The second winner of the Nation Hela card had to answer a simple question: Where can one acquire a Nation Hela card and for how much?

The first correct answer was by one Cire Mzito:

Nation Hela card 2 winner

Nation Hela card 2 winner

Congratulations Cire Mzito. Please send me your full name, ID and phone number though this contact form and I will arrange for you to pick up your Nation Hela card, loaded with Ksh. 2,000.

Thanks again to those participated in the giveaway. If you would like your own Nation Hela card, be sure to pick one up at any Nakumatt or Diamond Trust Bank branch. Even if you don’t have the card but need to send money, you can still do so on the Nation Hela platform (website).

Nation Hela Card

Nation Hela Card

Digital TV Switch – FAQs

Here is a list of 5 of the most asked questions about the planned switch off of analog TV signals:

1. Is the deadline still on December 13th now that there is a court case to stall it?

digital TV Digital TV Switch   FAQs

Digital TV in Kenya

Well, the jury is still out for this one. The case hearing starts next week (December 6th) so I wonder if the judge will have enough time to hear all arguments before making the decision.

85% of Kenyans rely on analog TV for their news, entertainment and whatever else you folks use your TVs for. A majority may not even be aware of the looming deadline for Nairobi and its environs. For you to get the digital signals, you will have to buy a set top box that costs an average of Ksh. 5,000. This is a high cost for many unprepared Kenyans.

In the meantime, it’s better to be prepared because the December 13th deadline for switching off analog signals has actually been gazetted (meaning it’s law).
Unless the court overturns the deadline, and even then it will be more of an ‘extension’ because in the end we MUST all switch by 2015. I know we are Kenyans and we do things last minute, but must we wait for the deadline before switching to digital TV?

2. Do I need to have an aerial to watch Digital TV? Should I throw away the current one? (ok maybe nobody has asked the second question )

Yes. You do need your aerial. You will then connect the aerial to the set top box, and then connect the set top box to your TV. Like Smartjoker shows in this video.

3. Do I have to pay a monthly subscription for Digital TV?

No, you don’t have to pay any subscription fees for free digital TV. Once you buy the set top box, that is it.

However, should you want additional premium channels on offer from companies such as GoTv and Star Times, you will have to pay their monthly rates.

Although Star Times now have a non-subscription set top box on which you will receive their free-to-air channels.

4. Where can I get a set top box? Which is the best?

Try this pdf list of CCK approved set top boxes.

At the moment, the only set top box I have used is Star Times (their Ksh. 500 per month option). With it, you can easily upgrade to get more channels. However, for local channels it only has K24 and KBC Tv. Some of my friends have used GoTv and I think they pay about Ksh. 1,000 monthly.

For free-to-air channels, I will say go with your gut

5. Just why are we migrating really?

This is the actual answer:

The Regional Radio communication Conference (RRC) meeting of 2006, in a treaty, set 17th June 2015 as the deadline for all countries to migrate to digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting. It is, therefore, a mandatory for countries. Digital broadcasting will result in more efficient use of the spectrum hence more valuable spectrum can be released and used for other services. The rest of the world is migrating to digital broadcasting and analogue broadcasting will not be protected from interference after 2015.

However, digital TV guarantees better quality. Read my previous post answering why we have to migrate.

For all these questions, find the answers on the Digital Kenya website. Follow the conversation on facebook and on twitter.


I got some interesting responses on this post yesterday.Nation Hela together with this blog are on a mission to give two lucky winners a card, each loaded with Ksh. 2,000.

So yesterday I asked readers to tell me what situation they have ever been in that they wished they had a Nation Hela Card. Here’s my winning comment:

The winning comment by one Freddy

The winning comment by one Freddy

The reason I gave Freddy the card is because of the innovative way to use a Nation Hela card. Did you know that you can withdraw money from your Paypal account to your Nation Hela account? (Update: they have temporarily stopped the service and will let you know once it up)

Congratulations Freddy and do contact me on savvy.kenya[at] to arrange for your card collection. Thanks to the rest of the “commenters” for participating!

Now, the rest of you guys reading this still have the chance to win the second card. Here is the second challenge:

Where can one acquire a Nation Hela card and for how much?

The first correct entry wins! [Disclaimer: relatives and friends can’t win]

You have 24 hours. The second winner will be announced tomorrow, Thursday 28th, 5.00pm.

Exciting News: 2 Loaded Nation Hela Cards To Give Away!!

Dear readers of this blog,

Nation Hela, the international money transfer platform by Nation Media Group is giving away two cards, loaded with Kshs. 2,000 each, to two lucky readers of this blog.

What can you do with a Nation Hela Card?

nationhela Exciting News: 2 Loaded Nation Hela Cards To Give Away!!

What can you do with a Nation Hela card?

  • Receive money conveniently from abroad (or locally)
  • Withdraw your cash from any VISA-branded ATM countrywide
  • Pay for online services/goods where they accept VISA prepaid cards
  • Swipe to pay for your services at any shops or outlets that accept VISA cards, as it is a prepaid VISA card. In fact, there is a promotion going on right now, where you can swipe and win some prizes!

Now, the first winner will be announced tomorrow, Wednesday 27th, at 5:00 p.m. The second winner’s challenge will be announced in the same post.

Today’s challenge: Tell us about an experience in which you wished you had a prepaid VISA card, or a card for receiving payments from abroad (instead of lining up at the bank/agents). Make it short, entertaining and you could be tomorrow’s winner of a the Nation Hela card loaded with Ksh. 2,000.

Leave a comment below this post, and this could be your lucky day

Wangari Maathai – A Tribute to an Unbowed Woman

I was reading Wangari Maathai’s memoir: Unbowed, One Woman’s Story at lunch one day when I was joined by a colleague. I told him I was reading her book and if he wanted he could borrow it after. He dismissed in an offhand manner, saying he knows enough from the media and doesn’t want to know more. He has this view that she was a tough, mad (very mad)woman. And I asked myself, which Wangari Maathai do people know? The one that was vilified by the Moi Government through the press proganda, most likely. I too, had in mind the image of a tough woman fighting running battles on the streets, while attempting the mostly unforgiving and unappreciated work of protecting Kenya’s environment. I am forever grateful to my other colleague who lent me her memoir. With the prior perception that I had of her from the media, and the positive outpour from the same politicians and media that vilified her after she won the Nobel Prize (everyone wanted to be associated with her!), her personal book enabled me to finally understand her story from HER own point of view. To get inside her head and see he reasoning, her motivation, her struggle and her journey through life.

unbowed Wangari Maathai   A Tribute to an Unbowed Woman

The cover of Unbowed, Wangari Maathai’s memoir

Growing Up

Her autobiography is a journey through Kenya’s changing landscape, even as she changed with it. She was born in 1940 when Kenya’s central highlands were still green, food and water were in plenty and much of the traditional (Kikuyu) culture was in practice, although Christianity was already taking root. She grew up in a colonial period where her dad was working a colonial farmer’s land. Her mother remained a peasant farmer, but she and her brothers were sent to school. Were it not for education, Wangari remarks in her book, she would have remained in her village, married and tilled the land for subsistence. Education opened up many opportunities, and she is grateful for the decision to send her to school, which was supported by her older brother, Nderitu. While she grew up, she was very close to her mother, and remained close till her mother’s death.

Wangari is an alumnus of Loreto High School Limuru, my alma mater as well! Well, I realized this when our school published a congratulatory message in the newspaper and on our boards when she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2004. She received a Catholic education by nuns in primary and secondary, so you can imagine she had a rather narrow view of the world. Unlike her fellow students who went on to become nurses and teachers, Wangari wanted to go to college and further her studies. Luckily, she won a scholarship to go to the United States, where she went to another Catholic institution she fondly calls ‘The Mount’. I will let you read her adventures there for yourself, but it was a liberating experience for her.

wangariat24 Wangari Maathai   A Tribute to an Unbowed Woman

Wangari Maathai in her graduation album in 1964. She was about 24.

Back in Kenya 
After she got her master’s degree she came to Kenya, at a time when many Kenyans abroad were coming back to take up the task of nation building, soon after independence. She encountered many challenges, but finally got a job at the University of Nairobi, where she found that female lecturers were paid less than their male colleagues and proceeded to file a complaint. Eventually, their pay was increased to match that of the male colleagues. She met her long-time friend Vetistine(sp) Mbaya there who was a fellow lecturer.

I guess many Kenyans know her infamous marriage and divorce to Mathai, with whom they had three children. At one time, she (or rather her divorce) was even a topic of discussion in parliament, whereupon she was quoted in the press telling them they should focus on “matters above the neck and not below the belt”. In her book, she narrates the difficult experience from her point view, and especially regrets that her divorce became a public affair. Her husband, Mwangi Mathai, asked her to stop using her name, and in response, she added an extra ‘a’ to Mathai and became known as Wangari Maathai even unto her death.

The Environment and Human Rights 
She was awarded the Nobel Prize not only for work done with The Green Belt Movement but also for her activist role against human right abuse in Kenya, especially by the Moi government. Her book is an insight into how it all started, and how she survived through the difficult years when her life was literally in danger.

smiling faces Wangari Maathai   A Tribute to an Unbowed Woman

Planting trees was her ‘little thing’ to save the planet.

This post has become much longer than I anticipated. I admired Wangari Maathai deeply, more so after reading her memoir. She was truly unbowed, standing up against human rights and environment abusers. In her direct memoir, we finally get to here her story from herself. However, I do wish she was an author, because there are many times in the story when I can detect the ‘ghost writer’s (white) voice.

Wangari showed that truly, there is no limit to how much just one person can achieve. From a humble background, to having presidents world over as peers and appearing on Oprah; to numerous awards and the numerous people she inspired and continues to inspire.

wangariBarrack Wangari Maathai   A Tribute to an Unbowed Woman

Wangari Maathai and Barrack Obama plant a tree

Her book was published in 2006, and it did not end on a very optimistic note for Kenya. Indeed she was right, as in 2007/2008 post election violence broke out.

Her memoir was her voice. Everybody should listen to it and hear what this woman had to say. The media, which is how we got to know (of) her, painted a ‘personality’; but her book reveals that she was human after all.

She died (of cancer) in 2011. I never got to meet her in person ;-(

Wangari Maathai, rest in peace.

The Samsung Galaxy Note III and Samsung Galaxy Gear

It’s an exciting time to be a (sometime) tech blogger. The folks over at Samsung have given me the Galaxy Note III and Galaxy Gear to play with, experiment with and experience the latest gadgets that are pushing the boundaries in innovation (and size?).

samsung note III The Samsung Galaxy Note III and Samsung Galaxy Gear

The Samsung Galaxy Note III and Galaxy Gear. I am naming them both Bella!

The Galaxy Note III is now the top-of-the-range Android device in the market. For comparable devices in its range, it comes out clearly on top. The phablets in the market include the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and Optimus G Pro. The Note III gives you the functionality of a small tablet, but at the same time the portability of a mobile phone.

In the coming weeks, I will do a detailed review of both the Note III (and reveal the cool stuff) and the accompanying Galaxy Gear. In the meantime, I’m doing an introduction to whet your appetites

The Galaxy Note III

    • Best PhabletIt cannot be compared to the ‘best’ phones in the market right now (we’re talking iPhone 5s, Samsung Galaxy S4, Nokia Lumia 1020, HTC One) because it will not be a fair comparison. It is much bigger in size, thus making room for enhanced specifications like battery life, screen size, memory and so on. Any other phablets are nowhere near in terms of specifications and user experience. So it’s a phablet in its own class.galaxy note 3 vs iphone 5s The Samsung Galaxy Note III and Samsung Galaxy Gear

      Galaxy Note 3 vs iPhone 5s

      Perhaps it can be compared with its predecessor, the Note II. Here is a post I did explaining why one may want to upgrade from Note II.

      And although it might seem like a huge device, it does fit in the pocket, comfortably.

      20131116 130008 1024x1024 The Samsung Galaxy Note III and Samsung Galaxy Gear

      This is actually one of my more fitting jeans. I took this picture with the Galaxy Gear.

    • Improved Design and SpecificationsI love the look and feel of my Note III. I have the white one and the back feels like leather (although it’s plastic).

      note3 back The Samsung Galaxy Note III and Samsung Galaxy Gear

      The back of the Note III

      Memory: I have the 32GB version of internal memory and I can comfortably carry Scandal and other series in addition to the countless pictures I take (of my son).

      Screen Display: upgraded to High Definition. Awesome when reading or browsing the web, or watching videos.

      s3 front The Samsung Galaxy Note III and Samsung Galaxy Gear

      The Front of the Note 3

      Better camera: 13MP at the rear, 2MP in front.

      For a complete list of features and specifications, check out the Samsung website.

    • S-PenThe S-Pen is one of the key features of the Galaxy Note-series. Once you plug it out, you get shortcuts to features like the S-Note, Action Memo and air command gestures that premiered with the S4.

      s pen2 The Samsung Galaxy Note III and Samsung Galaxy Gear

      The S-Pen

      The Pop-up shortcuts on pulling out the S-Pen:

      spenmenu The Samsung Galaxy Note III and Samsung Galaxy Gear

      Pop up menu

For a comprehensive review of the Note III, you can read the engadget reviewor the android police one.

The Galaxy Gear

      The concept for a wearable smartwatch has been around for quite a while. However, while many prototypes have been developed, the gear is the one of the few that are actually useful (and usable).


  • Setting it UpTo set it up, I first downloaded the Gear Manager from the Samsung Apps store on the Note III. Once that is done, ensure NFC is on, then bring the phone near and tap with the Gear, and the two will pair. With the Gear manager app on the Note 3, you can manage applications on the gear.GalaxyGear 0769 1024x680 The Samsung Galaxy Note III and Samsung Galaxy Gear

    Pairing the Galaxy Gear with Note III

    Once they are paired, the gear automatically picks default settings from the Note, and settings such as time, weather, contacts etc. They remain connected through bluetooth.

  • Look and FeelIt may look a little thicker than an ordinary strap watch, but it stands out and looks good on the wrist. The strap is adjustable to fit your wrist size. he watch has a responsive screen which you can swipe to locate apps, such as contacts, call logs, camera, gallery, S-Voice, Voice memo etc. Will get into more details in a later post.display gear The Samsung Galaxy Note III and Samsung Galaxy Gear

    Galaxy Gear display

  • Camera, Speaker, MicrophoneIt comes with a 2MP camera that can take some decent (and discreet) photos and videos.With the speaker and microphone, the watch can be used to receive calls as if one was on loudspeaker mode on the Note III. I have found this especially useful when driving.


Unfortunately, the Galaxy Gear is only compatible with the Note III at the moment. Thus if you don’t have a Note III, the Gear is useless to you.

The cost of the Note III in the shops is about Ksh 75,000 and that of the Gear is about Ksh. 25,000. So in total, you are talking Kshs. 100,000. So you can choose to just have the Note III on its own.

When together, they create an elegant image that can’t be denied, see the ad image below. If you can afford the devices, they will definitely complement your style (and class!)

samsung chick 1024x640 The Samsung Galaxy Note III and Samsung Galaxy Gear

The elegant Samsung lady

My Nairobi: Own Nairobi

My Nairobi is a woman, because it’s a complex city, its mean and kind in the same breath; its happy and forlorn at the same time; it will give you hope and crash it in the next instant; it will chew you and spit you aside, but it will also nurture you. Like a woman whom you can’t figure out, can never understand, but nevertheless love very much, that is my Nairobi.

nairobi3 My Nairobi: Own Nairobi

Follow the road and get swallowed into the bowels of Nairobi City. Share your experiences.

A while back, some three years ago, I had just come back from Naivasha and the matatu deposited me at the stage which is at the junction of Ronald Ngala Street and River Road. I was feeling funky, rock music blasting through my earphones, and walking along Ronald Ngala St. to my Kahawa Stage. I noticed a matatu conductor shouting at me but I thought he wanted me to get into his matatu and I ignored him, only for me to turn and find some street urchin who had followed me had opened my bag (while I listened to music) and gone with my wallet. The matatu conductor was kind enough to let me go home without paying fare, because I didn’t have any. Since that day, I don’t walk in the streets of Nairobi with earphones on. This is just one example of how people in Nairobi can be; on one side someone robbed me, on the other side the matatu conductor was kind enough to offer me a ride home.

Another time, I dropped a thousand-shilling note in a cyber cafe, only to arrive in the matatu and find I had no fare. This time, two well-meaning strangers offered to pay for me, and since both had already removed the Ksh. 100 notes from their pockets, the one who hadn’t given the conductor the money offered it to me instead. I was a broke student then and was oh so grateful.

In Nairobi, I have met many types of people; the truly rich, the newly rich who flaunt their money, the middle class, the poor, the happy, the sad, the property owners and the homeless (whom we avoid touching in the streets). I have met them all and loved many, hated a few and indifferent to most.

I have many musings in matatus and in banks about Nairobi and its people.

I love Nairobi and it will be home for me, and when I do fly out of its nest to test the waters of the world, I know I will be back.

To Share your Experiences on Nairobi, be sure to join the #OwnNairobi Campaignon twitter: @OwnNairobi, Facebook: Own Nairobi and the website: Own Nairobi. Make your voice be heard!


The most popular way of international money transfer, in my opinion, is Western Union. However it has its challenges, chief among them the need to go queue at a bank counter or Western Union branch somewhere in order to receive your cash (in cash form!)

Nation Hela: fast, convenient

Nation Hela: fast, convenient

With Nation Hela International Money transfer, if the recipient has the Nation Hela card, the money is conveniently transferred into the card. It’s a VISA card, so they can withdraw the cash at any VISA-branded ATM countrywide. The recipient also gets SMS alerts whenever a transaction has taken place. No more queues at counters to get the cash that has been sent, and you have access to your money 24 hours a day.

Obtaining a Nation Hela Card
If you are in Kenya and regularly receive funds from abroad, the sensible thing would be to sign up for a Nation Hela card for Ksh. 500. You can do this at any Diamond Trust Bank branch, view thecomplete list here. The card can also be obtained from any Nakumatt supermarket in Nairobi. After activating the card, you will then be ready to receive money on it.

Sending Money through Nation Hela
Wherever you are in the world, you can send money to a Nation Hela card holder at friendly rates (which you can view once signed into the website). You can send money from your bank account, credit card, or debit card. The money will be in the recipient’s Nation Hela card within 30 minutes and they will get a notification on their registered mobile phones.

If you wish to send money to someone who doesn’t have a Nation Hela card, you can still do so by sending directly into that person’s bank account, through the website. Choose the option of “(to a non-NationHela card holder”. The exact details are on the website.

Receiving Money
Once the money is in your card, you can withdraw it at any VISA-branded ATM countrywide, or swipe your prepaid card to make payments.

Nation Hela Website
It’s not just a website explaining how to use Nation Hela, it’s also the platform on which you can just sign up and start using the card. I found the website quite comprehensive in explaining how it all works. I’d definitely use if I were receiving remittances from abroad; and when I also do go abroad, I’d be sure to get my mum the Nation Hela card!

I am going to sign up for the card anyway, load money into it, use the card for the usual purchases (it’s a prepaid VISA as I said) and hopefully win something!

Why Digital TV?

Some people may be wondering why all this hullabaloo over digital TV and why do we have to migrate? Here are the reasons why:

    1. The world is progressing. We are moving forward with wireless technology, but the frequency band that exists (think of the electromagnetic band in Physics) is limited. Currently with analog transmission, each TV station is assigned its own frequency. However, with digital transmission, several TV stations can be broadcast using the same frequency. Your receiver (set top box) will then decode these signals for each station and display them on your TV. The freed-up frequencies will be used to deploy services such as 4G (or Long Term Evolution- LTE) to enable better quality for data and voice over our mobile phones.To this end, the global deadline (for all TV stations on earth) to migrate to digital signals is June 2015. However for Kenya, we will do it one year early, June 2014. The Nairobi is set to December 13, 2013.

Internet apps on TV Why Digital TV?

Internet apps on TV. Image from

    1. Better Quality Sound, Video
      The quality of digital TV is very high (up to 10x more detail), with capability for High Definition videos that make it possible for a screen any size to have beautiful, continuous images. Who wouldn’t like that? No more ‘mchele’ or having one station clear, and the next station all flickery (remember having to adjust the aerial over and over so all signals can be clear?). The sound quality is also improved.
    2. Potential for more channels

With shared frequencies, and the separation of content producer from signal broadcaster, it will be easier for people to own TV channels thus creating potential for more (hopefully local) channels. This means as consumers, we will have a wider choice of content to view.

  1. More Services
    The Set Top Box (STB) (see a list of approved providers) which will be used to receive the digital signal also has the capability to interface with devices such as a cell phone, memory card or internet modem. This will provide viewers with access to many more services and information. 

    Things such as Electronic Program Guides will also be available so you don’t need a newspaper to find out what program will air on which channel at a particular time.

Read more about the benefits of migration from the Digital Migration website.

What 10x Optical Zoom Means

Okay, so Samsung’s Galaxy #S4ZoomKe took the road trip to Sibiloi to capture epic photos of the eclipse. Photos like this one (below) that have more than told of the beauty and splendor of Kenya (read story here).

1798 2 1024x180 What 10x Optical Zoom Means

Sibiloi. Click on the picture for a larger image

So while many of these are beautiful photos, there is one fascinating feature about the Galaxy S4 Zoom camera that is unique to the device, and one that we had to check out, upon our return to the city.

But first allow me to state that Sibiloi was awesome, the sandstorm (hope you heard of it) massive and the eclipse, well, epic.

Okay, lets zoom right into the flesh of this article. 10X Zoom!

The Galaxy S4 Zoom Camera is aptly named so for it is the only camera phone that comes equipped with 10X zoom!

So how does the 10X optical zoom help? First, you get to capture your photos close-up or from far away and still ensure that you get the best quality shots.

Imagine if you were working at iHub or better still Nailab and while at work you get wind that Samsung is advertising on the biggest and most prime location in the CBD, the KICC rooftop.

KICC 1024x650 What 10x Optical Zoom Means

KICC Rooftop

You casually walk out of your office and attempt to focus through the (quickly reducing) canopy of trees to see if you can spot the advert some 5 kilometers away. If your eyesight is as excellent as mine, then you will quickly discover that attempting to spot an advert 5kms away is nearly the same level of insanity that would drive a scientist to document the evidence of life on Mars using a binoculars! So you figure that technology may be a useful aid. You pull out your phone (make and model used here withheld) and decide to take an photo.

The results are close to annoying.

Zoomed Out

Photo0028 What 10x Optical Zoom Means

Zoomed out with an ordinary camera

Zoomed In

Photo00292 What 10x Optical Zoom Means

Zoomed out with an ordinary camera #blurry

10x Optical Zoom

With Samsung Galaxy Zoom’s 10X optical zoom, the results are no less than amazing. Remember the roof-top advert posted above? Well this is how we zoomed in and took that photo 5km away!

KICC Zoomed Out 1024x576 What 10x Optical Zoom Means

KICC Zoomed Out with S4-Zoom


This blogpost was a guest article by Anthony Mugendi, the guy behind @kenya_tweets! Mugendi is a developer with a passion for big data which led him to start tracking social media via Kenya Tweets. After its success his world changed completely and he is now attempting to become a small time blogger and document the deep romance he has enjoyed with code and data.