Kenya: Nissan open to building plant if gov't acts on tariffs, power supply
November 13, 2014 | 0 Comments
PHOTO©REUTERS[/caption] Japan’s Nissan Motor Company, which is aiming to bolster fallen market share in Kenya, would be open to building a local assembly plant if the government took action including changes to import duties on new and used cars, a senior executive said. East Africa’s biggest economy has attracted dealerships such as Porsche in recent years to serve growing wealthy and middle classes. Nissan has a dealership in Kenya, and could add an assembly plant to go along with manufacturing operations it has in South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt, said Takashi Hata, Nissan’s senior vice president for Africa, Middle East and India. “We are ready to discuss and we are ready to seriously consider to go for the investment,” Hata told Reuters during a visit to Nairobi over the weekend, provided the government took action such as setting different tariff levels for importing new and used cars. The government would also need to boost electricity supplies and cut red tape for new businesses, he said. Mike Whitfield, a Nissan executive based in South Africa, said Kenya’s import duties were currently not favourable. “Generally, to justify local assembly you need to have a gap of approximately 35 percent,” Whitfield said, referring to the difference in tariffs on importing used and new cars. He said with the tariffs currently at parity, the ratio of used cars sold in Kenya versus new ones was 10 to one. Nissan aims to raise its market share in Kenya above 10 percent a year from now after sales fell to single digits from about 15 percent in 2012, the company officials said. The automaker made changes to the distributorship, marketing and advertising of its cars in Kenya in August. It appointed two South African firms and a Kenyan company to jointly run its dealer network for service and sales, replacing long-time franchisee DT Dobie. *Source Reuters/theafricareport]]>
Technology: Kenya's Konza will create jobs for East Africa
November 13, 2014 | 0 Comments
Catherine Adeya Acting CEO, Konza Technopolis Development Authority, Kenya. Photo©Diana Ngila/Nation Media Group[/caption] Still in the planning, Konza Technology City holds the promise of a silicon Valley for East Africa. The Africa Report talked to Dr Catherine Adeya, the woman at the tiller as it sets sail. The Kenyan government plans to create a ‘Silicon Savannah’ – an environment where technology companies, researchers and outsourcing firms can innovate and find solutions for African and global problems – and Konza Technology City is the centrepiece of that vision. Dr Catherine Adeya is the acting chief executive of the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KTDA) and a driving force behind the government’s attempts to get infrastructure built and to attract investors. The KTDA operates under the authority of the information, communications and technology ministry, which is spearheading the development of the 2,000ha site located 60km south of Nairobi. The government is seeking to capitalise on Kenya’s fast-growing economy, its booming technology sector and an increasingly well-educated and tech-savvy workforce. According to Adeya, the job prospects alone are something for Kenyans to be optimistic about. “We estimate that there will be 16,675 jobs created in the next five to six years,” she says. “We also expect around 30,000 residents eventually to live here.” In 2012, the Kenyan government had international designers draw up a master plan. The KTDA is now translating this into a physical development plan, which it will then break down into smaller action plans so that construction can begin, says Adeya. Government funding In June, the KTDA signed a contract worth $25m with Tetra Tech, an American company that will oversee the first development phase. “In this current phase, there has been a lot of public funding. The Kenyan government is presently funding the basic infrastructure, but we would also like to see a certain amount of funding coming from public-private partnerships,” Adeya explains. She also says that one of the biggest challenges is convincing people just how much money is needed. The KTDA expects Konza City to cost KSh800bn ($9bn), with most of the money expected to come from the private sector. The project has its critics, too. Those opposing it say plans to build such a city will only serve the elite and exacerbate inequality. “Some of the criticisms so far have come from the way the project has been marketed,” she says. “But many mistakenly see Konza as a real-estate project. They must understand that it’s a project connected primarily to technology. And it’s about having the creative space to understand that technology. “I’ve also heard people saying things like: ‘Why are you spending this money on technology when there are people starving in Kenya?’ But that, I believe, is the old way of thinking about Africa. “What people don’t realise is that you can actually move forward and solve those problems by utilising the technology at your fingertips,” she adds. In 2008, the government of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga launched Vision 2030, a development programme that aims to transform Kenya into a prosperous middle-income country. One of its primary goals is to achieve annual gross domestic product growth of 10%. Konza is part of Vision 2030 and Adeya says that its success should encourage smart thinking about technology in Kenya and across the East African region. How long to build a city? But many people have been asking when the words will give way to bricks and mortar. “It’s a difficult question because it’s the equivalent of asking how long does it take to build London or Nairobi? There is no immediate answer,” Adeya says. “With the first 400 acres we should be able to do something in the next five years. It will eventually grow organically, but in terms of a full build-up, I would give it around 20 years. These are just estimates, of course, but we have a four-phase plan over the two decades.” President Kibaki broke ground at Konza in January 2013, but its development has been delayed by land demarcation and other problems. Without a firm time frame to reassure investors, some companies have turned to rival projects in other African countries. Nonetheless, Kenya’s Equity Bank announced in late May that it will build a data centre at Konza City. Adeya says that working for the information and communications ministry has given her a greater appreciation of the different ways of thinking between the public and private sectors. She explains: “I’ve only been in government about a year and a half. Before that, I worked in the private sector. But working in the government has helped me a lot with this project for Konza City. “I feel I’ve brought an injection of private sector thinking into the environment. In the private sector, people tend to want to get things done very quickly, but working in the Kenyan government I’ve realised that you have to be a bit patient. And I’m just still trying to understand some of the bureaucracy.” Having worked abroad and stud- ied in Britain and the US, Adeya describes Konza City as the perfect opportunity to entice Kenyans back to the country. “Many of the Kenyan diaspora want to come home. And the older they get, the more they want to be able to share some of the qualities that they have learned out in the West. But they need the right kind of jobs, and that is why Konza is so attractive to them.” Adeya says the project will create jobs for the East African region too. “I can see Konza creating jobs not only for Kenyans, but also for people from surrounding countries. “Because Konza is not just for Kenya, it’s also for people who want to have striking distance from home. “It’s so easy to commute from Kenya. It is right at the centre of Africa, and it has really good connectivity.” She remains an eternal optimist. “Konza City really is a field of dreams,” she says. “And like any field of dreams, if you build it, people will come.” ● *Source theafricareport]]>
Kenya’s Catholic bishops: Tetanus vaccine is birth control in disguise
November 12, 2014 | 0 Comments
Kenya: Innovation Wins Kenyan Student Date With Obama
November 11, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Chris Mandi*
[caption id="attachment_14012" align="alignleft" width="290"] Photo: The Standard
Samuel Mbugua and Christian Emiyah.[/caption] “In the late 1980s, during the initial stages of the Internet, there was wild speculation that there was no way it was ever going to be a reality. Today, virtually nothing can happen without it,” says Samuel Mbugua. “The same principle is at the core of our research.” Mbugua is a Kenyan student who, together with a Nigerian colleague Christian Emiyah, presented a project on using visible light for the dual purposes of illumination and communication at the White House recently. Mbugua is currently pursuing a Masters in Electrical Engineering at Morgan State University, Baltimore. Mbugua and Emiyah presented a low cost demonstration platform for Visible Light Communication (VLC) that enables intelligent building controls and occupant tracking during the White House Maker Faire event. White House Maker Faire is an effort by President Barack Obama’s administration to encourage innovation in American colleges and industries. Its aim is to promote growth in the manufacturing sector and to steer competition with other industrialised nations in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem). “It was such an honour to be invited by the White House to showcase our project to members of President Obama’s cabinet, deans of engineering colleges from across the country and other esteemed members of the Stem community,” Mbugua said. Terming the opportunity humbling, he says it was remarkable to be referred to as “ambassadors of making” by the most powerful office in the world. “What if we were to tell you that you can send information using the light that you see around you, just like you send information using radio waves such as Wi-Fi?” Mbugua started his presentation.He said the project primarily concerns sending information using the VLC principle. “We already have demonstrated, and proven, that we can send data from one point to another using the same light that light emitting diodes (LEDs) produce to illuminate a space. We are achieving this by pulsing the light electronically as a way to encode the bits to be sent, and attaching a visible light receiver to decode the light at the receiving device,” he says.
Justice delayed is not justice denied:The Case of Bishop Luigi Locati
November 8, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Rosemary wanjiru A High Court Judge, Fred Ochieng, has sentenced two men for the murder of the late Bishop Luigi Locati. Whilst investigations were carried out .The accused, Father Guyo Waqo and his partner had served nine years in custody. The 77-year-old Italian bishop of the Isiolo diocese met his death on July 14, 2005. Guyo Waqo, Mohammed, Aden Mohamed, Mahati Halake, Diqa Wario and Roba Bariche were charged in 2005 for his murder. The judge acquitted Diqa Wario. Ochieng said Wario was tricked when he hired out his gun. He thought it was intended for hunting Ostrich. And Wario added he didn’t know it was used as a murder weapon. Consequently, Ochieng held Father Guyo Waqo planned, financed and recruited persons to kill Locati . Then he facilitated the acquisition of the guns, transported them and kept them in his house. He claimed there was sufficient evidence to show that Waqo took part in one of the meetings. And attacked the bishop with a rungu. Waqo bought a G3 rifle. He was caught with it at the scene of crime. “You accosted the bishop with others and fired from the rifle at the scene of crime during the attack. Halake took part in planning and acquiring the firearm and received money from Waqo. On the night of the attack Waqo was armed with a pistol. You also accosted the watchman guarding the bishop’s house,” he said. Ochieng said the confessions, recorded interrogation and evidence by 37 prosecution witnesses, proved the case against the five. But Ochieng directed that the deputy registrar provides a lawyer for each of the five. And a stay of execution of the sentence pending the hearing and determination of their appeal.]]>
Kenya secures funds to upgrade Mombasa airport from French agency
November 6, 2014 | 0 Comments
Kenya signed a $66 million financing agreement with the French Agency for Development (AFD) on Wednesday, to modernise its second largest airport in the port city of Mombasa. Moi International Airport is a key entry point for tourists with more than eighteen airlines flying in directly from Europe. It offers connections to more than twenty cities in the region. The port city is a renowned tourist destination with an average of one million tourists visiting the Coast of Kenya annually; but this number has declined in recent years because of attacks linked to Islamists, which led some western countries to issue travel warnings over the region. Lucy Mbugua, Kenya Airport Authority’s managing director, said the loan would fund the rehabilitation of the airport’s airside pavements, including ground lighting and upgrading of power and water supply. The east African nation has been building new terminals and runways in its other main airports in Nairobi and in the western city of Kisumu, to cope with growing demand for air travel by locals and foreigners. Yves Boudot, AFD’s regional director, said the loan was intended to help upgrade the airport in a wider move to position Kenya as the region’s key business hub. “In Kenya, air transport is a key issue for channelling hard currencies coming from tourism and high-value exports for perishable goods, like flowers and vegetables,” Boudot said during the signing of the deal. *Source theafricareport]]>
President Uhuru Kenyatta takes a bus ride and welcomes matatu graffiti art
November 6, 2014 | 0 Comments
The President of Kenya today took a matatu ride and by the look of things enjoyed it immensely. Uhuru Kenyatta attended the launch of cashless payment system for public service vehicles which took place at KICC. The launch which happened during the Matatu Owners Association National Delegates Council Meeting also saw the unveiling of Safaricom’s My1963 Card. This is the card that Uhuru used in his bus ride from State House to KICC. In his speech, Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledged that the PSV sector is a major contributor to the country’s GDP and is too critical to be left to uncoordinated and chaotic leadership. The President lauded SACCOs for ushering in a bold new era of cashless fare payment systems. “These systems,” he continued, “are revolutionary because they give proper control to investors. They also bring convenience, security and accountability all at once.” The graffiti on matatus was welcomed by Uhuru Kenyatta who also said that training of drivers and conductors will be done in partnership with NYS. During his matatu ride, he was accompanied by Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore and Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary, Michael Kamau.]]>
AfDB Reaffirms its Support to Geothermal Development in East Africa
November 5, 2014 | 0 Comments
AFDB’s Donald Kaberuka[/caption] Arusha, Tanzania, 31st October 2014 – Over the course of the 5th African Rift Valley Geothermal Conference (ARGeo C-5), the African Development Bank (AfDB) has clearly reaffirmed its on-going support to the development of geothermal power in the East Africa Rift Valley region. The ARGeo conference seeks to further regional cooperation in the development and utilization of geothermal resources in East Africa. It brought together approximately 400 policy, technical and development experts to network and interface with both local and international geothermal companies to explore how to reduce project lead times, leverage financing and effectively manage geothermal power plants. Speaking during the conference, Thierno Bah, a Principal Energy Specialist at the AfDB, said: ”The AfDB is very heartened to witness the significant progress achieved so far in the development of the geothermal resource in this part of Africa. The Bank has worked hard to mobilize various instruments and sources of financing, including the Partial Risk Garantee instrument as well as highly concessional financing from the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), to support geothermal growth and it is encourgaing to see the results of our work beginning to emerge.” In addition to acting as a key sponsor of the event, the AfDB actively participated in the conference and had the opportunity to address the delegates. Bank representatives highlighted the AfDB’s previous experience in bringing geothermal projects to fruition and detailed future possibilities for the development of goethermal power in the region. In addition, representatives of the AfDB held productive meetings with a number of bilateral partners to explore the potential for future collaboration. Throughout the course of the conference, delegates were able to learn more about the internatoinal experience of geothermal development, reservoir engineering, geographical information systems in geothermal develpoment, drilling, business development and financing. The conference also saw the launch of the African Rift Geothermal Inventory Database (AGID). This database will serve as a repository of information on the geothermal projects underway in the Rift Valley region, including project progress, funding, human resources capacity and equipment available or needed. During the ministerial-level closing session of the conference, representatives from countries including Tanzania, Eritrea, Malawi and Mozambique highlighted the significance of energy development in Africa and, in particular, the key role that geothermal will play in supporting further growth. Eritrea’s Ambassador to Kenya, Beyene Russom, announced that ARGeo C-6 will take place in Asmara, in 2016.]]>
Another victory for Kenya's sultans of spin
November 5, 2014 | 0 Comments
Michael Chege in Nairobi* Kenyatta and Ruto have turned their indictments at The Hague into a public relations coup at home. [caption id="attachment_13717" align="alignleft" width="480"] KENYA’S PRESIDENT, UHURU KENYATTA. PHOTO©REUTERS[/caption] The day following his appearance at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, President Uhuru Kenyatta returned to a hero’s welcome in Nairobi on 9 October. Cheering crowds thronged the route from Nairobi airport. It took his motorcade more than six hours to make its way to his down- town office, 27km away. The ICC judges have three clear choices: dismiss the charges against Kenyatta, charge Kenya with non-compliance with the Rome statutes for failing to hand over requested bank statements and phone records, or postpone the case indefinitely. Whatever the outcome, Kenyatta has won the African public relations competition because the ICC appears to have indicted Kenyatta first then gone fishing for evidence to convict him. The government had certainly convinced the Nairobi crowds that Kenyatta was the victim of a Western court. But the court case hasn’t stopped Kenyatta from meeting US President Barack Obama at the UN General Assembly in September, and enjoying a rapport with visiting British ministers and diplomats – presumably on common security interests. The decision by Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, to hand over the presidency to his deputy William Ruto, a Kalenjin, during his brief trip to The Hague went down surprisingly well even in opposition-dominated areas. It was the first time in Kenya that a president had shown such trust in his deputy. No time to govern The paradox is that both Kenyatta and Ruto face charges of crimes against humanity at the ICC for the post-election violence in 2007 and 2008. And most of the violence, which claimed more than 1,200 lives, was between the Kikuyu and Kalenjin peoples. However, the diplomatic and legal fight against the ICC case means that Kenyatta and his team have diverted some energy from the business of running Kenya. There, they face hard-hitting questions on security, state appointments, fiscal management and devolution. The government is struggling to manage the new constitution, which devolves funds and powers to the 47 counties. Ethnic hostilities are also rising amid rampant crime and insecurity. Nine of the government’s 18 ministers are from the private sector, and the rest are from parastatals, non-governmental organisations and universities. Most of these ministers seemed puzzled by the cut and thrust of politics, and the insistent demands of the press and public. It has taken the government almost 18 months to fill some important ambassadorial positions. Set against Kenya’s dysfunctional governance, its economy is growing robustly. After rebasing its national economic statistics in late September, Kenya’s gross domestic product is reckoned to be $53bn, a 25% increase. Business confidence is strong, with Kenya benefiting from East Africa’s booming economies. The infrastructure development during the years of President Mwai Kibaki – 2003 to 2013 – has helped. * Source theafricareport]]>
Seeing beyond the label: The Travails of Students With Disabilities in Kenya
November 3, 2014 | 0 Comments
It is quite an illusion to avoid labeling a person with disability (PWDs). It is as simple as looking at a person and concluding they are handicapped since they are physically challenged. Mostly, when we meet with a pwd we unconsciously develop an inner attitude of empathy and rush helping them out. Even without their need of our help at times. It was a while last week when the students with disability (SWD) from the University of Nairobi met in a forum to express their issues to the relevant authorities within the main campus. During the forum, Solomon Odhiambo, a second year student at the School of Medicine expressed the need to sensitize the public about SWDs. “Since, I am partially impaired I have encountered many people who were very quick to help me even without me asking for this help,” said Odhiambo. “ For instance when I am filling a simple form someone will come and pick it from me even without enquiring if I need help, of course I know it is entirely goodwill but this such acts hurt our ego.” Expounded Odhiambo. Kelvin Kioko a student from UoN shares the same opinion saying that when a person succumbs to a disability they are taken to special schools where we are taught to be independent persons. We are treated as if we are normal so we adapt to it but the society still has withheld myths about us. “We heal from the trauma of being disabled but the society never heals.” Affirms Kioko. The forum spearheaded by Jamleck Njoka,a placement officer at the dean of students office, elicited diverse emotions from the students who turned up from different faculties offered by the institution. Approximately 30 students turned up for the meeting among the roughly 50 students who have been admitted in the University of Nairobi (UoN). Njoka addressed issues raised by the students through the kind dialogue that was facilitated by the leadership of the Students with Disability Association. Secretary General for students with disabilities of Students Organization of Nairobi University (SONU) David Mtai promoted the students to talk openly about their issues by assuring them they were the only ones who can make their felt needs known. “We are not only doing this for ourselves but also for the students who will join this university later. We will pride ourselves that we were part of the making,” assured Mtai. Students With Disabilities Association (SWIDA) secretary general, Michael Muigwa, outlined the issues as per the disability. He said that there was need for disability sensitization in all campuses. He added that the students who are visually impaired need their course outline scanned to make it easier for them during revision. He also held that the university should set up platforms such that during their registration they are not subjected to unnecessary torture of making long queues. However the students attributed their success to UoN. They emphasized that the institution didn’t kill their interests as compared to other institutions that limit the courses they should pursue. SWIDA acknowledged the University’s effort with a ranking of 50 per cent in addressing the students with disabilities challenges. They mentioned the university offered students who are visually impaired with laptops and those with hearing disorder with hearing devices. They expressed their sincere gratitude for the university’s effort to accommodate them. They observed that the University of Nairobi has earned commendable recognition due to their excellent effort to practice the law that governs PWDs rights under the persons with disabilities act of 2003 by the National Council for Persons with Disabilities. The SWIDA Sports Representative, Benson Nderitu, supported his colleagues by adding that the university had plans underway to purchase equipments needed by the students during sports. Wilson Macharia a SWD said that the university means of transport for the SWDs will be ready for use in a short while as it was getting repaired then. Njoka guaranteed SWDs that after an official report was filed by their leadership he would present it to the dean of students to ensure that their felt needs were addressed. He said that it is true that there is slow progress but sure there all issues will be fully addressed in the future as the institution will also have improved on some of its services. He also commended the leadership of SWDs for their attempt to deliver to their fellow students. Later, in the afternoon session the students were joined by the representative of Disabilities Mainstreaming Committee (DMC), Susan Oluoch, which deals with the SWDs needs and representation in the institution. She engaged with the students and emphasized on the need for them to register with the committee as part of the SWDs as students were shying away from them. She said that the committee would collaborate with the National Council for Persons with Disabilities through the institution to get financial aid that should cater for their fees and other needs. She said the collaboration will enable the institution to fully adhere to sub article 18, part two of the rights and privilege of persons with disabilities by the council (PWDs Act 2003). In attendance of the forum were the students’ representatives from the School of Arts and Social Sciences. They also emphasized that the students should improve their interactions with the institutions through them as they reassured them of their full commitment to helping the SWDs to overcome all their challenges. I must agree that the forum was very informative and educative forum since I met with many SWDs who are independent. In fact they need minimum or no assistance while interacting with the environment provided it is conducive. So may be its time that we let them live life as we live it. Free from unwarranted assumptions and discrimination but help when need be. ]]>
Kenya: Thika Primary School Gets E-Learning Library
October 31, 2014 | 0 Comments
Photo: Julius Mwelu/Urban Gateway
School children hold up one of the Samsung tablets used at the library.[/caption] The school, which was selected with the assistance of the Municipality of Thika Education office, has a population of over 600 pupils and 23 teachers and will be the first to benefit from the project that will see more children exposed to e-learning while still in primary school. The newly renovated library will be able to accommodate up to 30 pupils at once, and has been equipped with books and Samsung Galaxy Tabs equipped with curriculum-compliant e-books which will help build their language skills both in English and Kiswahili. Speaking when he presented the facility to the school, Samsung East and Central Africa Head of Corporate Marketing Patricia King’ori said the project was in line with Samsung’s commitment to improving the lives of the communities it operates in, having identified quality education as one of the pillars of sustainable development. “We are pleased to have secured an opportunity to work with Thika Primary School and education officials in Kiambu County to contribute towards improving the quality of education and access to learning materials for young students,” said Ms King’ori.
Kenya Opens Website for the Diaspora to Send Distress Messages, Get Job Guidelines
October 31, 2014 | 0 Comments
online platform for addressing various Diaspora issues including distress calls. “The portal will disseminate guidelines for use by Kenyans going abroad for studies or employment and be a quick means for the Diaspora to send distress messages for urgent attention,” Deputy President William Ruto said while launching it at a Nairobi hotel. Ruto said the Kenya Diaspora web portal will also be for the registration of those abroad and a reference for investment opportunities. He lauded the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade for fast tracking the completion of the Diaspora policy to facilitate effective engagement with Kenyans living abroad. Noting that the country’s foreign policy was clear on how to fully harness the diverse skills, expertise and potential of Kenyans living abroad, Ruto assured that Kenyan in the Diaspora will be included in the national development agenda. He noted that the establishment of the African Institute for remittances (AIR) in Kenya, with the acceptance of the African Union, will be important in harnessing Diaspora resources for social and economic development in Africa. Ruto spoke about regional security at the launch of the portal. Noting that peace and stability were a priority to the government, he said Kenya will work with the Intergovernmental Agency on Development (IGAD), the East African Community, the African Union and the UN to promote sustainable peace and development on the continent.“Kenya will continue to support peace efforts by the African union and the United Nations through contributing troops and providing leadership in peacekeeping missions within Africa and globally.” He noted that Kenya had engaged ten other countries in the region to form a standby force for capacity building in the military and police and civilian components to address security threats and challenges in the region. Ruto also launched the strategic plan for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International trade. The service delivery charter said Kenya has now turned its focus to international economic, trade, entrepreneurship and business engagements. Emphasizing that Kenya must take its place in making the African continent more competitive, Ruto pointed out that Kenya is now a middle income economy and the 9th largest in Africa . “Kenya must promote leadership and replace tariffs, eliminate bureaucracy and provide incentives for trade and investments in the region,” he said. Foreign Affairs CS and International Trade Ambassador Amina Mohammed said the ministry has opened new markets for Kenya’s goods and services in Asia and Africa with significant results in foreign direct investment. She announced that through a spirited diplomatic offensive, a Kenyan, Dr Josephine Ojiambo, had been appointed the next deputy secretary general of the commonwealth. *Source allafrica]]>
Kenya's Malindi, a paradise lost
October 30, 2014 | 0 Comments
Parselelo Kantai in Malindi Photographs by Andrew Njoroge for TAR* [caption id="attachment_13507" align="alignleft" width="710"] Security fears have kept visitors away from Malindi’s pure white beaches. Photo©Andrew Njoroge for TAR[/caption] After three decades of mafia money and a rampant sex trade Malindi’s tourist income is drying up. Will the separatists gain ground or can the town reinvent itself? It is not exactly Florence on the Indian Ocean, but there is a distinctly Italianate imprint on Malindi – the language, the food, the hotels and the casinos, and even the occasional fugitive from justice. For a generation, Italians in search of the African sun have travelled to Malindi. They have set up business and built hotels with mixed success. One of the most ambitious of them is the colourful tycoon Flavio Briatore, who set up franchises for Benetton and managed the Renault Formula One team. A string of convictions for fraud in the 1980s – later cancelled in an amnesty – proved no bar for Briatore to do business in Kenya. At first glance Briatore’s latest and most ambitious project in Malindi – Billionaire Resort, with an estimated cost of KSh500m ($5.5m) – looks deserted in late August. Apart from a small detail at the gates, an assistant manager with a security radio at reception and a guest- relations officer who briefly struggles with English before smiling and falling silent, the place is empty. From the closed casino to the small shopping centre, where the impossible price tags on extravagant trinkets lie behind the windows of unopened shops, to the vast empty restaurant by the beach with the silverware gleaming on immaculate tablecloths, the resort has the air of an abandoned vaudeville set. But four guests just arrived and are coming in from the airport. Another party left a few days ago, so business is ticking over. Manager Philip Chai says that unlike other tourist operations in Malindi, the resort does not depend on hotel guests. Of the 40 or so apartments available to buy, 26 have already sold for €1.2m ($1.5m) each. “Mr Briatore didn’t come here to build a church. This is an investment, and he expects to make a profit,” says Chai, who was persuaded to come out of retirement to manage the Billionaire Resort when it opened last year. The resort was supposed to lend Malindi a touch of glamour and encourage big-spending tourists. Some of Briatore’s closest friends and associates, including Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and Formula One superstar Fernando Alonso, attended its opening festivities. This year, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta dropped in, bestowing a kind of political endorsement for Briatore. Land controversy Briatore has been particular about employing local staff. Kenyan architects designed the resort, and local firm Continental Homes built it. Of the 50 employees that work at Billionaire Resort, all but a handful are locals. The food is also sourced locally. Even before it opened, the resort sparked controversy. It abuts the Malindi Marine National Park, a protected conservation area where permanent physical development is forbidden. The resort was extended into the park amid protests from local people and stories of a deal negotiated behind the scenes. Chai rejects the complaints: “We had not encroached on the marine park. What happened is that the land we had was not sufficient for the development we had planned, so we requested the government, through the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), to lease [us] the land for a period. We got the lease for 25 years, but I think where things went wrong is that KWS failed to communicate their decision to other stakeholders.” Beach operators complain they were evicted to make way for Briatore’s resort. Some claim that there was no proper environmental impact assessment. Briatore’s venture is one of the few new tourism ventures on the coast that appears to be turning a profit. As Western governments put out travel advisories about terror attacks in Kenya, tourism has slumped, and with it Malindi’s economy. Part of what drew Briatore to Malindi was its ‘Little Italy in Africa’ history. It has long been a favoured playground of businessmen and pensioners, politicians and celebrities, and even notorious criminals lying low until the heat dies down in Europe. From the boda boda taxi operator and the curio sellers on the beaches to bank tellers, property agents, sex workers and hotel managers, everybody speaks Italian. Many street signs are in Italian. Local lawyers draw up contracts in both Italian and English. All the big hotels and nightclubs, formerly owned by Britons and Germans, are now owned by Italians. Dangerous ecosystem [caption id="attachment_13508" align="alignright" width="480"] No doubt about whose euros the town depends on. Photo©Andrew Njoroge for TAR[/caption] “Without the Italians, Malindi doesn’t exist. It’s as simple as that,” says a Kenyan tour operator who specialises in deep-sea fishing. “You cannot survive in Malindi without speaking Italian,” says a woman who moved to the town four years ago. “The Italians are the gods of this town. These days, because the economy in their country is not so good, they are taking the place of local tour guides because they have the advantage of a direct connection with their home markets,” she adds. Tourism is now in the doldrums, and the eurozone is in a continued state of crisis. The retiree who 20 years ago collected a lump-sum pension and took a chartered flight to Malindi is now faced with a dilemma. Returning to Italy may be out of the question. But staying in Kenya, with growing insecurity, inflation and harassment from shady immigration officials under pressure to stem the tide of illegal aliens, is getting much harder. “Life has become very expensive for these people. You now find Italians get- ting involved in small-scale businesses – the boda boda business – and even competing with beach boys for clients on the beach,” observes a senior hotel manager who has been in the business since the 1970s. “It’s very sad. The British and the Germans never got involved in the economy at this level. There should be laws limiting this kind of thing.” It was science, not tourism, that first brought Italians to Malindi. Kenya had been independent for less than three months in March 1964, when a young aeronautical engineer named Franco Esposito, dispatched by the Università di Roma, arrived in Malindi to scout for a location to build a launch pad for Italy’s inaugural satellite programme. The San Marco Project, as it came to be known, was a joint initiative of the Università di Roma, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Jomo Kenyatta’s government. In 1965, Italy launched its first satellite from Formosa (now Ungwana) Bay, 28km south-west of Malindi. Almost 50 years and 12 satellite launches later, Esposito is one of the thousands of Italians who have settled in Malindi. He has done better than most. After retiring, he started working with the people of Ngomeni, where he had set up when he first arrived. “In those days, Ngomeni was a fishing village consisting of no more than four Bajuni huts,” he recalls, referring to a minority community. Work on the launch pad brought in hundreds of Giriama recruits, the dominant community in the Malindi area, who then settled in Ngomeni. In 2007, the Giriama elders gave Esposito a new name, Kasaso wa Baya, and urged him to run for the Magarini parliamentary seat. He lost by 100 votes but had become the first Italian to run for political office in Kenya. Malindi is one of the poorest towns in Kenya. In Magarini constituency, one of the two constituencies in Malindi District, 78% of the population of about 50,000 lives on less than KSh1,562 a month, the poverty threshold. The education figures are just as revealing, perhaps even more so. About half of Malindi’s children are enrolled in primary school. Only 24% of the boys and 10% of the girls go on to secondary school. Waves of colonialism Italian migration and tourism in Malindi have created a kind of ‘Dutch disease,’ which has depressed other economic activities outside tourism. The chaotic and politically charged land tenure system has made it difficult for many local people to set up productive businesses. Since Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, dropped anchor at Malindi port in 1498 and erected a pillar to commemorate the landing, it has been under the grip of one foreign power after another: the Portuguese were followed by the Omanis, the Zanzibaris and then the British. In the early 1900s, the sultan of Zanzibar ceded the Kenyan coast to the British. The British claimed jurisdiction over a 10-mile strip of the coast that stretched from Kismayo in the north to Shimoni in the south. At Kenya’s independence in 1963, President Jomo Kenyatta’s new government signed an agreement with the coastal peoples that, in exchange for jurisdiction over the old 10-mile strip, it would administer it in accordance with Swahili custom and Islamic sharia law. Kenyatta soon reneged on the agreement and rejected old land tenure claims. The result has been a free-for-all land grab. The claims of the Giriama and Bajuni to their ancestral lands have been systematically ignored. Unable to eke a living from the land – once the site of an Arab plantation system dependent on African slaves – the youth have exchanged their jembes (Kiswahili for hoe) for hotel beaches. Some locals say that Somalia’s Islamist insurgency and a coastal separatist group see Malindi as a base for attracting members. “The land problem here is a powder keg waiting for someone to strike a match. And I fear that both Al- Shabaab and the [Mombasa Republican Council] are already recruiting young people here,” says Vincent Karisa, a youth activist who now works for the new Kilifi County government. Karisa’s history, he says, encapsulates the crisis: “I am the third person in my village to have gone beyond high school. Everybody was illiterate – my father, my mother, the village headman – everyone. Because I went to school, I don’t need a mzungu [white person].” Among the Italians in Malindi, there are quiet dissidents. “For Italians, Malindi is a celebrity paradise. In the 1970s, when the first chartered flights from Italy started, the reputation of Malindi was the destination of the ‘happy few’ – the glamour crowd who wanted to be an Italian equivalent of the British ‘Happy Valley set’ in the Rift Valley,” says an Italian resident who asks to remain anonymous. “Lower-class types wanted to imitate them. When they retire and get their pensions, they now all flock to Malindi.” In the 1980s, Malindi’s reputation as a haven for Italian fugitives and pensioners with mafia links had become a staple in the Italian media. Malindi was the sex- and-drugs destination of the Italian bad boy, helped by the absence of an extradition treaty between Kenya and Italy. A few years ago a massive billboard was posted outside Malindi airport. It showed a picture of a little girl, her back towards the viewer, and was accompanied by the words, ‘Leave me alone! I am not here for your pleasure.’ The text was in Italian, a clear signal to whom the message was targeted. Agnes Masudi, a social worker with Italian NGO Nativo, has worked for years with abused children. At the time the billboard appeared she was handling at least three cases of child sex abuse a day. “Sometimes the girls would be as young as nine, but mostly they are teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 years,” she recalls. Old men would check into hotels with under-age girls, untroubled by the management. Sex trafficking Gongoni is a township on the outskirts of Malindi across the Sabaki River. It has long been known as a major source of child sex workers. A culture of early marriages in the community morphed, driven by tourism, into a child sex trafficking industry. David Katana Masha, a community leader and chair of the board of two primary schools there, explains the human cost: “It’s been going on for the past 30 years. The influence of tourism has profoundly affected children’s education here. They are simply not interested in education,” he says. “They are pushed into it [commercial sex] by their parents. The community is apathetic and very poor. They see it as a source of income.” After a damning UN report on the child sex industry and a campaign targeting hotels, the sex trade has diminished. “We’ve been very effective in curbing the abuses in public places. It used to be out in the open. Now you won’t find a single hotel that allows it,” says a government official. But other officials say that the trade has simply gone underground. There are only two child protection officers in the whole of Malindi. The combination of growing youth unemployment, the gross corruption of a semi-covert sex industry, searing inequalities between local people and the Nairobi and international elite looks combustible in Malindi. For many along the coast, it is heading for another set-piece confrontation between Western moral depravity and the radical proselytisers that Karisa mentions. ● *Source theafricareport]]>
Kenya: Renewable Energy utilized as a source of hygiene
October 29, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Rosemary Wanjiru Umande Trust, a local Non-governmental Organization (NGO), is engineering a revolution in green energy generation and sanitation in, Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum. The innovative environmental technology has introduced cheap energy for Kibera residents. It uses human waste to produce biogas which is cheaper and safer than charcoal. Umande Trust has set up communal toilets to replace latrines. It has improved neighborhood sanitation and public health .Since they couldn’t afford sewage collection fees. The human waste from the new flushing toilets is turned into biogas. Then it is fed directly to a holding tank and bio-digester. Where bacteria converts it into acid. Three weeks later, methane gas collects above the surface of the waste. It is pumped to communal kitchens. And sold to the residents as fuel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxqNOCJ5chs “There are currently 72 bio-systems in Kenya and we intend to erect another 20 over the next two years,” said, Josiah Omotto, Director of Umande Trust. Judy Vagubo a resident at Kibera confirms that charcoal is expensive. And unavailable when it rains. Contrary to biogas which is cheap and readily available. The Program Coordinator of Umande Trust, Aidhah Binale Ibrahim, concludes that a noticeable impact on public health has been felt since there is a reduction in contracting some water-borne diseases.]]>
Kenya Launches World’s Biggest Geothermal Power Plant
October 21, 2014 | 0 Comments
Jibril Adan* [caption id="attachment_13158" align="alignleft" width="600"] President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto unwind a turbine valve during the official Commissioning of the 140 Mega Watt Olkaria IV Geothermal Power Plant, in Naivasha Sub-county.[/caption] Kenya has set a world record with the commissioning of the largest single geothermal power plant generating 140MW that will reduce the cost of electricity in the country by 30 percent, officials said Saturday. President Uhuru Kenyatta today commissioned the Olkaria IV power plant and oversaw the uploading of the massive power into the national electricity grid. The historic event now opens the path for a reduction in the cost of production of goods which will ultimately lead to a lower cost of living. The increased quantity of geothermal power will lead to lesser dependence on electricity produced using heavy fuel generators in many parts of the country. The reduced use of heavy fuel in generating electricity will reduce the cost of power to consumers by 30 percent in the next month, meaning that a household that used to pay Sh1000 monthly will in the next month start paying Sh700. The cost of essential goods like maize flour, sugar and building materials like cement will also go down. “Take my word that the cost of goods will come down and this will lead to a lowercost of living for all Kenyans,” said President Kenyatta when he spoke at a function after the launch of the power plant. The Olkaria IV is now the world’s biggest geothermal power plant surpassing the previous record holder by 30MW. President Kenyatta will commission another geothermal power plant in December which will also have the capacity to produce another 140MW. When the new plant is opened at the end of the year, the cost of power is expected to go down by 50 percent. “We will not achieve the transformation we want if we do not increase the quantity of power, reduce its cost and ensure its regular supply,” said the President. The President said the lower cost of power production will be passed on to consumers because industries will not take the savings from lower cost of power and keep it as profit for themselves. He said the generation of cheap and reliable power will free Kenyans economically and help the country achieve its goals in education, health and wealth creation. “You cannot fight poverty when you do not have power to run an economy with industries to create jobs and create wealth,” said President Kenyatta. Cheaper and reliable electricity will also attract investors to Kenya and the Government has already demarcated three industrial zones near Olkaria. Those who will set up industries within the demarcated zones will benefit from cheaper power tariffs because they will get direct supplies from Olkaria. “The industrial park that will be established here will demonstrate the actuality of the connection between geothermal power and industrialisation,” said the President. President Kenyatta said the Olkaria IV project was testimony of what Kenya can achieve, adding that the project was a milestone in Kenya’s journey to self-sufficiency, competitiveness and prosperity. “Our developmental momentum is now unstoppable. The successful completion of an energy infrastructure project of this magnitude is a grand achievement in its own right,” the President said. He said the Government will remain focused on its transformative agenda and will not be distracted by sideshows. “Let us dream bigger, see farther and do more always remembering that we can do more together, than each of us alone,” he said. Deputy President William Ruto said the Jubilee Government was making strides in delivering what it promised Kenyans. He said work on the Standard Gauge Railway has already began and the constructionof 2,000 kilometres of road will start soon. He said 16,000 primary schools have been connected with electricity and the remaining 5,000 schools will be connected by April next year. “What you are seeing is not a story, it is facts that are happening,” said the Deputy President. The DP said the Jubilee manifesto was never a document meant only to mobilise voters but it was document that the ruling parties believe in. The President and his deputy held a panel session after the launch of the power plant during which they answered question from those who attended the function as well as those sent through the internet. *Source chimpreports]]>
Uhuru’s Hotel Visits Spurs Business
October 18, 2014 | 0 Comments
President Uhuru Kenyatta in the company of politician from the coastal city of Mobasa samples the Swahili delicacies at the Barka restaurant during his impromptu visit. Picture by Hussein Abdullahi[/caption]
Since the surprise lunchtime visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta on August 30, Barka Restaurant in Mombasa tucked away at the centre of the famous old town has continued the experience a booming business.
President Kenyatta who was on an official visit at the Coast that included opening of the Mombasa International Trade Fair, showed up for lunch at Barka Restaurant to the bemusement of the hotel staff and residents.
The President popped in at 12.10pm accompanied by a number of local MPs earning the hotel exposure, grabbing social media attention and mainstream media coverage.
Among the MPs who joined the Head of State for the sumptuous lunch were Abdulswamad Nassir (Mvita), Masoud Mwahima (Likoni), Gideon Mungaro (Kilifi North) Gonzi Rai (Kinango), Hatib Mwashetani (Lungalunga) and Mustafa Idd (Kilifi South).
Since then the restaurant which is located at the heart of the historical Mombasa old town has been frequented by high profile customers including county and national government officials, politicians, lawyers, bankers and even tourists.
The outlet’s location is an added advantage as it is within reach of Mombasa County Assembly, Fort Jesus, several law firms, Central Bank of Kenya and a host of other financial institutions.
Barka restaurant which is famous for its Swahili dishes with Lamu delicacy is about 1 km from the historical Fort Jesus in Mombasa’s Old Town that was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1997. The old town area is approximately 72 hectares, inhabited by a rich diverse group of communities.
Among the popular dishes on offer at the 60 sitting capacity restaurant are biriani, pilau, chapati, chicken tikka, traditional vegetables, simsim bread and mahamri.
[caption id="attachment_13058" align="alignright" width="300"] President Kenyatta at the entrance of Barka restaurant acknowledges greetings from the public.
Picture by Hussein Abdullahi[/caption] A spot check by the Kenya News Agency today found that the buzz created by the Presidential visit is yet to die down as the place was a flurry of activity. “The visit by President Kenyatta was a big blessing for us as we have witnessed a new stream of customers to our eatery,” says the hotel’s manager Seyyid Noor Mwenye. Mr Mwenye: “since we opened the restaurant in 2010, we have hosted a number of distinguished customers but not that of the stature of head of state.” He said the President ordered for chicken biriani and a glass of tamarind juice which has since become the favourite dish to most customers. “People come to enquire where the President sat and what delicacies he ordered,” observes the manager. Mr Mwenye noted that since the restaurant was “spotlighted” by the President, they feel “a real new sense of life.” He reckoned that for the President to forsake five star restaurants and beach hotels in this tourist resort city, clearly demonstrated how humble and down to earth he is. He said “ni aghlabu kupata raisi kutangamana na raia wa kawaida tena kwa hotel ndogo kama yetu “(it is rare for a President to mingle with common people and more so in a humble hotel like ours) The uniqueness and ambience of this restaurant is the surrounding historical buildings dating from the 18th century which combines, African, Arabic and European influences. *Source KNA]]>
Kenya: Silicon Savannah Reimagines Cities
October 18, 2014 | 0 Comments
By David Njagi
[caption id="attachment_13031" align="alignleft" width="614"] Photo: Konza Technocity
Konza Technocity[/caption] Nairobi — He has struggled to find jobs since he finished high school a decade ago – but if Alex Muoki has bet right this time, he may turn out to be a winner. At the age of 30, Muoki operates a motor-bike taxi at Malili, a sleepy shopping crossroads east of Nairobi. Even this informal job makes him more fortunate than many in this capital city, where poverty is prevalent, despite the economic growth rate of over 5 percent that has propelled Kenya to lower middle income status. In a February report on Kenya, the African Development Bank says that over a quarter of people are unemployed and 80 per cent of those are under 34 years of age. Like many youth from poor homes, Muoki passed his high school exams but lacked the funds to advance his studies, so he has scratched out a living in a succession of three informal sector jobs. Nevertheless, he is hopeful. “I am establishing my base here,” he says, “so that I will have a big taxi business once Konza city has been built.” Konza. Artists’ sketches of the emerging technopolis on the site of the former Malili Ranch, 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Nairobi’s city center, evoke science-fiction cityscapes very different from today’s Malili , where Muoki dreams of a different future. And despite the makeshift structures where retailers hawk their wares, a visitor can begin to understand the optimism. The Kenyan government is developing the city as a 5,000-acre public-private partnership and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) hub, a development Muoki figures will change fortunes for youth in this area. Konza is a flagship initiative of Kenya’s Vision 2030, a national development blueprint. Plans call for Konza to be constructed in four five-year phases. Creating jobs, building skills Konza is expected to generate 20,000 jobs in the first phase and 200,000 by the time city development is complete in 20 years, according to KOTDA – the Konza Technopolis Development Authority – the agency charged with implementing construction plan at an estimated to cost of US$ 10-15 billion. KOTDA officials say that world-leading technology firms such as Microsoft, IBM, Toshiba, HP, Google and Apple have been in touch with the agency to pitch for business space. Market analysts forecast Konza City to become an emerging global center, perhaps on the scale of California’s Silicon Valley. Kenyans are calling it the ‘Silicon Savannah’. “The government’s plan is to put up investments such as hotels, international schools, a world class hospital, a financial district, a high speed mass transport system and integrated infrastructure,” says the former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, Bitange Ndemo. A technology and engineering university is to be built to prepare young workers for the jobs that will be created. In June, TetraTech of Denver, Colorado (USA), representing a consortium of five Kenyan and six international companies, signed a contract with the government of Kenya to implement Konza’s Phase 1 U.S.$25 million master plan. The agreement commits the firms to building in conformity to “world class smart building standards”. Development versus tradition Not everyone has welcomed the idea of Konza without reservations. [caption id="attachment_13032" align="alignright" width="290"] Photo: David Njagi / AllAfrica
Alex Muoki is betting on Kenya’s city of the future to support his motobike taxi business.[/caption] Conservation groups are concerned that building the city of the future here is encroaching on wildlife’s natural ecosystem. According to theAfrica Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) the mapped region has large herds of wildebeest, zebras, elands hartebeest, gazelles and jackals. Konza also neighbors nomadic communities. Near the fence marking Konza boundaries, herders move freely with their livestock, while herds of zebras can be seen grazing at a distance. The potential for human-wildlife conflict makes Konza a great idea in the wrong place, some conservationists argue. But the Friends of Nairobi National Park say that despite the case against it, the project will create a useful buffer between settled areas and wildlife. And the group outlined other advantages. In addition to the skilled jobs it will create, the group said Konza “offers employment to locals who will then not resort to poaching or crime, uplifts the community and will provide tourists to support wildlife conservation in the area.” The group described the development as the “lesser of two evils” and called for “stringent environmental checks to ensure negative environmental impact is minimal”.
An Open Letter to African Intellectuals
October 14, 2014 | 0 Comments
The tag, ‘intellectual’ in reference to Africa refers to a certain type: western educated and visible in western media, maybe published in the West and maybe teaching at a western university. Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire writes to this type of African Intellectual.
Dear contemporary African Intellectuals,
We find your names on lists published in western media, among the top African Public Intellectuals, sometimes among the lists of Global Thinkers. And we celebrate. ‘Our’ thinkers are shaping the world, we say. You appear in TIME’s lists of Influential People. You have theorised about important things. About the end of capitalist hegemony. About the failure of the African state. About the representations of Africanness. About the rise of Afro-capitalism. About many things your Western audiences find very captivating. And this is why they rank you highly alongside their own intellectuals. You are indeed one of their intellectuals as well.
What if Africa needs or desires a different intellectual from what the West needs? How do you become an intellectual for both societies without losing relevance in the other? These are questions I want you to think about. I am writing because I seek knowledge. I want to understand if, on the streets of Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and other African countries, you are still the intellectual you are in the West. Let us exclude the prophet is not appreciated in their own home alibi, because we know for sure that Africa, or Asia, or South America does not identify intellectuals for Europe or North America. It can’t be that this prophetisation of intellectuals applies only to Africa!
I will refer to Africa’s immediate post-colonial period to show what I mean by relevance of an intellectual to the African condition. Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Haunted out of Kenya because his theorising was ‘radicalising’ the Kenyan rural masses and pockets of the urban elite, where he was taking his plays that hit hard on the neo-colonial nature of post-colonial Kenya, he has since found refuge in the West. You see, Ngugi’s intellectualism was in the language the majority of his people understand. Gikuyu. And so he became so influential in his own homeland and too dangerous to Euro-American interests in Kenya, and thus had to be eliminated. The story of his imprisonment over his writing is known to you. The story of the novel he wrote on toilet paper in his prison cell is also known. The story of his liberation of the Literature Department at University of Nairobi from the hegemony of English Literature to the fresh shores of African Literature is also known to you. No one will deny that Ngugi was therefore a Kenyan intellectual in his prime. His ideas were not only relevant to Kenya and Kenyans but also influential. We know this because were they not influential enough, the post-colonial Kenyan establishment would not have shut him up by all means.
Cross the border into Uganda, where Ngugi studied, at Makerere University. His contemporary Okot P’Bitek also exemplifies the image of a relevant intellectual to their society. P’Bitek believed that theory does not only belong to the hollowed walls of universities and addled pages of newspapers and books. He was head of the extra-mural department of Makerere University, based in his home-town of Gulu, not the ivory tower at Makerere. Ideas live with people. While he was director of the Uganda National Theatre (the first African director of the institution), he took theatre out of the elitist urban Kampala to the people, through festivals in the countryside and the work of a travelling theatre troupe. He was also active in Kenya with travelling theatre companies, after running away from Idi Amin’s regime. As he wrote in his posthumously published collection of essays, Artist, the Ruler, “In an African society, art is life. It is not a performance. It is not necessarily a profession. It is life.” I would like to extend the argument to intellectualism. Ideas are life. They must be relevant. Lived. Or they are dead and non-existent.
I return to you, our esteemed contemporary African intellectuals. Where are your ideas in our life, us Africans living in Africa today? I understand that your theorising makes sense to those who praise you and list you among the most influential thinkers of our time. But do they make sense to us? Do they benefit us? Do we live by them? When you leave your busy lives in Western universities, your non-stop lecture schedules in all the world’s (read ‘developed’ world) capitals and retreat to Africa, where majority of the population still lives in rural areas and obviously does not consume Western media, do you feel that your intellectualism is relevant to the lives we lead? Do you feel that the Socrates, Adam Smith, Hegel, Marx, Kant, Keynes etc. that you are always citing is relevant to our lives?
Of course you know for sure that every society is based on certain philosophies, ideas and systems. Or else it would not be a society. Who or how do you think the ideas, philosophies and systems that inform our lives came to exist? Or are you still purveying the fiction that these philosophies are dead-dying? They are not, I can tell you. They are evolving and what they are becoming is not necessarily a replica of Euro-American life. There is such a thing as African contemporaneity that is not mimicry of European culture nor is it a re-imagination of an African past. If you refuse, come and I take you to Nyanja, the village of my birth and upbringing. Or do you think the okadas in Lagos or boda bodas in Kampala are mimicry of the West? Did our ancestors ride them? There is your hint. But you are the same advising African city managers to ban these things because in your Euro-American vision, they do not exist!
I will share something I learnt from a renowned African journalist, Charles Onyango Obbo. In Kampala, there is a big sewerage problem. Whenever it rains, or even when it does not, you find sewage freely flowing on the city streets. According to Charles Onyango Obbo, much of Kampala under colonial times was inhabited by Europeans and Asians, and so the infrastructure was to serve their needs. He says that these Europeans and Asians did not eat heavy organic food and so their waste was lighter. Africans on the other hand eat heavy organic food. The sewage pipes made for Kampala in colonial times were therefore light as the waste would not be heavy. Africans took over most of these houses that used to be inhabited by the Asians and Europeans on independence. The size of sewage pipes has not changed. Even new pipes bought are as small as they were then. Africans have not urbanised culturally. They still eat their heavy organic food. And the pipes are always bursting. Kampala is stuck with its sewerage flowing on the streets? Why? Because the post-colonial intellectuals have not decolonised their thinking. They think for Euro-America shadows. But Africa has not necessarily become a shadow of Europe. This is probably why in the West, Africa has intellectuals that speak to a reality the West knows. In Africa, these same intellectuals are leading to solutions that cause more problems. Like the flowing sewerage.
Most of you have been insistent on the need to ‘develop’ Africa. Some of you speak about this development in the economic sense, while some of you talk of social development. You are partly responsible for the cliché that Africa is bedevilled with ignorance, poverty and disease. Our esteemed African intellectuals, have you asked yourselves if this development you preach is necessary or even desirable for African populations? Have you re-thought what development actually means? You now talk of Globalisation! Dear fellow Africans, is Africa the centre of the globe in your globalisation vision? If Euro-America is the centre in this globalisation vision, is this then, not Westernisation? Isn’t this why Euro-America calls you African intellectuals? Is this not your utility to them? You centre the future on them and yet you are African by descent. You intellectualise for them. You are their intellectual but also African.
As I conclude, I would like to quote one of you, Andrew Mujuni Mwenda, Foreign Policy Top 100 Thinker, TED speaker etc., to whom I wrote in January 2014 about his obsession with Socrates and search for an irrelevant intellectual space in the Ugandan media (see my letter to him here). After a visit to Dubai, he literally swallowed much of his preaching about neo-liberalism and confessed:
” … what makes nations successful is the ability to find public policies and political institutions that their people understand. Part of the problem of Uganda (and Africa) is that we spend so much time reciting foreign ideologies chapter and verse but always fail to relate them to our realities. Thus while our problems are local and the demands to solve them are locally generated, the tendency is that when it comes to designing solutions, we retreated to theories drawn from textbooks.
These theories evolved in North America and Europe to explain a specific historical experience – how changing technology drove structural change and all this led to political struggles. These struggles were nourished by existing norms, values, traditions, and shared cultural understandings and therefore produced a specific institutional set-up. It is unlikely that one can cut and paste it on a society with different social dynamics and they work. Therefore, a major source of failure in Africa may be this mismatch between demands and solutions.”
*Source thisisafrica .Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire is a Ugandan writer, academic, and lawyer. Bwesigye is the author of Fables out of Nyanja and Finding Foot as an International Court; The Prospects and Challenges of the East African Court of Justice.
Kenya's economy accelerates in second quarter despite tourism slump
October 14, 2014 | 0 Comments
Kenya’s economy accelerated in the second quarter thanks to fast growth in construction, manufacturing and financial services, which offset a slump in tourism following attacks blamed on Islamist militants. Gross domestic product rose 5.8 percent from a year earlier in the three months through June and increased 4.0 percent on a seasonally adjusted quarterly basis, the statistic’s office said on Monday. In the first quarter it had expanded 4.4 percent from a year earlier, revised to take account of a recent rebasement of GDP, and 2.7 percent on a quarterly basis. Tourism, however, has been badly affected this year by a number of bombings in tourist areas on the coast and elsewhere, which were blamed on Islamist militants and prompted some Western countries to warn against travel to Kenya. Output from the accommodation and restaurant sector slumped 18.6 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, the data showed. The slump in tourism means Kenya’s economy will slow this year. Finance Minister Henry Rotich has already cut the government’s 2014 growth forecast to 5.3-5.5 percent from an initial 5.8 percent, citing “challenges”, without offering specifics. Last year the economy grew 5.7 percent, taking the rebasement into account. The rebasement of GDP last month increased the size of the Kenyan economy by about 25 percent, pushing it into the top 10 African economies. Construction output rose by 18.9 percent during the second quarter from a year earlier, manufacturing grew 9.1 percent while financial and insurance services increased by 8.3 percent, the data showed. Agricultural output slowed down, though, rising by 5.5 percent from a year earlier, after 5.9 percent growth in the first quarter. *Source theafricareport]]>
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s unique style astounds his rivals, allies
October 13, 2014 | 0 Comments
The president addressed the crowds standing up through the sunroof of a car[/caption] Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta is becoming an influential leader on the African continent. He is also one of the most difficult politician to comprehend. Blowing hot and cold at the same time, and giving a signal towards one end when he means to proceed in the opposite direction have become a hallmark of skilful operations by the political science-trained President. After last year’s hard-hitting speech in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in October during the African Union Heads of Government special sitting, for instance, few would have expected Uhuru to succumb to what he has repeatedly referred to as “colonial courts”. Even most intriguing is that he would have manouevred technically to disengage from the stand of fire-spitting fellow African leaders like Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, who pushed for the AU’s resolution barring sitting African President from appearing before the International Criminal Court ( ICC). Uhuru’s own statement was equally fiery: “It ( ICC) stopped being the home of justice the day it became the toy of declining imperial powers… The West sees no irony in preaching justice to a people they have disenfranchised, exploited, taxed and brutalised. Our history serves us well: we must distrust the blandishments of those who have drank out of the poisoned fountain of imperialism,” Uhuru said in Addis Ababa. But last Wednesday, President Kenyatta honoured summons to attend the status conference of his case. And he probably disarmed many, including the ICC operatives, who – judging from his earlier pronouncements and hard position – may not have expected his compliance with the international court. Africa’s old guard See also: Fanfare of Uhuru handover appeased allies Equally, the President succeeded to diplomatically appease the fire-spitting Mugabes, Musevenis and Al Bashirs — who represent the old guard class of despotic African leaders — by shielding himself as a private citizen, to attend the ICC hearings. With Thursday’s single act, Kenya may well have succeeded to shake off what Prof Phillip Nying’uro, an international relations expert, describes as “bad company.” Uhuru can no longer be associated with Mugabe, Museveni, Sudan’s Bashir and Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Indeed Uhuru is already getting accolades for restating a new position — that of respecting the rule of law. This, to many, is a departure from the past and defines the stand of a new crop of young African leaders, which Uhuru is likened to. There is also America’s 44th President, Barack Obama, whom President Uhuru’s government elaborately castigated for giving Kenya a wide berth during his extensive trip of Africa, last year in June. Kenyan officials were particularly irked by the gesture of the US President, with Kenyan roots, to tour neighbouring Tanzania and not step on the soil of his fatherland. Then the Obama administration maintained that the Uhuru-Ruto pair “had issues” which they must first clear with the ICC before America could interact with the two. Uhuru responded, not with an apology or kid gloves, but with hard-hitting statements and open revolt against the West. Alongside Mugabe, Museveni and Kagame, among other leaders, he, for instance, snubbed the 23rd Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka and instead attended the third Arab-African Heads Summit in Kuwait. This was indeed the first time in Kenya’s history to skip the event. President Uhuru’s diplomatic statement could not have been louder and bolder. While some would have expected hostilities between Obama and Uhuru to intensify, the exact opposite appears to be happening. Obama, who had initially shunned Uhuru during his earlier trip to America, soon invited the Kenyan leader, among a few selected leaders, to the Africa-America Summit. Uhuru has since been to the US twice where he received a warm reception from the US leader. It would appear that Uhuru’s strategy is hinged on the policy of “playing the bad guy to earn recognition and respect”. If that is the card, then it has worked well with Obama among other world leaders. Even locally, the President’s own deputy, William Samoei Ruto, was his political nemesis ahead of the 2007 General Election. Allies of the two leaders have often admitted that Uhuru could not comprehend why Ruto, with whom he served closely in the then ruling party, Kanu, changed allegiance to team up with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga. See also: Fanfare of Uhuru handover appeased allies The post-election violence just made the situation more volatile for the two leaders, more so because of the bloody battles between members their two communities. But again, Uhuru is a man who reportedly does not begrudge friend for long. It was not surprising, therefore, that the two easily teamed up in last year’s polls. The same is true about his relationship with Raila, Uhuru’s toughest political challenger. The two leaders teamed up briefly in 2001 in Kanu, only for Raila to bolt out and frustrate Uhuru’s presidential bid. Uhuru accordingly lost, yet he teamed up with Raila again in the Orange team to defeat the enactment of a watered-down constitution in the 2005 referendum. Power play Political pundits generally agree on the fact that Uhuru’s style is most intriguing. However, they are not in agreement as to whether the same is detrimental to his power play at the global stage. Nying’uro, who teaches at the University of Nairobi, advises against antagonising the West. Noting that it led to the United Nation’s Security Council’s rejection of Kenya’s deferral bid of the ICC cases last year, Nying’uro advises against the folly of the President and AU overestimating their influence on the global scene. Some, like Prof Peter Kagwanja, a political scientist and chief executive of the African Policy Institute, are not particularly awed by what is shaping out as the foreign policy of the Kenyatta presidency. In an earlier interview with The Standard on Sunday, Kagwanja describes Uhuru as a charismatic and hands-on leader. Kagwanja says that the President is personally behind the current diplomatic charm offensive by Kenya. The dare-devil approach, he avers, is destined to redefine Kenya as an influential global player in the regional and indeed Africa. *Source standardmedia]]>
Nairobi ranked third most attractive city to investors in Africa
October 13, 2014 | 0 Comments
Kenya ranks amongst three nations perceived to be the most attractive investment destinations in Sub-Saharan Africa, a new study shows. The other countries according to the survey by global consultancy firm Ernst & Young include South Africa and Nigeria. These countries account for over 40 per cent of the total foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in the continent, according to the survey whose findings were released yesterday. Angola, which is the fourth-largest recipient of FDI projects is similarly perceived to be the fourth-most attractive investment destination. “However, investors who are not yet established in Africa are less aware of opportunities in countries other than South Africa,” the report says. According to the report, Africa’s cities are now emerging as the hotspots of economic and investment activity on the continent. “Transport corridors and trade routes are being developed to connect these cities, transforming them into sizeable urban clusters, large enough for consumer-facing companies to target,” says report. The report says nearly 70 per cent of the respondents to the survey stressed the significance of cities and urban centres in their investment strategy in Africa. In terms of perception, city attractiveness closely mapped country appeal with half of the respondents quoting South African city as their first option. According to the report dubbed ‘2014 Africa Attractiveness’, Johannesburg is considered the most attractive city in which to do business ahead of Cape Town. Nairobi and Lagos are ranked as the third and fourth most attractive cities respectively. In North Africa, Casablanca, Cairo and Tunis are perceived as the top three cities in which to do business. Middle class “Our investors also highlighted that in order to attract greater investments, cities need to focus on the following critical factors: infrastructure (77 per cent), consumer base (73 per cent), local labour cost and productivity (73 per cent) and a skilled workforce (73 per cent),” says report. See Also: Ban on land sub-division and change of ownership transactions lifted According to the survey, Africa’s perceived attractiveness relative to other regions has improved over the past few years. Africa has moved from the third position in 2011 to become the second-most attractive investment destination in the world. This year, only North America ranks ahead of Africa in terms of investment attractiveness. “The dominant view is that change is real. Economic growth and development will continue, and will be driven by a burgeoning African middle class with growing levels of discretionary income, growth in local entrepreneurship and investment in bridging the infrastructure gap,” says. Gitahi Gachahi, EY’s Chief Executive in-charge of the East African region. According to the report, 60 per cent of the respondents said there had been an improvement in Africa’s investment attractiveness over the past year up four percentage points from the 2013 survey. Similarly, nearly three out of four respondents believe that Africa’s attractiveness will improve further over the next three years. According to the survey, Africa’s share of global FDI flows has been improving year on year. In 2013, Africa’s share of global FDI projects reached 5.7 per cent, its highest level in a decade. *Source Standard]]>
Museveni blasts ICC over Kenyatta trial
October 11, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Moses Walubiri & David Lumu* President Yoweri Museveni has taken strong exception to the raging trial by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, describing The Hague based court as “a biased instrument of post-colonial hegemony.” Museveni avers that Africa should urgently reconsider its engagement with ICC on account of its humiliating treatment of the continent. Kenyatta, together with his deputy, William Ruto are facing trial for crimes against humanity emanating from the bloody fallout from the highly charged 2007 presidential polls in Kenya that claimed the lives of over 1000 people. Kenyatta contends that the charges against him are politically motivated and has since received support from the African Union which (AU) wants the case dropped or shelved until he is out of office. On Thursday, Kenyatta became the first sitting Head of State to appear before the ICC in what promises to be a truly landmark case. “The problems that occurred in Kenya in 2007 and that happen in other African countries are, first and foremost, ideological. For ICC to handle them as just legal matters is the epitome of shallowness,” Museveni said during national celebrations at Kololo to mark 52 years of Uganda’s independence. Museveni, who had earlier introduced the three Heads of States who graced the fete– Jakaya Kikwete, Paul Kagame and Salva Kir – of Tanzania, Rwanda and South Sudan respectively as “our brothers”, attributed Kenyatta’s absence to “big boys” summoning him. “The pushers of the hegemonic agenda have been misusing the ICC, an institution we initially supported,” Museveni added. Museveni took exception to a decision by the United Nations not to consider a request by African Union for the ICC to cease arraigning sitting African Heads of State. “That group did not see much merit in the collective wisdom of the Africa leaders,” Museveni said to prolonged murmurs. The UN Security Council is the top decision making organ at the UN comprising of USA, Russia, China, France and Britain. The ICC has received criticism over its perceived selective application of justice on account of only pursuing cases involving Africans. Some of these include Sudan President, Omar Bashir, former DRC Vice President, Pierre Bemba, Liberia’s former President, Charles Taylor and former Congolese war lords – Bosco Ntaganda and Thomas Lubanga. However, citizens of countries like Russia, China, USA and Israel cannot be prosecuted by the ICC because these states have not ratified the Rome Statute that created the court. Kenyatta who travelled business four days ago is back in Kenya. *Source newvision]]>
Uhuru Kenyatta at ICC: Kenyans greet returning president
October 10, 2014 | 0 Comments
President Kenyatta has a large support base and those gathered chanted his name to welcome him home[/caption]
Cheering crowds have welcomed President Uhuru Kenyatta back to Kenya after his appearance at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.Mr Kenyatta attended a hearing at the ICC on Wednesday, becoming the first serving head of state to appear there. He has denied charges of crimes against humanity relating to ethnic violence after the 2007 elections that left some 1,200 dead and 600,000 displaced. Mr Kenyatta was received in Nairobi by dancers and a military guard of honour. At dawn, thousands of his supporters lined the streets leading from the airport to the centre of the city. They waved Kenyan flags and chanted Mr Kenyatta’s name, amid songs declaring his innocence. The president briefly addressed the crowds, standing up through the sunroof of a car, according to the AFP news agency. “We are one and there is nothing to fear because Kenya is stable,” he said. The BBC’s Wanyama Chebusiri in Nairobi says the country’s interior minister had called for large crowds to greet the returning president. However, he says, the celebrations may not necessarily have been orchestrated – the president has a large support base. Packed gallery [caption id="attachment_12751" align="alignright" width="624"] On Wednesday, Uhuru Kenyatta (C) shook hands with supporters outside The Hague court[/caption] Mr Kenyatta was summoned to appear at an ICC “status conference” – a pre-trial hearing – when the prosecution said the evidence needed to go ahead with a trial was being withheld. Around 100 Kenyan politicians flew to The Hague to support the president. Scores of his supporters packed the public gallery on Wednesday. The BBC’s Anna Holligan in The Hague says the case has reached a deadlock, with the prosecution accusing the Kenyan government of withholding vital evidence and the defence saying that without evidence, there should be no trial. The judges must now decide whether to abandon the trial or give the prosecution more time to search for the missing evidence. Mr Kenyatta was elected in 2013, despite facing charges at the ICC. Analysts said he turned the prosecution to his advantage, portraying it as foreign intervention in Kenya’s domestic affairs. He has accused the court of being biased against African leaders. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iquHJayNglo Mr Kenyatta faces five charges relating to the ethnic massacres – the worst violence in Kenya since independence in 1963. Tens of thousands of people were displaced and Kenya’s reputation for stability was tarnished. The case was sent to the ICC after Kenya failed to bring the perpetrators to justice. [caption id="attachment_12752" align="alignleft" width="624"] The president addressed the crowds standing up through the sunroof of a car[/caption] Mr Kenyatta was a close ally of President Mwai Kibaki, who was declared the winner of the 2007 election. Mr Kibaki’s rival, Raila Odinga, claimed the poll was marred by fraud. The dispute took on an ethnic dimension, pitting members of the Kikuyu ethnic group of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Kibaki against other communities such as the Luo and Kalenjin. Mr Kenyatta is accused of organising an ethnic Kikuyu gang, the Mungiki sect, to attack rival groups. Deputy President Ruto also faces charges at The Hague, but he was on Mr Odinga’s side during the violence. He also denies the charges. *Source BBC]]>
Philips inaugurates Africa’s first Community Life Center aimed at strengthening primary health care and enabling community development
October 10, 2014 | 0 Comments
The Philips Community Life Center provides crucial access to health care and services through an innovative community hub NAIROBI, Kenya, October 6, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ –Royal Philips (AEX: PHIA, NYSE: PHG) (http://www.philips.com) has opened its first Community Life Center in Kenya, an integrated solution for primary health care and service facilities that provides community development from a health care, lighting and healthy living perspective. Developed by the Philips Africa Innovation Hub (http://goo.gl/2bnujk) and introduced in collaboration with the County Government of Kiambu in Kenya, the Community Life Center (located at the Githurai Lang’ata Health Center in Kiambu County) is a proof of concept that provides access to health care and at the same time enables social, educational and commercial activities after dusk and enhances safety and security of the neighborhood. An important focus of the Community Life Centers is to address infant mortality and improve maternal health, linked to the current UN Millennium DevelopmentGoals 4 and 5 (MDGs) (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals), a cause to which Philips remains consistently committed. Addressing a critical need: Strengthening the health care system at primary level Improving access to primary health care is a key challenge across Africa. Primary health facilities in most parts of the continent are not able to offer basic quality services to local communities for a combination of reasons ranging from unavailability of qualified health care workers to lack of electricity, water and basic health care technology. As a consequence, many people do not have access to adequate health care near their homes and are compelled to bypass the primary and secondary levels of care, confronting hospitals with more patients than they can handle. The Philips Community Life Center goes beyond health care by turning a health facility into a community hub where technology is bundled with services. The technology package includes solar power (for a reliable and clean energy supply), efficient and durable indoor and outdoor LED-lighting (enabling extended opening hours and providing security to patients and staff), health care equipment (to enable patient monitoring, diagnosis and triage), laboratory equipment (especially for antenatal care tests), refrigeration (preventing spoiling of vaccines), IT-solutions (storage of patient data) and water supply and purification (preventing waterborne diseases). Enabling community development Philips involves community members in the assessment and design of the Community Life Center in order to create ownership. The solution is tailored to the needs of the facility and the community. Philips trains the staff and mobilizes the community to make use of the improved services of the facility. The Community Life Center serves as a community hub where, in addition to health services, the local community members can buy clean water and sustainable products like Philips’ smokeless cookstoves and home solar lighting products, and benefit from the Philips solar-powered LED outdoor lighting that illuminates the area at night. “Philips is a leading technology company in health and well-being and our vision is to improve people’s lives through meaningful innovation”, said JJ van Dongen, CEO Philips Africa. “Today the population growth is highest in emerging markets like Africa and innovation can help drive sustainable solutions that bridge the divide between the privileged and lesser privileged sections of society and improve the quality of life at all levels. With the first Community Life Center, we have introduced a new value delivery model and our ambition is to introduce this solution across Africa to drastically improve access to primary health care.” Philips implemented the first phase of the Community Life Center solution in June 2014. A new maternity building was inaugurated containing a Philips ClearVue 650 Ultrasound (http://www.philips.com/clearvue650) and monitoring equipment, enabling women to deliver their babies safely. Today the facility delivers an average of two babies per day and this number is expected to grow exponentially in the coming months. Health care workers at the site were empowered through clinical coaching and education. “Our partnership with Philips comes at a time when the County has a high incidence of infant and maternal mortality resulting from preventable causes and lack of medical facilities”, states H.E William Kabogo, Governor of Kiambu County. “With Philips contributing towards solar energy solutions and state-of-the-art equipment, the County Government was able to focus on the construction of the infrastructure and hiring new staff. This co-operation is reflective of the kind of partnerships we seek to participate in with the private sector that results in uplifting the lives of our communities.” Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) (http://www.philips.com) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation in the areas of Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle and Lighting. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2013 sales of EUR 23.3 billion and employs approximately 113,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. The company is a leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as male shaving and grooming and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located athttp://www.philips.com/newscenter. *In Partnership with APO]]>
Unlikely Hero: Uhuru Kenyatta may emerge as Africa’s star after ICC appearance
October 8, 2014 | 4 Comments
Uhuru’s presence at the ICC underlines the impending need for new African leaders, who in one action can change the course of events and history in ways unimagined, says Chief Taku[/caption] Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta finally put to rest speculations on whether or not he will appear at the International Criminal Court at The Hague to respond to charges on his role in the violence that erupted in the elections of 2007 in his country. Uhuru did answer in a way that took his critics aback. The decision to honor the ICC appointment was announced to a full house of the Kenyan Parliament in a historic speech, laden with symbolism and anecdotes that even his most ardent critics could be proud of. In announcing his departure for The Hague, the Kenyan Leader indicated that Vice President William Ruto who has been to The Hague himself to answer charges will lead the country in his absence. Appearing before the Court makes President Uhuru legally and politically stronger says Chief Charles Taku an International Lawyer well versed with the workings of the ICC. “President Uhuru Kenyatta has gone confidently to The Hague to participate in the last vestiges of a case which ought not to have been confirmed nor allowed to go to the trial phase,” said Chief Taku in an interview with Pan African Visions. A fallout of the ICC trip may be the elevation of Uhuru Kenyatta to an Africa star says Chief Taku who also explains how the Court works, the case against Uhuru and contentious relations between the ICC and Africa. Kenyan President Uluru Kenyatta is appearing at the ICC and it is the first time a sitting President is doing that, can you situate the importance of this development for us? President Uhuru Kenyatta has consistently promised to co-operate with the ICC from when the former Prosecutor Mr. Moreno Ocampo brought charges against him for alleged crimes perpetrated during the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya. This decision is in line with that commitment. He previously appeared during the confirmation of charges proceedings before the Pre-trial Chamber and made a very impressive presentation. His appearance will afford another opportunity to publicly challenge the Prosecution case and to turn what appeared an adversity to his advantage. During the confirmation proceedings, the cross-examination of the then media tough talking Moreno Ocampo lasted barely twenty minutes. President Uhuru Kenyatta seized on that opportunity to mobilized and convince many Kenyans about his innocence. He also exposed the frivolity of the charges and the weaknesses of the Prosecution case. His presence this time around will remind many people about his brilliant defence in that occasion and further expose the Prosecution as misconceived and ill-motivated. President Uhuru Kenyatta has gone confidently to The Hague to participate in the last vestiges of a case which ought not to have been confirmed nor allowed to go to the trial phase. The admission by the Prosecutor that she lacks the evidence to sustain a conviction should the case proceed to trial at this point in time supports this point of view. President Uhuru Kenyatta has argued all along that the case against him was politically motivated intended to satisfy varying and distinct interests locally and internationally. The Prosecutor admitted at earlier stages of the case that witness number four, the lone direct witness who incriminated President Uhuru him lied in his witness statement and affidavit concerning the matters about which he was to testify. As a consequence, the Prosecutor withdrew the case against the Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Government Mr. Francis Mathuara. That decision along with the pre-trial decision not confirming the charges against the Inspector General of Police General Ali, potentially made the possibility of proof of the forms of criminal responsibility alleged against President Uhuru Kenyatta difficult. The decision to pursue the case in the face of this development could not be reasonably explained legally. President Uhuru Kenyatta is aware of the fact that he is legally and politically stronger appearing before the court. His decision is first that of a smart politician. By his appearance and action, he has solidified the differences between him and his political opponents at home. By temporarily handing over power to his deputy to allow him attend and deal with his case as an ordinary citizen of Kenya, he has prepositioned himself as someone who unlike his main political opponent Raila Odinga is not power hungry and will never rely on people power to claim a political mandate; let alone, sacrifice the people and sovereignty of Kenya for political gain. In a sense, he has reasonably and forcefully, by action used this occasion to argue his case. Reasonable people worldwide are likely to conclude that he may not be the alleged power seeking individual portrayed in the indictment as someone who perpetrated the crimes alleged to keep and his political ally Mwai Kibaki in power and to avenge the killing of persons of his Kikuyu ethnic group. Trusting and temporarily handing power to his deputy William Ruto an ethnic Kalenjin to enable him deal with this case as an ordinary citizen of Kenya, solidifies the validity of this conclusion. He has emphasized that the main reason for attending the status conference in his individual capacity is his belief and respect of the primacy of the constitution and sovereignty of Kenya over all other institutions. His decision therefore allows him to attend to the court process without violating the sovereignty of Kenya and the African Union Resolution asserting the immunity of sitting African leaders from criminal responsibility. This move must have taken the Prosecutor who opposed his application to appear by video-link by surprise. It has also made it hard for the Prosecutor to blame her inability to conduct proper investigation and present a strong case on him as she had done previously in his absence. The Prosecutor and the court should have evaluated the potential fallout in the decisions that took and the uncertain outcome of providing a politically savvy person the microphone and a voice when the world is paying attention. On the diplomatic level, President Uhuru Kenyatta surely consulted widely with leaders of the government in Kenya, Kenyan Security Chiefs, Regional and Continental Leaders, the AU Commission Chairperson, US President, the UN Security Council and the Security Council prior to taking this unprecedented step. Kenya is a major ally in the combat against international terrorism. There is no gainsaying that this case had become a major distraction to international and regional efforts in the fight against terror. It is in the interest of the international community therefore that President Uhuru Kenyatta takes strong measures to clear his name and put this matter behind him. The steps he has taken will pay great dividends for him and Kenya. He comes long as a patriotic, selfless, humble but strong and confident leader who genuinely believes in the rule of law. There will be considerable pressure after this on his political opponents in Kenya to abandon their disrespectful disregard for the law and actions that may compromise national and sub-regional stability. Kenyans and the international community will hold them to the Uhuruto governing principle of respect for the due process and the primacy of the constitutional order. It is obvious from the manner the Prosecutor has pursued this matter that she no longer intended to proceed with the case but did not want to take responsibility for the termination of the case. The Prosecutor shifted the responsibility first to the government of Kenya which she accused of not co-operating in providing evidence that may assist in making a determination whether the case was worth pursuing. She admitted to the Judges she did not have credible witnesses to sustain a conviction. Nevertheless, she did not apply to terminate the case, deferring ultimately to the trial judges to terminate or adjourn the case indefinitely. The decision by Uhuru to attend the status conference called in part to weigh the possibility of adjourning or terminating the case pre-empts attempts to blame the collapse of the case on his alleged use of his presidential power to deny victims justice. Finally, the attendance of Uhuru will accentuate the tenuous relations between the ICC and the African Union. The African Union and critics of the court will point to this case to support their allegations that its poor performance record apart, the ICC’s agenda is inconsistent with its statutory mandate of providing complementary justice to victims and confronting impunity in member states. State co-operation that this status conference intends to address will become even difficult to attain in several African countries. In the result, whatever decision the court may take in this case will not improve the relations between the AU and African State Parties and the ICC. It will not comprehensively resolve the lingering question on the application of the principle of complementarity that is the basis for ICC intervention in Situations in State Parties conflicts. This case is the first and only case in which the Prosecutor exercised proprio motu discretion in commencing an investigation and prosecution. The exercise of this jurisdiction in ongoing political conflicts like the case at bar is now called to question. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWfRHPVxeAw As in many parts of the world, African leaders have immunity, how does the appearance at the Hague and subsequent judicial developments there affect the immunity that Uhuru Kenyatta has? Uhuru Kenyatta is not appearing before the ICC as a Head of State. He is appearing in his personal capacity. However the debate on sovereign immunity will continue. The Statute of the ICC clearly does not recognized immunity for Heads of State or Governments. This is a departure from customary international law that recognizes the immunity of Heads of State from criminal prosecution while in office. The International Court of Justice has taken the position of customary international law and emphasized this in the case of the Foreign Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo who was arrested in Belgium under an international warrant of arrest. The Special Court for Sierra Leone in the case of Prosecutor V Chief Hinga Norman and two others declined to issue a subpoena compelling President Tejan Kabbah to testify before the Court citing customary international law. The ICC will not point to this matter to lay down the jurisprudence which could be cited as a precedent on the submission of Heads of State to the jurisdiction of the court. This case will not address or even lay down the jurisprudence on sovereign immunity of heads of state and governments from Prosecution before the court. Uhuru Kenyatta has denied the court that possibility. If anything, he had postponed a decision on that indefinitely. Customary international law on this subject is the dominant position applicable in international relations, and a majority of national and international courts and tribunals. By asserting sovereign immunity, African leaders are not creating an exception that is unknown to the law. The criticism of the assertion of sovereign immunity by African leaders is based on the fact that it contradicts their commitment to combat impunity affirmed by the AU Constitutive Act. The immunity claimed by them is relevant only when they are in office. In the case at bar, the application of the Prosecutor for an indefinite adjournment of the case until President Uhuru Kenyatta leaves office if granted tacitly grants immunity to him until he leaves office. The result will be exactly what the AU unsuccessfully sought before the Security Council with opposition from the Prosecutor. It will be a tacit endorsement of the AU position by other means. The power of deferral by which the Security Council on which Non-State Parties could join in deferring a situation for twelve months renewable indefinitely could be construed as an avenue to grant tacit immunity from Prosecution at the ICC. The result is the same. This in a way undermines the allegations of support of impunity made against the AU position. About the ICC itself, why was it created and how does it actually work, how did a court based out of the continent become so involved with issues affecting Africa? The need for an international criminal court to combat international criminality and impunity was first submitted by the Russian delegate at the First World Peace Conference in 1898. One of the major commitments of the civilized world after the Second World was a pledge of “Never again” should a holocaust occur on our watch. The International Military Trials established by the allies to try the perpetrators of mass crimes was again suggested by Russia. America and other allies did not favour due process for these criminals. The Nuremberg and Tokyo trials inspired the believe in an international rule of law to confront impunity and the crimes that shock the conscience of humanity. The wars in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda where ethnic cleansing and the crime of genocide were perpetrated alerted the world to the failure to respect the pledge it made to humanity after the Second World War and renewed the debate on the creation of a universal court to confront international criminality and impunity. The UN Security Council established Ad Hoc Tribunals to deal with these situations under its Chapter 7 authority that empowers it to deal with threats to world peace and security. On July 17, 1998, 120 countries voted for the establishment of an International Criminal Court to end impunity by punishing crimes of concern to the international community. Article one empowers the court to exercise jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern as referred to it in the Statute and shall be complementary to national criminal jurisdictions. The ICC can only intervene in situations that are referred to it by State Parties, the Security Council or on the initiative of the Prosecutor. The exclusive focus of the Court on Africa has been criticized as inconsistent with the founding principles of the Rome Statute. Africa enthusiastically lobbied for the establishment of the court. Africa bored the hallmark of international criminality starting with the slave trade, the partition of Africa, imperialism, colonialism and neo- colonialism. For example, France which was humiliated by Germany during the Second World War waged a genocidal war in Cameroun and Algeria from 1948 the same year the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed. Africa continued to be the victim of neo-colonial wars, the cold war and a depository for arms –for- minerals vampire neo-colonial economic policies. The assertion in the preamble of the Rome Statute concerning the respect for the fundamental principles of equality, peace and security enshrined in the UN Charter was appealing to Africa. Africa saw the court as an institution that would affirm international principles of non-discrimination in all aspects. This has turn out not to be the case. A majority of the world is not within the reach of the court because the most populated countries are not state parties. Geo-political and hegemonic interests have made it hard for the ICC to exercise its jurisdiction outside Africa. Even in situations in Africa that the ICC has intervened, many see the erstwhile colonial powers as driving forces behind the prosecutions which are often skewed in favour of victors in conflicts of a political nature. The Prosecutor justifies these selective prosecutions on her resolve to protect the interest of victims. However these prosecutorial policies have polarized communities in the situations she has intervened. In some of these situations she has afforded protection for victims on the side of the victors while those on the side of the vanquished are simply ignored. This is so far the case in Libya, Cote D’Ivoire and Central Africa Republic Just a little clarification, what is the relationship between the court ad countries which are non-signatories of the Rome accords creating the court and if we may ask, where African countries compelled to sign the treaty or be part of the court? The Rome Treaty binds only State Parties. The fundamental principle in treaty making is consent which is a fundamental element in the exercise of sovereignty. The African countries were not compelled to sign the treaty establishing the court. I have explained the motivations of African countries for signing the treaty. However, article 13 of the Statute of the court empowers the Security Council of the UN acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to refer the situation in any country, and this includes non-state parties, to the Prosecutor of the Court for investigation. Little has been heard about other cases except the ones involving African Leaders Bashir, Gbagbo, Taylor,Ble Goude etc., what is your reaction to those who think that African Leaders are been targeted unfairly? I have written extensively about the exclusive targeting of Africa and African leaders by the ICC. I have discussed this elsewhere in this interview. I have pointed out that the reasons that compelled Africa to sign the treaty establishing the court have not changed. However, more than a decade of existence and struggling when the Special Court for Sierra Leone that was established about the same time has successfully completed its mandate at a comparatively less expense requires that the ICC makes a critical self-evaluation and initiate profound reforms. Even courts that have succeeded have from time to time made critical self-examination and made adjustments to their policies for the purposes of efficiency. The ICC, in particular the Office of the Prosecutor, has not done so. The other organs of the court are functioning and doing well. However the Office of the Prosecutor is a blur on the Court and we should not make the mistake of tarring the entire institution with the same brush. [caption id="attachment_12673" align="alignright" width="300"] Uhuru Kenyatta[/caption] The Office of the Prosecutor and the Security Council should join those who hold this valid concern in ensuring that the court attains the universal reach that its statute confers on it. Even without leaving its Africa preserve or focus , if the ICC Office of the Prosecutor were conducting proper investigations, it would have targeted not only those who perpetrated crimes in Africa but those who supplied the weapons and arms with which the crimes were perpetrated. These weapons are supplied by angels of death controlling institutions in Western countries that are contributing over 63% of the ICC budget. The Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in justifying his Prosecution of Charles Taylor explained that although Charles Taylor never set foot in Sierra Leone during the conflict, he supplied the weapons with which the crimes were perpetrated. The ICC can learn from that case and its outcome. We did follow the submission of Ble Goude of Ivory Coast and he literally ripped the ICC apart on issues of credibility and fairness considering the selective way the court has handled issues in Ivory Coast, as an Imminent International Lawyer, how do you see the ICC gaining more credibility with Africans? It is difficult to judge the ICC as an institution from the performance of a single organ. There are three independent organs of the ICC, namely the President and Judges, the Registry and the Office of the Prosecutor. So far much of the criticism has been indistinctly made against the court concerned the Office of the Prosecutor and the prosecutorial and policies decisions made from that office. The other organs of the court are performing their statutory functions relatively well. The exercise of prosecutorial functions is complex. The Prosecutor cumulates her judicial functions with administrative functions. Harmonizing these roles may be intriguing and even complex. This is where I situate the problems of that office. For the Prosecutor to proceed against President Laurent Gbagbo and Mr Goude Ble, she needed enormous resources to do so. For her to proceed against the camp of Sorro and President Allasane Ouatarra she needs enormous resources to do so. Some state parties may have an interest in committing enormous resources in encouraging a process which is selective, unfair and ultimately dents the image of the court. Mr. Goude a victim of that process was in order to have made that point on his own behalf and many other African victims of selective prosecutions. Looking at what Uhuru did, he may have shunned the court the way the Sudanese Leader has been doing, but he not only decided to go to The Hague but addressed Parliament and left the country in the hands of his Vice President, do you see in this a plus for democracy in Africa? I have stated in this interview that Uhuru acted appropriately. Uhuru will come out as an African star. In his address to parliament, he invoked the spirit of his own father, Jomo Kenyatta, that of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Albert Lithuli. He was making a compelling case of joining that exclusive caste of historic leaders who eternalized the liberating soul of Africa and are considered the keepers of the African conscience. He made a case for his re-election with an overwhelming majority in the next election. He now joins his friend and brother President Jakaya Kwikwete as one of the key drivers of the train of liberation and progress of an emerging new Africa. From your perspective as a Pan Africanist and Lawyer versed with the ICC, what lessons should the continent draw from the Uhuru case and way forward on relations between Africa and the ICC? There is already one remarkable outcome. Africa is beginning to have faith in its own institutions. Uhuru spoke about and cited the new constitution of Kenya which now has the ability to regulate the affairs of Kenya in ways which the ugly ghost of the past will never again rear its head. For Africa to validly assert the sovereignty of its states and the relevance of its regional and continental institutions these institutions must be functional and serve the public good. President Uhuru Kenyatta has just asserted the primacy of the sovereignty of Kenya and its over forty million people over his personal interest. He has asserted that power belongs to the people of Kenya and not to an individual no matter how powerful. He denied the ICC that honour. African countries must ratify the protocol to the African Court on Human and peoples’ Rights and take practical steps to bringing ongoing efforts to give the court criminal jurisdiction over crimes perpetrated on the continent. The Malabo instruments of the court have a number of flaws but these can and should be corrected. President Uhuru Kenyatta has launched the global debate on immunity of heads of state and the functional immunities of plenipotentiaries guaranteed by customary international law but outlawed by the statute of the ICC. This debate will not go away so soon. Meanwhile, the actions of Uhuru underline the impending need for new African leaders who in one action can change the course of events and history in ways unimagined. * Chief Charles A.Taku is the Publisher of Contextual Foundations of International Criminal Jurisprudence. Together with Co-counsel Beth Lyons, Chief Taku recently obtained an acquittal on Appeal for their client Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, the former Commander of the Reconnaissance Battalion in the Former Rwandan Army in the so-called Military Two Trial at the UNICTR. Chief Taku was lead counsel at the Special Court for Sierra Leone for Major Morris Kallon in the RUF case and for Mr Samuel Kargbo in the Contempt proceedings. Chief Taku and Co-counsel Beth Lyons were counsel for Dr. David Matsanga at the ICC in Situation in the Republic of Kenya ]]>
Kenya: ICC Will Lock Out Some MPs
October 7, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Felix Olick*
[caption id="attachment_12690" align="alignleft" width="290"] Photo: Thijs Bouwknegt/RNW
International Criminal Court in the Hague (file photo).[/caption] A Kenyan solidarity delegation of around 140 MPs and senior government officials is likely to be locked out from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ICC courtroom hearing in The Hague on Wednesday. That includes a group of 16 religious leaders, a gospel singer and young and elderly Kenyans. The Star has established that few in the entourage them will be admitted to the court’s two public galleries because of limited seating. Together they accommodate 150 people. Separated from the court itself by soundproof, bulletproof, one-way glass, the galleries are intended for journalists, diplomats, NGOs and interested parties. This means enthusiastic lawmakers and even Cabinet Secretaries will have to follow the proceedings of Uhuru’s status conference on television from their hotel rooms. Many Kenyan lawmakers and the African Union see the ICC case against Uhuru and the summons for him to appear as an affront to the nation and the President’s office. The AU urged him not to go. Uhuru faces five counts of crimes against humanity for allegedly orchestrating the 2007-08 post-election violence. He denies all charges. Deputy President William Ruto and former broadcaster Joshua Arap Sang separately face similar charges. Uhuru was charged as a individual, not as a head of state, but he will be the first sitting head of state to appear in court as an accused. He was summoned to appear in person for a status conference to discuss his forthcoming trial, already postponed several times. The prosecution complains the Kenyan government has not complied with requests for Uhuru’s financial, communications and property records. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants the case adjourned indefinitely until the Kenyan government supplies the information. Uhuru’s lawyers say the case is nonexistent and want it dropped altogether. By last evening more than 140 MPs had filed visa applications with the Netherlands Embassy and notified the Speaker of their intention to travel to The Hague. Uhuru will address a joint session of all lawmakers on Monday at 3pm in the National Assembly, on the eve of his Hague visit Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame denied reports that they would also fly to The Hague in solidarity with Uhuru. Museveni’s office denied reports that Ugandan Independence Day on October 9 was cancelled so the President could be in The Hague. Yesterday, the ICC said it has not received a formal request from Kenya for reserved seats at the hearing. It emphasised the limited seating. “The Embassy of Kenya in The Hague, The Netherlands, is the official channel of communication for delegations or persons from Kenya that wish to attend the hearing,” the Court’s Public Affairs Unit said. Yesterday many lawmakers and officials, including Lands Minister Charity Ngilu, were camped since early morning outside the Dutch Embassy in Nairobi yesterday to get their visas. The number is likely to swell, owing to the president’s elaborate security detail and a coterie of advisers. Flamboyant Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko said he will sponsor 16 people to accompany Uhuru to the ICC. “I need three young guys and three young ladies (at least one gospel singer), six religious leaders from different denominations and four elderly men and women,” Sonko announced. Conflict is possible, given the huge Kenyan entourage, the huge international press corps and large number of other interested parties. Anticipating a crunch, The Hague officials said those wishing to attend the hearings should make requests via email. “given the expected high attendance for these hearings, individuals who have not received a confirmation email in advance cannot be guaranteed access to the hearings,” the ICC said in a statement. In September last year, drama unfolded as Dutch police ejected Kenyan lawmakers from the entrance to the ICC building where they had lined up to pray for Deputy President William Ruto. The officers directed the MPs to wait for Ruto and co-accused Joshua Arap Sang across the road, at least 20 metres away. A heated exchange ensued. Inside the public gallery, lawmakers previously have found themselves at odds with security officers over ICC rules of decorum. They state: “Talking among one another, loud noise and boisterous or abusive conduct or any other activity that may disturb Court sessions or other visitors is forbidden.” If the court goes into closed or private session, visitors must remain silent and follow instructions from security officers. Visitors are not permitted to point or gesture at anyone in the courtroom. Reading newspapers, books and journals is banned in the public galleries *Source Allafrica/The Star .]]>
Tanzania's power grid to link to Kenya and Zambia by 2015
October 7, 2014 | 0 Comments
Tanzania will complete a $455 million power transmission line next year linking its power grid to Kenya and Zambia, part of plans to export electricity powered by its gas and coal reserves to neighbours, the Energy and Minerals Ministry said today. Tanzania, which has found commercial quantities of gas offshore and sits on big coal deposits, aims to double its generation capacity to 3,000 megawatts by 2016 to meet rising domestic demand and supply the region. Power shortages are common across Africa and businesses often complain that poor or erratic supplies deter more investors and push up prices of local products, as many firms have to rely on costly generators when power is cut. Known as the “backbone interconnector”, Tanzania’s Energy Ministry said the $455m link would be in place by April, one of several regional projects that include links running between Kenya and Ethiopia and between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Linking power grids “The backbone project will link with Kenya’s northern power grid and Zambia’s southwestern power grid and transform Tanzania into a regional hub for the east and southern Africa power pool, the ministry said in a statement. The 667km high voltage line is being built with financing from the European Investment Bank, World Bank, African Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and Korean Economic Development Cooperation Fund. Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia signed a deal in Dar es Salaam on September 30 to link the three countries. Tanzania’s Energy Ministry said last year it was in talks with Kenya to export 1,000 megawatts of electricity to east Africa’s biggest economy. Tanzania has 46.5 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves and is investing in a pipeline and new gas-fired power plants to boost generation. It also aims to export gas with a planned build liquefied natural gas plant. It also has 5bn tonnes of coal reserves and plans to build coal-fired power plants. *Source Reuters/The African Report]]>
Uhuru Kenyatta will appear at ICC in The Hague
October 7, 2014 | 0 Comments
South Africa lists Nigerian, Kenyan and Zambian currencies on futures platform
October 4, 2014 | 0 Comments
South Africa’s Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), the largest and most liquid on the continent, listed three African currencies on a new foreign exchange futures platform on Friday. The Nigerian naira, Kenyan shilling and the Zambian kwacha made their debut on the JSE derivatives market where they will be quoted against the South African rand. The JSE has been trying to market itself as an entry point into African capital markets for several years. It has, however, largely failed to draw African companies to list in Johannesburg, as many sub-Saharan firms tend to favour London, which is often seen as a more prestigious market. The three African currencies will fall under the JSE’s currency derivatives unit, incepted in 2007, allowing them to traded with G-10 currencies of developed economies, including the U.S. dollar, euro and British pound. The JSE said it wanted to offer foreign and local investors, companies and fund managers doing businesses on the continent exposure to African economies in a relatively risk-free manner. “The message is simply: hedge your foreign exchange risk on the JSE and go and do your business,” said Andrew Gillespie, head of futures at Tradition Futures, which partnered with the JSE and Barclays bank to launch the platform. “You have fire insurance, theft insurance, insurance against water damage. This is a place to buy fx insurance,” Gillespie added. The platform will also allow participants to trade anonymously, with the JSE assuming the role of credit counterparty to all transactions. *Source theafricareport]]>
Liberia: Kenya Airways Resuming Liberia Route Oct. 24, Air Ivoire On Course
October 4, 2014 | 0 Comments
Photo: Capital FM
Kenya airways to resume flights to West Africa (file photo).[/caption] Monrovia — Relief is on the way for travelers out of Liberia and Sierra Leone looking to book a flight to neighboring Ghana, Nigeria and other neighboring states. FrontPageAfrica has learned that the East African airliner, Kenyan Airways is poised to be the second airline to resume flights to Ebola-stricken Liberia. The airline has penciled in October 24th, 2014 as its tentative date for the resumption of flights to Liberia, Airport Authority sources confirmed Tuesday. Addressing the 69th United Nations General Assembly Monday, Foreign Minister Augustine Ngafuan singled out Kenya and Ivory Coast for relaxing travel restrictions and the announcement of the resumption of flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Liberia Airport Authority sources confirmed to FrontPageAfrica Tuesday that Kenya has already notified airport authorities that it intends to resume flights on the 24th of October. Air Cote D’Ivoire is expected to resume within a week. Minister Ngafuan told the UNGA Monday that the suspension of flights as well as the travel and other restrictions/sanctions imposed on Liberia and other affected countries, contrary to expert advice from WHO and others, did not only undermine the humanitarian efforts aimed at quickly containing the disease, but also aggravated the adverse economic effects of the Ebola crisis. “The announcement of contributions and the airlift of critically needed protective equipment and supplies to Liberia and other affected countries by many governments, international NGOs, corporations, and philanthropists. The expressions of solidarity have taken many forms and we are deeply grateful for all of them.” A wave of canceled flights But Minister Ngafuan cautioned that these efforts and those earlier provided by many other governments and institutions like the African Development Bank (AfDB) should not lead Liberia toward complacency because the country has not yet achieved the twenty-fold increase in response recommended by the experts to contain the disease. Kenya, Airways was among a number of key regional airlines which canceled flights to Ebola-hit nations at the height of the outbreak. The suspension took effect on Aug. 19, 2014. Kenya Airways, which is a part-owned by Air France-KLM, flies a total of seven times a week to the two cities through Accra. Kenya withstood pressure despite the pullout of its peers flying Liberia and Sierra Leone but was forced to bow to pressure on the advice of the Kenyan Ministry of Health which reported four suspected cases of Ebola in Kenya had tested negative for the virus. The first case was a Liberian national, traveling to India through Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta airport, while the second case was that of a Nigerian national who came to Kenya on Aug. 8, the ministry said in a statement. A Zimbabwean who works in South Africa and was traveling to Sierra Leone made up the third case, while a second Nigerian national was also admitted to hospital with Ebola-like symptoms. Air Côte D’Ivoire, Nigeria’s Arik Air, Togo’s ASKY Airlines, British Airways, Emirates Airlines and Kenya Airways have together cancelled a combined 76 scheduled flights to Guinea, 70 to Liberia and 70 to Sierra Leone. To date, only Royal Air Maroc and SN Brussels are flying in and out of Liberia. Passengers looking to travel to Ghana and other neighboring states have been forced to pay almost US$2,000 one way. Of 590 monthly flights scheduled to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, 216 were cancelled, according to OAG, an airline data provider. Although 14 cases of Ebola were reported in Nigeria, flights to and from the country were not affected. Nigeria declared last week that it is Ebola free. Experts warn against Isolation International stakeholders have cautioned that isolation is an endangerment to relief efforts for West African countries at the heart of the Ebola outbreak, which have been virtually sealed off from the world amid border closures and empty airports as airline routes were suspended. Experts at the World Health Organization and other relief agencies have been warning for weeks that the flight cancellations will hamper the Ebola effort. But the warnings were ignored. The travel ban and cancellations are unnecessary because the risk of a passenger carrying Ebola is extremely low, according to the WHO and other experts. Only one such incident has been reported so far. Last Friday, Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara, in his address to the UN General Assembly, said his country will lift the controversial suspension of flights to countries stricken by the Ebola virus to show solidarity with the nations affected by the lethal outbreak. Ouattara said the initial decision to suspend flights was prompted by uncertainty about the threat, which he called a terrible problem for the people of West Africa. “When Ebola first broke out, people got panicked,” he said. “Obviously we rushed to make certain decisions. Now that everything is under control – there is no case of Ebola in Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) – I have decided that next week we will lift the suspension of flights and the maritime suspension.” Ivory Coast has also opened a “humanitarian corridor” so that people who want to enter Ivory Coast can be checked. The country has also contributed $1m to the international anti-Ebola effort. Outtarra explained that initial concerns were prompted by Ivory Coast’s shared borders with two countries – Guinea and Liberia – hit by Ebola. “I think we are the only country that has two Ebola countries to its borders and we have to really work on its prevention and we are very grateful to President Obama – the Centre for Disease Control has sent two experts to work on this control,” he said. “We are trying to work on specific measures to contain and to prevent.”