What the Brazilian weave index says about Kenya’s economy

I was recently nominated to be part of the Bloomberg – ALI media leadership fellowship; a year and half long programme that seeks to impact how Africa tells its own stories, with a focus on financial journalism. The past two sessions, in Capetown and later Naivasha were what I would describe as an intense meeting of minds, that challenged both our personal drive and roles in Africa’s changing face.

The second session took place a few weeks ago, the highlight for me being a session that required the fellows to create new indices that can be used as lenses for reading African economies. As a contintent we have always heavily rely on indices that are created in the developed world, yet in very simple African ways we can tell the direction the economy is headed through situations very close to home. Some were hilarious, some should be adopted by local think tanks ASAP.

Christine Mungai of Mail and Guardian Africa gave her account here

Here’s a few of of the fun indices my discussion group came up with.

The Pew Index:
The more people we have in church the worse the economy is doing. During tough times, more people pray and seek ‘Godly counsel’ but in good times, they’re out and about having fun and travelling.

The Brazilian weave Index;
In good economic times, African women invest in the best hair extensions. But when times are tight, they will compromise and go for other weaves that still look good.

The Blue Subaru Index:
The Blue Subaru, a staple in Kenya’s social media circles represents a class of upwardly mobile young people, perhaps in their first and second jobs, living in an apartment and just beginning to enjoy the working life. The more blue Subaru’s we have, the better the economy is doing.

The Pick Pocket index
There are less incidences of phone snatching and pickpocketing in down town nairobi, and apart from the fact that perhaps petty crime has reduced, pick pockets also now have their own smart phones, it is an indicator that the economy is growing enough for even those with little can afford phones that have now become more and more available and accessible.

Any ideas of your own? Please share!

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