I can’t recall the last time I had money in my wallet and neither do I plan to get any cash with me anytime soon. These are some of the things I like about being in Europe where life moves electronically.
In Kenya, as much as we may use electronic cards for various transactions, one will need cash on a daily basis to make purchases such as fruits, vegetables, lunch, pay for public transport and other necessities for the day. In Norway, all these can be done by the use of my electronic card, keeping in mind that it is easier and cheaper that way since the Norwegian system encourages electronic payment. Therefore, minimal or no charges for using your Visa card or Credit card as many times as you can. More interesting, one can also withdraw cash at the supermarket electronically hence saving one time instead of queuing at the mini-banks waiting to do so.
In public transport, you have a choice to either pay cash or buy the monthly card which gives you access to the bus as many times as you wish within a specified month. So with my transport card and without cash in my wallet, I can peacefully make it to and from my destination.
When I need to make bus, flight, train and hotel bookings, I can do these at the click of a finger and within a minute, I have my bookings confirmed and receipts issued on my mailbox. I don´ t need to physically present myself at any of the above offices to get my bookings done, unlike Kenya where some of these errands will need me to physically be there. The same applies at the hospital and even in church, very impressive, to find the Kortleser (card reader) available and therefore I can give my offering through electronic transaction. For Norwegians, electronic living is their way of living.
My weekends have become boring of late since I do not have much to do unless I am visiting friends and touring Norway. Back at home, Saturdays will be my days to do my thorough house cleaning, laundry and basically reorder the house. With Norway known for equal living standard for all, I am informed almost all the houses have facilities such as electric cookers, vacuum cleaners, washing machine and dish washer which basically means washing is no longer part of my weekend errands. Though a number of people have such facilities in Kenya, the monopoly of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company means electricity is quite expensive and therefore more and more people opt do without such facilities unlike Norway which has over 50 power companies in service.
“Water and hydroelectric power, we have that in abundance in Norway. We have enough clean water for everyone therefore, we do not pay for water and electricity is very affordable,” said Sijbørn Nedland, a native Norwegian and my colleague at Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK.
I find myself lazing around on Saturdays, with no idea on how to equip my weekends. I therefore result into Internet so as to chat with friends online. With wireless Internet and Wi-Fi 3G (3rd generation) available, I can still leave the house and head to the mountains with my computer and still keep in touch with my friends. Very interesting indeed.
It is also important noting that some of the long distance bus companies have wireless Internet connection, ensuring you are not bored and lost in thoughts within your journey. The 24/7 Internet availability has made it possible to work with easy and whenever possible. Online shopping is also very common in Norway, Nett banking, online studies and more important communication. You will find very many people with communication accounts such as Twitter, Skype, Messenger and even people as old as 70 years and above, most have face book accounts.
It impresses me to see very young kids as young as 9 years with their own mobile phones, some with face book accounts, very computer savvy and I reflect back to the first time I attended computer classes which was basically after my fourth form. Times have changed in Kenya and now most private schools have computer classes even in lower primary school and some public schools too.
I have spotted two restaurants cum cyber cafe in Kristiansand though I am told there could only be three around and
actually these are owned by foreigners and mostly used by foreigners. This means, they are not very essential as long as one has a laptop then it is very easy to access Internet anywhere, anytime.
With such kind of life, you rarely find long queues in public offices like in the banks, tax offices and schools. It translates into having enough time to do the right things in the right way and of course successful results. As a Kenyan, I think of the banks in Kenya, the Immigration offices and worse still the famous City Council offices in Nairobi with its unending queues.
I love this electrified way of life. I am optimistic that, though Kenya might really be far from here, we will one day be there, South Africa is almost there. As Ashleigh Brilliant said, “To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and, whatever you hit, call it the target.”
Do have a great week ahead, won´t you!