Today I found myself in dire straits. I needed to get hold of some urgent information for my travel – a crucial contact to confirm a crucial activity – and I did not know where to start.

I did not have bundles on my phone so a Google search was out of the question. The only Postel Directory I had in the house was a 2008 fax/email edition and the numbers in the yellow pages were no longer in service.

I tried calling a friend who I knew would probably have the latest copy of some directory but they took more than 10 minutes, which was too long, considering the circumstances. Time was running out and deadlines were beginning to be threatened.

That is when I recalled having seen ads on mobile apps that provided directory services – unfortunately, I had not paid attention so that information was useless for the task at hand.

To cut a long story short, my contact miraculously showed up and there was no longer the need for the directory services but it got me thinking – what would I do, caught in a fix like that again?

After a bit of research, I found these three useful Kenyan directory services. You never know when you might need them for a rainy day like for an urgent taxi service, and so on.

1. TuAsk

TuAsk is among the few online Kenyan directory services that provides information on a range of things including travel, accommodation, restaurants and food courts among others. Users have the option to call customer service on 0900 620 126 or browse the service website at to access the information.

Once a user places a call to the customer service centre and provides details of the resource they are looking for, they receive a response via SMS within 30 seconds of hanging up. The service costs KES 10.00 per minute and comes in English and Swahili.

UPDATE: TuAsk no longer seems to exist. Their URL is unrechable and so is the link to Rapid Communications, the company behind the service. You can try the Kenya Business Directory which is quite similar.

2. 191 Directory Service

The 191 Directory Service, like TuAsk, is a direct call service. Provided by Safaricom, it enables users to obtain contact information and make hotel bookings across the country from their mobile phones.

To use the service, dial 191 from your Safaricom line at any time of day and get information ranging from telephone numbers to email and postal addresses. The requested information can then be sent via email or SMS at no extra cost. The call is charged at KES 20.00 regardless of the call duration.

3. SMS Directory Service

The SMS Directory Service is operated by the Kenya Postal Corporation, the same guys who run the Kenya Postel Directory. It is quite different from the other two because it is entirely a self-service platform running on a premium SMS short code (19000).

Unlike TuAsk and 191 Directory Service, you do not need to call a service centre with this service. Once you send an SMS to 19000 with the contact name you are looking for, the system responds almost instantly with full contact details of the location of interest. Some of the details you get include a fixed line and mobile phone number and physical location.

Make sure the name of the contact is spelt correctly otherwise you will get strange results. This service will cost you KES 10.00 for every SMS response you receive.

UPDATE: SMS Directory does not also seem operational. You can try the Yalwa or Tuugo. They do not have an SMS service but their platforms are accessible on mobile.

With these three Kenyan directory services, I am sure you will not run into a crisis. Finding contact information for various places in Kenya will be much easier for you. Let me know which is your favourite and if you have some additional suggestions, feel free to share.