Popular African Participation

At the end of World War II, all but three African nations (Ethiopia, Liberia and South Africa) were ruled by some European State. Then the independence movement began: first in North Africa with Libya (1951), and over the next five years, Egypt, the Sudan. Tunisia and Morocco.

The Sub-Saharan States soon followed, beginning with Ghana (1957) and, by 1990, 42 other countries. Being newly independent and largely poor, the thinking was that if a country could come up with a national plan for generating and investing a sufficient amount of funds in a manner consistent with macro stability, then that country would have met the pre-conditions for development.

It would be a “State” (central government) — led process whereby “the flexibility to implement policies by technocrats was accorded price-of-place and accountability through checks and balances was regarded as an encumbrance” (World Bank, WDR, 1997).

It was not an unreasonable strategy: national governments populated by good advisers and with external technical and financial assistance would put the country on the sure path to growth and development.

There was some progress in terms of indicators such as infant mortality rates, life expectancy, and adult literacy. There have also been many failures, and not just about the ability to achieve sustained growth and development.

The failures have also been about environmental deterioration, loss of civil liberties, corruption and a poor record of delivering local public good and services-clean water, sanitation, education, health, housing, roads, and basic social services and safety nets.

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Africa sharpens expertise in agricultural statistics

The Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the National Institute for Statistics and Applied Economics (INSEA) of Morocco launched today a joint training on agricultural statistics.

Agriculture currently contributes more than 40% of Africa’s GDP and employs more than 70% of its population while current priorities include the Sustainable Development Goals and regional integration through Agenda 2063. “Statistics will [therefore] play a key role as a measurement and control tool to observe countries’ progress towards these goals”, said Lilia Hachem Naas, director of the ECA Office for North Africa in her opening speech.

For a week, about 70 experts, trainers and officials from African national statistical institutes and Ministries of Agriculture will study and share their experiences in the field of agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, and post-harvest loss statistics.

Some twenty countries benefit from the training including Benin, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo Brazzaville, Congo DRC, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Sao Tome, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.

The ECA African Center for Statistics is organizing this training in collaboration with the ECA Office for North Africa as part of the UN Global Strategy to improve agricultural and rural statistics-Action Plan for Africa; and in support to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the region.

Read the whole article here1200px-Africa_(orthographic_projection).svg

Vera Songwe urges leaders to act collectively to combat money laundering, tax evasion and bribery

The Executive Secretary of UN Economic Commission for Africa, (ECA) Vera Songwe, said that combatting bribery, money laundering and tax evasion should be a priority if Africa has to finance its transition to middle income status and increase prosperity.

Songwe was speaking in a two-day African Leadership Forum 2018 last week in Kigali, a meeting hosted by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and convened by Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania. The Forum was attended by other former Heads of states: Olusegun Obasanjo former president of Nigeria, Mohamed Moncef Marzouki former president of Tunisia, Joaquim Chissano and Armando Guebuza former presidents of Mozambique.

In the last three decades to 2009, Africa has lost an estimated close to $ 1.4 trillion. In addition, losses through non-trade channels averaged an estimated $27 billion annually between 2005 and 2014.

According to the report of President Mbeki’s high-level panel on illicit financial flow, the Continent loses between $50 billion and $80 billion a year due to illicit financial flows.

Songwe called governments to take action on several fronts, and she insisted leadership was critical demonstrative effect important. As such governments should aggressively investigate and prosecute money launderers and companies that evade taxes.

What things can countries do on their own? 

UN estimates that the amount Africa loses through illicit financial flows is roughly double the Official Development Assistance that Africa receives, and also outweighs the $42 billion that the continent received in Foreign Direct Investment in 2017.

“For a continent that needs substantial financial resources to meet its development needs, we should celebrate our accountability agencies, the auditor general, the chief justice and the media to support the collective effort”, said Songwe. She asked for more integrity and transparency among leaders and officials of the public and private institutions through asset declarations; and urged African countries to sign up to the international tax information treaties to enable exchange of information.

“Countries should also build human and technological capacities of agencies tasked with tackling Illicit financial flows, and institute information sharing and collaboration between relevant government agencies and ministries”, she said.

Vera Songwe also applauded countries that have ratified existing global and continental initiatives on halting Illicit financial flows.

Read the whole article here

Financing industrialization in central Africa: actors call for better enabling environment and innovative approaches

In a recent webinar on financing industrialization in Central Africa organized by the Subregional Office for Central Africa of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), leaders of the private sector called on State authorities to lay emphasis on improving the enabling environment for investment in order for industrialization to thrive in the sub-region. They also called for greater transparency by the private sector in their business operations as an enabler to the functioning of financial markets that can help with mobilizing resources for industrialization.

According to Mr Célestin Tawamba, who heads the Cameroon Employers’ Association (GICAM) – a leading movement of industrialists in the country, financing is an important factor for boosting industrialization but “you always have to create a trustworthy infrastructure for this to happen,” referring to the role of the State. Such infrastructure, he said, includes the creation of special industrial zones and a well-functioning financial market. He noted that for the market to function properly, companies also need to be well structured and transparent in their business transactions. But he warned that excessive taxation does not help matters, arguing for tax regimes based on profits, rather than on the cash flow of a companies – which is the prevailing regime.

Expressing similar views, Cameroonian economist and to Government Advisor – Mr. Christian Penda Ekoka, said the creation of economic clusters bringing together the full range of actors in the value chain of the supply or demand of particular products, for instance wood products, would improve productivity that attracts investment for industrial players. He opined that the lack of such poles have contributed to the decline of industrialization in the Central African subregion in general and in Cameroon in particular, stating that industrial growth in Cameroon, for instance, declined from 3.6% in 2016 to 1.3% in 2017.

Debaters also pointed to the difficulty with long-term financing. According the Secretary of State for Industry of Equatorial Guinea, Mr Cesar Hinestrosa Gomez, who joined the panel remotely from Malabo, in such an environment, banks consider the risks of long-term loans that could finance industrialization as very high. He therefore joined other members of the panel to call for the creation of guarantee funds in the subregion.

Ms Mama Keita who heads the Data Centre of the ECA’s Subregional Office for Central Africa posited that the inability of banks to offer long-term loans also stemmed from the very low volume of private savings in the subregion and across many parts of Africa. This corroborated the argument put forth by Ms Gaimin Nonyane – head of Economic research at Ecobank, who testified that “liquidity is a serious problem in Africa because saving rates are very low and this constrains the lending power of the banks”.

Ms Mama Keita however went on to add that the subregion needs to find ways to improve on the mobilization of private savings, take advantage of the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence and developing stakeholders’ capacity in drafting bankable industrial projects that attract financing.

The General Manager of the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) – which is the second largest employer in the country after Government, Mr Franklin Ngoni Ikome Njie, added to Ms. Keita’s argument for bankable projects, saying “it is a matter of focusing on where we have comparative advantage” for projects in order to get financing. Reacting to Mr Njie’s intervention, a participant remarked that large outfits such as the CDC, should actively look for joint-ventures with bigger outfits abroad to improve their financing to move to an industrial stage of production.

In the view of the General Manager for Central and West Africa of the credit risk insurance firm, COFACE – Mr Olivier Bagneki, one way to stimulate the growth of small and medium sized industrial outfits (SMEs) to strive in business and expand, is to leverage the use of factoring – a process whereby companies can sell their invoices from slow-paying clients in order to mobilize immediate working capital that they (SMEs) need to pay for important expenses in carrying out their projects.

The contributions of the webinar will enrich discussions at the 34th session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts for Central Africa (ICE), which the Subregional Office for Central Africa of ECA has convened for N’Djamena, Chad from 18 to 21 September 2018 under the theme: “Financing Industrialization in Central Africa.”

Read The whole press release here

Traffic Is Big Business.

The other week, I spent over 3 hours on traffic. Well, by then I didn’t pay particular attention to the brighter side of it. Busy with a lot of complaints, I didn’t see the many Kenyans who were using that opportunity to survive. Money grows economy.

Matatu business
Big business for the matatu sector in that at these hour is when the fares hit peak. A 60 seater matutu charging 150 for a 10 km journey? That’s a lot of money for two rounds on a morning and an evening traffic.

Hawking
Despite lots of time and fuel lost on traffic, there are way many pros as well. Think of the many hawkers who only use this opportunity to make cash. Hawking was this close to becoming illegal, but the amount of money that this business brings can’t be ignored. Hawking feeds families, takes children to school and pays tax to the Government. What better business to start for unemployed Youth, than Hawking.

People with disabilities
People with disabilities also make a lot of money at this time of the hour. Did you know that 4.5% of Kenyans are physically disabled? Half this population get their income by begging mostly during traffic.

The big city malls
Be it Galleria, Taj mall, T-mall or even Sarit city and Garden city Mall, all these big malls make a lot of Cash during traffic or weekends. They are among the largest tax payers for any County.

Fuel stations.
Every time you’re stuck in traffic, chances are a lot of fuel is getting consumed. Who benefits? It’s the fuel companies;the like of shell, Total and kobil. They are among the companies that are highly taxed.

Traffic police.
During traffic is when many police officers get traffic offenders, and it’s when a lot of bribes come in place so handy. Although this money is illegal, but be sure it finds it’s way into the economy, which is good.

All in all, double cash will be saved by solving traffic problem.

Top 5 politicians to look up to for role models.

“Kenya is a not a good example for anything” one lecturer once told me during a journalism lecture. He was right then, he evoked a part of my brain that led me to do some research. In Kenya we witness a lot of struggle and hardship but at the same time, we also see so much triumph, so much beauty and so much Joy. A thing that led me to seek the beauty in our politics and no doubt I found good leadership; a kind of leadership that an aspiring leader could actually look up to.

1. President Uhuru Kenyatta

Surely all of you will agree with me that the president has revealed a side of him that surpassed many of our imaginations. From his fluency in language to his political charisma. A trait that has gained him and the country approval in the eyes of world leaders. This is what no one tells you about. That the president wasn’t the way he is when he started, he actually learnt. His appearance in countless world forums has made the whole world view kenya as the capital of Africa.

2. Senator Mutula Kilonzo jnr.

Social media gurus and followers of Parliament proceedings will tell you better how this senator from Makueni embodies everything in ordinary citizens. He knows our pain,he knows our struggles and he also knows our hustle. He gained this reputation following his strong stand against Chinese exploitation of locals on one senate proceeding. What makes him unique;is his way of expressing views in a knowledgeable and clear way not only for the elite but also for the common voter.

3. Deputy President Ruto

The deputy president is famous for his alleged corruption scandals probably because the media want you to dwell on that. But there’s a unique and an interesting trait to this leader that makes him be in this list-Honesty and loyalty. Two traits that we so desperately need in this country. Ruto stood with Raila completely in 2007 and he did the same with president Kenyatta since 2013. Which better friend do you need than a friend who stands with you on moments of Joy (Election Victory) and sorrow (ICC case). Ruto will always be honest with Kenyans on Matters interest.

4. Senator Sakaja.

Well, he surely is the youngest Senator in Kenya. Addressing the cabinet at merely 22 and climbing political ranks in such a fast pace makes the young senator be a person to look for as a mentor and a role model. He rarely speaks to the media,he isn’t interested in giving TV sound bytes and getting media attention. Surely enough, I’ll rate him as the smartest young politician Kenya has ever had. At only 33,he has come up with 4 proposed bills meant to better the lives of youth.

5. Senator Orengo.

Senator gained popularity following his landslide Victory during last year’s presidential election petition. He is definitely a person to look more so in constitutional Matters and policy implementation. He’s one of the smartest senators in the senate. Orengo is known for his calmness and like Senator Sakaja,he doesn’t crave attention and media sound bytes. He talks when there’s something to be said.

One Nation, Undecided!

The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.

Chinese Imperialism

The Government has made some of the toughest decisions this year, decisions that have sparked different responses from the country as a whole. Back tracking to the first controversial decisions involving the Chinese and their imperialism, a debate was held in the Senate and the senators failed to reached an agreement. Kenyans are divided between whether China is investing and giving loans for our own benefit or for their own imperialism gain. Kenyans complained about discrimination in SGR(Standard Gauge Railway) and Chinese labor policies but untill now the Government hasn’t decided on the way forward. Whether to leave the issues unsolved or to put in place better policies to fix the problem.

Buildings Demolition

A month ago, many buildings were demolished. Some say it was for good reason others assign political reasons to the whole saga. The fact that ordinary citizens who were evicted during SGR construction haven’t been paid is laughable and a compensation plan should be implemented immediately. But the move by the government to bring down cartel buildings is something that shouldn’t be a controversy. The long held narrative that some people in this city can’t be touched because they know other people is slowly fainting in air. And Kenyans should rally behind the president in leading this move.

The corruption fight and the 2022 politics

The arrest of deputy chief justice has brought a lot of debates and Kenyans aren’t reaching an amicable agreement anytime soon. For the supporters, they say that’s a bold step and a signal that slowly but surely even the president and the deputy president will be brought to account on matters corruption. But for the opposers, they say that the chief justice David maraga is retiring in 3 years, and Deputy Mwilu is the likeliest person to take over. Her supreme Court decision is a threat to 2022 political Alliances and that’s why incriminating her earlier is a step to stop her from taking over. But enough of speculations, let’s wait and see how the case will go today.

East or West.
Kenyans and the Government are torn between China and America; who is the strongest partner. China is leading in giving economical support while America in millitary. The one question no one is asking is; who is more reliable,more trustworthy? We can’t say America with Trump leading,neither can we say China following it’s reputation and history.

Development or 2022 political Alliances
This is especially a big debate in the executive. The president is interested in development(The big 4 agenda) because he has no campaign ahead to worry about as opposed to to his deputy who’ll be running. Bringing in the question of the handshake, whether really it’s a step towards unity and building bridges or a political calculation by the political dynasties. Ordinary Kenyans can’t crack this;what it means ,who will be the horse come 2022 and the future of jubilee party.

Islam or Christian.
Kenya is a religious state by law. One state comprising of many religions. A fortnight ago we celebrated a Muslim holiday that wasn’t explained well to the majority Christians. It orchestrated debates, that the government down played. This shouldn’t be a question of choice but of inclusivity. An understanding that we all worship an awesome God.

Ryan Harwood say that the worst decision is indecision. Whether at national or individual level we must make a choice in these grey areas. And every step made by the government shouldn’t be a moment of questioning intentions. Some things are better left unasked just to give people in power an opportunity to serve. You trusted them with the job last year,now it’s their time to deliver. All of us should understand that indecision is the enemy of progress and not saying yes to one possibility is saying no to all of them.