Getting Acquainted With Nairobi

Whispers about realisation of Julius Nyerere’s East African integration dream into one borderless region, are making rounds in our country - Uganda. The concept of freely traveling through Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania the way you travel from Kampala into another district without a stopover for visa-checks and approvals is definitely tantalizing.

What best way to enjoy this freedom but by learning more about these East African countries? A lot of the region’s citizens have not gone past the borders of their home country, yet it is not expensive to.

A good example would be when traveling from Uganda to Kenya; a bus from Kampala to Nairobi is estimated at UGX 80,000/- and you pay the same pricing coming back depending on what bus you use. If you are a first timer in Nairobi and want to enjoy the city as much as you can, what do you do?

First off, if you plan on having a busy day 1 in Nairobi, it is important that you book your accommodation prior. For a seamless experience, it is best to book online with platforms such as Jumia Travel or if you have family in the city, plan with them for accommodation, not forgetting to organize for bus station pickup. Catch the evening bus at 7pm which will reach Nairobi at an estimated time of 6am the following day.

After a few hours of well deserved rest, start off your itinerary, having planned on what you will be doing for your holiday in Nairobi.

Get Acquainted

It is always best to learn more about your new environment, to make it easy for you to access the city. Learn some of the best footpaths you can use back to your hotel or home. If you will be using public transport; note that buses are the best mode of transportation since boda bodas (motorcycles) are not allowed in the Central Business District, which has helped decongest the city though you might find them along the roads.

Look around to know the city streets and where they lead to, which is best done on foot with a guide. The city usually has citywalk tours conducted daily to help first time visitors get acquainted with Nairobi; join them and bring a camera along.

Nairobi National Park

Known as the ‘World’s Wildlife Capital’ Nairobi rules with the serene beauty bestowed by the Nairobi National Park, which lies in the backdrop of the city’s iconic scrapers; bringing a sense of wild beauty to Nairobi.

The Park is home to a variety of wildlife that include; leopards, rhinos, giraffes, cheetahs among many others. There are buses that take the route leading to the park so it is not hard for you to access it. You can also have the hotel help find you a guide to ease your exploration.


Slum tourism has risen higher than anticipated around the world and there’s no better way to see it first hand than visiting one of Africa’s largest slums located in Kenya. Just right out of the city centre, you will find Kibera with so many shanty makeshift homes for thousands of people who call it home.

Nairobi is a metropolis growing at a very fast rate and with that comes many cons to it, which will always include areas like slums no matter how much effort the concerned authorities make to create cheaper housing. It is best to have a guide with you and carry nothing that can be easily snatched off from you.

Carnivore Langata

Why move all the way from Uganda and not pass by one of the largest open air restaurants in Kenya? The Carnivore, as its name states, would not be good for you if you are a vegetarian, since all you will find is meat and more meat. The most intriguing would be crocodile meat which most people are quite curious about, they serve game meats including ostrich and buffalo. These exotic delicacies might take a little by an estimate of 60, 000 UGX but then again, nothing worth experiencing comes easy.

The Nightlife

Day five in Nairobi should be when you rest up and get ready for a wonderful night ahead, our neighbours next door are as hyped about their nightlife as Ugandans are, so expect an array of nightclubs to choose from or maybe head straight to a bar near you and sip a cold beer or two.

The most common places include: Havana, Club Cubano, Klub House, K1, New Florida Club, Pavement among many others. You will find the clubs setting similar to those in Kampala, with DJs mixing music and drinks flowing through the night depending on how much money you have. You are advised to carry a copy of your passport just in case of any emergencies. 

Shopping At The Maasai Market

If you are looking for unique statement pieces made by local artists, do not go further than the Maasai market and no, it is not run by the Maasai tribe. You will find different craft pieces and if you have a knack for languages; make sure to speak in Kiswahili or the prices will automatically hike up. Bargain as hard as you always do in Luganda and make sure to not easily part with your money before examining the merchandise properly. 

Nairobi is a buzzing city that you will need to visit more than twice to get the full feel of it. It grows by the day and you cannot exhaust it in a week; there are restaurants to visit, parks to walk through and people to meet. 

About Jumia Travel is Africa's No.1 hotel booking website, allowing you to get the best prices for more than 25,000 hotels in Africa and more than 200,000 hotels around the world. Our ambition is to bring every bit of available accommodation online, and to create the easiest and cheapest way for customers to book it.

At Jumia Travel, we have hundreds of travel specialists constantly in touch with our customers. Our offices are located in Lagos (Nigeria), Accra (Ghana), Dakar (Senegal), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Algiers (Algeria), Douala (Cameroon), Kampala (Uganda), Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania), Nairobi (Kenya), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Porto (Portugal) and Paris (France).

Before June 2016, Jumia Travel was known as Jovago. Jumia Travel was founded in 2013 by Jumia and is backed by MTN, Rocket Internet, Millicom, Orange, Axa and financial partners.


Jumia Named Among MIT’s 50 Smartest Companies

Jumia Group has been named as the only Africa-focused company to make the World's Top 50 Smartest Companies list (2016), published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The announcement comes shortly after Jumia Group (formerly known as Africa Internet Group) earned the impressive title of ‘Africa’s First Unicorn’.

MIT mentioned, among other credits, the company’s flagship project ‘Jumia’ - Africa’s biggest online shopping mall - and it’s online booking portal ‘Jumia Travel’ as the continent's leaders in their respective sectors.

“Jumia Group is proud to be on this list, as it is great testimony to our relentless efforts in tapping into, and bringing to full the potential in Africa’s digital market” said Sacha Poignonnec, co-founder of the company. “We are committed to filling the gaps in this massively growing economy through technology; we believe that for every challenge encountered therein lies an opportunity”.

Ranked at number 47, Jumia joins an exclusive list of iconic companies including: Microsoft; Facebook; Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba; and the world's leading automobile manufacturer Toyota. "This list draws a lot of attention to what new age companies are doing to capitalise on the digital possibilities brought forth by the Internet. We chose to focus on Africa as the leading digital frontier," Paul Midy, the CEO for Jumia Travel said.

MIT Smartest Companies was first published in 2010 under the title, Most Innovative Companies. This year’s list mainly spread between Biotech, Computing & Telecommunication, Transportation and Internet & Digital Media.

About Jumia

Jumia aims to create a connected digital Africa to improve people’s lives on the continent, thanks to the Internet. Jumia’s mission is to connect African consumers and entrepreneurs to do better business together. Founded in 2012, with a presence all over Africa, the group has MTN, Rocket Internet, Millicom, Orange and Axa as investors. Jumia has created a sustainable ecosystem of digital services, namedly: Jumia, Jumia Market, Jumia Travel, Jumia Food, Jumia Deals, Jumia House, Jumia Jobs, Jumia Car, Jumia Services.

Why Polyethene Ban Is Failing To Work In Uganda

In the last ten years, the Ugandan government has been considering to ban polyethylene bags commonly known as kaveera of gauge below 30 microns used to carry mostly groceries albeit with little success as members of the private sector fight tooth and nail to save their businesses that benefit from the use of the environmentally unfriendly carriers.  

But in April 2015, despite numerous callous demonstration from members of private sector, including court battles, the Ministry of Water and Environment under National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) effected the ban on importation, manufacture and use of polythene bag of gauge below 30 microns.

The implementation however has not been a rosy one as affected businesses and other government agencies including cabinet fought the ban calling for its suspension. This back and forth has left the public in a state of indecision. Some traders stopped packing customer purchases in the kaveera while others continued to use the ban substance despite threats of legal action from NEMA.

And the Minister for Water and Environment Sam Cheptoris has blamed this inconsistency on the lack of sensitization and awareness about the dangers of the use of kaveera and the ban throughout the country. The minister says many people including those fighting the ban of kaveera don’t know the reasons why kaveera was being banned yet if they knew they would comply.

“The ban has not been successful because people don’t know the reason for the ban. We need to increase sensitization,” the minister said during his maiden visit to the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) head office since taking over the ministry following his appointment in the new cabinet.

The minister advised NEMA, a government agency tasked with managing the country’s environment, to always make sure that when enforcing environment regulations people understood and appreciated the reasons for such actions.

The unwanted ban

The ban of kaveera took center stage during the Budget speech of 2009  before former finance minister Syda Bbumba and the then Environment Minister Maria Mutagambwa presented the proposal to cabinet and parliament before being famously halted following lobbying from traders and manufacturers of kaveera in the country.

The impasse dragged on as negotiation between environmentalists, government and traders hit dead ends all the time until April, 2015 when NEMA under the directive of the line ministry moved to implement the ban. The kaveera, according to advocates of the ban, is being banned because of its hazardous effect on the environment.

NEMA in a statement ahead of the ban last year said the economic, health and social costs of the continued use of kaveera outweighs the economic benefits derived from the production of kaveera and its cost is reflected in the increasing cost of malaria, reduced agricultural productivity and infrastructure repairs. The ban has however continued to get resistance across the country.

Kaveera and environment

According to the accumulation of polyethylene waste in the soil will result in poor soil aeration and poor absorption of water and nutrients. They continue to say that polyethylene materials can increase soil temperature. Polyethylene products can last up to 1000 years in the soil inhibiting the breakdown of biodegradable materials around or in it and the other fear is that agricultural crops cannot grow where polyethylene products are because their roots cannot penetrate the soil for water, nutrient etc.

The website also explains that kaveera has negative impact on water because it can endanger the lives of water species like turtles, whales and sea birds who can mistake these polyethylene wastes for food or get entangled in it, resulting in painful injuries, or even death. Also marine plants and animals can be smothered by polyethylene plastic bags.  Marine debris which also include Polyethylene waste is unsightly and unwelcoming to beachgoers, which can result in lost revenue from tourism.

The negative impact of kaveera also extends to the atmosphere because when burnt polyethylene waste produces unpleasant and chocking smell, polyethylene waste combustion produces soot which is an airborne particulate emission and the combustion of polyethylene (both low (LDPE) and high density (HDPE) has been found to produce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) especially olefins, paraffin, aldehydes and dioxins which are a danger to human life.

Uganda To Celebrate Culture At Kampala Fair

The diverse and rich cultural diversity that is characteristic of Uganda will be on display when the three-day International Uganda Cultural Fair kicks off Uganda Museum from 29th to 31st July in Kampala. At the fair, you can learn about Uganda’s arts, social norms, languages, marriage, indigenous knowledge systems of nature and environment, music and dances.  

"Culture preserves and provides knowledge, which is essential for the physical and intellectual existence of man," said deputy Chief Executive officer for Uganda Tourism Board, John Ssempebwa at a press conference this week. 

He added, "Culture preserves knowledge and helps its transmission from generation to generation. Culture directs and confines the behavior of an individual. In many cases, culture has provided much need employment amidst biting unemployment.

"Whereas culture plays such an important role in society, we are witnessing its erosion because our children are frequently exposed to foreign cultures through the internet and television," Ssempebwa said. 

The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities through its Tourism-Promotion agency the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), in collaboration with Perfect Events are organising the International Uganda Cultural Fair to showcase what the gem Ugandan cultures have been and still are. 

According to the organizers, there will be lots of activities packed in the three days, including the cultural quiz, foods, drinks, dance and entertainment as well as fashion. 

Under the theme: “Appreciating who we are: Celebrating Cultural Diversity”, this fair will also help to establish relationships with people from different cultural heritages across the globe and support creating an enabling environment in which people can work together to build strong socio economic base of Uganda hence feeding into the vision 2040 of prosperous nation.

Why Uganda Reduced Tourism Visa Fees

On Thursday, the tourism fraternity was full of delight when the Ministry Of Internal Affairs through the Directorate Citizenship and Immigration Control announced it has reduced Single Entry Visa fees by 50 percent with effect from 22nd July 2016.

The decision to reduce the Single Entry Visa fees was arrived at after consistent lobbying from stakeholders in the tourism sector particularly the private operators.  This is looked at as a move to lure foreign tourists into the country.

According to a statement from the internal affairs ministry, reducing the visa fees will promote tourism in the country. It said all Ugandan borders have been notified to effect the change and people seeking to enter Uganda shall consequently pay USD 50 instead of the USD 100.

“The move is aimed at promoting the Tourism sector as we implement the newly introduced e-visa where we require applicants to apply, have their visas approved with notifications sent to them and visas issued at their borders and embassies.” the statement said.

In a 15 July, 2016 circular to all entry and exit points, Sasah Godfry Wanzira, the director citizenship and immigration control issued a statutory instrument No.13 of 2016 to effect the change.

Many thanks to the entire tourism private sector for the unity in pushing for the reduction and a special thanks to the board of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) for the incessant lobbying, the Association of Uganda Tour Operators said in a brief statement posted on their Facebook page.

Uganda’s Immigration Department is now encouraging travelers to apply for the visa on the newly introduced e-visa system. “We require applicants to apply; have their visas approved with notifications sent to them and visas issued at borders and embassies,” the Immigration Department says.

The internal affairs ministry spokesperson, Jacob Simunyu, told New Vision that before the reduction, Uganda was charging the highest fees for single entry tourist visas in the East African region.

“Some of the people were ending up getting the East African tourist visa after all it has been at the same price with the Uganda’s single entry tourism visa. But they didn’t know the East African visa cannot extended and you cannot do business with it,” Simunyu said.

Etihad Airways To Fly Vodafone Powertalks’ Winner To Abu Dhabi

One lucky business person stands a chance to win a free return ticket to Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates, aboard Etihad Airways, following a sponsorship partnership between superfast internet service provider Vodafone Uganda and the airline.

The lucky winner will get the opportunity to experience Abu Dhabi’s first class tourism and hospitality when Vodafone and Etihad Airways conduct a raffle draw during the 5th Edition of Vodafone PowerTalks, a forum held every quarter to empower business owners and managers with ICT skills.

Next week’s forum will be held under the theme; Leveraging Technology in Tourism: Lesson for Uganda. The PowerTalks are aimed at encouraging players in Uganda’s small and medium enterprise businesses to embrace the use of technology in their field so as to enhance their businesses and the industry.

“Uganda is fast becoming a leading tourism destination and the progressive SMEs involved in this space will have to be more innovative in the way they use technology to redesign tourism products to address individual needs, satisfy consumer wants and grow their businesses,” said Allan Richardson, the Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone Uganda, while announcing the event last week.

The forum which, will take place on July 28, 2016 at the Kampala Serena Hotel, is expected to attract over 250 Small and medium enterprise entrepreneurs, managers and ICT enthusiasts from mainly the tourism and hospitality industry including but not limited to; aviation, media, health and cultural attachés from various institutions.

The event has also attracted a number of exhibitors including; The Pearl Guide, a tour and travel mobile app, Samsung, makers of home and mobile electronics, and Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates. The airline launched its operations Uganda in 2015 and currently flies to over 400 destinations globally.

Jumia Travel Advises Hotels On Pricing

The hotel industry is tremendously growing if the number of quality hotels springing up is anything to go by however they risk stagnating the hospitality industry if they don’t price their services in a reasonably affordable manner, a travel expert mentioned it in an exclusive interview with EARTHINDS on Wednesday.

Louis Badea, the country manager of Jumia Travel, an online booking agency, explains in the interview that while there are nice lodges in national parks and quality hotels in major towns, their services are high and a turn off to even foreign visitors. “We lack middle income affordable lodges if you compare to other countries like South Africa, same for hotels especially in Kampala,” Badea said.

A Uganda Hospitality Report compiled by Jumia Travel describes Uganda as ‘a hub for tourism buzzing with different attractions all over the country’ receiving 1.24 million foreign visitors in 2014, 50% more visitors than 2007. However most of the visitors are of middle class status who are not able to pay exorbitant fees for accommodation.

The report which captures performance of the hospitality leading the first quarter of 2016 reveals that 46 percent of people who book through the web portal prefer 3 star hotels while only 7 percent check in into 5 star hotels. 31 percent prefer 2 star hotels while 17 percent and 1 percent stay at 4 star and 1 star hotels.

This says a lot about how hotels should price their services because, according to Badea, travelers look for good but affordable accommodation. He says that hotels should have amenities like WIFI internet, swimming pool, air conditioned, good rooms and transport for client’s easy mobility around town or parks.

The reports also captures statistics explaining why clients choose a particular hotel. This being a technology era, 37 percent of customers consider availability of WIFI internet before booking into a hotel. Coming in second is swimming pool with 26 percent of clients preferring a hotel with a swimming pool probably to cool whenever they want.

Other amenities travelers consider are bed and breakfast (17 percent), AC (15 percent) and transport (5 percent). “If the hotel doesn’t provide these services then there is quite a problem.” Badea warns. Close to 800 Ugandan hotels are listed on Jumia Travel web portal and can also be accessed through a mobile App.

Shortage Of Energy Resources Fueling Charcoal Burning

The lack of alternative energy sources is the leading factor why Ugandans continue to descend on forests to cut down trees to collect firewood and burn charcoal, the executive director of National Environment Management Authority, Dr. Tom Okurut confessed.

Dr. Okurut was speaking on Tuesday during a meeting where the Authority hosted three ministers from Ministry of Water and Environment. Sam Cheptoris, the Minister for Water and Environment, and his deputies Ronald Kibule in charge of water and Maria Gorreti in charge of environment were on a familiarization tour of the statutory body.

Uganda's main source of energy is biomass acquired from national resources like tress and other fossils. Burning of renewable resources provides approximately 90 percent of the energy in Uganda because it is affordable, readily available unlike alternatives like electricity and solar.

Charcoal, a solid black substance got after burning tree logs, is most used domestically to cook, provide heat and light, in rural and urban areas. The demand for charcoal increases every day as population and urbanization continues to grow. This has resulted into climate challenges like global warming.

To revert the challenge, Dr. Okurut said they are working with local government across the country to reduce the cutting down of trees to get charcoal. This is proving to be a remedy in northern Uganda where success is being registered in Otuke district.

‘In Otuke, cutting down of trees has gone down by 80%.” Dr. Okurut told the ministers inside the Authorities boardroom. He blamed the burning of charcoal on lack of alternative energy sources like solar or electricity. He said while the citizens want charcoal for their daily lives, the process ‘should be done in a sustainable manner.

The state minister for water Ronald Kibuule asked NEMA to put in place regional offices to help in environment conservation including reducing the cutting down of trees to get charcoal. He vouched for NEMA to start a tree planting crusade. “Let us not just talk about charcoal burners but also encourage planting of trees.” he told NEMA.

Cheptoris, the Minister of Water and Environment, in his speech, said that the Authority should increase sensitization so that people are educated. “Make sure people understand and appreciate the action you are taking.” He advised.

Alternative sources of energy

The mainstream alternative source of energy is hydroelectricity and solar but the two are expensive and not readily available in rural areas. The coverage of electricity in Uganda still remains in major towns however the demand for electricity has been growing at an average of 10% per annum which government is struggling to meet leading to dramatic load shedding.

Uganda has installed hydro electricity supply of about 800MW but this will grow to about 4,356MW by 2035. Government is undertaking a number of big and small hydro power projects across the country to increase supply and meet demand. 

The level of solar energy utilization in Uganda is still very low. The use of solar is mainly driven by donor-funded programmes for lighting and vaccine refrigeration in health centers and rural schools. Domestic use is also picking up in rural areas as forest are depleted. The cost and maintenance of solar panels is an impediment.

Other alternatives to get include thermal power, oil and natural gas, wind energy, cogeneration, fossil fuels and biomass among others. Both government and private investors are injecting money to generate energy at a cheaper cost. Once realized this reduced the burden on natural resources but most especially forests and preserve the environment.

Can Technology Incentivize Tourism Growth In Uganda?

Telecommunication services provider Vodafone Uganda will at the fifth edition of the Vodafone Power Talks provide a platform at which Ugandans will discuss how best they can use technology to market the country’s tourism sector locally and internationally.

The fifth edition of its empowerment forum under the theme, Leveraging Technology in Tourism: Lessons for Uganda, will take place on July 28, 2016 at the Kampala Serena Hotel. Vodafone Uganda’s Chief Executive Officer Allan Richardson said the meeting will feature success stories from the East African region.

Richardson also said the meeting will focus on identifying new and better digital marketing platforms that can be adopted by various players in the tourism and hospitality industry to boost both the country’s image and deliver better investment returns for their businesses.

“Uganda is fast becoming a leading tourism destination and the progressive SMEs involved in this space will have to be more innovative in the way they use technology to redesign tourism products to address individual needs, satisfy consumer wants and grow their businesses,” says Allan Richardson.

“There are a lot of lessons we can learn from the region and I am confident that our experienced panelists will be sharing exciting ideas and insights during this forum,” he added. 

With technology, the world has turned into a global village and the internet has fast become the universal source of information for billions of people. This quarterly forum is designed to inspire Ugandans to harness the transformative power of technologies for growth at individual and business level.

The panelists for this edition include; Steven Asiimwe, the Executive Director Uganda Tourism Board, Amos Wekesa, the Director of Great Lakes Africa Safaris, Kelley McTavish, the Executive Director of Pearl of Africa Tours, Belinda Namutebi, the iBrand Chief Brand Custodian, Phillip Kalibwami, the Director of Pearl Guide and Rosette Chantal Rugamba, the founder and Managing Director of Songa Africa based in Rwanda.

All delegates participating in the forum will be entered into a raffle draw with the chance to win a return ticket to Abu Dhabi, where the winner will experience the warmth of traditional Arabian hospitality, courtesy of Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates.

Recently, Uganda was named the second best honeymoon destination by the Huffington Post, a globally recognized online blog and news aggregator, hinting at the global attention that the country has received over the past few years leading to a booming market.

According to recent National Budget revelations, tourism contributes US$ 2.5 billion to Uganda’s GDP and approximately USD 1.5 billion in foreign exchange earnings annually. This translates to 9% of national output and 26% of export earnings.

The forum is expected to attract over 250 SME entrepreneurs, managers and ICT enthusiasts from mainly the tourism and hospitality industry and others including; aviation, media, health and cultural attachés.

Sheraton Hotel Hosts Muslim At Iftar Diner

Just a week into Ramadan, the Kampala Sheraton Hotel organized a splendid Iftar diner for its Muslim clients. The diner was held to thank the Muslims for the continued support to the hotel and to also wish them a fruitful fasting period.

While addressing the guests at Kampala Sheraton hotel in Victoria Restaurant, the General Manager, Kampala Sheraton Hotel Mr. Jean-Philippe Bittencourt encouraged the Muslims to keep up with the good spirit of brotherhood as they observe this Ramadan.

He further thanked them for the immeasurable support to the Sheraton hotel their respective organizations and as individuals and also encouraged them to work as a team for peace and unity to be realized.

The diner was attended by clients from various organizations and industries with a guest profile ranging from managers, ambassadors, business people, media personalities to mention but a few together with their spouses.

A wide spread of food and soft drinks were served to the guests. The guests were first ushered in to separate dedicated rooms for prayers and the guests then proceeded to the main dining area to break their fast for the day.

“As is part of Sheraton Kampala’s corporate value, we aim to respect all religions, races and disciplines, and we are holding this Iftar diner is to symbolize this and emphasize the fact that everyone is equally welcome at the Sheraton.

In the coming days we shall also hold a very special Iftar Dinner for about 400 Muslim children from disadvantaged backgrounds – this being one of our CSR initiatives and a way for the Hotel to give back to society.”

“Thank you all for respecting the Holy Month of Ramadan and making a point to fast, and we encourage all our clients to come and break their fast at Sheraton Kampala’s Paradise Restaurant where we have a very special Iftar corner accompanied by a lavish buffet every Monday through to Saturday. Concluded Mr. Bittencourt.

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