Safaricom muuyuuuuuuuuru

Earlier this week, I tried to connect my Nokia 6230 mobile phone to a friend’s notebook computer via Bluetooth and dialed 951 – which is the official dial-up number for Safaricom’s Online Network.


Well, I don’t know what they’ve done to the mobile phone / gsm network here in Kenya (half rate instead of enhanced full rate?), but it actually works. You just connect your phone via cabooool, InfraRed (IR) or Bluetooth to your computer and that’s it, no further adjustments required.The downside of course is that the connection is very slow and consequently only suffices for googleing things. Opening any bigger page/site sucks big times and drains your account of Kshs. 10/= (~ 0,12 EUR)/ minute.
I spent about 300 bob on Safaricom’s service until I realized that I’m even better of paying an exorbitant rate of 3 to 4/= /minute @EasySurf where I actually GET my data instead of just paying for being “online”.

The other thing I hate about many webmail services is that they come with this huge “click-through-rate”: in order to read your email, you are forced to click through the various menu systems of your fav webmail service. And Gmail happens to miss out on POP3-collecting service – which is bad if you have more than one address.
I even tried to access my mail via telnet, but the recipient? refused the connection and a further traceroute command resulted in a timeout etc etc
==> Safaricom online = good for small things.

This morning I went to Java House and tried to access their WLAN.



BUT!, either I am too stupid or that notebook has a seriaaaaas mmmbrobrrem – it just didn’t work. Connecting to the hotspot worked, even the allocation through the DHCP server – couldn’t receive any packets though, nothing, 0 resutls. And netstumbler delivered two working networks. Aterere
The coffee was delicious, though. :-)

AOB: I tried Mbuzi Choma @ Miggles in Gigiri. Oh….I smelled like a goat until next morning. Hehe…MbuziChoma with Tusker and a waiter with these typicoooool plastic bowles to wash your hands before the meal. That’s 1/2kg of Mbuzi for 190 /= – which buys you a coffee @ Java’s….Nairobi worlds…

Author: jke

Hi, I am an engineer who freelances in water & sanitation-related IT projects at You'll also find me on Twitter @jke and Instagram.

5 thoughts on “Safaricom muuyuuuuuuuuru”

  1. JKE

    First off, I am not sure if this was deliberate but the article under the phone in the photo is about lack of access to the net . . . very fitting given the content of your post.

    I found that the best internet cafe in Nairobi was a place in Fedha Towers faced the back of Simmers Restaurant after the CBA Bank & a chinese consumer goods store while walking towards 680 Hotel called . . . access something . . . I forget what now.

    They have very comfortable chairs, P4 PCs with partitioning to keep your surfing private, laptop connection lines (ethernet access where you can hook up your own laptop for 100 bob an hour) and they also offer VoIP calls to the world at a very decent rate. They were VERY VERY popular with tourists trying to make calls back home.

    Oh, they charge 2 bob an hour with no minimum duration. Can’t beat that.

    I would use their ethernet connection to hook up my Vonage router and use a US number to make “free” international calls since they had very good bandwidth (for Kenya) on their laptop ports – I think it was always > 100kb every time I measured.

    Sadly, they did not have wireless but they promised me that they were working on fixing that. The owner was also trying to sign up for Vonage.

    Any chance of some pictures of the mbuzi choma please? If we cant have any, atleast we can see it, right?


  2. Another classic post this one! I usually ended up at EasySurf as well. It is more expensive but like you said, at least you get things done.
    @Steve the place you mention sounds brilliant. I’ll check it out next time.

    now for those mbuzi choma pics?!!

  3. Great post! Interesting point about Java and the Mbuzi. Couldn’t have put it any more clear about the different worlds in Nairobi

  4. Kudos for your actualy tring to use the safaricom service and explore hotspots. The last time I tried safaricom I didn’t open one page and my account was drained to zero – thanks for confirming that it does work, but the cost issues are prohibitive.

  5. Steve, just found the place you wrote about:
    Avant-Garde, Standard St., outside entrance tucked under Fedha Towers.

    Still have comfy seats, dividers, 100KSh/hour for laptop access (1.5 KSh/minute for regular use). Still no wireless. I saw a couple of peeps using IM and Skype for calls and video-chat, so obviously the network line quality is extremely good.

    VOIP to US was (Jan 2007) 15KSh per minute, but when I tried it reception was shit. The guys were nice enough to tell me to go to Posta Towers (Kenya Telecom, 2nd Floor) for the same service, as A-G is just a reseller of the service.

    (The Kenya Telecom price was the same but reception much better. You have to buy a calling card to use service, but the call can be initiated from anywhere – landline, mobile, etc.)

    Not the best cybercafe I’ve been to in Kenya but definitely top 5. Thanks for the tip.

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