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MombasaInfo.com in the News

From Coastweek, December, 2000

KENYA ‘KIJANAS’ IN TORONTO LAUNCH MOMBASA WEBSITE
Kenyan Kijanas
COASTWEEK – – Mombasainfo.com is a newly launched website aimed at bringing the local online community together, as well as targeting prospective tourists who want to visit Mombasa.

The site was the brainchild of four students from Mombasa studying in Toronto, Canada – Saqueeb Rajan, Rahim Harji, Karim Harji and Sameer Parpia. The students, varying in age from 17 to 21, call themselves the ‘Kenyan Kijanas’. The ‘Kijanas’ realized that there was a need for a comprehensive site specific to Mombasa, and this was the driving force behind Mombasainfo.com.

Even though both the Kenyan technological sectors and Internet Service Providers have grown significantly in size, the number of sites on Kenya has not. And while many sites exist that describe Kenya, most of them have not been established by Kenyans themselves, for Kenyans. Thus the creation of Mombasainfo.com.

Trying to combine designing the website with their studies, the ‘Kijanas’ found it hard to get any major work done during the time; however the initial foundations of the site were laid, and a general vision of what they wanted the site to offer started to evolve.

As the academic year came to an end, the Kijanas started to work intensively on the site, and on the 1st of July at 6.00 a.m. Toronto time, the site was finally launched. What started out as an idea in October 2000 finally turned into reality.

The ‘Kijanas’ vision for Mombasainfo.com is to make it a web destination for virtually anyone interested in the town of Mombasa and what it has to offer both culturally and socially. Not only does it seek to provide up-to-date information, but it will also offer other services that will expand its user base to appeal to a global market.

The site is currently broadly categorized under the following headings:

• An Overview of the town and a brief taste of what it has to offer.

• Facts relating to the town and surrounding areas, and specifically information on transport, services, shopping, security, the Port, and general facts.

• A brief History of Kenya before and after independence, with emphasis on the role that Mombasa has played during these times.

• Tourist and monumental Attractions that are specific to the town.

• Entertainment, which is subdivided into clubs, casinos and theatres.

• Restaurants within the city, and on the North and South Coasts.

• A number of pages each with information on individual Hotels.

• A Vocabulary page displaying various words and phrases in Swahili.

• A real-time chat room, including private text messaging and emoticons.

• Links for the current weather conditions in Mombasa, currency con-version, real-time online hotel bookings, and a guest book.

The site has a lot of fascinating pictures and information, and the chat room is an ideal place to get in touch with Kenyans who are living abroad, or even with people from within the country itself. There are also some interesting features on the site, such as a currency converter for 88 different currencies and online hotel bookings.

“We all acknowledge that Mombasa is a very appealing destination for visitors from abroad. However due to a number of factors it has not been able to attract as many tourists as it has the potential to. The best way to overcome this problem is by marketing Mombasa more positively abroad, and targeting specific regional markets through effective communication channels. With the Internet, the great divide that once existed between the ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ countries has metaphorically been crossed. Information exchange is now not limited between specific individuals or countries, and the ‘global village’ has brought the whole world together through one binding medium. The power of the Internet can be harnessed to influence and change peoples’ perceptions, and giving people access to knowledge means giving people the power to expand the horizons.

A lot of the prospective tourists live in First World countries, usually having the impression that Africa is still roamed by natives, a view recently supported by the Mayor of Toronto on his tour to drum up support for Toronto’s bid to host the 2008 Olympics. These biases can be overcome by ensuring that the tourists have access to relevant information about the town from a variety of sources. Mombasainfo.com aims to be one of these, effectively using the Internet as marketing outlet for Mombasa.

The hard work that the ‘Kenyan Kijanas’ have put into MombasaInfo.com can only contribute positively to Mombasa’s image and what the town has to offer prospective visitors. The site provides an ideal outlet for promoting the tourism industry, so that both Mombasa and Kenya can benefit economically and socially.