Monday, 29 October 2007

Dr Watson’s racist findings and Africa’s chronic slide

October 30, 2007
One of the world’s most prominent scientists, Dr James Watson who shared a Nobel Prize with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins for co-discovering the structure of the DNA molecule in 1962 burnt his fingers when he tried his hand at the hot potato of race and intelligence.

Dr Watson claimed that “most tests” had shown that overall Africans were not as intelligent as people of European descent and that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa.” He later apologised “unreservedly” for the comments adding that “there is no scientific basis for such a belief!”

Sadly, Africans always come at the tail end of most important aspects of human development and progress, somewhat lending credence to the purveyors of the racially prejudiced idea that attributes intelligence -or the lack of it- to race.

Many stand on these premises and claim that perhaps Africans would have been “better off” if the colonialists had stayed on “a little bit longer” to see through their dubious project of “civilising” the supposedly backward Africans. The proponents of this argument sneer when challenged by those who assert that colonialism and its effect on governace, was the bane of Africa’s progress.

They point to the fact that many other parts of the world such as Asia and the Americas whose (occupants are not predominantly black) were also colonised at some point but have come off much better than (black) Africa.

Because, Africa was one of the last places to be colonised, by the time the colonialists came to Africa they had learnt great lessons from their abortive experience elsewhere and perfected the art of colonisation. They knew that colonialism would never be acceptable as a permanent condition and would at some point in time be resisted by the “natives.” They had to be shrewd. Ways were devised to gain eternal control and that the continent would be in a state of everlasting dependence and chaos.

A global economic system was perfected to ensure that the South (Africa) perpetually provided raw materials for processing in industries based in the North (Europe) at a minimal cost.

To access lucrative markets, unfeasible standards were set such that African finished products found it impossible to gain entry. The territories in Africa that were not colonised would later suffer this consequence and end up like the rest of the continent– economies with uncertain and insufficient economic bases.

Furthermore to fit into this arrangement, Africans were disadvantaged since they had to abandon their language (and culture) as a medium of communication in trade, education and daily operations, for predominantly English and French. A good percentage of their life time would be spent trying to learn and “catch up;” with their European counterparts as a necessity.

When colonialism ran out of fashion, power was handed back to the “wrong” people ie “democratically elected” fellows (the Obotes) instead of kings and chiefs who “owned” it at the onset of colonialism, in “republics” which were in effect different nationalities that were hastily and haphazardly merged. The contentions between nationalities would feature prominently in the politics of the continent with disastrous consequences.

Naturally these “democratically elected” leaders were resisted. They in turn dug in to protect their new found privilege of power. They fell back onto their tribes mates whom they could trust for their protection and perpetuation. (The concept of Generals coming from one area is no accident). Politics and leadership became a game of one tribe displacing another and trying to hang on as long as possible.

With this came along the evils of sectarianism, and corruption since recruitment was not on merit. Inefficiency, low motivation and productivity set in because being at one’s best did not guarantee promotion in ones field of expertise. Knowing the right people, did. The military coups of the late 60s and the early 70s funded by the dynamics of the cold war, stifled democracy, free thought and created an atmosphere of perennial fear and uncertainty which was definitely not conducive in bringing out the best of Africans.

It sparked unending devastation, with a good amount of the (productive) human resource (16-45 years) wasted either as refugees or as “combatants” practicing the art of destruction and not construction. Foreign aid and its high interest became inevitable yet in real terms encroached further on the continent’s resources, since most of it is either stolen or goes back to the donors as payment to expatriates tied to it.

The continent’s revenues ended up in unproductive defence expenditure instead of research, education, health, infrastructural development and investment and yet these are the aspects that would set a favourable environment and Africans would function and be judged correctly.

Many Africans and blacks, who have had studied and worked in (European) environments that cherish merit, invest in human resource, value and pay fairly for the input of individuals and their ideas, plus create an atmosphere of certainty, security progress and development have shot holes in the idea of race and intelligence.

China digs deeper into Africa with bank deal

October 26, 2007, 15:15

China has served notice it is accelerating its investment drive in Africa towards full throttle with the planned $5.6 billion cash purchase of a major stake in Standard Bank by Beijing's biggest lender.

China's ICBC bank said yesterday, it is to buy 20% of South Africa's Standard Bank, the biggest foreign acquisition by a Chinese commercial bank yet. So far, China has focused its African ventures on mining companies as well as oil to feed its exploding economy.

The planned acquisition, which will also be the largest foreign investment in Africa, leaves no doubt that China has bigger things in mind. "It opens our eyes to the fact that China's strategy is about more than state-owned mining companies. A big investment in a major South African financial institution in Africa is a step up," said Philip Alves, an economist at The South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA).

ICBC's stake in Standard Bank will give it sustained leverage to penetrate financial networks in South Africa, the continent's biggest economy, as Beijing pushes major state firms to expand abroad, particularly in developing countries.

Johannesburg-based Standard Bank operates in 18 African countries, including South Africa, and 21 other countries across the world. Benefits will flow both ways, an idea that China has been pushing as it expands its economic base in Africa.

Standard Bank will gain access to the world's fastest-growing economy, boost its capital base and its ability to finance trade flows between Africa and Asia, Standard Bank Chief Executive Officer Jacko Maree said.

China's relentless investment offensive in Africa has been welcomed by impoverished countries. But it has drawn fire from Western nations and aid groups, who accuse Beijing of turning a blind eye to misrule, corruption and human rights abuses.

China argues it is spreading prosperity in the world's poorest continent where the West has failed. "Their engagement with Africa is not dominated by this discussion of how to transform the continent. They are willing to deal with Africa on its own terms and that has been very successful for them," said Chris Alden, director of the China in Africa research project at SAIIA.

China pumps cash into Africa and avoids politics
China's tactics in Africa have been straightforward: hotly pursue commercial deals and try to avoid politics. It has demonstrated skills in manoeuvring around political minefields in countries such as Sudan, where critics allege its military aid and oil investment has fuelled the Darfur conflict.

Investing has proven risky on the ground. Rebels in Ethiopia killed nine Chinese workers in a raid on an oil installation in April. A Darfur rebel group which said it attacked Sudan's Defra oil field on Tuesday, killing 20 government soldiers and taking two foreign hostages - described the assault as a message to China. Sudan's government denied any such attack, though China's embassy in Khartoum confirmed it.

China's CNPC has the biggest stake in the group that runs the field, alongside India's ONGC. But a steady flow of big deals since President Hu Jintao announced a drive to boost relations with Africa in 2004 suggests rewards may outweigh risks in the foreseeable future.

Chinese loans, donations and debt relief have been made along the way. Some African government officials wonder why countries like the United States invest in China while questioning the country's record in Africa.

"The Chinese investments are not tied to too much (political or economic) analysis compared with the West, they move quickly," Zambian Commerce and Trade Minister Felix Mutati said. "If China is good for the West, why should it not be good for Africa? We want to harvest the same benefits the West is getting from China," he said.

Lack of transparency from Beijing on details of its investments and aid in Africa has also alarmed Western donors, who have watched China become a player in countries such as oil-rich Angola, where Chinese credit is believed to be between $4 billion and $11 billion.

"Angolans will probably generally like it. It helps to a degree to alleviate the international pressure regarding the Angolan government arranging its finance facilities from China," said a banker in the Angolan capital Luanda.

"After all, if the scion of South African banking in sub-Saharan Africa takes on a major Chinese bank as 20% investor, that sort of gives the good housekeeping seal of approval to the Chinese in Africa." - Reuters

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

The Global Economy


The world's economies have developed ever-closer links since 1950, in trade, investment and production.
Known as globalisation, this process is not new, but its pace and scope has accelerated in recent years, to embrace more industries and more countries.
There have been losers as well as winners from globalisation, with China the biggest winner, and blue-collar workers the biggest losers.
The changes have been driven by liberalisation of trade and finance, changes in how companies work, and improvements to transport and communications.


Since 1955, the volume of the world trade has grown much faster than the world economy as a whole, and for many countries it has been the engine of growth.
The gains of trade have been unevenly distributed, as first Europe, and then Asia joined the world trading system.
Other poor regions, such as Africa, dependent on commodities, have been left behind.
Trade talks helped boost trade in manufactured goods between rich countries as tariffs were cut.
Countries which aimed at export-led growth, such as Japan, Korea, and China, have benefited.
But liberalising trade in services - such as accounting - or agriculture has proved harder.
Now talks aimed at opening up markets in agriculture to benefit poor developing countries have stalled.

The way manufactured goods are produced has changed dramatically in the last 50 years as the cost of transport and communications has fallen.
More and more goods are produced by global multinational companies with production plants around the world.
This set-up enables them to take advantage of cheaper labour and gives them better access to local markets.
More recently, "virtual companies" have outsourced their production to other firms around the world. These use the internet to manage their global supply chain, or their IT services like billing.


As well as the free movement of goods, there has also been a dramatic increase in the flows of money (capital) around the world.
Banks and private investors now hold trillions of assets invested overseas since the liberalisation of world capital markets in the l980s.
These capital flows are highly concentrated among rich countries and a few developing countries, and can fluctuate from year to year.
While some big developing countries like China have benefited from capital flows, smaller countries have been vulnerable when capital flows suddenly reversed, as in the 1997-8 Asian crisis.


The world distribution of wealth and income is highly unequal. The richest 10% of households in the world have as much yearly income as the bottom 90%.
Wealth - total assets rather than yearly income – is even more unequal. The rich are concentrated in the US, Europe and Japan, with the richest 1% alone owning 40% of the world's wealth.
Poverty, on the other hand, is widespread across the developing countries - which have five-sixths of the world's population. But it has fallen sharply in China.

Science 'can lift India's poor'

Mr Kalam hopes his plans can be seen as a blueprint for prosperity
India's hopes of becoming an economically developed nation by 2020 depend on its continuing to drive forward through science and technology, the country's president Dr Abdul Kalam has said.
Mr Kalam, himself a former scientist, said that nearly a quarter of the country's population could be moved out of poverty if the government continued to back technology as the source of growth.

"That means about 230m out of a billion people will have been lifted up," he told BBC World Service's Discovery programme.

"The growth of the economy is very important - and if the growth of the economy is important, so is science and technology, because it drives this growth."

Economic key

Dr Kalam, who in 2002 became India's 11th president, was formerly an aeronautical engineer and father to the country's missile programme.

"Science brings two changes in life," he said.

Mr Kalam believes space is one area India has proved its success
"One is a way of thinking - it elevates people.

"The second is that, as science transforms technology, it brings faster development to the nation. That's how, from 1947 onwards, science and technology became the top priority for all the governments."

Following the country's independence from Britain, India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, described science as "one of the keys to economic development."

Dr Kalam explained that science had come to India's aid before - in 1953, when it was struggling with famine and required shipments of wheat to come in.

At that time, scientists and political leaders came together and decided to develop new methods of driving agriculture, he said. The result was 200m tonnes of domestically-produced food.

To aid the development of science in modern world, bureaucracy and government regulation has been relaxed, and Indian science and technology has moved in a new way. There is now, President Kalam argues, an ambition for Indian scientists to achieve as much at home as they do abroad.

Dr Rahunath Mashelkar, president of the Indian National Science Academy, said that the so-called "brain drain" had "always haunted us" - but that now, changes are taking place.

"During the last three years, more than 30,000 top-class professionals - scientists and engineers - have come back to the country," he added.

More than 200 multi-nationals have now set up research and development centres in India, including IBM, Microsoft, Shell, and General Electric.

"India is gradually becoming the land of opportunity," Dr Mashelkar said.

"The latest Intel chip is not being designed in the US - it's being designed in Bangalore."

'Three Ds'

But what is also of interest is the precise type of science being looked at.

For reasons that remain debateable, Indians have tended to excel in mathematics and physics, while life sciences have lagged behind.

But as biosciences become ever more important globally, the country is making efforts to restore the balance.

IBM expects to triple investment in India over the next three years

India is also looking over its north-eastern border, and the challenge coming from China.

China is India's rival for political influence, for manufacturing contracts, and also a rival in the worlds of science and technology.

"Countries like China are romping, whereas we are walking," Dr Mashelkar said.

"The kind of commitment and investment China has made is spectacular. They are giving their top 10 universities $125m. At the end of the day, they are saying they want 100 universities to be among the top 500 in the world.

"That kind of investment is something that, unfortunately, has not happened in India."

He added, however, that he believes India will ultimately triumph - owing to what he called the "three Ds."

"Firstly, democracy - which allows you to think freely.

"Secondly, demography - 55% of our people were born within the last 30 years. So we will have an enormous working population at a time when the rest of the working world is going to age.

"And the third is diversity. You need to be diverse to be innovative and creative, and we have phenomenal diversity."

But for President Kalam, there need not be such direct competition.

He told Discovery that his message is that an evolved, enlightened society - based on Indian ideas - can lead to "a peaceful, prosperous and happy planet."

"It's a three-dimensional approach, involving education with a value system, religion transforming into spirituality, and the most important, economic development for societal transformation in all the nations," he explained.

"The global implementation of this three-dimensional approach, in an integrated way, will lead to a peaceful planet yet."




One in three people worldwide lives in either China, the largest communist country, or India, the largest democracy.
For the moment, China remains the most populous nation, with 1.3 billion inhabitants, followed by India, which is home to 1.1 billion.
But India's higher fertility rate means the gap is narrowing and the UN expects it to overtake China before 2030.
Both countries are also experiencing rapid growth in their urban populations.
In China, the number of people in towns and cities is likely to exceed the number in the countryside by 2015.


India and China have to face the challenge of providing for their ageing populations, just as many Western nations do.
As people live longer and fertility decreases, there will be millions more people in retirement and fewer workers to support them.
It has been suggested that China will have to ease its strict one child policy to overcome the problem.
In India, where only 10% of the workforce is covered by formal pension schemes, there are questions over how the elderly will be supported.
Some experts say such problems could hamper the nations' economic growth.


China's emergence as a world economic power follows years of expansion, with growth of 9% or more the norm.
It is a major exporter and may now be the world's fourth largest economy, having overtaken Italy and possibly the UK and France.
India has also seen dramatic growth - of more than 7% a year - and is the recipient of much foreign investment.
Figures from the Economist Intelligence Unit suggest the US will remain the largest economy in real terms.
But on a measure based on purchasing power, China could overtake the US by 2020.


Economic, social and environmental problems are a concern in India and China.
Vast wealth gaps exist, with the majority of people left on the margins of the nations' rapid economic growth. Social discontent has affected both.
Air and water quality is a concern in both countries. Many of the world's most polluted cities are in China.
Despite such problems, however, it is suggested that continued growth will drive up living standards for the populations as a whole.
Life expectancy is continuing to rise and infant mortality is falling. Access to education has improved, as has literacy.

India and China 'to boost Africa'

Africa can use Indian know-how to access world markets

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says a booming India and China can be of benefit to economies in Africa.
In a policy insight document, the Paris-based think-tank said there are a number of ways the continent can gain.

The OECD says Indian and Chinese growth has dampened world inflation pressures, lowered global interest rates, and raised raw material prices.

This in turn, it says, has helped to improve Africa's terms of trade.

'Skill formation'

It also says China and India are markets for African goods as well as competitors, especially in the export-oriented clothing and textile markets in which quotas to protect African exporters were removed in January 2005.

"On the other hand, African consumers gain from cheap consumer goods sourced from the Asian drivers [India and China] and African investors from cheap and appropriate capital goods" the report says.

The research paper also points out that China and Indian firms are increasingly outward-oriented and resource-hungry.

It says this opens up many opportunities to African governments as Asian corporate presence in India increases.

This can in turn be used by African nations as "a source of technology, skill formation and world market access, apart from foreign finance that come with the investment".

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Microsoft Is Yielding in European Antitrust Fight

Published: October 23, 2007
Microsoft has given up its nine-year fight against antitrust regulators in Europe, saying yesterday that it would not challenge a court judgment from last month and would share technical information with rivals on terms the software giant had long resisted.

The European competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes, negotiated the terms for Microsoft to share information with rivals.

European regulators and some software groups in Europe hailed the deal as a breakthrough that should open the door to freer competition, especially in the market for the server software that powers corporate data centers and the Internet.

The agreement was struck in Europe, but it will have consequences worldwide because the terms for licensing Microsoft’s intellectual property will be extended to competitors in the United States and in other markets. If the new terms enhance competition, as the regulators say, consumers could benefit from lower prices and faster innovation in software.

The Microsoft deal leaves untouched the ruling last month by Europe’s second-highest court that provides a strong legal foundation for the European Union’s power to force a dominant company to share its intellectual property with rivals.

But just how much effect the agreement will have on the global software marketplace remains uncertain because many issues in the case already have been addressed, either by engineering or by previous legal settlements, according to some industry analysts.

As part of its past efforts to settle its antitrust problems, Microsoft has reached costly agreements with competitors that were the company’s most outspoken critics, including Sun Microsystems, I.B.M. and Novell.

In general, analysts said, the private settlements between Microsoft and competitors provided for cross-licensing and sharing technology.

What is clear is how much Microsoft’s room for legal maneuvering was limited by the ruling last month by the Court of First Instance in Luxembourg. The court reaffirmed that Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, had abused its market power and said the company must obey a 2004 European Commission order to share confidential computer code with competitors.

After the courtroom setback, Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, wrote a conciliatory letter to Neelie Kroes, the European competition commissioner, according to a commission staff official. During the first week of October, Mr. Ballmer was on a scheduled trip to Europe and made an impromptu visit to the Netherlands, where Ms. Kroes lives. Over a long dinner, they met and agreed on the broad terms of the deal. To reach the final terms, Mr. Ballmer and Ms. Kroes spoke daily after the dinner meeting, according to a Microsoft executive.

The upper hand in these talks, legal experts say, certainly belonged to Ms. Kroes. “She was really negotiating from a position of strength, which she did not have before the ruling by the Court of First Instance,” said Andrew I. Gavil, a law professor at Howard University.

Ms. Kroes cast the agreement as a victory for Microsoft’s rivals, especially companies that rely on open-source software like the Linux operating system, an increasingly popular alternative to Microsoft’s products on servers.

To thrive in the marketplace, open-source software must work well with Microsoft’s desktop programs, notably the Windows personal computer operating systems. More than 90 percent of PCs run on Windows. Microsoft software also powers about 70 percent of the market for servers, so access to that technology will be crucial for competitors.

The European order mandates that Microsoft share its technology information on fair terms, so competing software can work smoothly, or interoperate, with Windows software. It is those terms to ease interoperability that will become more favorable to Microsoft competitors.

“These changes in Microsoft’s business practices, in particular towards open-source developers, will profoundly affect the software industry,” Ms. Kroes said in a statement. “The repercussions of these changes will start now and will continue for years to come.”

Under the agreement, Microsoft said it would not pursue a final appeal to the European Court of Justice, which could have drawn the case out two to three years more. Microsoft said it would make the server protocols available for purchase through its Web site, at

Under the agreement, software developers must now pay only a one-time fee of 10,000 euros, or $14,300, to gain access to Microsoft’s communications protocols, which specify how to exchange data between Windows and rival products. These protocols are trade secrets, not patents. If competitors want more information than those trade secrets, they must license Microsoft’s patents, paying a royalty of 0.4 percent of the competing product’s sales. Microsoft had originally demanded 5.95 percent of sales as royalties.

“This is a huge breakthrough,” said Georg Greve, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe, which had challenged Microsoft’s practice of withholding technical information. “Microsoft is finally doing what the commission ordered it to do. This will level the playing field.”

American industry analysts were skeptical that Microsoft’s concession would have a big impact in the marketplace. “This is an important but incremental step,” said Dan Kohn, the chief operating officer of the Linux Foundation, a nonprofit consortium.

For years, Mr. Kohn noted, open-source engineers in a project called Samba have legally picked apart the Microsoft communications protocols and written code that mimics them. This reverse-engineered code, he said, is now included in Linux. “So we have generally good interoperability with Windows now,” he said.

But the hope, Mr. Kohn said, is that the new licensing terms will make it easier for competing software to work smoothly with Windows, without the need for reverse engineering.

He said, however, that he doubted that the agreement signaled a new spirit of openness on Microsoft’s part. He noted that the company was still pushing to make its Office document formats an international standard, a move seen by rivals as an effort to make it more difficult to develop competing personal computer software and Web-based applications. These formats are the digital frameworks that turn bits of data into formatted documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

A group of companies led by I.B.M. have complained to European regulators about Microsoft’s use of its Office formats.

“I think what we’re seeing today is a strategic retreat by Microsoft, a concession in one market and no more,” Mr. Kohn said.

Still, the move by Microsoft does show that the company is intent on removing the cloud that the European antitrust conflict has kept over the company’s business and stock price, analysts said.

“Financially, the antitrust issues have not had a material effect on Microsoft, and it’s not yet clear that this agreement will have much impact on the software market,” said Charles di Bona, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Company. “But it does help to remove the European cudgel that has been hanging over the company’s head. It removes an element of uncertainty, which shareholders hate.”

Microsoft shares rose 1.13 percent yesterday in regular trading, to close at $30.51.

Microsoft has paid nearly 1 billion euros ($1.43 billion at current exchange rates) in fines since the commission’s initial ruling and could face fines of up to 1.6 billion euros more that began accumulating in December 2005 after Microsoft did not start sharing technical information as freely as the European Commission had demanded.

Ms. Kroes said she would decide before the end of the year whether Microsoft must pay the additional fines. But as of yesterday, she said, “The major issues concerning compliance have been resolved.”

France; Let them be killed


Despite France’s persistent denial of its role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which left close to a million people dead within 100 days, a new book says Paris had knowledge of the impending slaughter. The Role of France in the Rwandan Genocide, a 330-page work by Daniela Kroslak, published by Hurst and Company of London, explores the historical and contextual background of the Rwandan genocide and French involvement in Africa.

The book goes further to explore the often raised questions: What advance knowledge did Paris have about preparations for genocide? Was the French diplomatic and military establishment capable of stopping the preparations for and commission of the genocide?

Francois Grignon, International Crisis Group Africa Programme director, says the book is, “A superb job of looking systematically at French responsibility in the Rwanda genocide. From a research point of view, Kroslak provides the best analysis I have read of the motivations behind Operation Turquoise.

“The book also provides key insights into French policies at the UN in New York and during the Arusha negotiations. The argument is strong, well presented and unbreakable.

“But this book also goes much further than just explaining the disaster of French policy and proving French responsibility. It presents a fundamental set of questions regarding international responsibility and action against mass murder, which are still relevant 13 years later.

“It is not an anti-French diatribe, and that’s why it is strong. It is balanced, and also highlights in conclusion the contradictions and inadequacies of America and Britain’s post-genocide policies.”

After the Holocaust, the victorious allies pledged “never again” to allow genocide. This promise, enshrined in the UN Convention on Genocide, stipulates a responsibility to prevent genocide or mitigate the suffering of its victims.

In this regard, the author asks: To what extent can external actors, such as the French government, be held responsible for not preventing or not suppressing genocide in Rwanda and how can this responsibility be evaluated? Why, almost 50 years after the signing of the Genocide Convention, did the outside world remain passive while Hutu extremists perpetrated genocide against the Tutsi minority and Hutu moderates in Rwanda?

“French involvement in Rwanda was marked by a close relationship between French and Rwandan authorities. As part of the Francophone grouping of states, Rwanda represented an important ally in the pursuit of Francophone interests in Central Africa.

“With reference to a military co-operation, therefore, it was no surprise that then French president Francois Mitterand did not hesitate to help the Rwandan regime against a rebel invasion,” Kroslak writes.

By providing a comprehensive and critical analysis of France’s role in Rwanda from 1990 to 1994, the author reveals that France was indeed well informed about the deteriorating situation in Rwanda prior to and during the genocide.

She writes: “It was heavily involved on the ground and maintained good relations with the elites that eventually committed the genocide. Furthermore, it possessed the capability to intervene — politically and militarily — on behalf of those who were victimised by the government.

GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS and interviews support the argument that the French government bears responsibility for its inaction in relation to the prevention and suppression of the genocide.”

Kroslak writes that the analysis of diplomatic correspondence and government statements from October 1990 to March 1994 shows that the deterioration of ethnic relations was an issue that preoccupied French officials in Kigali and Paris.

The propaganda campaign waged against the Tutsis and the political opposition did not go unnoticed. In a diplomatic cable of December 19, 1990, then French ambassador to Rwanda Georges Martres, stated, “The rapid deterioration of the relations between the two ethnic groups, Hutu and Tutsi... leads to the imminent risk of a slip with harmful consequences for Rwanda and the whole region.”

According to Kroslak, further evidence of the French government’s knowledge concerning the worsening situation is found in the correspondence of its military attache in Kigali.

In two messages, Col Rene Galinie informed Paris about the worrying state of affairs in the country. As early as October 12, 1990, Col Galinie said that, “This conflict will end by degenerating into an ethnic war.”

Twelve days later, he branded the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) as foreign invaders, and predicted that if the RPF tried to gain power, this would “in all likelihood lead to a physical elimination of the 500,000 to 700,000 Tutsis inside Rwanda by the 700,000 Hutus.”

Despite this prediction, Col Galinie aligned himself behind the government rhetoric, namely that the Tutsi invaders were out to re-establish the political power they lost in 1959.

Another French official, General Jean Varret, the head of the military co-operation mission to Rwanda from October 1990 to April 1993, on his arrival met the Rwandan Col Rwagafilita, who explained the Tutsi question to him thus: “They are very few, we will liquidate them.” Kroslak further argues that Kigali’s diplomatic community in general was concerned about the deteriorating situation.

On December 19, 1990, the ambassadors of France, Belgium and Germany and the representatives of the European Union in Rwanda jointly prepared a report warning that, “The rapid deterioration of the relations between the two ethnic groups — the Hutu and the Tutsi — runs the imminent risk of terrible consequences for Rwanda and the entire region.”

The author says, “Considering these various communications and statements from the early days of the civil war, one can plausibly argue that the French government was aware of the ingredients for an explosive mix in Rwanda. President Mitterand was informed about the dangerous situation, but believed that the tide would turn. After all, that is why the French troops were there.”

Besides the French government’s own sources of information regarding the preparation of the genocide, there were also external sources, including reports from inside and outside Rwanda, appeals from civil society, as well as concerns voiced by journalists and researchers.

Kroslak admits that it is difficult to be categorical that this information reached the French government and its representatives. However, she adds that there are strong grounds for assuming that reports in the public sphere would be known by Paris, especially considering the French government’s interest in Rwanda. Further information was available to the French government via its seat on the UN Security Council and its role in the UN.

After France had pushed for a peacekeeping mission for Rwanda, as agreed by the Arusha Accords, this force provided yet another pool of knowledge from which the French government could draw.

ACCORDING TO THE ARUsha Accords, the UN had to play a significant role in the Rwanda peace process. The agreement provided for a neutral international force that would assist with the implementation of the peace agreement.

In New York, France was heavily involved in the drafting of Resolution 872, which created the UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda (Unamir). Once it was established, Unamir’s reports revealed that the situation was increasingly worrying in Rwanda, and that the force commander had to passively watch this spiral towards genocide.

“Probably the most famous document in the months preceding the Rwanda genocide is the so-called Genocide Cable, written by Unamir’s force commander Major General Romeo Dallaire on January 11, 1994,” writes Kroslak.

“This cable notified UN headquarters of an informant who revealed that the Interahamwe trained men in camps and that the personnel were able to kill up to 1,000 Tutsis in 20 minutes,” the author adds.

THE INFORMANT SAID HE was told to register all Tutsis in Kigali for them to be killed. He also disclosed plans to kill Belgian soldiers (which subsequently happened on April 7), which would be followed by the Belgian battalion’s withdrawal.

A cable of January 12, 1994, told Paris about the situation: “The information obtained by Unamir is serious and plausible. In fact, several pieces of evidence show that arms are actually distributed to certain elements of the population.”

But the French government ignored this. Although France, with its troops, representatives and intelligence services on the ground was far better informed than Unamir, it could also draw on the reports of Unamir.

Although information was available about the threat to exterminate the Tutsi, there was no reaction by the French permanent representative to the UN Security Council concerning the increasing violence.

The French presence on the ground in Rwanda gave France certain knowledge of the situation, which other Security Council members never obtained.

The French government ignored warnings such as the one voiced by the UNHCR special delegate to Rwanda, Michael Moussali, who expressed his unease in late February, by predicting a bloodbath if the political stalemate was not overcome soon.

Kroslak writes that, “All this while, the French had the military capability to prevent the genocide. The troops on the ground could have taken advantage of their position to influence the regime or place certain conditions on the assistance provided.

“Furthermore, proper attention could have been given to the candidates being trained by the French. Better co-operation between French troops and Unamir during the last months of 1993 might also have helped to uncover arms caches and protect citizens at risk.”

Politically, the French government’s presence in Rwanda and its close relationship with the Rwandan government was bound to influence Juvenal Habyarimana’s regime.

By refusing to condone the extremist measures being instigated by the elites, Mitterand could have forced through a change in policy. After all, Rwanda was heavily dependent on France’s support, financially, economically and militarily.

JUST AS THERE WERE NO SERIous efforts to demand that the elites adopt a less extremist attitude, there was hardly any reaction to the news of the many massacres committed prior to the genocide. “Despite the fact that the creation of documented structures of violence (death squads, death lists, and later, hate propaganda inciting violence) provided warnings of a potential genocide, the French government remained silent,” Kroslak writes.

The French government should have shown its disapproval because the massacres and the repression were themselves designed, in part at least, to probe the resolve of the UN and other international actors.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, former UN special representative to Burundi, says, “These killings were all little tests of how the international community would react.”

During its heavy involvement in Rwanda, Paris tolerated racist propaganda speeches, such as the one made in November 1992 by Leon Mugesera, a close confidante of Habyarimana, promulgating anti-Hamitism.

No pressure was put on the government to curb such speeches.Although Paris adopted a rhetoric of democratisation after the 1990 La Baule conference, its support for democratic opposition parties in Rwanda was limited.

More effort could have been made to foster its influence and importance within Rwandan society.

“Attempts to openly encourage democracy were limited to some token statements from the embassy and from Paris. Instead, the French government equated an ethnic with a democratic majority,” writes Kroslak.

The author argues that the French government had several other opportunities to avert the killings in Rwanda. The most obvious measure would have been a more critical and open attitude towards the French public concerning its dealings in Rwanda.

Opening up these dealings to public scrutiny might have thrown up a debate about French engagement in Rwanda, which might in turn have altered the attitudes of officials in Paris and even in Kigali.

The French government still refuses to acknowledge the fact that the RPF force was made up of refugees that had fled Rwanda a generation before and was not committing an “external aggression” in any normal sense.

If the French authorities had had a more balanced attitude towards the RPF, and the refugee issue in general, their military support for the Habyarimana regime might have been less wholehearted.

The Rwandan president might in turn have been more willing to negotiate with the RPF and have realised that a negotiated settlement was the solution. But the backing of Paris made him and his allies too self-confident.

Let’s first discuss the US African Command proposal

THE PROPOSED military engagement of the US in Africa through its Africa Command is a strategic move that cannot just be left to the US alone.

The initiative may have good intentions but there are those who say it will increase the possibility of war in Africa. Still others believe the US is spreading its brand of imperialism after Europe, China, Turkey and the rest showed new interest in African resources.

Currently, Africa is divided into three regional combatant commands. The US Central Command covers the Horn of Africa, the European Command covers sub-Saharan Africa while the Pacific Command covers the islands in the Indian Ocean.

It is not the first time the US is embarking on a large-scale programme in Africa. We have had the Africa Growth Opportunity Acts, the Millennium Challenge Account, the African Contingency Operation for Training and Assistance, and the Global Peace Operation.

Why would the US want to impress upon Africans the need to form a strategic Africa command when there are already so many US engagements in Africa?

Several reasons are advanced, such as the botched operation in Somalia in 1993, the devastating effect of 9/11, the inability of African countries to counter terrorism adequatelly, general lack of proper infrastructure and the persistent ongoing conflicts in Africa.

All the same, Africans should find out if creating the Africa Command is viable and beneficial to the continent.

The Africa Command will definitely consolidate US interests in Africa. However, Africa should think out the African Command and still be involved in US initiatives in Africa.

Eugene Jernigan

Africa loses $18b to armed conflict annually — study

Special Correspondent

Africa is losing about $18 billion a year to armed conflict. In addition, civil war or armed insurgency shrinks the African economy by 15 per cent, says a new study.

On the other hand, the cost of conflict in terms of African development was approximately $300 billion between 1990 and 2005 — equal to the money received in international aid during the same period, according to the study entitled Africa’s missing billions, by International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA).

“If this money were not lost due to armed conflict, it could solve the problems of HIV and Aids in Africa, or address the continent’s needs in education, clean water and sanitation, and prevent tuberculosis and malaria,” says the report, compiled for IANSA by Oxfam International and Saferworld, and released last week.

This is the first time analysts have estimated the overall effects of conflict on GDP across the continent.

The countries where the study was carried out were: Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and Uganda.

The study comes as diplomats from around the world arrive at the United Nations to discuss an Arms Trade Treaty.

Armed violence is one of the greatest threats to development in Africa,” said Irungu Houghton, Oxfam’s African policy advisor. “The costs are shocking. Our figures are almost certainly an underestimate,” he added.

The costs are incurred in a variety of ways. There are the obvious direct costs of armed violence — medical costs, military expenditure, the destruction of infrastructure, and the care of displaced people — which divert money from more productive uses. The indirect costs from lost opportunities are even higher.

The research also estimates that 95 per cent of Kalashnikov rifles used in these conflicts come from outside Africa. Kalashnikovs are the most common weapon in Africa’s conflicts. The combatants who ignore the rules of war and commit human rights abuses are almost always supplied from outside the continent.

Joseph Dube, IANSA Africa co-ordinator, said: “As an African, I implore all African governments and weapon-producing governments to support a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty. This is a call for global co-operation and cannot be achieved working alone.

“The government whose factory produces the rifle is as responsible as the government who permits its ships to transport them. Similarly the states that unload the cargo must monitor whose hands these weapons end up in. Without this regulation, the cost and suffering borne by Africans will continue to be immense.”

Between 1990 and 2005, 23 African nations have been involved in conflict. During this time it is estimated how these countries’ GDP would have grown if there had been no conflict, by comparing them to peaceful countries of a similar economic status. For example, during Guinea-Bissau’s conflict in 1998/99, the projected growth rate without conflict would have been 5.24 per cent, whereas the actual growth rate was minus 10.15 per cent.

This methodology almost certainly gives an underestimate. It does not include the economic impact on neighbouring countries in terms of political insecurity or a sudden influx of refugees. The study only covers periods of actual combat, but some costs of war, such as increased military spending and a struggling economy, continue long after the fighting has stopped.

In countries affected by war, the direct costs of violence (such as military expenditure or the destruction of infrastructure) pale in comparison with the indirect costs of lost opportunities. These include, inflation, debt and high unemployment. They also include income from natural resources going to private individuals, rather than being invested in the nation as a whole.

More people, especially women and children, die from the consequences of conflict than in the fighting itself.

African governments are convinced of the need to control arms transfers and have already taken encouraging initiatives at regional level. These are important steps but will not solve the problem on their own. The arms trade is a global industry and needs a global, legally-binding treaty.

Oxfam, IANSA and other NGOs are campaigning for an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to prohibit arms transfers if they are likely to be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian or human-rights law, or undermine sustainable development. Such a treaty would not prevent responsible arms transfers for defence, policing or peacekeeping.

So far, African support for an ATT has been crucial to its success. Negotiations in the United Nations are reaching a critical stage. It is vital for governments, in Africa and around the world, to support these negotiations and demand a strong result.

IANSA is the global movement against gun violence — a network of 700 civil society organisations working in 100 countries to stop the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.

Saferworld is an independent non-governmental organisation that works to prevent armed violence and create safer communities in which people can lead peaceful and rewarding lives, while Oxfam is a development, relief, and campaigning organisation that works with others to overcome poverty and suffering around the world.

How Britain lost the plot in Kenya

Written by John Kamau

Nairobi State houseOctober 22, 2007: Bogged by a fading influence on local politics and business alike and unlike his predecessors, British High Commissioner Adam Wood gets little Press coverage and courts little controversy opting for the quiet life of a diplomat.

Mr Wood, who was posted to Kenya from neighbouring Uganda in 2005--and for the second tour of duty in the country--is less controversial and might never match in the public arena his two predecessors: the verbose Edward Clay of ‘they-are-vomiting-on-our-shoes’ fame and Sir Jeffrey James, who came to Kenya in 1997 at the height of tribal clashes and a looming general-election.

Sir Jeffrey --who later became Tony Blair’s special envoy to chaotic Nepal-- left a mark and as he departed after four years he was given a tongue-lashing by former President Moi who openly called him a “meddler” as he, as required by protocol, went to bid the then head of state goodbye.

Ever since the UK had been losing its foothold on Kenyan politics and business too - especially after “new” Labour took power.

Moi, was close to the Tories especially the now 82-year-old Margaret Thatcher. It was a political closeness that saw a library named after Thatcher at the Moi University at the height of Anglo-Kenya relations and Kenya get close to three percent of the entire DFID bilateral funding.

Like Thatcher - both are separated by a one year gap- Moi was a conservative and the two had a special bonding after the later became the first head of state to meet Thatcher when she was elected Prime Minister in 1979 - two greenhorns, heading separate governments.

Thatcher, who had defeated Labour’s James Callaghan nine months after Kenyatta’s death allowing Moi to take over, turned a blind eye on Kenya’s human rights record while Moi reciprocated on Thatcher’s stand on apartheid South Africa and twice invited her to Kenya for a State-visit. It was a scratch-my-back-I-scratch-your-back arrangement that was ended by the defeat of the Tories by Tony Blair’s New Labour in 1997.

The exit of the Tories saw the arrival of Sir Jeffrey James as Blair’s Kenya envoy which explains the enmity between the envoy and Moi. As he left the UK withdrew its direct Budget support of £15 million opting to fund civil societies or to channel its funding via locally-based British financial management firms such as KPMG and PWC.

But still Britain has remained the second largest bilateral donor to Kenya after US whose total Overall development assistance to Kenya totals about $700 million per year.

There is reason for that: “Britain needs Kenya and Kenya still needs Britain,” argues Dr Adams Oloo, a University of Nairobi political science lecturer.

Although, since 2001-2002 the UK government has spent a total of £170 million in Kenya statistics show that since 1997 – when Tories lost power- the UK expenditure in Kenya has been cut by more than 50 per cent from a high of 2.8 per cent of the entire UK DFID bilateral programme to a low of 1.3 per cent by 2004-04 financial year.

In 2005/06 DFID spent over £60 million in Kenya with over 80 per cent of that spent on health, education and humanitarian assistance- but still no penny for budgetary support.

And as the cash dries up so has been the British influence and diplomatic contacts. Kibaki finishes his first-term without making any formal state visit to UK.

“I wouldn’t read too much into that. I think the level of diplomatic contact between the two countries has been excellent,” says Dr Ludeki Chweya, a University of Nairobi political scientist. “When you see friction then the level of contact must be very close.”

At an old Victorian house on 2 Tchui Road in the reclusive Muthaiga suburb, the Union Jack still flies high. For ages, it has been the residence of past British High Commissioners where a well kept garden, bamboo trees and an undulating ground hide the fading influence.

Down the street is President Kibaki’s private residence where he shaped the first bits of his government after he defeated the Kanu candidate, Uhuru Kenyatta in the 2002 general elections and before he was driven to State House on the morning of January 2, 2003 in an old family Mercedez Benz car.

While the British had hoped that the new government would restore the wavering relationship damaged in the last years of Moi regime, Kibaki opted to work with the US, for security purposes, and moved east for economic support and where he could get unconditional aid.
Britain had pegged their aid to democracy and fighting graft.

While Liberal democrats in the UK were hoping that Kibaki would be accommodated – or would play ball the Labour counterparts appeared to be more concerned with “unfinished business”

It was one of the first questions tabled by Labour Mps in UK parliament on January 21, 2003 asking Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs the fate of “unfinished business” with the previous Kenyan regime.

Peter Bradley, then Labour MP for The Wrekin asked: “Is the minister aware however that many British citizens, including constituents of mine, have unfinished business with the previous Kenyan regime. I am thinking of those whose assets, property and land have been withheld…”

Bill Rammell told parliament that he would organize a meeting with the Kenyan High Commission “to see how we can press the new Kenyan government on the issue.”

While those significant happenings were hardly reported in Kenyan press he admitted one thing: “We [the UK government] are at a critical juncture.”

The next on stage were the Liberal Democrats.

Fifty-six days after he was sworn in as President, Lord Steel, a liberal democrat who was brought up in Kenya (as David Steel) and attended Nairobi School (Then Prince of Wales School) asked Baroness Valerie Amos, the minister for Africa, whether UK would resume bilateral budget support to Kenya as a result of the peaceful transition.

By this time it was still hoped that the UK would automatically resume aid.

“If they pursue the right policies, we will return to giving a limited amount of budget support,” said Amos adding. “…[but] we are very concerned about corruption in Kenya.”

No. 10 Downing StreetAmos had been sent to Kenya a month after the Kibaki election and had on January 28, 2003 met a wheel-chaired President Kibaki at State House as a follow up to another visit by Clare Short – the maverick Secretary of State for International Development who quit four months later over the Iraq crisis.

When Clare visited Kenya, Kibaki was in a Nairobi hospital bed after a nagging clot was discovered. But in London the future of Kenya was getting raised in Westminister with Conservatives heaping praise on Kibaki.

On January 22, 2003 Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle), a Tory, said he had “known and admired” President Kibaki “for more than 30 years and that he is undoubtedly the personality best equipped to grapple with Kenya’s very serious problems.”

Sir Peter- who as a soldier and student roamed Kenya and Tanzania in 1950s- wanted to know whether Clare Short would “use all her influence to make sure that Britain and the international community give every possible help to Kenya, where we could change the situation, whereas we are not likely to have much influence on Zimbabwe?”

Britain no doubt wanted to influence the political and economic stage in Kenya after failing in Zimbabwe. In her answer, Clare Short was tactical: “The new President is a great hope for the country. Unfortunately, he is in hospital because of a deep vein thrombosis, but I gather that the prognosis is good”.

Clare wanted to move fast to court Kibaki. She had meetings with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the EU and others, “and we are going to try to mobilise an enormous international effort to help the country forward, deliver to its people and deliver the reform that Kenya needs,” she told parliament.

A week after that issue was raised UK minister for Africa Baroness Valerie Amos took off to Nairobi on the day Kibaki left Nairobi Hospital and announced that the British government was ready to resume full aid to Kenya once discussions between Kenya and international financial institutions are finalized. Amos said Britain was waiting for a report on the new reform programmes before it resumes donor funding.

But if the British had hoped to cultivate some close rapport with Kibaki what followed shocked them.

Two weeks after that State House meeting between Amos and the President - and from behind the scenes - Kibaki on March 14 pulled a trigger on British interests by ordering his long time ally and Finance minister, David Mwiraria and the newly-appointed Governor of Central Bank Dr Andrew Mullei to cancel a ten-year multi-billion shilling currency printing tender that had been awarded to British company De la Rue by former Governor Nahashon Nyaga without tendering.

De la Rue, the largest British investment in Kenya since independence was to lose its key client.
Dr Chris Murungaru, Kibaki’s first minister of State for Provincial Administration and National Security – and now banned from setting foot in UK because of his “conduct, character and association– has always claimed that he was sacrificed for this fall-out.

“I think the former High Commissioner Edward Clay was to hard on Kibaki and they (Kibaki’s handlers) decided to hit back,” argues Dr Adams Oloo, a university of Nairobi political scientist.

It was during Murungaru’s tenure also that Southampton-based Ship Builder, Vosper Thornycroft, faced new competition in its supply of ships to Kenya.

Although it clinched its first deal in 1966 when it delivered three fast patrol craft and had been doing business with Kenya’s military ever since.

The Kibaki government opened the supply to tendering and so was the supply of police and government vehicles which saw the arrival of Toyota Land Cruisers in place of the British Land Rovers.
While these were treated as side-shows in the storm that became Anglo-leasing saga they remained important business issues.

While the British were privately arguing over business deals US moved faster than expected and invited Kibaki for a State Visit in October 2003 where an “alliance on war on terror” was born with a promise of $100 million to train security apparatus.

In diplomatic circles, the US kept off the anglo-leasing debates or casually followed it leaving Edward Clay to lead the choir.

As the row hit top notch Kenya pulled a political trigger on UK and legalized the Mau Mau movement, which fought the British establishment in colonial Kenya. The ban for the first time legalized Kenya’s war on liberation and according to BBC it ended “the stigma that has hung over the movement, even after independence in 1963.”

Kibaki upped the game by unveiling a statue on freedom hero Dedan Kimathi (still regarded as a terrorist in British books) in Nairobi and on the 50th Anniversary of his hanging by British authorities and secret interment in an unmarked grave.

“The unveiling is of historical significance because it shows a sense of diplomatic maturity. Kenya decided to honour its heroes and revisit the Mau Mau issue without harming the Anglo-Kenya relationship. Again, countries do not normally agree on who is a hero and it appears that Kenya and UK have decided to forge forward by finally putting the issue into history,” says Dr Mutuma Ruteere, the Dean of Kenya Human Rights Institute.

Interestingly, UK papers did not pick the Kimathi statue story. But the Anglo-leasing saga has been played out in both BBC, The Guardian and The Times.

Parliament BuildingsWhile it was true that De la Rue’s tender was cancelled because it was single-sourced its French international rival in currency and security printing Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciaire (FCOF) was on the verge of getting into Kenya’s lucrative printing scene with a Sh2.7 billion passport and visa project without open tendering. It was the first scandal that hit the Kibaki government.

At the international arena the geo-politics of security printing came to fore while locally key Kibaki allies were deeply ensconced into the scandal.

Inside Kibaki’s State House two groups had emerged taking advantage of the ailing President. It was in this fight that saw John Githongo, the Ethics Permanent Secretary who had been fished from Transparency International to add credence to war on corruption, sandwiched between two warring groups promoting different interests.

His attempt to investigate the Anglo Leasing scandal saw him dubbed as “British spy” and his self-exile into UK and release of confidential documents later only compounded the rumour.

For his part, Murungaru filed a case against Githongo saying the dossier “consist of a pack of falsehoods, rumours, gossip, inconclusive inferences, suspicion, hearsay (that) are the product of the defendant’s fertile, creative and artistic imagination.”

Professor Paul Collier is currently riding high with his book The Bottom Billion. A respected Oxford University economist, Prof Collier is the man who “sheltered” John Githongo when he quit his job while on a UK trip.

Prof Collier is well connected in the echelons of the British system. When a House of Commons Select Committee on International Development held a session last year, he was one of those invited to give evidence.

Some of the examples he gave were on how he sheltered Githongo: “because I believed that his grievances were right and we had better support him. I passionately believe in the redress of grievances.”

The Anglo-Leasing row, Mr Githongo’s self-exile — and the diplomatic furore the leakages triggered — made the gap between UK and Kenya widen at a time when there was hope that a meeting between President Kibaki and Prime Minister Tony Blair would heal the wounds.

Kibaki visited UK in October 2003, on his way back from Washington, and in October 2005 — none of which were State visits and stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel, London.

When he met Mr Blair, there was no significant shift in the war of words that was taking place in Nairobi where Edward Clay had to be summoned by the Foreign Affairs ministry to explain his public utterances. A summon in diplomacy denotes the lowest mark in diplomatic relations. The next is expulsion.

For many months, Kibaki did not appoint a high commissioner to UK and Daniel Koikai acted as commissioner before the appointment of Joseph Muchemi and presentation of his credentials in February 2004, two years after Kibaki was elected.

Back at Oxford, where Prof Collier found Mr Githongo a place to work, he finished the Anglo- Leasing dossier and gave it to the UK Press and later posted it on the Internet.

While the dossier damaged the Kibaki government’s credibility in fighting corruption, it also saw the relations between the two countries dip to an all time low.

While Kibaki purged his government — and later reinstated the ministers accused of the scandal apart from Mr Murungaru—the thawing relations did not improve.

In January 2006, Hillary Benn, the UK Secretary of State for International Development, was driven to State House to meet President Kibaki. Part of the talks centred on the Githongo Report as he was to later inform parliament.Internally, Kibaki’s government improved the collection of revenue, which rose from Sh200 billion to Sh400 billion and the Kenya Revenue Authority coined the slogan Kulipa Ushuru ni Kujitegemea.

In most of his public addresses, Kibaki suavely told off donors who had kept off budgetary support insisting that Kenyans were able to finance 95 per cent of their budgetary requirement. While the corruption allegations failed to have a global impact, Benn was to make an admission in parliament that there was little they could do on Kenya.

“I do not foresee the corruption allegations making a significant impact on international assistance in the short term. Most of the development agencies, including DFID, believe that just because poor people live in a country where corruption is a major problem, it does not mean that they do not deserve our assistance,” he told parliament in June last year.

Six months later he quipped: “The Government of Kenya is clearly not tackling corruption as effectively as they could and we need to adopt a co-ordinated and common response across the donor community. Direct budget support is not appropriate for Kenya …”

But by opting to engage with “other agencies”, the former colonial power appears to have lost its place over the years and its fortunes dwindled.

While the level of diplomatic contacts may not have deteriorated, Kibaki’s handlers have had little rapport with their British counterparts.

In the world of geo-politics, the recent events may look like backwater, but unlike the Margaret Thatcher years, the relations between UK and Kenya may be at the coldest level.

Turning poverty into an industry


AFRICA-BASED NON GOVernmental organisations (NGOs) are playing a bigger role in expanding and consolidating neoliberal hegemony in the global context, says a new book.

“It may not have been as direct or as underhand as some of the activities willingly undertaken by colonial missionary societies and voluntary organisations. However, that is not to say it is any less significant,” argues one of Africa’s most articulate critics of the destructive effects of neoliberal policies in Africa — Issa G Shivji — in his new book: Silences in NGO discourse: The role and future of NGOs in Africa.

The book is published by Fahamu — a publishing house that supports the struggle for human rights and social justice in Africa.

In two extensive essays, Shivji shows that the role of NGOs in Africa cannot be understood without placing them in their political and historical context.

Aid, in which NGOs play a significant role, is frequently portrayed as a form of altruism, a charitable act that enables the wealthy to help the poor.

The two essays have appeared in abridged form elsewhere. “But because of the importance of the subject and the richness of the arguments presented by Shivji need to be heard in full, we are pleased to be able to make them available to a wider audience,” notes the publisher in the forward.

The book examines the role and future of NGOs in Africa in the light of its self-perception as a non-governmental, non-political, non-partisan, non-ideological, non-academic, non-theoretical, non-profit association of well-intentioned individuals dedicated to turning the world into make it a better place for the poor, marginalised and downcast.

Faced with an avalanche of accusations over the “end of history,” the Tanzanian scholar says that he finds it necessary to emphasise the history of Africa’s enslavement, from the first contacts with the Europeans five centuries ago, through the slave trade, to colonialism, and now globalisation.

“The aim of this historical detour is to demonstrate the fundamental antithesis between the national and the imperial, so as to identify correctly the place and role of NGOs within them.

“I locate the rise, prominence and privileging of the NGO sector in the womb of the neoliberal offensive. Its aims are ideological, economic and political.”

He argues that NGO discourse, or more correctly, non-discourse, is predicated on the philosophical and political premises of the neoliberal or globalisation paradigm.

Shivji’s regular essays in the Tanzania press have been a beacon for those who grapple with understanding the post-independence onslaught on their countries that has led to a situation where it is accepted that social and economic policies should be determined, not by the electorate, but by a small elite that gets its legitimacy (and power) from London, Washington, Berlin and Paris.

Undoubtedly, Shivji’s book is highly critical and sometimes ruthlessly gets to the NGO world, but notable is the fact that the author has been involved in NGO activism for about some 15 years, mostly in his native Tanzania. However, he makes it clear that he does not doubt the noble motivations and good intentions of NGO leaders and activists.

“But we do not judge the outcome of a process by the intentions of its authors. We aim to analyse the objective effects of actions, regardless of their intentions.” Aid, in which NGOs play a significant role, is frequently portrayed as a form of altruism, a charitable act that enables wealth to flow from rich to poor, poverty reduced and the poor empowered.

“The market and voluntarism have a long association; the first and most celebrated period of ‘free trade,’ from the 1840s to the 1930s, was also a high point of charitable activity throughout the British empire,” he argues.

In Britain itself, the industrial revolution opened up a great gulf between the bourgeoisie and the swelling ranks of the urban proletariat. In the 1890s, when industrialists were amassing fortunes to rival those of the aristocracy, as much as a third of the population of London was living below the level of bare subsistence. Death from starvation was not uncommon.

At this time, private philanthropy was the preferred solution to social need, and private expenditure far outweighed public provision.

IT IS HARDLY SURPRISING THAT in the current era of neoliberalism we are seeing, once again, a burgeoning of NGOs: the new missionaries to Africa.

While such institutions had some presence in Africa in the post second world war period, it was really only in the 1980s and 1990s, as structural adjustment programmes were imposed across Africa by the international financial institutions and development agencies, that NGOs really flourished, gradually taking over the work of the retrenching state that had been persuaded to disengage from the provision of social services to its populations.

The bilateral and multilateral institutions set aside significant funds aimed at “mitigating” the “social dimensions of adjustment.” The purpose of such programmes was to be palliatives that would minimise the more glaring inequalities perpetuated by their policies.

Funds were made available to ensure that a so-called “safety net” of social services would be provided for the “vulnerable,” but this time not by the state (which had after all been forced to “retreat” from the social sector) but by the ever-willing NGO sector.

The possession of such funds was to have a profound impact on the very nature of the NGO sector.

This was a period in which the involvement of Northern NGOs in Africa grew dramatically. In the 10 years between 1984 and 1994, the British government increased its funding to NGOs by almost 400 per cent, to £68,700,000 ($137.4 million). NGOs in Australia, Finland, Norway and Sweden all saw similar increases in official funding from the early 1980s.

As a consequence of the increased levels of funding and increased attention, the number of development organisations in Western countries mushroomed, and many established NGOs experienced spectacular growth.

Over the past two decades, development NGOs have become an integral, and necessary, part of a system that sacrifices respect for justice and rights. They have taken what has been described elsewhere as the “missionary position”. This means — delivering services, running projects that are motivated by charity and pity, and doing things for people (who, implicitly, cannot do for themselves), albeit dressed up with the colours of participatory approaches.

It would be wrong to present the relationship between Western NGOs and official aid agencies in the 1980s as the product of some conscious conspiracy, as was clearly the case with colonial missionary organisations. The precondition for the co-option of NGOs into the neoliberal causes merely reflect a coincidence in ideologies, rather than a purposeful plan.

The proponents of neoliberalism saw in charitable development the possibility of enforcing the unjust social order they desired by consensual rather than coercive means

Comesa’s single-document transit scheme to cut costs

Special Correspondent

Member countries in the Common market for East and Southern Africa have taken a step closer to economic integration with the introduction of a single document on customs guarantee for transit traffic within the bloc.

The volume of trade and business within the Comesa region is expected to grow following the launch of the Regional Customs Transit Guarantee Scheme by cutting down transport costs and delays in cancellation of transit bonds.

Speaking during the launch of the Comesa Carnet in Mombasa, Assistant Secretary General (programmes) Sindiso Ngwenya said transport costs alone accounted for about 40 per cent of the value of goods being transported within the region.

“Anything being put in place to reduce this cost will greatly enhance the region’s competitiveness and generate more income for the people,” he said.

The issue of competitiveness can not be addressed unless something was done urgently about the escalating cost of doing business in the region which is limiting direct foreign investment.

Mr Ngwenya said the new scheme allows transporters to use one document from the country of origin without waiting for clearance from customs officials at border points. This will eradicate the Customs bonds that companies have to lodge with their respective revenue authorities.

“Recent estimates show that over $1.2 billion worth of Customs bonds are tied up in guarantees, which adversely affects the economy. Even if we are able to reduce the cost by just 20 per cent, our businesses will reap huge profits that will trickle down to the producers at the grass root,” he said.

The piloting of the scheme will be followed by an evaluation of the entire system ahead of the Comesa Head of States Summit in May, 2008.

Kenya Revenue Authority Deputy Commissioner Kevin Safari said the practice of raising cash or bank guarantee or insurance bond in each country of transit was cumbersome and time consuming.

“Nationally executed bonds, for instance, have tied up colossal sums of money belonging to importers, clearing and forwarding agents and transporters which, if released could be used for productive purposes,” he said.

A recent study, he said, indicated that a general 10 per cent increase in transport costs will lead to a reduction in trade by about 20 per cent.

Mr Safari said the launch of the scheme has come when players in the cargo business have been waiting for its implementation since the adoption of the Common External Tariff for the Comesa Customs Union during the 12th Summit of the Heads of State and government held in Nairobi last May.

However, the challenge now rests with the National Customs Administration in the Northern Corridor countries to put in place necessary administrative mechanisms to ensure the successful piloting of the Comesa scheme.

Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe — have already ratified the scheme.

Kenya Reinsurance Corporation assistant director Jadiah Mwarania said the new system will cut down cases of tax evasion significantly as it will be easier to monitor the movement of cargo. Kenya Re is co-ordinating the scheme.

SDV Transami regional commercial manager Giancarlo Bonanno said his company has about Ksh3 billion ($44.7 million) in bonds tied up with the KRA for guarantees.

“We are one of the major players in the transportation of cargo to the East African countries. So we are well-placed to appreciate the interest and the benefits of the Comesa Carnet Piloting Scheme,” he said.

A senior official of the East African Freight Forwarders Association (FEAFFA) John Bosco Rusagara said the bond was long overdue.

“This is going to cut time wasted by about 70 per cent once the scheme is fully operational. In fact, we expect the border offices to be removed because it will be much easier to transact business through online acquittals,” he said.

Canadian giant, Vangold, signs deal to explore for oil in Kenya


Canadian-based, Vangold Resources Ltd, has signed a production sharing contract (PSC) with Kenya’s Ministry of Energy to explore oil on Block 3A in the North Eastern Province.

This is the third exploration contract to be signed with an international oil company in three weeks.

Block 10A went to Camec International of the UK, Block 11 to the Geneva-based Swedish firm Lundin International and Block 3A to giant Vangold Resources.

Kenya, it would seem, has decided to intensify efforts to find oil. At a recent ceremony in which Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi signed the deal with Lundin, he said the ministry had come under pressure to explore for oil after its neighbours — Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia and Sudan — found the commodity.

Energy permanent secretary Patrick Nyoike recently said the government will shoot its own seismic data and sell it to prospective oil explorers.

“Next year, we want to review the situation and dedicate resources in the budget to map data and sell it to companies interested in exploring for oil in Kenya,” he said.

The increased activity comes against a backdrop of doubts as to whether there is oil in Kenya especially after UK-based Woodside came up dry after spending over $20 million in the process.

During the signing ceremony, Ashley Heppenstall, president of Lundin Group was compelled to address the doubts.

“We want to take the risk because we believe it is worth it. Eventually, oil will be discovered in Kenya. East Africa is a fertile area for oil and natural gas,” he said.

Top Ministry of Energy officials are convinced that there is oil in the country. In a conversation with The EastAfrican, chief geologist in the ministry, Don Riaro, expressed confidence that oil discovery in Kenya was just a matter of time.

“There is no doubt that there is great potential for hydrocarbons (oil) in Kenya. What, however, remains to be established is whether it is commercially viable,” he said. He pointed out that companies such as Chinese National Oil Company (CNOC), UK-based Camec International, Lundin Petroleum and Vangold Resources have committed to drill a well each within the next three years.

Oil exploration in East Africa’s rift basin has increased, especially after the discovery of oil in Uganda by Australian firm Tullow Oil.

For years, petroleum geologists had discounted the potential of oil being discovered in the region.

However, with the Ugandan discovery, significant data was obtained on the rift basin and potential source rocks that host hydrocarbons.

Mr Riaro said Vangold’s block in the Anza basin, where Lundin and CNOOC are also exploring, has harsh exploration conditions mainly because of volcanic rocks covering the region, making it difficult to obtain seismics.

But he added that with modern technology, especially the three dimension seismic technology, it was now possible to get accurate data.

Vangold’s president Dal Brynelsen said the company has chosen block 3A on technical merit based on a study it conducted in the area.

During the study, the company’s geologists found five prospects and one lead. He said that the next phase will be to reprocess part of the seismic data with new technology to establish if the prospect is a deep structure and if the rocks host hydrocarbons.

“If the results are positive, the company will fast-track its drilling programme,” he said.

He said the company had established its offices in the country and has hired local experts who have many years of experience with companies such as the National Oil Corporation of Kenya, AMACO and Shell.

Vangold is hoping to share technical resources and data with CNOOC and Lundin who are also active in the Anza basin.

This basin has been compared to Sudan’s Mug lab basin where Lundin Petroleum made a major discovery.

International oil exploration companies that have in the past concentrated on West and Southwestern Africa are now seeking opportunities in new areas of the continent, partly spurred by high global oil prices.

Four international companies have won rights for oil exploration in the Ruvuma Basin in northern Mozambique and are expected to invest an estimated $300 million and drill eight wells in the five blocks within eight years.

These are Canada’s Artumas Group, US-based Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Italy’s ENI and Petronas of Malaysia.

Last month, Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo agreed to collectively explore and use any oil found on the border by setting up a joint commission.

The commission will among other things review the terms of the June 1990 oil exploration agreements between the two countries. Henry Okello Oryem, State Minister for International Affairs, has supported the commission as a way of easing tension at the border.

US policy toward Africa becoming more militarised – analysts

Special Correspondent

The United States has been giving increased attention to Africa during the Bush years, but that focus is now taking a mainly military form, a panel of policy analysts suggested at an African studies conference held in New York.

“The continent is on the map today in Washington in a way that was unlikely or even unimaginable seven to 10 years ago,” said Alex de Waal, a British researcher working at Harvard University.

Enhanced American involvement can be seen most clearly in Bush administration undertakings such as the president’s Emergency Programme for Aids Relief and the Millennium Challenge Account, Mr de Waal noted.

This closer US engagement is partly attributable to the influence of interest groups that have become newly or more deeply involved in Africa, suggested Stephen Morrison, an Africa specialist at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Mr Morrison cited the examples of religious organisations, foundations formed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former president Bill Clinton, and grassroots campaigns, sometimes led by celebrities, to halt genocide and alleviate poverty in Africa.

Growing US reliance on African oil was also identified as a driving force for the intensified focus. The Bush administration’s global offensive against forces it associates with terrorism also accounts for the higher priority assigned to Africa, said the analysts.

Both these motivating factors are contributing to what Mr de Waal described as the militarisation of US-Africa relations.

The recent launch of the Pentagon’s Africa Command may well lead to even greater US reliance on military might, Mr de Waal said. The United States already stations some 1,700 troops in Djibouti at the headquarters of the Pentagon’s Horn of Africa Task Force, he noted.

Mr de Waal and other members of a panel at the annual African Studies Association conference warned of potentially negative consequences stemming from the emphasis on the military dimensions of US policy.

“Counter-terrorism has taken precedence,” said John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group. “We’re seeing hard power being used more than soft power, and that’s a damaging direction to go.”

Ken Menkhaus, a Horn of Africa specialist teaching at Davidson College in the US, agreed that the official American presence in Africa has become predominantly military. “An extraordinary shrinkage” of US diplomatic involvement in many African countries results in part, Mr Menkhaus said, from civilian officials’ reluctance to “go outside their fortress embassies.”

The lack of day-to-day diplomatic activity in some crisis zones stands as “the biggest failure” in the Bush administration’s record on Africa, Mr Prendergast said.

Mr Morrison spoke approvingly of the “profound shift” in official US attitudes toward military engagement in Africa during the past decade. He also warned against exaggerating the scope of US military involvement in Africa. The sum total of US bilateral security assistance in Africa is $250 million a year, he noted.

“That’s peanuts in the overall picture,” he said, comparing the military outlay to the $5 billion the US spends annually on health initiatives in Africa.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Chissano scoops $5m for stepping down

Chissano scoops $5m for stepping down, K’la unimpressed
MR Joachim Chissano, the former President of Mozambique, who stepped down gracefully, has been announced winner of the inaugural Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, the largest individual award in the world.

The prize, a perfect birthday gift for Mr Chissano who turned 58 yesterday, comprises $5 million (about Shs8.5 billion) over 10 years and $200,000 (about Shs350 million) annually for life thereafter.

Additionally, Mr Chissano will get up to $200,000 a year for 10 years towards his public interest activities and good causes, according a press release issued by the Mo Foundation in London yesterday.

Announcing the Laureate in London yesterday, Mr Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general and the chair of the Prize Committee, said: "Mr Chissano's achievements in bringing peace, reconciliation, stable democracy and economic progress to his country greatly impressed the committee. So, too, did his decision to step down without seeking the third term the constitution allowed."

He also commended him for providing "a powerful voice for Africa on the international stage."

Mr Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese-born telecommunications entrepreneur, set up the prize as a way of encouraging good governance on a continent wrecked by corruption, human rights violations and authoritarian rule.

"The Prize celebrates more than just good governance. It celebrates leadership - the ability to formulate a vision and to convince others of that vision; and the skill of giving courage to society to accept difficult changes in order to make possible a longer term aspiration for a better, fairer future," Mr Annan said.

Mr Chissano, who is the special envoy of the United Nations Secretary General to Northern Uganda, was in the country at the weekend on a mission to brief President Museveni on the progress of the South Sudan mediated peace talks between the Government and the Lord's Resistance Army.

On Monday, Mr Chissano and South Sudan Vice President and chief mediator Riek Machar met LRA leader Joseph Kony at Ri-Kwangba. They are in Ri-Kwangba largely to resolve a deadlock over the way the talks are being managed.
Responding to Mr Chissano's prize, President Museveni's press Secretary, Mr Tamale Mirundi, said yesterday the award is motivated by ill will.

"The people behind this award have a misconception about Africa; that you have to offer an inducement for African leaders to step down," he said. "I know President Museveni would never accept this money because the intention is bad and I don't think $5million is a big deal," he said.

Mr Mirundi added that no amount of money would influence "revolutionary leaders [like President Museveni] to step down because revolutionary parties will always select that person they feel is most fit to carry the lubengo [grinding stone]. Certain leaders just need to remain at the top."

But a cross section of opposition leaning opinion leaders applauded the award.
Dr Abed Bwanika, a former presidential candidate said: "Now is the time for us to begin to debate Mr Museveni's exit. We hope this award will encourage him to retire but of course we know $5million is nothing. We need to debate a send off package for him, outside monetary terms. He is a close friend of Mr Chissano so he should take counselling from him."

Mr Chissano was selected from a list of 13 candidates by a panel of six eminent individuals who assessed every sub-Saharan African leader who has peacefully handed over power in the last three years.

A retired Major General, Mr Chissano was president of Mozambique for 19 years. He ascended to power in 1986 after his predecessor Mr Samora Machel's presidential aircraft crashed in South Africa.

Mr Chissano helped reconcile radical and moderate Marxists in the Frelimo party, after the end of the Mozambican civil war, which saw the Renamo rebels become a regular political party. He won the multi-party elections that followed in 1994 and again in 1999, but opted not to run for a third term, even when it was constitutionally permissible.

President Museveni is currently serving his third constitutional term, after successfully orchestrating the deletion of presidential term limits in 2005. In 2011, when his term ends, he will have spent 25 years in power, six years more than Mr Chissano, although it is still not clear that he will retire then.

Commenting on Mr Chissano's prize, Mr Mo Ibrahim, founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, said: "I am absolutely delighted that Mr Chissano has been selected as the first Laureate. As a man who has reconciled a divided nation and built the foundations for a stable, democratic and prosperous future for the country, he is a role-model not just for Africa, but for the rest of the world."

Former presidents Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Mathieu Kerekou of Benin, Sam Nujoma of Namibia, Albert Rene of Seychelles and Domitien Ndayizeye of Burundi were some of the notable candidates on the list.

Additional reporting by Frank Nyakairu

Sunday, 21 October 2007

What’s Pan Africanism?

Pamela Ankunda
Pan-Africanism is a way of life that is based on the belief that African people share common bonds and objectives, which calls for greater unity to achieve these targets.
However, the Black race is largely misconstrued as a race of shame, of poverty, of no ideology or vision, forming the false assumption of the notion of “third world.”

This mentality spreads into the falsehood about Pan Africanism as well. Now, before I started attending the Friday gatherings at the Pan African Movement office in Kamwokya, I had shamelessly never really gotten the pulse of Pan Africanism. Every Friday, people come together to discuss topical issues concerning Africa regardless of party affiliation.

Pan Africanism is an everyday calling, and therefore, the call for a greater East Africa and African Union is not new. The issue of climate change has been here for a while, and it is best summed up in the award winning documentary of the 2007 Nobel Prize winner; Al Gore, the former Vice President of the United States.

While there was a call in the papers for Members of Parliament to go watch Al Gore’s Award winning documentary an Inconvenient Truth, there we were, already watching it at PAM. What then has Pan African Movement got to do with the climate? If we love Africa as much as we want to believe, then there is no better way to treat Africa as a True Pan Africanist would; practicallydoing what’s best for Africa in dealing with all issues even yes; the environment.

I have discovered that Pan Africanism is celebrated more than Black history. For the documentary to show at the Pan African Movement, meant that we need Pan Africanism in dealing with floods, insurgency in northern Uganda, Chogm, issues of health, wealth distribution, disasters and HIV/Aids, and even the environment. Pan Africanism believes in what is right for Africa, through bravery and that is the way to go.

That means, that people who swindle from one African brother to fulfill their individual needs in whatever sector-political, economic and social are betraying the cause of Pan Africanism.

On the journey to Pan Africanism, I nothing takes the central part of our lives and our humanity like celebrating the cause to realise Africa’s potential. Africa has so much dignity lying underneath the greed and instability. We just have to shake those off.
Kwame Nkrumah said “until the whole of Africa is free, independent and united, there will be no lasting peace in the world...” and again, that “Africa is on the march, there is no turning back.”

He didn’t lie, only that we have been on the march much too long with the endless wars and poverty and diseases, to which scholars and celebrated lawyers and assuming staticians, civil societies and political hungry leaders blame those in power-always without taking stock of their own contribution to developing Africa!