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Flying taxis coming to Nairobi, but you’ll pay Sh800 per minute

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Nairobi has been identified as one of the launch cities for an ambitious flying cars plan. The McFly.aero blockchain project is starting the set up of infrastructure for air taxis service in 23 cities in 13 countries, including Nairobi.

It is a two-part business incubator, the first spanning a technological consortium of 12 companies that is developing the elements of the city air taxis, across the flying cars with Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOLs), energy and traffic management infrastructure.

The second part involves building local communities called McFly Chapters, aiming at community engagement that gets people to share information on the project, getting industry experts to share research and entrepreneurs to establish local connections with manufacturers, with real estate partners for landing pads, and even with government bodies for registration.

It is expected the project will open new business for entrepreneurs, engineering and drone experts, and manufacturers of hardware and software for the blockchain-powered IOT for the urban air taxi infrastructure.

“The VTOL autonomy will be implemented over time as users and regulators become more comfortable with the technology and see statistical proof that autonomy provides greater levels of safety than human pilots,” he said.

The idea is that passengers will be picked up at the nearest helipad or heliport to their pick-up point and dropped at the nearest pad to their destination, and will take a 5-10-minute walk at either end.

Unlike helicopters, the cars will be efficient in fuel use, noise and safety, said Bezhko.

He said the initial production cost will be $120,000 (Sh12m) per vehicle, but will come down to $30,000 (Sh3m) to $40,000 (Sh4m) once they go into mass production.

As far as fares go, the rides have an indicative price of $8 (Sh800) per minute, but pricing will be based on the grid’s load, and transactions will be made in McFly tokens on the blockchain.

The use of blockchain comes as the ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has set up an 11-member taskforce headed by former Information principal secretary Bitange Ndemo to explore the use of distributed ledger technology and artificial intelligence for development in Kenya.

Other countries that have been targeted for the McFly launches are the US (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Pittsburgh), France (Paris), Ukraine (Kiev, Dnepr, Znamenovka), Belarus (Minsk, Vitebsk), Russia (Moscow, Tarusa), India (Srikakulam, Surat), Australia, Japan, Nigeria, Panama, Spain, Mexico, Indonesia, and Nepal.

For traffic control, one of the consortium members is working on a traffic management system that will use city airspaces for up to 1,000 metres above ground, which is the maximum flying height for the VTOLs.

Before any VTOL operates, they will need to meet all the registration requirements for the relevant authorities in each city of operation.

Two- of four-seaters, the vehicles will either be on autopilot or have the passenger pointing directions, Bezhko said, adding, so far, there are two designs: Bartini, flying at 300km/h and Hepard, which flies at 150 km/h. Both designs have a flight time of 30 minutes, he said.

The market for air taxi services is projected to reach $1.2 trillion per annum in the next few years, with more than 20 companies, including Daimler Ventures, Boeing, Geely/Volvo, Tencent and Atomico Ventures, now working on VTOLs.

They will be electric or hydrogen powered and manufacturers will have the first test flights between March and May 2018.

– African Laughter

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VIDEO: Man gives “free” advice to the Kikuyu Community

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A man who introduces himself as  John Ndung’u has recorded a video  – which has gone viral – in which he advises his tribesmen and women to be ‘street smart.’ Mr Ndung’u is emphatic on the need for unity especially in business ventures.

He singles out the Somali community in Nairobi as an example worth emulating,  saying that it has been able to own hundreds of businesses in prime locations due to unity of purpose.He concludes by telling the viewers that he would soon convene a meeting to address pertinent issues facing  members of his community. Watch:

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UNSUNG DIASPORA HEROES: Mwakilishi, Jambonewspot, Ajabuafrica

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BY MAHUGU NUTHU

“Fake news!” “Fake news!” Sadly, we are now used to waking up to anti-press rhetoric. It’s the new catchphrase. Trump’s old “you’re fired” shtick has lost its mojo. His unrelenting attacks on members of the Fourth Estate is something one would only expect from authoritarian leaders. For us Africans, harassment of media is something that sounds too familiar.

For years we have come to appreciate press freedom as the lifeblood of democracy and ironically looking up to USA as the beacon of these ideals. But that’s another story for another time.  That’s not the subject of this piece, but it makes a good backdrop. Everybody understands the power media outlets, but probably less appreciated is the power of the Mwakilishi, Jambonewspot, Ajabuafrica and dozens other online based newspapers. Today, these are the unsung heroes in our community.  The proof is in the pudding.

In a recent case in my own backyard, a family lost a young son in a road accident out of state. By Gosh, no parent should have to bury a child. We know it is not the natural order of things. That’s pain. Excruciating pain and sorrow. But God giveth and God taketh away.

It’s even worse when this happens abroad. As if death is not enough a blow, its followed by unimaginable bureaucratic tangle of paperwork and logistical nightmare. Consequently, the family needed assistance to move their son hundreds of miles to their state for a memorial service and then send him thousands of miles to his final resting place in Kenya.

Mr Mahugu Nuthu. PHOTO/COURTESY

The committee had to reach out quickly to raise the funds though social media and traditional ways. Unsurprisingly Mwakilishi, Jambonewspot and Ajabuafrica opened their pages. They responded quickly. Cases like this proves the importance of community press and the useful role these websites play in supporting the information needs of the Kenyan in USA.

When it comes to tragedy, they do things that you won’t get from a monolithic newspaper in terms of turnaround time, reach and cost. Their results are very tangible and observable almost instantly, something you won’t get from the so called mainstream media.

These community websites do not usually charge for death notices and you reach a lot of Kenyans. Consider that one-day listing of four lines in a “national newspaper” will cost you several hundred dollars. And you might end up not reaching the people you are targeting.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not actually about money. It’s comforting to know that you don’t have to deal with the advertising department of a soulless intractable entity.  Mwakilishi, Jambonewspot and Ajabuafrica operators understand our community because they’re a part of it. Nobody is immune to tragedies. For the record I don’t know these people personally. But their actions show that they do not merely serve as information providers. Sometimes “death announcement” means “financial help is needed ASAP”.

Only a Kenyan living in USA would understand that and urgency of the situation. New York Times might not. That’s how we handle things. We scream across the country albeit digitally. We are the ones who discovered the “digits” by sending smoke signals piece by piece across the ridges thousands of years before it became “on” and “off” that computers use today. It was stolen. But I digress. I will leave the “alternative facts” to the “post truth experts!”

While we are on the “appreciation” subject, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the role of Kenyan Churches in USA. They have become the glue which holds our community together. In times of tragedy, hardship and sorrow, as in the above reference case, the local churches become sanctuaries of hope. Allow me to pull another Kansas City Metro backyard example.

Neema Community Church is rooted deeply in its community, and has its membership operating as de facto public servants. Located in Olathe, Kansas, it’s a huge beautiful sanctuary with classrooms, meeting rooms, offices, recreation areas, a large fellowship hall and huge kitchen attached to it. Well, and lots of parking to boot. Under Pastor, Rev. David Nzioka, it’s a community center dealing with needs that go beyond the mission of a traditional church.

A place of worship where local homeless escaping freezing nights often get free food. In a time of crisis thousands of miles from home you are bound to find fellow compatriots here looking for the elusive answers to their many “whys” and seeking comfort in each other. It’s the iconic sacred tree where Africans worship, meet and greet

.  After a year of polarizing elections that rekindled ethnic tensions, it’s very encouraging see Kenyans remaining united at that level. Tribal lines become effectively blurred.  It takes a dynamic, charismatic and inspirational leader to accomplish this. I hope you find your own fashion of “Dr. David Nzioka” in your neck of the woods.

Back to my subject as I conclude. I understand there are many diaspora news websites whose primary mission is to cover the important issues that affect the Kenya community in USA. Many showcase community businesses for a fee. Yes, they are businesses themselves. They are not obligated to carry your message, however sad. They choose to do it.  While I did not mention them all by name, my biggest hope is that you will continue to support them.

These media outlets make our community better just because of their dedication to it.  Same case applies to our community churches and pastors. We should let them know that we do appreciate what they do. Although we are spread across this continent-size country, sea to shining sea, they make us a cohesive Kenyan community.

By Mahugu Nuthu | nuthology@gmail.com. Mahugu is the author of the book Nuthology.

 

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VIDEO: Kenyan Woman tried to rob a bank in Texas, use baby as a shield – Police

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A Kenyan woman tried to rob a bank in Murphy, Texas on Wednesday.

Police say Evelyn Misumi, 36, walked into a Bank of America branch armed with a hammer, gasoline and lighter fluid. She poured gasoline and lighter fluid on the bank’s lobby and demanded cash from the tellers while waving the hammer. Bank employees called 911, forcing Evelyn to run outside towards her car, says the police report.

When police arrived at the scene, they tried to use pepper spray to subdue her, but she pulled a 9-month-old baby from her car and “attempted to use the child as a shield,” police say.

Evelyn was taken to Collin County jail. The child was taken to Children’s Medical Center as a precaution.

Evelyn faces robbery and child endangerment charges.

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