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Friday, May 30, 2008

Is Thabo Mbeki the source of South Africa Xenophobia?

Finally deep rooted suspicions and condescending attitudes towards “the rest of Africa” have erupted into a wave of violence against black immigrants living in South Africa.

The seemingly well orchestrated xenophobic attacks (pitting locals against hapless “black foreigners” in the township of Alexandra, north of Johannesburg) has left many injured, dead or displaced after they were forcefully evicted and their houses destroyed. The violence has shown no signs of abating and has been spreading fast to the city center and across the Gauteng region. Reports indicate an increase of violence against women and children who have been left to bear the brunt of this insensitive fervor. According to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) which has treated many victims of live bullets, beatings and rape, it is a classic refugee situation that will eventually overwhelm the authorities. South African police were stretched so thin that the military had to be deployed to help quell the situation. Why the violence?

It is particularly shameful for the "Rainbow Nation" considering its past record on human rights abuses and democracy. South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki knows that what is happening in today is a replay of the situation in Zimbabwe some 10 years ago when Comrade Robert Mugabe began a controversial land redistribution program that saw many commercial farms seized from white farmers and turned over to blacks sending its economy into a spin. Zimbabwe has never recovered. The only difference comes in who is executing the anti “rest of Africa” policy in which poor South Africans are being used by hidden forces out to gain with the exit of black immigrants. It is therefore not strange that such violence can occur at a time when the country is preparing to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Mbeki ousted from the ANC leadership. Many hoped that the World Cup would bring new opportunities for the entire continent. But it seems South Africa is not ready to share such glory with the “rest of Africa”. It took days of violence for authorities to notice its magnitude. The statement from President Mbeki that “Citizens from other countries on the African continent and beyond are as human as we are and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity", was just that, a statement…a mere rhetoric.

He played a big role in the tremendous economic growth of South Africa, but seems Mr. Mbeki is ready to undo what he helped create. The problem began when Jacob Zuma was elected president of the ruling African National Congress. Mbeki felt undermined since it is very clear that Zuma stands a better chance of succeeding him as the next president. According to South African political analyst Harald Pakerndorf (speaking to VOA on Zuma’s election), the results were not necessarily a rejection of President Mbeki’s policies, but rather a rejection of his personality.

“It has to do with two things. First of all there is resentment against the same person being at the helm, which is good for democracy. And also Mr. Mbeki had a distance between himself and the general population, and Mr. Zuma on the other hand is a very populist kind of a speaker and has closed relations with people on the ground. I think the two balance each other. It’s not necessarily a rejection of Mr. Mbeki’s policies. It is a rejection of Mr. Mbeki’s personality,” he said.

Pakerndorf described Mbeki as a foreign educated South African while Zuma educated himself while serving jail time for the ANC.(Continues below)

Top posts in May 2008:
1. South Africa Violence: Why is Brother Fighting Brother?
2. Africa Day is not Socialism Day!
3. Keen on business, China is yet to flex its formidable military muscle in Africa
4. Top secrets: Gaddafi plotted to bomb Kenya
5. Democracy, reforms can end fear of instability
6. Kenya tea loses its flavor in Pakistan

Are the Xenophobic attacks in South Africa Justified?
(Give you view on the violence in South Africa in the poll at the top of this page)

“If you go back in history, Mr. Mbeki left the country when he was still a teenager and spent most of his time in Europe and latter part in Lusaka, Zambia and hasn’t had a real connection with people on the ground or ordinary South Africans” Pakerndorf said.

He said the fact that Mbeki turned South Africa’s economy around matters little to ordinary South Africans.

“What is interesting and important is that people on the ground actually expect that their lives should be better and could be better. They see their fellow black South Africans moving ahead, some of them becoming millionaires, moving into brick houses. And I think that’s part of what you see happening here. People on the ground are simply saying no more of the same. We want to be part of the economy,” Pakerndorf said.

In part, the situation in South Africa has been aggravated by the sudden surge in the cost of living attributed to the global increase of food and fuel prices. The volatile situation in Zimbabwe has also played a role in the escalating violence since many have moved to South Africa to seek refuge due to the political uncertainty facing their country. It is believed that up to 5 million “black” foreigners mainly from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Nigeria live in the poor township areas of Alexandra, north of Johannesburg further straining the scarce resources meant for South Africans. Unemployment is on the rise with many of the nation's largest employers resorting to massive layoffs leaving a desperate population to engage in crime for survival.

Since the apartheid era, many locals have slipped into abject poverty despite the newly expanded freedom that has done little to improve the quality of life of many in the rainbow nation. However, all blame should be targeted towards the South African government and not the immigrants many of whom are playing a positive role in the country’s development. The South African Xenophobia began with the end of apartheid, NOT yesterday like we are being made to believe. Granted, there are many South Africans who live in “the rest of Africa” but it would be despicable if they too were to undergo the same wrath.


Japan has come late to this second scramble for Africa—and knows it

By THE ECONOMIST (Print Edition)

THE copper is used in computers. The nickel is for batteries. Tungsten is used to fortify steel for cars. Japan buys much of its rare metal from China to feed its electronics and car industries. But as booming China has begun to close the spigot to safeguard its own supplies, Japan, the world's second biggest economy, has been forced to look elsewhere for an alternative source—in Africa.

On May 28th it hosted the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, a quadrennial event since 1993. About 40 African heads of state or government attended. Japan's prime minister, Yasuo Fukuda, promised to meet each one individually, as well as Bono, a pop singer, without whom no such gathering on Africa is complete. (Continues below)

Also Read: Is Africa Milked Dry In the Name of Aid?

Top posts in May 2008:
1. South Africa Violence: Why is Brother Fighting Brother?
2. Africa Day is not Socialism Day!
3. Keen on business, China is yet to flex its formidable military muscle in Africa
4. Top secrets: Gaddafi plotted to bomb Kenya
5. Democracy, reforms can end fear of instability
6. Kenya tea loses its flavor in Pakistan

Are the Xenophobic attacks in South Africa Justified?
(Give you view on the violence in South Africa in the poll at the top of this page)

But whereas in previous meetings aid topped the agenda, this time it has been all about the hunt for natural resources—with Africa's best interests at heart, of course. “If we are able to utilise Africa's plentiful resources more fully by harnessing Japan's technologies,” Mr Fukuda said, “this will surely be a major trigger for growth and without a doubt benefit Africa.”

This has become a familiar refrain from the leaders of Asia's other expanding economies. Japan is following firmly in the footsteps of China and India, both of which have hosted lavish African summits in the past 18 months, both of them keen to buy Africa's oil and metals.

Like the others, Japan is offering sweeteners to make itself a saucier commercial partner. This week it pledged to double aid to Africa by 2012, to $3.4 billion. It will also provide up to $4 billion in low-interest rate loans, which means easing its rules against lending to countries that have previously received debt relief.

Japanese officials stress that all this comes with no strings attached (except perhaps Africa's support for a permanent Japanese seat in the UN Security Council), a not-too-subtle hint that the country hopes to compete on an equal footing with China. Its loans are never linked to improvements in governance or human rights, unlike many of those from Europe, which hosted its own Africa summit in Portugal last December, or America. This reflects the fact that Japan has come late to this second scramble for Africa—and knows it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Is Africa Milked Dry In the Name of Aid?

By The African Executive
As Africa heads converge in Japan for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), it is urgent that we reflect on African interests. We already have had Sino-Africa, Euro-Africa, Indo-Africa and now TICAD. The most common denominator in all these is aid.

During an International Seminar of Aid Effectiveness which took place in Kenya recently, it was reported that Mr. Kilonntsi Mporogomyi a Tanzanian Member of Parliament who is also a member of NEPAD Contact Group of African Parliamentarians mentioned that some donors are also engaged in corruption that paralyzes Africa’s economy.
These donors have always attached unrealistic aid conditions, for instance the consultancies and tendering are usually done by the companies from donor countries which subject most recipient countries to grinding poverty as half of the aid is consumed by such companies. (Continues below)

Top posts this month:
1. South Africa Violence: Why is Brother Fighting Brother?
2. Africa Day is not Socialism Day!
3. Keen on business, China is yet to flex its formidable military muscle in Africa
4. Top secrets: Gaddafi plotted to bomb Kenya
5. Democracy, reforms can end fear of instability
6. Kenya tea loses its flavor in Pakistan

Are the Xenophobic attacks in South Africa Justified?
(Give you view on the violence in South Africa in the poll at the top of this page)

These donors allegedly meet our government ministers in exclusive hotels where they sign agreements without scrutinizing the documents. Most of these binding statements have been favoring donors and not Africans. Such unrealistic moves should be avoided as such donors need to be censored first. Why milk a continent dry in the name of aid?

Most African governments have executive sweeping powers on international and bilateral economic engagement leaving no room for independent evaluation of aid use for audit purposes. The donors use such powers to secretly meddle with our economies. Nothing regarding a country should be signed in an exclusive setting as this threatens transparency which we are working so hard to achieve.

When shall Africa host a frank intra-Africa summit to strategize on how to exploit our resources to generate income?


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Safaricom sets record for Kenya’s blue chips

by Michael Omondi (Business daily)

Safaricom yesterday reported record profits and announced plans to boost coverage in the rural areas as a strategy of growing its customer base in the face of mounting competition.

Telkom Kenya and Econet Wireless are expected to launch mobile phone services later in the year , adding competitive pressure in a market Safaricom has dominated for nearly a decade.

With earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization or Ebidta (an accounting measure that is used as a proxy for true earnings and cash generation power of a telecommunication company) of Sh28.1 billion representing a growth of 15 per cent.

Safaricom for the third year running has emerged as the most profitable company in Kenya and among the best in sub-Saharan Africa. This is expected to raise interest in its shares, which are expected to begin trading at the Nairobi Stock Exchange in early June.

Net profit, which represents the money available to shareholders hit Sh13.8 billion, reflecting a 15.3 per cent increase.

The operating profit however grew at a modest rate of 3.8 per cent to Sh18.5 billion, revealing the extent to which the business was unable to reign in costs as its expansion plan gathers pace.

Safaricom’s revenue rose to Sh61.3 billion from Sh47.4 billion a year earlier, representing a 29.3 per cent growth.

The performance, driven by an increase in company’s subscriber base from 6.1 million in 2006 to 10.2 million in 2007, comes as competition intensifies in the cellular phone market with the entry of new players.

Econet Wireless, which is partly owned by India’s Essar, is set to rollout its mobile services in July, while Telkom Kenya, owned 51 per cent by France Telecom, is planning a rollout in September.

To maintain its profit momentum in the face of the competition, Safaricom is planning to widen its footprint in the under-served rural areas to boost its national coverage. The firm currently has a national coverage of about 60 per cent range compared to 84 per cent for its main rival Celtel Kenya.

“Having a national footprint is key to beating competition,” said Michael Joseph, the company’s CEO. “You don’t win this market by simply lowering tariffs and rolling out in a few urban centers.”

Kenya’s mobile phone penetration stands at 34 per cent of the population and is expected to increase to 60 per cent in the next four years as more rural dwellers sign up.

Besides boosting its coverage in the rural zones, Safaricom is counting on lower tariff rates and its new low airtime denomination of Sh20 to penetrate the price sensitive rural consumers.

The firm said it is targeting about two million new subscribers by the end of the year, on the back of renewed investment in infrastructure and a focus on the rural market.

Mr Joseph said that the new entrants would find it hard to eat into Safaricom’s market share, which increased to 84 per cent from 73 per cent in the past 12 months. His optimism is hinged on the fact that it would take the competition time to build a network the size of Safaricom.

“Our coverage and huge subscriber base will give us the much needed competitive edge,” said Joseph.

But competition is not about discouraged by Safaricom’s might.

Celtel, the number two player and who has failed to match the might of Safaricom as it reported a loss of Sh1.5 billion last year has set in motion an ambitious network upgrade plan that should push it’s population coverage from 84 per cent in 2007 to 95 per cent this year.

This will be backed by a multi-million shilling advertising blitz on a name change to Zain, as Celtel races to strike a chord with youthful subscribers, a market that Telkom Kenya is keen to tap into.

Econet Wireless made its intention clear, with the announcement that it has placed Sh9.3 billion order for GSM network followed by the onset of the recruitment drive for key staff.

Telkom Kenya has also placed its order and is set to unveil its network in September targeting major urban centers before spreading to the rest of the countryside, a strategy that Econet is also keen to employ.

This is a clear signal that the twin entrants are targeting the urban clientele that has over the past eight years driven Safaricom’s profits.

But Safaricom is not about to let the entrants eat into its urban market as it pursues the rural dwellers.

The commercial launch of its third generation 3G mobile technology on Monday, enabling roll out of multimedia services such as video and television on mobile and faster internet connection would help the firm capture corporate clients and high end customers.

And through its newly launched money transfer service, Mpesa, the firm hopes to fence in its subscribers and deny other operators getting access to its subscribers who are likely to get reluctant to switch networks easily.

“Mpesa is a not a huge revenue generating business but it makes subscribers stay with Safaricom,” said Les Baille, the company’s Chief Financial Officer.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Top secrets: Gaddafi plotted to bomb Kenya

by KAMAU NGOTHO (Daily Nation)
Like with politics, espionage knows no permanent friends or enemies, only the convergence of interests.

Said to be the second oldest profession, at times it appears to have even lesser morals than the first.

No surprise that when relationship between Nairobi and Washington were at the ice cold, it was still business as usual for legendary Kenyan spy chief James Kanyotu and the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States.

Early one morning in February 1991, Mr Kanyotu found himself with a difficult assignment. His friends in the CIA had called with an urgent and unusual request.

They had with them 600 Libyan dissidents they wanted sequestered in Kenya before they could be flown to a safe haven out of the reach of mercurial Libyan leader, Col Muammar Gaddafi.

The dissidents had been spirited out of Libya in a daring secret move and first flown to the then Zaire, now Democratic Republic of Congo.

But the CIA was not confident that Zaire was a safe haven. (Post Continues Below)

Last Week's Top Post
Democracy, reforms can end fear of instability
By Raila odinga (Kenya's Prime Minister)
While we are rightly proud of having constructed Africa’s first ever Grand Coalition Government as a way to bring a halt to post-election violence and division, the fact remains that it is a novel experiment in which both coalition partners and Members of Parliament are trying to figure out how to do things the right way....(click to Read More)


The country’s dictator, Marshal Mobutu Sese Seko was a US ally and had himself come to power in the 1960s as a CIA protégé.

But the Americans considered him unstable, unreliable and unpredictable.

His avarice and love of money was legendary, and it would not be beyond him to cut a deal with Col Gaddafi and turn over the dissidents in exchange for handsome sums wired to his numerous Swiss bank accounts.

The Americans wanted their charges out of Congo speedily, and Kenya seemed like the best choice.

But there was one problem. President Moi at that time had no time for the US.

Kenya was in the throes of the multi-party campaign and the US had come out strongly in favour of the push for democratisation.

Mr Moi was particularly irked by President George Bush’s ambassador in Kenya, the outspoken Smith Hempstone, who consorted openly with and supported the growing opposition of the day and had been dismissed as the Nyama Choma (roasted meat) ambassador.

An approach through Mr Hempstone would not work, for Moi would have loved nothing better than to tell the envoy to ‘shove it’.

A direct approach from Washington, either through the Secretary of State or the President himself, was also considered but none wanted to chance reaching Moi when in one of his foul moods and risk a humiliating rejection.

So the CIA turned to Mr Kanyotu to soften President Moi for them. It was a difficult assignment on two grounds. First of course was Mr Moi’s growing anger with the United States.

Then there was the security risk for Kenya in crossing Mr Gaddafi, who might find a soft target on which to hit back at the US.

The Libyan leader by then was on the American list of unfriendly regimes.

He was fiercely anti-American, and was accused of financing Middle Eastern terrorist groups that were increasingly aiming at targets in the West.

The Libyans at the time were also moving aggressively to position themselves in sub-saharan Africa, unlike many other North African countries, which viewed themselves primarily as members of the Arab world.

That was where Mr Kanyottu found the chink in President Moi’s armour.

Libyan interests in the region had in the past few years been viewed suspiciously by Kenya, which was alarmed by the countries seeming support for dissident movements.

From the early 1980, the Libyan embassy on Loita Street had become a popular calling place for radial student activists from nearby University of Nairobi.

Usually it was to pick up freebies in the form of Mr Gaddafi’s writings, including his famous Green Book, and other literature and posters on Libyan and on the Palestinian cause.

Mr Kanyotu’s agents kept a close watch around the embassy, paying particular attention to student leaders whom they thought might be tempted into going beyond mere infatuation with Gaddafi and enlisting into something sinister.

Libya at the time already had a strong presence in neighbouring Uganda, which under President Yoweri Museveni had become the favoured transit point for Kenyan dissidents fleeing the country for exile in Europe.

By early 1991, Kenya had already severed diplomatic relations with Tripoli after accusing the northern African country of sponsoring anti-Moi elements.

Some student leaders at the University of Nairobi had also been arrested and charged with espionage for allegedly spying for Libya.

Even without the Libyan link, President Moi at time viewed President Museveni as a dangerous radical all too keen to spread his ideology across the region.

Kenya and Uganda had engaged in a brief shooting war across the common border only a few years previously, and still regarded each other with deep suspicion.

With all the information at his fingertips, Mr Kanyotu was able to convince President Moi that the real threat lay not in US support for the multi-party campaign in Kenya, but in Libyan support for dissidents who might want to forment a revolution via neighbouring Uganda.

Mr Kanyotu thought, Moi — even for ego purposes only — would relish the moment to show both Col Gaddafi and Mr Museveni who was boss in the region. Mr Moi gave his nod, and working under the strictest security, Mr Kanyotu’s men and the CIA hurriedly constructed a camp to hold the Libyans at a remote point off the Thika-Garissa highway. Within a week, a makeshift barracks was in place complete with a borehole and a fully-equipped dispensary.

To throw off-scent any nosy characters, signposts were erected purporting that American peace-corps were coming to help sink boreholes in the remote reaches of Mwingi District.
On D-Day, Mr Kanyotu joined the CIA team at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport shortly after midnight. Also present was Mr Hempstone.

As Nairobi slept, two US Air Force jets taxied at the far end of the apron. Unmarked buses from the Kenya Army were in place to transport the delicate human cargo.

Before dawn, the Libyan exiles were sound asleep in their new, but temporary, Kenyan home.

Mr Gaddafi, probably through Ugandan and Soviet intelligence sources in Nairobi, soon came to learn about the presence of Libyan dissidents in Kenya.

He was furious, and immediately set about planning how to retaliate.

A Libyan commando force assembled near the Entebbe Airport in Uganda, ready to strike once the exact location of the secret camp holding Libyan dissidents in Kenya was established.

Gaddafi’s first option was lightning air strike to bomb the camp and kill as many of the residents as possible.

The other was to bring in a commando squad by land, raid the place and capture some of the dissidents.

To keep him off-scent, Mr Kanyotu and the CIA put up several decoys that kept the Libyan intelligence operatives on a wild goose chase.

Meanwhile, the Americans found a permanent refuge for the dissidents, and before the Libyan forces could strike they were secretly flown out of Kenya under cover of darkness.

After ranting and raving for a period, Mr Gaddafi concluded the Kenyan leader was no pushover and offered to make peace.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Democracy, reforms can end fear of instability

By Raila Odinga
It is now three months since the National Accord and Reconciliation Agreement mediated by former United Nations Secretary-General Dr Kofi Annan was signed.

But Kenyans are still savoring and expressing their relief over the restoration of peace.

People tell me they feel a great sense of reassurance when they see President Kibaki and myself working together to build a new Kenya.

Never has the value of peace been so resonantly and keenly felt by a people who had enjoyed an essentially violence-free past until the results of the disputed election were announced.

Every one of us must do everything possible to ensure that this peace holds, and is made sustainable. The burden of that responsibility falls first and foremost on the Coalition Government and Members of Parliament.

We must work closely together to speedily address people’s most urgent and compelling concerns, and create the new laws and reforms that will entrench democracy, good governance, the rule of law and the enhancement of an ethical and equitable Public Service.

While we are rightly proud of having constructed Africa’s first ever Grand Coalition Government as a way to bring a halt to post-election violence and division, the fact remains that it is a novel experiment in which both coalition partners and Members of Parliament are trying to figure out how to do things the right way.

How to agree within the Coalition Government on the best way to resettle the displaced was the first major challenge.

Right now there is an intense and passionate debate about the large number of Kenyans being held merely for taking to the streets to demonstrate their fury over the disputed election results.

And within both main parties, backbenchers who enjoy the enshrined right of opposing government policy are struggling to find a way to exercise that right within the new arrangements.

But despite these and a number of other teething problems, it is clear that we must seize with gusto the opportunity that the Grand Coalition provides.

In doing so, we can finally achieve the reforms that Kenyans so overwhelmingly voted for in 2002 and last year.

As things stood in Parliament following the General Election, neither the Orange Democratic Movement nor the Party of National Unity alliance had the numbers to push through a new Constitution and all the other reforms on its own.

(Article Continues Below)

Most Read Post this week, South Africa Violence: Why is Brother Fighting Brother?
The recent outburst of criminal violence against Africans seeking employment has less to do with ‘xenophobia’ as touted by the reactionary press but more to do with chronic unresolved anger of the black South African masses......READ MORE

Together, however, the two parties can entrench in the Constitution democracy and equity so that no Kenyan and no community feel marginalized.

And we must adopt policies, which will drive economic growth to the levels that are needed to effectively address the crises in land, impoverishment and joblessness.

I am committed to doing everything possible to make this Coalition Government succeed.

But I am not blind to the fact that success will only be possible if the bulk of our people perceive that the two sides are indeed genuinely sharing power, and that their most compelling concerns are being addressed.

So even as I stress that Government ministers must support policies that are agreed within the Cabinet, that in no way is meant to stifle debate on issues that are on people’s minds and on which policy has not yet been agreed.

Support for the Grand Coalition Government must not be based on blind faith or coercion.

That is why I have publicly called for the speedy resolution of issues surrounding post-election violence, as a means of ensuring that the restored peace we enjoy is not undermined by the pursuit of short-term measures.

At the same time, as Prime Minister I am in regular touch with President Kibaki and ministers to influence both policy and actions that I believe will heal wounds and promote reconciliation.

Some of these discussions must necessarily be conducted in private, but other issues can be handled publicly.

For example, I will be shortly visiting with the relevant ministers the vital Mau Forest, which is one of the nation’s water towers, to see for myself how an amicable settlement to the problems afflicting the communities there can be quickly arrived at.

Similarly, even as I have stated my concern about the impact the formation of a Grand Opposition in Parliament might have on our overall goals, I am committed to respecting the right of backbenchers to organize themselves in ways which will enable them to exercise their hallowed right to be the watchdogs of the people and oppose government policies they consider inimical.

As someone who has spent so many years in opposition fighting for people’s rights, no one should imagine that I would ever allow that fundamental democratic right to be abridged.

The writer is the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

South Africa Violence: Why is Brother Fighting Brother?

By Amengeo Amengeo
The recent outburst of criminal violence against Africans seeking employment has less to do with ‘xenophobia’ as touted by the reactionary press but more to do with chronic unresolved anger of the black South African masses. In other words, defenseless people are merely convenient scapegoats for something deeper and more sinister which, unless addressed immediately will drag South Africa and the region into a slippery abyss. (Continues below)

Are the Xenophobic attacks in South Africa Justified?
(Give your view on the violence in South Africa in the poll at the top of this page)


In the closing chapters of the apartheid catastrophe (when the ANC was abandoning its ‘humane’ guerrilla war and was at last prepared to take the lives of its oppressors) a wave of alarm swept through the intelligence echelons of apartheid’s secret supporters [in London, Washington, Tel Aviv, Berlin and Paris] in the West. These nations had given tacit approval to Pretoria’s brutal suppression of black aspirations for freedom and skillfully used the canard of the ‘communist threat’ to justify their business ties to one of the most reprehensible regimes to ever besmirch the earth.

The Cuban-Angolan victory at Cuito Cuanavale sounded the death knell of the regime. If the region, perhaps the continent, were not to descend in a Gotterdammerung of racial war which the Boers would certaimly have lost, something had to be done fast. The townships were becoming no-go areas. A blood-lust had developed among the Africans, promising a horrific revenge if the regime fell to the people.

The CIA analyzed the regime’s internal weakness. Cool heads in the agency pushed for establishing contacts with the ANC [despite the ‘terrorist’ designation] to influence any outcome. Deals had to be made. Mandela had to freed, but under what circumstances? There is no doubt that, seeing the writing on the wall, Western intelligence decided that the end of apartheid must have a soft landing. We must remember that although apartheid officially became law in 1948 when the Boer nationalists won elections, racist oppression of the black majority was de rigeur since the first Dutch interlopers landed on the Cape 400 years ago.

Centuries of humiliation, denial of basic human rights and de facto slavery guaranteed that a black popular revolution would make the bloodletting of the French and Haitian Revolutions look like a picnic. In fact, in the township resistance councils, lists were already drawn up for those who would receive justice in peoples’ courts and how to deal with collaborators and spies. If Mandela had died in custody, nothing would quell the people’s rage. Mandela had to be freed, but with conditions. Under no circumstances would a revolutionary situation be allowed to develop. Thus deals were made.

Mandela will probably carry the secrets to the grave but the fact remains, deals were made to abort the people’s just anger. Bishop Tutu called for forgiveness as did Mandela-forgiving his jailers. Mandela, the charismatic icon called for peace.

Many were perplexed. There would be no toppling of the symbols of repression- the grim statues of white oppressors who had brought so much pain for so long; no Nuremberg trials for the architects of the egregious example of man’s inhumanity to man; no accounting for 400 years of humiliation, for as long as apartheid existed, no black person anywhere in the world was free. Although a stain on the honour of the African people, not a single perpetrator of apartheid answered for his crimes. Yet the rage remained. With no outlet since this was denied in the name of ‘forgiveness’ and ‘reconciliation,’ the rage had to be expressed elsewhere.

Since the ‘end’ of apartheid [and this is moot since whites still control the economy, the courts and the land] South Africa has experienced unparalleled levels of violence, much of it directed inwardly. The people’s rage like an unstoppable river had to find its way and it fell back on itself. The late African-Martinician revolutionary Franz Fanon warned that a people, denied outlets for their anger will turn this rage inward, teetering on a pre-revolutionary precipice.

The anger and horrific brutality expressed in South African violence and crime are not the acts of mad people, but the acts of people made mad by the denial of justice and closure against those who oppressed them for so long. These people have been placed out of reach by the insane generosity of ‘forgiveness’ and ‘reconciliation’ offered without the consent of the people. The unfortunate ‘immigrants’ who have every right to be in South Africa, since without their unswerving support and solidarity apartheid could never have been toppled, are convenient scapegoats subjected to ‘xenophobia’ –destined to be the new divisive buzzword- while the government stands aghast, caught off guard by a situation they should have seen coming. This is a very, very dangerous time not just for South Africa, but the entire Continent.

How can Pan–Africanism succeed if African nations maintain their unrealistic solitudes as ‘nations,’ seeking answers in the West rather than within themselves, nurturing dependencies on Western ‘aid,’ clinging to alien ideas and cultural mores rather than rediscovering and redefining what it means to be African? How can Mozambicans, Malawians, Somalis and others of the region be called ‘foreigners’ by their fellow Africans while nationalities from Eastern Europe, Lebanon and the descendants of apartheid’s founders claim that they are Africans with more privileges than the indigenous people? Who are the real foreigners? Who really takes the jobs? Who controls the economy? Who is the real threat?

Just the way historical injustices contributed immensely to Kenya's post election crisis, the ANC government needs to address this problem swiftly before it becomes a chronic sore. It is time that African nations thought long term in all their deliberations and addressed issues exhaustively to avoid future skirmishes. Africa can ill-afford yet another divisive, brutal conflict which pits brother against brother while 'well wishers' wait on the sidelines to open new refugee camps.


Amengeo Amengeo is a specialist in Spanish, Latin American, Caribbean as well as African History. He has also been a journalist, civil servant and graphic artist

Friday, May 16, 2008

Keen on business, China is yet to flex its formidable military muscle in Africa

by PATRICK MUTAHI (Daily Nation)

Continues below....

Related Post: Read the Sarah Palin/Joe Biden US vice presidential debate transcript HERE

A 489-foot Chinese freighter An Yue Jian docked at the port of Durban in South Africa last month with three million rounds of assault rifle ammunition, 3,000 mortar rounds and 1,500 rocket- propelled grenades destined for landlocked Zimbabwe.
However, the ship instantly drew controversy with dockworkers refusing to unload the cargo. Zambia, which chairs the Southern African Development Community (SADC) grouping, also urged other regional states to bar the vessel from entering their waters. It was rightly feared the arms could deepen Zimbabwe’s election crisis and be used in a crackdown on the opposition.

Under immense local and international pressure, the ship was recalled to China.

Even though the heat has cooled down, it puts to question whether Beijing is in a position to protect its vast investments in Africa.

Tellingly, Sino-Africa trade has significantly increased from $11 billion (Sh660 billion) in 2000 to $65.9 billion (Sh4 trillion) in 2007, making it the continent’s third largest trade partner behind the United States and France. It is projected that by 2010, China will overtake the US and France as Africa’s biggest trading partner with a target of $100 billion (Sh7 trillion) trade surplus.

Thus, Beijing has swiftly become the most aggressive investor in Africa, rattling the West which has dominated Africa’s virgin markets. But this has also exposed the Asian giant to various security challenges.

In April 2007, nine Chinese and 65 Ethiopian oil engineers were killed during an assault on an oil exploration site operated by Sinopec’s Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia.

The militia group Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) also kidnapped seven Chinese men who it later released. The ONLF has repeatedly warned foreign oil companies to leave the Ethiopian region over which it has gone to war with Somalia.

In February 2007, four assailants raided a Chinese building materials plant in Kenya and killed one Chinese employee. In April 2006, the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) condemned China for taking a $2.2 billion stake in oil fields in delta. It detonated a car bomb and warned that Chinese investors would be “treated as thieves.”

Anti-Chinese sentiment has increased in Zambia since 2005, when an explosion at a Chinese-owned copper mine killed at least 46 workers and spawned complaints of unsafe working conditions and poor environmental practices. In 2004, rebels abducted Chinese workers in southern Sudan.

Despite the mounting insecurity to its investments, China is not building a military base in Africa. Rather, it is stepping up its ability to pursue a more confident and independent security policy in the continent by resorting to collective security policy with African countries.

Beijing’s game plan, it would appear, is to neutralise threats in Africa with its diplomatic charm. Consequently, as Beijing prepares to become Africa’s most prominent economic partner, its capability to respond to insecurity, though it has the capacity to do so, isn’t evident in the continent.

Un-manned combat aircraft

According to the US Defense Department Annual report released in May 2007, China is modernising its military in ways that give it options for launching surprise attacks on targets far from its borders.

The report cites the Army’s acquisition of long-endurance submarines, un-manned combat aircraft, additional precision-guided air-to-ground missiles and long-distance military communications systems.

“The People’s Liberation Army is pursuing a comprehensive transformation from a mass army designed for protracted wars of attrition on its territory to one capable of fighting and winning short-duration, high-intensity conflicts against high-tech adversaries,” the Pentagon report said.

Referring to a January 2007 test in which China shot down one of its own satellites with a missile, the report said the nation’s capability “poses dangers to human space flight and puts at risk the assets of all space-faring nations.”

But Beijing’s military build-up is not exceptional. Most external powers, for which Africa’s mineral wealth has become indispensable to their growth, have backed up their economic forays with a projection of military might. This is aimed at suppressing local resistance in their dominions or fending off their realms from other imperialist competitors.

Between 2000 and 2006, the US increased the number of its troops in Africa from 220 to nearly 1,000. This was alongside the establishment of the controversial New Africa Command (AFRICOM), announced when Chinese President Hu Jintao was completing a tour of the region in 2006.

The new military structure signifies Africa’s emerging strategic importance in the superpower’s economic and security calculus in order to contain terrorism and secure global oil wealth. At the same time, AFRICOM is viewed as a vehicle to counter the Chinese juggernaut in Africa.

This has raised eyebrows in Chinese academia. Lin Zhiyuan, the deputy director of the Academy of Military Sciences commented that “AFRICOM will surely facilitate coordinating or overseeing US military actions in African for an effective control of the whole of Africa.”

India is also expanding its military wings and its naval dominance in the strategic maritime shipping lanes around Africa. This has made Chinese security analysts worry about the safety of their supplies.

India currently imports 11 per cent of its oil from Africa (mostly Nigeria), but is seeking more, especially from Angola, leading in some cases to direct competition with China.

It is also searching for secure, long-term uranium supplies to feed its nuclear reactors, as well as other strategic minerals, meaning that South Africa is emerging as a key partner.

India is involved in a tripartite alliance with Brazil and South Africa under the IBSA Dialogue Forum. This is an effective co-operative approach to build a bridge between Asia and Africa. The alliance was set when the leaders of three regional goliaths, India’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Brazil’s Lula Da Silva, and South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki introduced a new approach to south-south cooperation at the 2003 UN General Assembly, resulting in a trilateral India-Brazil-South Africa agreement.
IBSA has amplified its presence through numerous joint ventures. More importantly, India views the IBSA Free Trade Agreement with Brazil and South Africa as a “distinct possibility” of enhancing trade relationship with these countries. In addition, the defence ministers of the troika agreed in Pretoria on February 1, 2004 to hold joint military exercises and train their personnel.

India is also using the forum to enhance its maritime cooperation in order to boost regional security. Notably, both Delhi and Pretoria have long coastlines and maritime interests.

On the economic front, India has 2.2 million square kilometres of exclusive economic zone (EEZ), while South Africa’s EEZ is a million square kilometres.

Around 90 per cent of exports of both the countries are shipped. In addition, South Africa has six well-developed ports and a sound maritime infrastructure, with good facilities for ship repair and potential to get involved in shipbuilding.

Due to this strategic interest and maritime bond, in March 2006 India signed an agreement with South Africa to improve cooperation in merchant shipping and other related activities. The agreement provides for facilitating Indian companies to establish joint ventures in the field of maritime transportation, and ship building and repairs. Furthermore, the pact will also facilitate the exchange of information for accelerating the flow of commercial goods at sea and at port and encourage the strengthening of cooperation between merchant fleets.

India’s military presence

Along the East African coast India has signed defense agreements with Kenya, Madagascar and Mozambique. It has also initiated joint training programmes with Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa. Delhi has convinced island states such as Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles to cooperate on maritime surveillance and intelligence gathering.

Moreover, its fleet in the Indian Ocean is turning into one of the most powerful naval forces of the region, including new state-of the-art aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.

This build up by the World’s largest democracy is multi-pronged: Economically for market and resources; politically for international influence and support for possible permanent membership in the UN Security Council, and competing with China for influence in Africa.

However, Delhi appears to be lagging behind Beijing in the trade stakes. Indo-African trade climbed to $30bn (Sh1.8 trillion) in 2007, but Sino-African trade was near $66bn (Sh4 trillion).

Despite the fact that all major powers have been deploying naval vessels to combat piracy or to keep the maritime supply lines in the waters surrounding Africa open, the Chinese Navy has kept its flag down.

It has no military bases in Africa like the United States, UK or France. Likewise, Beijing does not train African soldiers to deal with hostility perceived by Beijing as a threat to its national interests.

In Sudan, Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Gabon, Beijing has dispatched military teams to assist in the maintenance of equipment, rather than providing training for specific warfare activities. In Zambia and Algeria, the collaboration is limited to medical aid. Nevertheless, the People’s Republic is constantly facing the need to protect its citizens and companies abroad.

The long-term risk is that local tensions and conflicts will entice external powers to interfere and to exploit this volatility to gain clout at the expense of the Chinese. In response to such scenarios, China has opted to work with host governments.

“China will cooperate closely with immigration departments of African countries in tackling the problem of illegal migration, improve exchange of immigration control information and set up an unhampered and efficient channel for intelligence and information exchange,” China’s 2006 Africa Policy stated.

Chinese bilateral military exchanges with other armed forces expanded significantly with 174 high-level visits in 2001 to over 210 in 2006. However, the increasing trend was not maintained in Africa, where such two-pronged exchanges have remained stable at an annual average of 26.

Beijing has established a permanent military dialogue only with South Africa. In addition, according to Jonathan Holslag a Researcher on China-Africa Affairs, “the number of Chinese military attachés and their support staff has barely or not expanded at all in the last few years. In fact, only in 15 countries are Chinese military attachés dispatched on a permanent basis.”

In terms of military aid, there is no evidence that China’s military aid aims at counterbalancing other powers, such as the United States. Apart from Sudan and Zimbabwe, most countries to have received Chinese aid in the last few years are also supplied by Washington. Moreover, in 2007 Beijing temporarily froze the supply of heavy arms to Khartoum after pressure from the Western countries.

On the other hand, Beijing has instructed its embassies in Africa to keep a close watch on local security. In Sudan and Kenya, state-owned companies receive protection from local security forces. Beijing has also signed an agreement with South Africa to prevent the Chinese there from turning into a target for armed gangs.

The swift and successful evacuation of Chinese citizens recently from Chad demonstrated that it has developed operational scenarios to deal with emergencies.

Such measures might help Chinese citizens and companies to evade some of the risks, but they do not offer any guarantee for safeguarding its economic activities if the situation keeps deteriorating. This also does not tackle Beijing’s uneasiness with the military presence of other countries.

Instead of using a military presence to counter-balance other major powers, the People’s Republic joins collective security efforts within the framework of the UN and African regional organisations. Over the past few years this has evolved from passive support to active cooperation.

During the cold war, Beijing supported anti-Western groups. In 1971 when it assumed membership of the UN Security Council, China opposed all peacekeeping operations in Africa. After the Cold War, this position was replaced with a more moderate approach.

China viewed Africa’s conflicts as a result of structural violence, and hence had to be resolved in the same way. Consequently, China has supported UN peace keeping missions on the basis of a well defined and restricted mandate of maintaining sovereignty.

Non controversial peacekeeping operations - Somalia, Mozambique, Rwanda and Sierra Leone all got its green light.

When the Security Council decided to dispatch troops in Liberia in 2003, China even offered to contribute to this mission, and from then on it gradually increased the number of blue helmets to 1,800 in 2007.

China’s financial support to peacekeeping by the UN but also by regional organisations like the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States has also increased significantly.

However, China kept off any missions that were seen as infringing on the host country’s sovereignty. It opposed the European- supported Operation Turquoise in Rwanda; when Washington gave up its impartiality and called for broadened mandate of UNSOM and when France demanded an increase of the troop levels of the UN operation in Ivory Coast in 2004. Beijing did not veto these interventions, but abstained and kept aloof of the implementation.

In 2006, Beijing successfully appealed to the Sudanese Government to allow a combined force of UN and AU peace keeping force into Darfur. Historically, this marked the first time in China’s 35 years at UN Security Council that it has implored a sovereign country to accept the UN peace keeping force.

While a future need cannot be ruled for China to have a military base in Africa, currently it is playing safe by projecting itself as a partner. Evidently, it is well aware that putting up such a facility might reduce its diplomatic options and attract resistance in Africa, just as Washington is experiencing now, and raise suspicion everywhere.

Yet, as interests, perceptions and capacities are susceptible to change, it remains to be seen whether China will stay on this track of cooperative security.

(Patrick Mutahi heads a team of Researchers at Eastern and Horn of Africa Programme, Africa Policy Institute (Nairobi). Africa Insight is an initiative of the Nation Media Group’s Africa Media Network Project.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Africa Day is not Socialism Day!

By James Shikwati
African Executive

Talk about Africa Day and the image that comes to peoples' minds is music, drums, dancing and food! In the 2005 celebrations, I was a guest to African friends in Muscat Oman, and they requested that I should show case a 'thinking Africa' as opposed to the traditional dancing and drunk Africa!

Every year, Africans mark May 25th as an official Africa Liberation day. The date is celebrated to push for an onward progress on the liberation movement and symbolize the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from foreign domination and exploitation. A casual observation of many groups that celebrate this great day reveals that we are still entrenched in the mindset of entitlement - the belief that some other entity owes us, due to past misdeeds. Not that we are not owed- but the question is: should we put all our focus on what we are owed?

It will be difficult to effectively follow up what we are owed if we constantly stand on the international streets with a begging bowl. Entitled or not, we must build our economic muscle. This in my view, cannot be achieved through socialism where everyone is expected to be equal to everyone else. We cannot build our economic muscle by putting too much trust in our leadership who preach socialism (for populist purposes) while practicing what Hon. Prof. Anyang' Nyong'o refers to as 'parasitic capitalism!'

Continues Below

Also Read: Is America double faced?
Who’d think, the US, all-time-human-right enforcer, would collude with thieves to rob the continent that’s already poor thanks to colonialism?


Guess who is holding your government hostage? Isn't it some freedom fighter elite, or friend and/or relative of the same who has been supplying biro pens, papers, chairs and fuel to the government? New leadership and new thinking have been thwarted because the 'parasitic capitalist' cannot fathom a world where he/she doesn't supply the poor African government with biro pens! Whereas capitalists create, parasites drain the system. We do not have enough of the capitalists on our continent.

Since independence, our elites have been vilifying capitalism in Africa. Unknown to them - it is purely the death of capitalism in Africa that has made foreigners to continue dominating us. That is why we are unable to exploit our subsurface wealth. Whereas capitalists see people as a resource and market; we choose to view our population as a burden; where capitalists engage in creative economy to earn a living; we simply dance and cry off our frustrations. Clearly, we must change the way we celebrate our Africa Day and turn it into an African open day for trade, travel and cultural exchange.

Our problems and challenges are of our own making: talk of press freedom, bungled elections, food crisis...the list is endless. Listen. Journalist Robert Mukombozi is deported from Rwanda; Andrew Mwenda is arrested in Uganda and his newspaper The Independence impounded. Zimbabwe joins the Kenyan queue on vote tallying fiasco. Guerilla war rages in Congo and Northern Uganda; Darfur is on fire and over 300 million Africans might starve due to ongoing food crisis. The old political order has refused to give way across the continent. Why did the African nationalism experiment collapse?

The post election violence in Kenya brought to the fore the fragile nature of our nationhood. Ethnic equations became so glaring that 'born - city' residents suddenly found themselves digging for identity. Matters were made worse for inter-ethnic marriages where groups suddenly put pressure on individuals to retreat to their ethnic safe havens.

Over 44 years of independence for most African countries and the political leadership has failed to deliver nationhood and Pan Africanism. An aerial view of Africa, especially Sub-Sahara Africa, reveals a leadership faced with double political and economic systems. Colonialism succeeded in driving native political systems underground but never extinguished them - what was in the traditional times an element of communities paying homage to the king through gifts was converted to the modern king (presidency) simply dipping their hands into the modern kitty of tax payers and donor funds. It is the kings of today who dish out to cronies.

The traditional utilitarian economy (hand to mouth) thrives among the masses while the African leadership leapfrogged to global economic system (saving and investments). It seems to me that the political leadership might well be privy to some feeling that their constituents do not need roads and other basic infrastructure as long as they can get a meal in a day!

African people have not been inspired by their leadership to seek higher goals. That explains in part the calamitous consequences the few Africans who seek to inspire go through. Why on earth would a Pan African leader deport an African journalist, detain others or raid media houses if he/she really stood for a brighter future for Africa? Why would simple summation of polls become very difficult for modern day Africa equipped with calculators and computers? "Son, you have no idea. A lot is at stake - the imperialists are using opposition elements to destroy Africa. That is why we must clamp down on their agents!" an African leader whispered to my ear. Pray tell – if the logic of imperialists is true, what type of soldiers do our African leaders wish to present to the war front? Sick, emaciated, ill informed, poor, tribal, and already mutinous soldiers!

Africa is too important to be left to the political leadership. Each of us must take responsibility to push our leadership to allow for openness on the way they run matters of state and government. We must be on the frontline to excite and incite our farmers to produce enough to feed the continent and engage in business. We should creatively merge the modern and the traditional to build a new Africa. We should not celebrate leaders who steal; rather let us produce so as to reward the best among us. Talk on fight against imperialism (if such a fight indeed exists) must provide reasoned strategy on how ordinary Africans can productively participate so as to avoid individuals enriching themselves by riding on the plight of the poor.

Open up Africa for business; free Africans to engage in business. Let African sons and daughters speak and move freely on the continent; generate a constituency of wealthy and well informed Africans - and this is achievable only through an open mind. A freed African mind is the best weapon one can use against imperialists!

Mr. Shikwati is the Director of Inter Region Economic Network

Monday, May 12, 2008

Kenya tea loses its flavour in Pakistan

From The Business Daily
May 12, 2008: A tactical manoeuvre by Pakistan into bilateral free trade arrangements with several Asian neighbours is threatening to throw its multi-billion shilling-a-year-tea trade with Kenya into a spin.

For many years, Pakistan has been the single largest buyer of Kenyan tea, taking up more than 28 per cent of its total exports worth an estimated Sh12 billion a year.

But in a surprise twist, the tea trade between the two nations has been on a slump over the last three years with analysts warning that the trend is likely to carry on.

“The trend has been noted over the years and the trade in tea between the two countries is slumping further,” Dr Amjad Iqbal, the head of trade affairs at the Pakistani High Commission in Kenya told Business Daily in an interview.

Statistics obtained from the Tea Board of Kenya (TBK) confirmed the decline, both in value and volume. For instance in 2005, Kenya exported 98 million kilogrammes of tea worth Sh12 billion to Pakistan, but this gradually shrunk to 80 million kg worth Sh10 billion in 2007.

The trend was evident over the first quarter of 2008 when Kenya tea exports to Pakistan dropped 52 per cent, confirming fears that commodity trade ties between the two countries were getting loose.

Analysts trace the weakening to a decision by Pakistan to enter into Free Trade Area (FTA) pacts with several of its neighbours under the ambit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

An FTA is a designated group of countries that have agreed to eliminate tariffs, quotas and preferences on most if not all goods between them.

SAFTA involves the free movement of goods, between countries through elimination of tariff and non-tariff restrictions on the movement of goods, and other equivalent measures.

A section of members of South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) such as India and Sri Lanka directly rival Kenya in the tea business.

Other member nations in the SAFTA pact are Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal. The SAFTA pact was signed in Islamabad, Pakistan in January 2004 during the 12th Summit of SAARC. It came into force on January 1, 2006. Member countries have up to January 1, 2016 to comply with the entire SAFTA deal.

Seeking to take an early ride on the FTA, Pakistan and Sri Lanka struck a deal soon after the pact came into force exchanging preferential market access to each others’ exports by way of tariff concessions.

Sri Lanka would be able to enjoy duty free market access on 206 products in the Pakistani market including tea, rubber and coconut. Pakistan, in return, would gain duty free access on 102 products in the Sri Lankan market. These products include oranges, basmati rice and engineering goods.

Pakistan also has an FTA arrangement with China that is also elbowing Kenya out of the vintage position in tea business. The Pakistan-China FTA was signed in November 2006 between Presidents Pervez Musharraf and Hu Jintao with Pakistan winning an overall market access at zero duty on industrial alcohol, cotton fabrics, bed linen and other home textiles, leather articles, mangoes, citrus, fruits and vegetables, iron and steel products among others.

In the deal China also promised to reduce its tariff by 50 per cent on fish, dairy sectors, frozen orange juice, plastic products rubber products, knit wear and woven garments.

In return Pakistan gave market access to China mainly on machinery; organic; and inorganic chemicals, fruits & vegetables, medicaments and other raw materials for various industries including engineering sector, intermediary goods for engineering sectors. As the new FTA arrangements take shape, Kenya’s traditional tea trade with Pakistan is already feeling the pinch.

“It is definite that one would turn to the best partners and the existing FTA arrangements are doing quite well. Much of the business is going to nations with which Pakistan has FTA arrangements,” Dr Iqbal told Business Daily. For instance, statistics from the Sri Lanka Commerce Department showed that the FTA deal had prompted growth in tea exports to Pakistan.

As at 2006, the value of Sri Lankan tea shipments to Pakistan climbed 13 per cent to $8 million, just one year after the free trade pact was penned on to paper.

“The tariff rate quota of 10,000 metric tonnes granted by Pakistan for export of tea at zero duty under the FTA would help Sri Lanka to regain its market share over time,” the Sri Lankan Commerce Department said in a statement. Pakistan is already courting upcoming tea producers in Africa such as Rwanda and Malawi for possible FTA arrangements that would ease trade ties.

“We are in negotiations with Rwanda for an FTA because their tea production is improving both in terms of quantity and quality,” revealed Dr Iqbal “I believe a similar efforts is on going with Malawi”.

He said tea exports from Rwanda to the Pakistani market had climbed impressively and now accounted for about eight per cent of the total market share compared to six per cent three years ago.Malawi today enjoys seven per cent of the total Pakistani tea market share compared to five per cent in 2005. “Kenya should see the sense in this and enter an FTA with Pakistan. Our proposal for an FTA has been pending with the Kenya Government since 2001. Seven years is not a long time and we are hopeful,” Dr Iqbal said.

Analysts however said though Kenya had the provisions to negotiate an FTA with Pakistan it would be difficult to find one that doesn’t infringe on the current FTA it has with other member countries of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).

“The WTO does not bar a nation from entering more than one FTA arrangement but any such new arrangements must not be better than the existing ones because that would be tantamount to short-circuiting those already in existence,” a senior official at the Trade Ministry in Nairobi told Business Daily.

But apart from the threats of Pakistan’s new FTA partners, Kenya faces another major hurdle in protecting its prime tea market next year should the East African Community (EAC) change the import duty currently charged on Pakistani rice shipments into the country.

For many years, Kenya and other EAC nations pegged the common external tariff (CET) on rice imports from Pakistan at 75 per and an extra 35 import duty in line with the provisions of the harmonised community description and coding system. But in a surprise move, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda unsuccessfully tried to start charging all rice imports at 75 per cent duty from January 1, 2005.

This drew the wrath of Pakistani rice exporters who then pressured their Government to arm-twist Kenya into deferring the duty or slap them with a reciprocal raise in the import duty of tea.

Faced with a limbo over its tea exports Kenya sweet-talked other members of the EAC into deferring the new import tariff for another two years. The deferment is set to expire by June next year, raising fresh fears that trade between the two countries could be hard hit should the tariff structure for rice change.

Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) managing director Lerionka Tiampati said urgent consultations were needed between EAC members states to avoid hurting bilateral trade ties like those between Kenya and Pakistan. “If it (changes in rice import tariff) were to happen, it would be really bad on us. I hope it does not happen,” he told Business Daily. Mr Tiampati felt Kenya should negotiate another extension with its EAC partners.

Dr Iqbal said though the EAC import tariff issue was futuristic, failure to address it on time would have great impact on the bilateral pact of Kenya and Pakistan. “We hope that Kenya will ensure regular and sufficient supply of rice to its consumers when this time comes.

Kenya produces about a third of its annual rice demand of 250,000 tonnes with a bulk of the shipments coming from Pakistan alone. Statistics showed that IRRI-6 rice shipments to Kenya accounted for about 70 per cent of the Pakistan market share.

Another brand change for Celtel

May 12, 2008: Just when Kenyans are getting comfortable with the Celtel brand, consumers and marketers will have to once again change their perceptions as it switches its name to Zain later this year.

The remaining months of 2008 promise to be significant for the Kenyan operation.

The company is preparing its Nairobi office to become Celtel Africa’s headquarters, shifting from Amsterdam by June this year. It will also be welcoming a new CEO who will oversee the name change from Celtel to Zain.

This will be the third shift for the brand in as many years, following a decision by Celtel’s parent company Zain, to have a common corporate trading name in all the countries within its operations.

Celtel was formerly known in Kenya as KenCell, when the company was jointly owned by France’s Vivendi and local investor Sameer Group.

In 2004, the Dutch-owned Celtel International bought Vivendi’s stake in the company. In 2005, Celtel was bought by Arab-based MTC, which changed its trading name to Zain late last year. Sameer has maintained an ever-decreasing stake in the company over the last few years.

With each change, a new marketing and branding process has taken place, with Celtel Kenya ranking among the top five big spenders in advertising in the years it has been operational in the country.

“The re-branding of Celtel to Zain is now in progress and the other fifteen African companies should be re-branded in the third quarter of the year,“ said Chris Gabriel, Celtel’s CEO for Africa.

Zain has a presence in 22 countries, spread throughout Africa and the Middle East. The Middle Eastern operations started the shift last year, when it was expected that Celtel Africa operations in 15 countries would remain under the same brand name to ensure continuity.

With over 28 million subscribers, representing two-thirds of the Zain Group’s total subscribers, the decision to re-brand Celtel to Zain was announced in February this year.

This came just after the Kenyan operation had completed an aggressive, huge marketing drive to cement the name in the minds of consumers.

Gabriel says that the shifting of the headquarters to Nairobi in June is motivated by the fact that Nairobi is fast becoming a commercial and regional hub for the telecommunications industry.

The company will be working on a new strategy which will boost its business growth in the region, with the aim being to provide customers with affordable and quality services.

The first operations to be re-branded were those from Kuwait, Bahrain and London. In Sub-Saharan Africa Celtel operates in Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya ,Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Norwegian firm quits Tanzania over corruption

May 7, 2008: A leading engineering consulting firm has pulled out of Tanzania over corruption.

The Norwegian firm, Norconsult AS, has also sacked its Tanzania managing director after audit reports by PricewaterhouseCoopers linked its business to corruption.

“We do not accept any kind of misconduct or corruption. As a consequence, we cease our activities in Tanzania,” said the global president, Mr John Nyheim.
The firm was in charge of government and donor funded projects running into billions of shillings.

Mr Nyheim said the audits done over the last one year revealed that about Sh332 million had been used in irregular payments adding that the company failed to adhere to the international code of ethics.

“It has been established that in the past several irregular cash payments have been made from Norconsult’s partly owned subsidiary in Tanzania, totalling about Sh156 million (Norwegian Kronor 650,000),” he said.

He also noted that last year, Sh176 million ($146,500) had been paid out from the project office in Dar-es- Salaam, as petty cash. This transaction involved a World Bank water and sanitation project. The Bank sighted the anomaly and sought an audit for the project, an investigation that unearthed more irregularities.

However, the Norconsult boss absolved his company from blame saying none of its employees took part or was aware of the reported irregular payments at the Dar-es- Salaam office.

The decision to halt its lucrative contracts in Tanzania comes after The Citizen, a publication of the Nation Media Group, reported that the Norwegian company had been operating in the country for a decade without official registration.

The Engineering Registration Board confirmed the report saying the firm did not obtain official registration from the Business Registration and Licensing Agency until 2008.

Norconsult AS’s local partner and managing director, Francis Kifukwe declined to comment. Mr Nyheim said the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime had been notified about the embezzlement and is expected to take legal action.

Norconsult does a full review of all international activities to detect misconduct emphasising that its aim is to help bodies like the World Bank fight corruption.

“Norconsult is also reviewing the internal procedures for evaluation of co-operating parties, bidding, contracting, execution, financial control and accounting in order to prevent corruption in connection with our assignments,” Mr Nyheim said.

The shutting down of the Tanzanian office by a firm that has several offices spanning across several countries is likely to unearth more corruption cases in the region.

Tanzanian authorities are reported to have started probing the Dar office of Norconsult for tax evasion amounting to Sh2.4 billion for the period between 2002 and 2007.

“It has come to our knowledge that Norconsult AS has neither filed statutory returns nor paid any taxes from 2002 to 2007 despite being registered as a taxpayer with TRA,” Tanroads notes in a March 25, 2008 letter.

Local projects in which the company has been involved in recent years include the Sengerema-Busagara road (Sh35.7 billion), Geita-Sengerema road (Sh39.5 billion) and the Unity Bridge is southern Tanzania. Others are the Rongai-Kamwanga road (Sh14.5 billion), Marangu-Rombo Mkuu road (Sh23.3 billion) as well as the Tarakea-Kamonaga and Mwika-Kilacha roads.

The projects also include the World Bank-funded Dar es Salaam Water Supply and Sanitation Project, a joint venture with a local and a Dutch firm that was signed in July 2003.

A Norwegian publication, Development Today, says the $6.7 million project might lead to Norconsult’s blacklisting by the Work Bank.

What raises the eyebrows of those who have been aware of the company’s dubious activities is how it could have taken the relevant public organs and donors for a ride for that long. They question how a company could undertake public and donor-funded projects worth billions of shillings without paying a penny in taxes since 1991 without being detected.

“These people are said to have a minimum turnover of between $3 million and $4 million annually in the country. If the allegations against the company are true, then it means that many hands have been greased and taxes amounting to billions of shillings not paid,” a tax expert consulted on the matter noted.

Clinton beaten into a pulp, fails to gain on Obama...again!

INDIANAPOLIS – Illinois Senator Barack Obama has the Democratic presidential nomination firmly within his sights today after scoring a huge victory in North Carolina and battling challenger Hillary Clinton almost evenly in Indiana.

(Africa Headlines: Zimbabwe Crisis: Real or Feigned? Click Link for More)

Following two of the toughest weeks of his 15-month campaign, Obama regained his footing, denying the former first lady the game-changing sweep she had sought in the last big voting day in this marathon race.

The margin of Obama's North Carolina win, about 14 points, will weaken Clinton's bid to keep the party's uncommitted super delegates, who will ultimately decide the nominee, from breaking to Obama and putting an end to a race which has proved both exhausting and worrying to the party elite.

Clinton needed a win in Indiana to survive and she was declared the winner early this morning.

The victory could have been academic, however. This was Obama's night.

"Some were saying that North Carolina would be a game-changer in this election," Obama said, tossing Clinton's own appraisal back at her.

"But today, what North Carolina decided is that the only game that needs changing is the one in Washington, D.C."

He told his supporters he is within 200 delegates of becoming the party's nominee.

With Indiana still unresolved, Clinton met supporters here and vowed to go "full speed ahead to the White House" in a race with six contests looming.

But there was an air of reconciliation as the two spoke to supporters in different parts of the nation, suggesting a change in tone based on the night's results, which were clearly a setback for the former first lady.

When she said she would work with the party's nominee "no matter what happens," there was clear disappointment in the room and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, looked distracted and crestfallen as his wife spoke.

Clinton said all Democrats were on the same journey.

"People are watching this race, and they're wondering, I win, he wins, I win, he wins. It's so close," she said.