Exports and infrastructure ~ Kenya

The drive from Isiolo County to Nairobi offers a relaxing scenic landscape. The view of Mount Kenya alone, an extinct volcano at 5,199 m, is worth a look see. Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage site – it’s stunning.

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We also came across many fruit and vegetable stands along the way. As a tourist it’s best to go with easily peelable fruit at the stands, if it’s meant as an immediate snack, otherwise it needs a good scrub.

Kenya is one of the largest flowers producers in Europe, thanks in part to its ability to produce flowers year round without using greenhouses. Though known as a pastoralist area, numerous farms stretch along both sides of the road between Isiolo and Mt. Kenya. As we drove toward Nairobi at 6:00am we could see men and women walking to the farms to begin their workday. Children were also out in droves walking alongside the road in their red, green and blue uniforms on their way to school.

One of the other sights that caught my eye was the roadside garden center. In the United States (U.S.), the equivalent would be if garden centers were set up on the shoulder or in the median strip of the highway. The Kenyan garden centers carry trees, plants, flowers and gorgeous colorful pots and other accessories. The centers seem to be quite popular. We passed several on the way to Nairobi and later found more of them along main streets in a more urban center near Bungoma.

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For our journey from Nairobi to Bungoma, we flew from the Nairobi Airport to the Eldoret airport, then drove to Bungoma. It’s about an hour flight, and another two – three hour drive depending on traffic, versus a nine-hour drive. We flew Fly540. Eldoret is a small airport but clean and efficient. The Nairobi airport is also a breath of fresh air compared to some of the more rough and ready airports I’ve travelled through in the past two years.

Kenya is more developed than many of the countries that I have spent time in recently. Though, that doesn’t matter to me most days, when it comes to extensive driving — infrastructure starts to matter. For example, the lack of paved roads in some countries turns a 1.5-hour drive in the U.S. to a 7-hour drive on dirt roads. It’s also rough on the body as the vehicle slams endlessly into ditches that resemble moon craters and tosses a (hopefully) strapped in body around the entire time. Let’s just say, it was a pleasant surprise to find that Kenya’s main roads outside of Nairobi and across the country are paved.

Kenya’s investment in infrastructure is apparent — roads, aviation, ports and a foray into energy and solar power. That said, Kenya isn’t without its issues and poverty does exist. However, investment in the country by the government, coupled with its focus on exports, such as flowers and coffee is a good formula for continued development and makes Kenya a solid example on the continent for other countries struggling with growth.

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