It is not all doom and gloom for Kenya’s otherwise beleaguered tourism and hospitality industry as quick-witted and fast-thinking entrepreneurs continue to find niches into which they can expand, and expand profitably.
A case in point is the northern Kenyan outpost of Lokichar, hardly heard of in the past but by those who truly knew the country, a town which has of late however sprung to prominence as a service and supply centre for the growing oil exploration businesses and as a transit point for road traffic to Southern Sudan.
The opening recently of a privately owned licensed airfield has already attracted domestic scheduled flights by Fly540, as was reported here at the time, and more airlines are eyeing flights there to tap into the growing number of people working in oil exploration or providing essential services to the oil industry and for whom time and convenience is of essence.
Alongside has African Camps grown in leaps and bounds with now over 80 tents available for guests, compared to the opening number two years ago of only 8. This tenfold increase was purely triggered by the demand for a decent place to sleep in and some well cooked square meals before continuing the road journey into either direction.
The scenario reminds of the situation in South Sudan after attaining semi autonomy in 2005, when a scramble turned into a stampede of people seeking business opportunities in Juba and beyond, where accommodation was by and large lacking and where the tented camps of Africa Expeditions at the time raked in the cash, at times providing a full return on investment within months. With South Sudan however in turmoil have the oil finds in Kenya provided a more stable platform for future oil production and in the process giving those entrepreneurs fast enough the opportunity to make money in a sector which especially at the coast is hard hit.
Time to Google Lokichar for sure and make sure that you know where exactly this little outpost is located, just in case anyone wants to join the proverbial gold rush.