AFRICA 4X4 CAFE: Expert advice on Self Drive Overland Expeditions in East and Southern Africa.

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The AFRICA 4X4 CAFE: Nairobi for beginners:

Welcome to Nairobi! The first weeks here are not always easy, but many people think it is a wonderful place to live. Here are some of the bureaucratic hurdles you have to overcome - and tips from people who were successful. Primarily this is for foriegn journalists, however most work permits follow a similar procedure. If you've just been through all of it, I'd be grateful for updates and comments.

Passport pictures
You'll need loads of them for all sort of forms. Get negatives and ask for 30 copies at least.

Work Permit
Takes two to three months. You need it to get a container out of customs if it comes by ship.

Kenyan press card
application forms from Nyayo House
pass port sized pictures
letter by employer
money (200.000 KES), security bond from insurers (e.g. Thanawalla)

Alternatively: Multiple Entry Business Visa
You need to present a letter and fill a form. Recently, it seemed to be a bit erratic who was granted a business visa.

Re-entry stamp
You should ask for it as soon as you get the work permit. Otherwise, you pay a tourist visa (50 USD) every time you return to Kenya.

Aliens Card
The Kenyan ID, easier to carry around than a passport. You can apply for it when you have a work permit. They take all ten finger prints, and there is nothing to wipe the ink off.

Kenyan Press Card
Ministry of Information, Jogoo House, block A on Harambee Avenure. Cost: 50 USD, they take a picture with a very old fashioned camera. Bring a letter from your employer and a couple of copies of your passport (they have no photocopier in the whole building, apparently). You need the press card to apply for the work permit.

Kenyan Driving Licence
You need an international driving licence. Legally, you are supposed to have a Kenyan driving licence after having been for 3 months in the country, but many cops are okay with international driving licences.

Phone Line
You need to apply and pay a deposit. Can take ages. Ask for the mobile number of the people dealing with your application and keep pushing them.

Mobile Phones
There are two providers: Celtel and Safaricom. You can buy a prepaid line (100 KES) at many shops and use scratch cards. For a post paid line, you need to apply and pay a deposit. With a postpaid account and a mobile phone with data cable you can go online (Celtel: create a new dial up, no username/password, phone number 350).

Both Celtel and Safaricom offer an sms subsription for news alerts.

There are several provider for dial-up (Africaonline, Wananchi, Swiftkenya etc). Telkom offers dial-up without subscription. Landlines are very slow and unreliable. In several areas, you can get an ISDN (takes time) or ADSL. More reliable and quite expensive are Wireless (Acceskenya, Uunet) or Vsat. If you have a data cable, you can connect with your mobile phone. As international calls are rather expensive, it might be worth investing in a good internet connection to use Voice over IP like skype.

BBC 93,7
6.30, 7.30, 8.30 Focus on Africa
18.00, 20.00 Network Africa

RFI 89,9
African News in French and English at full hour
KBC 95,6
News at 7.00, 9.00, 13.00, 16.00, 19.00,21.00

For international channels, you need a dish, a receiver and a subscription with Multichoice (tel. 442614 or 0722 322 964, The monthly fee is around 65 USD. If you pay in advance for a year, you get one month discount.


Enzo, +44 (0) 7878 010 352 - enzo(at)

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The AFRICA 4X4 CAFE: a self-drive safari to the 2010 Football World Cup in South Africa.