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The Picador Book of Journeys_
A writer of fine travel books herself, Davidson decries a genre she
describes in her Introduction as decadent. In The Picador Book of
Journeys she gives house room to "all kinds of characters you would
never think of as travel writers" as well as "a few hoary classics".
But here, too, is austere fare. The elegant prose of Joan Didion
distils the counter-revolutionary terror of El Salvador, "in which no
ground is solid, no depth of field reliable, no perception so definite
that it might not dissolve into its reverse". Apsley Cherry-Garrard's
account of survival in the hellish cold of Antarctica had me shivering
in my deckchair on the hottest day of the year. Doris Lessing doesn't
just drive through the Rhodesian bush of her childhood, but back
through the "blue and mauve and purple and white hazes" of time.
Donald Trump's True Allegiances New Yorker
Law & Politics
Early last November, just before Election Day, Barack Obama was driven
through the crisp late-night gloom of the outskirts of Charlotte, as
he barnstormed North Carolina on behalf of Hillary Clinton. He was in
no measure serene or confident. The polls, the “analytics,” remained
in Clinton’s favor, yet Obama, with the unique vantage point of being
the first African-American President, had watched as, night after
night, immense crowds cheered and hooted for a demagogue who had
launched a business career with blacks-need-not-apply housing
developments in Queens and a political career with a racist conspiracy
theory known as birtherism. During his speech in Charlotte that night,
Obama warned that no one really changes in the Presidency; rather, the
office “magnifies” who you already are. So if you “accept the support
of Klan sympathizers before you’re President, or you’re kind of slow
in disowning it, saying, ‘Well, I don’t know,’ then that’s how you’ll
be as President.”
We’ve seen this coming,” he said. “Donald Trump is not an outlier; he
is a culmination, a logical conclusion of the rhetoric and tactics of
the Republican Party for the past ten, fifteen, twenty years. What
surprised me was the degree to which those tactics and rhetoric
completely jumped the rails.”
Steve Bannon, perhaps more than any single person other than the man himself, is the reason Donald Trump is President of the United States.
Law & Politics
Bannon is a choleric figure who once described himself as a “Leninist”
who wanted to “destroy the state” and “bring everything crashing
down”. It must be said that he has come pretty close to doing so. He
served as chief architect of Trump's presidential campaign from the
Republican national convention until election day, and then as the
senior strategist in the Trump White House, a position from which he
has just been ousted.
Bannon was responsible for Trump's victory, and for shaping his early
presidency. He came on board at a key moment in the presidential race,
after the debacle of the Republican convention, and was campaign CEO
through to election day. He helped shape the Trump campaign into the
white supremacist dog-whistle-fest that it became. The idea that, far
from building coalitions, it was possible to run a campaign that would
play directly to the core white male base was, in part, Bannon's
Jack Ma Is Ahead of Jeff Bezos in Grocery Store Ambitions
Alibaba had been quietly incubating its Hema grocery store concept for
two years. It rolled out three new locations last month, bringing the
total to 13, the bulk in Shanghai and Beijing. The sprawling, bright
supermarkets combine online and offline shopping, where customers who
have downloaded Hema’s app scan barcodes on products and pay with
their Alipay digital wallet.
The live seafood section is one of the main attractions for Chinese
consumers who prize fresh fish and often insist on choosing it
themselves. Shoppers at Hema can pick out their own crab or lobster
and have it cooked on the spot to eat in the store, or get it
delivered to their home. The stores also double as warehouses for
delivery in 30 minutes within a close radius.
On Alibaba’s quarterly earnings call Thursday, executives spent a
significant amount of time discussing the company’s offline retail
“This is not a supermarket. This is not a food mall. This is a brand
new model," said Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang. "Hema just is
an example” of how Alibaba can operate the existing offline business.
With Congo finances collapsing, desperate government has few options
KINSHASA (Reuters) - As Congo's government was soliciting urgent help
from Western donors and the IMF last month to contain an economic
crisis, the chairman of the state mining company brought an unusual
guest to the prime minister's office. It was Raymond O'Leary, a vice
president from Russia's second largest bank, state-owned VTB, to
discuss a Eurobond aiming to raise funds for the cash-strapped
government, Congolese and VTB officials confirmed.
The choice of lead manager was striking, given that VTB is under U.S.
sanctions any deal would have shut the door on IMF and pretty much all
Western funding owing to donor objections.
VTB's press office emphasized, however, that its VTB Capital arm in
charge of Eurobond issuances is not under sanctions.
"There are no legislative restrictions on the participation of foreign
investment funds in placements organized by Russian investment banks,"
it said in a statement.
Nevertheless, the deal fell through, partly because of concerns about
the optics of dealing with VTB and also because Congolese officials
realized any investors willing to buy the bond would demand a punitive
But the fact that the meeting took place at all revealed just how
desperate Democratic Republic of Congo's government has become as it
seeks to head off a collapse in national finances that is hitting the
Inflation is now at 50 percent and the Congolese franc has lost 30
percent making it one of the world's worst performers this year,
though it recovered slightly this month. In addition, the central bank
is so low on forex it has barely three weeks of import cover left.
Congo's economic pain is fueling political instability. Violent street
protests against President Joseph Kabila and a surge in militia
attacks and prison breaks have stoked fears the Central African giant
could slip back to the civil wars of the turn of the century in which
Kabila took power when his father was assassinated in 2001 and has
since won two elections.
The IMF representative in Congo declined to comment, as did the prime
minister's office and finance minister. But in a speech last month,
central bank governor Deogratias Mutombo was uncharacteristically
"The economy is in very bad shape," he said.
Congo is Africa's top copper producer and houses a trove of other
minerals including oil, cobalt and gold, but low commodity prices have
conspired with high deficits and rampant corruption to push its
economic indicators into the red.
"Currently there is no possibility – with the current economic
situation and political instability – to have ... sufficient
confidence to sustain a stable exchange rate," former banking
association head Michel Losembe told Reuters.
Earlier this month ratings agency Standard & Poor's downgraded Congo's
sovereign credit rating, predicting year-end depreciation of the franc
of about 35 percent and annual GDP growth of less than 2 percent from
2017-2020, down from 7.8 percent for 2011-2016.
The government forecasts 2017 GDP growth at 3.1 percent, up from 2.4
percent last year. Standard & Poor's sees GDP growth this year at 1.5
Three quarters of Congo's budget pays civil servant salaries and
government operating expenses. Labour unions have launched strikes in
recent weeks to demand pay rises.
Labour unrest would worsen Congo's security crisis, which has seen
violence rise in several parts of the country since Kabila refused to
step down at the expiry of his mandate in December.
A general strike largely paralyzed economic activity for two days last week.
In June IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, on Congo's request,
offered to send a delegation in September to discuss possible aid. Yet
she warned this would require "a credible trajectory toward political
stability". A Kinshasa-based diplomat says IMF help is "near
impossible" because it would require Kabila to commit to a timeline
for stepping down - which he refuses to do - and open the books of
Congo's opaque state-owned miner Gecamines.
On the streets of Kinshasa, patience is wearing thin. In Ngaba
district, where cement trucks vie for space with rickshaws on
dilapidated, flooded roads, some residents have turned to the only
option left: criminality. "Let the authorities spare us their false
promises," said one 22-year-old gangster in Ngaba who gave only his
first name, Yves. He said he had studied at a professional institute
but couldn't find a job after graduating and has now turned to a
cellphone theft racket. "There's no work," he said. "That's why we're
out here fighting like gangsters."
The Price President Kabila is exacting for his continuing presence is brutal.
With Conrad on the Congo River
The smoked monkeys brought the point home. During my first day on a
boat on the Congo River, I’d embraced the unfamiliar: how to bend
under the rail to fill my wash bucket from the river, where to step
around the tethered goat in the dark and the best way to prepare a pot
of grubs. But when I saw the monkeys impaled on stakes, skulls picked
clean of brains and teeth thrusting out, I looked otherness in the
face — and saw myself mirrored back.
I was the real exotica: the only tourist to take this boat in nearly a
decade, and the only white woman, as far as the crew knew, ever.
Expect to be kidnapped, people had warned me. Expect to have
everything stolen and expect every arrangement to go awry. Bring your
own mosquito net, waterproof everything twice and strap your cash
around your ankle.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, I read in my guidebook, was “a huge
area of dark corners, both geographically and mentally,” where “man
has fought continuously against his own demons and the elements of
nature at large.” This, in other words, was the heart of darkness,
which was why I had wanted to come.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has now been independent for nearly
60 years, almost as long as it was a European colony. Yet it is by any
measure one of the world’s most dysfunctional states. Congo’s
modern-day Kurtz was the kleptocrat dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, whose
ouster in 1997 led to a civil war and some five million deaths. It has
one of the lowest per-capita incomes and is ravaged by continuing
rebellions in the east, an escalating conflict in the central province
of Kasai and a national political crisis: President Joseph Kabila has
refused to leave office despite reaching months ago the end of his
In 1890, Conrad traveled on one of the first steamboats on the Congo
River. The Roi des Belges had been constructed in 1887 out of parts
imported from Europe, then carried up the rapids on the backs of 1,700
porters and assembled in Kinshasa, the capital then and today.
Steamships were the engines of European civilization, bearing
merchants, missionaries and militias into Africa’s uncolonized
interior. Conrad hated them.
But upstream stood one vessel in stately isolation, moored in a
private stretch of waterfront. It belonged to Bralima, Congo’s biggest
brewery, and was emblazoned with “Primus,” the name of the company’s
signature beer brand. Four barges were lashed to the boat, stacked
with plastic cases piled into 12-foot-high cubes like crenelations on
a castle wall. Primus I was going to pick up some rice in Bumba,
deposit the beer in Mbandaka and deliver the rice to Kinshasa.
Miraculously, it was leaving the next day.
I asked her if the river had changed. “The river hasn’t changed.” I
asked her if the forest had changed. “The forest hasn’t changed.” But,
I hazarded, it was a lot taller closer to Kisangani than it is here.
Has it always been like that? “The forest hasn’t changed.”
If the MPLA gets
But they will almost certainly be calling him their president after
next Wednesday's election -- the first new head of state in
oil-producer Angola in 38 years, going back to when Jimmy Carter ran
the United States and Leonid Brezhnev the Soviet Union.
In common with many of Angola's Soviet-trained leaders, Lourenço's
rhetoric to the crowds was conservative, even in the face of economic
"There is much that still needs to be done," he told the rally as a
loud speaker encouraged applause. "We will put you to work," he said,
vowing to grow agricultural production in this poor farming community.
With little credible polling, the result remains unpredictable. One of
the few legitimate surveys gave the MPLA 61 percent. Party insiders
say they would be happy with a score above 60.
Either way, if Lourenço is unable to combat corruption and get the
economy on track, the MPLA could face future defeat under his
“It’s a question of survival,” said Paulo Faria, a politics professor
at the state Agostinho Neto university in Luanda. “He has to drive
21-AUG-2017 :: @KenGenKenya powering Kenya to the future @TheStarKenya
The Kenya Electricity Generating Company was established in 1954 and
listed at the Nairobi Securities Exchange in 2006. In 2006, The
Securities Exchange was located in Nation House and I recall the
euphoria and the excitement around that listing. It was a momentous
moment in the history of the Kenyan capital markets and I urge the
Kenyatta administration version two to revisit that period, when our
capital markets felt like they were leap-frogging into a bright new
future and when Kenya Inc. was creating an ''ownership'' society right
in front of our eyes. Today, KenGen is the largest power producer in
Kenya and East Africa with an installed power capacity of 1,630
megawatts. KenGen is the largest geothermal producer in Kenya placing
Kenya seventh globally in geothermal installed capacity. The
geothermal resource in Kenya, which largely follows the contours of
the Rift Valley, whilst not infinite, could of itself power Kenya Inc
into the future.
Kenyan's share price has soared +58.119 per cent this year,
outperforming the benchmark index by a factor of two. The conditions
precedent for this steep price increase are worthy of study. I recall
a mindspeak session I hosted with KenGen last year and they produced a
panel and as I listened to this panel, I realised KenGen had ''bench
strength''. The quietly spoken and cerebral managing director Albert
Mugo [whom all shareholders I am sure would like to see extended in
his term] had empowered his senior management. Electricity generation
is a very capital intensive business and as I scanned the audience, I
saw big-ticket lenders like JICA, the European Investment Bank and
many others. KenGen has been transacting with these folks for a number
of years. That longevity of capital markets transaction experience is
a very valuable resource. In my opinion, these were conditions
precedent for the parabolic share price rise we have witnessed.
Last year KenGen undertook a rights issue in order to right size
[increase tier one capital] and optimise its balance sheet. The rights
issue offered 4.396b new shares seeking to raise 28.798b Kenya
Shillings. The total subscription rate was 92.01% leaving 351.21m
shares which were not allotted. A key driver of share price
performance is the supply versus demand dynamic. Clearly, those
351.21m shares weighed heavy on the share price and we saw the price
dip below the rights issue price of 6.55. In February this year,
KenGen announced that those 351.21m shares had been placed with PIC SA
[Public Investment Corporation SOC Limited, acting in its capacity as
the authorised representative of the government employees pension
fund, a South African based institutional investor]. This was the
final condition precedent for the share price to get motoring. PIC SA
single-handedly, inverted the supply versus demand dynamic. They
extinguished the surplus supply of shares and then started a mopping
up operation. PIC SA exhibited a style of investing which is actually
very similar to the style deployed by the sage of Omaha, Warren
Today, KenGen trades on a price earnings ratio of 8.565. Investments
are capital intensive in geothermal energy but have a seriously long
earnings tail and a ''hockey-stick'' profile. KenGen has the know-how
and the expertise to tap this. One of the key ingredients of baking a
national cake that creates jobs for our people is cheap and consistent
energy. You cannot build an economy with generators or on diesel
power. KenGen sits at the cutting edge, its share price still has a
lot further to catch up with the prospect.
Tourism sector booms on peaceful poll @BD_Africa
Tourism is expected to perform well in the next four months as a
result of peace experienced during and after the August 8 General
Election, according to hoteliers.
Although the high season normally begins in mid-July, the industry had
slowed down as potential tourists adopted a wait-and-see stance due to
uncertainty that characterises elections in Kenya.
But despite events before and after the polls, a large number of
international holidaymakers flocked to the popular Maasai Mara
National Reserve, thanks to the wildebeest migration spectacle.
Safari lovers from United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia,
China, India, and Japan enjoyed game drives in the wildlife haven.
According to the new Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) chairman, Mr
Mohammed Hersi, all safari destinations and beach resorts at the Coast
enjoyed calm during the period.
“The peace and tranquillity experienced after the polls is a major
boost to tourism. Our country has gained a positive image in overseas
markets,” he said.
Two elderly foreigners found murdered in Kenya's Mombasa city
The bodies of a Caucasian couple thought to be between 60 and 70 years
old were found dumped by a rural road in Kenya's coastal city of
Mombasa on Sunday, police said, but their identities were unclear.
The man and woman were found wrapped in a blanket and left near a
local nightclub on the outskirts of Mombasa, area police chief
Christopher Rotich said.
"They have severe injuries, one has deep cuts on the head and it seems
they were killed using sharp and blunt objects," Rotich told Reuters
International Markets have been reaching for safe haven protection of
late, with Gold last at 1287.00 and having briefly touched 1,300.00
last week. The Yen has similarly been firm.
The Kenya Shilling dipped below 103.00 momentarily on my screen but
was last trading at 103.11. It has improved just under 1 shilling since
the election on reduced political risk.
The Nairobi All Share rallied +6.28% in an Election related Pop 7th
August closing through 14th August before then correcting -2.138% off
that 27 month high reached August 14th, through this morning.
The All Share rebounded +0.85% today to close at 166.61.
The Nairobi NSE20 Index rallied +7.74% 7th August closing through 14th
August when it closed above 4,100 since October 2015, before
correcting -2.875% through this morning.
The Nairobi NSE20 Index firmed +14.79 points to regain the
psychologically important level of 4,000 and closed at 4007.55
Trading was thin and Turnover clocked just 215.797m.
N.S.E Equities - Commercial & Services
Safaricom rallied +2.06% to close at 24.75 and within a whisker and 1%
to be exact of a record closing high of 25.00 reached August 14th.
Safaricom traded 1.489m shares and There is a noteworthy bulking up of
the Buy Side Structure signalling new record closing Highs in short
order. Safaricom is headed to 28.00 and even 30.00.
TPS Serena has 10 Buyers for every Seller and rebounded +5.88% to
close at 27.00 TPS Serena Hotels is the only listed
Tourism/Hospitality counter at the Exchange and todays price boost was
informed by the view which was expressed by the Kenya Tourism
Federation (KTF) chairman, Mr Mohammed Hersi who said
“The peace and tranquillity experienced after the polls is a major
boost to tourism. Our country has gained a positive image in overseas
markets,” he said.
Nation Media retreated -1.42% to close at 112.00 and traded 205,300
shares. The Opposition call to boycott NTV and Nation Media did not
impact the share price materially.
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment
Centum firmed +1.18% to close at 42.75 and traded 806,100 shares.
Centum trades on PE multiple of 3.911.
Housing Finance corrected -7.86% lower to close at 10.55 and traded
84,200 shares. Housing Finance is -24.64% in 2017 and the only banking
stock that is in the red this year.
N.S.E Equities - Industrial & Allied
KenGen closed unchanged at 9.25 and sits +58.119% in 2017.
KPLC rallied +4.411% to close at 10.60 and -3.63% below its 2017
closing high of 11.00 reached on August 15th. KPLC is +30.06% through