• Viju Patel (right) and his son Jayesh Patel (left) pose with the Tesla Model X 75D COURTESY 
  • Kenya's first Tesla owner, Viju Patel has shared the experience of importing and owning the Ksh13 million electric vehicle. On Monday, November 2, his car caused a buzz online after it was spotted being towed on a Kenyan highway. 

    Patel detailed that he imported the car directly from London, UK, four years after he got interested in owning the vehicle. However, his family opposed his decision as they raised concerns on maintenance, after-sales support and repair. 

    "I just wanted the best electric car. I didn’t worry too much about the price tag, I just wanted to own one," the car enthusiast said. 

    His son, Jayesh Patel, guided him on the model he would purchase and the two opted for Tesla Model X 75D which was shipped from London. He also bought a single-phase charger for his home and a 3-phase Level 2 charger for his office.

    A Tesla car spotted in Kenya in November 2020

    Patel added that the toughest challenge he faced was clearing the vehicle at the customs department and having it registered. The process was quite frustrating as the officials were astounded by the car's aspects. 

    "They kept asking what is the vehicle’s CC’/engine capacity and stuff like that. They also took a while to clear the car, as they wanted to ensure they captured everything correctly, including the import duties and taxes for this type of car," Patel said.  

    The car's suspensions were one of the features that particularly impressed him. Model X 75D comes in two types, the Long Range and Plaid. The top speeds range at 250 km/h and 262 km/h and can travel up to 580 kilometres and 550 kilometres respectively after charging. 

    Long Range model accelerates at 0-96 kilometres in 3.8 seconds with Plaid accelerating at the same distance in 2.5 seconds. Both come with Tesla's Autopilot driver assistance and GPS systems. 

    As of 2019, there were only 300 electric vehicles in the country. Kenya seeks to have 5 percent of all registered vehicles in Kenya being electric vehicles, by 2025.

    The government wants to reduce congestion on roads and emissions of exhaust gases, a plan which fits into Kenya’s National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP 2018-2023). The NCCAP identified operational inefficiencies in the transport sector, heavy traffic congestion, and high fuel consumption as a major contributor to high levels of emissions.

    Kenya also enjoys geothermal, wind, utility-scale solar, and hydropower plants which can facilitate a conversion, the alternative way of owning an EV apart from purchasing one. Opibus, based in Industrial Area, Nairobi, converts fuel automobiles to EVs

    Nopea Ride which was launched in the country in 2018 also converts cars and offers electric taxi services in Nairobi. Nopea has charging stations at TRM along Thika Road, The Hub in Karen and Two Rivers Mall. Motorists can also charge the vehicles at home once they install a charging point. 

    Opibus CEO Filip Gardle recharges an electric car at their workshop in Embakasi, Nairobi

Geofrey Twesigye, a cameraman working with NTV receives treatment at a hospital after he was injured following an attack by security officials, outside the United Nations Human Rights offices while on reporting duty, in Kampala, Uganda February 17, 2021. Photo REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa


The local office of the U.N. said its Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights had received the petition from opposition leader and pop star Bobi Wine and would immediately study the allegations and take appropriate action.

The security personnel assaulted the journalists as they covered Wine.

“This behaviour contravenes the agreement with the government ... regarding the safety and security of U.N. premises, personnel and guests,” the U.N. office said in a statement.

Police said security personnel had dispersed “uncontrolled crowds” that had formed outside the U.N. office as Wine delivered the petition.

“Unfortunately, a few people sustained injuries including journalists. We have opened an inquiry ... to establish the circumstances under which the victims were injured,” a police statement said.

At least 20 journalists were hurt in the attack, with at least four sustaining deep cuts on the head, Stephen Bwire, Secretary General of Uganda Journalists Union, told Reuters.

“We condemn this brutal, barbaric and heinous act,” Bwire said. “The journalists were doing their duty and they were clearly identifiable as journalists, they were not hostile, they were politely covering the events.”

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, lost last month’s presidential election to incumbent Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986.

Wine rejected the results and has filed a court case seeking annulment of the poll, which he says was rigged.

The 39-year-old has a large following among young people who are drawn by his youthful energy and the music that he sometimes uses to criticise government.

To try to stem his growing popularity, authorities have cracked down on his supporters, using detentions and beatings.

“Today we went to the @UNHumanRights office in Kampala to deliver a petition against the continuing abductions, torture and murder of our supporters,” Wine tweeted on Wednesday. He accompanied the tweet with two images of some of the journalists who were assaulted.

Journalists have increasingly been targeted by security personnel. Bwire said they had documented at least 50 journalists injured by security personnel during the election period, including one who was killed. - Reuters Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa, Angus MacSwan and Giles Elgood

NANYUKI, KENYA - FEBRUARY 25: A woman walks alongside a railway line on February 25, 2016 in Nanyuki, Kenya. Situated in East Africa with a coastline on the Indian Ocean Kenya encompasses savannah, lakelands, the dramatic Great Rift Valley, mountain highlands and abundant wildlife such as lions, elephants and rhinos. From Nairobi, the capital, safaris visit the Maasai Mara reserve, known for its annual wildebeest migrations, and Amboseli National Park, offering views of Tanzania's 5,895m Mt. Kilimanjaro. Kenya gained its independence from British colonial rule in 1963 after an insurrection led by Jomo Kenyatta. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images) Photographer: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images Europe , Photographer: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images Europe


(Bloomberg) -- Burundi and Tanzania are seeking to raise $1.9 billion for a railway linking the two East African nations that could help landlocked Burundi boost its mineral exports, an official said.

“Now is the time to start fund-raising” for the 190-kilometer (118 mile) line from Musongati in Burundi to Tanzania’s Isaka, said Dieudonné Dukundane, executive secretary of Central Corridor, a government-backed agency that promotes regional transport development.

The railway will be part of a broader project eventually connecting Tanzania to Burundi’s northern neighbor Rwanda, which will cost about $7.6 billion, according to the website of the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa.

Linking Burundi with Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam port could be a boon for the mining industry in the nickel-rich nation. The government in Bujumbura is targeting a 47% rise in mineral revenue in the 10 years to 2027.

Dukundane was speaking to reporters after a meeting of regional stakeholders in Burundi. - Desire Nimubona, Bloomberg News


Photo by MENAFN

The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) has signed a US$20 million public sector loan agreement with Kenya to increase regional connectivity, enhance trade and improve the socio-economic welfare of about 1.6 million people.

The loan will finance the upgrading of the 90 km Samatar - Wajir Road, a part of the North and North-Eastern Development Initiative Programme. The programme will better connect Kenya's northern region to the rest of the country, improving an important 739 km corridor linking Isiolo in the north with Mandera in the northeast (at the border with Ethiopia).

As with all OPEC Fund-financed projects, this investment aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and with SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure in particular.

The OPEC Fund is co-financing the project with the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, the Saudi Fund for Development and the government of Kenya.

The OPEC Fund and Kenya have been development partners for nearly 45 years. The organisation has provided public sector financing totaling close to US$195 million (including the present loan) to help support the country's agriculture, banking and financial services, communication, education, energy, financial, health, transportation and water and sanitation sectors.

OFID was established in January 1976 by the then 13 member countries of OPEC; including the United Arab Emirates. It is the development finance institution established as a channel of aid to developing countries. MENAFN

A male giraffe, Lbarnoti, was rescued from flooded Kenyan rangeland using a custom barge and some patient training. CARO WITHEY, SAMATIAN ISLAND / SAVE GIRAFFES NOW


On a sunny day at Kenya’s Lake Baringo, a barge floated gently by. Its main passenger calmly munched on his favorite snack of acacia seed pods. At about 16 feet tall, he could easily peer around to take in his watery surroundings. But this was not some idyllic pleasure cruise. This trip, on January 27, 2021, was a rescue mission, to save Lbarnoti, a Rothschild’s giraffe, from floodwaters gradually rising around Longicharo Island, where he and some fellow ruminants had lived for a decade.

Lbarnoti was not the only one to get this treatment. In December 2020, two females, Asiwa and Pasaka, made the same trip, one at a time. They had all been carefully transferred by American-based nonprofit Save Giraffes Now in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service, the Northern Rangelands Trust, and local members of the Ruko community. Another six animals remain on the island.

The long-necked grazers are extremely challenging to move around, according to David O’Connor, president of Save Giraffes Now, who was present at the first rescue. Unlike elephants, rhinoceroses, and lions, who can be sedated while being transported, giraffe physiology makes this strategy risky for the animals. “Once they’re down and horizontal, which is not a natural position for them, potentially they could choke on their own saliva. Or because of their unique blood flow system, basically their brain could explode because of the high pressure of the blood going to the brain,” says O’Connor. “And how do you get the tallest creature on Earth across a mile of open lake to the mainland?”

The solution was a custom-built steel barge. Made by the Ruko community, it was specifically engineered to carry a tall creature weighing as much as 2,600 pounds, with a rectangular steel structure with reinforced sides atop a series of empty steel drums. ”Our hope all along had been not to tranquilize the giraffe at all, but really try to move them, with the amazing team on the ground, to slowly train them to be comfortable on the barge,” says O’Connor. The training is painstaking, involving food such as mangoes and acacia seed pods, and acclimating the giraffes to the barge. With Lbarnoti, the conservationists were able to lure him in voluntarily. Boats then gently pulled the barge an hour-long ride, past crocodiles and hippopotamuses. He arrived safely at the mainland sanctuary of the Ruko Community Wildlife Conservancy, a protected wildlife reserve, where he was reunited with Asiwa and Pasaka (both of whom actually had to be blindfolded and gently sedated for the trip).

There are significant reasons for all this effort. Rothschild’s giraffes are a subspecies—not only one of the tallest of their kind, but also one of the most endangered populations. They look different, too. They have five, nubby horn-like ossicones on their heads (other giraffes have only two), and they appear to be wearing white socks, since their markings fade halfway down their legs. Named for zoologist Lord Walter Rothschild, who observed them in the early 1900s (and founded the Natural History Museum at Tring in England), they once roamed in large numbers across the whole Western Rift Valley, where Lake Baringo is located, in Kenya and into Uganda. But in the mid-1900s, they disappeared from the area due to drought, loss of habitat, and poaching. Today, less than 3,000 are left in the world, with only about 800 in Kenya.

In 2011, eight Rothschild’s giraffes were reintroduced on Longicharo Island, originally an isolated, rocky peninsula lush with acacia trees, to try to increase their population away from poachers. But this past season’s intense rainfall saw water levels rise as much as six inches per day, cutting the area off from the mainland completely. The need to get the giraffes off the island is urgent. What was once 100 acres of habitat had shrunk to one or two acres, and food sources had grown scarce. O’Connor says, ”They’re a little bit skinnier than a normal giraffe…. With the dry season, there’s absolutely no food, so they’re depending 100 percent on supplemental feeding by the team.” With one percent of the Kenyan population on the island, each rescue is important. “Giraffes are undergoing a silent extinction, and each one matters greatly to the survival of these animals,” O’Connor adds.

“We must finish these rescues as quickly as possible,” says Susan Myers, founder and CEO of Save Giraffes Now, in a press release. There are plans to move two more female giraffes, depending on weather, staffing, and finances. The final move of the remaining four, including two calves, is hoped for in March 2021. The work is all part of a long-term plan. “ Once we rescue them, that’s not the end of it,” O’Connor says. “That’s actually just the beginning of trying to repopulate the entire Western Rift Valley with this type of giraffe, where they became locally extinct 70 years ago.” Watching Lbarnoti’s graceful gait on the other side of his trip makes one hope that many more generations will nimbly follow. - Winnie Lee, Atlas Obscura

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