Monday, 24 August 2009

Why is Africa poor? Africa is not poor, it is poorly managed

Quote of the Day
"Africa is not poor, it is poorly managed." - President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, 2009.

The following report also tells us that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says she underestimated the problem of graft.

From BBC News, Monday, 24 August 2009:
Why is the African continent poor?
By Mark Doyle, BBC world affairs correspondent
The desolate, dusty town of Pibor on South Sudan's border with Ethiopia has no running water, no electricity and little but mud huts for the population to live in.

You would be hard put to find a poorer place anywhere on earth.

I went there as part of a journey across Africa to ask the question "Why is Africa poor?" for a BBC radio documentary series.

I was asked to investigate why it is that every single African country - with the exceptions of oil-rich Gabon and Algeria - is classified by the United Nations as having a "low" broadly defined Human Development Index - in other words an appalling standard of living for most of the people.

In Pibor, the answer to why the place is poor seems fairly obvious.

The people - most of whom are from the Murle ethnic group - are crippled by tribal conflicts related to disputes over cattle, the traditional store of wealth in South Sudan.

The Murle have recently had fights with the Lol Nuer group to the north of Pibor and with ethnic Bor Dinkas to the west.

In a spate of fighting with the Lol Nuer earlier this year several hundred people, many of them women and children, were killed in deliberate attacks on villages.

There has been a rash of similar clashes across South Sudan in the past year (although most were on a smaller scale than the fights between the Lol Nuer and the Murle).

And so the answer to why South Sudan is poor is surely a no-brainer: War makes you destitute.

Why is there so much war?

And yet South Sudan is potentially rich.

"It's bigger than Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi combined," the South Sudan Regional Co-operation Minister Barnaba Benjamin, enthused.

"Tremendous land! Very fertile, enormous rainfall, tremendous agricultural resources. Minerals! We have oil and many other minerals - go name it!"

The paradox of rich resources and poor people hints at another layer of explanation about why Africa is poor.

It is not just that there is war. The question should, perhaps be: "Why is there so much war?"

And the headline question is in fact misleading; Africans as a people may be poor, but Africa as a place is fantastically rich - in minerals, land, labour and sunshine.

That is why outsiders have been coming here for hundreds of years - to invade, occupy, convert, plunder and trade.

But the resources of South Sudan, for example, have never been properly developed.

During colonial rule South Sudan was used as little more than a reservoir of labour and raw materials.

Then independence was followed by 50 years of on-off war between the south and north - with northerners in Khartoum continuing the British tactic of divide and rule among the southern groups.

Some southerners believe this is still happening today.


On my journey across the poorest, sub-Saharan swathe of the continent - that took in Liberia and Nigeria in the west, Sudan in the centre, and Kenya in the east - people explored the impact that both non-Africans and Africans had had on why Africa is poor.

Almost every African I met, who was not actually in government, blamed corrupt African leaders for their plight.

"The gap between the rich and the poor in Africa is still growing," said a fisherman on the shores of Lake Victoria.

"Our leaders, they just want to keep on being rich. And they don't want to pay taxes."

Even President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia came close to this when she told me she had underestimated the level of corruption in her country when she took office.

"Maybe I should have sacked the whole government when I came to power," she said.

"Africa is not poor," President Johnson-Sirleaf added, "it is poorly managed."

This theme was echoed by an architect in Kenya and a senior government official in Nigeria.

Both pointed out that the informal sector of most African economies is huge and almost completely unharnessed.

Marketplaces, and a million little lean-to repair shops and small-scale factories are what most urban Africans rely upon for a living.

But such is their distrust of government officials that most businesspeople in the informal sector avoid all contact with the authorities.

Kenyan architect and town planner Mumo Museva took me to the bustling Eastleigh area of Nairobi, where traders have created a booming economy despite the place being almost completely abandoned by the government.

Eastleigh is a filthy part of the city where rubbish lies uncollected, the potholes in the roads are the size of swimming pools, and the drains have collapsed.

But one indication of the success of the traders, Mr Museva said, was the high per-square-foot rents there.

"You'll be surprised to note that Eastleigh is the most expensive real estate in Nairobi."

He added that if Eastleigh traders trusted the government they might pay some taxes in return for decent services, so creating a "virtuous circle".

"It would lift people out of poverty," he said.

"Remember, poverty is related to quality of life, and the quality of life here is appalling, despite the huge amount of wealth flowing through these areas."

Then the young Kenyan architect echoed the Liberian president, some 5,000km (3,000 miles) away on the other side of the continent.

"Africa is not poor," he also said.

"Africa is just poorly managed."
See blog: Why is Africa poor? Have Your Say

Friday, 14 August 2009

Patricia Musyimi - CECAFA Under-17 Youth Championship (Hassan el Bashir Cup) August 19-31 2009 Sudan

Nairobi, June 26, 2009 - By appointing Patricia Musyimi to head its delegation for the CECAFA Clubs Championship in Sudan next week, Mathare United (MUFC) is setting a new and healthy precedent as Patriciah is evidently the first female to lead a Kenyan football delegation abroad.

Patricia Musyimi

Patriciah was recently appointed as the MUFC Public Affairs and Marketing Manager but also became the MUFC Acting CEO in early June as David Waithaka had to travel urgently on short notice to the USA to help and care for a seriously ailing family member.

Born and raised in the Mathare slums, Patriciah has managed to struggle against the odds and achieve some of her dreams as one of the pioneering players and leaders in the girls football programme of the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA). For example, in 1996 Patriciah was a key player on the first MYSA U14 girls team to feature in the Norway Cup, the world's oldest and largest youth football tournament.

Source: CECAFA

The CECAFA U-17 Championship is the a football (soccer) tournament in Africa. It is a tournament of FIFA and the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA), and includes national under 17 teams from Central and East Africa.

The tournament was to be hosted in 2008 but CECAFA could not raise enough money so the tournament was delayed a year.

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

CECAFA U-17 football tournament: Kenya v Uganda (Juba, S. Sudan, 4.30pm on 19 Aug 2009)

From Pana via Afrique en ligne, Wednesday, 12 August 2009:
Fixtures of Cecafa youth football tournament in Sudan
(Kenya) - Below are the fixtures for this month's Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (Cecafa) championships taking place in Sudan.

The regional event, known as the Cecafa U-17 tournament, is slated for 19-31 August in three Sudanese cities - Khartoum, Juba and Medani. It is being sponsored by Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir to the tune of US$ 700,000.

Aug. 19 - Ethiopia v Zanzibar (Juba 2.30pm); Kenya v Uganda (Juba 4.30pm).

Aug. 20 - Somalia v Nigeria (Khartoum 5.30pm); Sudan v Tanzania (Khartoum 9.30pm )

Aug. 21 - Zanzibar v Kenya (Juba 2.30pm); Uganda v Ethiopia (Juba 4.30pm).

Aug. 22 - Nigeria v Tanzania (Khartoum 5.30pm); Somalia v Sudan (Khartoum 9.30pm ),

Aug. 22 - Eritrea v Rwanda (Medani 5.30pm); Egypt v Burundi (Medani 9.30pm).

Aug. 23 - Kenya v Ethiopia (Juba 2.30pm); Zanzibar v Uganda (Juba 4.30pm).

Aug. 24 - Tanzania v Somalia (Khartoum 5.30pm); Sudan v Nigeria (Khartoum 9.30pm ).

Aug. 24 - Rwanda v Burundi (Medani 5.30pm); Eritrea v Egypt (Medani 9.30pm).

Aug. 25 - Rest Day.

Aug. 26 & 27 - Quarter finals

Aug. 28 & 29 - Semi finals (Khartoum).

Aug. 30 - Rest Day.

Aug. 31 - Third place play offs/Finals (Khartoum).
Cross posted from Sudan Watch on Wednesday 12 August 2009: Fixtures of CECAFA U-17 football tournament in Sudan 19-31 Aug 2009

Click on labels here below for related reports and updates.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Kenya: Hillary Clinton highlights Africa's potential but warns against corruption

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s tour of seven African nations ends on 13 August 2009 after visits to Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the DRC, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde.

From Sudan Radio Service, Friday 07 August 2009:
Clinton Highlights Africa's Potential but Warns Against Corruption
(Nairobi) – During her visit to Kenya earlier this week, the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton described Africa as having the potential and the resources to compete in the world economy.

In a speech from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, Clinton urged African countries to create markets with each other rather than focus on trading with first world countries.

[Hillary Clinton]: “Africa is capable and is making economic progress. In fact, one doesn’t have to look far to see that Africa is ripe with opportunities. The single biggest opportunity that you have right now is to open up trade with each other. The market of the United States is 3 hundred million people; the market of Africa is 7 hundred million plus people. Nations of Africa trade the least with each other than any region of the world. That makes it very difficult to compete effectively.”

However, Hillary Clinton has attributed the lack of economic progress in Africa to the failure by various governments to attract investors through stability.

[Hillary Clinton]: “It's not just about good governance, this is about good business. Investors will be attracted to states that do this and they will not be attracted to states with failed or weak leadership, or crime and civil unrest, or corruption that taints every transaction and decision.”

Clinton called on African states to reform their countries by ending bad governance, corruption and impunity. She encouraged government to ensure that the private sector and civil society organizations abiding by the rule of law.

Clinton’s tour of seven African nations ends on August 13th after visits to Kenya, South Africa, Angola, the DRC, Nigeria, Liberia and Cape Verde.

Democracy cartoon: Obama comes to Africa

Obama Comes To Africa

Source: Friday, July 10, 2009, Patrick Gathara,

Kenyan Stocks Climb: Kenya Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered

From Bloomberg by Eric Ombok, Friday 07 August 2009:
Kenyan Stocks Climb: Kenya Commercial Bank, Standard Chartered
Kenya’s price-weighted All-Share Index climbed 0.11 points, or 0.2 percent, to 57.75 points at close of trading in Nairobi after two days of declines. The measure gained 0.1 percent in the week.

The shares of 14 companies advanced, 14 fell and 27 were unchanged. The following were among the most active stocks on the Nairobi Stock Exchange today.

Kenya Commercial Bank Ltd. (KNCB KN), the East African nation’s biggest lender by assets and outlets, climbed 3.6 percent, the most in six weeks, to 21.75 shillings.

The lender said July 30 first-half net income declined two percent to 2.41 billion shillings as expansion costs rose.

“Demand is coming from high net-worth individuals and institutional investors,” Snehal Shah, head of research at Nairobi-based Kestrel Capital East Africa Ltd. said in a phone interview. “They are discounting these results and looking ahead at future growth.”

The lender, which has 156 outlets in Kenya and 26 in four neighboring nations, plans to increase the number of outlets in Southern Sudan to nine from five and seven in Rwanda from one currently, it said July 30.

Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Ltd. (SCBL KN), a unit of Standard Chartered Plc, gained 2 shillings, or 1.4 percent, to 149 shillings. The share price has risen 8 percent since Aug. 5 when the company said first-half net income jumped 46 percent to 2.34 billion shillings.

“Stanchart looks good, the balance sheet is strong.” Shah said. “Most people were surprised positively because they did not expect such good results”.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at

Last Updated: August 7, 2009 09:14 EDT

What is going on in NE Kenya? Update on Isiolo/Samburu: must read by Ory Okolloh

From - The NCA Africa Blog Forum:
Update on Isiolo/Samburu: must read
Sunday, July 19, 2009 by Ms. Ory Okolloh
I’m posting reports that I’ve received in response to my earlier post, I’ve not verified the information but the sources appear credible and at the very least warrant further investigation.

Kenyan media. Again. Please step up. What the frick is going in in North Eastern Kenya?

Citizen reporters, please keep the info coming.


- On Tuesday, July 1, the Samburu community of Sera, population 300, was attacked by Somali and Borana forces as villagers slept. Sera is located approximately 83 miles NW of Archer’s Post in Samburu North. 15 people were shot in the attack, leaving 8 critically wounded and 5 dead, including a young girl. Over 1000 cattle were taken from 8 herds. The cattle, originating from the Samburu West community of Laisamis, had been herded through this area in search of a place to graze because of the widespread drought. The attacks were reminiscent of the February attacks by the Kenyan police which resulted in the loss of thousands of head of cattle. Similarly, large lorries and Landcruisers were used to transport the stolen cattle and raiders. There has been no investigation or response by the Kenyan authorities to recover the cattle or to arrest those responsible for the murders and injuries in this attack. The Samburu East MP Raphael Letimalo gave a press conference on 3rd July which has not yet been published in the Kenya press.

- On the evening of Monday July 6, Samburu moran warriors successfully defended their people and cattle from a similar raid SE of Lerata in Samburu East, the 2nd attack in just days. This attack occurred at the Nachamune area near the Ewaso River, 40 km east of Archers Post. Borana and Somali raiders surrounded the bomas at dusk, just after their livestock came into the boma, and began shooting at women and children. One group of moran escorted all children and women out of their homes to hiding places while the remaining moran fought off the attackers. They requested back up from local government officials such as the area MP, DO, councilors, and others to assist when the Kenyan police refused to intervene.

- On Monday July 13 at approximately 6 PM, a group of Somali Borana raiders attacked a Turkana community in Ngara Mara, between Archers Post and Isiolo, accusing the Turkana community of sympathizing with the Samburu tribe. They stole 450 cattle and kidnapped 2 children, reminiscent of the first attacks in February of this year on a Samburu community near the Kalama Wildlife Conservancy 6 km from Lerata, where 300 cattle and 2 children were kidnapped. Those children were later found dead with their throats slit.

- According to Samburu District County Council officer Raphael Leilikei of Archer’s Post, the 2 young Turkana children, ages 8 and 9, from the community of Ngara Mara were also found murdered the following day in a similar fashion, throats slit. (They were badly mutilated, there are pictures) – The cattle have not yet been recovered and there has been no police response to the murders or thefts.

- At approximately 1 PM on July 17, fighting broke out in the northern Kenya town of Isiolo, according to Kenya army leiutenant James Lerinainen. Armed Borana and Somali gunmen opened fire in a marketplace, targetting Turkana and Samburu tribesmen trading in the city center. 15 people are dead and many more injured. 3 police were shot and killed by the Borana and Somali gunmen, as well as 3 Turkana. In the fighting that ensued, 12 Borana were shot by Turkana. Fighting took place in the marketplace, at a petrol station, and at the bus station.

- At 7am the following morning, July 18th, 4 more Turkana were again shot dead by Borana and Somali gunmen in the marketplace. 3 lorries filled with police arrived tonight July 18 in Archer’s Post to reoccuppy the outpost.

- “I believe the marked increase in intensity and impunity of the Pokot raids against the Samburu that you summarise so well in Western Laikipia during the past three years has mainly to do with the fact that cattle are now fetching~ $1000 USD per head in So Sudan as cattle markets resume and So Sudan Pastoralists now have access to money and are able to refinancing of the herds that the lost in more than 30 years of civil war.”


- ” The raids of our cattle in the west by the Pokot supported by the government in the background which have gone on for over 3 years and still continue are one problem and are connected to the raids that took place more recently in the east.”

-”A total of 4122 Samburu cattle were reported taken by the recent GOK raids, and these were taken to pay back the 52 which the Samburu attempted to return to the DO and the OPCD before the raids started. But the government officers said they didn’t want the Meru cattle. We think this was because the raids against us were already being planned.”

- “If the governemt wants to solve this problem, the first thing they must do is remove Hassan Noor Hassan as the Provincial Commissioner for the Rift Valley Province.”

- “The Government should also be aware that the so-called Borana MP for Isiolo is in fact a Somali, and he manipulates the Borana to attack us. Both Borana and Samburu suffer because of this.”
Further reading

Historical context of Isiolo/Samburu raids/violence
Tuesday, July 21, 2009 by Ms. Ory Okolloh

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Kenya: Microfinancing - Launch of new Mobile Money Transfer Directory will focus on Sub-Sahara Africa

A new Mobile Money Transfer Directory at launches in 2 wks focus on Sub-Saharan Africa (by @CreditSMS)

Source: White African Erik Hersman via Twitter 04 Aug. 2009
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Snippets from CreditSMS website:
In December 2009, CreditSMS will launch several pilots throughout Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Additional pilot requests have been submitted for Kenya, Sudan, and Sierra Leone. Uganda and DRC have 87% and 66% rural populations respectively, constituting a nascent market of as many as 76 million potential clients and consumers. By enabling MFIs [microfinance institutions] to reach and meet the demands of this market, CreditSMS will facilitate a form of 'bubble up' development whereby the income of microloan recipients will increase and the price of newly-available goods and services will trend toward market equilibrium. All pilot results will be made free and accessible via as they become available.
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The Beginning...
By Ben Lyon
Published: July 14, 2009

Formal banks were hesitant to give "the bottom billion" loans because they didn't have collateral. Today, microfinance institutions (MFIs) fill that void by providing collateral-free loans to micro-entrepreneurs. In order to compete with traditional moneylenders, however, those MFIs had to charge exorbitant interest rates, mostly to absorb the high transport cost of making weekly visits to rural areas to collect loan repayments. With teledensity penetration and mobile commerce growing faster by the day, one has to wonder: why are loan officers still making the trip? Read More...
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Increasing revenue and impact through technology
By Ben Lyon
Published: July 22, 2009
[article written for Project Diaspora]

Aaron Ewedafe wakes up every morning at least one hour before the sun rises. Donning his satchel full of client records and repayment schedules, he hails the nearest okada driver and races into the surrounding countryside to begin a long day of loan group meetings. The trip from headquarters in Oshogbo to the village of Ojudo and back can take all day. Aaron rarely makes it home before nightfall. Altogether, Aaron spends 112 hours and 5,000 naira a week to manage 350 microloan recipients. His profit is negligible. Read More...
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The 'Phone as Cow' Model
By Ben Lyon
Published: August 1, 2009

Mobile phones are quickly becoming the hottest topic in development. Everyday, waves of new innovations are rolled out to connect 'bottom of the pyramid' (BOP) entrepreneurs to markets and information. But many advocates and implementers seem to neglect a fundamental question: What good are mobile innovations if BOP entrepreneurs can't afford handsets? According to Iqbal Quadir of Grameenphone, the answer is to issue the handset as the first microloan. Read More...
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