Ahmed Mohamed: The man behind the changing face of Eastleigh

Eastleigh Business Community Executive Member Ahmed Mohamed. [Photo/Benjamin Wafula]

For some time now, Eastleigh, Kenya’s largest clothes retail market, has been characterized by littered streets, blocked sewer lines and high cases of insecurity.

The region, which is highly regarded as a one of Nairobi’s busiest business hubs with the highest number of shopping malls, has, however, metamorphosed into a safe haven with well-lit streets, expanded road networks and improved security which has reflected in the growth in business.

One person who has launched incessant push for the reformation of the estate is Ahmed Mohamed, an Eastleigh Business Community Executive Member and a renown social influencer.

According to Mohamed, the once-bleak estate is on the verge of resurgence due to concerted efforts by the residents to push for better services from the City County Government of Nairobi.

“Eastleigh had the challenge of piled garbage, poor state of roads, blocked sewerage and insecurity which impacted negatively to the businesses therein,” said Ahmed in an interview with Citizen Digital.

“This has, however, changed with the county government responding positively to our call for better services.”

The developments in Eastleigh, however, did not happen overnight. Ceaseless push for change and social media campaigns have greatly helped the course.

“I first started pushing for better service through the hash tag #EastleighNeglected because we thought it was unfair for Eastleigh, which accounts for 30 per cent of Nairobi County revenue, to be left in a deplorable state.”

“This campaign changed to #EastleighRising when we started witnessing a response from the county government to our calls.”

Mohamed, who is also the organiser of Eastleigh Business Summit, says the area is now better placed to compete with other business hubs in the African continent.

Just weeks ago, another campaign #EastleighShutdown, was launched on Twitter to flash out hawkers from the streets of Eastleigh.

The traders decided to close shop for three days in a bid to push the county government to act on the fast rising number of hawkers in the area.

Mohamed, together with some members of the Eastleigh Business Community, said the move was necessitated by the disruption that the hawkers had caused on their business.

The business community complained that by setting base at their doorsteps, the hawkers were blocking customers from accessing their shops, which was inimical to their businesses.

The thriving businesses in Eastleigh have catapulted the once-scarcely populated estate into a mini-town status, with low-cost goods a major factor, attracting customers from across the Capital.

But what dictates the low prices?

“Beside competition as a factor in determining the price of goods in Eastleigh, business people focus on selling their good in high quantity thus making the prices low. The cost of renting a shop is also not as high as other areas thus leading to low prices.”

Beside social activism, Mohamed has also launched himself as a philanthropist, channeling his social media influence to effect change in society.

The 36-year-old, a beneficiary of the Jomo Kenyatta Foundation, says his move to push for reforms in Eastleigh is a way of giving back to the community.

He says that while there are people who use social media for evil, majority of Kenyans, especially on Twitter, have exhibited generosity whenever called upon to help those in need.

“Kenyans on Twitter are very generous. When they were called upon to help the family of Salah Abdow Farah, the man who shielded non-Muslims during the Mandera bus terror attack, they responded and contributed over Ksh 600,000 which was given to his widow.”

Farah, who succumbed to his injuries inflicted during the attack, was posthumously awarded the Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya (OGW).

“Terrorists are hell-bent on creating a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims, but through anti-radicalization crusades we have been able to tame such schemes especially in Eastleigh where attacks had become rampant,” he said.

Is Social media influencing how people consume information?

Social media has changed how Kenyans consume information and even how media relay information to the public, says Mohamed, known as @asmali77 on Twitter.

“There are countless cases where the main media has had to follow-up on stories that were first highlighted on Twitter thus showing has fast the media trends are changing,” he said.

“Twitter has also helped put some government officials on the spot over corruption allegations or ineptitude in service delivery.”

Due to the recent advancements and the popularity of Twitter, Ahmed says, the 2017 elections outcome will be largely influenced by the on goings on Twitter, since politics is about perception.

Parting shot

“Times are changing. Instead of Kenyans asking what the government is doing for them, they should ask what they are doing for the government.”

“There are several opportunities available that the youth could use to improve their livelihoods and effect change in society. They should play their part.”


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Story By Benjamin Wafula
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