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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A young leader makes a presntation on Katiba

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

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.

A Brief Review of ‘The State of Africa’ – Martin Meredith

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A BRIEF REVIEW OF ‘THE STATE OF AFRICA’ – Martin Meredith by Chris Nkwatsibwe

Africa stands at cross roads in the quest for good governance and social economic development. the increased deterioration of the standards of living in majority of the countries coupled with devastating social economic status of the people affirm that while Africa may have succeeded in acquiring political independence from her former colonial masters, it has not translated this independence to tangible benefits to its inhabitants.

The ‘state of Africa’ – a book by Martin Meredith, explores the multitude of problems that Africa has faced in the past half-century, focusing on key figures and events that have defined its independence and post- independence era. The book notes that despite the fact that in many cases African independence was a bloody and a lengthy process, the withdrawal of colonial powers from Africa was met with jubilation and hope. African leaders stepped into their new positions with much enthusiasm and visions of development and nation-building. Africa looked set to flourish since this era also coincided with a global economic boom. It is further noted however that this was not the case, the question therefore is what went wrong and why did hopes and ambitions fade? This is the question that Meredith tries to answer in this book.

The book poses the vampire like politicians as being the answer to these rather intriguing questions. It leaves little doubt as to the fact that the primary cause of Africa’s pain is its corrupt, tyrannical, incompetent, thieving, “vampire-like” leaders. The book charts the history of African states in the half-century since the colonial powers either left or were kicked out of their former colonies. It documents, country by country, decade by decade, a depressing litany of wars, revolutions, dictatorships, famines, genocide, coups and economic collapse to justify the assertion.

This narrative begins on Feb. 9, 1951, a pivotal date in the history of what was then Britain’s Gold Coast and now Ghana. On that day the political prisoner Kwame Nkrumah was elected to political office as Britain began fulfilling its promises for the country’s self-determination. Four days later, Nkrumah was designated the new prime minister. And the cycle is described from the shadow of colonialism to the bloom of self-government, onward to tyranny that ensued thereafter.
For example, In the Central African Republic, Jean-Bedel Bokassa acquired an impressive portfolio of French property from fortunes he made in private diamond and ivory deals, and also housed a host of wives and mistresses, including “the German, the Swede, the Cameroonian, the Chinese, the Gabonese, the Tunisienne, and the Ivorienne”.

While Uganda’s Idi Amin, so insecure in his new-found power, authorized mass killing sprees of suspected opposition, whose bodies were dumped in rivers to be eaten by crocodiles. In a similar fashion, Francisco Macías Nguema of Equatorial Guinea gave his security forces unlimited powers to arrest, torture, rape and murder.

Mr. Meredith points out that not a single African head of state in three decades had allowed himself to be voted out of office, instead, these dictators strutted the stage, tolerating neither opposition nor dissent, rigging elections, emasculating the courts, cowing the press, stifling the universities, demanding abject servility and making themselves exceedingly rich.
It is highly imperative to note however that even though the ‘State of Africa’ presents “governments and vampire-like politicians” as being the major and primary cause of Africa’s problems, , it does not ignore the other factors that have contributed to the poor outcome of most of these African countries, insightfully, the artificial borders imposed by colonial powers, indebtedness, civil war and conflict, Western protectionism, the frequency of droughts, the high levels of diseases such as malaria and river blindness and the dreadful scourge of Aids plus rapid population growth are some of the other factors Meredith highlights.

It is however argued that these factors could have been overcome, or at least alleviated, had it not been for the greed and incompetence of the independence-era leaders, whose regimes deteriorated relatively quickly into systems of dysfunctional, corrupt and authoritarian rule.

Interestingly, Even though Meredith does attribute many of Africa’s problems to poor leadership, he also points out the fact that most of these leaders enjoyed considerable Western support. Mobutu, for example, adopted a pro-Western, anti-Soviet stance that gained him considerable support from the West, particularly in Washington. When George Bush became president in 1989, he stated that Zaire was among America’s oldest friends, and its president – President Mobutu – one of their most valued friends. In the Central African Republic, the French provided Bokassa’s regime with both financial and military support in order to suppress prospects of Anglophone influence. This in my opinion can be translated as a contribution the west could have made to Africa’s present day challenges.

The book also captures the key events such as the Ethiopian famine and the Rwandan genocide, and exhaustively discusses the key leaders such as Charles Taylor, one of the continent’s most prominent warlords, and Zimbabwe’s infamous Robert Mugabe.
While exploring the Tanzanian example which was referred to as a “beacon of hope” amidst rapidly fading hopes for the rest of Africa, Meredith also indicates that although most post-independence leaders opted for “African socialism” as a basis of economic and political governance, their strategies and ideologies tended to be a haphazard mixture of vague and incoherent ideas, and thus often involved implementing grandiose development projects, the majority of which failed due to the lack of necessary infrastructural and institutional frameworks.

On a rather lighter note, In the last chapters of the book Meredith offers a little hope: the political and economic successes of Botswana, South Africa’s Mandela years, noble characters -the poet-president Léopold Senghor in Senegal and worthwhile leadership of Vice President John Garang and the emergence of a “new generation” of African leaders committed to democracy, economic development and civil rights are also comprehensively discussed.

Lastly, this book is epic. Meredith works with the colossal spatial and temporal span of this subject with ease, weaving chapters together in a loose chronological order to present the narrative as a patchwork quilt of Africa, rather than as a rigid country-by-country timeline. The early chapters see the rise of African independence and post-independence leaders and the later chapters indicate an account of their actions while in their tenure in their respective offices.

Just like Meredith writes, “African governments and the vampire like politicians who run them are regarded by the populations they rule as yet another burden they have to bear in the struggle for survival.” It is saddening to note that Africans have taken a more passive that active role in resolving the democratic deficiencies encountered by their countries. There’s an increasing state of apathy amongst Africans which has delayed and frustrated the efforts towards dismantling of these deficiencies and consolidating the gains already made.

CHRIS NKWATSIBWE – Uganda
Human Rights activist

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

Youth Population- “A blessing or a curse?”

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Time to hide our head in the sand like the proverbial Ostrich is over. The fire of crime is burning our continent. The fire of terrorism is burning our continent. The fire of violence is burning our continent. Its time we ask ourselves the hard questions: Is the growing youth population a blessing or curse for Africa?

Various sources confirm that the youth population is increasingly growing in Africa. The UN put Africa as the continent with the youngest population in the world due to the fact that over 200 million people in Africa are aged between 15 and 24 years.  The Africa Union Commission agrees with this fact by stating that 65% of the total population in Africa are aged below 35 years and 35% are between 15 and 35 years. These statistics could be indicators of a ticking time bomb or an opportunity for the continent to rise higher.

The youth population is a blessing that does not require a rocket- scientist to see and understand it. A bigger youth population means a bigger work force which is promising for our economy. A bigger youth population translates to more innovation which increases Africa’s capability to compete in the world market. A bigger youth population means a strong police force and a stronger military force. A bigger youth population guarantees Africa a better future.

A bigger youth population becomes a ticking -time bomb when: there are no employment opportunities; when tribalism and nepotism replaces meritocracy; when democracy is replaced by dictatorship; when violence is the road to power; when the few rich continue getting richer while the majority poor get poorer; when good education is for the few rich and the majority poor are given average education. This situation has to stop in Africa or else we as a continent are courting serious trouble.

This article does not require research it simply calls for common sense! Ask your self about the level of youth unemployment in your countries. Ask about access to quality education. Ask about corruption level. Ask! Ask! Ask! Ask!

The youth question is a question of governance!

Author: John Wesonga – 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.