Last week, Jerome and his life in Paradise a.k.a Mauritius made for interesting reading. Today’s story takes us to Kenya, where *Victoria, a Nigerian has been working for six years.

Victoria calls her move to Kenya the “weirdest Valentine’s gift she’s ever got” mostly because she couldn’t have seen it coming. She had worked in her organisation in Nigeria for a while and when a new role opened up, her boss gave her a heads up.

The big problem: the role was in Kenya. But, there was the possibility the role would get moved to Nigeria. 

“It did not remotely occur to me that he would not be successful in moving that role to Nigeria. I didn’t think about it,”she tells me.

So, fast forward to Valentine’s day and the feedback was that the role was only for the Nairobi office. 

In dramatic fashion, she had two hours to decide. As we’re having this conversation at 10pm Kenyan time, you know the choice she made. 

The Kenyan airport is unlike Tunde’s China experience. Six years ago with nine boxes in tow, she showed up at the airport, paid $50, filled a visa form and got stamped in for three months. It has since been changed to a one-month visitors visa.

The first hurdle Victoria faced was getting her work permit. Despite assurances that the process would take three months, the reality is that it often takes up to five months. 

“The process of getting a work visa is difficult for Nigerians. It took one year to get my first work visa”

Without a work visa, you can’t get an identification card or open a bank account. Unlike Nigeria, Kenya has a working national identification system.  

Kenya has a national ID system
Kenya has a national ID system

“Every Kenyan today has an ID. If you don’t have an ID, it’s like you have no identity, even if you have a passport, because it is the main form of identification in Kenya. Everything is linked to your identification number”

While we’re talking about opening bank accounts, Victoria talks about setting up her Mpesa. Heads up: Kenya is the second largest market for mobile money in Africa. In Kenya, Safaricom’s Mpesa is the market leader. 

Mpesa has 20.5 million active users in a country with a population of 49.7 million people. 

“Opening an Mpesa account is the easiest thing. You just take your Safaricom SIM card, go to any of the Safaricom shops and give them your passport details.”

Mpesa can be linked to your bank account and it allows you to make payments anywhere. 

“Life in Kenya is easier with Mpesa, you can make every payment with it”

But it’s not just Mpesa that provides mobile money in Kenya, Airtel money, Mobikash and Equitel money are your other options.

In Kenya, quick loans are as popular as mobile money. There are 49 registered digital lenders in Kenya, providing instant loans for millions of people. 

But Victoria says she has never used a digital lender because of high interest rates. Predatory lending is a concern for authorities in Kenya and a bill is in the works to regulate the lending sector.

Despite these rates, payday lenders continue to be popular. “Most people use their cars to borrow money or property. You have to change the name on the car or property to the credit company’s name first. But it works. You can get the cash in 24-72 hrs.”

We move to one of my favorite questions: how much does mobile data cost?

Sh1000 ($9.96) will get you 10GB in Nigeria and 5GB of data in Kenya. Don’t move to Kenya for cheap data guys. 

But you can move to Kenya for a tech experience which sounds better than NIgeria’s. 

“I’d say tech is in like 60% of daily apps. Food, alcohol delivery, medicines, in my industry say 40% of our engagements is via webinars or online training platforms, payments, applying for and receiving a driver’s license renewal (it’s immediate and online), checking land registries, checking car registries, transfer of vehicles. They are all fully online”.

We almost ended our conversation without talking about SafeBoda, Kenya’s popular motorcycle hailing service. 

Victoria uses SafeBoda to send and receive parcels across town although she says Taxify is more popular for deliveries.

“Taxify boda is most commonly used for deliveries but in the app it isn’t customized for deliveries. SafeBoda is.”

SafeBoda also has an inbuilt wallet, and rides are cheaper when you use the wallet.”

Back in Nigeria, Gokada is pivoting to deliveries after the infamous Okada ban

I thought we should switch it up this week so you get to score both countries on a scale of 1-10. With Victoria’s experience, where would you rate Kenya on a scale of 1-10? And how will it measure up against your country?

Here’s a bonus: Victoria’s top five apps are: my Safaricom/Sim applications (that’s where we use mpesa, Uber, WhatsApp and Social media (Twitter & Instagram).

*Name has been changed at interviewee’s request.

If you want to share your tech experience with TechCabal, send me an email:

Olumuyiwa Olowogboyega Author

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