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Old November 19th, 2008, 05:34 AM   #1
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Kenya problems

I arrived this morning in Nairobi, for what must be the thirtieth time in the past few years, on my way across Africa from Goma (DRC) to Zimbabwe, and had all my kit impounded at the airport.

This is the first time this has happened. I'll get it all back when I leave in a couple of days time, but it hurt like hell to have to leave my rig in a dingy lock-up at the back of Jomo Kenyata airport.

The customs officer informed me that without (a) a letter of authorisation from the Kenya Broadcast commission (b) a pre-arranged customs clearing agent and (c) a complete list of all equipment, camera equipment may not be brought into Kenya.

This may not be a problem for most of the users on this board, but it is a huge problem if you travel in Africa, since just about every flight anywhere on the east side of the continent goes through Nairobi, and you almost always have to overnight here.

The customs officers said this has always been the case - I've never come across it before. I'd suggest that anyone coming through here on their way to Sudan/rwanda/Congo/somalia/ or wherever makes sure that their kit is packed with this in mind.
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Old November 21st, 2008, 08:44 PM   #2
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Thanks for the heads up. I'll be flying through in two weeks with kit. I haven't had problems like that in Africa either. Wouldn't mind hearing your thoughts on your way back through and would greatly appreciate a blow by blow so I can be ready. I take it that the, "Can I buy a permit here and now?" failed to work?
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 02:26 PM   #3
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Hi Matt

well, I got my visa, came down the escalator, picked my bags off the Rwandair flight from Kigali, (Pelican flight case, covered in stickers, and a black tripod case, plus my camera in a Portabrace and a back pack). Loaded stuff onto a trolley, and strolled out past customs, smiling at the guys, as I always do, carrying my piece of headed paper with the kit list on it and a note saying "temporarily importing equipment for a period of five days, en route between DRC and Zimbabwe, request assistance from Customs dept to facilitate the temporary import and subsequent export of these goods, etc etc etc "

this is what i always use. It always works.

Not this time.

Customs officer sez "what's in there?" "My camera kit" sez I. "Well, you can't bring that into Kenya unless you have a permit from the Kenya Broadcast Commission (or something like that)".

I argued, cajoled, and grumbled for an hour. No effect. They lock the kit away in a holding pen at Customs at the airport, give you a detailed receipt, and when you are due to fly out they deliver the equipment to you, escort you to the departure hall, and wait till you are through Passport control.

I have to say, the impression I got is not that I was unlucky to get pulled in this time, but that I've been lucky in the past not to have to do this before. They were quite clear - this is normal procedure. No sense of them fishing for some pocket money (I'm quite sensitive to this). No sense of being "picked on". Quite the opposite - polite, patient, determined customs officers doing their job.

This is normal in Dubai, of course, as well, but the only time I've come across this in Africa was in Niger (not Nigeria) were it was clearly about pocket money.

Ways round it? Well, if you plan to film in Kenya, you need to get a letter of accreditation and an invitation from the Kenya Broadcast Commission (or film authority, or some such). You need a customs clearing agent to clear the equipment into the country. And you need a local agent to sign you in. My guess it that lot will set you back 500 bucks. I'm back in Nairobi next week, probably (without kit), and will see if I can find out what's the story.

If you're shooting on a smallish camera (say, a Z1 or similar) you might get away with it, especially if you put your tripod etc in a suitcase, not a tripod case. I suspect if I didn't have such obvious "camera kit" bags, I might not have been spotted this time.

Good luck - i'll be interested to hear how you get on.

R
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 11:40 PM   #4
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Well, Robert thanks for posting. Most of my gear was packed safely in much the same manner as your own: a pelican laquered with stickers from prairie dog town to Istanbul.

I've switched everything to a low profile kata backpack and will keep my head down. Very sorry they took your gear. Thanks again for the run down. For what it's worth I'm sure you saved me and others trouble.

I'll be in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya over a period of two weeks. When I get back I'll try and update this post. I wouldn't mind knowing if other people are running into this issue.

FYI. My buddy says Obama T-shirts are the rage in East Africa. Think I'll wrap my cameras and sound gear with Obama T-shirts for a little extra help.
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Old November 23rd, 2008, 06:12 AM   #5
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Good agent

Try Viewfinders, they are great agents/fixers for crews working in East Africa and are based in Kenya [url=http://www.viewfindersltd.com[/url]

Hope this help

David Wright
www.lunaseafilms.com

Last edited by David C Wright; November 23rd, 2008 at 06:13 AM. Reason: add link
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Old November 30th, 2008, 10:11 PM   #6
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I just flew back from East Africa last week. i was in Kenya (in and out of Nairobi several times), Uganda and Rwanda.

I never had any problems, but I carry my EX1 in a PortaBrace run bag and my Miller tripod is in a large duffle bag on wheels. This low profile kit has gotten me through most places around the world so far.

I head back to Kenya in March, I will keep an eye on this thread to see what happens.

Daniel Weber
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Old December 17th, 2008, 04:11 AM   #7
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Just got back. No troubles. Hakuna Matata. Tripod in duffle. Kit in portabrace and a Jambo Bwana and all but flew through customs.

If I had not read your post I would have brought my stickered up 1510 and things might have been different so thanks again.

P.S. Can you beat East Africa for filming? Seriously. The game. The tribes. The scenery.
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Old December 17th, 2008, 04:41 AM   #8
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Jambo,

Good to hear that there are no worries, we arrive in Nairobi in a few days time

Asante Sana

Mick
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Old December 20th, 2008, 10:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Buys View Post
Just got back. No troubles. Hakuna Matata. Tripod in duffle. Kit in portabrace and a Jambo Bwana and all but flew through customs.

If I had not read your post I would have brought my stickered up 1510 and things might have been different so thanks again.

P.S. Can you beat East Africa for filming? Seriously. The game. The tribes. The scenery.
Glad that it worked out for you. I really feel that hiding the tripod is a big key.

Daniel Weber
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Old January 16th, 2009, 04:37 AM   #10
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Hi all,

Just a quick update. no problems at Nairobi, tripod and head in large suit case with other items and clotheing. Camera and other bits in one small wheelie and a soft padded case as hand luggage.

Although well over weight, no problems encountered on internal flights as we did not depart from Wilson airport (Nairobi), which is the only one with scales.

Now down to editing many hours of footage.

Regards

Mick
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Old January 16th, 2009, 10:41 PM   #11
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Mick, welcome home. Glad there were no hassles.
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