Kenya and Regional Integration

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Kenya and Tanzania have been experiencing frosty relationships in the last few months. These events came to the fore when tour van operators from Tanzania were denied access to Kenyan Airports to collect tourists and also entry into the Kenyan National Parks. This situation then skyrocketed last week when Kenya Airways – the national carrier, was restricted as to the number of frequencies they could use the Tanzanian airspace. This being as a result of the Kenya Civil Aviation’s reluctance to allow Tanzanian operated low cost carrier, EasyJet entry to operate Kenya.

Also, still on the matter of regional integration, a parliamentary committee has been investigating circumstances in which the national carrier did not heed requests by the Ugandan President HE Museveni to pick him up from his rural home for the East African Heads of States meeting in Nairobi. The Ugandan President had to use Ethiopian Airways.
It is to be expected neighboring countries should have differences on various matters but it has been the way that this differences are being handled that is worrying. Kenya had a cabinet secretary in charge of East African Community and I presume the various East African members have a ministry or a docket in charge of EAC. Despite this and the fact that we have the East African Community Headquarters based in Arusha, these disputes have skyrocketed to the highest institutions of the land – the presidency.

This dispute which arose as a result of Kenya Civil Aviation’s refusing to grant or taking its time in allowing the Tanzanian operated EasyJet the greenlight to operate in Kenya obviously has many elements involved but it is primarily it has economic undertones. Kenya Civil Aviation can be argued has been trying to protect the monopoly of Kenya Airways whose bread has been buttered in offering expensive flights across the region. Also, the entry of EasyJet in to the country would mean the competition to JamboJet ‘the low cost carrier’ operated by Kenya airways. Although, JamboJet is offers cheaper flights the entry of EasyJet would knock them off the market since they are substantially expensive compared to EasyJet. This is to be expected since this is not entirely a new airline on its own but rather a subsidiary of a main airline trying to fill in a gap.

The economics of this aside, what begs is as a community shouldn’t there be better channels in which disputes at a regional level can be solved apart from the presidency level. Or shouldn’t there be a body at EAC that looks at the interests of the community as opposed to the interests of the respective countries? I am a Kenyan and I would very much wish to see the entry of EasyJet into the country because this would result to substantially cheaper flights in the region. Cheaper flights mean more Kenyans will have a chance of visiting their brothers and sisters in the EAC region and by in turn result to more regional integration. However, chief executives with a bottom line to look after are opposed to entry of low cost airlines in the region and in turn lobby to influence decisions that are to their advantage.

In the case of tour operators from Tanzania being denied access to collect tourists from Kenyan Airports and entry into Kenyan National Parks – I totally see no logic in denying the Tanzanian’s entry to our airport and National Parks and basing this on a 1984 agreement. I think it is time the EAC institutions made themselves relevant by addressing such wrangles and also having the foresight to detect this in due time and prevent them from happening.

I would be interested in knowing the views of other young leaders on the above matters and of any other issue that has not come to the fore but might be a problem in the near future for East African Community member states.

The author of this piece is a blogger and a cultural practitioner in Nairobi. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES

Building Inclusive Economies Report

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This is Africa has a report which critically looks at the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative. This report, Building inclusive Economies – Can Africa bridge the development divide? Offers a different perspective to the Africa Rising narrative. Some of the questions which are addressed in this report which are worth looking at are;

• Is the high GDP growth which African states are experiencing evenly distributed among its population? [If not, what can be done to make sure that this growth is evenly distributed?]
• Will the growth rates we are witnessing today continue for the foreseeable future without structural transformation of the African Economies?
• Is Africa investing in new and most importantly clean energy sources?
• Is the infrastructure development which Africa states we are currently undertaking partly financed by China contributing to household incomes?
• Are African states free to come up with their own development policies free from the western centric development models?
• Is a developmental state better than a democratic state or can a democratic state be a developmental state?

The report addresses these among other pertinent questions. Apart from these policy questions there are success stories as well. Rockefeller Foundation the supporters of this publication have highlighted about their initiative, Digital Jobs for Africa. This initiative which operates in urban centres gives jobs to young people who in turn are able to pay their way to college at the same time acquiring valuable on the job training.

However some of the most incisive components of the report are from Dr. Carlos Lopes – Executive Secretary for the UN Commission for Africa, Elsie Kanza – senior Director for Africa at World Economic Forum, Kanayo F. Nwanze – President of IFAD and Adrienne Klasa – from This is Africa.

Dr. Carlos argues for seizing the missed opportunities for industrialization and in doing so Africa must find the missing link between production of agricultural commodities and value addition. According to him, the continent will be addressing the persistent unemployment currently being experienced. However, to do this the continent also has to get its energy supplies right. In the EAC region we have seen a number of infrastructural and energy supplies projects. Perhaps the leaders of the region are reading from the same script as Dr. Carlos.

What I like about Elsie’s segment is the paradigm shift that she calls upon, that governments need to focus on household level as opposed to the whole economy. It is about time the economist in the both government and private sector addressed the household level gains as opposed to whole economy in terms of measuring growth. In doing so, governments will be able to measure the real transformation that is taking place on the ground. Currently, there are a number of grandiose projects taking place in my country – Kenya and in the region. The benefits of these projects do not come immediately and therefore there is a need for the governments to go for the two throng approach where they seek to transform the economy as a whole and also improve the livelihoods of households.

The President of IFAD, Kanayo F. Nwanze as is to be expected writes about the power of Agriculture. Many young people rush to the allure of ICT and forget about Agriculture but in Kenya we have seen young people who are merging the two and are really successful. My opinion is the land tenure system is one of main problem for the youths taking up agriculture. In many circumstances, young people do not own land and therefore they cannot invest in sustainable agricultural practices. However, on the grand scale we have seen the government of Kenya doing more irrigation projects in Arid and Semi-Arid areas. This shows that governments are putting their money where their mouth is.

Lastly, Adrienne Klasa writes about the need to redefine policy boundaries and goes ahead to quote Meles Zenawi the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in the Africa and in the world and their model is somewhat similar to that of China. Many Economists are in agreement that in some areas Ethiopia seems to be getting some things right and as such it is time perhaps Africa decides what policy decisions to take and not necessarily take the Western development models.

I would encourage everyone to have a look at this report. This report can be accessed here
http://inclusiveeconomies.thisisafricaonline.com/?utm_source=microsite&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=IE

The author of this piece is a blogger and a cultural practitioner in Nairobi. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES

Conferences Professionals – But Where are the Results?

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By Robert Mugabe

In this new era where everything needs to be debated upon, has come with it, a new trend of a generation addicted to conferences who I call them “conference professionals”. Of course driven by the quest for knowledge and exposure but little by little the politics of conferences becomes catchy.

Yes, you heard me; they’re conference professionals-experts whose main arena is conference presentation. They want to make sure they attend all conferences.

“It might only take approximately three-four conferences in five star hotels until conference attendance becomes an ideology, which ends with good food and treats that woe those attending even to forget about their original stands on issues” – one political science lecturer who is an occasion trainer told me.

These conference professionals, move from one conference to another with beautiful designed PowerPoint. They have many titles, reading from their budges; ‘Human rights activists, youth empowerment expert, women emancipation advocates…” These peoples know the calendar of every conference, national, regional and international a like. Maybe call them conference tourists.

Heard some of you asking what’s wrong with them? But these are not productive individuals. They’re invited in a conference in Johannesburg simply because one of the conference organizers heard him or her speak in a conference in Nairobi. My friend back in Bujumbura told me that she knows one guy who met her date in Nairobi after three various conferences meeting the same girl, they’re now married. I wonder the name of their kid? Late me say; “Justice in Africa, Human rights status in EAC, you can add more…. that should be the names of their children.

These dudes are connected; they know their equals, the next conference on schedule… Back in their respective countries, they are not productive. Ask them what they have done; they will give a huge list. But just visit them; you will be shocked-that nobody knows them.

Most of these people when you hear them speaking, they will come up with good polished speech than Barrack Obama running for white house. They master the politics of the conferences.

Wait; when you see a young person gets this conference virus, it will be their end. They start boosting about the places they have traveled, nice hotels and good airlines. Bragging about style, PowerPoint design, that’s all what they do. Listening to one of them speak in the gathering, you might think you’re talking to Bill Gates with global investments… or you are talking to US secretary of state or Ban Ki-moon.

You want an example of these folks, don’t waste your time looking in their passports, only listen to them when they’re talking, they will tell you all the places they have gone. Guess to do what? Oooh! You got it, attend conferences.

You think am being aggressive in my writing? Maybe, but its because I imagine how conferences have developed a generation made of a bunch of talkers… indeed also these conference organizers most of them don’t some how care about implementation of the resolutions, simply most of them are sham NGO’s. They have no M&E for these conferences, they just make sure the people are there from region, the banner is up, with few presentation and some diplomats who fund these talking forums and that’s it.

They will take picture and mobilize media for visibility.  The next thing is to pay hotel bills and air ticket with $100 per diem and that’s all. That’s their game of the day; they enjoy the game well meeting with conference professionals. They don’t mind. These chaps don’t want any assignment; they’re tourists in the conference.

Next time I will come for you guys with these sham NGO’s, my other collaborator calls them briefcase NGO’s. Hello! Yes am coming for you. See you next time.

 

ROBERT MUGABE-is A Jurist specialized in Media Law. He’s also the editor of Great Lakes Voice. www.greatlakesvoice.com He’s based in Kigali-Rwanda.

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES

It is Infantile for the Tanzanian Government to Think Global and Act Local

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By Chris Nkwatsibwe

Biyi Bandele, a London-based African blogger had the following to say about Tanzania’s new education policy:

“Until every single mathematical theorem and every single theory in astrophysics and cosmology, and in medicine, and in chemistry, and in every single sphere of knowledge is written or available in translation in Kiswahili and Igbo and every other African language, I personally will always reject and abhor that easy [and easily comforting, xenophobic language] that dresses itself in the ultimately empty, and cheap, and hokey, and cheaply sentimental rhetoric of noble nationalism. I’ve been to Tanzania, and I’ve been to Zanzibar. And I’ve been to many countries in East Africa. What Tanzania needs now, what East Africa needs now, and what Africa needs now isn’t another instance of brainless, reflexive, macho posturing [which this is]. What we need, what we really need, is to have tens of thousands—millions—of our best minds, schooled not only in Swahili, Hausa, Xhosa, and Yoruba, and every major African language but also in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and in Urdu, Hindi, Arabic, Farsi, Chinese and Japanese, and in every single language on this little planet called earth, where knowledge—not just cheap, populist, propaganda—is disseminated.” -

I can’t agree more.

In my other opinion, to believe that in a globalized world where competition for relevance, human resource and investments is not only based on your ability to produce the best quality of product, but also the country’s ability to relate with other nations, that you will certainly breakthrough by domesticating and localizing the human resource is an absurdity of the highest order.

For Tanzania to change the medium of instruction in public schools from English to Kiswahili in a hope to elevate the level ‘passing’ or rather reduce the level of failing in the education system represents willingness by the government of Tanzania to settle for less. A close examination at the countries whose development, the government Tanzania aspires to reflects a need to review the new government paradigm. It is infantile for the Tanzanian government to think that the country will develop to a competitive level by closing itself away from the rest of the world.

Firstly, education is basically meant for developing human resource whose role in generating returns on human capital cannot be limited to carrying out production within the boundaries of Tanzania. The  new policy however would lead to production of a resource that may only find relevance in the east African community, and with the present spiraling levels of youth unemployment in the region, it still remains to be determined whether Tanzania would increase on the competitive advantage of her Nationals by ‘domesticating’ her education system.

Secondly, for any economy to develop there should be in increase in both the domestic and foreign savings of the country. This can be accumulated by Nationals working with in and or outside the boundaries of the country. More so, there should be an increase in a country’s exports inform of services and products. The new Tanzanian government policy fails on both fronts; her nationals’ competitiveness on foreign market would be limited due to the communication dilemma at the international level, this would definitely affect the country’s returns on her human capital whose opportunities would only mutate around the East African community.

The Tanzanian government should rather concentrate on building credible education system infrastructure that creates opportunities for talent identification and development to enhance innovation and creativity rather that incur the cost of amending the ‘instruction mode’. A more technical and vocational system will increase productivity and value addition.

Chris Nkwatsibwe is a Human Rights activist from Uganda

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES

How “You’re with us or on Your Own” Thinking is Destroying Future Leaders

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By Robert Mugabe

Kigali-Rwanda-everywhere in corners of the conferences, meetings in every country in Africa, the slogan is to involve the youth is the leadership of every respective country at the continent. Indeed my Kenyan friend was boosting the other day- on a chat that Kenya is in good model in the region since President Uhuru and his Vice Ruto are relatively young.

This friend supports January Makamba as next President of United Republic of Tanzania. For pro-Makamba’s camp believe that having him in office would bring generational shift! However, the intended in generational shift is change itself not age per say.

Society needs the youth for their energy, zeal, passion, patriotism and flexibility in thinking also for their integrity. Most of the young leaders in office we celebrate today are either born out of crisis like President Joseph kabila of DRC or President Paul Kagame of Rwanda…or are groomed in the parties which most of them still haven outdated ideals or run titanic bureaucracy like UNR of President Faure Gnassingbé.

Let’s take an example of January Makamba we have been talking about, he is from Chama Cha Mapindunzi (CCM) which has ruled Tanzania from the independence with Ujamaa in theory which means socialism.

Though CCM has roots in Ujamaa, but capitalism is the practice of the day. Forget about that Arusha declaration-my point is, yes CCM needs young person (in age) to rule United Tanzania but also CCM needs the youth to breathe life to Ujamaa politics… Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17 I wouldn’t support a new wine (leader) in the old wine skin.

To be groomed in the strong and revolutionary party like CCM, one needs to practice “you’re with us” theory. It means you need to be more catholic than the pope. You need to be a good young and staunch sycophant in the system to be trusted, even when you are a capitalist at heart; you are expected to sing “chama cha wakulima”. Look, even though CCM started as a community party, everyone now knows that it’s only the elites who own the former chama cha wakulima.

The young and dynamic, free thinking young leaders are either in opposition or civil society with limited chances to stand. Nobody knows them. The status quo doesn’t recognise them. Yet they are lions in the den. “They are on their own”. That’s the price for being on your own.

Being on you on theory-mean you can be dynamic, free minded and with integrity but the status quo yet rejects you.  You are not with them. Actually being on your own has robed us many vibrant leaders who would do a lot for their country.  Yet the groomed young leaders in given parties are dead of sycophancy without the mind of their own. If they want to change anything, the party will frustrate them. They’re not free, they can’t change anything. They are too compromised even to change a TV channel at their own homes. what a compromised life!

Maybe, we need paradigm shift. We need something new opposed to these big political parties. What if we stand as an independent candidate? Will African society give them a chance? Tanzania people would you give them a chance? That’s the first change needed.

Maybe, you need change. You need to get away with these beautiful policies in books which are never implemented. You need to eradicate corruption, why not get away with that bureaucracy and embrace reforms? But you need to look around and identify young and dynamic leaders.

Robert Mugabe is a media practitioner and a young leader from Rwanda

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES