Exclusive: Kenya to set up Olympic House
Louise Ridley, 25 April 2012, 10:46am
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Kenya will use the East Thames building in Stratford as its 'house' for
the Olympic Games, Event can exclusively reveal.
The Kenya High Commission is in the final stages of negotiations with the
venue, which overlooks the Olympic Park and is the headquarters for housing
association and regeneration charity East Thames.
A spokesperson for East Thames told Event the contract was "likely to be
signed by the end of the day (25 April)" for Kenya to hire the venue during
Kenyan businesses and community groups will set up stalls at the Olympic
house to showcase the country’s culture and the investors supporting Kenya’s
Olympic team. Kenya House will also include a restaurant serving Kenyan
cuisine and beer.
The Kenyan High Comission said it is working with Locog to bring the
country’s athletes to the house every other day for interviews. It also hopes to
hold celebrations when Kenya achieves highly in the Games.
East Thames’s rooftop terrace, which overlooks the Olympic Stadium and
holds 100 people standing, will hold open-air interviews with athletes and
officials during the day and concerts and entertainment in the evening.
Thuita Mwangi, foreign affairs permanent secretary to Kenya, recently
visited the venue. He said Kenya House would demonstrate the country’s
heritage and economic progress within Africa: "We have come a long way on
the international scene," he said. "We have been involved in peace keeping
efforts, grown as opinion leaders and helped to shape the destiny of the
The Kenya Commercial Bank has committed to fund Kenya House, and
Mwangi said other private stakeholders have showed interest.
The East Thames building sits at 29-35 West Ham Lane and opened in 2008.
It also offers a large conference space for up to 100 people, five smaller
rooms, a foyer and gallery space and the rooftop balcony. Up to 1,100sqm of
space in the venue is still available for hire during the Olympics.
June Barnes, chief executive of East Thames, said: "We are really excited
that Kenya House is coming to East Thames’ offices. We are right in the
heart of Stratford, just a stone's throw from the Olympic Stadium, which is
exciting enough, but to have the buzz of the Kenyan team here in the
building will be fantastic."
It seems that other individual African nations could follow suit by establish
Olympic houses. Heino Vockrodt, commercial director of Sacoma, a charity
providing support to people and businesses from Saharan Africa in the UK,
said: "We held a launch event last August for all the African nations we work
with, encouraging them to have an Olympic house. It turns out that Kenya is
the only one who is going ahead at the moment. But now Kenya’s doing it,
the others may too."
Sacoma has also booked loungues at this summer's Scipmylo festivalon
Hackney Marshes to showcase Kenyan businesses and culture at the event
which coincides with the Games.
Last October, Event revealed The Association of National Olympic
Committees of Africa (ANOCA) will be based at London's Kensington
Gardens for the Olympics.
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