Review: Foresight Africa Report by Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative

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Foresight Africa Cover | Brookings

The Foresight Africa report by Brookings Institution under their Africa Growth Initiative offers a snapshot of things to look out for in Africa this year. Out of the nine items which are featured in the report, seven have a bearing with the East Africa region or YLTP collective member’s countries.  These are;

An overview of the sixth Forum for Africa-China Cooperation or FOCAC expected to happen sometime later this year in South Africa, an analysis of how the west can do more militarily in Africa, a Pan-African view to Post-2015 Development Agenda, Financial Development in Africa – a crucial year, Reforming the African Union to increase effectiveness, a look at Obama administrations legacy in Africa – 2015 being a pivotal year and lastly a snapshot of presidential and legislative elections in Africa (with 5 countries from this region holding elections namely; Sudan – April, South Sudan – July, Ethiopia – May, Burundi – Mid 2015 and Tanzania – October with a referendum scheduled in April).

Perhaps to zero in on some of the above; I am particularly looking out to follow the FOCAC deliberations in South Africa this year. This meeting will come head over heels of the inaugural US-Africa Presidential Summit which was hosted by President Barack Obama last year. Some commentators cheekily observed the Chinese were closely observing that too and looking to overturn the gains US made last year! However, back to this report Yun Sun gives an excellent analysis, looking at previous FOCAC forums and inferring a pattern and extrapolating that to what one can look out for in this year’s Gig in South Africa.

As pointed out by Sun, this will be the first meeting on the new leadership in China. Also looking at my country, this will be President Kenyatta’s first FOCAC meeting. For any critical observer, one will notice Kenya has been more or less setting out the ground for the pet areas addressed by China – revival of key infrastructural projects both in the country and in the EAC region. It will be worthwhile to see how the new leaders in China will gel with the new crop of African leaders.

Most interesting is the realization by the west that they cannot compete with China in Africa and are thus we might see the rise of partnerships  between Western conglomerates and Chinese State entities doing business in Africa – this is highlighted under the chapter on Obama administrations legacy in Africa.

Mind you, if you are a Chinese watcher here is a speech by both President Zuma at Tsinghua University delivered in December 2014. Link: http://www.thepresidency.gov.za/pebble.asp?relid=18596

Michael O’Hanlon and Amy Copley address what the West can do more militarily in Africa. They visit some of the incidents that have taken place in Africa zeroing in Boko Haram in West Africa, terrorist attack in Westgate in Nairobi and security situation in the Horn of Africa. From their assessment the Africa Union has other regional bodies have a number of security apparatus that are not quite engaged when situations arise because of bureaucracy among other things.

Though the military ‘intervention’ by the West does pose some long term strategic questions especially with other actors also intervening militarily in the continent but this is not addressed by the authors of this chapter.

Mwangi S. Kaimenyi advocates for increased reforms at the African Union and gives tangible evidence why this is the path to take. Increasingly, the Africa Union is acting as the focal point of engagement with the continent but the organization is still staked in the old ways of doing things. The author goes ahead to give practical ways in which the Union should undertake in 2015.

The quintessential segment of this report is the one on African Election 2015. Two of the countries analyzed are from this region i.e. Tanzania and Sudan.

This report is highly recommended – that is if you have not had a chance of reading it.

Link to the full report [pdf]

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.

The Greatest Virtue of Leadership That Should Be Nurtured Amongst the Youth Is Integrity

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In the past decade, there has been a push all over East Africa to see that all holders of public offices are experts and specialists with relevant work experiences regarding the various responsibilities and duties delegated to them. This move came as a result of massive failure experienced in various public offices due to lack of ethics and professionalism.

In the past, senior positions in public offices were viewed as a political reward to the loyalist. These resulted into a culture where no one cared about service delivery to the public but rather balancing the political equation that awarded him with the position.

The consequences of this undertaking, had a major negative impact to our economy. Just to list but a few; poor service delivery, massive looting of public resources, nepotism and tribalism cropping up, citizen despair due to the unbearable cost of living and in extreme case mushrooming of slums and massive unemployment.

But contrary to the expectation, professionalism has not been the absolute solution to misuse of public funds and offices, even though it has reduced the crime to a certain degree. Still, in most countries within East Africa we have experienced worst financial scandals that entail millions of dollars being looted from the public coffers by individuals who were thought to be the most suited professionals and hence a quest for an ultimate solution that will terminate this menace is still being sought for.

In regard to this, I suggest that the best leadership virtue that should be cultivated amongst the youth as they quest to capture public offices is integrity.

Integrity entails self-cultivation; the constant struggle against identity, personality, nature, character, person, ego or any vices like tradition that are as a result of our socialization whether acquired consciously or unconsciously with a quest of being upright and stand by the values of the nation and humanity .

But self-cultivation is not a one day activity, it is a life time process that one continuously evaluates the importance and impact of his actions and contributions to the society and strives to better them. This can only be efficient is cultivated at a tender age.

Professionals equipped with integrity will stand a better chance to stir the desire of East Africans by bring them closers to their dreams of prosperity. This is because they will enhance the spirit of accountability and efficiency in the public offices by prioritizing the citizen’s aspirations above their personal greed.

Author: Javan Owala – Kenya

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

December 2 President’s Speech on the Current Security Situation in Kenya

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Without a doubt security, mostly the lack of it has been one of the biggest talking points in Kenya. After the Mandera incident which took place while the president was out of the country on official duty in UAE.  The president received a lot of backlash on his reaction albeit lack of it at that point in time not to cancel his visit in UAE and come home to attend to the growing insecurity matters. It must be pointed that after the Mandera incident the Deputy President did address the nation in a well-choreographed speech which indicated that the Kenyan army had miraculously identified an Al Shabaab camp which it went ahead to bomb. Needless to say no level headed analysis believed the Deputy Presidents account of events since the evidence of this attack mostly the veracity of the photos produced was questioned by security experts.

As it would be, the Mandera incidence was immediately followed by another terrorist attack incident in the Northern part of our country. This point in time it seems the presidency learnt from its previous failures and the president within 24 hours of the attack addressed the nation, with what was going to be a far reaching speech. This as some analysis rightly put it was the first time the president was addressing the nation after the Mandera incident. A number of things had taken place in between these waves of attacks, with protestors having marched outside the office of the presidency asking for the sacking of the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government, John Ole Lenku and Inspector General of Police – Mr. David Kimaiyo.

There was growing pressure from within the country that the above two officers were sleeping on the job and that their failures in their respective offices were now reflecting badly on the presidency because ultimately the buck stops with the president.

The December 2, 2014 statement by the president was by all accounts a Kantian moment from the presidency since it indicated that our country was at war. It is more or less reminiscent of President Bush speech after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. The speech narrated the history of attacks in our country and pointed a finger at Somalia and by extension showed cause as to why our military is in Somalia. Some of the highlights of this speech are;

In October, 2011, the Government authorized the KDF to pursue the Al Shabaab militia into Somalia. This decision was right then, and remains so today.

It was also noteworthy that the president went all out to show that Kenya’s military is part of the AU mission. This is because some sections of the population have been calling for the Kenyan military to pull out of Somalia – if this would help reduce the attacks on the Kenyan soil.

Following requests by regional, continental and global actors, KDF joined AMISOM in February 2012. We remain part of the African Union mission to date.

This is why we have witnessed intensified extremist rhetoric against the KDF campaign in Somalia as well as support for murder and impunity. This reprehensible rhetoric has embraced Al Qaeda’s extremist ideas of setting up an Islamic Caliphate in East Africa.

However, the biggest news was the December 2, 2014 statement was the sacking of the CS for Interior and Coordination of National Government, Mr. John Ole Lenku and the surprise voluntary retirement on health grounds of IG of Police, Mr. David Kimaiyo. The surprise of the evening however was the man tapped to replace Ole Lenku to the docket responsible for Security. Major General (rtd) Joseph Nkaissery had been a Member of Parliament from Orange Democratic Movement (opposition) and in so doing it seems President Kenyatta was following in the footsteps of the US President Barack Obama who nominated the outgoing Secretary of Defense, Hagel from the Republican Party.

By all accounts the new nominee who has of yesterday been vested by his former colleagues in Parliament is a respected military man. Major General (rtd) Joseph Nkaissery is an US educated General and many people have faith that he is the man for the job.

However, one of the main areas of concern from the president’s speech was the apparent reference for the media to ‘tone down’.

Our national conversation, whatever its temper, is facilitated by our media. The media must step back from being an inert funnel of sentiments, opinions and messages, and become a true mediator and an honest broker of the national discourse. The media must not allow intemperate, intolerant, divisive, alarmist and stigmatizing views.

You can access the full Mandera Statement by the President here

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.

Does a Gun Point Put Terrorism to an end or escalate it?

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Since the occurrences of September 11 attacks in USA by the Terrorist Network of Al-Qaida, the International Community and other regional bodies have invested much to counter and obliterate International terrorism. Incidence, The World has witnessed alliances of big Nations on the War against Terrorism.

In 2001, America and her Allies (NATO) participated fully in the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. The world was taken by surprise to the Military operations in Afghanistan where the US Special forces hunted the Al-Qaida leaders. The Al-Qaida Leader Osama Bin Laden, was hunted down and killed in Pakistan but still terrorism has continued to hit the international Media coverage and still there are more causalities of terror attacks in many Countries in the world.

In recent years, terrorist groups and radicals clerics are enjoying popularity of radicalization of unemployed and hopeless Youth who have been betrayed by their Political Leaders. The World has witnessed the rise of Anti-Balaka and Seleka Militia in Central Africa Republic, the Somali Al-shabaab as well as Boko haram just to mention the few; these organizations have extended their influence by recruiting youth from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. The latter being unusual occurrence since they have  not been experiencing terror related incidences and have been previously referred to as an island of Peace. The young Blood find themselves with “NO” option of whether they have to starve or join Al-Shabaab Militias and benefit with their families with handsome salaries.

The recent Interventions in Middle East to fight with Terrorist groups led to the emergence of New Terrifying Enemy “ISIS”, where many innocent people in Iraq and Syria as well as Journalist and aid Workers lives have been lost.

Nevertheless, the nature and character of War on terror seems even to compromise with human rights, many people have been thrown under arbitrary detentions and arrest. And in some Western Countries peoples freedom has been undermined by the state security services.

All actions and interventions of War against terrorism have proved to be massive failures for what has been seen is that, “Terrorist Groups and Radical Movement continues to upsurge like mushrooms all over the World from North Pole to South Pole”. It’s my opinion and I really optimistic that, the war against terrorism will achieve its goal if and only if the International Community takes new directions and this direction should not merely rely on gun point as the only option. Since then jihadist clerics are not using the gun point to wage their insurgency but rather using the holly books “Quran and Bible” to propagate and manipulates the people. The International Community should take joint efforts to ensure that, the root cause of manipulating the World is dealt effectively. This can only be possible by rising Public Debates where by those who has been wash brained and consequently manipulated Ideologically are rescued and left free from the World of Perversion.

The author of this piece is Mohamed Aliy, a young activist and a trainee of Young Leaders Forum-2014, Tanzania. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of FES.

The Rising Incidences of Insecurity in Kenya

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Mapped out Areas in which there have been Security Related Incidences | Map from Kenya Open Data website

The main focal point for this year’s regional young leader’s forum was regional security and key among those things discussed was the Westgate incidence – of which the Kenyan delegation which I was part of, gave a presentation on. No sooner had we gotten back home, than a number of security related incidences occurred. Starting with an attack on Mombasa barracks – where a group of youths armed with machetes and knives attached an army barrack.  This was immediately followed by Kapedo attack. In this attack, junior police officers some of them barely six months in the police service were killed by bandits in Kapendo. They has requested for help from the headquarters – but this was not forthcoming. This weekend we woke up to the terrible news of Mandera bus attack incidence in which Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility.

Kenyan’s are angry at least those on twitter and they have been making their opinions known with #MySecurityMyRight hash tag. This is coming in the backdrop incidences in which touts stripped women and Kenyans on twitter who were against this barbaric acts came up with this hash tag #MyDressMyChoice.

The increasing number of these security related incidences can be attributed to a number of things – key among them  porus borders, the culture of corruption which exists in our country and the state reaction to previous security incidences. A classic case is the ongoing operations at the Kenyan coast, where security personnel storm into mosques and the extra-judicial killings which are prevalent at the Kenyan coast.

For a better understanding of the current situation in Kenya, I would recommend one to read the International Crisis Group Update Briefing Number 102, Kenya: Al Shabaab – Closer to Home. 

Download this briefing here: International Crisis Group Update Briefing Number 102, Kenya Al Shabaab – Closer to Home. [pdf]

This update briefing by Crisis Group observes;

One year after the Westgate Mall terrorist attack in Nairobi, Al-Shabaab is more entrenched and a graver threat to Kenya. But the deeper danger is less in the long established terrorist cells that perpetrated the act – horrific as it was – and more in managing and healing the rising communal tensions and historic divides that Al-Shabaab violence has deliberately agitated.

Apart from observing the root causes of these increasing spikes of security related incidences, the report goes further to point out five practical solutions. Whether our government will not heed is another thing all together. I am not even sure if the government reads some of these reports!

However, one of the glaring omissions from this report, of which Kenyan’s on Twitter have been requesting for, is the sacking of the Joseph Ole Lenku, the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Co-ordination of National Government and David Kimaiyo, the Inspector General of Police – National Police Service. During their tenure, Kenya has experienced a rise in insecurity incidences. However, the Inspector General has been on record saying the National Intelligence Agency has not given him timely and actionable Intelligence to act upon. However, the NIS has rejected this accusation – with them leaking briefs immediately after an incident has taken place to  counter this accusations.

Among the many recommendations Kenyan’s on twitter have been calling for is the overhaul of the entire security apparatus and also the reforming of the security docket – with the creation of a homeland security docket [similar to the US].

For a better understanding of the online conversations currently taking place, check @KenyanPundit tweets esp. the crowd-sourcing of solutions on this question;

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

YLF 2014: Recap and Way Forward

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The Regional Young Leaders Forum took place late last month in Dar es Salaam bringing in together young leaders from the region. This year’s forum focused on Regional Security and Local Grievances. Increasingly, in the East African region there have been incidents which necessitated the regional organizers of this forum to seek young leader’s intervention on this matter and if possible, try and come up with solutions to some of these conflicts and incidences.

In the run- up on the conference, readings on the subject matter had been circulated and among these was seminal literature on this matter; Militias, Rebels and Islamist Militants: Human Insecurity and State Crises in Africa edited by Wafula Okumu and Augustine Ikelegbe.

Well, it was only fair that one of the editors of this publication was invited to present an overview of this subject matter and the organizer lived to that expectation by having Dr. Wafula Okumu as a facilitator and moderator in the event.

Day 1

Dr. Wafula Okumu occupied the first slot of the first day with the uphill and unenviable task of summarizing the 251 pages book in two hours! This without a doubt he was able to do justice on.

Some of the key highlights of his presentation were;

  • A breakdown on the nature and characteristics of Armed Non-State Groups in Africa
  • Root causes of Armed Non-State Groups phenomena
  • The State response – in many instances which has been counterproductive or not well informed and thought out
  • Regionalization of Insecurity
  • Harmonization of youth power for public good – [positive role in which young leaders can play in their communities to curb the insecurity phenomena]
  • And like any prophet he finished with some words of wisdom!

The second keynote speaker was Amb. Augustine Philip Mahiga. The ambassador was a former special representative for UN-Secretary General to Somalia and he made an outstanding presentation on Somalia, Al Shabaab and Regional Consequences. It was during his tenure that some semblance of order after a long period of chaos was achieved.

He gave an overview of his three and half years stint in Somalia and some of the achievements made under his tenure such as;

  • Bringing together of clan leaders for the peace process – the Kampala Accord plus how he went for 48 hours without sleep and the intrigues behind the fall of the Prime Minister
  • The process of crafting an interim constitution – approved by reps from the grassroots [mind you in a post conflict environment]
  • Somalia and the peace process – which was taking place in their own country as opposed to the neighboring states and what that meant
  • Election of Parliament – 275 member assembly. A very intriguing process that involved the use of clan leaders since clans were the only institutions that were fully functioning after the collapse of the Somali state. The emerging questions on legitimacy that arose, issues of representation in terms of gender, marginalized communities
  • The intrigues of election of the Speaker and eventual election of the President
  • The envisaged referendum in 2016 and the players involved in that process.
  • Lastly, the ambassador gave a very comprehensive account on the Al Shabaab as we know of it today – the initial formative stages of this group and causes that lead to its formation – both internal and external plus what lead to its rise in terms of resources and manpower.

The two keynotes speakers laid the groundwork for the individual country presentations. Each country delegation had been tasked with coming up and preparing a presentation which was in line with the theme of the conference. The following are the presentations made by the country delegations during the afternoon of the first day and the whole of the second day;

  • Kenya: Local Grievances and Islamist Rebels

Moderator: John Olang Sana, Nairobi Slum Project

  • Ethiopia: Borders and Borderlands

Moderator:  Selahadin Eshetu

  • Tanganyika and Zanzibar: UAMSHO or an Awakening in the Making?

Moderator: Shaban Omari, Shamar Educational Centre – Tanzania

  • Sudan: Does Sudan Pose a Threat to the Security in the Region?

Moderator: Fatma Abdelkarim

  • South Sudan: Resources, Land Rights, Migrants and Rebels

Moderator: Dr. Luka Biong Deng

  • Uganda: Uganda’s History with the LRA and the Rational of the Military Intervention in South Sudan

Moderator: Eunice Akullo, Lecturer, Nkumba University – Uganda

The above country presentations were all well thought out, researched and well presented. They offered great insights into the subject matter and stirred debates, clarifications and inputs. This greatly impressed Dr. Wafula and Dr. Luka who noted that if the younger leaders present are the leaders of today then things were certainly going in the right directions.

Day 3

Getting Your Message Across – I: How to be interviewed on Radio and TV

This session was given by Colin Spurway, the Country Director of BBC media action – Tanzanian assisted by his team.

The reason as to why this session was on the cards is because many people and leaders for that matter usually have a problem in how they go about expressing their ideas and thoughts. Therefore is quintessential for young leaders to know how to interact and put their message across various channels and radio is as big as they come since it is able to reach many people.

Colin Spurway and his team offered practical facilitation on this subject matter.

The key take away from this session how to package my message and techniques of handling difficult questions.

Getting Your Message Across II: Blogging about Political Issues in Africa

Catherinerose Barretto from KINU Hub Tanzania and I [Robert Njathika] co-facilitated on how to get your message across albeit on blog platforms from mid-morning to early afternoon. This session was necessitated by the fact that there is a FES blog that needs input from the young leaders across the region.

One of the outcomes of this session is how the group would go about making their interventions on the YLF-blog.

The YLF-blog

The blog has been opened up to the FES affiliated young leaders in the region to discuss and debate issues. The rationale is there are a number of phenomena happening in each member country and there is no need to wait for the annual regional conferences to discuss this issues.

It is expected that the blog will serve the purpose of keeping the debate online on matters that are incidental to issues touching on EAC / Regional Integration, Economics, Foreign & Security Policy and Human Rights.

The manner in which the issues are presented could take the form of unpacking what is currently appearing in the local dallies of our respective countries, obviously with some background information. The essence of this is would be to keep other FES affiliated young leaders abreast with what is currently happening in the neighboring countries and to solicit some kind of feedback or debate on those issues [if at all they require feedback].

How to go about that?

In Kunduchi, 8 regional blog representatives were chosen. In the course of this week, I shall go about making them contributors on the blog platform – which means they can log in and post articles – the mechanics of how to post shall also be communicated.

I intend to use the blog reps that were chosen to represent each country as the focal point of input on the blog platform. So each country can decide on how they wish to go about passing content to their blog reps. However, if the blog rep in your country is unavailable, you can contact me and I will assist in getting the post on the blog.

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