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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > July-September 2019 (87) > @54-55@60 REASONS TO LINGER LONGER IN NAIROBI


Most visitors to Kenya pass through Nairobi. This is a city we have come to know pretty well over the years, and have grown to really enjoy. It has an energy that reflects a modern, vibrant Africa. We reckon it’s worth spending a few days here, and to help you get a taste of Nairobi beyond the tourist trail, we’ve enlisted the help of a man about town: Jackson Biko
City of smiles: A young woman photographed in Thika, Nairobi

Nairobi. She gets her name from Enkare Nyrobi, a Maasai phrase that means ‘cold water’ in reference to the river on which it was established, that once was a source of life to the people who inhabited this area many moons ago. But we just call her “City in the Sun. ”

Like any city, everybody — even those who have never set foot here — has a story to tell about Nairobi. Some call her chaotic, unsafe, an urban sprawl, a spread of hooting traffic jams and a shrewdness of a people.

Opinion is free and forever shifting, but truth is a rock. And the reality is that so much has changed since 1963, more for the good than bad. The real estate industry sores high, maternal healthcare is not what it used to be, road infrastructure has improved greatly with superhighways, overpasses and bypasses, and yet still traffic jams are a common feature. Amidst this, companies like Uber and Little Cabs thrive, a nod to the significant uptake of e-commerce. Kenya has 83 per cent Internet penetration, one of the highest in the continent. 41 million of the 52 million Kenyans have a mobile phone; three quarters of which are smartphones. 90 per cent of Nairobians have a smartphone. Here, e-commerce is a lifestyle. Sure, urban planning needs some work (when it rains, Nairobi turns into a river), but the economy is young and in Africa things take time.

When 4.5 million people (and growing at an annual rate of 3.8 per cent) live in an area of 696sq km, there is bound to be an interesting combustion of commerce and culture. The engine of Kenya hums from Nairobi. It’s a bustling metropolis driven by highly entrepreneurial and innovative people, attracting the UN and many multinational corporations to make her their regional base.

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