Skip to content Skip to sidebar Skip to footer


Richard Branson’s New Kenya Safari Camp Is the Best Hotel in the World

It’s a place where you can get a world-class dinner, cozy up in the finest bedding, and maybe run into a zebra on the way to the bathroom.
In 2007, Sir Richard Branson was made a Maasai Elder. The entrepreneur, traveler, and knight was bestowed the honor for “bringing prosperity to the land” through his new venture Mahali Mzuri, a luxury safari camp located in the private Olare Motorogi Conservancy in Kenya. Now, nearly a decade and a half later, the camp is a must-visit destination for world travelers. Need proof? It was voted best hotel overall worldwide in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2021.
“Through a relationship with Jake Grieves Cook, formerly Chair of the Kenya Tourism Federation and now operating a partner camp in the neighboring conservancy, Richard was made aware of a severe environmental threat to the Maasai Mara ecosystem,” the resort’s website explains as to how the camp came about. “Jake proposed that Richard and a number of others invest in the area with a view to expanding the protected area for the benefit of both the local community and wildlife alike.” From there, Mahali Mzuri, which means “beautiful place” in Swahili, was born.
At the safari camp, guests can sleep in one of its 12 luxury tents amid the Maasai Mara ecosystem. Though really, calling these accommodations “tents” doesn’t really do them justice. Inside each tent, guests will find an ensuite private bath, cozy bedding, leather furniture for lounging, grand clawfoot soaking tubs, and expansive windows and doors that open up to a massive deck so guests can watch the sun come up, go down, and everything in between.
“Due to Mahali Mzuri’s excellent location on the Kenyan plains, you’ll have a front-row seat, not just to the annual great migration, but also to the abundant game you can see all year round,” the hotel adds on its website. “Our super stylish tented suites make for the perfect retreat during your stay. We can cater for up to 24 guests in the camp at any one time, so you are guaranteed peace and quiet, as well as excellent customer service at all times.”
And though the camp is located in some rather remote wilderness, its chefs still manage to cook up world-class bites each and every night. At the camp, guests will dine on pan-African cuisine using locally sourced produce, and even get the chance to dig into bush BBQs, champagne picnics, and of course, experience the famous safari “sundowner.”
As for activities, well, there’s really only one reason you’re here: game drives. And this camp more than delivers.
“A number of lion pride territories meet in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy which can make for some interesting encounters as the different groups battle for dominance,” the hotel notes. “The area is also home to roughly 150,000 Loita wildebeest that don’t make the annual migration south and seem content to ‘loiter’ all year round! Of course one of the biggest draws to the area is the annual ‘Great Migration,’ which sees up to one million wildebeest plus hundreds of thousands of zebra, gazelles, and other game undertake a journey of roughly 1,600km through Tanzania and Kenya.”
Ready to see all the animals, taste the delicious food, and experience the best in hospitality in Kenya? See more about the camp and book your stay at this beloved spot here.

Tanzania ratifies treaty for Africa free trade area

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
Tanzania on Thursday ratified the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), effectively joining a pact connecting countries with a total gross domestic product $3.4 trillion.
Minister of Industry and Trade, Kitila Mkumbo, made the announcement via Twitter, noting the country has joined a market of 1.2 billion customers.
AfCTA was first opened for signing in April 2018 but came into application in 2019 after the requisite minimum of 21 of the 55 member states ratified it.
Tanzania had not formally joined although former President John Magufuli signed on the agreement in 2019.
After signing, parliamentary approval is required for ratification of the agreement.
The ratification is an indicator of President Suluhu’s intention to return the country to regional integration. –

U.K. Will Allow Border Force to Return Migrant Boats to France

Britain’s Border Force will be given powers to seize people smugglers at sea and send migrants who’ve crossed the Channel back to France, in new legislation that puts Prime Minister Boris Johnson on a diplomatic collision course with President Emmanuel Macron.

Home Secretary Priti Patel on Tuesday published the Nationality and Borders Bill to deter people making the dangerous journey across the world’s busiest shipping area. The National Crime Agency says gangs are operating cut-price crossings by overcrowding small boats. Those who cannot afford the fees getting on kayaks and paddling pools, and some have even tried to swim the 21 miles (34 kilometers) across the narrowest part of the Channel.

Under the new legislation the U.K. Border Force can for the first time redirect vessels back to France or other continental ports. France and the U.K. have yet to agree the policy. A U.K. spokesman said there were no current plans for Johnson to take the issue up with Macron directly, with negotiations ongoing.

The plight, and persistence, of migrants was thrust in the spotlight in 2019 when 39 Vietnamese were found dead in a refrigerated container that had been shipped to the port of Purfleet in southeast England from Zeebrugge in Belgium. The numbers of people trying to get to Britain under the radar has only increased since then.

Around 62% of claimants who enter the asylum system in the U.K. have arrived illegally, according to the Home Office, and Patel wants to bring that number down by making the route between France and Britain “unviable.” She has accused “leftie-supporting lawyers” of exploiting the system to keep refugees and asylum seekers in the country.

Patel is an ardent supporter of the Brexit project designed to reduce migration from continental Europe. The new legislation will appeal to rank and file members of her own Conservative Party, as well as voters.

The opposition Labour Party’s Home Affairs spokesman Nick Thomas-Symonds said in an email that the measures “don’t deal with the fact that the time taken to process claims has rocketed or desperate people are still falling victim to criminal gangs.”

The new legislation will allow the U.K to grant more visas to countries which take back illegal migrants and reduce the number of visas or charge higher prices for papers to those nations which don’t.

The government is also in negotiation with other countries about hosting asylum processing centers, but has refused to confirm which nations and the status of the discussions.

Patel will face a battle explaining how the new legislation is compatible with the U.K.’s obligations under the United Nations Refugee Convention — currently upheld by the courts — to grant migrants permission to stay even if they have traveled through other, safe countries.

Instead, under the plans, asylum applicants will have to show “just cause” for not applying in safe countries they have passed through first, such as Italy or France.

The Refugee Council said that “inadmissibility” rules to bar asylum seekers who arrive illegally mean 9,000 genuine asylum seekers would no longer be accepted into the U.K. Home Office officials, speaking under the usual custom of anonymity, say refugees from dangerous countries will be allowed to stay in the U.K. for 30 months to have their cases heard.










Hottest September day for Scotland since 1906

Cooler temperatures are expected to return to much of the UK in the coming days with unsettled conditions sweeping across large parts of the country amid warnings of heavy rain and flooding.

Scotland has enjoyed its warmest September day in 115 years – but forecasters have warned thunderstorms will bring the mini heatwave to an end.

The Met Office confirmed a high of 28.6C (83.5F) in Charterhall in the Borders on Wednesday – Scotland’s warmest September day since 1906 when Gordon Castle in Moray reached 32.2C (90F).

It comes after Wales had its warmest September night on record – Aberporth saw a 24-hour minimum temperature of 20.5C (69F), breaking the previous record of 18.9C (66F) set in 1949 in Rhyl.

Cooler temperatures are expected to return to much of the UK in the coming days with unsettled conditions sweeping across large parts of the country.

A yellow weather warning for thunderstorms and heavy rain on Thursday is in place for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and much of England.

Downpours and flooding will be expected between 10am and 8pm – with the Met Office warning the conditions could lead to property damage and disrupt travel.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued flood warnings for many regions.

Alerts are in place for Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City, Argyll and Bute, Ayrshire and Arran, Caithness and Sutherland, Central, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee and Angus, Easter Ross and Great Glen, Edinburgh and Lothians, Fife, Findhorn Nairn Moray and Speyside, Scottish Borders, Skye and Lochaber, Tayside, West Central Scotland, Wester Ross and Western Isles.

Meanwhile, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service was called to Mount Street Primary School in Plymouth shortly before 10am after the building was struck by lightning.

Pupils were left with wet clothing after being evacuated from the school in heavy rain. No one was injured in the incident.

Thunderstorms also caused flash flooding in the seaside town of Salcombe, where police said dozens of businesses had been affected.

The UK has been basking in the late summer heat this week, with the highest temperature on Tuesday reaching 30.7C (87.3F) at Gogerddan, in Dyfed, Wales, according to the Met Office.

Highs of 30.4C (86.7F) were recorded in west London and 30.3C (86.5F) at Pershore in Worcestershire. –

Username Investments Awarded the most preferred land selling Award

Username Investment Ltd. Was awarded The Most Preferred Land Selling company in Kenya 2021 during Real Estate Excellence Awards organised by Digital Events
Username Investments Awarded the most preferred land selling company in Kenya 2021.
This is Username’s fourth win at the awards where the company has previously won the Best Diaspora Market Land Selling Company.

Kenya removed from piracy red list

A ship arrives at the Mombasa port. The International Maritime Organisation has re-designated Kenya maritime waters within the Indian Ocean rom the high-risk area.
Mombasa port expects to receive more ships after the Kenya maritime waters within the Indian Ocean were re-designated from the high-risk area (HRA) by the global shipping industry.
The move will save Kenya and East Africa millions of shillings in insurance and other security expenses.
The decision was communicated to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the United Nations (UN) agency responsible for improving the safety and security of global shipping on Wednesday.
This was as a result of a heightened campaign by Kenya to end labelling of Kenyan waters as high risk, which made shipping prohibitively expensive and threatened the nascent blue economy.
Kenyan maritime waters were designated as high-risk area in 2009 by BMP-5, which comprise five largest global shipping industry associations which are International Association of Dry Cargo Ship Owners, International Association of Independent Tank Owners, International Chamber of Shipping, Oil Companies International Marine Forum and Baltic and International Maritime Council.

Increased piracy

This followed increased incidents of piracy in the Indian Ocean, including in Kenyan maritime waters.
The re-designation will also benefit other regional port user countries such as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan who depend on the port of Mombasa for both their exports and imports.
Traders will benefit from reduction of maritime insurance, thereby resulting in increased competitiveness of their products.
In the past 18 months, the Kenyan team has been negotiating to ensure the re-designation, with guidance from the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee (NDICC).
The consequence of that designation of Kenyan maritime waters as HRA was an increase in maritime insurance premium for cargo destined for the port of Mombasa, as well as increased labour cost for seafarers aboard such ships due to the high risk of piracy attacks.
Cargo ships destined for Mombasa also took longer routes, beyond 300 nautical miles from the Indian Ocean coastline, to avoid encountering pirates, while others hired on-board private security for increased protection.
However, increased surveillance and joint maritime patrols by the Kenya Coast Guard Services and the Kenya Navy within the Kenyan maritime waters have resulted in significant reduction in piracy incidents, with no piracy incidents recorded since 2017. –

PM announces 1.25% National Insurance hike to pay for social care 

Boris Johnson’s social care plan was signed off by ministers at a Cabinet meeting earlier on Tuesday after days of fury from Tory backbenchers and MPs will vote on the proposals on Wednesday.

National Insurance contributions will rise by 1.25% to pay for the social care system in England in a bid to end the “unpredictable and catastrophic costs” faced by many.

A social care package, which the prime minister has called “the biggest catch-up programme” in the NHS’s history, will be funded through a new, UK-wide 1.25% health and social care levy’ from April 2022.

The plan was signed off by ministers at a Cabinet meeting earlier after days of fury from Tory backbenchers and Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg confirmed MPs will vote on the proposals on Wednesday.

The 1.25 percentage point increase is expected to raise about £12bn which, in the early years, will mainly be used to fund dealing with the NHS backlog.

This includes £2.2 billion a year for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as tax changes affect the whole of the UK.

Announcing the plans in the Commons, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the costs of the programme will be split between individuals and businesses and “those who earn more will pay more”.

From October 2023, anyone with assets under £20,000 have their care costs fully covered by the state, while those with between £20,000 and £100,000 will be expected to contribute to their costs but will also receive state support.

The increase will be used exclusively on health and social care, and will raise £36 billion over the next three years, the PM said.

He told MPs the measures will cap COVID backlogs in hospitals by increasing hospital capacity “to 110% and enabling 9 million more appointments, scans and operations”.

“As a result, while waiting lists will get worse before they get better, the NHS will aim to be treating around 30% more elective patients by 2024-2025 than before COVID,” the PM said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Westport Care Home in Stepney Green, east London, ahead of unveiling his long-awaited plan to fix the broken social care system. Picture date: Tuesday September 7, 2021.

The PM’s plan to overhaul the social care sector includes:

• A government pledge to invest £36 billion over the next three years to help the NHS recover from the pandemic.

• To also invest in reforming the social care sector.

• A promise that from October 2023, nobody will pay more than £86,000 for their social care – regardless of their assets.

• That the government will fully cover the cost of care for those with assets under £20,000, and contribute to the cost of care for those with assets of between £20,000 and £100,000.

Mr Johnson said he accepts that the measure breaks a Tory manifesto pledge not to hike National Insurance, but that it was a necessary move due to COVID financial pressures.

“No Conservative government wants to raise taxes, I will be honest I accept this breaks a manifesto commitment. It is not something I do lightly but a global pandemic wasn’t in anyone’s manifesto,” the PM told MPs in the Commons.

“This is the right the reasonable and the fair approach. I think the people of this country understand that in their bones and they can see the enormous steps that this government and the Treasury have taken.”

The PM’s official spokesperson said the change will make “the system fairer for all” and noted that working adults above pension age will also contribute to the new levy.

GRABS – Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer speaking in the House of Commons, Westminster, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a 1.25 percent increase in National Insurance from April 2022 to address the funding crisis in the health and social care system.

“The levy will be paid by working adults including those over the state pension age. From April 2022, while systems are being updated, NICs rates will rise by 1.25%,” the spokesperson told reporters on Tuesday.

“Then, from April 2023, once systems are updated, the levy will be separated and the exact additional amount each employee is paying through the levy will be visible as a separate line on an individual’s payslip.

“It is at this point that working adults above pension age will contribute to the levy.

“Individuals will contribute according to their means and those who earn more will pay more.

“A typical basic rate tax payer earning £24,100 will contribute £180 – that’s £3.46 per week. A typical higher rate tax payer earning £67,100 – the top 15% of earners – will contribute £7.15.”

Referring directly to those who have opposed the National Insurance hike and suggested income tax should be raised instead, the PM said this would not generate the same amount.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to Westport Care Home in Stepney Green, east London, ahead of unveiling his long-awaited plan to fix the broken social care system. Picture date: Tuesday September 7, 2021.

“Income tax is not paid by businesses, so the whole burden would fall on individuals, roughly doubling the amount that the basic taxpayer could expect to pay and the total revenue from capital gains tax amounts to less than £9 billion this year,” he told the Commons.

“Instead, our new levy will share the cost between individuals and businesses, and everyone will contribute according to their means, including those above their pension age.”

The PM also announced that there will be a 1.25% hike in the amount of tax that is paid on income from share dividends to help cover the costs of the social care package.

M-Pesa hits 50 million active users in Africa

A customer doing an M-Pesa transaction. Safaricom has announced that it has hit 50 million active customers in Africa.
Safaricom’s flagship mobile money platform M-Pesa has hit 50 million active customers in Africa, boosting its position as the continent’s largest fintech company.
The telco announced it reached 50 million monthly active customers on Tuesday.
M-Pesa is run by Safaricom and Vodacom and is now available in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Ghana and Egypt. It provides customers with access to the widest agent network across the continent with more than 430,000 agent outlets and cashless payments in more than 400,000 businesses.
The milestone comes just 18 months after Safaricom and Vodacom launched the M-Pesa Africa Joint Venture to accelerate the growth of the service across the continent.
The firm said M-Pesa Africa has equally been striving to deliver digital platforms as part of its focus to be the largest fintech and digital ecosystem across the continent.
“Fourteen years ago, we launched M-Pesa to connect our customers to each other and to different opportunities. We are delighted to celebrate this remarkable milestone with our more than 50 million customers across the continent,” Mr Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, the M-Pesa Africa managing director, said in a statement.

More innovations

“As an honour to this achievement, we are reiterating our commitment and deepening our focus on more innovations that will further transform the lives of our customers,” Mr Lopokoiyit said.
In 2007, Safaricom and Vodafone launched M-Pesa in Kenya as a way for customers to instantly send money to each other.
For many customers, the service became their first and often only access to financial services, propelling its fast growth and adoption across the country.
Subsequently, the service has largely contributed to the growth of formal financial inclusion across the continent which has gone up by up to 55 per cent.
The mobile money platform is currently a two-sided network that provides a wide variety of financial services to both businesses and individual customers. Customers can send and receive money, make and receive business payments, pay bills, make and receive international money transfers, save and access credit, all from the convenience of their mobile phones and wherever they may be in the countries served by more than 500,000 agents.

Super app

In June 2021, M-Pesa began rolling out the M-Pesa Super App across all its markets.
The app introduced one of the service’s key innovations in the form of mini-apps which enable customers and businesses to accomplish day-to-day tasks from shopping to accessing government services without having to download different apps for each task.
In addition, the M-Pesa Super App provides the more than 50 million customers with a modern, intuitive and secure way to transact on their smartphones.
M-Pesa’s second facet focuses on businesses by expanding its ecosystem to deliver innovative solutions across micro-businesses, SMEs and large businesses.
These include an open API in use by more than 45,000 developers and 200,000 businesses, the M-Pesa for Business Super App, the Transacting Till that enables businesses to go beyond receiving payments to making business payments, and Pochi La Biashara that enables small businesses to separate their personal and business funds. Collectively, more than 500,000 businesses transact more than Sh750 billion ($7 billion) every month on M-Pesa.
Into the future, the service has been investing in new technologies and partnerships as it seeks to deepen financial health amongst its customers through products that encourage savings and lending, wealth management, and insurance.
M-Pesa has equally expanded its partnerships in order to boost remittances which empower customers to send and receive money across more than 200 countries and territories. –

British Airways resumes direct flights to Nairobi despite ‘red list’

A British Airways passenger aircraft prepares to land at London Heathrow Airport, west of London in 2019.


The British Airways has resumed direct flights between Nairobi and London despite Kenya remaining on the United Kingdom’s travel red list.

The Kenyan government termed political the move by the UK to keep it on the red list due to a spike in coronavirus infections.

For Kenya, remaining stuck on the red list in the latest update to international travel by Britain has dealt a huge blow to tourism, which was banking on a lifting of the restrictions for a boost. Still, the resumption of the flights brings good tidings to the industry.

In a statement, British Airways said its first passenger flight between Nairobi and London was on Sunday.

‘Reuniting families’

“We are honoured to be playing our part in reuniting families and friends with their loved ones after such a long time apart. The safety of our customers and colleagues has always been at the heart of everything we do. We know some customers won’t have flown for a long time, we can assure them we have a range of Covid-19 measures in place to provide stress and hassle-free travel,” said Senior Vice President Middle East and Africa Airport Operations Sohail Ali.

The airline, which will be operating two flights on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) said it has also introduced a number of measures at the airport and on-board to ensure the safety of its customers and crew.

“These include social distancing measures, the wearing of face masks and hand sanitiser stations. Customers will also receive details of how they can prepare for their journey, including information on discounted testing providers. To help customers navigate the changing entry requirement and facilitate a seamless journey, they can download the VeriFLY app before departing to London,” the statement read.

The airline said the digital health app allows customers to combine their travel verification documents and Covid-19 test results in one place and confirm their eligibility with a few simple steps. Anyone travelling into the UK from a red list country must be a British or Irish national, or have residence rights. They must be Covid-19 negative before travelling. Additionally, they must quarantine at appointed hotels at their own cost.

The Kenyan government and tourism stakeholders have complained about the red list, which is hurting its tourism and sabotaging the economy. Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala termed the move political, and wondered why India had been removed from the red list.

“The traffic light Covid-19 protocols are now political because you cannot compare infection rates and the number of deaths in Kenya with that of the UK, it is incomprehensible. These are political statements. The delta variant came from India, how come India has been removed from the red list?” Mr Balala posed.

The CS said countries sanctioning their citizens to travel within their states is meant to boost local tourism and build economies. However, he said Africa has an opportunity to tap into its 1.3 billion population and urged its states to invest in intra-continental tourism.

Invested heavily

“Why can’t we open up the continent to Africans? This is the agenda [for] which we are here in Cape Verde as the council of ministers. Without creating a new segment and diversifying our source market, we would be subservient to the source market and it would be used politically against us,” he added.

He assured international tourists that Kenya has invested heavily in vaccination to keep both its citizens and visitors safe. The CS blamed the global hoarding of vaccines for the insufficient doses in Kenya.

“That’s why we do not receive an equivalent share of the vaccine. Africa wants to vaccinate its people but we don’t have enough vaccines. Production of vaccines is from the advanced world or the source markets where they come from,” he added.

Kenya is a popular tourism destination for Britons. The UK has been a top tourism source market for Kenya. In 2019, it emerged fourth in the ranking, with 181,484 tourists visiting the country. The UK last week made some changes on the countries in red, amber, and green lists, with Kenya remaining on the red list, eight months since it was first placed there. Mr said Kenya is not out of the woods yet.

“We will return to normality in two years. 2024 is the time tourism will go back to normal. Health is going to be the first agenda on everyone’s mind when travelling, so we need to vaccinate our people so that travellers can feel Kenya is safe,” he said during an interview with a local TV station. The CS urged Africans to improve infrastructure and connectivity on the continent to boost intra-African tourism.

‘Major achievement’

“It will be a major achievement,” he said. The tourism sector depends on summer travel from Europe and America, between June and September. There were high hopes in the industry that Kenya would be upgraded from red to amber on the back of a recent visit by President Kenyatta to the UK.

Failure to upgrade Kenya to the amber list will see Britons keep off the country to avoid being slapped with a huge bill on return, because all citizens returning from red list countries are required to isolate for 10 days in a hotel at a cost of £2,285 (Sh347,320). The tourism industry lost Sh80 billion in the first six months of last year as the country grappled with the effects of Covid-19, which saw countries close their airspaces.

Hotelier Mohammed Hersi and Kenya Coast Tourists Association (KCTA) Chairperson Victor Shitakha also lamented over the red list. They urged the government to prioritise the sector whose international numbers have slumped due to the pandemic.

“Our government should push the UK to remove us from the red list like India,” said Mr Hersi, during an interview with a local TV station.

This comes as Mombasa County continues to market the city to attract more international and regional tourists.

The county’s Department of Tourism has been conducting massive campaigns to lure tourists to the destination, which has seen it sign a tourism partnership with the Ukrainian government.

“We had a very interactive and insightful engagement with tour operators and travel agents in Odessa, where we had an opportunity to pitch on the different tourism products, trade, and investment opportunities in Mombasa. We also impressed upon them on the need to increase the number of charter flights flying directly into the coastal city of Mombasa,” said Governor Hassan Joho on his Facebook page. –