Thursday, December 30, 2010

While You Were Away, the Economy Expanded

They said it just before Christmas that the Kenyan economy had expanded by more than 6% for the last 3 months. A number of my friends were skeptical given that the previous months in the year hadn't been that good. What we had expected was maybe 2.5, 3% but 6?! That is almost equal to the magic year of 2007, the best and worst year in recent memory. But statistics also showed that even tourism arrivals were higher than even the best tourism year of 2007. Still most of us refused to believe doubting even the revised inflation measures that show us doing pretty good.

Maybe the main reason for our doubts is the fact that our own micro-home based economy actually shrunk! When the country was growing we must have been asleep. However whichever way you look at it, all indicators of improved financial situation in the beloved country abound. For how would you explain the fact that rents for residential houses in our neighborhood keep going up and also still finding takers. The place I moved to when rents were as low as 25K-30K a month now fetch anything between 45K and 50K. some landlords (and ladies) are even audacious enough to demand 60K for a 4 bedroom maisonette. Some say the expanded Red Cross offices with their new high class hotel in the neighborhood is to blame. In fact some house owners are now asking for rent in dollars. There is also a high influx of foreigners from neighboring countries Sudan and Somalia though.

But its not only in housing, even a visit to capital shopping center and even Nakumatt Mega reveals changed fortunes for most people. Strong cars with new plates dot the expansive parking on most days. Xmas day was another pointer. Most entertainment joints which had been a preserve of the upwardly mobile just a couple of years before are now everyones take as more people begin to afford the luxury. This time places like Village market, Panari sky centre, splash etc had so many people you would have thought it was free entrance! Uhuru park itself was full like gikomba with people looking for fun. Or is it the benefit of alcohol ban? But the rich have moved on and these days the in thing is full extended family mini camping. Some sharp Maasas have put up a brilliant day camp site on Kiserian - Isinya road. On an expansive 200 acre piece of rolling grass and wood land. You drive your family there in your new fuel guzzler, order enough goats to  lose their lives and play hide and seek with your kids as you wait for the animals to be roasted on open fire. Its a perfect getaway. Most people are getting together say 3 or 4 families for a family or friends mini team building. The area also teams with wild herbivores eg zebras and impalas but those are not for roasting , sorry. Since its some distance from nairobi, it will take some time before all of us rush there and spoil your fun. By that time you shall have moved on again!

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