Kenyan business plan I

I couldn't post on this blog last weekend because there was a power-cut all day in Nakuru. A chronic lack of capacity in Kenya's power system means that this is a pretty regular (that's to say, frequent but totally irregular) occurrence.* Lists of pre-planned blackouts are published in the ad sections of the Daily Nation, one of Kenya's two main daily newspapers, but often only a day or so in advance, and by the time you buy the paper it may already have started.

Given the ubiquity of mobile phones, I reckon you could make a packet of money by getting these lists early from the power board (as the papers presumably do), and getting people to sign up to receive cheap text messages when there's going to be a power cut in the area in which their phone is currently receiving signals.

If each text came with a Crazy Frog ringtone alert, we'd probably be millionaires. Anyone fancy becoming East Africa's next mobile service entrepreneurs?

*One interesting solution to this is being constructed in the southern Rift near Naivasha, to the south of here – an Israeli-built geothermal plant, Olkaria III, intended to extend Kenya’s existing geothermal power generation there to around 25% of all Kenya’s power needs. It seems like a good project. Although as a World Bank guaranteed project, part-financed by the German government, it seems a shame that the donor funding and the guarantee is being paid to a Cayman-Islands registered holding shell for the Israeli/US company, presumably tax-free.

In an ironic 'guns and butter' twist, heavy equipment for this plant was shipped into Mombasa last year on the same ship carrying an expensive load of weapons from Eastern Europe.

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