It’s another Wednesday and today is our Man around Nairobi segment. Today’s Man around Nairobi is Michael Waiyaki. Michael Waiyaki Nganga is the CEO/Country Manager of GIVEWATTS EAST AFRICA Ltd, Curator Nairobi Global Shapers Hub, a photographer and an avid tree planter. He is passionate about preserving the natural environment and seeks to be a part of the movement to bring back nature in its full essence for the sake of generations to come. One of his main goals is to see Africa’s liberation through access to clean energy, empowerment of the youth and development of Africa.
1. Did you grow up in Nairobi?
I grew up in Manjiri, Kabuku near Limuru town right opposite the St. Paul’s University main Campus. I came to Nairobi around 10 years ago for work and lived on the outskirts of the city in Ngara. I lived in Ngara and also Kipande road which was a walking distance to the city. It was quite the experience, from noise to ease in accessing the City Centre anytime, to being robbed and beaten at the Globe Cinema Roundabout to the high cost of rent of a small SQ.
Water was always a problem as well as pollution. Then the Nairobi River had not been cleaned up and Kipande road was full of garages. Once they were all moved it became much more beautiful but not necessarily safe. I still had to go home in time. So in a nutshell, if you were saving on transport costs, they were eaten up by the high cost of rent and food. After a few years, I moved out to a bigger and better place in lower Kabete though I now had to deal with traffic and travelling costs.
2. What do you love about Nairobi?
I love the creativity of the people. They are very entrepreneurial and nobody wants to be left behind. Sometimes it’s hard to find the balance between bad competition and healthy competition but it’s pushing small businesses ahead. The more people come into Nairobi the more it grows, and the more its resources are stretched yet we all seem to be moving on somehow.
3. What would you change about Nairobi?
I would change the road network to reduce traffic and congestion. It needs to be done soon as it has already become unrealistic to have an office in town or even book a meeting in town. It’s such a waste of time and money. I would also like to reduce the pollution in the city, it’s choking everything, remember the recent issue we had with floods.
4. As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
As a professional, it’s working for me in terms of what I need in Nairobi. It gives me the services I need at the pace and time I need them. I have travelled around and believe me Kenya is way ahead in terms of service provision and I mean services like Immigration, Tax, VAT and business registration. I have come to be grateful for it because of the immense challenges I am currently facing setting up offices across Africa. Nairobi is open to what I do but it’s not my primary market right now it’s overly saturated.
5. If you had a tourist friend coming in from outside the country what three things would you say to sell them the idea that Nairobi is worth visiting?
I would simply tell them that we have the best places to go eat, stay and visit. I just recently had a friend from Tunisia come to visit. I was his host and took him around to the National park, Karen Blixen and to the top of KICC.
You can find Michael Waiyaki on Twitter at @mwaiyaki.