Loosening Visa Restrictions in Africa Will Promote Trade and Integration.

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One World. What does that mean? To many this is just another phrase, to other countries they have seen the reality of it and are ripping the benefits big time while dealing with its consequences.

Open borders are expected to yield a number of global benefits. The majority of the benefits accrue to the migrants themselves, while some accrue to immigrant-receiving countries and immigrant-sending countries. But there are also other benefits of a more diffuse nature that are experienced throughout the world.

  • Double world GDP:World GDP will experience a one-time boost of about 50-150%
  • End of poverty: The GDP gains will be felt most by the world’s poorest, and absolute poverty will reduce dramatically. This will benefit the whole world, even those not living in poor countries, as there will, for instance, be fewer dangers of communicable diseases originating in these countries.
  • One world: As kinship and friendship networks spread across the world, this helps strengthen the ties between countries, leading to more trade and mutual gain, with less war and hostility. Cutting-edge ideas developed in one part of the world spread rapidly to others.
  • Innovation case for open borders: When people are free to move across borders, human capital can be allocated to more efficient uses, leading to greater innovation, much of which benefits the whole world due to the fundamentally non-rival nature of knowledge and ideas.
  • Peace case for open borders: Building upon the one world theme, more open borders would lead to more peace as people with friends and kins in and from specific other countries would be less likely to support wars against those countries.

I have always wondered why I need a visa to Visit Mozambique for example, with my Kenyan passport. In recent years, African countries have loosened visa restrictions on their neighbors in order to facilitate the free movement of people and goods, thus, regional integration has become a priority.

The continent is seeing a shift towards more free movement of people: In 2016, Africans did not need visas to travel to 22 percent of other African countries, compared to 20 percent in 2015. The small increase may indicate that the way forward will yield more visa openness, with African countries being more open to host African citizens from other countries.

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This map shows East African countries are relatively more visa open than their African peers. Uganda grants visa on arrival to most African citizens and the remaining ones do not require a visa to enter the country caption

In early 2017, the African Development Bank, in collaboration with the African Union and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Africa published the Africa Visa Openness Index Report, which ranks African countries based on their visa requirements regarding their fellow African countries. The score looks at whether a country requires visas from African citizens, may it be on arrival or otherwise. The larger the score, the more visa open the country is.

Visa requirements for Kenyan citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of Kenya. As of February 2018, Kenyan citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 72 countries and territories, ranking the Kenyan passport 67th in terms of travel freedom (tied with Omani passport) according to the Henley Passport Index.

There are three different classifications concerning visa requirement. Visa required means a visa has to be obtained before departure. Visa on arrival means a visa has to be obtained upon arrival in the country. This includes filling out any visa application forms, paying the visa fee if applicable, and receiving a visa in a travel document. No visa required means that there is no visa needed either before departure or on arrival, with no entry authorization required to enter freely into the country. Entry procedures—such as filling out entry forms and receiving an entry stamp—are still mandatory.

Regional economic community (REC) scores are averages of country scores and reflect the individual openness of countries in the REC toward their fellow African countries. As a group, ECOWAS is more visa open than its fellow regional economic communities.

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After the January 2017 publication of the Visa Openness Index, a list of countries and regional economic communities loosened their visa requirements. For instance, in November 2017, Kenya and Namibia announced that they would be issuing visas on arrival to all African citizens and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) lifted visa requirements for citizens traveling within the regional block.

I recently learnt while planning for a business trip to Mozambique that I will have to pay for visa and visa processing fee. In 2017, Mozambique Government Announced 30-day Tourist Visas now Available at Borders for all Visitors. All visitors to Mozambique are now eligible for visas at borders equipped with the equipment necessary to issue biometric visas according to Mozambique government. 26 border posts have been issuing these visas since 2005. The big trouble here is that there has been considerable confusion regarding which country’s nationals were eligible with many Mozambican Embassies telling travellers that they must get them before travelling to Mozambique.

The information on the website is contrary to all the above, in fact the information on the website say that all Kenyan passport holders wishing to travel to Mozambique must get visas before departing Nairobi.

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As a Kenyan citizen wishing to take advantage of free movement within Africa, I feel that African governments need to do more to promote trade and integration within the region. May times I have heard statements like African problems need African solutions, but Africa has closed herself within herself, meaning, she cannot access solutions that are within her.

Young People Taking Advantage of Informal Employment in Kenya.

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Have you ever wondered to yourself how far can something benefit someone, how far does business travel. How amazing does business work, that something made in a different country ends up in the hands of someone in the other side of the continent. It’s just really strange, unbelievable, in fact on what really ends up being the centre of your life. Today, young people have employed themselves in many ways, what they would call “informal sector” of business.

The informal sector as described by google refers to those workers who are self employed, or who work for those who are self employed. People who earn a living through self employment in most cases are not on payrolls, and thus are not taxed. Many Many Informal workers do their businesses in unprotected and unsecured places.

The informal sector, informal economy, or grey economy is the part of an economy that is neither taxed, nor monitored by any form of government. Unlike the formal economy, activities of the informal economy are not included in the gross national product (GNP) and gross domestic product (GDP) of a country.

So who would have thought that when the english premier league is playing in the land of the queen, somebody will be earning a living on the same in a remote part of Kenya? How informal is that? Just imagine you own a football viewing center that has a sitting capacity of 100 and for each football match, your customers pay 50 shillings per match. Multiply that 50 shillings by 100 and you will have a whopping Shs 5,000 per match. Multiply this by 3 since Chelsea. Arsenal and Manchester United games are the most likely to be full. What do you have> Sh 15,000 on a weekend.  In a month, you will have close to 60,000 shillings.

Kenyans love soccer. Not just Kenyans but Africans in general. We love the blues, gunners and so many others. We wish we could be present in some of these football matches, but as much as we love football, most people still cannot afford to subscribe to DSTV and watch the matches from the comfort of their homes and that’s where my brother saw the opportunity, putting up a makeshift structure on one corner of our home and with demand kept extending it. Today, he has four TVs, connected to DSTV, KWESE and Bean Sport…….to enable him stay on top of his game as far making his customers happy.

Speaking to my brother, i asked how is business……..which business he replies, you have to be specific because I do many business. That takes me back, but then we end up talking about the one he claims has made him famous, everyone comes here to watch football he says…the best days are when we have a derby and when university is in session, student flock the arena de barcelona in their numbers, not the one that is in Spain ofcourse. He says that with a smile. If this numbers are interesting to you, remember in business you lose some and you win some.

The interesting thing with his business is that there is no book that can explain how to start this kind of business. But I have done some observation every time I have paid him a visit, at arena de barcelona.

What You Need to Start a Football Viewing Center

(1) Wooden benches to save start up costs. Plastic chairs are better but they are often damaged during the celebrations of goals and match wins.

(2) A good generator and possibly a UPS in case of power outage to keep the TV running

(3) Cable TV or DSTV dish with monthly subscription

(4) A big Television set with high resolution or projectors – if you can afford the more the better.

(5) A refrigerator just in case you want to add an extra income stream by selling cold soft drinks

(6) A printed ticket or coupons to identifying paying customers

What next?

1. Get an ideal location

A middle-class residential estate with high population is usually the best place to start this kind of business. Get a good location; a location or building that has enough room for expansion. If it’s an open space like a football field, then you may need to get a carpenter to form a tent shed using zinc; and ensure that the structure is wide enough to contain a good number of people.

2. Set it up

If you are on a low budget, the next thing to do is to get a carpenter to make wood benches for you as it minimizes start up costs and contains a lot more people. But if you have enough capital, you can opt for single plastic chairs as they are more comfortable.

You must also ensure that the room or building is properly ventilated; so as to make your customers feel comfortable. If they don’t feel comfortable watching football matches in your viewing center, then there’s a high chance they will patronize your competitors. Do you want that? I guess NO.

After getting all set up, sure you follow these management tips;

a. Get a blackboard or notice board outside your football center to write out all upcoming matches for the day.

b. Have someone to maintain order. Football viewing can turn chaotic at times.

c. Treat your customers with respect. Customers are the backbone of every business! Be friendly to your customers. They are the sole reason you  are still in business. Treat them with respect, and try to build personal relationships with them.

As a final note, if you are currently unemployed, you could try out this business. It doesn’t require much capital to start and it’s very easy to manage, if you know what you are doing.

Job is one of those young people who have mastered this art and they are making a living out of it, and I will not forget….Which business…..you have to be specific.

 

Ain’t No Sunshine When she’s Gone.

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Good evening all. I would like to announce that my wife is back home, after a three days work trip out of town. I know you are wondering, yes. I also agree with you that I have not be married for that long, so i must be suffering from something. This, is the longest my wife has been away. I travel a lot myself, when I do and am not with my wife….i get all busy with stuff. It’s very different when I am alone in the house.

If you are like me, and used to a routine that surrounds your wife, you will realize that you have become really comfortable with the way things are. Maybe you are imagining some things just work, or if they don’t she knows the answer as to why they are not working. How long you are going to be alive alone in that house depends on how you are going to handle things. But what if you are those guys, who like me have mastered everything but nothing?

Make a Call : She just left, and you realize that you need to do some laundry, you encourage yourself to first pass by the store to buy soap. When you arrive home, you look at the machine and want to throw everything inside. But that the button tells you wait, there is wool, mixed, quick wash e.t.c. Then the confusion gets real, see you have avoided making the call, so you go to look for the manual. You know, that book that comes with the machine when you buy it. That thing you have been seeing it lying around but today is the day you can’t see it. At some point, you give up, you seat quietly in the toilet with wet eyes and the voice says….please make the call.

Make Arrangements for dinner: There is no doubt that you love cooking, but you and me know that when a man is really good in the kitchen they use that to impress the lady. So for the next three days, there is no one to impress. All your hard labour in the kitchen will have to be appreciated by yourself and you are thinking it’s not worth the effort. So you call a few people who can go out of their way to accommodate your appetite. But remember you are the same person who moved on when you got married and today is the first time they are receiving your call after the wedding day. You end up getting the dinner, but you have to go through the shame.

Bachelors are also human: Many things change when you get married, especially in the bedroom. You stop sleeping like a bachelor and start spooning. It doesn’t matter how cold it is out there, the bed is always warm. You have your side of the bed she has hers. You have those romantic conversations….and sweet nothings before you fall asleep. Today is different, life reminds you that you are really lucky to have what you have, after all bachelors are as human as you are and you should learn to live like them….and sleep like them. The bed is cold again, you would have ironed it but there is no electricity. Once again darkness has covered your world, and has turned your light into dark.

Keep Hope alive: When she left she said she will be back after three days, you are hanging on those words. To you they are powerful, they are your future. So you have sharpened your counting skills, every new day bringing you closer. You may not have earned it, but you feel you deserve it. Then the day arrives, and you look at how you have done it……you make sure all things in the house are in order. The only thing you have managed to cook since she left the house was a cup of tea, and a cup of tea and a cup of tea. All the cups are clean.

She arrives in the house and compliments you on how you have kept the house in order, but you know you have played very safe. The clothes lie folded in the bathroom but apparently that’s not where they are supposed to be. Just like T’Challa she swings back to keep the house on the move. She helps you recover from the three day shock….with hugs and kisses, and just like a baby, you cling on her breasts….not letting go.

She has been gone for a few days, now you know how important she is.

 

Uber Chap Chap Take on Nairobi.

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Nairobi has had its fair share of taxi trouble, just like any other big city. For many years it has been very expensive to pick and use a taxi, despite the fact that you could not compare Nairobi with a city like Frankfurt. We have very few happy stories to say about Taxis and Taxi drivers.

It was a celebration when Uber finally launched in Nairobi, but it did not come without a fight. Just like the story of Uber in New York, Brad Stone narrates in his book The Upstarts, the difficult road that Uber had to go through in San Francisco and New York City.

Uber fought all wars in those cities. They fought with the taxi drivers, they fought with the city authorities, they fought with the market and they had to fight technology too, making sure that it worked and improving on it on the go. In Kenya, just like any city resisting the disruption, Taxis wanted to keep their cake. Whether it has worked for them is their story to tell.

But slowly and surely this have really changed in Nairobi. I do not take Uber a lot but of late I have noticed the sudden influx of white miniature Suzuki Alto’s on the roads, all with ‘KCP’ number plates and branded “Uber Chap Chap”, Just like you, I have been asking a lot of questions.

Today while sitting with a friend at Java House on Wabera street, I requested for an Uber, this time the Uber Chap Chap, which was the cheapest of all on the offers I was looking at on the screen. But apparently our driver was really far and stuck in traffic, so we sat and waited. Later he called me and requested we change out pick up location to Sentrim 680 Hotel, he had just dropped his client somewhere downtown.

There we were in this small car, a Suzuki Alto, looking very new, with very less electronic operations but a good stereo. Its as white as the snow, with a 800cc engine resting in the hood. Five speed manual transmission gearbox, the driver….a very mature gentleman who didn’t mind telling me a little about Uber Chap Chap, and on this particular car, the mileage was at 5000 km.

Uber Chap Chap launched in Nairobi in February after a testing phase in late January and since then, they are literally in every stop of the road you would be looking at. Some of them come branded while others are not. An agreement between Uber and Stanbic Bank gives the rider a security-free loan which is payable over three years.

The Uber drivers with high ratings between 4-6 points are the ones who were lucky to get to this plan. The rider pays Ksh. 30,000 a month for three years. After which, he/she will gain full ownership of the car. The cars are straight out of the showroom and cost roughly Ksh 800,000. They are provided by CMC Motors Africa.

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For my friend, its not her first time on Uber Chap Chap, she has been a customer, she picked on and her bill was only Ksh80 from Yaya to her House. And she praised the driver who dropped her to town, a nice man with mature conversation. Today, our bill was Ksh220 from Sentrim 680 to Mimosa Court.

What i look for when moving from point a to point be is to just get there with less hustle. At least most of us look for that, and Uber Chap Chap has it. But then not more, if you are one of those people who want to as we say it “Arrive” then you picked the wrong car. The car can carry five people of average weight and that includes the driver.

My experience was wonderful, will I request again for  an Uber Chap Chap, why not. When you request yours, lets see how much you are paying.

Enjoy your ride, with Uber Chap Chap.

New Ways of Job Hunting.

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If you are like me, then you are familiar with the modern ways of job searching. You have your CV in a microsoft word edited and then converted to PDF and you click attach, then send. Before you did all this you created a Linkedin page, and a Facebook page and you went to all job advertisement sites. You picked up a newspaper and went straight at the back….home of all the jobs. You called people, or people called you, you got a forward message on your whatsapp ….from your former college or I forgot, maybe you knew someone or you just bribed someone.

This has become very common among job seekers in Kenya. There is this funny phase “Job seeking is a job on its on” a very common saying especially among the young people looking for jobs. For most graduates and Kenyan elites, it has been a heavy cloud hovering around concerning jobs even as the current economic status seeks to choke the air out of them.

Most of these people have experienced nightmares as various big organizations cut on their operation costs to remain afloat. This move has led to many organization cutting down their workforce while others lose their jobs in mysterious circumstances. The graduates stories are horrifying, they narrate stories that have very little hope, having sent over 200 applications, through mail, hand delivered or post, one can manage only two responses which will be regrets.

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Most of them can not afford to pay rent so they live with their relatives, some taking any available job. How would the same Government who paid for their fees through the Higher Education Loans Board turn around and deny them employment. The scenes of young people carrying placards on the streets seeking the attention of employers have become very common.

This way of job hunting brings new meaning to how desperate this young people want to get jobs, holding placards with their academic credentials in the streets. Several graduates have already landed interviews and jobs using this method. Though many sympathize, some think the young job seekers are taking it too far. But yet again, people are gifted with different courage, and its only yourself who knows your needs.

As much as there are very qualified young people out there, doing all they can to land a job, I must register my disappointment with the Kenyan companies (the employers). They act very hypocritical. They are very dishonest and I wonder what happened to corporate governance.

It’s definitely not easy for Kenyan employees but it’s even worse for the job seekers as their fate is unknown.

The Spirit of Cycling in Kenya.

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Cycling in Kenya is becoming quite popular. Many people are quitting the gym for physical outdoor activities like jogging and cycling because of the allure they come with. The upside of cycling is that it comes along with fun activities such as bird watching, picnicking and traversing the country in general.

Listed below are some of the places you can go cycling in Kenya with friends and family:

1. Karura Forest
Located in the outskirts of Nairobi CBD, Karura Forest is one of the most popular joints for cycling in Kenya. Karura Forest offers a quiet clean and organised biking trail, away from oncoming cars and the hustle that the city life is.
Bring your mountain bike and join other Nairobi cyclists in the designated bike paths, which range from 5-15 km. You can alternatively hire a bike at Karura for KES 500 per hour, daily from 8 am – 5 pm, at the bike depot next to the tennis court. Karura Forest has other activities you can take part in once you are tired of cycling. Enjoy dog walking, nature exploration and tree building with the rest of the family.

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2. Rusinga Island
One of the greatest perks of cycling in Kenya is you get to traverse the country. Rusinga Island is located in the legendary Lake Victoria. The island boasts breathtaking sunsets and quiet hills, what most cyclists will describe as a perfect cycling setting. A Rusinga Island cycling trip is perfect for those getaway trips you always plan with friends and family. Enjoy cycling, camping, island exploration, hiking and boat riding as you make lifetime memories. You can also explore the neighboring Mfangano Island and Mbita Town.

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3. Hells Gate
There is no better way to explore the Hell’s Gate National Park than on a bike! Hell’s Gate National Park is located approximately 90 km from Nairobi. Don’t worry if you don’t own a bike of your own, there are bikes for hire at the gate. The riding trails cover from 15 to upto 40 km. Enjoy panoramic views of the gorges, towering cliffs and diverse wildlife as you test your fitness. Cycling at Hell’s Gate also offers amazing photo opportunities because of the background. You can do a little reinaction of the Lion Kingwhile you are at it! Hell’s Gate National Park also has a natural spa where you can dip yourselves and enjoy a swim after the ride.

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4. Lake Magadi
This is for the starry-skyed lovers, the dreamers. Lake Magadi and its environs are characterised by untamed expansive savanna, shrubs, hot springs and the at-times pink lake. This biking trail ideally starts from the foot of Ngong Hills, all the way to Lake Magadi, approximately 80 km long, making it ideal for a weekend bike safari.
The trail is one of the most dusty ones you will come across while cycling in Kenya. We advise you to carry dust muffs. The upside of the trail is that it will be worth it once you are done, when you get to enjoy a therapeutic swim in one of the hot springs and some of the best nyama choma in the world!

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5. The Forest
This is for the adrenaline junkies! If you haven’t yet visited The Forest, try cycling there this year. Located in Kereita, Nyandarua, The Forest is perfect for team building, whether for corporate, friends or family. Cycle through Kenya’s history (the mass grave of the 1952 Lari Massacre), magnificent waterfalls, caves, animals and birds, and of course, Aberdare’s very own forest canopy. Other activities offered at The Forest that you can take part in include zip-lining, paint balling, archery and fly fishing.

Join bikers who are cycling in Kenya and keep fit this year, as you enjoy the beautiful scenery our country has to offer. Miles and hope will be doing their yearly tour this year. You can follow us up on facebook extramilersicc or visit our website http://www.milesandhope.org

#TembeaKenya

When Disaster Strikers………..

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I was asked to train my class on emergency procedures for our class, and steps we can make to save lives. I discovered that many people don’t understand or don’t know what it is they can do incase of the unexpected. Some of this procedures can still work for you, whether you are in a home, a school or at work.

Earthquake, Fire, Flooding, Terrorist attacks/Shooting

Steps to save lives. Everyone must be prepared.

We recognise God as our overall protector, and always pray for his wisdom and courage when we are confronted with difficult situations and challenges.

NO ONE is immune to disaster. Preparation is your most important key to survival. But what does preparation involve?

Prepare Before. Acknowledge the fact that disaster happens and that the class is potentially at risk. It is too late to prepare after disaster strikes.

Learn about disasters. That can happen in our area. Know where shelters are, emergency assembly points, higher grounds, where the fire alarms / extinguishers are located, check whether the smoke detectors are working. Keep the venerable spots clear of anything that can escalate the fire.

Prepare emergency Supplies. Power, Water, Phone and transportation services can fail. Do you have what you need? Car with fuel, food, water, emergency kit, touch/light, emergency contacts e.g. ambulances, fire, police, church admin.

Make and rehearse an escape plan. Know the nearest exits in the building as well as the emergency plan of the class. Plan to help others while staying safe.

  1. Hold evacuations drill to test your emergency plan with all members present.
  2. Have a clear memory of where every group sits and assign yourselves in different locations when preparing for evacuation.
  3. Teach group leaders how to prepare members in any case there is an emergency.
  4. Pray for wisdom from God to enable you do the right thing with speed that will save lives.

During – Act Quickly

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Don’t not panic, do not wait, and do not pick the lesson. When disaster strikes….We don’t wait.

 In a fire. Stay close to the floor and move quickly to the nearest exit. Smoke makes it hard to see and most fire deaths are caused by smoke inhalation. Leave behind personal items….seconds can make a difference between life and death.

In an earthquake. Get under sturdy furniture or next to an inside wall. Expect aftershocks, and get outside and away from the building as soon as you can. Try to help others.

In a flood. Stay out of flooded building. Avoid wading in or driving through water. Beware that flood water can contain sewage and conceal dangers, including debris, open manhole, and downed power lines.

Note that. Two feet of moving water can carry a car away. Most death in floods results when people try to drive through moving water. If the authorities order evacuation. leave immediately! Let GL/Friends/TTs know where you are or they might risk their life looking for you.

Note that. Texting may be more reliable than calling/voice service.

If authorities direct to remain in one place/shelter. ie during floods, riots/demonstrations, unrest, terrorist attacks. stay inside. In case of chemical. biological i.e. fuel incident, stay indoors, turn off ventilation and seal all doors and windows. When the threat is from outside, please follow the news.

After – Stay Safe

Stay with friends if possible help those who need help/ do a head count and make sure everybody is present.

Keep your daily routine. as normal as possible, people need to see that you are calm and hopeful…..stay in prayer. Do not dwell on news coverage of the tragedy, and do not take out your anxiety or frustration on family members and other people. Accept help and help others.

Acknowledge that disaster cause less. Relief efforts focus on helping people to survive and not replacing an iPhone or laptop. Recognise and address emotional injuries. this often surfaces after the initial shock has passed. Symptoms include anxiety, depression, mood swings as well as difficulty thinking, working, and sleeping. Talk to caring friends.

#StaySafe

 

A Taste Of Tony’s Chocolonely.

Crazy About Chocolate, Serious about people.

This is the slogan for the most amazing, tasty and rich Chocolate you have never tested. It Tony’s Chocolonely. My niece adores this stuff, not just any chocolate, only that made by Tony himself……no monkey business.

She loves them so much she know how many flavors they have, and how they taste….and from that list she still picked her favorite. But for her, anything will still work as long as its made by Tony…..a place she hope she will work one day….and eat their chocolate all day.

In West Africa, where most of the cocoa comes from, (child) slavery appears to be alarmingly common. And that while in 2001 a number of large international chocolate companies put their signature under the Harkin Engel Protocol in which agreements are made to eliminate the ‘worst forms of child labor’.
Now that Teun knows that chocolate is smeared with illegal practices, he gives himself, after eating a number of chocolate bars, as a chocolate criminal in the program ‘Keuringsdienst van Waarde’.
Tony’s Coholony are now twelve years on the road to 100% slave free chocolate they are supported, encouraged, challenged and eaten they now know how difficult it is to change an industry we have grown enormously and have achieved results.
Their mission is to make the norm in chocolate 100% slave-free. To achieve that, they follow their roadmap. But how far are they exactly and how much impact do they actually make? Good! That is why they have worked hard to make the steps we take even clearer and to measure them. This way you can see exactly how much impact Tony’s make.
Tony’s Chocolonely is growing fast. In 2017 they expected to sell some 28 million bars. Sohee!  Because of our growth, they can work with more cocoa farmers according to their recipe for slave-free cocoa and they can make more noise in the chocolate industry, so that other chocolate giants follow their model.
Tony’s consciously chooses to work in Ghana and Ivory Coast. There the problems are the biggest and they want to make an impact there.
They pay an extra Tony’s premium on top of the Fairtrade premium, so that the farmer can earn a living income. The premium is used to increase income for the farmer, both in money and through investments in higher production through agricultural training courses and new tree nurseries.
But also by lowering costs for the farmer by purchasing fertilizers on a large scale or making education more accessible and the construction of a central water pump. More than 9.6% of the selling price of our bars comes in favor of the cocoa farmer.
Today I unwrap my first slave free chocolate, while I hope you do the same, you will discover that Tony’s Chocolonely does not have even cubs, because Chocolate production has never been fair.

Drought in Rift Valley.

Happy New Year.

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I am in Eldoret, winding up my holiday with my wife and nephews, this is my second home since I married my wife. I have now been here many times am starting to lose count, and I hope I do. I don’t need to have the number in my head, I might just remind my wife how many times I have been to her home when she is serving me bad coffee…..just the way other men do, when it comes to bride price.

That aside, this place, on a really good day is beautiful…..filled with green vegetation….weather so calming you will not want to leave. Today, its not one of those days. I am welcomed with a cloud of dust and its just minutes before 9am. Animals on their way to grazeland,…….not the song but the place, any place, anywhere. Its not really specific where the animals will end up, everywhere is dry and to find a heaven of pasture is unthinkable luxury.

My father-in-law tells me that it started November and they always get Christmas rains but not this time. For a community that relies on agriculture, its a big blow. The soil in starving, the manure dying up fast and the bees waste time looking for nectar and water….this has become the life here. And the farmer is worried. The weather patterns change has affected everyone and Rift Valley is not spared on this.

Its was reported beginning of January that the US experienced the most cold season, with negatives in states like Florida. Parts of Niagara falls were reported to have frozen. While the US and Europe are fighting snow, we on the other hand, sitting below the Sahara Desert we are fighting drought…….possible the worst.

This always affects the production of food, and the rearing of animals. This season, farmers lose hundreds of cattle due to lack of food and water. The Kenyan government came up with a plan….to buy the cattles before they die…..they are then slaughtered and meat sold through the Kenya Meat Commission. It always doesn’t make sense for a farmer who is only agreeing to that to salvage something.

In Nairobi, cattles are grazing everywhere, it’s a hazard….but then again we share this city with a community that prides themselves for keeping cattles, it’s a big deal to them, so we have to get used to it….it is what it is.

Unlike Eldoret, Nairobi has experienced some cold weather, rains here and there this season. Its unusual for this to happen. But here I am, hoping for the best…..for the rest of the country. This year I will be blogging more about my country and my travels, and I hope you will enjoy the read.

I want to express my gratitude for those who have continued to encourage me throughout my writing. All the best for 2018. May the year be of great achievements.

 


Visiting Kakamega National Forest Reserve.

If you have known me for long, you have discovered that I love Cycling, I love Travelling and I love nature. Nature is life, its what surrounds us and makes us tick. We wouldn’t survive without her so they say, but she will thrive without us. Man has not been a good custodian of her, damaging her in all different ways. But for me, this place is of my dwelling, I wish to one day have a house inside the forest, surrounded with all the tall trees and green grass, in the middle of the pouring rain without much care.

Am sure, its a dream for many, this place has much peace that you would imagine. You would imagine how difficult it would be, to live five days without internet, cooking with wood and no indoor plumbing. Who cares about those anyway. Kakamega National Forest Reserve gives you that and many more….for those who want to make this kind of a living a reality, maybe for five days or for more….depending on your budget. Its three thousand a person for a banda, and you would choose an open kitchen or indoor.

The people who have taken advantage of this are those doing research here in the forest, of insects and other habitats of this place. I have wondered many times if this is really work. When you are in a place like this, doing something that pays you and having a peace that will cost you billions, thats not work, its wellness working. For me and my wife, we are not researchers, we just want to have a great time while we are here visiting our parents.

This is my second time here, and the first for my wife. The last time I was here it was somehow wet, today its really dry. The weather has been very hush and after the fall, something I really love…..the sun rays finds itself inside in some places. Here there are hundreds of different tree species so the fall is not 100%. But then all the animals are here, the lady at the reception says that “our snakes are not dangerous, in many years we have never had a case of a snake attack” unbelievable even for me. But if you were me, and you are taking your wife to the forest planning to be lazy on the woods and probably fall asleep somewhere unconventional, snake topic is what you want to avoid……so we say “the snakes here, don’t bite”.

The points of interest when you are here are the viewpoint, popular in the morning with a view of Malava Forest and the Nandi hills. Wonderful place to watch the sunrise early in the morning. River Isiukhu waterfalls, this is where the river that travels all the way across Kakamega town is born, it gives birth to other rivers before ending its journey in Lake Victoria. They have a picnic site, a place for those who want to spent the day without worrying about what the hell is going on in the other world and off-course the living bandas. The place you can make your dwelling.

My wife and I have enjoyed being here, and we plan to come again with our friends sometime and just show them what this place can offer in terms of peace and getting natures rewards. If you find time while visiting Kakamega please check it out. They have two gates in Kakamega….one on Kakamega-Webuye road and the other on your way to Shinyalu.