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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Robert Mugabe takes over as African Union

Robert Mugabe

New AU chairman Robert Mugabe is subject to US and EU travel bans

African leaders meeting in Addis Ababa have chosen the continent's oldest head of state, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, as AU chairman for the coming year.

Mr Mugabe, who is 90, drew applause when he denounced colonialism.

He also spoke of the "scourge of terrorism" from Boko Haram and said there needed to be "lasting solutions" to the issue in Nigeria and Cameroon.

Earlier, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned of the dangers of leaders clinging to power. 

Mr Mugabe has led his country since independence in 1980.He is subject to travel bans imposed by the US and the EU because of political violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe.

'Not totally free'

Within Africa he is a divisive figure, with some seeing him as a nationalist hero and others as a despot responsible for gross human rights abuses.

Western diplomatic sources said his election to the mostly ceremonial post of AU chairman was unlikely to have much impact on relations.

In his address to leaders, Mr Mugabe spoke of the need to take advantage of Africa's mineral wealth and agricultural potential, and guard against exploitation by foreigners.

He said African countries wanted relationships with "friends", but "colonialists and imperialists" had no place in the continent.

Later, he received applause when he referred to the long-running territorial dispute in Western Sahara between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front. 

"As long as our brothers in Western Sahara are under Moroccan occupation we are not totally free," he said.

How savvy Kenyans get luxury cars on a budget



Not too long ago, cars with luxury badges were a preserve of the super-rich. Not anymore.

Kenyans with a few million in the bank are increasingly playing catch-up through purchases of used Mercedes, BMW, Range Rover and Toyota brands at a fraction of their showroom price tags.

This has expanded the level of equality, at least on the road. And who are helping the middle class match the consumption of top professionals, entrepreneurs, politicians and wheeler-dealers?

Second-hand car dealers and individuals have mastered the art of sourcing the luxury vehicles from countries like the UK and Japan. Citizens in these countries keep their cars for only a few years out of personal choice or to avoid the high costs of complying with stringent roadworthiness and emission standards applied on ageing automobiles.

Scores of luxury cars have also landed in Kenya after being stolen abroad, according to Interpol. Whichever way they arrive here, the second-hand luxury cars are helping many Kenyans take part in status signalling as well as enjoying more refined motoring on a budget.

There is also the occasional wealthy individual who buys a second-hand model to sidestep showroom prices they consider to be exorbitant.

“We sell to a diverse group including entrepreneurs, CEOs, expatriates and other professionals,” says Reagan Kibugi, the managing director of Windsor Motors on Kiambu Road.

“Most are people who have made a few millions and want a high-end car for those amounts. There’s the occasional wealthy buyer who just wants a bargain.”

He gives the example of expatriates who may be given car grants of up to Sh3 million by their employers. He observes that for that sum, an expatriate seeking an SUV to use on Kenya’s bumpy roads has no choice but to visit the roadside yards where they may have to top-up to get their car of choice.

Kibugi says used luxury cars can be up to 50 per cent cheaper compared to those in local showrooms, with year of manufacture being the major determinant for the actual pricing.

Most of the traditional high-end makes like Mercedes, BMW, Range Rover and Toyota Land Cruisers can be had from as low as Sh4 million.

The bulk of used car dealers’ inventory is made up of seven-year old cars to minimise the impact of import taxes and ultimately maintain their price advantage over new car sellers. Imports of used cars are capped at eight years from the date of manufacture, with newer units attracting progressively higher taxes.

Using 2008 as the year of manufacture, a used Range Rover Sport is retailing at between Sh4.5 million and Sh5 million in Nairobi according to Anthony Wainaina of Executive Super Rides on Ngong Road. The price of a Toyota Land Cruiser starts from Sh5 million, a Mercedes ML ranges between Sh4 million and Sh5 million depending on the model while a BMW X5 sells from Sh4.2 million.

A brand new showroom Mercedes ML would go for an average of Sh6.1 million, a Toyota Land Cruiser at Sh8.2 million and Sh12.6 million for a BMW X5.

While most purchases are funded by bank loans, some individuals pay in cash especially when they choose to import directly or through agents who don’t want to hold stocks. One such agent is Karuoro Waithaka of Zero260 who processes orders from individual clients.

“They pay in cash,” he says, noting that he only charges a commission for identifying, paying for and shipping in the cars on behalf of his clients.

Paying for a car on the basis of online photographs and the word of an exporter has significant risks. This is why Waithaka insists that a long-standing relationship with exporters is important since they can make amends if it is established that an imported car has serious damages or mechanical faults.

He says Japanese exporters are generally more honest, attributing this to the fact that Japan relies heavily on exports to absorb its second-hand cars and would therefore not wish to dent that image with imports that do not meet expected standards.

Dealers in countries like the UK that have a large domestic market for used cars are less attuned to the interests of importers, Waithaka says.

Bargains are not to be found in used cars only. Dealers say they occasionally receive requests to import brand new cars on behalf of individuals seeking make huge savings.

Fuel quality

Kibugi, for instance, recently imported a 2014 five-litre Range Rover Sport for a customer who paid Sh15.7 million. The same petrol-driven model at RMA Kenya – the official Jaguar Land Rover dealer – will cost at least Sh18 million according to Kenya Revenue Authority price guidelines.

Besides savings, individuals also import new cars to get the latest models not yet available in local showrooms according to Waithaka.
Are there risks to these direct imports and purchases of used luxury cars from the roadside yards? One of the biggest controversies is the issue of after-sales service and spare parts.

A service centre run by a new car dealer is the best place to take any car for repairs and maintenance but owners of second-hand imports may not be welcome here.

“Several formal dealers actively discourage servicing of cars they did not sell,” says an industry source who sought anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter.

“If the vehicle manufacturers applies pressure on them, they agree to service the used imports but at higher labour rates.”

Even where there is no such discrimination, one can run into major problems if they buy a car not meant for the sub-Saharan Africa market. These include lack of spare parts and skilled mechanics to fix faults in a car that was designed for other markets like the UK or Dubai.

Kenya’s relatively poor quality fuel, especially diesel, can damage high-performance luxury cars intended for countries like Germany and Japan that have some of the cleanest fuel in the world.

Importers of UK cars, in particular, need to watch out for rust brought by use of salt to melt snow and ice on that country’s roads during winter.

While buying used high-end cars has several downsides, these are offset by the millions of shillings saved and a better motoring experience that gives owners a feel of the lifestyles of the wealthy.

Those who buy new luxury cars include billionaire investors, top politicians, CEOs of publicly traded firms, wheeler-dealers and inheritors of large family estates who constantly upgrade their cars to thwart the middle class catch-up game.

A Rolls Royce Ghost – one of the ultimate symbols of wealth – was airlifted to Nairobi earlier this month, marking the latest rush for ever more exotic cars as the rich seek distinction in their consumption. It was not immediately clear whether the Rolls was new or second-hand, because the UK-based Rolls-Royce Motor Cars offers both new and used models.

Wainaina, who has worked with one of the local new auto dealers, says he has observed a major wealth gap between those who buy new luxury cars and those who opt for their second-hand versions.

“Those who buy used high-end cars see major opportunity costs in the showroom prices. They would rather use the savings to invest in their businesses and other assets,” he says.

“Those who buy new luxury cars tend to be filthy rich individuals; mostly old money. They have several cars which they change after a year or two,” he says, adding that money is not a concern for this type of consumer.

New car dealers constantly court the same moneyed elite, sending them brochures of the latest luxury cars in a bid to entice an upgrade or defection from a rival brand. For the princely sums, which can top Sh20 million, they get limited warranties, the “new car smell” and the pleasure of avoiding bargain-hunting online and in dusty roadside yards.

The dealers won’t mention their names, underlining the classic Kenya’s elite aversion to any publicity surrounding their wealth and big-ticket purchases.

Secrecy in selling cars to the wealthy is apparently obligatory and indiscretion can starve a dealer of orders in that small, all-important circle.

Used car dealers are, however, determined to take luxury cars to the mass market and chip away at the line separating the wealthy from upstart millionaires.


The ICC is now preparing for the closure of the prosecution’s case against Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang. The Trial Chamber V (a) has now explained that the two will be allowed to apply for their acquittal as soon as the prosecution calls and winds up with their last witness.
The trial judges accepted submissions by the prosecution and the defence that the accused should be allowed to make submissions on a no-case to answer, as soon as the prosecution closes their case. Submissions on a no-case to answer in criminal proceedings are made by an accused asking the court to acquit him without putting him on his defence. The principle behind it is that if the prosecution has not adduced enough evidence worth convicting an accused person after calling all the witnesses, the accused should not be asked to defend himself but should be acquitted forthwith. It’s based on the right of the accused to be presumed innocent till proven guilty. If the court rules that one has no case top answer, it acquits him without further proceedings. But if it determines that one has a case to answer, then the accused is asked to call his witnesses. Last year, the Chamber asked all the parties in the Ruto and Sang case to file submissions on whether similar procedure should be followed as it’s not expressly provided for in the Rome Statute and the ICC Rules.  The same was not provided at the confirmation stage. The parties filed the submissions on July 3, 2013. They argued that it would promote trial efficiency and secure the rights of the accused. Ruto argued that the Chamber should hear him on why he should not be put on his defence. He had argued that the submissions should be made at the close of the prosecution case or at any point thereafter and the issue could even be raised by the Chamber on its own.

According to Harvard,University Law Professor, Alex Whiting, the possibility of halting the trial after the Prosecution concludes its case is minimal, but in Ruto’s case, all things are possible because many witnesses have admitted lying to the court.

Whiting said the damning revelations by some witnesses that they lied in the case may put the Prosecution side in jeopardy and Judges may rule in favor of Ruto.

“Ruto may be free before the end of April because if the case continues, the credibility of Bensouda’s evidence may be put into question and also the credibility of the Judges”, Whiting argued.

This comes as a bad news for Ruto haters who anticipated for Ruto to be prosecuted!


Uhuru and Ole LenkuPRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta for the first time has spoken about his former Interior CS Joseph ole Lenku, describing him in an emotional meeting as as an “embarrassment” to his government and the country.

Kenyatta sacked Lenku on December 2 and replaced him with former Kajiado Central MP Joseph Nkaissery. Both men are Maasai.

The firing followed a series of terrorist attacks and insecurity since Lenku took over in 2013, the latest being massacres in Mandera county by al-Shabaab militia that claimed at least 64 lives.

At the same time, the President accepted the resignation of Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo, also widely criticised for security failures.

Kenyatta had some positive words about Kimaiyo when he departed, but he said nothing about Lenku who had lost the public’s confidence.


The President spoke candidly about Lenku on Monday when he met a delegation of mostly Maasai leaders from Kajiado at State House, Nairobi, to discuss the upcoming Kajiado byelection on March 16 to replace Nkaissery.

Those in attendance included Nkaissery, Jubilee chief Whip Katoo ole Metito, Kajiado East MP Peris Tobiko, Kajiado Senator Peter Mositet, Kajiado county Assembly Speaker John Osoi, Josiah Tarayia Kores, Kenya Meat Commission Chairman; politician,Solomon Kinyanjui, Kajiado Central aspirant Patrick Tutui (the Jubilee Alliance Party choice and several MCAs.

Uhuru, according to sources in the two-hour meeting, told Jubilee chief whip Katoo ole Metito; “I am very embarrassed with you. I never knew Joseph ole Lenku, you brought him to me and he caused embarrassment to the nation.”

The President is reported to have said Lenku failed to perform and accused Metito of misleading him into hiring a person he knew was totally unsuited for the job.

Metito, a former Internal Security minister, is reported to have asked Uhuru to nominate Lenku to the position soon after elections in 2013. Lenku was nominated in May.

Yesterday neither Metito nor Lenku responded to calls and text messages seeking comment.

It is said Uhuru summoned the leaders to State House after they failed to agree on one candidate before the Jubilee Alliance Party nominated Patrick ole Tutui last week.

The President is also said to have told off Kores, chairman of the Kenya Meat Commission, for “letting me down”.

He was quoted by a source as saying: “You are no better. You are taking me and the Jubilee Alliance for granted. I gave you a chopper in the last general election to use in the campaigns but you also caused the party to lose the Kajiado Central parliamentary seat and that of governor.

“I told you to step down for Peter Mositet so Mositet could run for governor’s seat so you could go for the senate seat, but you refused. I am being told you are bragging the Jubilee coalition is your personal property in Kajiado. I do not entertain such nonsense anymore, this party does not belong to you,” an angry Kenyatta is said to have told Kores.

The President is said to have taken on Kores after Solomon Kinyanjui, who also vied for the senate seat and lost in the last general election, stood up and accused the politician of high-handedness in running of party affairs in Kajiado.

Kinyanjui told the President that one of the difficulties of persuading people to join the Jubilee Alliance is people like Kores and others who are use the party as their personal property.

Earlier, Nkaissery had declined to attend the meeting until Purko MCA Samuel Kipaika was removed — the two men do not get along. After consulting Nkaissery, the President asked Kipaika to leave. Other MCAS attending the highly charged meeting included Josiah Toshi, Lesalaon Seki, Joseph Mutunkei and Ntintinyo ole Sere.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Secrets of ICC evidence return to haunt Uhuru


The crimes against humanity charges against President Uhuru Kenyatta at the International Criminal Court (ICC), which were withdrawn last month, return to haunt him Monday with the expected release of sensitive evidence Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda would have used against him should the case have proceeded.

The brief is a record of material evidence from the documents that the prosecution intended to use in the trial phase and sections of witness statements that were previously not publicly available.

The disclosure that was ordered by the ICC judges covers grounds on which the prosecution’s case was built. Even though Ms Bensouda admitted she could not sustain trial with the available evidence, the judges have agreed that a redacted version of the largely sensitive material should be released to the public.

The prosecution withdrew the charges against Mr Kenyatta on December 5, but Mr Fergal Gaynor, the lawyer for the victims, successfully applied for the publication of the prosecution’s Pre-Trial Brief (PTB).

Trial Chamber V (b) of the ICC on December 11 last year ordered Ms Bensouda to file a public version of the brief that she intended to use at the trial as requested by Mr Gaynor.

“The chamber, therefore, considers it to be consistent with its obligation to ensure publicity of the case record to order the filing of a redacted version of the PTB pursuant to Regulation 23 (b) of the Regulations,” the judges said in their unanimous decision.

The judges added: “For the foregoing reasons, the chamber hereby orders the prosecution to consult with the VWU (Victims and Witness Unit) in relation to the second updated PTB, and to file a public redacted version by 1600 hrs (The Hague time) on 19 January 2015.”

After the withdrawal of charges against Mr Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and Mr Joshua arap Sang are the only Kenyans facing charges stemming from the 2007/2008 post-election violence. Previously, six prominent Kenyans had been named for their alleged involvement in the violence that claimed 1,133 lives.

Apart from giving details of what happened in Naivasha and Nakuru during the chaos, where retaliatory attacks were alleged to have been carried out, the brief will also provide information relating to the prosecution’s public allegations of interference with witnesses, Mr Gaynor told theSunday Nation.

“These are, from the victims’ perspective, matters of considerable interest,” he said.

The defence had fought off Mr Gaynor’s request, arguing the publication of the PTB would result in “further unjustified damage to the reputation of Mr Kenyatta”.

Mr Kenyatta’s lawyers had opposed the public distribution of the brief arguing that the details they contained had become outdated and comprised largely unsupported allegations.

For the defence, the publication of the PTB “would serve only to proliferate untruths and further obfuscate and frustrate future endeavours to learn the truth”.

Such an endeavour, the defence argued, would not serve the interests of victims or the integrity of proceedings.


In any case, the defence argued, the prosecution had publicly admitted the evidence it had was not sufficient to go to trial, which denied them the opportunity to properly test the allegations.
For Mr Gaynor, the defence’s submission that the request for public distribution of the brief was meant to embarrass President Kenyatta had no truth at all.

“There does not appear to be any support for the argument that a major prosecution filing should be withheld from the public merely because an accused person considers the filing to be damaging to his reputation. Generally speaking, there’s no legal basis to justify withholding from the public a non-vexatious filing merely to prevent what the accused believes is embarrassment or damage to his reputation,” the victims’ lawyer said.

In his October 29, 2014 request for the publication of the brief, Mr Gaynor had argued that the surviving victims participating in the proceedings were entitled to the “dignity of access to the PTB and thus to the more detailed allegations contained therein regarding the role of Mr Kenyatta in the post-electoral violence”.

Further, Mr Gaynor submitted that State Parties to the Rome Statute and the general public ought to have a full and informed understanding of the allegations at the heart of the case.

At the confirmation of charges in 2011, then Prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo alleged that President Kenyatta and former head of Public Service Francis Muthaura, whose case was also terminated, “agreed to pursue an organisational policy to keep the PNU in power through every means necessary, including orchestrating a police failure to prevent the commission of crimes.”
President Kenyatta has consistently maintained his innocence, and after the charges were withdrawn last month, he reacted by stating that his conscience was “absolutely clear”.

“I am excited by this news, which I have awaited ever since the day my name was announced to the world in connection with the case. I am also deeply relieved by this decision, which is overdue by six years,” President Kenyatta said.

He added: “For the prosecutor to sustain an obviously deficient case for so long demonstrates beyond doubt the intensity of pressure exerted by improper interests to pollute and undermine the philosophy of international justice.”

He said the court had failed him and similarly let down the victims.

“They were killed, maimed, displaced, dispossessed and utterly traumatised. I have been victimised, libelled and senselessly profiled by the same defective process,” he said.

On her part, Ms Bensouda blamed the Kenyan Government for allegedly obstructing the investigation by failing to surrender records of President Kenyatta’s assets and those of his associates.

She further blamed the “concerted and wide-ranging efforts to harass, intimidate and threaten individuals who would wish to be witnesses”.

Ms Bensouda, who took over the Kenyan cases from Mr Moreno-Ocampo in 2012, also blamed “a steady and relentless stream of false” Kenyan media reports and “an unprecedented campaign on social media” to expose identities of protected witnesses.

Some of the evidence to be released by tomorrow will include further details from the confirmation of the charges decision of January 23, 2012. Then, the prosecutor alleged that prior to the election, Mr Kenyatta played the role of the mediator between PNU and the Mungiki criminal gang.


The prosecution had also alleged that Mr Kenyatta “facilitated a series of meetings from November 2007 involving Muthaura, other senior PNU government officials, politicians, businessmen and Mungiki leaders. Initially the meetings were to solicit the assistance of the Mungiki in supporting the government in the December 2007 elections.”

Mr Kenyatta, the prosecution alleged, continued to facilitate the meetings after the elections with a view to organising retaliatory attacks against perceived ODM supporters in Rift Valley.

Mr Kenyatta, the prosecution alleged, further “provided funding, transportation, accommodation, uniforms, weapons and logistical support to the Mungiki and pro-PNU youth to carry out coordinated attacks in specific locations”.

Mr Kenyatta and his team denied all these allegations in court before the prosecution withdrew the cases.

Mr James Mamboleo, an international law expert and a lecturer at Africa Nazarene University, said even though the brief did not go through the rigours of credibility, it will make public the grounds the prosecution had to charge President Kenyatta.

He added that the publication of the brief will also clear the air and end the narrative perpetuated by the defence that the trial was political.

“Whereas the charges may have been withdrawn, President Kenyatta could still be convicted in the court of public opinion, which could explain the reason the defence opposed the request,” said Mr Mamboleo.

According to Mr Mamboleo, the publication of the brief will also bring a sense of closure for the victims by openly describing the alleged planning and commission of the crimes.

For Mr Njonjo Mue, the programme adviser of Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice, the publication of the brief brings to the fore two issues of interest to the victims: truth and justice.

“Even though the house of justice was never completed because of sabotage, the reality is that the building blocks were there and which the pre-trial brief will reveal in the interest of victims and the public.”

Friday, 16 January 2015

Lake Antobo’s annual fishing mania

January 16, 2015 — 

Once a year, Lake Antobo in Mali hosts an annual fishing competition attended by thousands of men from surrounding communities. What transpires is something quite spectacular

At first glance, it doesn’t appear to be a great example of sustainable fishing but the multitudes of fishermen gather at Mali’s sacred Lake Antobo every year to take part in the ancient tradition. On any other occasion, fishing is strictly forbidden in the water of the lake.

This BBC video follows Diallo, a local fisherman who has been participating in the annual contest for 30 years to feed his family with the delicacy of his catch. It also explains the ritual involved in the commencement of fishing and depicts what goes down. It’s really something to see.


Strategic moves will eventually catalyze the next great war
Putin Strikes Back: Russia Cuts Off European Gas Supplies, Starts Selling Dollars: “The Decision Has Been Made”

In the last few hours Russia has announced two key strategic decisions that show they are not going to stand idly by while their economy and way of life are destroyed by Western forces.

First, presumably in response to stiff sanctions leveled by the United States and the European Union after the annexation of Crimea last year, Russia has cut off 60% of Europe’s gas supplies right in the middle of winter. This has caused an almost immediate crisis in six European nations that have seen a complete cut-off to their supplies – Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia and Turkey – with more to follow. According to reports via Zero Hedge, the effect has been almost instantaneous.

Without Russia residents across Europe have no way of staying warm.

Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian state energy giant Gazprom to cut supplies to and through Ukraine amid accusations, according to The Daily Mail, that its neighbor has been siphoning off and stealing Russian gas. Due to these “transit risks for European consumers in the territory of Ukraine,” Gazprom cut gas exports to Europe by 60%, plunging the continent into an energy crisis “within hours.” Perhaps explaining the explosion higher in NatGas prices (and oil) today, gas companies in Ukraine confirmed that Russia had cut off supply; and six countries reported a complete shut-off of Russian gasThe EU raged that the sudden cut-off to some of its member countries was “completely unacceptable,” but Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller later added that Russia plans to shift all its natural gas flows crossing Ukraine to a route via Turkey; and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak stated unequivocally, “the decision has been made.”

Russia has taken similar steps in the past because of non-payment but turned the gas supplies back on once deals were reached.

This time, however, there won’t be a deal.

Russia says it will deliver the gas through Turkey, and then it’s up to the European Union to build the infrastructure that will transport it to the rest of the continent, as noted by Bloomberg.

“Transit risks for European consumers on the territory of Ukraine remain,” Miller said in an e-mailed statement. “There are no other options” except for the planned Turkish Stream link, he said.

“We have informed our European partners, and now it is up to them to put in place the necessary infrastructure starting from the Turkish-Greek border,” Miller said.

“The decision has been made,” Novak said. “We are diversifying and eliminating the risks of unreliable countries that caused problems in past years, including for European consumers.”

Europe, of course, does not have the necessary infrastructure in place for this, and Vladimir Putin most certainly knew this before he shut off the spigots.

Second, and perhaps even more significant than the overt move to show Europe who’s boss, Putin took a direct shot at the United States.

Also from Zero Hedge:

As Bloomberg reports Russia “may unseal its $88 billion Reserve Fund and convert some of its foreign-currency holdings into rubles, the latest government effort to prop up an economy veering into its worst slump since 2009.”

These are dollars which Russia would have otherwise recycled into US denominated assets. Instead, Russia will purchase even more Rubles and use the proceeds for FX and economic stabilization purposes.

“Together with the central bank, we are selling a part of our foreign-currency reserves,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in Moscow today. “We’ll get rubles and place them in deposits for banks, giving liquidity to the economy.”

Call it less than amicable divorce, call it what you will: what it is, is Russia violently leaving the ranks of countries that exchange crude for US paper.

What we are seeing are the strategic moves that will eventually catalyze the next great war. And make no mistake, this is exactly what’s in store for the world should these escalations continue.

What US intelligence predicted about Africa today 15 years ago, and how terribly wrong they were


Every five years, the CIA’s National Intelligence Council meets government officials, scholars, business people and civil society representatives from all around the world, to get a feel of the trends likely to shape the world over the next 15 years. The Global Trends Report 2015 , that envisions the world today, was published in 2000.

In 2005, another meeting convened by the National Intelligence Council this time focused on sub-Saharan Africa, to discuss the major drivers that would shape Africa into 2020, including demography, globalization, conflict, terrorism and HIV/Aids, their report was called Mapping Sub-Saharan Africa’s Future .

We look at some projection about Africa from both reports, and see what they got wrong:

“Over the next 15 years, Sub-Saharan Africa will become less important to the international economy.”

The CIA predicted that the high growth rate projected for the global economy from 2005 to 2020 would not be matched by African countries, which would fall far below the rates projected for the fast-growing East Asian nations.

In actual fact, the region’s economic growth has been faster than that of the world average since 2000, and even faster that East Asia until 2008. In 2013, seven of the ten fastest growingeconomies were African, and the region’s business opportunities are firmly on the international radar.

Capital flows to Sub-Saharan Africa reached an estimated 5.3% of regional GDP in 2013, significantly above the developing-country average of 3.9%. Between 2012 and 2013, net foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to the region grew 16% to a near-record $43 billion in 2013, boosted by new oil and gas discoveries in many countries including Angola, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

“Africa is unlikely to become a major supplier of international terrorists.”

The experts said that Africa was unlikely to become a major supplier of international terrorists due to the “profound differences” between Islam practiced in Africa and in the Middle East. They envisaged Africa as only being a sanctuary for foreign terrorists, providing them with safe haven and a place to hide weapons and assets.

But history has shown that African terrorists have by no means been left behind in making their mark on the international stage. The head of Al-Qaeda today is Ayman al-Zawhiri, an Egyptian citizen and founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

One of the biggest attacks was the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi when Somalia’s Al-Shabaab militants killed 67, the attack was seen as a strike on a “Western” target. The infamous “underwear bomber” who tried to detonate plastic explosives while on board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, was a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

What the experts did get right is that the overwhelming majority of terrorist activity in Africa would be caused by indigenous groups waging war against local governments and populations. It has held true for extremist groups all over the continent, from Boko Haram to Al-Shabaab where local populations suffer the most.

“The end of Francafrique.”

The experts predicted that some of the traditional powers that have engaged Africa were likely to leave the scene gradually, in particular, France. “The generation of French leaders who saw their country’s destiny intertwined with Africa has now retired and their successors see their future in Asia and Central Europe,” they said.

But Africa is more important to France today than it has been in decades. France has about 10,000 troops stationed in Africa, with its forces active in at least 10 countries. Although the official line is that France is co-operating with Africa to stabilise weak countries that have a low capacity to control their own territories, Africa is key to France’s economic and political interests.

The French economy is in the doldrums, while African economies are mostly healthy and growing. France has extensive interests in Africa, in oil, minerals, infrastructure projects, telecoms, utilities, banking and insurance; a quarter of France’s electricity is generated with uranium from Niger.

Moreover, continued influence in Africa would bolster France’s declining status as a world power, says this story by Newsweek. And with the Charlie Hebdo massacre, France’s Muslim population will increasingly be on the agenda, most of whom are second- and third-generation immigrants from North Africa.

“Democracy has gone as far as it can.”

The reports said that democratic progress would happen in those countries where democracy was already fairly entrenched, and at the time, the urban-based elite demanding democratisation in most countries had already exercised whatever power that it could.

But in Kenya, one of Africa’s most progressive constitutions was adopted in 2010, and even though today the country is grappling with its implementation, the constitution nonetheless is a watershed moment in the country’s history, and it makes Kenya one of the few countries where constitutional overhaul was achieved without war.

It was expected that a certain inertia had been reached in Africa, where non-democratic countries would invariably remain so; the “plateauing” of African states—that is, the difficulty states confront in changing their relative democratic performance over the next 15 years—would largely be due to structural factors that determine the size of the urban-based elite demanding democratisation.

But Africa’s democratic fate is not written in stone. The Tunisian uprising in 2011 sparked the Arab Spring, that had mixed success across North Africa – Tunisia is doing fairly decently, Libya seems to be spiraling into an all-out war, while Egypt had the most promise for a new beginning but has essentially entrenched a militarised democracy. Elsewhere, last year, long-serving dictator Blaise Compaore was forced out of office in Burkina Faso after 27 years in power.

“Africa is depopulated by HIV/Aids.”

The experts said that some countries in Africa with high rates of HIV/Aids would experience reduced population growth or even declining populations despite relatively high birthrates. In South Africa, for example, the population was projected to drop from 43.4 million in 2000 to 38.7 million in 2015.

But the doomsday predictions did not materialise. South Africa’s population is estimated at 52 million today. There was a 25% reduction in the annual number of new HIV infections in Africa between 2001 and 2011.

The experts had a dim view of antiretroviral therapy making a dent on HIV’s advance in the continent, envisaging that African countries would not have the medical systems to deliver the medicines effectively, nor, in some cases, the political will to roll these out.

But from a mere 50,000 Africans on ARVs in 2003, today, more than 8 million are, and more than 9 million years have been added to African lives between 1995 and 2011 with the scale up in HIV treatment.

Donors stepped in to fill the ARV distribution challenge, and for some time, ARV programmes in countries like Kenya and Zambia were almost entirely funded by donors.

In recent years, some countries have been reducing their dependency on external funding. Public sector AIDS spending in South Africa increased five-fold from 2006 to 2011, Kenya doubled its AIDS investments from 2008 to 2010, Togo did the same between 2007 and 2010, and Zambia increased its health spending by 45% in 2012.

“The outright collapse of Nigeria.”

Nigeria becoming an officially failed state was the most chilling prediction, that would drag down a large swathe of West Africa; history had shown that state failure even in a small country like Liberia had the effect of destabilising entire neighbourhoods.

If millions were to flee a collapsed Nigeria, the surrounding countries, up to and including Ghana, would be destabilised. Further, a failed Nigeria probably could not be reconstituted for many years—if ever—and not without massive international assistance.

Today, Nigeria is gripped by the Boko Haram insurgency in the north, where the militants now control an area of 52,000 square km. – bigger than Rwanda, the Gambia and Comoros combined.

And although more than 13,000 people have been killed in the insurgency since 2011, the experts acknowledge that states with high levels of violence will not automatically be failed states; “indeed, the ability of African countries to continue to muddle along despite high levels of violence should not be underestimated.”

For instance, 20,000 people were killed in Nigeria in the early 2000s in sectarian violence while that country has maintained its democratic fa├žade and still managed to grow into Africa’s biggest economy.

“Most technological advances of the next 15 years will not have a substantial positive impact on the African economies.”

The experts predicted that Africa would miss out on the IT revolution that was unfolding in the world at the time, given its many problems. They foresaw South Africa as best positioned to make rapid progress in IT.

But they all didn’t see mobile coming. Africa’s terrible communications infrastructure was the opportunity to leap-frog landlines into mobiles, and even the most optimistic projections couldn’t have seen how fast the uptake would be – in 2003, Kenyan telecom Safaricom’s business plan was to have 500,000 subscribers by 2013, says this story by Wired. In 2013, they had 21 million – 42 times the target .

And although South Africa’s MTN is Africa’s biggest multinational telecom, South Africa itself hasn’t made the rapid progress that was envisaged. Africa’s hot tech hubs are places like Nairobi and Lagos, where a large unbanked population – unlike that in South Africa – meant there was huge demand for mobile money, thus sparking all kinds of IT innovations.

Senegal and Kenya lead the continent in their ICT sector’s contribution to GDP, at 3.3 -2.9%, a level comparable to France and Germany, while in Nigeria and South Africa, it’s 0.8 – 1.4%, just around the African average of 1.1%.

If this tells us anything it is that betting on, and against, Africa is very tricky business.


Corrupt traffic officers put on notice as new squad is formed to nub them

Nation, 16/1/2015

Traffic police officers stop vehicles along a highway in Kenya. 
A special team of police officers will hunt and arrest corrupt colleagues in the traffic department.

Acting Inspector-General of Police Samuel Arachi on Thursday said the team would operate across the country.

Those arrested would be fired immediately and prosecuted.

“We must deal with this problem once and for all,” Mr Arachi said.

Police Service Commission chairman Johnston Kavuludi said he would delegate some powers to top commanders to make it difficult for officers sacked appeal the decisions successfully.


“Those hiding behind the law are mistaken. We have come up with strategies that empower the Inspector-General, Deputy Inspectors-General, County Commanders and other senior officials to take action. The commission will support them fully,” Mr Kavuludi said.

Normally, dissatisfied officers can appeal against decisions of their seniors to the Commission.

“Champions of corruption are traffic police officers. They stop motorists on flimsy grounds and extort money in broad daylight in the full view of citizens,” Mr Kavuludi said.

The two top police officials spoke at the National Police Service Staff College in Loresho on Thursday.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

World Leaders Are People Too: Artist Shows Them Doing Their “Duty”

By Dovas


Given all the hefty decisions that today’s world leaders often have to grapple with on a daily basis, it can be easy to forget that they’re people too. Italy-based artist Cristina Guggeri, however, hasn’t forgotten, and she’s out to remind the rest of us with a series of images called Il Dovere Quotidiano, or “The Daily Duty,” that humanize some of the world’s most famous leaders by imagining what they might look like when they answer nature’s call.

If you like these tongue-in-cheek images, be sure to check out the rest of Guggeri’s work, because she’s quite a prolific artist!

More info: cristinaguggeri.weebly.com