Faces of Safaricom – The 58-kilometre man

Ian Mwai Siako, a Senior Officer Technical Regulations at Safaricom, is a sports enthusiast. This interest saw him walk 58.6km from the Karen Hospital in Nairobi to Kijabe Mission Hospital to raise funds for the Emergency and Trauma Unit.

27 Jul 2021 . 1,611 Views

Tell us about yourself and what you do at Safaricom.

I’ve been at Safaricom since December 2015 where I started off as an intern. I then transitioned to work as a contractor in the Regulatory and Public Policy Department in February 2017 to February 2018. I later became a permanent employee in July 2018. I work in a team that liaisons between Safaricom and the various  regulators. We ensure the business has adequate spectrum for network rollout, adequate numbering resources, and type approval details on equipment and handsets. We make sure the company meets the framework on Quality of Service required by the Communications Authority of Kenya on network quality and call drops. We are currently undertaking the second phase of the rollout of the Universal Service Fund, the common pool of funds through which we provide connectivity to unserved and underserved parts of the country.

What did you do to get to where you are?

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Telecommunication and Information and Communication (IT) from Kenyatta University. I got interested in this line of work from my initial internship at another telecommunication company.

You can also get in this line of work through an engineering course that has a bias in telecommunication.

Were you always interested in telecommunications?

I wanted to study Medicine. It was my first choice when I was filling in the university forms at Lenana School. When the time came to revise courses, I was told that I could study Medicine at Moi University. But, I saw the Bachelor of Science degree in Telecommunication and Information and Communication (IT) at KU and interesting enough, I liked the long title of the course, which is rather funny. At that time, I had gathered that the future lay in telecommunication. My parents had their reservations as they didn’t understand what telecommunications entailed. But now they do. If I wasn’t working here, I’d probably be a medical doctor.

What inspired you to participate in the Kijabe Tuju walk?

The purpose of the walk was to raise funds for the emergency and trauma unit at Kijabe Mission Hospital. The hospital is critical in saving the lives of accident victims on the Nairobi – Nakuru Highway, a route that is rife with road carnage and injuries. I wanted to participate and contribute to something that would be of assistance to other people in the future.

Ian joined other Safaricom staff in handing over the donation from the Safaricom Foundation.

How many kilometers did you cover for this walk?

I did 58.6 km, being the entire stretch from Karen Hospital to Kijabe Mission Hospital.

What kept you motivated through the entire walk?

I cannot fail to mention that the route was very challenging and not some walk in the park. One of the motivating things I noticed just before the walk was the high turn-out number of people who also wanted to be counted towards such a noble cause, key among them being the Hon. Raphael Tuju, who was walking to raise funds towards the purchase of a theatre, ultrasound and X-ray machines in support of the hospital that gives attention to the accident victims. 

Hon. Tuju and other leaders who were taking part in the walk were much older than me and yet they were determined to do the challenge. I wanted to prove to myself that I too had the verve and venturesome for tackling that mountainous obstacle. I had to stretch and test my limits beyond the norm. 

Raphael Tuju, the host of the walk, was seeking to raise funds for life saving trauma equipment for the hospital’s emergency unit and operation theatre. It was personal for Mr Tuju as on 12th February 2020, he survived a car crash not too far from the signage of Kijabe Mission Hospital near Kinale. He was rushed to the hospital for first aid and stabilization before being airlifted to Nairobi for further treatment.

Raphael Tuju arrives at Kijabe Mission Hospital at the end of the 58-kilometre walk.

What was the most memorable thing about the walk?

The walk started at 2 am! Goodness gracious! I have never thought even in my wildest of dreams to do such a think at the dead of the night. I was among 50 people at Karen Hospital by 1:30 am. It was very cold and chilly.

I also enjoyed the scenic view from Kikuyu junction to Limuru as this was my first walk on that route. I even took quite a handful of snaps to walk down my memory lane of the Great Rift Valley and this was quite something. It left an indelible mark on me.

The walk started at 2am and along the way, Raphael Tuju (left) was joined by Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed (third left), Mr Muhoho Kenyatta, Information Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru and Kiambu Governor Dr James Nyoro.

Have you participated in other walks?

Yes. I have participated in various charity walks and runs from way back in high school. I have participated in the Mater Heart Run back in 2007 when I was in high school and the First Lady’s Beyond Zero Half Marathon in 2019, to name but a few.

When did you start your walking pursuits?

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact year but I have always been interested in running, hiking, and walking. I played football and swam a little in school but never to the point of being part of the school team. I started intense walking and running following the pandemic in 2020, to keep fit and stay active because I was working from home.

 How do you prepare for these walks?

I do three to four runs in a week and on the other days, I walk for more than five kilometers a day, and so when the invite for this particular charity walk came, I was well prepared. The invite came on a Thursday which meant I only had two days before the D-Day, as the walk was to happen on Saturday. In preparation for such long walks, I usually check on my diet by eating healthy meals and managing my portions because doing contrary to this could affect me as I take on the long routes.

Are you a sports person and if so, what sports do you enjoy?

Beyond walking and running, I also do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) exercises with my neighbours outdoors. I also go to the gym once in a while.

Tell us about your fitness routine.

I do my runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday whereby on Tuesday and Thursday I do a minimum of 12km, then on Saturday I prefer to do longer routes of say more than 21km.

What is the longest route you ever walked and for how long?

The longest route I have ever walked was 65km, a course that took me from where I live in Mwimuto to Westlands, Peponi Road, the Botswana Embassy and then past Village Market and on to Ruaka, Limuru and back. That was last year and it took me more than 14 hours to complete.

What’s the next big thing for you?

In terms of walking, I want to take a 100-kilometre walk, walking and running, and for that I need to prepare my body and mind.

Family?

I’m not married yet, but I have a daughter.

What do you love about what you do?

That I get to interact with different stakeholders. I also enjoy going through the different technological stages, from 2G to 3G, 4G, and now 5G. I feel the joy of trying and testing something new and seeing it rolled out.

What keeps you up at night?

That I need to live a purposeful life. I must think about the future and plan for it.

Parting shot?

Take care of our health by exercising.

“Do not postpone, start today with a few steps. Your body is amazing, it will adjust and adapt to anything.’’


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