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We traveled to Nairobi on Tuesday 30th November. Moi International Airport, Mombasa is small and though Mombasa is a hotter place by Kenya standard, the airport was designed as an open-air place. High ceiling with plenty of open ventilating spaces had ceiling fans whose air did not reach the ground. It was still bearable.
Two things about Kenya weather. One, their summer and winter months are opposite to us: November to March is their summer; April to October will be winter. Two, the temperature remains in a narrow range in both weathers. It was 26-31 in Mombasa, and it was 20-25 in Nairobi. The winter is not as cold as ours, it is much milder, just a little bit cooler than summer.
I remember my first visit to Nairobi about 15 years ago. I landed at Jomo Kenyatta International around noon during their summer. By the time I reached the hotel, I was feeling hot. I checked in and got to the room to find that there was no fan or air conditioner. I called reception and complained. They said I would not need one. Upon my insistence, they sent a pedestal fan which I used for barely fifteen minutes and did not use again during my stay. Our current hotel had central air-conditioning, but it was running more like a fan. We stayed at a hotel in central business district – CBD as popularly called in Nairobi.
Nairobi has an official population of under 5 million, the unofficial figure is 7 million.
Kenya has a young population; around 75% is under the age of thirty. That is the reason you would see mostly young people running around. Kenya had high population growth; average births per woman were 8.1. Infant mortality was high and life expectancy was low at 48 years. Things have changed: infant mortality has decreased, life expectancy has increased, and births per woman has come down to around 3.4. Total population is around 55 million which is spread across West, East, and South-South regions. English and Kiswahili are both official languages. Around 85% are Christians, 11% Muslims, and the rest are unspecified, tribal religions. Nairobi and Mombasa have larger Muslim population and several mosques can be seen.
Kenya shares its borders with Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Sudan.
Kenya is primarily an agriculture country. Kenya tea is famous and popular all over the globe. Kenya coffee is less popular, but it sells anyway. During my last visits several years ago, I was taken to the highland area outside Nairobi where huge greenhouses were being used for cultivating exotic varieties of flowers. These were owned by Europeans who cultivated here due to mild, tropical climate and exported to various countries.
Kenya economy is among the fastest growing Sub-Saharan economies. They have been hard hit by COVID but trying to recover. Kenyan people are relatively calm and mild, particularly when you compare them to Nigerians. Our contact in Nairobi took us out for dinner. We were talking about various African countries. He said that many Nigerians visited Nairobi as tourist. They always made a lot of noise, but they were welcome because they spent good amount of money. Persistent poverty is rampant and visible. Disparity and inequality is also quite visible.
Many Indians, some Pakistanis, and some other Asians came to Kenya long time back and settled here. They speak fluent Kiswahili and run large number of businesses. We saw housing projects, plazas and shops named after their Hindu, Muslim, and Christian owners.
About Pharma. Local industries are not yet developed, and the dependence on import continues. Multinational companies are present, Indian companies have stronghold on pharmaceutical business. The regulatory body is PPB – Pharmacy and Poison Board. Prices for imported products are not fixed; these are allowed to vary with each import. It makes business of imported products lucrative.
To be Continued……