Office Slab

We are delighted to have cast the slab for our new office structure at Chanters Lodge Livingstone, and there’s the picture. Right now, the slab is under water for the next week or so, not because it’s raining – it’s actually beautifully bright and sunny in Livingstone this morning, but because the slab has to be kept so, to strengthen it.

The offices will, when they are built, be the first thing you see as you drive into the lodge, as opposed to the kitchen roof and back yard which is the view at the moment. The finish will therefore be very important – first impressions!

We hope the building will resume after Christmas.


Shoprite Expansion

Shoprite are about to open a big new branch and complex in Livingstone – for those of you who know the city the site is adjacent to Ocean Basket which has been incorporated into the complex. So too have Mr Price, Hungry Lion and Pep. There are also other units for letting.

We hear that everything is due to open this week and it will be good for Spar and others to have some real competition.

Here’s a photo of the development taken yesterday from outside the shops at 217 where Melinda was buying Rice Krispies. I guess they might soon be available at Shoprite more cheaply………or not?


“Not Exactly A Hive Of Activity”

“Not exactly a hive of activity is it?” A Guest said to me yesterday looking at our two room extension at Chanters Lodge. It was hard to deny. “At the moment we’re waiting for the tilers to finish.” I explained.

We’re using the same tiler we’ve used for previous work and he’s good – but he has a lot of stories.
“The wheel on the tile cutter’s broken and we couldn’t find a new one”.
“The blade’s broken on the tile cutter”.
Yesterday’s? A good one – “A container’s arrived for our family from Botswana and I had to be there to make sure nothing was stolen when it was off-loaded”.

I was delighted this morning, however, when the tiler and his men turned up at 07.30 hrs looking as if they might do some work! I still have some hope that the rooms will be ‘finished’ by November 15th but I’m not going to stress about it, whether there’s a ‘hive of activity’ or not! Such is Africa!

The picture – the view from room 11 while I was waiting for the tilers not to turn up!


Pedal Power

After the story of the ‘Boy Who Harnassed The Wind’ in Malawi, here’s another story of enterprising young Africans being innovative. Again from the BBC:

Two Kenyan students are hoping to market a device that allows bicycle riders to charge their mobile phones. Jeremiah Murimi, 24, and Pascal Katana, 22, said they wanted their dynamo-powered “smart charger” to help people without electricity in rural areas. “We both come from villages and we know the problems,” Mr Murimi told the BBC. People have to travel great distances to shops where they are charged $2 a time to power their phone, usuall yfrom a car battery or solar panel.

“The device is so small you can put it in your pocket with your phone while you are on your bike,” said Mr Murimi. It is estimated that some 17.5 million people out of Kenya’s 38.5 million population own a mobile handset – up from 200,000 in 2000. Although similar devices already exist in other countries, they are not available in Kenya. The two electrical engineering students from Nairobi University have been working on their own invention, which they are selling for 350 Kenyan shillings ($4.50) each, over the last few months during their university break.

In Kenya, bicycles are sold with a dynamo to be attached to the back wheel to power the lights. The dynamo lead can be switched to plug into the charger instead, they explained. Mr Katana explained it takes an hour of pedalling to fully charge a phone, about the same time it would if it were plugged into the mains electricity. The BBC’s Ruth Nesoba says after a short ride, the phone’s battery display indicated that it was charging.

Great stuff and good exercise too!


The Boy Who Harnassed The Wind

This is a cute story from BBC

Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama said Africa must take charge of its own destiny. At the TED Global conference in Oxford this week, one speech resonated with that message. The speaker was William Kamkwamba from Malawi.

TED Global (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is the European cousin of an already established top US event dedicated to “ideas worth spreading”. Unlike the eclectic mixture of scientists, technologists and designers gathered at the hi-tech conference, Mr Kamkwamba grew up as a farmer in the East African country. He came to the conference to tell how people how, at the age of just 14, he had built his own wind generator.

“Before I discovered the wonders of science I was just a simple farmer,” he said. But after the family’s maize crop failed in 2001, they could no longer afford to pay for him to go to school. “It was a future I could not accept,” he said. So, Mr Kamkwamba would visit a library in his spare time, reading science books.

One in particular taught him that windmills could be used to generate electricity and pump water. “I decided to build one for myself but I didn’t have the materials. Undeterred, Mr Kamkwamba scoured a local scrap yard, finding the necessary components: a tractor fan, shock absorber, PVC pipes and a bicycle frame.

“Many people, including my mother, thought I was crazy,” he admitted.

His first model powered one light. But a later, more powerful version was able to run four bulbs. “Soon people were turning up at my house to charge their mobile phone,” he said. This was not the first time Mr Kamkwamba, now 19, had spoken at TED; his first encounter with the elite conference was in 2007 at the TED Global conference in Arusha, Tanzania. “Before that time I had never been away from my home in Malawi. I had never seen an internet,” he said.

He said he was so nervous when he had to give his first presentation that he “wanted to vomit”. This year, he said he was feeling better. And he had one message for this year’s crowd at TED Global – a message which echoes that of the US president. “Trust in yourself and believe. Never give up,” he told the audience. Mr Kamkwamba’s story has now been turned into a book: The Boy who Harnessed the Wind.”

How powerful is that!


Matthew Robson

Matthew Robson was lucky enough to get a two week internship at Morgan Stanley (or maybe Morgan Stanley were lucky enough?) and was asked to write about teenage media consumption for the bank. What he wrote has generated massive response in the banking sector and elsewhere. Check TimesOnline for the whole story. It fascinated me:

The world according to Matthew Robson aged 15 and a half:

“Teenagers do not listen to the radio, he wrote, preferring online streaming sites, nor do they ever buy music. Games consoles “now… connect to the internet, voice chat is possible between users… one can speak for free over the console so a teenager would be unwilling to use a phone,” he wrote.

He told The Times that at home he usually communicates with his male friends while blowing up terrorists on the action game Call of Duty. “You use a mobile phone if you want to talk to girls,” he said, as “only about one in fifty girls plays computer games.”

Girls are a lot more prone to spend their time on social networking sites. Matthew uses Facebook but his accounts with Piczo and Bebo have lapsed and Twitter is strictly for the elderly. “It’s aimed at adults,” he said. “Stephen Fry is not particularly cool. Also, for the cost of one tweet you could send quite a few text messages.” As no teenagers followed each other’s profiles, tweeting was “pointless”.

He believes cost is a critical factor in the teenage market as “no one has any money”. “Eight out of ten teenagers don’t buy music,” he said. “It comes from limewire, blogs or torrents.” Meanwhile, pirated DVDs generally cost £2 and go on sale even as the films are in the cinema.

With online sites streaming music for free they do not bother, as services such as do this advert free and users can choose the songs they want instead of listening to what the radio presenter/DJ chooses

No teenager that I know of regularly reads a newspaper, as most do not have the time and cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text while they could watch the news summarised on the internet or on TV

Facebook is the most common, with nearly everyone with an internet connection registered. On the other hand, teenagers do not use Twitter

They are very reluctant to pay for it (most having never bought a CD) Teenagers from higher income families use iPods and those from lower income families use mobile phones

Real directories contain listings for builders and florists, which are services teenagers do not require. They can get the information free on the internet
Viral/Outdoor Marketing
“Most teenagers enjoy and support viral marketing… Teenagers see adverts on websites (pop-ups, banner ads) as extremely annoying and pointless…they are portrayed in such a negative light that no one follows them.”

Teenagers visit the cinema more often when they are in the lower end of teendom but as they approach 15 they go to the cinema a lot less. This is because of the pricing; at 15 they have to pay the adult price. Also it is possible to buy a pirated DVD of the film at the time of release, and these cost much less than a cinema ticket
Mobile phones
The general view is that Sony Ericsson phones are superior, because of their long list of features, built-in Walkman capacity and value.

So there you are!

How do I (not quite a teenager) stack up!
– I have a Sony Ericsson phone!
– I hate paying for music!

– Don’t watch many movies
– Need a new radio which I enjoy at night

– I’m active on Facebook and Twitter

– I hate pop up and pop under ads
– Generally don’t like phone calls and prefer sms

– I’d never heard of Limewire – I just downloaded it
– I’d been trying to sort out Torrent for some days when I read this!
– Only glance at newspaper headlines these days.

And you!


Setting Out

Finally, we’re setting out the foundations for the new 2 rooomed poolside extension at
Chanters Lodge, Livingstone, and now fully intend to go ahead with the project to increase our accomodation capacity as quickly as possible. The picture shows Mr Albert Chikuta and his team undertaking the expert work. Mr Chikuta is a full time Livingstone City Council worker kindly helping us on his day off. “Is there enough space Mr Chikuta” I asked. “Touch and go…” the answer!

As you’ll see, the weather is bright, sunny and warm even though tomorrow is our shortest day June 21st and technically ‘mid-winter’.

Q. How long will the project take and how much will it cost?
A. How long’s a piece of string, and probably more than I’ve estimated!

Have a nice weekend!


The Yellow Lobster

I loved this from FreshInc!

“If you’re going to make a mess, make it a big one. That’s the lesson Seattle entrepreneur and angel investor Andy Sack gives to his portfolio companies in regards to innovation. Specifically, rather than tinkering around with existing business models, Sack suggests that if you really want to create something new, then you must break with the traditional ways of doing things and make a full push to innovate. Or as he puts it, “If you’re going to break the model, don’t just break it a little.”

He cites the iPhone as an example of such a game-changer. Coincidentally, CNN’s offbeat story of a yellow lobster found by fishermen in Massachusetts also manages to illustrate Sack’s point, albeit in a weird kind of way. Thousands and thousands of lobsters are caught everyday, but not many of them make the front page of CNN’s Web site. By being completely different, this lucky, yellow-tinged crustacean not only managed to make front-page news but he also found a way to avoid the lobster pot.

Moral of the story: It pays to be different!”

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