Nairobi awash with world VIPs

Friday October 9 2009

Wyclef Jean at a press conference ahead of the MTV awards on Saturday in Nairobi. Photo/DENNIS OKEYO

Wyclef Jean at a press conference ahead of the MTV awards on Saturday in Nairobi. Photo/DENNIS OKEYO 

Millions of shillings have been used to host the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs), to be held on Saturday night at the Kasarani Gymnasium, Nairobi. For the last five days, Kenya’s hotel industry has greatly benefitted from the high profile event that premiered in Abuja, Nigeria, in November 2008.

At Tribe Hotel, Gigiri, upto 95 percent of the accomodation has been taken up by the MAMAs nominees coming from all over Africa. In fact, even the Kenyan nominees like STL, Amani, Nameless and Wahu. checked into the hotel on Friday, to join the rest of the nominees who have been in the hotel, some of them since Tuesday, courtesy of MTV and Zain.

Other high profile MTV officials are staying at the Norfork Hotel and other journalists from different media houses across Africa and Europe have been booked at the Hotel Intercontinental.

At the Kasarani Gymnasium, about 500 MTV personnel, both local and international, have been working on the venue, mainly to put the event on a global platform, says Mr Alex Okosi, the senior vice president of MTV and head of MTV Africa Networks.

“We have over 1,500 hotel bookings so far specifically for this event, which is way bigger than our last year’s inaugural event in Nigeria,” says Mr Okosi. MTV has assured all the music fans who are attending the event that the security will be efficient for everyone. Close to 200 security detail, including Kenya police officers, security guards and bouncers, have been deployed to the venue.

For the last two weeks, MTV officials have been fitting powerful event lighting systems and setting up an international standard performance stage plus the catwalk. Crystler limos, most of them belonging to the Tribe Hotel, have also been hired to transport nominees and other high profile guests from the airport to the venue and back.

According to hotel officials, each trip using the limo costs about Sh4,000 one way from the airport to the hotel. “It’s a big thing for us to host the nominees and other MTV guests. As long as they are here, they are using all our facilities from the bar to the gym and the sauna,” says Mr mark Somen, Tribe Hotel’s general manager.

According to Zain Group Marketing Director, Mr Norman Moyo, the mobile company is set to gain global recognition for patnering with MTV to bring MAMAs in Africa. “Zain operates in 15 African coutries and 24 countries globally, and since we aim to go global in full force, it’s our pleasure to be part of this great event,” says Mr Moyo.

Although he is not in a position to disclose just how much money the company is pumping into the event, Mr Moyo is certain that the value they are getting from MAMAs is much higher than the amount of money they would have spent in doing plain advertisements.