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

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

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.