Spotlight: Nairobi

Victoria Kaigai, head of corporate communications, Safaricom, talks about Nairobi's technology boom and the challenges facing Kenyan PR firms.

Spotlight: Nairobi

Victoria Kaigai, head of corporate communications, Safaricom, talks about Nairobi's technology boom and the challenges facing Kenyan PR firms.

What is great about Nairobi?
Nairobi is one of Africa's leading cosmopolitan cities, boasting an interesting mix of personalities, cultures, and nationalities. As home to various multinational firms and companies, the city is vibrant with economic activity and an ever-growing middle class.

Kenyans are entrepreneurial. This makes it the place to be in terms of reputation and image management. And this robust economic activity has created a growing demand for PR and communications services.

How is Silicon Savannah and the technology and mobile boom in the country changing communications in Nairobi?
The mobile phone has become a tool for change and innovation affecting the way people interact with each other and how they do business.

This has created immediacy and urgency in the way communications is handled. Digital communications has become more ubiquitous, with young people especially being the trendsetters in this space.

What other sectors are experiencing growth?
Nairobi is experiencing a huge boom in various industries, but significant development has been in road construction and real estate.

This is also riding on increased interest from various multi-nationals that have made Nairobi their hub to operate in Africa, such as IBM, General Electric, and Pepsi.

Check In

1. Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry Ufanisi House, Haile Selassie
Avenue, P.O. Box 47024, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: (254) 20-2220867

2. Public Relations Society of Kenya, C/O Corporate Reflection
P.O. Box 47711, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: (254) 20-2720014

3. The Nation Media Group Nation Centre, Kimathi Street
P.O. Box 49010, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: (254) 20-3288000

How developed is PR in the country?
The PR profession has seen a resurgence, with businesses realizing that they need to connect with their customers and stakeholders as part of their license to operate.

A more informed and empowered population has led many businesses to embrace PR as a way of ring-fencing their market share, protect competitive advantage, and grow revenue.

Many PR professionals have pinpointed Africa as a key market for expansion - what advice would you give to those looking to launch a brand or agency there?
It is important that they understand, appreciate, and tap into the uniqueness that is Nairobi - everything from the talent, to the Kenyan DNA and spirit of entrepreneurship, friendliness, and fierce patriotism.

Therefore, no one size fits all works for Nairobi. Customize and adapt, and most importantly, remain close to the Kenyan community and what makes them tick.

What is it like developing a local team?
Kenya is rich with human talent thanks to a well-developed education system, benchmarked against international standards. Anyone wanting to develop a local team in the region will be spoilt for choice from the large pool of young, talented, and educated professionals.

What challenges do PR professionals face when doing business in Nairobi?
One of the greatest challenges is attracting a clientele that not only appreciates the value of PR, but also can pay for it.

You have many small and medium-sized enterprises, which have a great story, but are usually limited in terms of ability to pay.

In addition to this, the PR and advertising field is dominated by a few huge agencies and therefore startups and smaller agencies might struggle to break through and penetrate the market.

So one has to knock harder on more doors and be very persistent and that can be challenging for some firms.

What do you love most about Nairobi?
I love the mix of Nairobi, the weather, the beat, and the culture. I love the energy and the variety of people, food, and entertainment.

On any given day you are likely to meet someone British, and a South African, and have both a deeply cultural and a Western experience.

Best of all, I love the view from my office, where I can see Mount Kenya and the Aberdare Range in the distance. Those sights really make me love Nairobi.

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