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air p o rts ISSUE No. 0004 August - September 2012


i n frastru c tur e

KSh350 • USh10,080 • TSh6,570 • RF2,340 • BIF4,780 • USD4


KK Group, IATA

Seal Airports Security Deal Group CEO James Omwando and Chairman Derek Oatway



August - September 2012


In This Issue Aviation East Africa / August - September 2012



4 Editorial: Salute to KK Security Group upon certification by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). KK is now the only aviation security sector operation empowered to train in the region

20 Cover Story: KK Security Group Moves Up to Airport Security. Aviation East Africa Contributing Editor (Science & Technology) WYCLIFFE MUGA and Senior Business Analyst WASHINGTON AKUMU debrief the Group’s top managers

52 Special Feature: Kenya’s Drug Problem and Aviation Security. Special Correspondent VALENTINE NJOROGE asks the question that every parent dreads – ‘Is Your Daughter a Drug Mule?’





64 Renewable Energy: The Blue Sea Story. Business Writer ANDREW NJUGUNA speaks to energy sector investors Messrs. JOHN MAJIWA and DAVID IKIARA, Founder and Chairman respectively, Blue Sea Energy Ltd

70 Innovation: Video Conferencing Huawei Style. Evolving technologies and innovative application scenarios give videoconferencing renewed vitality

74 Brand Consciousness: PR Disasters don’t come much worse than Korean Air’s Kenya gaffe, reports BRIAN OBARA


78 Infrastructure: The Syokimau Railway Station. Coming soon – the high-tech beginning of the end of Mombasa Road’s and many other traffic jams

82 Personality: Meet Lady Pilot Elizabeth Wanjiku Nderi 86 Letter from Jo’Burg: Our South Africa Correspondent Mwangi Githahu on outsize aircraft seats




P48 Editorial Team PUBLISHER Professional and Advisory Management Consultants P. O. Box 636 -00100 Nairobi email;

PHOTOGRAPHY Anthony Njoroge Jonathan Kalan Salaton Njau

BOARD MEMBERS Eric Mwandia (Chairman)


Samuel Kahiga

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aviation east Africa Box 636 - 00100 GPO Tel: +254 732 146 700 +254 020 8019387 Email: Printed by Atlas International, Dubai

DESIGN Peter Githaiga William Odidi


DISCLAIMER ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. The publisher assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material.No part of this magazine may be reproduced in any form without written permissionfrom the publisher. The views expressed in the articles are those of the authors. Return undeliverable copies to: East African Flyer Magazine, Woodley, Ngong Road, Box 636 - 00100 GPO, Tel: +254 020 8019387, Email:,

Welcome July 2012

The Voice of the Region’s Aviation Business Sector


By Aviation East Africa Chairman Eric Mwandia

Salute to KK Security Group on IATA Certification


n this issue of Aviation East Africa we turn an exclusive focus on the KK Security Group, which was recently certified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to conduct aviation security training locally in the eastern African region. The KK Group is the region’s largest and most successful homegrown security organization, giving multinational companies with a more far-flung outreach a run for their money. The KK story is told in a couple of narrative pieces by AEA Special Correspondent Washington Akumu and a number of powerful in-depth interviews with top executives such as KK Group Chairman Derek Oatway, CEO James Omwando, and Training Manager Lucas Ndolo, by Contributing Editor (Science & Technology) Wycliffe Muga. We are proud to feature Mr. Li Dong, Director of the Marketing Execution Department for Telepresence, UC&C Product Line, and Huawei’s Enterprise Business Group in our columns on the subject of the three trends driving videoconferencing technologies forward – lifelike experiences,

widespread use, and industryspecific applications. The Syokimau Railway Station is part of the Nairobi Commuter Line, a project that is aimed at resolving the capital city’s immense commuter challenges. This particular line is the NCL’s first phase, linking Athi River, which lies to the south of Nairobi, to the central business district, bypassing the very busy Mombasa Road, via stops at Imara Daima, Makadara and in the CBD. Other phases and lines will include Ruiru, Ngong and Limuru. We bring you a photo essay by photojournalist Salaton Njau of one of the final inspections of the project by a team led by Transport Minister Amos Kimunya in June ahead of the official opening in August. The Blue Sea Energy Company is among the top three firms in Kenya fighting for renewable energy space. The journey to the top has not been easy. Messrs. John Majiwa and David Ikiara, Founder and Chairman respectively, Blue Sea Energy Ltd., were interviewed by Aviation East Africa Business Writer Andrew Njuguna. June was an especially bad month for civil aviation in Africa, with fatal

crashes in East and West Africa, at least one of them truly bizarre – the case of the Nigerian airliner that crashed into a bus in Ghana, leaving people around the world wondering at the spectacle and the vast odds of that happening anywhere. In Kenya, a new Eurocopter belonging to the Police Air Wing crashed in a forested area near Nairobi, killing all six passengers on board, including Security ministers George Saitoti and Orwa Ojode. The crash is the subject of a number of ongoing probes, including by Parliament and the manufacturers. Photojournalist Salaton Njau brings us a photograph from the scene of the tragedy and Business Writer Andrew Njuguna provides the write-up. In ‘Letter from Jo’Burg’, our SA Correspondent Mwangi Githahu discusses ‘Super-Size Seats for Passengers of Wider than Airline Average Girth’, taking the neverending discourse on obesity to literally new heights, five miles high to be precise. As usual, enjoy great reading on diverse matters aviation, technology and infrastructure in your latest Aviation East Africa.

News |

Air Accidents

Photography | SALATON NJAU

Crashes Mar Africa’s Aviation Safety Record


he International Air Transport Association (IATA) Safety Report 2011 showed a dramatic improvement in performance in Africa, with accident rates falling 61% to 6.17 accidents per million departures, sharply down from the 15.68 per million in 2010. According to Gunther Matschnigg, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Safety, Operations and Infrastructure, Africa’s air safety record, which has been described as the world’s worst, has been under scrutiny and the latest air accidents in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya which all happened in one month, claiming a total of 174 lives, can only confirm the bottom-of-the-heap reputation. Incidents of helicopter crashes in Kenya have been on the increase; four years ago then Roads Minister


CRASH SITE: A crowd views the Eurocopter wreckage

Kipkalya Kones and then Home Affairs Assistant Minister Lorna Laboso died in an air crash when their Cessna light aircraft crashed into a building in Kajong’a Market, Narok District.


On June 10 this year, a Kenya Police Eurocopter, Aircraft Number 5YCDT and Flight Number A5350, which had only 100 flying hours since its registration in January, and apparently was in good working condition, crashed in a forest 6 minutes after take-off, killing all 6 on board, including former Vice President and Minister for Internal Security George Saitoti and his assistant Joshua Orwa Ojodeh, two pilots and two bodyguards. In 2006, 13 people, including the then leader of the Opposition,

Bonaya Godana, and then Internal Security Assistant Minister Mirugi Kariuki, died in a Kenya Air Force plane crash in Marsabit on their way to a peace meeting. In 2003, then Labour Minister Ahmed Khalif and two pilots were killed after their Gulfstream G159 24-seater aircraft crashed, killing both pilots. Ministers Martha Karua, Raphael Tuju and Lina Kilimo walked out of the aircraft, Registration Number 5Y-EMJ, among other survivors. Investigators from Kenya and France who are probing the Eurocopter crash that claimed the life of one of the senior-most officials to die in office in Kenya will have many questions to answer and many impediments to surmount. The blogosphere is full of speculation, including among far-flung Diaspora

News bytes >> Airline Profits in Record Dip, says IATA

SAFETY SUMMITEERS: Delegates at the IATA Strategic Improvement Action Plan Safety Summit in South Africa Kenyans. Nigeria, like many African countries, has a poor air safety record, though some efforts have been made to improve it since a spate of airline disasters in 2005. A plane that crashed in Lagos in June, killing all 153 people on board, was Nigeria’s worst airline disaster for two decades, and had reported dual engine failure just before going down. The McDonnell Douglas MD83 came down in a densely populated neighbourhood, smashing through buildings. Nigeria often suffers from intermittent electricity blackouts, state power and diesel generators sometimes both fail at airports, making radar screens go blank and aviation safety a great concern for travelers. A day before the Nigerian accident, in Accra, Ghana, at Kotoka International Airport, which sits near newly-built high-rise buildings, hotels and the country’s Defense Ministry, a Boeing 727 cargo plane operated by the Nigerian cargo airline Allied Air first smashed through a fence that runs around the buildings before hitting a bus and, moments later, beside the plane wreckage lay 10 bodies. The plane seemed to have overshot the runway upon landing, causing it to ram straight into the bus and killing all its occupants. According to Matschnigg, Africa has a long journey ahead towards attaining safety in its skies. “There is growing recognition among African states that, without a reliable and safe airline industry, the development of their economies will not be as robust as it could be as people and companies will be less inclined to travel or contract the services of companies that

are unsafe,” he said. “There is momentum on the issue now and we have to act; these are not the first actions we are taking in Africa, there have been improvements already,” he added. There were eight accidents across the continent last year alone, 10 less than 2010, but still considerably higher than on other continents. During a recent announcement to host the next Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit (WATS) in South Africa in 2013, Director General and CEO of IATA Tony Tyler commented on Africa’s poor aviation safety record.

Airline travels within and beyond Africa continue to be low, despite massive investments in the continent’s aviation sector, an International Air Transport Association (IATA) report has said. The April IATA Global Air Traffic Report indicates that Africa’s aviation traffic continues to be below capacity expansion compared to international total passenger demand that has risen or surpassed capacity expansion. “African airlines reported a 7% increase in passenger demand. It was the only region where capacity expansion of 8.5% outpaced demand growth. Additionally, African carriers (cargo market) showed a 6.1% increase in demand, against a 9% increase in expansion capacity,” reads part of the report. Experts confirm the report is right in its findings. “I think the findings of the report are right. New airlines in the region have been launching routes expecting to have full passenger numbers but end up disappointed,” said Ignie Igundura of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority.

>> Africa to Get New Low-cost Airline


“Growth in Africa is impeded by regulatory burdens and a poor safety record compounded by the high fuel prices in many parts of the continent. IATA is working cross the continent with governments, regulators and airlines to improve safety, sustainability and competitiveness,” said Tyler. Key players under IATA attending the Strategic Improvement Action Plan Safety Summit held in South Africa recently to develop a Strategic Improvement Action Plan to be implemented from this year to 2015 to strengthen regulatory oversight and enhance safety agreed on a number of Action Plans to be submitted for endorsement to the African Union Ministerial Meeting on Aviation Safety planned later this year. In order to significantly improve safety in Africa by the end of 2015, the Summit focused on five achievable tasks, including adoption and implementation of an effective and transparent regulatory oversight system.

There is a reason for Africa to smile; the continent’s economic successes in the last 5 years are not going unnoticed and now a new low-cost airline offering regional flights for under $100 is in the works after regional carrier Fly540 was sold to a consortium that includes the EasyJet founder, British Billionaire Stelios Haji-Ioannou (pictured). Mr. Haji-Ioannou’s easyGroup, which runs ventures from car hire, cyber cafes, hotels and gym membership, is to invest in Rubicon Diversified Investments PLC, a former software company that has now entered the aviation business and will operate the airline under the brand FastJet. “Africa must now represent the final frontier of this aviation revolution which started in the US in the 70s and which I was proud to have led in Europe in the 90s”, said Stelios. “We will fly between Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Angola and the average fare will be $70-$80. We should be flying by the end of the year,” he said.

August - September 2012


News |

Cyber Crime

FBI Knocks Out Viral ‘DNS Changer’ Servers Photography | Courtesy


discovery, consumers “had already been alerted, as ISPs, Google and Facebook had been warning users”.


ore than 250,000 people globally associated with the DNS Changer malware saw the FBI shut down their domain servers as part of the war on computer crime, potentially cutting off hundreds of thousands of computers from the Internet. Major companies in Europe and US government agencies were amongst those that were blocked out, according to the Internet security firm IID. While some individual users were still infected, it was believed that infected computers were mostly “going to be tucked away in small/ medium businesses”. It had been estimated that

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hundreds of thousands of computers lost access to the internet on July 9. Security firm Bitdefender believed that many companies were infected, with the top five countries being the US, Italy, India, the UK, and Germany. However, PCPro explains that in the past six months since its

When discovered, the DNS Changer Trojan, a malware system, was tied to an IT company in Estonia. In November 2011 the FBI brought charges against an Estonia-based gang who used malware known as ‘DNS Changer’, to net more than £9 million.The malware enabled the company to direct an infected computer to any site it wanted, instead of the intended destination. Sometimes the virus hijacked web searches, forcing victims to see certain adverts against their consent. When a user would enter the alphanumeric name for a site

through their web browser or search engine, the fake DNS server that the virus rerouted the request to would provide an alternate IP address that led to a different website. The FBI had delayed shutting down the servers until recently to allow time for victims to disinfect their computers. Millions of users had been alerted, but was feared that around 250,000 unaware victims worldwide will have lost Internet access when the FBI shut down the servers. Although the FBI shut down the crime ring in November 2011, computers have remained infected with the malware and have continued to use the fake DNS servers. Those servers have been in the FBI’s possession since the raid. Had the FBI immediately shut down the servers, everyone with an infected computer would have immediately lost Internet service because the malware would keep trying to direct their browsers to

nonexistent servers. Instead, the FBI held off completely shutting down the rogue servers “to alert victims to the fact that their PC was infected with DNS Changer”.

>> Apple’s Relics Sold at Auction


In the interim, the FBI continued running the servers as normal, nonmalicious DNS servers. This enabled anyone with an infected computer the opportunity to apply a patch without losing Internet service before the shutdown was effected. While actual numbers were yet to be reported, Internet security analysts believed that the transition went smoothly and there had been very little impact on web users. The DNS system is a network of servers that translates a web address into a numerical IP address used by computers. Computers affected by the DNS Changer worm were reprogrammed to access rogue DNS servers that redirected them to fraudulent websites.

China Sends First Woman into Space

She is a wife. She belongs to China’s one-child-per-family generation. Liu Yang, 33, becomes the country’s first woman in space, aboard its latest manned space mission. China is the third country in the world after the US and Russia to use its own technologies to send a female into space. Born in Henan Province, a birthplace of mainstream Chinese civilizations, Liu is now a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) major as well as a member of the Communist Party of China. Liu and her two male colleagues docked at the Tiangong space lab aboard the Shenzhou 9 capsule,

News bytes

which rode into orbit atop a Long March rocket from the Jiuquan spaceport on the edge of the Gobi Desert. They lived and worked on the 335km-high vessel, testing new systems and conducting a number of scientific experiments. Shenzhou 9 landed at 10:01:16 CST (02:01:16 UTC) on June 29 in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The next planned mission is Shenzhou 10, in 2013 Liu, a PLA Air Force pilot, has long dreamt of watching Earth from space. “After being trained as an astronaut, I have found there is still a very long distance from sky to space. A human being is so minute in space. I feel honoured to fly into space on behalf of hundreds of millions of Chinese females”, Liu told the press. “Space exploration activities would be incomplete without the participation of female astronauts”, Chen Shanguang, Director of the Astronaut Research and Training Centre of China, said. Soviet astronaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space on June 16, 1963.

The Apple 1 computer – the company’s first product – has been sold at an auction for $374,500 (KSh31,832,500). A memo written by the firm’s co-founder Steve Jobs when he worked at Atari also sold for $27,500 (KSh2,337,500) at the same event held in New York. The original estimate for the four-page handwritten note was up to $15,000.Only about 200 Apple 1s were ever created. The computers were hand-built by Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak and originally sold for $666.66 as a fully-assembled circuit board. A set of bids was executed by the auctioneer on behalf of an absentee collector, but a telephone bidder proved more persistent and eventually clinched the sale. Their identity has not been revealed.

>> Ethiopia Clamps Down on Skype, Tor Ethiopia has passed a law to clamp down on certain types of internet use in the country. Addis Ababa passed a law on May 24 criminalizing the use of VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) calls. It said the maximum sentence was 15 years in jail. “The Ethiopian Government is trying to attack every means of information exchange”, said a journalist who wished to remain anonymous. “Last year several journalists were arrested, and now the government is tackling communications over the Internet,” he said. More and more people in Ethiopia are turning to new technologies, and some are even able to bypass censorship, which explains why the government is trying to use effective methods to control internet communications. While criminalizing such acts may be new, Ethiopia has long restricted Internet use.

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Business |


Africa’s Aviation Industry Takes Off, But Global Players Hover Hindering factors like currency differences and poor infrastructure also cloud the business environment for the continent’s carriers By ANDREW NJUGUNA


t a growth rate of 4% annum, Africa’s airlines are shunning a tarnished image of poor safety records and only partial liberalization. Africa’s aviation industry is estimated to be worth about US$56 billion. But this projected growth is unlikely to translate into huge profits for African airlines as the continental airspace is dominated by airlines from Europe, the US, Middle East and China. The economies of scale play to the advantages of these more established airlines, much to the detriment of the newer and fledgling airlines of African countries. “The prospects of Africa over the next 20 years are very good, we are looking at doubling the demand for air transport in the next 10 years and tripling in the next 15 to 20 years, so that can only be good news. The challenge or the question is – are we up to it, in terms of skills, in terms of equipment, capitalization and all those other things?” said aviation analyst Linden Birns. The forecasts indicate that passenger numbers in Africa are expected to grow from 67.7 million in 2010 to more than 150.3 million in 2030. Travel agents say they are already seeing increased bookings in the region. “We have definitely seen an increase of clients travelling to Africa within the last few years. Clients who are involved in infrastructure development, IT work, mining and so forth have been travelling more frequently within Africa,” said Imraan Ebrahim, a travel consultant based in South Africa. Birns says there are also hindering factors like currency differences and poor infrastructure clouding the business environment for the continent’s carriers. Most African countries have currencies that are far

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Photography | Courtesy

Technical expertise needs to be upgraded and qualifications in aviation fields made uniformly standardized across the continent

weaker than those of the developed world. This means that, in addition to facing pressure because of rising fuel prices and other general inflationary costs of doing business, African airlines also have to battle with unfavourable exchange rates. “Certainly one of the big challenges facing airlines in emerging markets is the situation where they are incurring a lot of costs in dollars, but generating a lot of their revenue in comparatively weaker currencies. There is no silver bullet to dealing with this,” Birns said. “Governments also need to think about investing in other elements of the air transport infrastructure that help to make airline transport and air travel more efficient, so better airports, more appropriate airports, good smooth air traffic management systems that minimize delays and stop aircrafts from being put in holding points in Terminal B,” he added. Qatar Airways, the state-owned carrier of Qatar, announced in early May that more capacity will be introduced on the double daily Doha-Dar es Salaam route from next month. With seven services operating via Nairobi, Kenya, these will become non-stop flights to Dar-es-Salaam,

effectively providing more seats direct to the Tanzanian capital. Birns said Africa’s bilateral air traffic agreements, which were designed in the 1940s, have hampered the flexibility of the continent’s airlines. These agreements are signed between two nations, giving each other permission to use civil aviation space in their territories. However, many countries did not enter these agreements as they wanted to protect their own national carriers. However, liberalization of the African skies is improving. Technical expertise on the other hand needs to be upgraded and qualifications in aviation fields made uniformly standardized across the continent, Birns said. Despite some world-class airlines on the continent, poor maintenance of fleets and technical problems have contributed to a number of accidents and given African airlines a bad name, resulting in some being banned from entering some international airspace. South Africa Airways Commercial Manager Theunis Potgieter says African airlines need to work together to be able to compete with the global players.

Joint Fuel Project Eases Airline Woes The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) joint fuel purchasing project launched last year will continue with a new deal extending until the end of 2013 in an effort to cushion regional airlines from rising fuel costs in the global market. Initially underwritten by nine member airlines, which included at the time Kenya Airways, Precision Air, Ethiopian Airlines, RwandAir, Air Seychelles, Air Namibia, TAAG, Air Mozambique and Air Malawi, for the next phase at least five more AFRAA member airlines have expressed their desire to join the scheme and benefit from lower tariffs for the contract period. This would not affect the fuel hedging deals individual airlines have put into place. AFRAA, previously comprising some 32 member airlines, has received a further four membership applications and approved them, including Starbow Airlines from Ghana and Camair of Cameroon. A source in Nairobi conceded that the scheme had initial teething problems, in particular where member

airlines are subject to exchange control regulations at home, making payments in foreign exchange difficult for some, but that eventually most of the early challenges had been overcome, resulting in an extension of the scheme and the likely participation by more airlines over and above the initial nine. AFRAA however added that it is still too early to calculate how much savings will be made under the deal since the airlines have different starts to their financial year and varying operational costs. The same source also mentioned that efforts by AFRAA to have the EU’s ETS suspended and turned over to global aviation body ICAO, working hand-in-hand with IATA, were ongoing. In this connection it was learned that countries opposed to the scheme like China, Russia, India and the US were now also starting to apply pressure on the EU with thinly concealed threats to block a wider global climate deal in the next round of UN-sponsored negotiations, unless the EU would suspend their ETS and return to the negotiating.

Emirates SkyCargo Voted Cargo Airline of the Year

Emirates SkyCargo, the Dubaibased air freight division of Emirates, has been voted Cargo Airline of the Year and – for the 24th consecutive year – it was also named Best Middle East Cargo Airline. The carrier, which was also named Best African Cargo Airline, received the accolades at the prestigious Cargo Airline of the Year 2012 awards held at London’s Lancaster Hotel. Ram Menen, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President Cargo, attended the awards ceremony and later said:

“These awards are voted for by our industry and their recognition of the continued success of Emirates SkyCargo is a great honour.” Since January 2012, Emirates has introduced services to eight new destinations: Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Dallas, Lusaka, Harare, Liege and Seattle. It will also launch flights to Ho Chi Minh City in June, Lisbon and Barcelona in July, and Washington DC in September. Emirates SkyCargo’s 171-strong fleet, including eight freighters (four Boeing 777Fs, two 747-400Fs and two 747-400ERFs), is one of the youngest in the skies. It serves a global route network that spans 123 points in 73 countries, including 12 cargo-only destinations, while more than 50 of the locations Emirates SkyCargo serves are e-freight compliant.

Biz bytes >> Nairobi Gets New Flying School

Aircraft Leasing Services (ALS) and Kenya School of Flying have partnered to establish a flying school, hoping to address the growing demand for pilots. The school, Orly Aeronautical University, will be situated in Nairobi, off the KiserianIsinya road, and will tap the expertise of Britain’s Falcon Flight Training Academy to enable issuance of both Kenyan and European pilot licenses. Kenya Airways, for instance, needs to recruit an additional 100 pilots to join its current 377 pilots, but this won’t come easy, with rival airlines also having similar pressing needs amid a talent shortage.

>> Competition Set to Rise with New Players

Competition in air transport services in Tanzania is set to increase as the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) is set to approve new license applications. The move would see more competition in domestic air transport, which in turn may lead to lower air transport fares that may attract more people to use the service, according to TCAA. TCAA has announced that it would meet to consider five new applications on air services licenses, and two new applications for ground handling services. The Authority will also consider 15 license renewal applications and one license variation application in ground- handling services. According to TCAA there are currently 57 licensed air operators in the country, out of whom 40 run more than one service, with the majority providing charter services. The new license applicants include M/S Aerovista Tanzania Ltd., M/S Zulu Air Tanzania Ltd., M/S Neos S.p.A via della Chiesa, M/S Shine Aviation Ltd., and M/S Cicada Aviation Ltd. Tanzania tourism earnings increased by 8.2% to $1,254.5 million in 2010compared to the $1,159.8 million recorded in 2009, according to the 2010 International Visitors’ Exit Survey Report, accrued from 782,699 international arrivals.

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Business |

Disaster Preparedness

Photography | Courtesy

Icelandic eruption two years ago clearly exposed the modern aviation system’s vulnerability to natural hazards, experts say

ICAO Team Effects New Volcanic Ash Measures



he April 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland led to the worst disruption of air transport operations since World War II. Airlines were forced to cancel numerous flights, a move that robbed them of millions of dollars worth of income, especially in these hard times period of economic downturn the world over. A special group established by the International Civil Aviation Organization in response to the Eyjafjallajökull eruption has released a series of practical tools and recommendations to significantly mitigate the effects of future volcanic events on international aviation operations, ICAO has announced. Known as the International Volcanic Ash Task Force (IVATF), the group delivered the measures during its final meeting at ICAO headquarters in the form of a new publication of specialized ash-related flight operations guidance, volcanic ash contingency plans

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for air traffic management (ATM) and recommendations for new technologies and system requirements involving ground-based, airborne and satellite-based volcanic ash detection systems.

If a major volcanic eruption were to occur today, civil aviation would find itself in a much better position than in 2010


“Challenges such as Eyjafjallajökull represent important opportunities for the global aviation community to advance its collaborative scientific understanding and coordinated operational responses to volcanic eruptions, wherever and whenever in the world they occur,” said ICAO Secretary-general Raymond Benjamin. “Efforts to determine the appropriate balance between the safety and the regularity of aviation in the face of volcanic ash contamination must continue and ICAO is committed to see that they will.” According to ICAO, the eruption clearly displayed the modern aviation system’s vulnerability to natural hazards, notwithstanding the ongoing work of the existing International Airways Volcano Watch Operations Group. ICAO member-states and

international organizations nominated atmospheric science, airworthiness and ATM experts, among others, to take part in the IVATF’s research. Airline, airport and trade associations representing air navigation service providers all contributed resources to the effort, as did air traffic controller and airframe/engine manufacturer groups. Future work programmes recommended by the IVATF include studies on volcanic ash concentration levels, volcano monitoring and information management, as well as research on new methods to detect sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere. “If a major volcanic eruption were to occur today, civil aviation would find itself in a much better position than in April 2010,” concluded IVATF Programme Coordinator and New Zealand Meteorological Authority representative Peter Lechner. “Many challenges remain, however, and we will continue to address them within the International Airways Volcano Watch Operations Group, other ICAO expert groups or through pertinent partnering organizations.”

Virgin Atlantic Quits Kenyan Skies

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic announced it will withdraw its flight operations between Nairobi and London in September, with its last flight set to leave Nairobi on September 24 and from London Heathrow on September 23. In a statement released to media houses, the airline said increasing costs and a challenging economic environment during the past five years in both Kenya and Europe had led to the decision. “We have taken the difficult decision to withdraw our services between Nairobi and London,” Ms. Julie Southern, Chief Commercial Officer for Virgin Atlantic, said. “Despite the best efforts of our employees, external factors including the high price of fuel, increasing aviation taxes in the UK and insufficient passenger numbers throughout the past five years have contributed to the decision.”


Since it launched flights to Kenya in 2007, the airline noted that British Air Passenger Duty (APD) has risen by over 100% and fuel costs have increased by more than 50%. Its entry into the Kenyan market had upped competition on the London-Nairobi route, which saw travelers enjoy cheaper fares in a route that has giants like British Airways and Emirates and which is the most competitive. The 32 employees in Virgin’s Nairobi office ware caught unawares by the mid-morning announcement and the carrier said it is working on a redundancy package that will be made public in coming weeks. Branson admitted that during

the past five years, a combination of record fuel prices, higher and higher taxes imposed by the UK Government and a poorly-timed slot not providing connections from London, have made it uneconomical to fly from Nairobi “For the past five years, our team in Nairobi has worked incredibly hard and we hope to return should the economic situation change,” he said. In addition to Nairobi, Virgin’s African operations include Lagos, Accra and Johannesburg and the exit comes at a time when the carrier has just returned from losses. Besides facing stiff competition, Virgin faced reduced passenger numbers as the on-going eurozone crisis has reduced travel in the continent—which saw Kenya Airways announce a drop in passenger traffic on the continent to 113,184 passengers in the three months to March compared to 118,035 in a similar quarter last year. Kenya Airways has already issued a profit warning for the year ended March, which means it expects a maximum of Sh2.65 billion in net profit, which would be a drop from the previous Sh3.5 billion. Industry lobby International Air Transport Association downgraded the aviation sector’s 2012 outlook in May, citing high costs of operation. IATA cut the industry’s profitability projection by $500 million to $3 billion, saying high crude oil prices averaging $115 a barrel – more than $10 above its initial forecast – cast a dark shadow on the profitability path. “This year continues to be challenging for airlines and the outlook is fragile,” Tony Tyler, IATA chief executive, said in a statement issued last month.

Biz bytes >> Airbus with a Sunroof!

A fascinating glimpse into the future of air travel has been created by the aircraft manufacturer Airbus. It is one where in-flight entertainment is provided for passengers by ultra-thin monitors and where the cabin roof is transparent, offering views to the sky above and around as the aircraft streams towards its destination. A major plus, to be welcomed by any traveler, is the prediction that the high-tech reclining seats will offer more leg room than you’re likely to get in the royal box at Wembley Stadium. “The world is changing, so we have to constantly engage with fliers,” said Charles Champion, Airbus vice president of engineering. “More than 1.7 million people have provided their input to us in terms of shaping the future. “Passengers really care about the environment, 96% of them told us they want greener flying,” he added. “Only a few percent are interested in speed and even then it is about the whole travel experience. The thing that they dislike most is delays at checking in.”

>> Air Uganda Growing Bigger and Better

With its first flight launched in November 2007, Air Uganda will be celebrating its fifth year anniversary later this year. In that time, the country’s carrier has continued to grow its operations in East Africa and Southern Sudan. Air Uganda is also a member of Celestair Group, with sister airlines in West Africa, Air Burkina, Air Mali, and, in Europe, Meridianafly. The airline, headquartered in Kampala, offers flights to seven destinations – Nairobi, Mombasa, Juba, Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar (seasonal), Kigali and, more recently, Bujumbura, served by 55 flights per week. “Air Uganda over the years has continually increased its footprint in the East African region, offering direct flights out of Entebbe. What we offer today to the East African traveller is convenience, comfort, making the most of opportunities. The campaign was thus meant to focus on the larger purpose why people fly – to spread ideas, to strike partnerships, to explore opportunities, to connect with their loved ones,” the company states.

August - September 2012

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Technology |

Eco Flight

Green Aviation: Changing How We Fly Today for a Better Tomorrow By ANDREW NJUGUNA


o, how does the aviation industry handle the prospect of a billion passengers, with rising fuel prices, crowded airspace, outdated systems, and increasing environmental concerns? The answer is new technology that is both in use today, and on the horizon for air travel tomorrow – Green Aviation.

What is Green Aviation?

Green aviation is about taking responsibility for the impact of aviation on the environment, which includes carbon footprint, other emissions, and noise. Last year, ASTM International, the global standards body that oversees jet fuel specification in North America, published new rules allowing the use of biofuels (made from living things or the waste they produce) on all commercial flights. The revision includes requirements for synthetic fuel components manufactured from hydro-processed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) produced from renewable sources. The standard allows new components to be manufactured from jatropha, camelina, and fats, and combined with conventional aviation jet fuel. Biofuel (or drop-in fuel) must have energy density equal to or greater than conventional jet fuel, and must be able to function in desert heat or in cold temperatures at 40,000 feet. Boeing has been leading the push for approval of synthetic paraffinic kerosene (Bio-SPK) jet fuel, and is also testing algae- and camelina-based fuels. France-based Airbus also has been in the forefront of developing and testing new jet biofuels. They are helping to develop the second

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generation of biofuels, known as biomass, which avoid competing with food resources. Some options being investigated are algae, woodchip waste, camelina, yeast, and halophytes such as

salicornia (plants grown in salt water). Boeing recently flew the world’s first commercial airplane from Everett, WA to Paris using biologicallyderived fuel. The 747-8 Freighter’s four

Tech bytes >> Joyce is new IATA boss General Electric GEnx-2B engines were powered by a blend of 15% camelina-based biofuel mixed with 85% traditional kerosene fuel (Jet-A). Boeing did not need to make any changes to the airplane, its engines, or operating procedures to accommodate the biofuel.

Other Energy Sources

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced as a result of fuel consumption, so with reduced fuel use comes an equivalent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Another key emission standard for commercial jetliners is nitrogen oxides. Specific regulations have already been set for future airplanes, using a complex formula that is based on the thrust ratings of an airplane’s engines. The Boeing 787 is being designed to be more than 30 percent better than today’s 767s — and it will be better than

the future, more stringent regulations being incorporated by the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP). Other energy sources such as solar power and energy-harvesting also are being investigated for aircraft. While even the most efficient solar panels would still not be enough to propel a large aircraft, solar energy could provide electricity onboard the plane once it has reached altitude, or it could help reduce fuel burn and emissions during ground operations at airports. Likewise, energy harvesting also has applications within the aircraft as an alternative power source. The body heat a passenger gives off when seated for a number of hours could be collected by the seat, and combined with energy collected from other sources like solar panels to fuel cabin appliances or power cabin lights.

Joyce succeeds KLM President and CEO Peter Hartman, whose one-year term expired at the conclusion of the Association’s 68th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit in Beijing. Joyce’s appointment is effective immediately and is for one year, ending with the conclusion of IATA’s 69th AGM, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa. A 24-year veteran of the airline industry, Joyce has led Qantas since November 2008. “IATA plays a critical role in the industry and I am honored to take on the role of leading its Board of Governors. The top priorities, as always, will be safety, security, and sustainability. Aviation delivers enormous economic benefits—supporting some 57 million jobs and $2.2 trillion in economic activity. We need to ensure that governments understand what is at stake when they are making key decisions on taxes, regulation, and capacity expansion,” said Joyce. IATA also announced that the Board of Governors appointed Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Air Lines, to serve as Chairman from June 2013, following Joyce’s term.

Mobile Passenger Services Priority for Airlines Nearly 93% of airlines consider providing mobile services for passengers a top priority IT investment over the next three years, according to a new SITA survey. The 14th annual SITA/Airline Business IT Trends Survey polled half of the world’s top 100 carriers, revealing that the companies are investing in IT infrastructure in key business areas, including passenger service, reduction of operational cost and revenue generation. The survey also showed that mobile services are seen as playing a major role, with more than half of airlines already selling tickets through mobile devices. According to the survey’s findings, half of the airlines polled are already providing flight search and check-in services through mobile phones, with nearly half providing boarding passes,

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that Qantas Airways CEO and Managing Director Alan Joyce has assumed his duties as Chairman of the IATA Board of Governors.

>> Check Sheets Used to Investigate Cabin Odour

ticket purchase and flight status notifications for airport passengers. By 2015, nearly 90% of airlines are planning to offer mobile services, including flight search, check-in, boarding passes, ticket purchase, flight status notification and ancillary services, followed by customer complaint-handling and missing baggage management. The survey also found that 57% of airlines believe social media could encourage sales, while 39% consider it important for customer service. Currently 40% of airlines promote flights through social media, with 90% planning to do so by 2015. The survey also disclosed that both social media and mobile offerings allow a more personalized service, with 78% planning to personalize sales through their direct channels.

Certain auxiliary power units (APUs) are being examined to determine a possible link to complaints of an undesirable odour in some aircraft cabins. APUs provide pneumatic power in the form of clean, compressed air for operation of aircraft main engine starters, air conditioning systems and similar equipment. APUs also provide mechanical power in the form of rotational shaft power to drive a generator that powers aircraft systems. Determining the cause of cabin odour is difficult due to the complexity of aircraft environmental control systems (ECS) and numerous air sources. Honeywell, an aviation product support engineering company has provided an on-wing check sheet to help identify the conditions under which the odour occurs. This data can be used by investigating teams to help identify whether the APU is a contributing factor.

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Technology |

Connected Continent

Africa’s 695 Million Mobile Phone Users Drive e-Commerce Changing the way in which Africans communicate and conduct business By ANDREW NJUGUNA


cross the African continent, Internet penetration is low, computers are often too expensive to purchase, and online business transactions can be too logistically complicated to execute. But the surge in mobile phone use – there are currently 695 million mobile phone subscribers in Africa – has given Africans a simple and pervasive means of sharing information and conducting business. In recent years, a few innovative African companies have found ways to harness the e-potential of mobile commerce and information sharing, changing the way in which Africans communicate and conduct business. SlimTrader, founded by NigerianAmerican Femi Akinde (inset), is an e-commerce firm that is meant to ease the exchange of goods and widen the online markets for Africans.


Akinde and the SlimTrader team created Mobiashara, a mobile technology that allows users to search for and purchase products via text message. This technology provides retailer information and inventory, and also partners with mobile payment providers such as M-PESA and MTN, so someone can make a purchase with a press of a button on their mobile device. With partners such as Aero Airlines, SlimTrader even facilitates once complicated transactions such as buying plane tickets. Umuntu Media is another Africanbased host website that caters to the mobile world. Umuntu was founded

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Photography | Courtesy

only one-and-a-half years ago by Johan Nel, a native of Namibia. The idea of Umuntu, Nel explains, is to ‘close the local content gap, to provide users with information that is useful to them”. Umuntu provides local news, job listings, and directories specific to each country and region in which it operates. After only 18 months of operation, Umuntu has portals in nine countries, and its Namibia portal, iNamibia, is already the largest local website in Namibia.

Tech bytes >> Stand-up Workstation Redefines ‘Locus Standi’

ICAO and ACI Sign Airport Safety Pact

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Airports Council International (ACI) have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) to develop a framework to ensure higher levels of safety across all airports. Under the MoC, both organizations will support the development of the ACI Airport Excellence (APEX) in Safety Programme, which will assist airports worldwide to detect and deal with safety loopholes. The objectives of the MoC also include undertaking joint technical assistance projects, regular exchange of safety-relevant information and data as well as providing mutual access to databases and providing

Umuntu Media creates web portals like this for local news, jobs listings and more. E-commerce shouldn’t be in desktop form for Africa, the focused efforts on the mobile side of e-commerce will change the way business is done in this continent. It should be noted however that the mobile demographic is a little different than e-commerce on computers, which would be more middle- and upper-class. The mobile demographic is expanded to consist of people in small villages, and so it wouldn’t make financial sense for an advertiser of highpriced consumer goods to advertise to this demographic. The mobile environments in Africa

training for regional cooperation. “Through APEX, we help airports around the world identify and remedy safety vulnerabilities by on-site peer reviews, information sharing, training, assistance with implementation of management structures and the technical assistance in applying the standards and recommendations”, said Angela Gittens, ACI Director General (above, right), adding, “This collaboration with ICAO takes global airport safety to the next level”. The APEX programme will help airports enhance their safety performance to implement safety management systems, set up indicators and provide the tools for reducing safety adverse incidents.

are better-suited to financial services, citing cheap funeral insurance and student loans as some of the top mobile advertisers. Although problems arise in the mobile e-commerce world, such as product delivery, Africa has made great strides in conducting business online and on handhelds. Companies like Umuntu and SlimTrader have seen the opportunity for Africa on mobiles, an opportunity unique to Africa because of the importance of business at the microlevel, and the lack of other forms of technology. The type of technology being developed is one that Africans hope will solve African problems while putting Africa on the map for innovative solutions.

While stand-up workstations have been offered as an alternative, standing for too long can also take a toll on our well-being. Focal Upright Furniture has attempted to reach a best-of-both-worlds middleground with its new Locus Workstation. The Locus consists of two parts, the desk and the seat. The desk can readily accommodate a laptop computer, and a mounting bracket for a 27-inch iMac is on the way. The tractor-style seat, however, is what’s special. It has a central single aluminum leg, which attaches via a pivot to a hardwood laminate base/footrest. Users adjust the height of the seat and desk so that they are in a semi-standing position, with the seat taking some of their weight. According to Focal, this constant movement “keeps your body active and brain engaged, stimulating blood and oxygen flow”. Regular models will be priced at US$1,150 for the desk, and $650 for the seat.

>> SpaceX Dragon Resupplies ISS “Three, two, one and launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, as NASA turns to the private sector to resupply the International Space Station,” said NASA commentator George Diller, as the spacecraft blasted off in mid-May. No humans were traveling aboard the Dragon, but six astronauts were already at the $100-billion space lab to help the capsule latch on, to unload supplies and then restock the capsule with cargo to take back to Earth. NASA administrator Charles Bolden said: “Today marks the beginning of a new era in exploration . . . The significance of this day cannot be overstated; a private company has launched a spacecraft to the International Space Station that will attempt to dock there for the first time”. With the proximity maneuvers, the Dragon drove to within 10m of the station. Astronauts emptied Dragon of its 500kg of food, water and equipment, before releasing it for a return to Earth at the end of the month. California-based SpaceX, owned by billionaire Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk, is the first of several US competitors to try sending spacecraft to the ISS with the goal of restoring US access to space for human travelers by 2015. For Musk, the lift-off was a special moment. “Every bit of adrenalin in my body released at that point”, he told reporters.

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CoverStory |

KK Security Group IATA Certified


At KK Group, All Eyes Are Now Trained on Safer Skies Aviation East Africa Senior Business Analyst WASHINGTON AKUMU reports on why the landing of an IATA endorsement is such a big deal for the regional security giant

When the KK Group, a widely diversified security provider, received the nod from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to conduct aviation training locally early this year, it was a strategic coup for the firm. The Aviation Training Centre (ATC) accreditation - handed to the School Lane, Westlands, Nairobi-based outfit - after a rigorous vetting process that lasted about a year, is clearly a big deal not just for the Group, but for the aviation industry in East and Central Africa as well. The KK Group is the first company to make the ATC grade in the region, in itself no mean feat, considering that the nearest other station is in South Africa. As a bonus, the company was able to wring out an exclusivity clause that ensures it is the only security company providing such training in Kenya for the foreseeable future. This new foray into uncharted territory (the skies) has the latent potential to soar into a new avenue for lateral growth and a revenue stream at the Group, which has over the years built a reputation as a trend-setter and strategic thought leader in the security sector in the region. Besides local airlines, ground-handling companies, relevant regulatory bodies, clearing & forwarding companies and other related businesses now have a chance to train their personnel here in Kenya, under the tutelage of IATA-trained and certified resources at less than half the cost they would incur if they use the options that are available outside Kenya. Significantly, all this would be done in an environment that allows for closer monitoring of trainer, course content and uptake, if the strong pitch made by KK Group Training Manager LUCAS NDOLO is any guide. Ndolo spoke to this writer about the landmark certification and a number of related issues. Excerpts of their conversation:

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AVIATION EAST AFRICA: This must have been quite a journey. How did you get to this point, which obviously marks a key milestone in the history of KK? NDOLO: KK has primarily been dealing with security in the region for quite a number of years. This is something we have done from inception in 1967. We are in effect 45 years old in security provision. As part of our corporate DNA, KK has always looked for new opportunities and aviation security is one of the areas that we have identified, with a lot of demand in the country and the region. We decided to approach IATA to see whether we could deliver some of the courses that they have in aviation security and other areas that are of interest to both the security and aviation industries. IATA undertook a thorough and very rigorous due diligence of our company and our proposal to partner with them. IATA approved our business plan and our training centre, as an authorized training centre for IATA! We are the only security company in Africa that has been granted ATC (authorized training centre) status by them. Naturally, we are very proud of this achievement and we believe that this marriage between KK Security and IATA will go a long way in ensuring that professional development in the security field is enhanced across the region. IATA is very strong on human resource development the world over and we are partnering with IATA to bring this ideal to fruition in the region.

AVIATION SAFETY: Planes at JKIA and, inset, No. 21 School Lane, Westlands, KK Security Group HQ. The Group is now IATA-certified to provide aviation security training

Q: For any training to happen, you require trainees. Who needs the training you shall be offering? A: Our target market is the airline industry; anybody who is involved in any way with IATA. These include local airlines, the ground handling companies, relevant regulatory bodies and government agencies (for example the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya Airports Police Unit, etc), clearing and forwarding companies and related organizations. IATA is, as you know, an association of air transporters and any member of IATA must follow the regulations and training that IATA requires. Any airline operating out of Kenya which wants to meet the IATA standards in aviation security in terms of Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR), transportation of live animals and other courses that we have been authorized by IATA to conduct here in Kenya will be on

our radar. Initially, we are looking at doing in-house training for airlines, ground handling companies and for anybody who comes into contact with the airline industry. We will move, in the next few months, from providing in-house training to providing training at our own centre and we plan for this to happen in the next couple of months. Q: This sounds like it has been quite a labour of love for KK, which seems to have ended well. So what did it take for KK to achieve this historic certification? A: The process was quite demanding. It took a complete year. We can certainly say that it is not easy to get ATC certification. It was a year of interviews, visits, business plans, market analysis, etc. We had to show that the project is viable in Kenya and that we had the capacity, Turn to P22

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KK Security Group IATA Certified

From P21

Q: You have provided a fairly good idea of which firms you shall be pitching to. Let us talk personnel. A: It is very dependent on the courses that are on the menu. We will be running several courses. With our background, of course, aviation security awareness comes naturally. We are also running the DGR course, (Dangerous Goods Regulations) and we are also running the transport of live animals course. We have a leadership programme, which has been developed jointly by IATA and Harvard University, as part of the menu. So, dependent on what area or where the key personnel come from, there will be courses that are necessary and tailored for them. However, when we look at the aviation industry itself, every person involved in an aircraft is part of our target market for trainees – for example all pilots must do an aviation security awareness course. After every two years, pilots must do refresher training which also entails a three-day programme on aviation security. DGR is another course that is mandatory. Aviation security is a must for pilots and cabin crew. DGR training is also required for groundhandling personnel as well and anybody handling luggage on and off the aircraft. These courses are necessary for all these cadres of staff. Q: Why should one use KK, which has no history in aviation security, let alone training people in it? A: KK is the foremost security company in the East and Central African region. We believe we are a professional outfit. We run all our training programmes professionally. We feel that the greater society in eastern and Central Africa can benefit from this professionalism that is at the core of our value proposition. The professionalism that you see in our training programmes in the security training is what we want to bring to

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resources and manpower to conduct the courses for IATA here. We applied for the certification in March last year and received it in March this year. But we are glad we went through the process and are satisfied that we earned this rightfully.

TRAINER ON THE JOB: KK Group Training Manager Lucas Ndolo in his office during the Aviation East Africa interview

aviation security training. We have a good footprint in East and Central Africa and believe that if an airline wants to train its people in aviation security, DGR, etc, they should not have to take them to South Africa, Dubai or Montreal. They can get their personnel trained here in Kenya and get the same IATA-certified quality and content. It is certainly going to be very much more affordable if it is done by KK as opposed to sending employees abroad for courses that are already available here. Q: Tell me about capacity-building. Have you assembled a bankable army of trainers and what will you do to ensure they stay on top of their game in an industry that is in constant flight, one where security issues are daily evolving. A: Currently, all the trainers that we are using are trained and certified by IATA.

They have to go through recertification every two years to keep those certificates. We believe that will take care of the imperative for currency and relevance. We have four trainers on board for DGR and for AVSEC (aviation security). We also have internal resources that we intend to use in this programme who have years of experience in general security training and we will be sending them for external training to Montreal or Geneva in accordance with what IATA stipulates. Q: What is the word on the ground, or shall we say in the sky, so far? What has been the market’s initial reaction? It is early days, but I am sure you have an indication. A: There is palpable excitement in the industry and we are feeling it. This is hinged on the realization that we can now get these courses run

We believe we are a professional outfit. We run all our training programmes professionally

here in Kenya, especially the AVSEC course. First, there is excitement that it can actually be done here; it can be affordable and it is much easier to control and police. What used to happen in the past is that one would

contract a “briefcase trainer”, say, one who was last certified by IATA in 2000. A trainer of this mould may not have gone back for re-certification. Such trainers are not necessarily aware of current trends, and this is near-suicidal, especially in this knowledge-sensitive industry, where you have to be ahead to stay relevant. So, it will be much easier to monitor and ensure that people are being given the right training and, most importantly, by trainers who have been trained and certified by IATA. That is crucial not just to IATA itself but also to players in the industry. The availability of these products here in Kenya has certainly kicked off a lot of excitement in the aviation sector, which we hope will be concretized in the form of contracts soon. Q: Our notion of KK is defined by manned guarding, the dog unit, and, to some extent, cash-intransit. Isn’t KK in danger of losing its soul in this apparent flight to new, exotic destinations? How will you ensure that your core business does not become a poor cousin to the new functions? A: At the KK Group, security is our core business. Aviation security is just another facet of what we do. So we are not going out [of our core business]. We are still playing very much within the same field. What we are doing is to place ourselves strategically in the areas that we know are growing and have potential for further development. Aviation is one such industry and is growing at an immense rate in East and

Central Africa. We want to be part of that growth. We believe that we can play a vital part in the growth of this industry. In tandem, we are moving into other areas like oil and gas logistics and security consultancy because we are convinced that this sector is equally poised for takeoff and a change of attitude within the next three-to-five years in this region. KK believes in establishing leadership in emergent areas. We are the market leaders and we believe that, as part of this leadership, it is up to us to open new frontiers,. We believe that strategic leadership is something that we are very good at and we see no reason why we cannot be good in the future doing the same. Q: What next for this new venture in aviation security training? When can we see the first class? A: Already, we have approached a number of players in the industry. We have several Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) signed up with some of them and, once we are engaged to them, we believe that we will be a serious player in providing training on aviation security, DGR and other related courses, not just in Kenya but the region as a whole. Once we have established ourselves in Kenya as a reputable trainer, which we expect to achieve by the end of the year, we will roll out to the rest of the region where KK already has an expansive six-country footprint, to provide the same sort of training for all aviation industry players in East and Central Africa. The process of building a name in aviation training in Kenya has already begun.

Washington Akumu is Principal Consultant at Gravitas Limited, a consultancy focusing on media content, general communications counsel, public affairs and training. He is a former Senior Manager in charge of Public Relations at integrated communications company Safaricom. This role put him in charge of the firm’s entire corporate communications function which he set up and included internal communications, online reputation management, media relations, crisis communications, stakeholder engagement and public affairs. Akumu, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Marketing from the University of Nairobi’s School of Business, cut his teeth at the Nation Media Group, which he joined in June 1998 as a Business Correspondent. He won the inaugural Barclays Business Journalist of the Year Award (Newspapers) a year later, becoming a staffer at the media outfit. He worked on the NMG’s business desk, where he made a name in providing incisive analysis of business and economic issues and making them accessible to ordinary readers, with a keen bias for the capital and financial markets, agribusiness, ICT, the macro-economy and international trade diplomacy. He quit NMG as Business Editor for the Nation Newspapers Division, a role that put him in charge of business content for all the division’s titles. These included the daily business beat and special pullouts such as Sunday Business, Smart Company and Money. He had managerial duties over a team that comprised several business journalists and editors, besides a wide correspondent network covering the entire country and East Africa.

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CoverStory |

KK Security Group IATA Certified

At KK, Getting the Best Security Officer for the Job ‘For us, honesty is non-negotiable. We just wish the wider Kenyan society could live by this mantra’, says Lucas Ndolo, Group Training Manager


ith the words of the guard at the entrance to the Ngong Racecourse still ringing in my ears, I take the first right turn and immediately notice the sign: KK Group Training Centre. The notice is big enough to be legible, yet neither intrusive nor

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By WASHINGTON AKUMU invasive. As I drive on the narrow red earth road, ringed by tall trees and the occasional bamboo bush, it is clear that no effort has been spared in maintaining the general peace and quiet of this neighbourhood, even in matters of signage. The first thing that assails me as I get out of the car is the unusual chill. True, Nairobi has been cold lately

for June, which many say is July come-too-soon (July is traditionally Nairobi’s version of winter), but this heavily-forested part of the Ngong Racecourse clearly has its own little micro-climate thing going. The city has been going through a teethgritting cold spell, but it is definitely colder here. My coat fully buttoned-up, I make for the gate where two uniformed KK Group security officers welcome me with smiles and the stiffest of salutes. I notice the throng of humanity that is slowly swelling like a throat at the gate. They are a motley crowd: men and women, young and old,


tall and short, officially and casually dressed. It occurs to me that this assembly was the destination of choice for the many dusty shoes and determined brows I encountered on my short drive here. Most are clutching brown envelopes as if their very lives depended on this single, allimportant gesture. Their expectant gazes are trained on the metal gate and the two men manning it, as if they are waiting for something, a vital, life-changing sign.

Natural Inside the spotlessly clean compound, whose architect seems to have made a clear effort to blend with its green, natural environment, my host, Mr. Lucas Ndolo, KK Group’s Training Manager, and his lively team of trainers stand at ease, waiting. From their easy poise, it is clear that this is a drill they have perfected to a step. “Welcome to the KK Training & Recruitment Centre. You are on time for our weekly recruitment exercise,” gushes Ndolo, a bubbly and articulate man who walks around with a gait that I have come to associate with people who are on a higher scale of physical fitness

than myself, the type that says I can pounce if the need arises. At exactly 9am, he bellows to his trainers: “Are we ready?” With martial precision and unity, they all answer in the affirmative. As if on some over-rehearsed cue, the throng troops in, silently. It is quickly divided into two groups by the trainers: one for ladies, the other for gentlemen. The next step is very simple, really. Two height thresholds (floor would be more like it, since this is the shortest allowable height) have been set in metal within the compound. I gather that the bar for men is set at 5.9 feet, while that for women is at 5.6 feet. The candidates are supposed to walk to the benchmark and see whether they make the mark, all this under the very watchful and uncompromising eyes of the trainers. I have never reckoned with the finality of height as a standard. It is a case of either and or… There are no in-betweens. The visual evidence is there for all to see and, sadly, you can do something about your weight, but certainly not your height, especially when you are over 24 years old, which is the lower age cut-off point for a would-be KK Security Officer.

THE DRILL: KK Security Officers go through their paces at the KK Training & Recruitment Centre, Racecourse, Nairobi

Standing on tip-toe or getting highheeled shoes cannot get you far either, as the trainers will see it from a mile off and wearing of shoes is not allowed for this initial part of the process, anyway! Those who make or exceed the height bar are retained for the next phase of the recruitment. Those who do not make it are politely advised to leave. The trainers do not allow for any of that Kenyan specialty – a “private” talk with the recruits, firmly advising those still persistently seeking such an audience, even after failing the ‘height test’, that their business in the compound is done. I make out a young man whose head just missed the mark by a few inches. His black leather shoes seem to have suddenly added a few more grams in his hands. He takes one last wistful look at the bar, as if willing the gods of height to make one last intercession on his behalf. He shakes his head and gets down to the business of tying his shoe laces. He lingers a few seconds longer than usual in this simplest of tasks. A trainer waves him on. In front of him, the gate and joblessness beckon. Again! Behind him is a Turn to P26

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KK Security Group IATA Certified

From P25

group of those “blessed with height” sufficient to have made the first step on the journey to becoming a KK Security Officer. The unfortunate man gets the message that he cannot undo his height – or what has been – and promptly leaves. There must be something else he can do, I almost hear him mutter under his breath, his shoes kicking up the dust. “Our standards are cast in iron. We can never compromise on our standards. When we offer our services to clients, they have certain expectations that we have to live up to, if not surpass. This [recruitment] process is at the very core of what we do; it is very important to us. We are only as good as our officers. I can assure you this is the most competitive, rigorous and transparent recruitment process for security officers in the entire industry in this region,” explains a visibly proud Ndolo. Following the height stop, the original throng at the gate (which was around 400 people) has been whittled down to below 200. But it is not over yet. This group has just started on a rigorous 12-day journey that will see the successful ones graduate as Security Officers with the KK Group. “It is a long and arduous process. Many drop along the way. It is designed that way. At the end of the day, we are looking for a security officer who is capable, willing, motivated and dedicated and will

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OBSTACLE COURSE: Above, hopeful job-seekers queue up at the KK Training & Recruitment Centre, Racecourse. Facing page and below, trainees go through rigorous physical exercises

add value to our clients. We do not hire those who are just looking for a job,” adds Ndolo.

Recruits I notice that, among the recruits, there is a group of older men who have been separated from the rest and are getting the attention of Ndolo himself. Unlike the other recruits, they seem to have the selfassuredness that comes with age and experience. It is almost like they have been through such processes before. “These are ex-servicemen. They are a special case. We have been contracted by a company called FSI to recruit 400 such people for assignments in Afghanistan. While the company will conduct the interviews themselves, our role is to ensure that these recruits retired or left the disciplined forces with a clean record and have the right documents,” says Ndolo, adding that KK Group had mounted a vigorous media campaign to attract such candidates. Back to those who are being recruited by KK Group for its own deployment, the next stage is age verification. For this exercise, the recruits are expected to produce their original national ID cards. And even here, unstinting fidelity to set benchmarks is strictly upheld. “We do not accept anything else but an original ID. No copies are allowed. The cut-off age is 24 years. The recruit must have attained this age before the exercise starts. Even where one is younger by a few days,

we ask them to come the following week, or when they have finally met the requirement,” offers Maina, the Chief Trainer. The motivation behind this, says Maina, is to recruit Security Officers who are “emotionally mature and stable” and who can handle the challenges that come with the assignment. The next phase of the recruitment process is centered on physical fitness. The recruits go through a process which determines their ability to handle the physical strains of their work. Besides visual observation by the trainers of limbs and other body parts, the recruits are expected to carry out simple exercises like push-ups and pressups to gauge their levels of physical

fitness. Marks are awarded based on one’s performance and attributes such as good body size. Muscle mass and fitness always gives a recruit an added advantage.


Instructions But it is not just about brawn. “We always want an officer who can communicate with the client and understand instructions as given. We do not just want someone to open and close the gate. Our minimum level of education is a KCSE certificate. For KCPE graduates, whom we also recruit sometimes, they must have attained at least a minimum C+ in the English language. Interestingly, we also attract quite a number of university graduates.” Today, there are at least four such recruits with undergraduate degrees in subjects ranging from Information Technology to Food Science and Technology! And there is one KCPE graduate, with the majority parading KCSE certificates. Again, the academic documents must be original and not photocopies. The names they bear must also tally with those on the ID card. To my mind, this sounds like an arduous task, but to the trainers, it is a simple routine as they can spot a fake certificate with the precision of a KNEC (Kenya National Examinations Council) official. They can even tell you with equal precision which county produces the highest number of fake certificates! It is clear that this is a major hurdle for the recruits and, by the

When we offer our services to clients, they have certain expectations that we have to live up to, if not surpass

time the trainers are done with the verification of academic papers, only a few are left.


“For us, honesty is non-negotiable. We just wish the wider Kenyan society could live by this mantra,” offers Ndolo, an ex-serviceman with the Kenya Army, who had extensive commercial security experience with Socfinaf and Alliance One Tobacco before joining KK. Those who pass through this stage are expected to come back to the centre from 1.30pm for an oral interview process conducted by three senior KK Group managers on the same day. The interviewers grade the candidates separately and the scores are collated to determine who makes it for the 12-day training. Out of an original group of 400 candidates at the start of the day, only about 30 or less normally make it past this level. The training is divided into two modules, with the first week dedicated to theory, while the

second week is for giving the trainees a practical feel of their work. Over 18 topics are covered, among them orientation, local law and power of arrest, terrorism and criminality, fires and explosions, mission emergency plans, physical security measures employed by missions and basic guard duties and patrol procedures. Other areas of training are guard force communications, general orders and post orders, maintenance of logs and preparation of incident reports, unarmed defence and handling disorderly persons, use of personal equipment, access control equipment use and procedures, observation techniques and static surveillance detection techniques. The trainees are also taught about emergency response, dealing with diplomats and mission employees and ordinary citizens and basic first aid. Emergent issues like crime scene management and HIV/Aids awareness have also been incorporated in the 12-day programme.

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KK Security Group IATA Certified


a Regional Giant Guarding, alarm response, guard dogs, close protection, event safety and security, electronic security solutions and fire control and rescue are some of the services the Group provides, reports WASHINGTON AKUMU


ith a weekly recruitment that nets an average of 30 ready-to-be-deployed security officers, business must be good for the KK Group. And given its clientele, it is easy to understand why the group places such a heavy accent on training. The Group, which has operations in at least six countries in the region, including Kenya, Uganda,

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Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo, has managed to attract and maintain a high-street clientele that includes large companies, embassies and international agencies, among others. Guarding, alarm response, guard dogs, close protection, event safety and security, electronic security solutions and fire control and rescue are some of the services the Group provides. Interestingly, KK’s growth has been achieved without the group pitching for business in lucrative and traditional sectors such as banking. While it does not provide security services at banks, the Group makes an exception in the form of cash-in-transit jobs, through its KK Lodgit unit. The firm, whose KK initials are derived from its initial name of Kenya Kazi Ltd., was founded by a group of foreign and local shareholders led by current chairman,


of attrition among existing staff. “We have regular appraisals and mandatory annual training for all security officers. Those who perform below par are let go,” explains Ndolo.


Mr. Derek Oatway. It boasts a diversified Board that includes CEO James Omwando, who previously worked at ALICO; former KCB CEO Terry Davidson, a Kenyan by birth and Dr Lorenzo Bertolli, whose local roots run deep, having managed a number of firms, including juice manufacturing transnatonal Del Monte.

Operations KK Group’s total head-count for security officers is 19,000, with the Kenyan operation accounting for 8,000. This is complemented by the biggest dog unit among its peers with a total population of 600, with at least three-quarters domiciled in Kenya. The continuous recruitment is a strategy by the company to meet growing demand and also take care

Insecurity has become a persistent narrative in Kenya, spawning unprecedented growth in the security sector. This has largely fed off the perception of insecurity at the national level, which has been concretized by a slew of actual and threatened terrorist attacks on business establishments in key towns, especially after the Kenya Army took the battle to the doorstep of lawless Somalia’s al Shabaab Islamist militia. Interestingly, the nationwide siege mentality has coincided with a period of relative calm on the microcrime front. Credit for this must go to the country’s homeland security apparatus. KK Group’s Ngong Racecourse facility, in which the Group has made a deliberate investment, has a total of five classrooms. It also boasts boarding facilities which can be used by new recruits or company employees on refresher courses.

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‘Our Model is Professional Service with Integrity’ Mr. DEREK OATWAY is Group Chairman of the KK Security Group and a founding father of the company in its eastern African form. He was interviewed by Aviation East Africa Contributing Editor (Science & Technology) WYCLIFFE MUGA. Resolutely unarmed and with no intention of using firearms in the near future, KK Security nonetheless lands the most demanding, innovative and lucrative contracts in the sector throughout the region. How do they do it? Excerpts of a great conversation: 30 |

AVIATION EAST AFRICA: I understand you were previously a senior executive in an insurance company before you started KK. So could you start from there and say here I was at, was it ALICO? OATWAY: Yes. I’m an insurance man by profession. I had been with AIG for 35 years and I started my association with them in Bermuda. From there, we moved to Delaware, USA, and then to London, then to Beirut and to Cyprus. From there we went back to Delaware as the Executive Vice President. In 1985, I started a new company for AIG in Indonesia and in 1989 we came here to run the ALICO operations in Kenya. Three years later, I retired from AIG and since I felt I knew something about the Kenyan market, saw opportunities, and I decided to

Q: You lived at the Coast at this time?

stay. I started to work with Kenya Equity, a USAID-funded venture capital concern, and then a few friends introduced me to KK Guards as it was known.

A: Well, I still lived in Nairobi but we would go back and forth, although my wife wasn’t very pleased about that, that’s the way it was.

Q: It existed before you took it over? A: Yes. It existed for about 22 years. It was started by a retired Irish policeman named Hugh McGovern and his wife as a cleaning company in Mombasa and then went into the guard business. Initially, when I was with ALICO, we had a small venture capital fund that we were trying to develop and KK Guards had come up as a possible candidate for an investment. It was one-manband then and we didn’t feel totally comfortable with that because there might be skeletons in the closet. One of the proponents of that proposition was Howard Crooks and he understood our reservations. So he arranged to hire an ex-employee of his by the name of John Larimore to go to work for McGovern for a year and to learn about the business. After I left ALICO, he suggested that we might look at it as individuals and since he had Larimore there, we had far more confidence in the operation than we had before. So we decided to buy it as an investment to see what we could do with it. Mombasa was not a very big market, so decided to take it, expand throughout the country and regionally. Went into that exercise to establish training teams and we fortunately found a guy who was interested in training: an exBritish major. He was charged with recruiting trainers and we recruited three ex-British military and one Canadian to establish new kits for the training teams. We put up teams of one expert and two Kenyan trainers and then we went and started to train tea estates in Eldoret, Kericho and others. Q: At this point you are still a Mombasa-based company, or had you moved? A: We were still in Mombasa. So we were running the domestic operations and then starting to run training operations.

Q: With hindsight, was that a gamble or did you more or less know what you were doing? Was there any way you could have seen back then that the security industry would grow the way it has?

With the development of the operations in Rwanda, several of our Kenyan staff were moved to Kigali

A: Well, we knew that the security industry had been stagnant for many years. We thought that if we brought something into the industry that hadn’t been there before, we would have a competitive advantage. That was professional training. We believed that well-trained and motivated security officers could make a difference to the industry. Q: What year was this? A: We bought the company on December 31st 1992 and, by late ’93, the training teams had begun to move upcountry. The tea estates had lots of watchmen who had never been trained. It was a new experience for them. Over a period of several weeks, the entire body of guards was put through a speciallydesigned training programme. Morale and performance improved tremendously and the tea estate owners said ‘hey, this has value’. The men now knew what they had to do, why they had to do it, and how to function as a team. So, that was the encouraging element. Q: That was your first reaching out beyond Mombasa and doing something? A: Yes. Q: OK. What came next after that? A: Next came Rwanda. In September 1994, not long after the Rwandan Genocide had ended, the UN and NGOs were going in and they needed security. Howard Crooks, who was the chairman at the time, insisted that KK should be there on the ground to provide this security

service. So, we then took two of our experienced trainers and posted them there to start an operation. They set up an office and began selecting, recruiting and training a local guard force of Rwandese. Q: Just to put this into perspective, your guards in Rwanda? A: Yes. Q: What was Rwanda like at the time? A: The first time we went there was in late September. There was no one there. We drove from Kampala and crossed the border. It was absolutely still! There wasn’t a living thing, not even a bird. We went back again in November and we could see the first signs of life returning. Gradually, the population drifted back to their original locations. Q: So you went in more or less immediately after the killings stopped just as the UN was moving in? A: Yes. Just to see what was happening. Once we were sure some sort of stability was present, we started the operations and as more and more NGOs came in, the demand for security increased. The guard force grew rapidly and the operations were quite successful. Q: OK. So here you have a company that has moved beyond its initial Mombasa operations to training all over Kenya and then going into Rwanda. What about staff, what did that mean? How many people did you have on your staff by then? A: When we bought the company, the guard force was about 600 men along with and admin staff of about 30. It was one of the largest companies in Mombasa back then. As we got into training, more expatriate staff and Kenyans were added. With the development of the operations in Rwanda, several of our Kenyan staff were moved to Kigali. As the guard force there grew, we probably reached a total complement of 1,000. Turn to P32

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From P31

And then in 1995, we started operations in Uganda. Q: May I ask something at this point about Uganda. A country like Uganda already had security companies. What does it take to get established in a country when you first begin? What was your strategy, what did you do? A: Well, initially you start off by obtaining the right licenses and permits. It takes time and lots of patience. But there was another problem we met in Uganda. All the existing security companies were armed and we were not armed; we don’t deal with arms. We said, ‘OK, fine, we’ll be here but we’ll not do arms. We’ll provide security services, we’ll train guys who know how to handle all sorts of situations and we’ll use armed police as our backup’. Q: But isn’t that tying your hands behind your back – if everyone else is using them? A: No it isn’t. We believe in doing things professionally. So unless you have professional firearm trainers who can instruct guards on the correct use and maintenance of firearms and provide regular refresher training, don’t do arms. That’s not the way things are done in Uganda . Up to this day, we are the only company that doesn’t have guns in Uganda and we still have a lot of clients. Q: Explain that then. Imagine I’m your client. You come up to me and say ‘This is our service’, and I tell you ‘Yes, I’ve always wanted to have someone with a gun at my gate’, and you tell me, ‘Sorry, we don’t do guns’. How are you going to convince me that I am still safe with everyone else having a gun? A: As I mentioned earlier, we have armed police in our response vehicles. If there is an incident which requires arms, the police will provide that element. If you look at any OB [Occurrence Book] in a Ugandan police station, most entries are going to be about a firearm being discharged by guards, either accidentally or intentionally.

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This partnership proved very valuable as we learned how to run an embassy contract

The client is more at risk with an untrained individual with a gun on his property. Now the Diplomatic Corps don’t want guns. The major hotels like the Serena and Sheraton don’t have guns. They understand that without firearms, the environment is much more friendly. And now the Inspector General of Police has also come out saying, ‘No more guns’. Q: Ok. So what you are saying is the same policy you had used in Kenya, with a focus on professionalism, that’s what led you to oppose the idea of your guards having guns? A: Absolutely. Q: And what worked in Kenya worked in Uganda as well? A: Yes. Q: And you have never found yourself at a disadvantage because your people don’t have guns? A: No. Because we use our response teams which have armed police on board if needed. Q: Ok, so what came after this?

A: Then we opened a sales office in Nairobi in early 1995. We started with two marketers, one ex-policeman and one ex-military, and we got the East African Breweries contract. That was our first major contract outside of Mombasa. Q: But you bid for it as a Mombasabased company? A: We bid for it as a Kenyan company. And in 1996, we bid for the US Embassy contract in Nairobi. Q: I imagine that’s a big contract. A: A very big contract. But it was our first attempt to bid for such a large contract. We lost it to an American company, UIIS (United International Investigative Services). UIIS had a problem securing certain licenses for their alarm transmission. So we offered to provide the alarms infrastructure for them. This partnership proved very valuable as we learned how to run an embassy contract. The contract was for five years. They won a renewal but no longer needed our assistance. But then, a little over two years later, they withdrew, and we took it over and we’ve been there ever since.


security business? People want to deal with professional service? A: People want to deal with professional companies and our model is service with integrity: we don’t bribe, we don’t accept bribes and we don’t give bribes. And there are quite a lot of people who want to deal with a company like that. Q: So, looking back then, it means what you made was the right strategic decision. If you are going to offer a security service, there should be no question of anyone doubting whether there is integrity in your employees, in the whole setup. They need to be sure that, in this one crucial thing which – who knows – might cost me my life, I want to deal with people who know what they are doing and who I can trust. Is that more or less what it boils down to?

Q: If this isn’t a trade secret, big contracts like the EABL and the US Embassy, everyone in the security business would want this. What would you say was your edge? What gave you an advantage over your competition? A: Well, we take such contracts very seriously. We believe they can only be run professionally when you assign a professional project manager to run them. Q: Surely, all the other companies can hire a dedicated expert as well? A: Yes, but we have a unique and rigorous training programme which can provide trained security officers with whom the professional can work. Q: So you are saying that it’s the focus on professionalism. When you started all those years ago in Mombasa, this is what was getting you all these extra contracts and all this extra work? A: Yes. Q: So that’s really the heart of the

A: Yes. That’s it. The client looks at what you are offering, he looks at your experience, he looks at how professional you are and he makes his decision. Q: Once you’ve said that the only clients you deal with are those who valued what you had to offer, which is professionalism and integrity, I think that says it all. So then, even with all the things you had going for you, people would always be interested. No one believes that anyone can be so lucky that everything just goes up and up. What was a low point for KK Security? To give you an example, one of your rival companies, there is a time when there was barely a week when one of their cash-in-transit vans was not involved in a robbery, which was obviously planned from within. That must have been a terrible time for them. I know nothing of that sort has applied to KK, but you can’t be so lucky that you didn’t have some bad times? A: Of course there were bad times. Whenever you take over an operation, one always tends to underestimate the resources that you are going to need. The previous owners had a very unique way of accounting. So, as a consequence, there was quite a

discrepancy between what the books showed should be in the bank and what exactly was in the bank. So we found the issue of cash-flow to be quite a challenge. And then, of course, being new kids on the block, we were trying to do everything by the book and suddenly we had problems with the Kenya Revenue Authority, we had problems with the NHIF and all these issues were attracting penalties and they became quite a financial issue. Q: But you had your guy there for a year before. Surely he saw all these things? A: He saw them but he didn’t quite appreciate the impact of them because he wasn’t a financial man. So cash-flow wasn’t that big an issue for him, but it was a very big issue as far as we were concerned. And then there was the case of a previous cash-in-transit incident that had happened at the African Safari Club many years earlier, which we didn’t know about. That was really disturbing. But, fortunately, it became time-barred and we escaped. So, even though we had some insider information, we were not prepared for all these skeletons that came out of the closet. Q: Isn’t it strange, there you are, saying, ‘Let’s have someone in there who will keep an eye so that we know exactly what we are getting into’, and still you find you didn’t really know what you were getting into? A: Well, since then we’ve bought many companies. But now, we use only professional companies to do the ‘due diligence’. Even then, we still have the occasional surprise. But we have to keep on pushing. Q: OK. At a personal level, was there ever a point where you said to yourself, ‘Why on earth did I ever get into this?’ When things seem to be going wrong and flying off the handle? A: No, I don’t think so. You take on something you’ve got to finish it. Turn to P34

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From P33

Q: It doesn’t prevent you from feeling some despair sometimes? A: Of course you have bad days and you are grateful for a Whitecap at the end of the day . . . or two. But then you can suck it up and move on. But we always knew that we were on to something. Q: Yes. That was what kept you going. You knew that even with all these problems there is potential here. And, of course, in the long run, your insights were vindicated by what came later. OK, so, what was the point where you felt . . . well, in biblical terms, it would be when you are on top of the mountain and you can see the Promised Land? What was the point where you said to yourself, ‘Aha, I knew it, I knew it, here it is’? A: Well, I don’t think we have reached that point. Q: No? Even with all this growth? There must have been a point where instead of a Tusker, you took a glass of champagne. A: Obviously getting the embassy contract was a milestone. That was a game-changer because we started from a small company to a serious company. Q: In terms of perception, or turnover, or what? A: In terms of perception and, to a certain degree, turnover. But it was the significance of that contract visà-vis anything else we had before – and its impact on the market. After all, the US Embassy contracts only go to companies who have the professional credentials to perform. Q: True, it says a great deal. A: So, that, in fact, was a game changer and that happened in ’03. Q: And did you pursue it with a plan to have a game changer in mind or was it just the business which came along at that time? Was it your strategic goal?

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A: Well, as mentioned earlier, we had bid for it in ’96 and again in ’01 when we got a little closer. But then they ran into problems in ’03 and we were called in by the embassy to take over the contract. So we had our nose under the tent, if you like. Q: So you just had to wriggle your head in, next your shoulders and before they knew it, you were right in there? A: Yes. We had made our presence felt. They felt we had become a serious player in the market and invited us to tender. They gave us a shot and we made the most of it. Q: So, essentially, they were looking for a First World security service, so to speak, right here in Kenya? A: Yes, they did not have much time to fill the void when UIIS left. And there were not many companies who would take the chance for the remaining contract period without having some assurance that they would be granted the next contract extension.

We took the chance and it has worked out well, for both parties, we believe. Q: And yet you would have invested so heavily? A: Exactly. So it was a gamble, but our relationships were good and we were successful when the bid finally came out for a five-year contract in 2006. Q: OK. Now that was a gamechanger. Was there any other, maybe not a total game changer like that, but something which reinforced the idea that you were no longer a small company? A: Well, the success of the operations in Rwanda generated funds for expansion. Tanzania was the next adventure. Initially, we started providing security for the mining areas in the west of the county out of Mwanza. Then we bought a company in Arusha known as Security Express. And eventually we entered the Dar market, where we currently have our TZ headquarters. Q: So, looking forward now, what is there that you have not done which you particularly hope to do? There’s a compelling vision which has brought you this far. Where does the vision lead from this point onwards? A: First of all, we now have US Embassy contracts in Nairobi, Dares-Salaam, and Kigali. We hope to get others. Running an embassy contract requires a very special effort and we have dedicated professionals who know just how to do that. From a PR point of view, it’s electric because any incoming business, be it American, British or European, checks out which company is providing security for the US Embassy. That gives KK an edge. So we look to expand our embassy penetration and that brings in other embassies. The British High Commissions, the Swedish embassies and other major embassies in East Africa, are looking for professional security providers. Turn to P36

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From P34

And we want to be their company of choice. And now we have new opportunities created by the entry of Oil and Gas companies. We expect this to be the next big market expansion. Q: Could you explain that a little more? A: Well, the oil and gas companies will be coming in for explorations. They’ll need catering, they’ll need security, they’ll need all the logistical support and we’ll be able to provide them. Q: Aha. Now that’s where I’m curious about something. Surely, you’ll need guns this time?

But, logistically, all these O&G operations are going to need support. All they want to do is to look for oil, whether it is on land or at sea. But they still need catering, they will still need laundry services, they will still need all the peripherals required for operations. So that’s the next big thing. Q: And has it ever occurred to you that, for an opportunity like that, an international company much bigger than yours might say ‘US Embassy was nice, and the other embassies were nice, but if there is oil, there is no way we are letting KK eat that cake by themselves’?

Q: Turkana is awash with AK-47s! You must know that.

A: Of course not. We do expect many competitors. But they will need local input and guidance. We will form joint ventures using each partner’s expertise to deliver that which is required. That is how we can establish ourselves as a major player.

A: Well, we’ll work the situation out. If we have to have guns, we will either use domestic Kenyan forces for support, or we’ll have to get professionals. We’ll make that assessment. But, there are still a lot of things which you can do with electronics that can obviate the need for guns. That may be a challenge for us, but if we have to go for guns, we’ll have trained professionals.

Q: I would say that the broad trend in the whole region is towards a level playing field. We are moving away from the days when decisions were made purely at the individual and person level to where you have to have committees; to where you have to justify to the public why you made the decision you made; whether the public is your shareholders, or whether that public is the voting public. . . So

A: No.

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increasingly, in many ways you were ahead of your time when you started, but the rest of the country is catching up with the same ideas – that if this is the service you are offering, you better offer it in the most professional and committed way possible. People want to be sure of that – I’ll give you a small example. Increasingly now, people will take their cars to garages where the service is actually done professionally because they know, you take your car to the Jua Kali round the corner, he may even make your car seem OK, but will he resist replacing some small part and putting in something else which will take you for the next two, three weeks then you are back with him? So you want a situation where you take away that temptation. You know whom you are dealing with and when you go to sleep you know they are going to do what they are supposed to do. A: Yes, we recognize that. Q: Well, you recognized that way before a lot of people. Because, when you first started, the way business was done in Kenya was, ‘I know this guy’ and a lot of things were done under the table. There is a lot of that still happening, but not so much. A: Yes, we have to be ever vigilant. Even in our recruiting process, we began hearing stories about how much it was costing to join KK! So we had to change the vetting program. Now applicants are initially vetted for height and weight and health and all that. But before they are actually allowed to join the training programme, they are vetted by a panel of three staff members, which is headed by a senior executive. I head one, James Omwando, the CEO, heads one and so on. And that is how we stopped that. So it doesn’t make any difference how much you pay because it’s not going to help you. The word is out there now, so no one pays anymore. Q: It only takes half-a-handful of people who paid to get in and then the whole system just crumbles.

A: That’s right, and it’s a very tempting offer. Q: It is, especially with the levels of unemployment we have now. A: So that’s how you prevent that. It means that, every week, three executives are going to have to spend the afternoon interviewing people and selecting the right types to join KK. Q: Which ideally you shouldn’t even have to get involved in, but it’s the only thing which works? A: It’s the only way to stop it and we’ve been doing that for almost three years. Q: And these are the same systems that you have in Rwanda, Uganda and everywhere else?

A: Right. So when we start with a guy who had no skills before, and two weeks later, he can do CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation); he can bandage your arm; he can stop your bleeding; he can put out your fire; he can take you to the ambulance; he can do things he had no idea he could do. He is valuable to himself and to his community. He’s got skill levels that he didn’t have before and he appreciates that.

A: Yes, to a large extent. Q: So that the person who gets a job knows they are qualified for it and in a way also will value and respect it? A: Yes. And having gotten through that stage – that’s only Stage One – then they have to pass the training programme and it’s a pass or fail: 70% do but 30% don’t. But when the guy finishes, at the pass-out parade, a few things have happened. He is a changed individual. This guy believes in himself now because he has knowledge and that has given him power. He’s a totally different fellow than when he came in two weeks earlier – particularly his self-belief. And when we give out their certificates every week, we look them in the eye and they look us in the eye and you can see whether the guy believes. All the guys I see believe and they are proud and that new self-respect they have in themselves is invaluable. That deters them from temptation; it makes them want to be part of a team and it gives a guy self-worth and that’s very important. Q: Yes, I agree completely – especially when you are dealing with security. Not only the temptations, as you say, but people’s lives may be at stake, depending on the situation.

If we have to have guns, we will either use domestic Kenyan forces for support, or we’ll have to get professionals

Q: Tell me one thing, you mentioned fire. There’s something I’ve always wondered. If I’m not subscribed to your fire engine service and my house catches fire, is it that this is just a lesson I should learn and next time I should subscribe, or do you rush towards any fire so long as it is in the range? I’ve seen KK trucks helping put out fires in the oddest places, so I wonder if all these people are subscribing to your service. A: It depends. Some large clients require a fire engine for an employee concentration like the UN. That vehicle might respond to a nearby emergency gratis. In the Industrial Area, where there could be a significant exposure to a chemical fire, several companies may join together to secure a vehicle for their common protection. If there is a fire in the immediate area, we’ve got to put it out. Similarly, when there is a major fire in a high rise, and we have

the only vehicle with a long enough ladder, we volunteer. Q: And, in any case, that’s where the risk is higher. That’s why they are investing in it – because they know the risk is there. A: Yeah. If you get a major fire in the Industrial Area, a lot of people are going to suffer. The worth of those vehicles is not being fully appreciated by the insurance companies and the community at large because it’s a major saving, a major deterrent and it should be supported more by the insurance industry with lower premiums. Q: It’s a new idea. Once again, you are a little ahead of the curve, but I think we’ll eventually catch up. A: And everything we do in this market, we know we have about a six-month lead time before it’s copied, but it’s OK. Q: That’s in any industry, actually. So, looking back, is there anything you would do differently? Something which you said, ‘This made sense at the time, but, looking back, I think maybe we should have gone about it differently’? A: We initially had our own vehicle service unit, we had our own garage. Turn to P38

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From P37 Photography | ANTHONY NJOROGE

Q: How many vehicles? A: In those days in Mombasa we had about 12 or 13 vehicles and bikes. The next thing we know, the garage is also doing commercial work! So we contracted it to the guy who was running it and he ran it for a number of years. Initially, when we bought the company, we had dogs. But they were the wrong type of dogs. They were not professional dogs. So, we got out of the dog business. When we acquired EARS, they had already started the professional dog programme with about 30 dogs. Now we’ve got about 400. Q: 400 dogs all over East and Central Africa? A: Well, 500 all over. Each location has its own professional dog master. We feed them on a special diet, we breed them, we have our own vet who checks on them. They are expensive animals. It’s a big business and you’ve got to have people who love dogs. Q: True. Dogs can in some sense read people in a way that humans can’t. A dog knows when you are scared of him, knows when you want to harm him, even if you think you are just sitting there quietly. A: And that’s very true. When you take a security officer and he says ‘I want to be a dog handler’, the relationship between him and the dog is very telling. He either has it or he doesn’t. If he doesn’t, that’s the end of the story. Q: Now, in the US, when you look at a residential house, it’s almost all electronic security. A bank might have a guard, but you barely ever see a guard outside anyone’s home. A: Never. Q: So, are we heading there and, if so, all these highly-skilled guards you have invested in, would they be redundant, or is that so many miles away that it’s not an issue at this point? A: Well it’s all going to come down to the police force. In the US, your electronic device is attached to either a police station or to a control room which is connected to the police

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station. On activation, they call the police and the police respond. They don’t respond themselves. Q: I agree, but the basic problem here is that Kenya is still a poor country, Even if we had a police force which had a greater level of professionalism, the levels of poverty in this country are such that crime levels are very high, which keeps them fully occupied. If we had twice the size of police force we have and they in turn had twice the number of cars, or even three times, they still wouldn’t be enough, and . . . it’s not just that when you have massive poverty you have massive crime. Crime itself is getting more sophisticated. Like I don’t think anyone in one of the embassies you look after is scared that people will steal things. What they are afraid of is that a mad man will come and try to blow the place

up. That has got nothing to do with poverty. But that will usually be beyond the skills of the sort of police force that we are talking about who go round in cars and so on. A: Any violation of your space is intolerable; that disturbs people. So these people need comfort in knowing that somebody is looking after their interests 24 hours a day. If they have a flat tyre on the road, we are going to fix it, if they have any accident, we are going to be there; we are going to take care of them. And that’s what our objective is: to make them feel as safe and comfortable as we possibly can. Q: So that they can focus on the work which brought them here . . . A: Exactly. And leave this country feeling, ‘Wow, I had a great time in Kenya’.

In addition to being Aviation East Africa Contributing Editor (Science & Technology) Wycliffe Muga is the Weekend Editor as well as a columnist for The Star. He also contributes a weekly “Letter from Africa” to the BBC World Service (Business Daily). He is a former columnist for the Kenyan Daily Nation newspaper, and the monthly magazine, Nairobi-based Diplomat East Africa, and the Londonbased African Business. In 2006, he was listed by the Financial Times as Kenya’s most influential print commentator. And in 2011, he won the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Award prize for ‘Best Tourism Feature’. He is also a previous winner (2004/5) of the Peter Jenkins Awards for East African Conservation Journalism. Mr. Muga is a Fellow of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and of the Property and Environment Research Centre (PERC) in Bozeman, Montana; and also a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers (ILCW). He serves on the advisory board of the Boston-based non-profit, Global Medical Knowledge.

CoverStory |

KK Security Group IATA Certified


Built on a Bedrock of Service with Integrity Starting off as a small company in Mombasa with barely 500 guards, the Group is now the private security powerhouse of the eastern and Central Africa region, radiating from its Nairobi base. How did KK Security Group grow and grow? The KK Security Group CEO, MR. JAMES OMWANDO, spoke to Aviation East Africa Contributing Editor (Science and Technology) WYCLIFFE MUGA. Excerpts of their conversation: 40 |

AVIATION EAST AFRICA: So, broadly speaking, Mr. Omwando, would you say that KK is one of the biggest security companies in the region? OMWANDO: Yes, we are. We started under the current owners in 1993, as a very small company in Mombasa, with barely 500 security officers. A year later, we opened operations in Nairobi. When we moved there, the first companies we worked with were the big agricultural estates in Kericho and Eldoret. We provided them with a unique product, where we provided teams of expatriates, married up with ex-National Youth Service members, to train their security teams, which were often over 400-strong. The idea was to teach basic security skills so that they were more effective in discharging their duties. Today, of course, we have well over 17,000 security officers in six countries in eastern and Central Africa.

Q: Let me understand this: In addition to having your own guards you were helping to provide expertise to the people who already had guards? A: Yes, they had their own security guards. Some of these big organizations – especially the plantation farms like coffee, tea, sugar and so on – tended to use their own guards because they thought that it was more cost-effective, but, without training, it ends up costing more. We identified this problem of lack of trained manpower and believed that we could save them money by providing this unique product. When we took over KK from the previous owners, we had one vision: we wanted to create a reputation that would be unique in the industry, a reputation of providing service with integrity over the region where everyone believes in what we do, in terms of honesty and in terms of commitment to the service that we are giving at every level. Q: So, essentially, you are talking about the need to create a unique brand within the broader security environment? A: Yes. What we wanted to do was to create a reputation that people could relate to and the product that we are committed to providing. A service second to none, so that people could see the quality of the service we give – and by setting standards that no other security company could offer. Q: And it worked exactly that way? A: Indeed, we know that it worked because today we have a well-defined reputation for offering quality service across the region; a service that a customer can believe in. We set out to create trust among our clients and that is what we have done. Our customers know that KK provides a different product from the rest of the industry. Q: Well, certainly, starting off as a small company in Mombasa, mostly guards, and then moving to what we have now – a regional

We provided them with a unique product, where we provided teams of expatriates, married up with exNational Youth Service members, to train their security teams

powerhouse – obviously your formula worked. Is it a formula you would like to share with other leaders in the sector, or is or is it a secret? A: It is certainly not a secret! When I said, at the beginning, that we wanted to provide service with integrity, I did so because that is something that we are passionate about and we realised that once people could see this, they would be attracted to it. That is our unique selling point: the honesty and the training that we give our people, to be able to provide a service that is different in terms of public relations; in terms of how we relate to our clients; our emphasis on honesty, integrity and values that can be appreciated. Q: What would you say is the difference between a KK security

guard and some small company with just, say, a dozen guards? What is the difference between your security guard being at my gate and a much smaller, less organized company being at my gate? Other than price of course. A: Firstly, let me say that we don’t employ guards – we employ Security Officers – men and women who have been taught more skills than just the ability to sit at a gate. Our recruitment process is very vigorous in the sense that we start off by very specific vetting. We ask for specific details – we need to know their level of education, we need to know what they have done before, we need to ensure that recruits have Certificates of Good Conduct from the CID and we need to conduct background checks. Once vetting is over, interviews are Turn to P42

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carried out. These interviews are also very rigorous. We have two-tothree teams interviewing potential candidates every week at the training school. Each team consists of a senior manager, middle manager and a junior employee. We involve everybody. The senior management interviewers include the Chairman, me and other senior managers. That is the seriousness and attention to detail that we give to the vetting and interview exercise. Q. So, right from the beginning, when an employee, even a junior employee, is coming into the KK system, you want to be sure you got the right person?

Q: And after you get these people and empower them in this way, what’s to prevent them from running to other security companies with the security training you’ve already given them? A: That is where we are unique. We don’t take, except in exceptional circumstances, employees from other security companies. And I can tell you for a fact, that when we terminate an employee, with the certificates they get from KK, they get jobs in other security companies overnight. It’s a qualification in its own right. So that shows how different we are and how unique we are when compared with other security companies. Q: In other words, the training you put them through and the complicated selection process guarantees that the security officer on the ground is someone skilled to do a first-class job once

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A: Of course we want to be sure we have got the right person. The training course for Security Officers is intensive, covering a range of subjects from Criminology, firefighting, terrorism recognition, surveillance detection, defensive techniques over a 12-day period. Ours is a ‘Pass/Fail’ course. If they fail the exams, I am afraid that they have to go home. That’s crucial. It doesn’t matter how good the initial vetting is, if they do not pass the exams during the course.

you let them out in to the field? A: Yes. And during the passingout parade, we give them accolades. We invite our clients to officiate the passing-out parade. It’s like a graduation ceremony, really. The new security officers are so proud of what they have achieved, that they bring their families to witness the pass-out. We make them proud because we are creating a career for them. After the training, they look at things in a new light and we have a product that we are proud of. Q: So, if I am a KK security officer, what do I have to look forward to, if I work really hard and apply myself? A: We have a policy that, before we start recruiting from outside, we recruit from within. Our HR department has got

clear instructions. They send out an internal memo for available positions. The exercise is transparent and interviews are done by senior managers. We have an amazing amount of talent within; security officers with degrees and diplomas in a variety of skills. We have a chief accountant who started off as a security officer; we have a lady branch manager in Tanzania who likewise started off as a security officer. One of our General Managers used to be a controller in our Control Room. We have a technical manager who, once again, started as a security officer and who then invested time and money and became qualified. Within the organization we have taken people through our own management training course, which takes eight months to complete. Even new managers, who are hired, go through this training. Some of

has?’ We have 9,500 people in Kenya. Surely there must be brilliant people within that group that can make a difference in the organization. With that number of personnel within the system who are loyal, we should be able to tap into that before going outside. It’s cheaper for the business and you have a loyal person who already understands it. Q: So you have never had your own people coming up with some elaborate scam, like the robberies committed by people working for one of your rivals? It was always in the news that they had that problem of people within the organization planning and executing a series of elaborate cash-in-transit thefts?

our best Country Managers are those who have gone through the entire course, right from a security officer’s training, to a supervisor’s course, all the way up to contract management. We, and they, believe that it gives them an advantage as they understand the whole system. Q: So you could say that once you get your foot in the door at KK Security the opportunities open up? No one will limit you? A: There are great opportunities. You see it’s also our job at management level to identify talent every day within the organization. Every time we go to an assignment, be it a shopping mall or a factory, we look at how our people are doing things and one of the things we are looking for is talent. ‘What talent does this guy have? How can I tap the talent that he

A: In as far as cash-in-transit is concerned, we have been lucky, I would say. Let me tell you, the way you handle your people is very important: in our organization we do not just say ‘Service with Integrity’ as an empty phrase. We practice it. We respect our people. I must respect my security officer for him to respect me – that is very important within an organization. So any human being that has affection towards you will not steal from you. But that being said, in every organization, just like in any family, there will be a few black sheep. As we see it, it’s not so much the problem or the mistake of what happens; it’s how you react to the problem – and how you deal with it – that makes the difference and keeps you on good terms with your client. We do not condone anybody who commits a crime; if someone is guilty, we have the obligation to send that person into the criminal justice system. Q: But in the case that I mentioned – like you said, there are bad apples everywhere; there is a black sheep in every family – the fact is that it just continued; the thefts went on and on; which suggested a systemic problem not just a supervision problem. A: As I said, it all boils down to how you deal with your workforce. How you nurture the relationships. If you treat your staff with respect, it is very unlikely that you will have problems with them. However, if you

find yourself dealing with a serial situation like that one, it means something fundamental must be wrong. Q: I would like to shift the focus to regulatory and legal barriers for opportunities for investors in Kenya. In the long run, what Kenya needs is more people investing in more business, and thus the economy growing. That is the only way forward, and not just in Kenya but the whole region. Investors always talk about security as a big problem. If you could talk to Parliament, for example, what would you tell them? What would you say is needed for the private sector of security to effectively support the national security apparatus? A: Firstly, the Private Security Regulation Bill is a Bill that regulates how security companies work. It’s supposed to have a regulatory authority that instills discipline within the private security companies. Things like meeting the minimum standard of wages that are required; training security officers to the standard levels that are required; so that you can all provide a service that is standard. The regulatory body should set private security standards across the board, to enable a level playing ground. At the present, we do not have that. Security has moved from what we used to have 15 years ago – we have highly technical equipment now, we have people who think differently, we have thieves who are more technically savvy. So we need to improve our security operations to deal with those standards. You can’t deal with these new levels of sophistication among criminals by the standards we used to have, based on the watchman with a rungu. We need Parliament to bring in laws where everybody can play on the same level and also bring credibility to the industry. Right now there is no level field, so it is difficult to create a professional private security standard that falls within everybody’s standard. I would add that we do not want to see weapons in the hands of private security companies. Doing that could see the escalation of Turn to P44

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violence to the levels seen in South Africa. We have a ‘no weapons’ policy across the region and, indeed, in Uganda, where virtually all security companies are armed, that is one of our key selling points. Q: Would you say that if the Bill was passed it would be a milestone in the provision of private security services? A: It would be a milestone because, once it is done, it will help interaction and communication with the police, we want to reach a level where we can share information. Once you have those standards it’s very easy, even for the police, to deal with private security. But for now, that is still a problem. If the Bill is passed, it will bring about an improved interaction with the police. The police are strained right now. They need private security to supplement and assist them. They can’t be everywhere at the same time. If we had that level field, we will be able to create a better security environment countrywide. The private sector has almost 300,000 security officers – the police have 40,000. Q: As I was listening to you I was thinking what used to happen with the banks in the 1980s, where anyone could start a bank. There was no regulation and the public would be fooled into putting money in these banks thinking they are going to get better returns. Usually, Parliament acts only when there is a disaster, as eventually happened in the matter of bank regulations. In the case of security, if that Bill is not passed, what will be the net negative impact on the country? A: Insecurity keeps off investors. If that Bill is passed and we have a body that checks the standards of security firms, immediately you get a more secure environment. With better training standards, you will have people who are able to gauge and detect terrorism threats; who can identify a potential terrorist because of his behaviour. (Typically, he is edgy; his body language will give him away). Criminals, like most people, make rational choices – and will tend to

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We have a ‘no weapons’ policy across the region and, indeed, in Uganda, where virtually all security companies are armed, that is one of our key selling points

go for an easier target. So, if Kenya becomes a difficult target, we get a better security environment. If Parliament can see that, and put this Bill in place, it will make Kenya a better place for everyone. Q: Where do you see the security business in the region and in Kenya going in the next 10-to-15 years? What is your long-term vision as Kenya changes? A: There will never be a shortage for security services. As the economy improves, there will be a need for more security. Security is not all about manned guarding. We have electronic equipment, access control, CCTV, and so on. Security is becoming more electronic now and as the years move on and as manned guarding becomes more expensive, people will start moving more into electronics. Security will keep on getting more sophisticated as criminals and terrorists also improve their way of doing things. All we need to do with that regulatory body is to find a way for the police and the private security sector to work together. I think we will have a safer place in the years to come if we can achieve that cooperation. We aim to find ways

to reduce client’s costs by providing more effective security services or solutions. It’s a partnership and, by reducing costs for your client, by providing more effective solutions, you create a better, loyal clientele as you focus on better service. Right now, with the rates having gone up after the mandated wage increase in Kenya, we have to come up with ways of cutting down costs by using electronics and reduced manpower. Q: Some of the largest security companies in the industrialized nations are even quoted on the stock exchanges. Are such things anywhere on KK’s horizon? A: For the last 15years we have done very well in our regional spread. We are now at a stage where we are consolidating what we have. That doesn’t mean that if there is an opportunity for an acquisition we will not take it, but we have gone a long way in expanding over the region. We would like to concentrate on our performance so that we can get our shareholders to start benefiting. We will focus on further improving our performance in the next 3-5 years – and this might, I repeat might, involve us going public.

CoverStory |

KK Security Group IATA Certified

CHRONOLOGY OF KK SECURITY 1967-2012 Mombasa 1967 Kenya Kazi Ltd; KKRGSS & Burns Enterprises formed in Mombasa


Acquired by current owners

Nairobi 1994 • Training Teams established for Tea Estates; • Nairobi Office opened • Enter Rwanda with UN & NGOs; • Incorporated in Rwanda


Incorporated in Uganda

Kenya Pipe Line 1996 • Bid for US Embassy in Nairobi unsuccessful but alarms installed for UIIS in JV • Security Contract – Kenya Pipeline 1997 Mwanza

• Security Training Teams in Mwanza • Eldoret Office opened

Mt. Kilimanjaro

1999 Acquired Security Express Arusha Tanzania




• Security Contract – Kilmbero Sugar – Tanzania • Security Contract – East African Breweries Ltd • Security Contract – Bamburi Cement

• Incorporated in DR Congo • Incorporated in Tanzania • Dar es Salaam office opened • Kisumu office opened

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2004 US Embassy Nairobi

DR Congo Bukavu 2003 • Start operations in DR Congo at Goma & Bukavu • Incorporated in Burundi Take over US Embassy in Nairobi from UllS mid-term Start Operations with Tanzania International Terminal Services (TICTS).


Zanzibar 2005 • Zanzibar office opened • Acquired EARS and merged operations with KK. • Start MONUB contract in Burundi

US Embassy Tanzania 2007

• Start operations in Rumbek, South Sudan. • Win renewal of 5-year contract for US Embassy in Nairobi. • Joint Venture with Weiser Security (USA) for US Government Tenders

2008 Mombasa beach

Win US Embassy in Dar Es Salaam Acquire Tudor Security in Mombasa




Acquire Knight Support operations in Kenya

Head Office moves to Nairobi

2011 • Acquire West Kili operations in Mwanza TZ. • Win US Embassy in Kigali • Win further renewal of 5 years for US Embassy in Nairobi

US Embassy Kigali


Acquire G4S portfolio in Rwanda OIS – JV with Allterrain Services commences

July 2012

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Focus on Airport Security

Photography | THINKSTOCK.COM

Too many loopholes, including corruption, in the continent’s facilities in a world of transnational terrorism and organized crime, reports a worried JULIET MARURU


Security in African Airports

he Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is constructed in a semi-circle, with three units placed on the outer circle arc and one unit placed in what would be the centre-point of the circle. These units in the outer circle arc are Terminals One and Two, which are your International Departures terminals and Terminal Three, which is Domestic Arrivals and Departures. The inner centre unit has a terminal that handles International Arrivals. Last year, there was a lot of concern with regards to the power outages and how they affected JKIA

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Security. The power outages severely compromised the security system, which includes a radar system, scanners, security cameras and lights. This year an even bigger worry has arisen. Our country is at war with Somali militiamen and several attacks within our borders, including in capital city Nairobi’s CBD, have already been perpetrated and attributed to the al-Shabaab, a group that claims links with global terror masterminds al-Qaeda of Osama bin Laden infamy. In view of the current concerns about terrorism and security

threats from al-Shabaab, it is easy to understand why Airport Security as an issue remains of priority concern, particularly in an economy that is so dependent on tourism. I asked two regular travelers to describe their personal feelings with regards to airport security based on their personal experiences. Marvin Tumbo says: “Kenya’s Airport Security is quite decent in comparison to other African airports, but, in my opinion, there is one area of concern. “There is the first roadblock outside the airport gates, then a long drive to the Departures area. To get

through the first roadblock is pretty easy, as the police only inspect a select number of cars. I have been in a taxi that was stopped once and the cab guy just bribed the cops and we were let in. The bribing is a common, occurrence according to the various cab guys I have talked to, and it is a definite reason for concern. “At the Departures area, the checks are pretty good. First, you go to the detectors, where everything goes through a detector with laptops, phones and shoes checked separately. This would likely prevent anyone from carrying any threatening materials into the airport boarding area. Anything suspicious will be inspected by personnel who are on hand to ask you to open your bag to inspect it. “From here, you will be given a boarding pass, but, as you enter the boarding gates, there is a second inspection through metal detectors to ensure that there are no dangerous materials carried on board the plane. Here, you go through the same process and you have to remove your belt, your phone, laptop, shoes and other personal effects to ensure that nothing will be carried through. “The personnel on standby are also very strict and that goes a long way in making you feel secure. I have seen situations where they have ejected people from the plane for the slightest violations and some major ones, like not having the Yellow Fever Card. “Overall, I would say our airport is quite organized and security is decent – once you are inside the airport. But I do not think it is effective as you enter because the officers manning

the checkpoints outside the airport can be compromised with money.” I asked Maxwell Odhiambo to give me a comparison of our main airports against other African airports. This is what he said:


The airport terminals security system seems quite okay to me. Before you get into the airport when travelling out, there is a security check. Policemen are also frequently patrolling outside. After check-in, there is only one more place where you are frisked, that is before entering the waiting room for boarding. “When you come back to the country as a Kenyan national, you don’t get checked anywhere. If, say, you had managed to carry a weapon in your carry-on luggage from another country you could easily pass with it. The only people who check your bag once in a while are the Customs officials and that is only when you mention that you are coming from a country where they suspect you might be carrying goods that they ought to tax, like Nigeria, for example. This I feel is something of concern. “The only time you get checked thoroughly when coming from another country is when you arrive from Somalia. The plane

actually lands in Wajir for a security check. When you land at JKIA you again undergo a very thorough security check.


In Mogadishu, when you land, it seems that nobody cares about security. The airport is so confusing, and if you are a foreigner you might get arrested so that you pay your way out. When you are leaving the country the flight might fail to show up without prior notice. You might as well book your flight like a bus, just when you want to board.


In Hargesia, someone has to pick you up when you land and the security checks are not very thorough. When entering the country, you have to exchange at least $50 at the airport, and, if you are not careful, they will steal from you. Depending on who you know, you can even be allowed to stay at The Cloud 9 waiting lounge. There, it is survival of the fittest.

South Africa

In Jo’burg, the security at the airport is airtight. If you are changing planes you have to get a transit visa, currently you get this visa from your country of origin. Policemen patrol the airport right up to the waiting Turn to P50

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Photography | THINKSTOCK.COM

From P49

lounge. This is the only airport where I have seen such measures. The only bad thing with Jo’burg is that your luggage is not always very safe. Even if you lock your bag, once it has been taken into luggage handling, you can’t be assured of its safety. They somehow, always, have a way of opening your bags and getting your valuable stuff. So, if you have any valuables, it is advisable to carry them in your hand luggage.


Lagos is another airport where it seems that no one cares about anyone. There is some level of security, but you can always pass with a bit of bribing. Lagos seems to value Africans more than whites. In fact, you can be given first priority as a black person. When leaving the country, if you have valuables that are not allowed, all you have to do is bribe Customs and you get away with it

security checks when travelers are coming in and going out, the airport is also still under construction.” Marvin and Maxwell’s accounts at some point sound like stories you would read in a novel or scenes from a very good film, but, as intriguing and entertaining as they are, they should worry every traveler. If travelling across Africa means carrying extra cash for bribes, knowing people within the airports to get access to travelers’ lounges and the off-chance that one can carry anything into certain countries, what risks are we exposing citizens and other travelers to? Who is supposed to ensure security at the airports? Why are they not seeing the cracks and loopholes? Are they ignoring them deliberately or are they too busy counting planes as they land, forgetting that the planes could be carrying terrorists or traffickers? Three questions, possibly rhetorical, but they urgently need answers in a world of transnational terrorism and organized crime.


At Addis Ababa you have to declare foreign currency, although many people rarely do it. When you are getting in they also run a security check just the same way they do when you are getting out.


In Maputo security officials are not very keen, although they run the

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Juliet Maruru is a Creative Writer, Editor and Literary Agent at Lesleigh Inc. She has worked as an online content editor and social media manager with Storymoja. She has also edited several children’s books including 99 Mchongoanos published by Storymoja. She manages The Princess Project (K) Online Magazine ( and is the author of She Blossoms (

Special Report |

Kenya’s Drug Problem

Families ought to treat substance abusers with more tough love, not less, if they are ever to learn from the full negative consequences of their behaviour

Addicts Need to Hit Bottom on the Long Road to Recovery, says Expert CLEMENT DEVEAU is a Substance Abuse & HIV Technical Officer with the AED (Academy for Educational Development) Capable Partners Programme. He worked in Kenya in 2006-2009 in the field of substance abuse & HIV, three-and-a-half with AED. He has worked in community mental health/addiction treatment centers in the US for over 10 years. The USAID-funded AED Capable Partners Program provides grant funding and technical guidance for six substance abuse/HIV programs in Kenya. These include Reachout in Mombasa, OMARI in Malindi, KUAP and IMPACT-RDO in Kisumu, the Raphaelites and SAPTA in Nairobi. Deveau spoke to Aviation East Africa Contributing Editor (Science & Technology) WYCLIFFE MUGA 52 |

AVIATION EAST AFRICA: What, exactly, does your programme aim to achieve? CLEMENT DEVEAU: In terms of substance abusers, the USAIDfunded AED Capable Partners Programme focuses on trying to limit the spread of HIV among drug/ alcohol users. We approach it from a public health perspective, meaning that our first goal is reducing the spread of HIV. Primarily, what we’re trying to do is reach this high risk population and the bottom line is to reduce their HIV risk. What that usually means is drug/alcohol users engaging in safer

Photography | THINKSTOCK.COM

sex practices when they’re substances.


Q: But that is a very different thing from helping people to kick their addiction to drugs, which is a more fundamental problem. A: Getting someone to stop using drugs/alcohol when they are dependent is a much more difficult challenge, although all the programmes funded through the AED Capable Partners do have an element of recovery treatment to them. These programmes are especially for those individuals who are abusing substances and have shown an interest in stopping the use of drugs/alcohol. If you talk to many heroin users on the streets, their plea is to stop using drugs. This is often different from many alcohol users, who often deny they have a problem. It’s easier to recognize your heroin addiction problem because of the extensive physiological dependency on the drug. This strong physiological dependency allows users to more easily recognize their dependency, in addition, other people may also more easily recognize the dependency. We use the term recovering users because it’s believed, according to the disease concept, that no one ever fully recovers from the addiction. It’s a process of recovery. Q: So what exactly do you do to help along this process of recovery? A: All of the HIV and substance abuse projects that we support focus on providing community-based

addiction recovery services. That is a pretty new concept in Kenya. My work experience in the US was doing a lot of work with community-based addiction services. Here, it’s very hard for people to use communitybased non-residential approaches. There are many reasons for that. People tend to think that we’re going to fix the person, by putting them into rehabilitation centres. Research supports that residential rehabilitation is no more effective than outpatient rehabilitation and counseling in the community. Community-based approaches are more effective in long-term recovery. Q: In what way is it more effective? A: Essentially, when you do recovery counseling in the

community, you are going to deal with everyday stressors and pressures that affect you. But if the recovery counseling is in isolation and then the person returns to the community, they will be facing these stressors anew, with limited to no practical experience to deal with this, therefore contributing to a very high risk of relapse. Getting people to understand this approach has been challenging. The substance abusing community is slowly beginning to understand the challenges of recovery and the need to work a recovery programme in the community. Residential rehabs can have a role, but the real work occurs when the client is living in the community facing the daily Turn to P54

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hours a week, compared to someone being in a rehabilitation centre for 24 hours a day, removed from many of the daily challenges, exposing them to using drugs/alcohol. Outpatient community-based counselors need highly refined skills. Counseling interventions in the community need to be very focused. Treatment planning by the counselor needs to be very sharp in order to be effective. The work between sessions needs to be very aggressive on the client’s part. The counselor needs to do a lot of work. I think we’re moving forward in providing community-based recovery services and strengthening these programmes. It’s been a slow process, but I think some good progress is being made. We need to continue these efforts since clients face their recovery challenges in the community and outpatient community-based treatment programmes must be available for them. Communitybased treatment recovery programmes should significantly outnumber residential treatment programmes in order to provide drug/alcohol abusers with effective, affordable and accessible services for their recovery.

From P53

challenges of their recovery. In the past three-and-a-half years we’ve made some progress. We’re getting people to understand that there’s no pill, that this is a life-long recovery process. People often expect some type of cure for their addiction and there’s no cure. That in itself has been a challenge because, in a sense, people may interpret residential rehabilitation as a curative intervention, and we don’t have a cure. Q: What other problems have you faced? A: It takes a long time to train new staff with the essential skills needed to successfully provide addictions counseling in the community. They need to be highly skilled to provide addictions counseling for someone in the community, for maybe only two

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Q: And what would you say to those who have to cope with drug addiction in their families? A: From our own experience in providing addiction treatment for many years, I would say there’s much to be said for a direct approach to recovery in the community; as mentioned, it allows people to experience the challenges within the community. It helps the individual who’s in recovery and it also helps the community understand their responsibility. It can be very challenging for a family member of a drug addict or alcoholic, because they need to understand their role and need to set very clear limits. The consequences of the drug addict/alcoholic’s behaviour are what allow substance abusers to come to the reality of the need to make a change. So family and community members need to recognize their role in the recovery of substance abusers. They take part in the addiction, if they are not setting limits with the user, to help them

stop the addiction. So when a family member makes excuses for the substance abuser, they enable the user to continue their problem use and therefore become a co-addict. Together with the substance abuser, they are enabling the addiction to continue. I know that sounds kind of strange. It’s like you are allowing the user to continue using, serving as a gateway to continued use.

Photography | THINKSTOCK.COM

Q: Even though that may not be my intention at all? A: Of course it’s not their intention. The community often has a hard time understanding this concept. A family member’s role is critical in allowing or providing consequences for the substance abuser in order that they begin to realize their addiction. Substance abusers often have to hit bottom before they make

their decision to stop. For some people, it takes a long time. If one has to go to jail, go without eating, or sleep on the streets, then they encounter the consequences and come to understand the impact of their addiction. But if I’m giving you a place to sleep, to eat and rescuing you every time, then people may not understand that their role should be different. And that this may not allow the person to experience the consequences of their using which will allow them to recognize their substance abuse problem. Q: Are you saying, then, that the families of drug addicts should cut them loose and leave them to suffer out in the streets? A: Not necessarily, but family members should not “enable” the substance abusers by covering up for them or making excuses. They need to

suffer the full negative consequences of their behaviour. This will allow the substance abuser to reach their “bottom”, which is different for the various users, and come to terms with their addiction and begin to make the necessary changes in their life. Community/family members need to avoid enabling or rescuing the substance abuser, since it only prolongs the progression of the condition and may never get them to recognize their problem since the family members prevent this from occurring. Community-based recovery programmes help both family members and the substance abuser deal with the daily challenges of addiction recovery and help support family members in better understanding their role in the recovery process.

This Interview was first published in ‘The Star’ newspaper

In addition to being Aviation East Africa Contributing Editor (Science & Technology), Wycliffe Muga is the Weekend Editor as well as a columnist for The Star. He also contributes a weekly “Letter from Africa” to the BBC World Service (Business Daily). He is a former columnist for the Kenyan Daily Nation newspaper, and the monthly magazine, Nairobi-based Diplomat East Africa, and the London-based African Business. In 2006, he was listed by the Financial Times as Kenya’s most influential print commentator. And in 2011, he won the Diageo Africa Business Reporting Award prize for ‘Best Tourism Feature’. He is also a previous winner (2004/5) of the Peter Jenkins Awards for East African Conservation Journalism. Mr. Muga is a Fellow of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and of the Property and Environment Research Centre (PERC) in Bozeman, Montana.

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An alcohol-free and prostitution-free zone for ages now hosts Kenya’s largest population of drug addicts

How the Heroin Menace Changed the Face of Mombasa’s Historic Old Town 56 |

Photography | Courtesy

who ruled the Kenyan coast at what time. The fort was built by the Portuguese in 1593 at a time when Portugal – then a maritime superpower – had colonized what is now the Kenyan coast. The Portuguese did this almost incidentally, while seeking the sea routes to India. And for many years both before and after the fort was built, Portugal battled with the Omani Arabs who had long established a sultanate on the island of Zanzibar, just off the African coast, for supremacy over the Indian Ocean trade routes.



ort Jesus is one of Kenya’s most famous historical landmarks. Located on the northeasterly tip of the Island of Mombasa, it has a commanding view of the entry to the modern port of Kilindini as well as the old port in the equally famous Old Town of Mombasa. And schoolchildren from all over the country who have been there on school trips can rattle out the key details of the history of Fort Jesus – which are in many ways a history of

History Fort Jesus was thus at different times of its history held or taken over by the Portuguese; the Omani Arabs; and finally the British, changing hands – usually after long and bloody sieges – a total of nine times. Under the British it was used as a prison until 1958, when it was declared a historical monument, and finally converted into a museum. With that final conversion the tragic and bloody phase of the history of Fort Jesus ended, and from the 1960s it became a prime tourist attraction. The Old Town boasts unique 13th Century Swahili Turn to P58

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architecture, only found in two other places – in Zanzibar, and on Lamu, an island about 500 kilometres to the north of Mombasa. And walking tours which started from Fort Jesus, and took the visitors through the narrow streets of the Old Town – past beautifully carved doorways of the old mosques and the elegant balconies of the other historical buildings, all the way to the Old Port and the fish market – were a favourite excursion up to the 1980s.


One of the attractions of this walk was that the tour companies could be absolutely certain that their guests would not be under any risk of any kind, while walking through Old Town. The streets of Old Town were, famously, among the safest streets in all of Kenya. The women of Old Town walking to a wedding in the neighbourhood, resplendent in their finery, would have no fear of their expensive jewelry being snatched from their necks and wrists by muggers. And

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residents of Old Town usually left their doors wide open to let in the breeze for most of the day, without any worries that intruders might take advantage of a careless moment to just walk in and steal something. Indeed, among residents of Mombasa, it was said that Old Town was the only place where a drunk could sleep on the pavement or in a doorway overnight, and wake up with his wallet still in his pocket. Not that there was much drinking of alcohol in Old Town – virtually all the residents, whether Swahilis or Arabs, were strict Muslims who lived in houses their families had owned for generations. And the few simple lodging houses to be found there, which catered almost exclusively to backpackers, had bold signs above the doors, stating: NO ALCOHOL OR PROSTITUTES ALLOWED. This strict resistance to the establishing of bars or restaurants which served alcohol is what enabled Old Town to retain its unique characteristics, until its entire 31 hectares was declared a World Heritage conservation site, and restrictions were imposed on

changes and “improvements” which could be done on the historical buildings within the area. And had this community not been consistent in struggling to retain its gracious and slow-paced way of life, things might have turned out very differently, for, during much of the 1970s and 1980s, American naval ships would often dock at Mombasa, unleashing many hundreds of rowdy sailors in search of rest and recreation.

seafront location overlooking the old port, or the fish market, would have made a fortune catering to these regular hard-currency-toting visitors. But there was never the slightest possibility of this happening. The residents of Old Town all knew each other, and any family which dared

lease out its property for such an establishment would have been ostracized. Even now, it is impossible to find any place in Old Town that sells beer or spirits. And it is definitely not the Red Light District of Mombasa. But you will not find very many of the European tourists who still visit Fort Jesus going for a walking tour of Old Town: the women of Old Town are now careful to conceal any jewelry they may be wearing beneath their traditional black buibui, when they venture outdoors and the doors to private residences are mostly kept shut, just like in the rest of Mombasa. For petty theft is now a very big problem in Old Town. And most of those who steal are drug addicts out to get something they can sell in order to get their day’s supply of heroin. Indeed, the supreme irony here is that there is no place in Kenya with a larger resident population of drug users than Old Town. And in no place are there more parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles and aunts, who have to cope with the perils that drug addiction brings to both families and entire neighbourhoods. The strong communal links of the residents of historic Old Town may have kept out alcohol and prostitution, but this proved to be no barrier at all to hard drugs.

This article was first published in ‘The Star’ newspaper Photography | Courtesy


On occasions when two or three such ships docked at the same time, the main streets of the town would have so many Americans roaming along them, that there was barely room for the locals. Bars and nightclubs filled to overflowing, as did sidewalk cafes. And it was alleged that in the inland towns and cities – going all the way up to neighbouring Uganda – the bars and brothels would be empty, as the prostitutes all flocked to Mombasa to cash in on the windfall of the visiting naval ships. In the circumstances, anyone who had managed to build a bar or alcohol-serving restaurant somewhere in Old Town, on a

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Is Your Daughter a

Drugs Mule? What is it about young Kenyan women that makes them so susceptible to the most perilous roles in international illicit narcotics smuggling? Are they more greedy and gullible than others? EA Flyer Special Correspondent VALENTINE NJOROGE investigates . . .


udith Akinyi, aka Saga MacOdongo, was released from the Langata Women’s Prison in 2008. This former polytechnic teacher had been charged with smuggling narcotics in 2001 and found guilty. While in prison she wrote the book

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The Deadly Money Maker and assisted police in investigations that led to the arrest of an international drug baroness. MacOdongo was even extradited to the United States to give evidence that saw the woman who had seduced her into the drug world found guilty.

In 2008 she received a Presidential pardon after serving seven years of her sentence and she was released in April. While out of prison, she did the rounds on TV and radio talk shows, telling her story and pushing her book. Caroline Mutoko had her as a weekly guest on Kiss 100 for one month, Patricia Amira hosted her on the pan-African Patricia Show on MNet and she even did a stint with NACADA, the National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse, warning teens about drugs. MacOdongo was rearrested in July of 2010. This time she was in Italy and charged for possession

of cocaine. According to the Standard newspaper of Nairobi [ archives/business/InsidePage. php?id=2000013809&cid=4], upon interrogation, she claimed that strangers had forced her to swallow pellets containing cocaine after making her unconscious. It seems that despite accolades and seeming success and transformation, MacOdongo could not help going back into the lucrative but dangerous world of drug trafficking. ILLUSTRATION | Chief nyamwea


According to a Congressional Research Service report for the United States Congress, dated September 2009 and available at R40838.pdf , “Africa has historically held a peripheral role in the transnational illicit drug trade, but in recent years has increasingly become a locus for drug trafficking, particularly of cocaine. Recent estimates suggest that every year, between 46 and 300 tons of South American cocaine may transit West Africa en route to Europe. Recent cocaine seizure levels are sharply higher than those in the late 1990s and early 2000s, which in all of Africa rarely exceeded 1 metric ton a year.” The report goes on to say that one of the main reasons for this shift is “the operational allure for traffickers of low levels of law enforcement capacity and high rates of corruption

in many African countries”. Right now the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates that there are about 200 Kenyans serving jail time in South East Asia alone. A Foreign Office official who is unwilling to be named says that the ministry does not have an exact figure as “drug mules do not always travel on legal documents. Also not all Kenyans register with our foreign missions as recommended, so we do not have an exact figure”. Aviation East Africa’s source also

Right now the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates that there are about 200 Kenyans serving jail time in South East Asia alone

disclosed that one of the young women who was arrested last year said that she had been recruited in a local hair salon: “The girl was a university student and she says someone approached her in a salon and told her how she could make about $3,000 [KSh240,000] per trip. The sad thing is that by the time our Consular Services get involved, someone is in deep trouble overseas.” Drug trafficking draws severe legal ramifications from life imprisonment to death sentences in multiple jurisdictions, and yet every year hundreds of people are seduced into it. While several Kenyans and especially Kenyan women have made the news as drug mules, this is in no way a Kenyan problem, as drug barons target young women across the globe. But why young women? Why are they more vulnerable to this type of seduction? Is it simply that they seem innocent, come from poor backgrounds and want shiny things? And what about Kenyan women – what, specifically, makes them so susceptible to this illegal and perilous way of life? Are they more greedy and gullible than others? Victoria Fernandez is in her 40s and has been a senior flight attendant for almost two decades. In the course of her career she has Turn to P62

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watched several people get arrested, despite stiffer sentencing, tighter security checks and the introduction of sniffer dogs. Asked what the lure is she says rather bluntly “it’s the money. It does not matter how well off we think we are, we still want more. A young Kenyan woman who is sent to school with some harambee money soon learns that it is not easy to get by in the West. She may not even be on harambee money, her family maybe well-off, but even then most families find it difficult to earn in a soft currency and spend in hard currency. These students may have had a certain lifestyle at home but they quickly discover that they cannot afford it out there. If they come into contact with the wrong crowd, they are an easy mark”.


How do drug barons get young students with their lives ahead of them to risk it all? Fernandez says, “young people are not risk-averse. If anything, we all take more risks when we are younger. A baron may seduce a student bluntly with promises of money. Others get into relationships with these young women and use love and sometimes violence to get them to take these risks. I remember a young mother who was arrested

A young Kenyan woman who is sent to school with some harambee money soon learns that it is not easy to get by in the West

in London. She was in an abusive relationship with a West African man and she claimed that he is the one who made her do it”. Are there more subtle ways to get someone to transport drugs? Fernandez laughs and admits, “when I first became a flight attendant, I met a guy at a friend’s dinner party and he claimed to be a clothing sales man. He told me about a sister that he had in Paris whom he wanted to send some fabric to and asked me if he could give me a suitcase to carry. I would like to claim that I was savvy when I turned him down, but really I just didn’t like him and couldn’t be bothered to do him a favour. Later, I found out that he was into all kinds of illegal stuff”. She confesses that the guy only really became interested in her when he found out what she does, “I imagine that cabin crew are a drug dealer’s dream – we fly frequently and for free and though we are searched, we aren’t checked that much. We also know airports so we are comfortable in them, unlike some travellers who are nervous and anxious”. Fernandez cautions against carrying luggage for people, “do not carry things for people unless you know them and you have the opportunity to see and repack what they give you. You see, at Customs you have to declare that you packed ILLUSTRATION | Chief nyamwea

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your bags yourself and that is what gets you into trouble because you are responsible for every bag that you travel with”. On a random website, a former Filipino drug mule tells of being seduced through an internet dating site. She fell in love with a young man over frequent chats and he eventually invited her to visit him in Thailand. He did not ask her to carry anything for him until the third trip; she thought nothing of it but later found herself arrested, imprisoned, humiliated and heartbroken in a Filipino jail. Asked if she has heard stories like this Victoria Fernandez said there are constant rumours flying through airports and these cartels have a lot of resources at their disposal so she would not be surprised by a few free trips being thrown in to bait a mule. Fernandez also emphasizes that students should keep personal strife to themselves, or only tell very trusted friends: “A person recruiting drug mules wants people who are desperate. A sick relative, unpaid fees, re-possessed homes . . . all these mark a trafficker’s dream and once they get you who knows what they will do to make sure that you never stop being a drug mule?”


A student may try to convince herself that she will only do one trip, sort some issues out, pay bills and never do it again, but who is to say that a successful mule can resign from her role at will? This is not, after all, a corporate job governed by labour laws and strict HR policies. In The Deadly Money Maker, MacOdongo talks about being unable to make ends meet on a teacher’s salary, struggling to raise three children and how a woman she calls ‘Queen’ simply told her that they were going into business together. Apparently this ‘Queen’ never explicitly said what MacOdongo was to carry, she was just sent to Pakistan, where she was to wait in a house, collect luggage and bring it back for payment. She was arrested at Entebbe Airport in Uganda, brought home and was subsequently charged and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Despite claiming hardship and grinding poverty as the genesis of her drifting into a life of crime,

MacOdongo still managed to find her way back into trafficking after her release even though her children were grown and she had managed to parlay her story into a book and a modicum of fame and respectability. You may assume that your son or daughter knows better than to get mixed in with the wrong crowd or that he or she is too smart to pack, strap on or swallow illegal drugs no matter what riches they are offered. However, billions of dollars have been poured into the war on drugs and the business still persists. The barons who approach your child, the traffickers who set out to seduce him or her, are experts who have a lot to gain in their chosen field. They know what to say, what to offer as bait – be it love, paid vacations or money – how long to wait and just how much pressure to apply to get what they want. It is naïve to think that only stupid people get caught up in the drug world.


As a parent, you may notice that your child seems to be able to afford a lifestyle that is well outside of their means and yours. Perhaps they brought home really extravagant gifts this Christmas? Maybe you visited them and were surprised at a lack of frugality? In 2012, with Google, Bing and other search engines at your disposal, parents can easily find out what their children should be earning if they work at a fast food joint, bar-tend, wash cars or man a gate as a part time job. Student visas typically come with restrictions on how many hours students can work per week, so a parent can calculate, pretty accurately, just how much their child is making per week. This may seem intrusive and you may want to respect the privacy of your young adult as they begin to navigate life on their own; however, a brief glimpse at the potential consequences of silence should have you leaping at the opportunity to be intrusive. A candid conversation about what is going on in their world is not an accusation, simply an acknowledgment of reality. After all parents are raising adults, not children, and these adults should be trusted to withstand some harsh realities and to be forewarned about even more dangerous prospects.

Nabbed in Asia The following are some cases involving Kenyans arrested for drug trafficking in South East Asia over the past 3 years. The reports are from various online newspapers: China: In 2009 five Kenyans were sentenced to death in China after they were found guilty of drug trafficking. Six others have been condemned to life imprisonment in Chinese jails for drug peddling. 20 others, the majority of them young women, are serving a cumulative jail term of 150 years. Some of them may not even have known that they were carrying drugs. Thailand – Barbara Wambui was arrested at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport in July 2010 with 2.7kg of amphetamines, worth about Sh19 million. The drugs were concealed in her luggage. Police also found a large sum of money in her luggage. In September 2010, Nancy Ndungani Kahoya was also arrested at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport with 3.3kg of amphetamines as she was in transit to Malaysia. Philippines – October 2010, 24-year-old Asha AtienoOgutu arrested at Mactan-Cebu International Airport in the Philippines while she was trying to clear Customs. Taken from a false bottom of her luggage were two packs containing a total of three kilos of shabu, a stimulant used in the Philippines. Malaysia – Judith Achieng Odoyo, 30, appeared in a Malaysian court on September 22, 2011, but was not allowed to plead to the charges of drug trafficking which carries a mandatory death sentence on conviction. She was arrested at Kota Kinabalu International Airport with 5.064kg of amphetamine, which is worth $475,950. Indonesia–March 2011, A 37-year-old Kenyan woman, identified only as PN, was arrested at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta for trying to smuggle 1.46 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine from the Ivory Coast.

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How Blue Sea Energy Beat all the Odds The Blue Sea Energy Company is among the top three firms in Kenya fighting for renewable energy space. The journey to the top has not been easy. Messrs. JOHN MAJIWA and DAVID IKIARA, CEO and Chairman respectively, Blue Sea Energy Ltd., were interviewed by Aviation East Africa Business Writer ANDREW NJUGUNA AVIATION EAST AFRICA: Your company is comparatively new in Kenya. Kindly tell us its history, when it started, who started it and what were the ideas behind starting it.

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Majiwa: Thank you very much. Well, we started way back five years ago when I left my marketing job at Shell BP with my degree in Engineering. My partner, David Ikiara, who had majored in Sociology,

did some business with me on the side where he sold me insurance so we used this history to merge and form the Blue Sea Company. Having initially ventured into the petroleum industry, we experienced the challenges and were not able to start off well and our finances used in the initial capital got wasted with the losses. We then decided to reinvent our company into one that would be unique by bringing in a new idea and so we opted to call our business Blue Sea Energy. This was done after extensive research

JOHN MAJIWA: ‘It was crazy and we were not quite certain that this venture would take us to another level’


cannot supersede the other. For example, our Isiolo 40MW wind project saw us invest in buying 60 acres after which we did a chain of studies of the environmental impact, topography, geology, feasibility – which was very expensive because Kenyan contractors do not have the ability to do this work for you. We then moved into installing wind masts that are between 50 and 80 meters tall to help us read the wind speed, its density and this was another humongous expense. Take into consideration that, at this point, we had not secured any donor, thus we footed all these bills from our pockets.


in various energy sectors, usually via the Internet. This we did within the East and Central African region where we realized there was much opportunity for growth in this sector within the region. During the research, we observed Kenya’s three wind corridors in Lambwe to the west, Lamu in the South and Turkana to the north. After establishing the wind capacities, we embarked on land-buying in these areas. One trying thing here is that you cannot invest in this industry without buying land in your business location. I call this a crazy investment because the amounts of scientific research and finances used are just so huge that a weak investor can pull out even before any returns are made. Actually, the last three years have been very hectic for us because each element of this investment

It was crazy and we were not quite certain that this venture would take us to another level. We thank God that we made it and today Blue Sea Company is among the top three companies in Kenya fighting for renewable energy space. I must appreciate the Government of Kenya for giving us a chance to work in a fair environment. The Ministry of Energy has made policies better for us to work with the Energy Regulatory Commission and National Environment Management Agency. We also wish to thank the Ministry of the Environment for allowing us to be part of their Green Energy initiative, where they guided us in the steps to follow in the investment process. But I must say that the procedure of getting various approvals in various ministries is a

The Isiolo project has seen us get financing from Standard Bank plc in the UK, which will purchase all our carbon credit


tedious process. For instance, the process of acquiring land takes five days for an approval to move to purchase and get a Non-Objection license before all other processes are done and time here is money and five days was a long time for us. Such timelines are very expensive; I know of five serious investors from Finland, America and the UK who came here and did their feasibility study, but the long timelines in the government corridors caused them to pull out. So we are looking at producing 40 Mega Watts, but our vision is to do 200 Mega Watts of energy in four different sites that we have already acquired and studies are underway in these sites. The Turkana project will generate at least 40 Mega Watts. In Belgut, we have a smaller project of 7 Mega Watts and we have Lamu with 30 Mega Watts and Phase Two in Isiolo at 40 Mega Watts. The Isiolo project has seen us get financing from Standard Bank plc in the UK, which will purchase all our carbon credit. In principle, 1 Mega Watt generates at least 1 million tons of carbon, usually over a period of 10 years. So, to us, this translates as additional finances coming in and as we consider the UNFCC, our project will be registered and carbon credit will be compliant to the Kyoto Protocol on carbon emissions and pollution. All these projects going on simultaneously have not been easy at all for us, but we are happy that Turn to P66

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assure an investor that, should the venture succeed or fail to break even, the investor shall not burn his or her fingers – even before returns are realized. Q. You mentioned that you are the third investor to venture into generating wind energy in Kenya. What are the services or products you have to offer which make your company unique?

From P65

many entities in the world already recognize us. Personally, I am now a guru in the energy industry by virtue of studying the various parts involved for the past 3 years. We will also be employing400 casual laborers at our Isiolo 40 megawatt project and 180 permanent employees in various professions. Now, Isiolo is slowly turning into a resort city and our green facilities will add vastly to its pool of technological advancements in the region. We intend to invite other co-investors to help build the infrastructure there such that environmental mitigation will be their main agenda. Activities such as tree planting, recycling of inorganic materials, safe sanitation and technological training for the experts will be a huge plus for the community within the Isiolo area. When you look at us, our ages range between 30 and 35 so most of the older generation whom we interact with often ask us, “What makes you think you can power a generator using wind?” The truth is that we have made it this far successfully and I can attest to that without fear of contradicting myself. Having bankable documentation, such as viable research findings, which are in the process of validation by the UNFCC, is a huge plus.

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Actually, currently, there are five big companies that want to get equity, more of buying into our company, but initially, during the three-month period, none of them would hear any of us since the viability status was unknown. Ikiara: Well, John has responded to pretty much of what you asked, but I think Blue Sea Energy, being a Kenyan-owned company that is venturing into a foreign concept, it hasn’t been easy convincing business partners to buy our idea as a first. We realized that most expectations were that we had an international stakeholder participating in the venture, which was never the case. We engaged both local international consultants, whom we all paid from our own pockets, without external help. We also realized that for any financial assistance to be extended to us by institutions such as banks, we had to fulfill very rigorous requirements, which really cost us a lot of money. Since we are the first locals to venture into this industry, we realized that it was easier for foreign-based investors to have their documents cleared than ours, which were merely looked down upon. Actually, one of the hardest securities to acquire was Government Guarantees. These are sort of promissory notes which

Majiwa: Ah, first, the Ministry of Energy has introduced the Feeding Tariff under the Investors Policy Guide. This document introduced people who wish to invest in the Kenyan energy sector to information on how to generate power and the government, in turn, through KENGEN, will buy your product. So the Feeding Tariff policy covers solar, hydro, wind and geothermal. So we have different levels of production of energy that one can produce. Then the government comes in with the consultation with ERC, sits down and advices you on what to do then they negotiate on your behalf with KPLC to come up with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). This agreement thus allows you to produce power in any form approved by the KPLC Acts. You then sell the power to them at a special rate that is friendly. Clearly, in the whole process, the biggest problem is the financial implications


of the project, even before it is up and running, so, before we came up with a bankable project, we had to dream big and be patient. Honestly, today, such a project would cost an investor tens of millions before the viability stage. Some of the losses are humongous and the three largest companies so far – KENGEN who are doing a 5.2150 megawatt project, Turkana Wind Energy which is handling the biggest project in this region of producing 350 megawatts and Orient in Kinangop, which is yet to declare their production capacity – have all felt the same heat we have been baptized under. Q. What are the biggest setbacks you have faced so far? Majiwa: the largest setback is finances. The local banking institutions will always see such a new and huge project as a pipedream. Most asked us questions such as, “Show us your collateral and we shall give you our money”, or, “Show us how you shall pay us and we can work out a credit volume for you”. All these were real insurmountable

challenges for us and, personally, I had to sacrifice a lot of my savings, which I had acquired from my last job at the petroleum company, and also my wife’s savings from her business, which really aroused tensions between us. My colleague David had a carhire company and he was forced to sell all 14 vehicles in order to raise money for the project. Another thing is getting approvals. Government bureaucracy is really some pipeline and the timelines are nearly endless. The know-how was also a huge challenge for us, because we have never done this before, the kind of capital required is intensive and no one knows about this technology in East Africa. I spent a lot of time studying German and Finnish technology about wind energy generation and the element of finally getting there as a typical FMCG in the petroleum sector. Ikiara: You meet the Permanent Secretary in a government ministry and the first measure he takes is to size you up before asking a myriad of questions like, “Who are you? You

DAVID IKIARA: ‘We realized that most expectations were that we had an international stakeholder participating in the venture’

have been in employment and not in business, so what makes you think that this is the right direction for you? Do you have the capacity and do you know what you are talking about?” All the questions of doubt coming in from a senior member of government can really put you down, because the main understanding is that these kinds of investments are only for the ‘big boys’ in the world of who-is-who in society and we are only pawns in the ‘game’. Our best encouragement is that we are a first in the region, mainly because initially we had the gear turbines which are the ones you see installed by KENGEN on Ngong Hills to tap the wind. However, we are the first to bring in the all-new Permanent Magnetic Gravitation method where the mills shall be running gearless turbines. There are enough magnetic forces created to move the turbines in a way that they are synchronized to produce a constant rhythm despite varying wind speeds, thus the production of energy is constant. We borrowed this technology from Canada, Spain and Egypt. Turn to P68

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Renewable Energy

From P67

Q. What are the biggest opportunities that you see in the years to come for a company like yours? Majiwa: Well, we currently have our experts who are now doing intensive research in Congo, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda and we have realized that there are vast wind resources in the region, apart from here at home. We are expediting our undertakings by involving various teams from our research partners from Russia, who carry out studies in the areas I have mentioned. By engaging their professional researchers, we are sure that we shall replicate the work we are doing here to the regional countries in about ten years from now. Q. At a personal level, what is the most satisfying aspect of your work? Majiwa: Being an investor a key field such as this is very satisfying. I had never dreamt of being in the energy production industry at any point in my life and I must say the disappointments we faced in our

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initial business in the petroleum industry were actually a blessing in disguise. I am happy when I open my email and see an invitation of some kind from the American Association of Renewable Energy or from the UNFCC. I am particularly humbled by the Government of Kenya for recognizing us as their development partners. I have had an opportunity to attend conferences on renewable energy, green energy and climate change, thanks to their support. We are also recognized by the Kenya Investments Authority as investment partners. Last month, we were feted by African Energy Magazine, where we won an award of Excellent Business Achievers of the Year. So far, the government has recognized our efforts to invest so much in the betterment of our nation in terms of technological position. We did all this all by ourselves; we travelled via matatu, hired cars, trains and we even walked great distances just to hit our mark. In the process, we learnt so many things that no one can confuse me in any way in this industry. Personally, I am happy with what I have done. Ikiara: The most interesting thing is that the communities which we have touched in our work have really appreciated us. Many ask us questions about our venture and that shows that people are ready to learn and accept new technologies. For instance, in Isiolo, we have introduced environmentallyfriendly solar lamps which are also affordable. Basically, we want to grow with the communities around us, to make them feel that they also own the development process. The beauty of it all is getting involved in every aspect of our work, basically being hands-on in an objective manner. Q. What is the most frustrating aspect of your work? Majiwa: The most frustrating aspect is when we have contractors on site, yet we do not have the resources to sustain and pay them immediately. There is where we get our development partners who lend us money to meet these needs, but sometimes we face pledges that are never honoured. I remember some time back when one lender described

us as “a bunch of young excited men who want to put up a gym�. This person was to give us about KSh2 million to start construction on the ground, but the same person communicated in the 11th hour that we were too young to do the project. All things held constant, we still had debts to pay and service various obligations, but we took it in our stride and soldiered on, just like we had done before. Actually, those are the times that we can disappear now and come back later when things are a bit better. Coping with this sort of frustration needs a lot of focus and patience. Q. Given the circumstances, where do you see your company ten years from now? Majiwa: When you look at the energy sector in Kenya as part of the key areas that needs to be improved upon as we aim to achieve Vision 2030, we realize that, without energy, Kenya will never grow. Kenya has enormous energy needs. At 3000 megawatts, Kenya will be stable, but currently, the country produces 1300 megawatts, which leaves a huge deficit. Therefore we look at Blue Sea as a major player in the Kenyan energy sector in producing enough energy within the local grid. In ten years, if we are able to produce between 200 and 300 megawatts of power, we shall make a mark in the country. We shall have created many jobs and generated enough taxes to boost the economic growth of the country. These are figures that shall be running in the hundreds of millions, if not more, therefore our dream is big and achievable. This positions us as a local success company story in this country, perhaps even before the ten years are up. We are not ruling out the option of partnering with larger firms. Currently, the funders we have give us some debt capital, which is basically a loan on personal business terms. But we are looking for equity partners who can add value to our investment. We have had partners from the US, Denmark, Egypt, China and so many local companies that may wish to own a few shares in our company. That is welcome because, even as a company grows, there is a greater need for professional management, technical manpower and bigger value markets.

Innovation |


Photography | Courtesy

Three Trends Drive Videoconferencing Technologies Forward Evolving technologies and innovative application scenarios give videoconferencing renewed vitality. There are three trends driving videoconferencing technologies forward: lifelike experiences, widespread use, and industry-specific applications. Li Dong, Director of the Marketing Execution Department for Telepresence, UC&C Product Line, and Huawei’s Enterprise Business Group, offers the following insights into Unified Communication products prevalence in the market. 70 |


he quasi-4G era is taking shape as network technologies are upgraded and triple play services become more prevalent. The migration from standard definition technologies to high-definition technologies is under way, and the H.264 standard has been superseded by H.264HP and H.265. All these developments create potential for videoconferencing technologies. Unified communications products and services are widely available to enterprise customers, and the application of IP Multimedia Subsystem solutions has been accelerated in the telecom industry. Videoconferencing has evolved from being highend applications-specific to select industries to being deployed in enterprises of all sizes and across numerous industries—even making its way into people’s everyday life.

According to estimates from Wainhouse Research, call agent positions will be reduced by approximately 2.1 million by the end of 2012, as more videoconferencing services become more leveraged. The research organization went on to speculate that by the year 2015 nearly 200 million people around the world will be collaborating through videoconferencing systems. Evolving technologies and innovative application scenarios have enabled videoconferencing to gain renewed vitality with three trends driving videoconferencing technologies forward: lifelike experiences, widespread use, and industry-specific applications. Only those videoconferencing vendors that stay current with these trends and seek a better understanding of ever-changing customer needs will be able to maintain technical competitiveness. Huawei’s research and development in videoconferencing technologies dates back to as early as 1993. After years of continuous development, Huawei has gained considerable expertise in the videoconferencing field. Our innovative technologies demonstrate our desire to maintain vitality in technologies that are in tandem with industry trends.

Trend 1: Lifelike Experiences Creating a lifelike experience is an “unconscious need and tendency” of videoconferencing technology. Delivering these experiences depends largely on audio/video

Huawei’s research and development in videoconferencing technologies dates back to as early as 1993

restoration capabilities and utilization of intelligent technologies that are well suited to human societies. Video technologies are moving towards seamless wide-view video capturing and display along with 3D video capturing. Because 3D technologies have yet to be extensively applied to videoconferencing, seamless fullview display has become the major

focus. Therefore, a vendor’s ability to outperform other competitors depends on the quality of their video cameras, image stitching algorithms, and video display technologies. Behavior recognition, face recognition, character recognition, voice recognition, and other intelligent technologies are maturing. When these technologies are applied to videoconferencing, the human-computer interaction experience will improve significantly, allowing users to feel as if the conference is actually held “face-toface”. Huawei telepresence products have always had a technological edge over other vendors by providing users with lifelike experiences. In July 2011, Huawei launched TP3106 in Beijing, its second-generation telepresence product. This is the first 1080p 60fps full HD telepresence system in the world. In March 2012, Huawei unveiled a full-view telepresence solution at CeBIT, leveraging its unique threescreen dynamic synchronization processing design and the world’s first 1080p full-view three-eye camera system. Huawei became the first vendor in the world to enable 48:9 ultra-wide screen stitching. Based on a wireless touch system developed on the Android platform, a touch of a finger allows users to operate the whole telepresence infrastructure. Additionally, the overall power consumption, footprint, and bandwidth requirements of the full-view telepresence system are relatively lower than the industry average, setting a new benchmark for the industry in terms of energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions.

Trend 2: Widespread Use of Technology

With optical fibers replacing copper in network construction and the accelerating spread of lowcost, high-speed data services, telepresence technology is becoming more widely available. To meet the requirements of this trend, telepresence technology must be able to support access to various types of equipment and the different customer set-ups and system components. The integration of videoconferencing with UC systems Turn to P72

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Photography | Courtesy

From P71

will support flexible access scenarios through fixed networks, mobile networks, radios, televisions, and satellites. To satisfy these increasingly diverse needs, Huawei offers products that include devices, media control units (MCU), and telepresence systems for different types of customers. Huawei offers three types of devices: high-end HD videoconferencing devices, economical SD videoconferencing devices, and desktop HD videoconferencing devices with imbedded MCUs. Huawei also provides a full array of telepresence products, including immersive telepresence, multi-function telepresence, personal telepresence, and desktop telepresence solutions.

Trend 3: Industry-specific Applications

Every industry is undergoing a transformation in information technology. With the maturity of high-definition technologies, telepresence systems have been widely deployed in different industries and are playing a vital role in this transformation. A number of innovative applications have been created in areas such as emergency command, e-health, online education, and e-court, etc. With these applications, the purpose of videoconferencing has extended from meeting conference requirements to integrating business processes as well as supporting IT transformations in the business world. Huawei has incorporated telepresence technology into industry solutions, such as

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education, and public security. Huawei helps customers enhance mobile emergency command operations by providing an allaround, easily accessible information exchange bridge for all functional departments. In addition, to meet the specific needs of emergency command operations, the operational process can be recorded and played on multiple screens. The customized remote video dinner system that Huawei developed for Haidilao, a famous hot pot restaurant, has been in the spotlight in 2012. In this solution, Huawei deployed a high-end immersive videoconferencing system in the restaurant that helps operators control oil splatter, excessive exhaust, and smoke that often occur in a hot pot dining experience. Experts in the industry praise Huawei for opening up a new field of application for videoconferencing and promoting consumerized IT-like transformations. Green: The Color of

Huawei offers products that include devices, media control units (MCU), and telepresence systems for different types of customers


Videoconferencing Technology Lowering carbon emissions and improving environmental protection are also top priorities in the development of videoconferencing technology. Energy conservation and emissions reduction are undeniable social responsibilities of the videoconferencing industry. According to the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), initiatives in the ICT industry can reduce the emissions by nearly 7.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents by 2020. Some vendors have turned the provision of low-carbon, green videoconferencing services into a competitive advantage. To improve its competitiveness, Huawei has initiated its “Green Huawei, Green Communications, Green World� strategy. In 2008, Huawei joined GeSI, the most influential environmental protection organization in the ICT industry, and became the only company in Asia that joined the organization.

PR Disasters |


Brand Consciousness in the Age of the Social Network By BRIAN OBARA


he mantra ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’ might pass for sound wisdom in this cynical age, but the inherent folly in it quickly becomes apparent when it’s a marketing campaign gone awry. Just ask Korean Air. The North East carrier got quite a bit of stick recently when a notice on its website, that was supposed to create some buzz for its direct flights to Nairobi starting the June 21, described the ‘primitive energy’ of the Kenyan people as one of the country’s attractions. Now ‘primitive energy’, as a phrase, is open to many interpretations. Unfortunately, none of them are all too flattering, so cue the outrage and synchronized handwringing by Kenyans on social media sites.

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Kenyans on Facebook and Twitter are an excitable bunch but they are even more so when they are reacting to insults (perceived or otherwise) thrown at their collective self. A flurry of angry Facebook and Twitter postings later and the airline quickly pulled the offending promo and issued profuse apologies. Muthui Kariuki, who is handling Korean Air’s PR in Kenya, has called the ‘primitive energy’ phrasing an unfortunate mistake that was caused

by an error in translation from Korean to English.

A teachable moment

Whatever the cause of the faux pax, the ‘primitive energy’ incident that threatened to end Korean Air’s foray into Kenya before it even began provided a teachable moment to other airlines on the importance of having a robust presence in social networking sites so as to be more nimble on the damage control front. The nasty grab of parody, ridicule and (to be honest) racially toned insults that the airline got in response to the ad might have been a tad bit excessive (what else to expect from @Hellbent25 and @Anarchy2012 ?) but, on the plus side, it also got the airline to realise the mistake early enough so as to correct it. In this way Korean Air not only saved face but also earned quite a bit of admiration from potential customers like myself.

Photography | Courtesy

Brand awareness With the image of the airline industry badly needing an overhaul, social media tools provide the easiest and cheapest way for airlines to

connect with fliers on a personal level and also to safeguard their reputation. The ‘viral effect’ is at the heart of the social media experience, and so the unhappiness of one disgruntled flier can multiply faster than a virus in a petri dish. Just ask American Airlines. The carrier found itself on the wrong side of an Internet storm a while back after a YouTube video by a dissatisfied customer pinged around the Web. The video, titled ‘United breaks guitars’, chronicles Dave Carroll’s futile year-long attempts to get United to compensate him after his custom-made guitar was damaged by the airline’s baggage handlers. The video badly damaged the airline’s reputation and to date provides one of the best examples of why which airlines ignore social media tools do it at their own peril. That’s why it’s all the more surprising that so many of the region’s carriers are yet to fully embrace the use of social media tools in interacting with their customers. To date only the flag carriers – Kenya Airways, Air Uganda, Air Tanzania and Air Ethiopia – seem to be investing any attention on the

social media front. Kenya Airways stands out from the pack, however, since it has managed to weave its use of social media tools into its DNA. The airline has a dedicated staff handling its social media feeds and are on standby to respond to customers’ complaints, criticism, enquires (and yes) praise. Much in the same way as ‘shock troops’ are used in case of an invasion, social media tools provide an important first defense against negative criticism. As was demonstrated by Korean Air in the ‘primitive energy’ incident, in this bold new age, social media tools give an airline the chance to get the truth out there. However, this is not as easy as it sounds, since the Internet is one place where rumours, empty speculation and outright lies sometimes have more currency than the truth. Take, for instance, an ugly rumour that did the rounds a few weeks ago that a Kenya Airways flight to Mombasa had to taxi back to the bay at JKIA after the crew had supposedly forgotten to fuel it. This story later turned out to be a complete falsehood. As KQ clarified on its Twitter and Facebook pages, the plane in question was only forced to refuel after the crew had sorted out a security issue concerning two unaccompanied bags. Even as it continues to be a trendsetter in the region on the Turn to P76

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very closely with Twitter and have done a lot with them.” Virgin has also used the social networking sites to give back. In 2010 the airline started a Fly More and Give Back campaign in which, for a 24-hour window, $5 from every booking would be donated to an educational charity. Last year the proceeds from that campaign went towards the Stand Up To Cancer Foundation for research. Lunardini notes that the give-back campaigns have also seen the airline record its highest sales days, which is proof positive that partnering with social networking sites works: “Both years, we’ve used Promoted Trends and Promoted Tweets to amplify the message and really get the Twittersphere buzzing,” she said. “70% of our bookings come from our Web channels, so our fliers are really social media savvy and tech savvy, so when something new comes out in the deals space or a geolocation product or something along those lines that’s innovative and interesting, we know that those types of campaigns resonate with our fliers.”

From P75

social media front, KQ still has plenty of room for growth and would do well to learn from the innovative ways that other leading carriers are using the new online tools for brand awareness. This is where Virgin America comes in.

The times they are a changing

The Virgin America experience Globally speaking, Virgin America leads the way in terms of engaging with its customers on social networking sites. Since setting up a dedicated team to deal with its social accounts in 2009, the airline has launched many successful campaigns that mirror its quirky sensibility. As Abby Lundardini, who is Virgin America’s Director of Communications, notes, adopting the news tools in innovative ways has a steep learning curve but the only way to learn is to take a leap of faith: “We’re willing to experiment, and we’re kind of a little bit in the startup space, having just launched four years ago,” says Lunardini. “We’ve seen a ton of promise on the guest care and consumer communications side, but also on the revenue side, and when we think

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something sounds interesting and might work with the business model, we’re definitely willing to think differently and take a risk.” Lunardini also spoke of the importance of forming partnerships with the new platforms. She singled out Twitter for special praise: “We see a lot more engagement on Twitter than on some of the other platforms, because it’s quick, and it’s easy to engage,” she noted, adding: “Also, we were one of the launch partners with Twitter for Promoted Tweets, and our following really took off from there. We started working

Even with all this success from airlines using social networking sites, there is a growing school of thought that suggests that by focusing so much on online complaints airlines are neglecting those who still phone in, write letters or even e-mail their complaints. It’s worthwhile to have this discussion but, going forward, I for one feel that airlines should balance out how they deal with their customers’ complaints, either from the new online platforms or from the traditional formats. That said, it has to be said that there is a Darwinian element to all of this. Airlines have to evolve in how they address their customers’ concerns, or they will perish. The concern that there might be an over-emphasis on the use of social media tools is perfectly reasonable, but it is not that difficult to see why airlines are giving it short shrift. Social media are getting more attention because, with their memes, trending topics and viral nature, it simply makes more noise. As they say, the hinge that squeaks the most always gets the grease.

Infrastructure |

Renewable Energy

Syokimau Railway Station Set to Open


he new Syokimau Railway Station, an ultra-modern commuter facility complete with modern passenger ticketing systems, shopping malls and some of the most ample passenger and vehicle facilities in Kenya and the eastern Africa region generally, received a penultimate official inspection in early June ahead of the opening in July. Transport Minister Amos Kimunya, Kenya Railways Chairman

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General (Rtd) Jeremiah Kianga, Transport PS Cyrus Njiru and KR MD Nduva Muli led a large team of officials and experts in inspecting the station.

Congestion The station will serve millions of commuters in the areas of Syokimau, Mlolongo, Athi River, Kitengela, Kajiado and Machakos, greatly relieving congestion in the capital city’s central business district (CBD) and on Mombasa Road.

Endless traffic jams resulting in countless lost man-hours in Nairobi’s offices and factories and leaving a giant carbon footprint have become a daily occupational hazard in the capital. The promotion and growth of the railway network and services are major mandates of the Kenya Railways Corporation. Both the public and private sectors stand to gain tremendously by participating and collaborating in the expansion of the rail network.

Photography | SALATON NJAU



1: WELCOMING COMMITTEE: Transport Permanent Secretary Cyrus Njiru, Kenya Railways Board Chairman General (Rtd) Jeremiah Kianga and Kenya Railways Managing Director Muli Nduva prepare to welcome Transport Minister Amos Kimunya. 2: A view of the Access control flap gates. 3: STATE OF READINESS: A view of the platform. 4: VIP: The Presidential coach.

4. 3.

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Renewable Energy







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5: TICKETERS: KR ICT Manager Kitunyi with the team from the ticketing contractors for the Syokimau line. 6: WALKABOUT: PS Njiru, MD Nduva, Minister Kimunya, and Chairman Kianga take a tour of the station grounds. 7: HAVE TICKET, WILL TRAVEL: Transport Minister Kimunya uses his ticket to cross the flap-gate turnstiles. 8: Special commuter train arrives at the station. 9: MOBILITY: Ms. Marianne Kitunyi, the Kenya Railways IT Manager, demonstrates how to purchase a train ticket by mobile phone. 10: INSPECTION: Reviewing the construction work at Makadara Station.

Photography | SALATON NJAU




11: FULL SPEED AHEAD: The train Journey to Makadara. 12: SEATING COMFORTABLY: Minister Kimunya, PS Njiru and Chairman Kianga prepare for the train journey. 13: FULL SPEED AHEAD: The train Journey to Makadara. 14: PARKING SOLUTION: View of the Parking Yard, designed to hold up to 3,000 vehicles. 15: MODERNISED: Specially configured and refurbished interior of commuter train.



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Personality |

Captain Elizabeth Wanjiku Nderi

‘It’s More about the Work than the Gender’ Aviation East Africa Special Correspondent SHAUN BUKUSI interviewed Pilot ELIZABETH WANJIKU NDERI at the Aero Club, Wilson Airport, Nairobi, Kenya

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AVIATION EAST AFRICA: What are your full names? MS. NDERI: Elizabeth Wanjiku Nderi. I have been a professional pilot for three years. Q: What initiated your interest in flying?

A: I have always been fascinated by planes and travelling to different places. When I was young, I really looked forward to trips to the airport because I loved watching planes taking off and landing. I learnt how to fly before I learnt how to drive and I always wanted to work in a dynamic field.

Q: Which schools did you attend?

and filling the proper paperwork, I’m airborne by 7 and can cover up to 6 sectors a day (can be in 6 different airports in one day) depending on how busy the day is. The average is four. On a regular day, I’m back home by 4 or 5, though on some days there 4-hour flights which are really tiring. It may not sound like much, but it is intensive because, at each airport, my work involves loading and unloading of passengers and cargo, plus the paperwork that comes with preparing for any flight. I work four days a week and by the time I’m done I’m ready to rest.

A: I went to Forest View Academy in primary, which was a really good school, then I went to Precious Blood Secondary School. After that, I obtained a PPL (private pilot’s license) from CMC then went to USIU for a business degree (Marketing and Finance) and graduated with honors. Q: How did school influence your decision to be a pilot? A: I was taught in primary that I could be whoever I wanted to be. I knew I could be anything. Their emphasis was on education and the pursuit of excellence. I realized that I have to do my best and that is what gave me all the opportunities I have now. Since I wanted to be a pilot, I pursued that.

Q: What makes a good day? A: It always feels good to take off into sunny weather and everything runs smoothly and on time. Good days mostly mean good weather.

Q: Where did you train to become a professional pilot?

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: I got my PPL from CMC then went to 43rd Air School in South Africa for a CPL license and everything else.

A: I like the challenge of the job because it offers me more experience and it helps me grow. I like flying in different conditions and learning something new daily from mentors and captains. I like the fact that nothing is ever the same.

Q: Was the training difficult? What challenges did you face and what did you like about it? Was it more difficult as a girl? A: The challenges in flying school came from being educated, black and a girl. Some instructors felt that people who pursued flying as their only education made better pilots. It also was not easy there because I am black and, sometimes, this would cause discomfort. I think the training was challenging for everyone, not more so just for girls. I liked the training because the school was very organized and the educational material was provided stage by stage. I specifically liked my instructor, Keith Cunningham, who was very professional. In addition to this, the school educated us on the aviation industry in general, dangerous goods and resource management – which were important things to be aware about after the training. Q: How long did it take? A: It took me a year then I came back home.

Q: What do you like about being a pilot? Q: Where and how did you get your first job? Did you like it? A: I got a job as an instructor at DAC Aviation, formerly CMC. It had its challenges but it contributed to my overall experience. I learnt a lot about people and how there are different approaches to flying. Q: Are you treated differently where you work because you are female? A: No, I work with a great company who are very supportive. They are safety-oriented and encourage teamwork as professionals and do not focus on gender. Q: What is your average day like? A: My work is based out of Nairobi mostly. I wake up at 5 and I’m at the airport by 6. After conducting checks

A: I like the travel, the sense of freedom I feel when I’m up there. My mind is clear as if I leave all my troubles on the ground. I love the way I feel when I take off heading towards a new destination. I could add that it is a common misconception that pilots earn a lot of money immediately. This is not necessarily true. It takes time to earn that much, but, for now, what I get paid is just right with regard to what I do. Q: What is most exciting? A: Flying is exciting in itself. I hope it never grows old [laughs]. Taking off on a new journey always feels good. Q: What do you dislike most about the job? What’s difficult? Turn to P84

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Captain Elizabeth Wanjiku Nderi

From P83

A: Sometimes it’s challenging to work off-base (far from home). It helps to know what the goal is and to remember to enjoy the flying. Most pilots find it very hard to get a job without experience and getting experience is difficult in and of itself. The flying community is small, so networking is extremely valuable. Some airlines simply do not employ women. The challenges for many female pilots is finding a good man and starting a family. I deal with this by talking to my mentors (both male and female pilots with years of experience for guidance) and I have fellow female pilots with whom I share my experiences so that we grow together. Q: What about your colleagues, rules, pre-flight procedures, family life? Does being a lady pilot interfere with your social life? A: My Mum has been very supportive, she has never doubted me. I also have a very supportive brother and sisters. They all learnt aviation terms so that they could

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Personality |

understand me. My family has given me a lot of financial and emotional support. I’m so thankful for them and how they have always been and are still there. I have not been anything but a female pilot, so this is all I know. Flying procedures involve a lot of rules and paperwork, but it is part of the job. My social life has its challenges, but every career has its cons. Q: What are your long-term hopes and plans? Marriage, kids, retirement? Another career? A: I would love to fly and grow in this career for as long as I can. I would like to make a change in the industry in my own little way. I would like to do my part in growing the Kenyan industry.

With regard to marriage and a family, I hope and pray that one day in the future all this happens, but I have no plans for certain. If I had it my way, I would fly to the end, I don’t want to retire. Q: What would you say to a young schoolgirl who wants to follow in your footsteps? A: I would tell them that they need to be dedicated, hardworking and mentally prepared. I would say that it pays to be patient and have good grades to get some opportunities. It works out eventually, but it’s a journey. It’s more about the work than the gender. I look forward to more female colleagues in the industry. Anything that is worth it takes time and dedication.

Shaun Bukusi is a part-time writer with a degree in Information systems and a Private Pilots license.

Dispatch |

South Africa

Letter from


By Mwangi Githahu

Super-Size Seats O for Passengers of Wider than Airline Average Girth

ver the last few years there have been reports from no less an august body than the World Health Organisation (WHO) about a dramatic increase in obesity on the African continent. As one who has a tendency to fat myself, I often catch myself reading and occasionally saving news reports about such developments. I am something of a nerd when it comes to the gathering of useless information. That’s how, some years ago, I came to find out about a study carried out by the interestingly-named International Association for the Study

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of Obesity, which claimed that, in South Africa, 64% of the black population and 50% of the white population are overweight or obese. Now this would have remained just some more useless information that I had stored up, were it not for a recent report from the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus who have decided to offer their clients the option of super-sized seats for large people on its A320 planes. According to a front-page story in South Africa’s Business Day newspaper, one of the first airlines to confirm that was thinking about the new option for its fleet is South African Airways (SAA).The newspaper reported Theunis Potgieter (pictured), SAA commercial GM, saying: “These seats will be wider, with more legroom and will easily accommodate larger passengers”. Configuration Nevertheless, for the time being, Potgieter said the Economy Class seating configuration on SAA’s fleet would remain the same, with seat dimensions “that are well within industry standards and better than key competitors”. Potgieter was reacting to questions from a reporter who recently visited Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, where she learnt of the Airbus expansion plans from Zuzana Hrukara, Airbus’s head of aircraft interiors marketing. Hrukara explained to the Business Day reporter that, in a standard Airbus A320 Economy cabin, there is a single aisle, flanked by three seats on each side, all 18 inches wide. To accommodate the supersize seats, all aisle seats will be 20 inches wide and the other two will be reduced to 17 inches. According to Hrukara, “Countries and airlines recognise obesity as a growing phenomenon. This concept was discussed and used in active campaigns in North America”. She said the new offering was driven by demand from the US, but that “If operators are interested, we will install it across the cabin (or in specific areas)”. Hrukara said it was up to individual carriers to decide if they wanted it. According to the Business Day report, Airbus thinks airlines will be in a position to charge an additional fee for the wider seats, estimating that additional revenue would total $3 million over 15 years. However, indignant journalists attending the Airbus briefing said they objected to subsidising the larger seats, and paying the same for smaller seats. To which Hrukara said that pricing would depend

Photography | Courtesy

on airlines, and noted that the obese seats “improve the travel experience for those sitting close by”. Meanwhile, until the new seating arrangements arrive at your favourite airline, perhaps I should leave you with some tips I picked up on the Internet for flying seated next to those of us with a wider than airline-seat average girth. If you’re seated next to a large passenger: Keep in mind that, just like you, your seatmate is a ticketed passenger. They may be more uncomfortable than you are. You’re going to be in this together, so be polite as you settle in. If another passenger is taking up part of your seat space, stay put until everyone else has been seated. If the flight is not full, you can move to a nearby empty seat before take-off. On a full flight, you’ll just need to make the best of it. Be patient: this isn’t a permanent situation and you’ll eventually get to your destination. Read Rather than sit and stew, get up and walk up and down the aisle a bit or find a spot out of traffic to stand and read a magazine or chat quietly with another passenger. And as long as you and your seatmate may be, literally, cheek-to-cheek for a few hours, try getting to know him or her. Your seatmate is probably as fed up with air travel as you are. You might end up making a new friend or business contact and shedding some stereotypes along the way. If you are a large passenger: Again, keep in mind that, like you, your seatmate is a ticketed passenger. You’re going to be in this together, so be pleasant and polite as you settle in. Always get an aisle seat. As an oversized person, I would take a more inconvenient flight if necessary to avoid the dreaded middle seat, or even some airline’s window seats. This allows

Airbus offer their clients the option of super-sized seats for large people on its A320 planes”

your shoulder to hang over into the aisle a little bit (and if the stewardess keeps brushing against you it’s not all bad). Also you can stick your feet out into the aisle to stretch a little bit. If possible, do not store anything under the seat in front, so as to free up a little leg room. Humble yourself and ask for a seatbelt extender. Avoid using the airplane’s bathroom. It would be very embarrassing to get wedged in that tiny space and have the fire department pry you out at the next stop. Sit in the emergency exit aisle. There is a LOT more legroom. You do have to agree to lift a 50-pound door, throw it out of the plane, climb out and assist other passengers, but I haven’t had to yet. And in an emergency I would be the first one off the plane, which is good. It’s not your fault airline seats are so tiny. If you find yourself cheek-to-cheek with your seatmate, try to make the best of it. You might end up shedding some stereotypes too. Mwangi Githahu is a Kenyan journalist who now lives in South Africa. He contributes a weekly column to The Weekend Star and was for three years until April 2011 the Features editor at The Star. He has written for a number of newspapers and magazines for the past two decades, including the Sunday Nation, The EastAfrican, Eve magazine and the nowdefunct Weekly Review.

August - September 2012

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Issue 4  
Issue 4  

august september