Our Man Around Nairobi today is Tony Mukundi. Tony Mukundi is an engineer, renewable energy specialist and Acumen fellow based at d.light. Tony says, “I believe that where you live should not determine if you have access to reliable energy or not. I am passionate about renewable energy as an economic enabler to human development and that access to reliable energy allows human beings to live dignified lives. At d.light, we provide technology that allows customer to own quality products that add value to the quality of their lives while preserving the environment. My focus is ensuring that our customers get the best products and reliable technology that saves them money.”
- Did you grow up in Nairobi? If you did where and how was it growing up here?
I was born in Nakuru at a place called Kivumbini but later moved to Freehold Estates. Back then, we called this place “Ovumbo”. I always feel nostalgic every time I remember the sweet memories of my childhood. The beauty of growing up a child in a cosmopolitan town like Nakuru town is that you learn all sorts of languages. I did learn a few and untill today I still speak a few. Some of the bonds we created with my childhood friends are still strong till today.
I came to Nairobi about a decade ago for my undergraduate studies and fortunately my career picked up from here.
- What you love about Nairobi?
Nairobi is accommodating. There is space of all sorts of people, whether you are here for business, pleasure or even a resident, you can always find your own niche in this “city under the sun”.
Should you want to escape from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi, there are lots of green spaces to visit and enjoy the mystery of the forests and nature. Karura forest, Nairobi Arboretum and the Nairobi National Park presents such experiences for nature loving people.
Nairobi is growing and expanding at a fast rate and with this growth there are numerous opportunities for developers and creatives.
- What would you change about Nairobi?
Nairobi needs to be redesigned to accommodate a modern, reliable and effective transport system. One wonders why 50 years after independence we have a traffic police manning a junction with traffic lights and CCTV cameras. That kind of manpower is misplaced and it is not sustainable. Technology can help us move with ease and with the establishment of trusted institutions offenders can pay their fines without cash exchanging hands.
I would remove 90 % of all the government offices from the CBD and move them outside town. The administrative function of Nairobi can be in the outskirts.
A lot has been done to address the security challenge and I believe if our leaders adopted an adaptive leadership approach, we will continue to move in the positive trajectory we are currently in.
- As a professional how is it working in Nairobi? Is Nairobi open to what you do or what could be better?
Working in Nairobi is very challenging but rewarding too for those that are tenacious. The ease of doing business is getting better but a lot needs to be done to get Nairobi to where it needs to be at. As a financial capital, most companies have set up their headquarters here and that’s a positive indicator from the business community.
If I was to change anything about Nairobi, I would want to change the “middle class” attitude that has allowed poor service delivery and people find it just okay. We need to question and hold the Nairobi leadership accountable. When you are moving around different parts of the city you will find piles of garbage in some areas and none functioning drainage networks. Somehow someone is sleeping on the job and Nairobians are just “okay”.
- 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.
Nairobi has a national park less than 10 km from the city center, the experience is both relaxing and you will make some wonderful discoveries. Bring along a camera, some of the treats you will experience can only happen at the Nairobi National Park.
A visit to the different Masaai markets is must. There are always unique pieces that are worth having.
To celebrate the rich cultural heritage Kenya has; the Bomas of Kenya is tourist village that organizes several bonanzas that demonstrate our rich heritage, this is a must place to visit.
If you would like to interact with Tony you can find him on twitter @Tonymukundi.