not enough information for a city of over three million people. Traffic costs the city US $600 000 a day, by one estimate. IBM’s Nairobi lab, in beta since a year ago, tackled traffic early on and today launched a mobile application to help drivers avoid traffic. Continue reading
WANT to get some cash at automated teller machines in Nairobi? Don’t be surprised by the guards with machine guns. ATMs attract plenty of muggers and pickpockets.
Unsurprisingly, cashless transactions have been catching on fast in Nairobi and elsewhere in Africa. Microfinance organisations were among the pioneers. In Kenya, for instance, they started using M-PESA, the popular mobile money service, to hand out loans to small-time businesspeople in 2008, soon after its launch.
Musoni, a Kenyan microfinance firm with more than 10,000 customers and over $6.3m in loans since its launch in May 2010, is now taking the idea even further: in an effort to bypass banks and make microfinance more efficient, it has gone completely cashless—a worldwide first, claims Cameron Goldie-Scot, the firm’s chief operating officer.
A new website linking corruption and other scandals to high-ranking Kenyan politicians, created by a team of political provocateurs, has become one of the most-visited web pages in the country.
MaVulture.com, which means “many vultures” in Swahili, aims to collect, condense, and air the past wrongdoings of Kenya’s political class. Going live on Nov. 13, the site is the latest project from activist Boniface Mwangi, known for his political graffiti murals around Nairobi and his photographic exhibitions that documented the violent aftermath of the 2007 presidential elections.
Read the rest of this story by Mike Elkin with additional reporting by me, in Inter Press Service news agency: [html] [pdf]