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Macro Thoughts

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OCTOBER 30, 2014 BY DOMINIC CUMMINGS The Hollow Men II: Some reflections on Westminster and Whitehall dysfunction
Law & Politics


Mistah Kurtz—he dead.
A penny for the Old Guy
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion…
… Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow…’
The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot.

‘You’re a mutant virus, I’m the immune system and it’s my job to expel
you from the organism.’ DfE official re Gove’s team.
1. Complexity makes prediction hard.
Our world is based on extremely complex, nonlinear, interdependent
networks (physical, mental, social). Properties emerge from feedback
between vast numbers of interactions: for example, the war of ant
colonies, the immune system’s defences, market prices, and abstract
thoughts all emerge from the interaction of millions of individual
agents. Interdependence, feedback, and nonlinearity mean that systems
are fragile and vulnerable to nonlinear shocks: ‘big things come from
small beginnings’ and problems cascade, ‘they come not single spies /
But in battalions’. Prediction is extremely hard even for small
timescales. Effective action and (even loose) control are very hard
and most endeavours fail.
Blofeld: Kronsteen, you are sure this plan is foolproof?
Kronsteen: Yes it is, because I have anticipated every possible
variation of counter-move.
Political analysis is full of chess metaphors, reflecting an old
tradition of seeing games as models of physical and social reality. A
game which has ten different possible moves at each turn and runs for
two turns has 102 possible ways of being played; if it runs for fifty
turns it has 1050 possible ways of being played, ‘a number which
substantially exceeds the number of atoms in the whole of our planet
earth’ (Holland); if it runs for eighty turns it has 1080 possible
ways of being played, which is about the estimated number of atoms in
the Universe. Chess is merely 32 pieces on an 8×8 grid with a few
simple rules but the number of possible games is much greater than
1080.
Kronsteen’s confidence, often seen in politics, is therefore misplaced
even in chess yet chess is simple compared to the systems that
scientists or politicians have to try to understand, predict, and
control. These themes of uncertainty, nonlinearity, complexity and
prediction have been ubiquitous motifs of art, philosophy, and
politics. We see them in Homer, where the gift of an apple causes the
Trojan War; in Athenian tragedy, where a chance meeting at a
crossroads settles the fate of Oedipus; in Othello’s dropped
handkerchief; and in War and Peace with Nikolai Rostov, playing cards
with Dolohov, praying that one little card will turn out differently,
save him from ruin, and allow him to go happily home to Natasha.
A) The people at the apex of political power (elected and unelected)
are far from the best people in the world in terms of goals,
intelligence, ethics, or competence.
B) Their education and training is such that almost nobody has the
skills needed to cope with the complexity they face or even to
understand the tools (such as Palantir) that might help them.
Political ‘experts’ are usually hopeless at predictions and routinely
repeat the same sorts of errors without being forced to learn.
While our ancestor chiefs understood bows, horses, and agriculture,
our contemporary chiefs (and those in the media responsible for
scrutiny of decisions) generally do not understand their equivalents,
and are often less experienced in managing complex organisations than
their predecessors.
Traditional politics collides with markets and technology: ‘a
combustible mixture of ignorance and power.’
b) Traditional politics over six million years of hominid evolution
involved an attempt to secure in-group cohesion, prosperity and
strength in order to dominate or destroy nearby out-groups in
competition for scarce resources.
c) Our civilisation now depends on science and technology underlying
complex interdependent networks in the economy, food, medicine,
transport, communications and so on. The structure (topology) of these
networks makes them fragile and therefore vulnerable to nonlinear
shocks.
d) Markets and technology enhance the power of individuals and small
groups (as well as traditional militaries and intelligence agencies)
to inflict such shocks in the physical, virtual, or psychological
worlds.
Technology can inflict huge physical destruction and help manipulate
the feelings and ideas of many people (including, sometimes
particularly, the best educated) through ‘information operations’.
Further, technology makes it easier to do these things potentially
without detection which could render conventional deterrence obsolete.
Robert Trivers, one of the most influential evolutionary thinkers of
the last fifty years, has described how evolutionary dynamics can
favour not just deception but self-deception: conflict for resources
is ubiquitous; deception helps win; a classic evolutionary ‘arms race’
encourages both deception detection and ever-better deception; perhaps
humans evolved to deceive themselves because this fools others’
detection systems (for example, self-deception suppresses normal clues
we display when lying). This is, perhaps, one reason why most people
consistently rate themselves as above average.
They think they are prepared to ‘run the country’ but many cannot run
their own diaries.
Politics therefore suffers from a surfeit of narcissists.

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The Hollow Men Mistah Kurtz-he dead
Law & Politics


A penny for the Old Guy
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us-if at all-not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death's dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death's dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer-

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death's other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death's twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

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For the best part of three years, Britain has been stalled at a political T-junction. Last night, the electorate put their foot down and yanked the steering wheel to the right. @VICEUK @paulmasonnews
Law & Politics


The Conservatives gained an avalanche of seats in small,
socially-conservative towns that were once Labour's heartlands. Labour
held only the cities and big towns.
The same crisis that's ripped through centre-left parties across the
world – driven by a mismatch between their values and those of elderly
white working class people – has hit Britain.
First: Brexit will happen. It will happen fast and its impetus will be
towards radical deregulation of our society.
Second: a new Scottish independence crisis will open up. You cannot
rule a nation of 6 million people who want Europe, social justice and
national independence with a viceroy from London.
You may be wondering how this slam-dunk by the right against the left
happened. To me, it's simple. We're facing an alliance of the
mainstream right and the far right: what the philosopher Hannah Arendt
called "the alliance of the elite and the mob".
Every lesson from the 1930s tells us: the only answer to this is an
alliance of the centre and the left. But survey the results and it's
clear the centre and the left did not want to ally. They wanted to rip
each other to shreds.
For Labour, the main task was to stop this election becoming a
referendum on Brexit. And they did – but only among their loyal
supporters. On the doorsteps, young working families eagerly took our
leaflets and posters – even in the towns we've lost.
For the right-wing half of the population – actually numbering around
45 percent of the national total – it was always and only about
Brexit, migration and English nationalism.
I expected Labour to lose, but not this badly. Given Corbyn's
unpopularity and the newness of Johnson it was always going to be an
uphill struggle.
The shocking thing is that, almost without a machine or any
campaigners, the Tories took historic Labour towns, because the vibe
was on their side.
That vibe was best summed up by a man who approached me in the high
street of Leigh, where I grew up: "I'm not allowed to say what I
want..." he began.
We coaxed it out of him. "I want Boris Johnson to send people round to
the homes of every Romanian and throw them and their kids in the back
of a van, lock the door and drive them to Dover."

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But the bigger picture is this: like it or not, there is a culture war in Britain. @paulmasonnews
Law & Politics


Corbyn already symbolised the cultural enemy for the Express-reading
nativist workers in places where we've lost. After May, for many
progressive workers in Labour's big city heartlands, he looked
disinterested in championing their values. His strategy was to refuse
culture war but it engulfed him.

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"The central demographic fact of Western democracy is that there aren't enough young people, and that we are the first societies in human history where the old outnumber the young." David Runciman @newyorker
Law & Politics


"The central demographic fact of Western democracy is that there
aren’t enough young people, and whoever is taking on Trump needs to
focus on the crucial fact that we are the first societies in human
history where the old outnumber the young."

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02-DEC-2019 :: If President Macron is diagnosing Europe's preeminent threat as militant Islam then Fortress Europe is already lost to the geopolitical grandmaster Vladimir
Law & Politics


President Macron’s France experienced one of its worst losses of in
France’s military in more than three decades -- 13 dead soldiers
during an anti-terrorism mission in Mali -- Two Helicopters collided
in the dead of the Mali-an night.
Salif Keita, one of Mali’s best-lo- ved musicians, released a video on
his Facebook page in which he tells President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita
to stop “subjecting yourself to little Emmanuel Macron– he’s just a
kid.”
President Macron then holds a press conference in which he pronounces
that he is not interested in Trump or in Europe’s strategic autonomy.
He just thinks that Nato has misidentified its enemy. He wants a Nato
that works with Russia and China and fights against political,
militant Islam. President Erdogan says
“I am talking to France’s President Emmanuel Macron, and I will also
say this at NATO. First of all, have your own brain death checked.
These sta- tements are suitable only to people like you who are in a
state of brain death.”
If President Macron is diagnosing Europe’s preeminent threat as
militant Islam then Fortress Europe is already lost to the
geopolitical grandmaster Vladimir and his bestie Xi Jinping the
decimator of the Uighurs.
The fact of the matter is militant Islam has been a Western asset and
a spear for regime change. It is a mind bending Macronian
misdiagnosis.

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Every geopolitical action taken is an act of narrative warfare. @man_integrated
Law & Politics


This is especially true when the nations in question signal an intent
to shift billions of dollars in trade flow through energy and
logistics infrastructure investments.
The media lies. The assets can't.

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This is the peculiar genius of a man like President Trump. For all of his flaws, he understands the power of narrative as only a showman can. @man_integrated
Law & Politics


And he understands that the moment a person decides to turn narrative
into action, it is logistics that enables it.

International Markets

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies


Euro 1.1142
Dollar Index 96.992
Japan Yen 109.39
Swiss Franc 0.98325
Pound 1.3412
Aussie 0.6874
India Rupee 70.943
South Korea Won 1172.635
Brazil Real 4.1091
Egypt Pound 16.0895
South Africa Rand 14.5109

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16-DEC-2019 :: Saudi Aramco's $1.96 trillion
Commodities


Aramco raised $25.6bn in the biggest-ever IPO, selling shares at 32
riyals each and valuing the company at $1.7tn, overtaking Microsoft
and Apple as the most valuable listed company in the World.
At the latest valuation of $1.96 trillion, Aramco is a whisker shy of
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Target of $2 trillion set some four
years ago.
At $2tn, it is worth more than technology giants Apple [which is 2nd
and worth $1.19 trillion] and Microsoft, and bigger even than the top
five oil companies — ExxonMobil, Total, Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and
BP — combined.
The Saudi Stock Exchange Tadawul has elevated to the seventh largest
exchange in the world after the successful listing and the Post IPO
Pop in the price.
“It’s a great day for Saudi Arabia and the leadership of Saudi Arabia
and for the people of Saudi Arabia. It’s a D-Day for Aramco, it’s a
day of reckoning and vindication,” Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz
bin Salman told Reuters in Madrid.
Prince Abdulaziz predicted investors who didn’t buy into the offering
would be “chewing their thumbs” after missing out.
“I know he is proud,” his half-brother and oil minister, Prince
Abdulaziz bin Salman, said in a TV interview after the shares were
successfully allocated last week.
“He made us all proud because he took good decisions. These decisions,
you have seen it now, have brought us a 4.6 times over-subscription.”
@Amena__Bakr tweeted [The] General mood in Saudi Arabia with regards
to the Aramco IPO from people I spoke to can be summarized in 3 words:
vindicated, triumphant, relieved.
Notwithstanding some churlish International commentary
''At every turn, the crown prince and his advisers have sought to
determine the price of the offering rather than leave it to the
market: wealthy Saudi families have been pressured to buy shares;
banks have had to issue loans to retail investors; funds in the
kingdom and regional allies, including Abu Dhabi, were asked to
bolster the sale after plans to market the listing globally were
abandoned. The size of the original stake had to be scaled back to 1.5
per cent'' [Financial Times].
The comments by the Financial Times counterintuitively speak to the
sharp and smart moves by the Saudi Authorities.
This is a singular triumph for the Kingdom, The Crown Prince and his
Team. It was precisely correct to limit the supply of shares [1.5%] in
order to maintain a structure where Demand outstripped Supply. This is
Lesson 101 in the business of IPOs.
It was precisely correct to sell shares into strong Hands. Your own
Nationals and Sovereign Wealth Funds from the Neighbourhood represent
Strong Hands. Affording leverage versus a security with a proposed $
dividend of 3.75% is a risk adjusted No-Brainer for the Banks.
It would have been plain irresponsible to have done anything
differently. Why on Earth would you sell more shares than the market
could absorb into International Markets where Short Sellers would have
a ''Boondoggle'' That would have been a little insane.
The Saudi Authorities have captured the bulk of the value addition
from the listing.  Limiting transaction Fees to below $70m was also
clever business and I am sure has been a Catalyst for some of the
churlish commentary by those who were salivating at the prospect of
hundreds of millions dollars of fees. This was optimal stewardship of
the public Purse, plain and simple.
Furthermore, selling shares in your home market and catapaulting the
Tadawul to the seventh largest Exchange in the World is also optimal.
No Country in the World is truly sovereign unless it has ownership of
its own capital markets.
The Kingdom has parlayed itself into the bulge-bracket via the Aramco
listing. That is a significant achievement and a crystallising of a
One-Off opportunity.
@DaniloOnorino was  quoted as follows  “This is the Ferrari of the oil
companies” and if you want to buy this Ferrari, You need to go to
Riyadh and that's the final overarching point.

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#WATCH: Rahul Gandhi,at 'Bharat Bachao' rally: My name is not Rahul Savarkar. My name is Rahul Gandhi. I will never apologise for truth @ANI
Emerging Markets


#WATCH: Rahul Gandhi,at 'Bharat Bachao' rally: I was told in
Parliament by BJP y'day 'Rahul ji, you gave a speech. Apologise for
that.' I was told to apologise for speaking something correct. My name
is not Rahul Savarkar. My name is Rahul Gandhi. I will never apologise
for truth

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India outlook worsens. Economic growth slowed to a six-year low in Q2 FY 2019, as fixed investment grew at the weakest pace in nearly five years. @dlacalle_IA
Emerging Markets


India 🇮🇳 outlook worsens. Economic growth slowed to a six-year low
in Q2 FY 2019, as fixed investment grew at the weakest pace in nearly
five years. Private-sector PMI averaged lower in the October–November
period than in Q2.  @FocusEconomics

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02-DEC-2019 :: India's Narendra Modi whose calling card was economic growth in Gujarat notwithstanding his fondness for a good old fashioned pogrom
Emerging Markets


India’s Narendra Modi whose calling card was economic growth in
Gujarat notwithstanding his fondness for a good old fashioned pogrom
is clearly embarked on a ‘’West Bank’’’ level settlement project of
Kashmir.
At a private event on Saturday in New York City, Sandeep Chakravorty,
India’s consul-general to the city, told Kashmiri Hindus and Indian
nationals that India will build settlements modelled after Israel for
the return of the Hindu population to Kashmir.
Three years ago, India was enjoying economic growth of about nine per
cent. Now the rate of expansion has slumped to just half that.
The country’s gross domestic product grew by just 4.5 per cent in the
July to September quarter, the lowest level since early 2013.
GDP growth was at seven per cent in the same period last year, and
five per cent in the previous quarter.
Economic growth has now fallen for six consecutive quarters, a slide
that can be partially attributed to the recent weakness of India’s
factories.
The manufacturing sector shrank one per cent last quarter. The growth
rate for agriculture was more than cut in half.
The GDP figure is the weakest recorded under Prime Minister Narendra
Modi, who first swept to power five years ago promising to take
India’s economy to new heights and create millions of jobs every year.

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Democracy @RanaAyyub
Emerging Markets


Frontier Markets

Sub Saharan Africa

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@EmmanuelMacron signals rethink on French-backed Africa currency @FT
Africa


French president Emmanuel Macron is this week expected to signal a
possible rethink on the French-backed CFA franc used by west and
central African states but that critics see as a colonial relic.
Alassane Ouattara, president of Ivory Coast, the region’s biggest
economy, has been a strong defender of the euro-pegged currency, but
has come under pressure from regional politicians and activists to
challenge the arrangement.
Mr Macron is due to meet Mr Ouattara in Abidjan this week and is
expected to discuss the concerns.
Established in 1945, the CFA franc is used in two African monetary
zones, one for eight west African countries and the other for six
mostly petro-states in central Africa.
Since 1999, it has been pegged to the euro, giving the member states
monetary stability while supporting trade with Europe.
In return, the members have to keep half of their foreign reserves in
France, on which the French treasury pays 0.75 per cent interest.
French official sits on the board of the regional central bank in both
zones, and the currency is printed by France.
The optics are so bad I don’t think it is sustainable for France to
continue this arrangement
Under Mr Macron, France is losing appetite for the system, according
to a member of a panel that has briefed the president on the issue.
The structure causes political friction, the adviser said, and fits
poorly with Mr Macron’s vision for a postcolonial relationship with
francophone Africa.
“The optics are so bad I don’t think it is sustainable for France to
continue this arrangement,” the adviser said. “There is such a strong
demand from African youth to take back their monetary independence.”
“The political costs may be outweighing the economic gains,” said
Carlos Lopes, high representative of the Commission of the African
Union, who said the currency’s stability had benefited French
exporters and investors.
“Macron is not espousing the traditional French treasury attitude of
keeping the status quo,” he said. “He means what he says when he says
he is ready for changes, even radical changes.”
Defenders of the arrangement point to the stability of the CFA franc
and the region’s success in controlling inflation, in contrast with
neighbouring countries outside the currency zones.
Being in the monetary union has also helped keep a lid on fiscal
indiscipline, said Amaka Anku at Eurasia Group, a political risk
consultancy: “You don’t see [the] crazy fiscal slippages in any of the
CFA countries you see in, say, Ghana.”
The French presidency, finance ministry and French central bank
declined to make any immediate comment on the currency at what one
official called a “delicate moment”.
But French officials said the decision lay with the African nations
that used the system and that Paris was open to any changes proposed,
for example to the deposit requirements.
Asked whether France would be ready to scrap it altogether, one senior
official said: “It’s more a question of evolution.”
The CFA franc, particularly the obligation for member states to keep
half their reserves at France’s central bank, has long provoked
resentment.
Opponents say it prevents countries from devaluing to counter external
shocks and has hampered industrialisation by keeping the exchange rate
artificially high.
This month, Nathalie Yamb, an adviser to an opposition party in Ivory
Coast and a Swiss-Cameroonian activist, was deported to Switzerland
after she spoke out against the currency.
In 2017, Kemi Seba, a French-Beninese activist, was arrested in
Senegal after burning a 5,000 CFA franc note in front of hundreds of
demonstrators.
Some African heads of state have also become more vocal. Last month,
Patrice Talon, president of Benin, defended a proposal to repatriate
some of the reserves kept in France.
“Psychologically, with regards to the vision of sovereignty and
managing your own money, it's not good that this model continues,” he
said.
The eight countries in the west African region already intend to
rename the CFA franc the “eco” next year.
They hope to eventually replace it with a single west African currency
which could include other west African states.
Laureen Kouassi-Olsson, who runs the Abidjan office of Amethis, an
Africa-focused fund manager, said Mr Macron was a “new generation” of
French leader, without nostalgia for France’s colonial ties.
“His position is that, if the western African heads of state do not
want the CFA franc any more, they should be able to exit that currency
providing they have the means of doing so.”
But she added that she had concerns about a “monetary revolution” that
she likened to the Arab spring, referring to the uprisings in the
Middle East and north Africa that started in 2011.
“People are arguing from a very romantic and passionate angle,” she
said. “We should take a very cool approach to it. A volatile currency
is by no means a driver of growth.”

Conclusions

Counterintuitively I think the CFA is a uniquely good instrument.
It has created a positive feedback loop of a stable currency, lower
interest rates and avoided the debacles we have witnessed from Ghana
[25 years of declines in the currency] to practically anywhere else
you care to name in Africa.

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Zambia Says Ambassador Should Leave After Defending Gay Couple @markets
Africa


Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu said he wanted the U.S. Ambassador to
leave the country after the diplomat criticized the African nation for
sentencing a gay couple to 15 years of imprisonment for having a
consensual relationship.
“We have complained officially to the American government, and we are
waiting for their response because we don’t want such people in our
midst,” Lungu said Sunday in comments broadcast on state-owned ZNBC
TV. “We want him gone.”
U.S. Ambassador Daniel Foote said last month that he was “personally
horrified” after the high court sentenced the two men and called on
the government to reconsider laws that punish minority groups.

read more



On the Frontier, the Lubumbashi Biennial Makes Art From Obstacles @nytimes
Africa


LUBUMBASHI, Democratic Republic of Congo — This hot, dry metropolis
may seem an unlikely art center. It is a thousand miles from the
capital, Kinshasa, on the southern edge of an enormous, unwieldy
country typically associated with wars and other crises.
Yet the Lubumbashi Biennial, founded in 2008, recently held its sixth
edition in this city in the mineral-rich Katanga Province.
It gathered work by 42 artists from Congo and beyond, including
contemporary African stars like Ibrahim Mahama, Emeka Ogboh, and
Kemang wa Lehulere, and a collaboration with Ruangrupa, the Indonesian
collective that is curating Documenta 2022.
During the opening weekend, the poinciana trees were in bright orange
flower around the National Museum, the biennial’s main site,  which
sits next to the provincial Parliament house.
Built in the 1950s under Belgian colonial rule, both structures are
gems of African Modernist architecture. A funeral had taken over the
Parliament building’s plaza, with mourners assembled under white
canopies.
The photographer Sammy Baloji, the best-known contemporary artist from
Lubumbashi and a founder of Picha, the collective that runs the
biennial, explained that the Parliament building was originally a
theater, before the Katanga secessionist regime in the early 1960s
took it over.
Under the long Mobutu dictatorship it reverted to culture; Mr. Baloji,
born in 1978, recalled coming for performances. Since Mobutu Sese
Seko’s fall in 1997, it has again been the region’s seat of
Parliament, home to the murky power games that come with mineral
abundance.
“Congo still represents the total possibility of life on Earth,” Mr.
Pongo said, adding that human depredation was less likely to kill the
environment than to backfire on our species. “Nature doesn’t care
about us. It can eat us up at any moment.”

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Leonard Pongo's ongoing series, "Primordial Earth," at the Lubumbashi Biennial in the Democratic Republic of Congo. @nytimes
Africa


Mr. Pongo traveled to remote parts of the country to make his
photographs.Credit...Julien De Bock

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This teenager, dusted with sand from his work in a gold mine, embodies the sadness and heroism of the people of Niger (photograph by the great Pascal Maitre) @CelestinMonga
Africa


71 soldiers killed in #Niger by a terrorist group. Tragic reminder of
the importance of well funded and effective states. This teenager,
dusted with sand from his work in a gold mine, embodies the  sadness
and heroism of the people of Niger (photograph by the great Pascal
Maître)

read more


Zimbabwe's Economy Is Hobbled by a Clash of Egos
Africa


At the heart of Zimbabwe’s economic paralysis is a personality clash.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor
John Mangudya don’t get on, are pursuing different agendas and at
times issue directives without informing each other, two people with
direct knowledge of the situation said.
The result: policies that are quickly reversed, confusing
contradictions in public statements, an economy that’s forecast by the
government to contract 6.5% this year and an annual inflation rate
that reached 440% in October.
While Ncube, a Cambridge-trained economist, is often accused of being
overly optimistic, his push to cut spending and bring order to chaotic
government finances has been lauded. By comparison, Mangudya, an
appointee of former President Robert Mugabe, is seen as a governor who
puts political considerations ahead of rational economic decisions.
“They seem to be at two polar opposites,” said Jee-A van der Linde, an
economic analyst at NKC African Economics in Paarl, South Africa.
The governor has bristled at the minister taking decisions he feels
are within the central bank’s domain since a fallout earlier this
year, the people said.
The Zimbabwe Independent on Feb. 15 reported on an alleged row between
the two men over how to handle the nation’s monetary policy, citing
people it didn’t identify. The Harare-based newspaper said Mangudya
threw paper files at Ncube before he walked out of a meeting. It later
retracted the report, saying it was based on “wrong and unverified
information.”
On Nov. 29, the Treasury surprised the central bank by issuing an
instruction that exporters must pay their bills to the state power
utility in foreign currency, one of the people said. On one occasion,
the Treasury told the bank it was issuing a directive and not seeking
an opinion, the person said.
Earlier unilateral measures include the Treasury’s abolition in June
of the decade-old multi-currency system that allowed the use of the
greenback and the South African rand within the country, a decision
the central bank then had to implement, the person said.
On Sept. 30, the Treasury directed the bank to issue a ban on dominant
mobile-money service Ecocash paying out cash, a move that would have
brought the economy to a halt as almost all transactions are done
through the mobile platform.
In at least one instance, Mangudya has pushed back. A Treasury
proposal in September to give tourists coupons for their foreign
exchange, to starve the black market of supply, was thwarted by the
central bank, the person said.
Mangudya is wary of political backlash to monetary-policy decisions,
one of the people said.
In September, a parliamentary committee was told that the central bank
sold Treasury bills worth $971 million to pay government debt without
the necessary approvals by lawmakers. That boosted money supply and
weakened the local currency.
The central bank head also convinced President Emmerson Mnangagwa to
restore corn and rice subsidies on Nov. 28, two weeks after Ncube had
announced in his 2020 budget that they would be scrapped, one of the
people said.
While economically crippling, the subsidies are politically prudent in
a nation where the United Nations World Food Programme expects half
the population to face hunger early next year. The Treasury has yet to
pay out the subsidies and prices for the staples have subsequently
risen.
For Ncube, Mangudya is an impediment to the task he feels he was given
by Mnangagwa when he was appointed in September last year and told to
right the economy, one of the people said. The way the central bank
handles policy has troubled analysts.
“The blame for the collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy may be squarely
placed on the mismanaged reintroduction by the central bank of a local
currency after 10 years of dollarization,” said Robert Besseling, a
director at EXX Africa, a South African business-risk advisory firm.
“The mismanaged currency regime is being accompanied by
interventionist measures that have effectively shut down business and
trade in the country.”
Ncube’s focus on austerity and orthodox economics has been seen by
Mangudya as unwise in a country with Zimbabwe’s unstable politics, the
other person said.
“Ncube seems out of his depth in the current cash-shortage crisis,”
said Besseling. “He lacks the political clout to implement real
structural change in the distressed economy.”
Mangudya didn’t respond to calls made to his mobile phone seeking
comment. The Treasury didn’t immediately respond to a request for
comment.
For now, the economy is in dire straits. There isn’t enough money to
pay for adequate fuel and food imports, and the currency is trading at
16.54 to the greenback after a 1:1 peg was removed in February.
Attempts to attract investors to the country have been largely
unsuccesful.
Monetary policy is erratic. Last month, the central bank halved the
benchmark interest rate to 35%. In September, it had been raised by 20
percentage points to 70%.
“Monetary policy is an absolute shambles,” Van der Linde said.

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14-OCT-2019 :: Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed Ali was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019
Africa


The Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed Ali was awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize for 2019 by the Norwegian Nobel Committee and indeed it
was a well-deserved award.
In July 2018, I wrote: '’These 90 or so days represent the most
consequential arrival of an African politician on the African stage
since Mandela walked out of prison blinking in the sunlight and
constructed his ‘’rainbow nation’’’’
And whilst he faces a fiendishly  complicated task fending off the
centripetal forces which are tearing Ethiopia apart, the Prime
Minister who has a singular self-belief in his destiny is a Virilian
figure and a c21st African Leader which is a scarce commodity.
“Whoever controls the territory possesses it. Possession of territory
is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a
matter of movement and circulation.”

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02-JUL-2018 :: Abiy Ahmed Ali (Amharic: , Oromo: Abiyyi Ahimad Alii; born 15 August 1976) was appointed the 12th Prime Minister of Ethiopia on 2 April 2018.
Africa


He grew up in a Muslim family (Ah- med Ali, his Oromo father; Tezeta
Wolde, his mother) and with Oromo Muslim and Christian grandparents.
He is evidently a Virilian and Gladwellian Figure.
“To create one contagious movement, you often have to create many
small movements first.” “Look at the world around you. It may seem
like an immovable, implacable place. It is not, With the slightest
push—in just the right place—it can be tipped.”—Malcolm Gladwell .
He has been Prime Minster for 90 days. During those 90 days, he has
criss-crossed the country, ended a state of emergency, released
thousands of political prisoners, thawed relations with Eritrea [29
Mar 2018 HE Abiy Ahmed @PM_AbiyAhmed - It is time. Lets build a wall
of love between #Ethiopia & #Eritrea], bagged a $1b from the UAE,
announced a dramatic economic about-turn. In matters language and
linguistics, he has tapped into a ‘’Nelson Mandela’’ 1994 mood.
These 90 or so days represent the most consequential arrival of an
African politician on the African stage since Mandela walked out of
prison blinking in the sunlight and constructed his ‘’rainbow
nation’’.
I was watching the France-Argentina game and the arrival of Kylian
Mbappe on the world stage at the tender age of 19.
I recalled watching the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi order on a
night of a full moon in Konya, Turkey. I thought what they all have in
common with Abiy Ahmed.
It’s all about speed and velocity. Paul Virilio terms it ‘dromology’,
which he defined as the “science (or logic) of speed“.
He notes that the speed at which something happens may change its
essential nature, and that which moves with speed quickly comes to
dominate that which is slower.
“Whoever controls the territory possesses it. Possession of territory
is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a
matter of movement and circulation.”
Virilio argues that the traditional feudal fortified city disappeared
because of the increasing sophistication of weapons and possibilities
for warfare. For Virilio, the concept of siege warfare became rather a
war of movement.
Abiy Ahmed has moved at lightning speed, the old guard is like ‘’the
traditional feudal fortified city’’.
He said “The ppl of Tigray are still begging for a drop of water; TPLF
(the party) is not the people of Tigray”.
On the same day he said, “we are in debt, we have to pay back but we
can’t. And secondarily, we aren’t able to finish projects we have
started” and announced his economic Pivot.
Of course, the downside risk of all this infrastructure is plain to
see and Sri Lanka and the tale of its Hambantota Port is now a
cautionary Tale.
FX reserves were at less than a month’s worth of imports and something
needed to be done. Expectations are high.
The Prime Minister needs to execute real quick on the economic front
but if he levels the playing Field, a whole Troop of folks will be
looking to pile in.
That Troop will include the Ethiopian Diaspora, Foreign Investors and
I am sure our very own Safaricom.
Abiy Ahmed’s first 90 days have been as remarkable as the less than 90
minutes of France’s Mbappe’s performance on Saturday.

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More than 50% of all Nigerian migrants in the EU come from a single, relatively small city. I visited Benin City to find out why The Correspondent
Africa


I walk down a muddy road, past wooden stalls full of bananas and
smoking barbecues full of suya.  Few high-rise buildings, lots of
unpaved roads, a cacophony of car horns, street vendors hawking their
wares on every corner.
On the surface, there’s nothing special about Benin City, Nigeria. But
something extraordinary is going on in Nigeria’s fourth biggest city.
You won’t find a single person here without a family member in Europe.
The majority of Nigerian migrants in Europe come from this city of
fewer than 1.5 million people. It’s as though every Mexican immigrant
in the US were from, say, Tijuana.
The largest group of African migrants in Europe are Nigerians  –
though it would be more accurate to say that the largest group are
Edos or Binis, natives of Benin City.
I’m here to learn about one of the most complicated issues in European
politics: migration from Africa to Europe. I want to look at migration
from an African perspective – from the perspective of Africans who
leave and, more specifically, from the perspective of those who stay
behind.
I’ve spent months here,  talking with old people, young people, rich
people, poor people, people with and without a job, with and without
an education, and – without exception – people whose everyday lives
are intimately affected by migration to Europe.
The issue is many times more complex than I could ever have expected.
In Benin City, nothing is as it seems. It’s a place where the
categories that we westerners use to help us understand migration are
irrelevant.
Trying to understand the issue, it’s as though you’re turning a prism
in your hand, the colour constantly changing as the light hits a new
angle.
The city that Europe built
I walk down the muddy road with Omo, a slender man with bright eyes
who grew up here. The house we’re heading to can’t be missed. It’s two
storeys, painted a fresh bright green, and towers above the low,
corrugated roofs of the neighbouring houses.
“Thank U Mummy” is chiselled into a black plaque above the Ionic
columns that frame the arched door.
Omo, who works for a local NGO,  points to the palatial house: “Here
you see the revolution.”
Europeans would never call the horrific trek through the Sahara and
the drifting boats on the Mediterranean Sea a revolution. But here in
Benin City, it’s different.
Signs of the revolution are everywhere. Omo poetically calls them
“testimonies to travel”. “Proceeds” is the term that’s frequently
used.
Once someone tells you about the “proceeds”, you notice them
everywhere. It’s as if someone has handed you 3D glasses at the Imax
and the film has snapped into focus. You see what had been invisible:
that petrol station is being built with money from Europe. That red
Land Rover was paid for in euros.
Those new hotels are being erected with European money. Those little
boutiques with fabulous names – “Glitz ’n Glam”, “Exclusive Choice
Collections”, “G-Armany Fashion” – have been set up thanks to European
sponsors.
Enter a church and you’ll hear the priest praying: ‘Your children
shall cross in Jesus’s name. They shall cross well, they shall not
die.’
Omo and I go round a corner. Another gigantic house, this one with
shiny grey tiles. Must be family in Europe. Further along, a new roof
reflects so much sunlight that it temporarily blinds me. Must be
euros.
The small stalls with bottles of liquor also sell cases of wine from
Italy. The lingerie on display in large piles was discarded by
Europeans.
The second-hand electronics being sold at the side of the road were
sent from Europe. The red-yellow vans used for public transport are
called “Belgian buses”, a reminder of their country of origin.
Enter a church and you’ll hear the priest praying: “Your children
shall cross in Jesus’s name. They shall cross well, they shall not
die.”
“The city that you see,” says Omo, “has been built by Europe.” Not
through development aid or investments but by irregular migration.
“If you conduct a poll on the street here,” predicts Omo, “eight out
of 10 families will have children in Europe.” His own uncle, aunt and
three cousins have “crossed”.
They are now working in Spain and Austria. His grandmother lives in a
big house with shiny new floor tiles, paid for in euros.
Omo and I put his theory to the test. And it’s true – it really
doesn’t matter whom we ask. The barman, the barber, the receptionist
at the hotel.
The priest, the taxi driver, the peanut seller on the street corner.
Whether they’re 14 or 44, male or female; whether they’ve attended
university or just primary school, whether they speak English or not.
Everyone in Benin City has family or friends in Europe. And given the
chance, just about everyone would want to go themselves. “[I would go]
right away, even without saying goodbye to my mother,” says Sandra
(29), who volunteers at her church.
“Wouldn’t think twice,” says Sunny (25), who is studying at
university. Just last year, his cousin drowned in the Mediterranean.
Among European Union (EU) policymakers and migration experts, alarm
bells have been ringing for a while about Benin City. The statistics
don’t lie. Around 60% of Nigerian asylum seekers who arrive in Europe
are from Edo state  (the capital of which is Benin City).
The overwhelming majority come from the city itself, according to the
European Asylum Support Office (EASO).  A local NGO staffer calls it a
“massive exodus”.
How one single city came to rely so much on migration
How can it be that one single state – in effect, one single city – has
come to depend so much on irregular migration to Europe?
To understand the present, we have to return to the 1980s. At that
time, Italian businesses were establishing themselves in Edo state.
Some Italian businessmen married women from Benin City, who moved back
to Italy with their spouses.
They began conducting business, trading in textiles, lace and leather,
gold and jewellery. These women were the first to bring other women
from their families to Italy – often legally, because Italian
agriculture badly needed labourers to pick tomatoes and grapes.
Suddenly, many Edo women in Italy had just one alternative:
prostitution. This last resort turned out to be a lucrative one.
But when plunging oil prices brought the Nigerian economy to a virtual
standstill at the end of the 1980s, many of these businesswomen went
bankrupt.
The women working in agriculture also had a rough time: their jobs
went to eastern European labourers.
Suddenly, many Edo women in Italy had just one alternative:
prostitution. This last resort turned out to be a lucrative one. In a
short space of time, the women earned more than ever before.
And so they returned to Benin City in the 1990s with plenty of
European currency – with more money, in fact, than many people in
their city had ever seen. They built “four-flats”: houses made up of
four apartments to earn rental income.
The women were called “talos”, or Italian mammas. Everyone looked up
to them. Young women saw them as role models and wanted to go to
Europe too. Researchers call this “cumulative causation theory”:  each
successful migrant leads to more people from their community wanting
to migrate.
Almost no one in Benin City knew where exactly the money had come from.
The talos began to lend money to girls in their families so that they
could also travel to Italy. Not until these women arrived were they
told how they would repay the loan. Some accepted, others were forced.
All of them earned money.
In the early years, the secret of the Italian mammas was kept within
the family. But more and more women paid off their debts – at that
time, it took about a year or two – and then decided to go for big
money themselves.
As so-called “madames”, they began to recruit other women in their
home city. Then, slowly, the penny began to drop in Benin City: huge
numbers of their women were working in the Italian sex industry.
“Yet no one was really offended by it,” recalls Roland Nwoha. He works
for Idia Renaissance, an NGO in Benin City dedicated to helping
victims of human trafficking.
He grew up in the city and saw women he knew depart for Italy. “Yes,
we knew what they did there, but we didn’t condemn it. It helped
families out of poverty, so it was accepted.”
‘Dollars are no taboo,’ a Benin City saying goes. Another way of
saying: we couldn’t care less where your money comes from.
“In our four-flat lived a family that was so poor that they were three
years behind on rent. The landlord threw them out. Their family of
seven had to go live in one room in a slum.”
Encouraged by her mother, that family’s eldest daughter left for
Italy. “Three years later, she had sent so much money home that her
parents built a two-flat themselves! I remember how shocked I was at
the transformation. Now her mother has even opened a small
supermarket.”
“Dollars are no taboo,” a Benin City saying goes. Another way of
saying: we couldn’t care less where your money comes from. And that is
still true today.
There are Western Union and MoneyGram signs all around BeniN City, yet
much of the money and goods from Europe do not arrive via official
channels. On Erie Road is the “local Western Union”, as the people in
Benin City call the dilapidated building.
The moss-covered block of flats, which also serves as a mosque, has a
steep staircase full of rubbish. There is no electricity, so the
hallway to the little office is dark.
The family that runs this enterprise has “contacts” all over Europe,
where Nigerian migrants can bring money or goods if they pay a
commission. With a secret numeric code, their family in Benin City can
then receive the money.
A woman in a blue-and-yellow wrappa  is sitting against the wall with
her head in her hands. Her daughter in Italy hasn’t given her a code
yet.
“Don’t worry, the money will come,” another woman says to comfort her
before walking out with two large plastic bags.
Trick, trap, transport
The system for getting Edo women into the European sex industry has
been fine-tuned through the years. The woman’s travel arrangements are
made for her and the costs are paid as an advance.
She then has to pay it back with interest. Not until she has paid it
back is she free to do what she wants in Europe. The most obvious
career choice is often to start recruiting others herself.
In Benin City, this approach is called the “three Ts”: trick, trap,
transport. Originally, it went like this:
Trick: tell the woman that she is going to Italy to work in an African
supermarket or as a babysitter.
Trap: get the woman to take an oath before a traditional juju priest.
For most Edos, this is a life-or-death contract. If a woman runs away
or goes to the police after taking such an oath, something terrible
will happen to her or her family.
Transport: send the woman off to Europe with a fake visa and plane
tickets (which is more expensive, leaving the girl with a bigger
debt), or via the Sahara and the Mediterranean Sea.
The smuggling networks from Benin City control every step of the
journey, from the trucks and rubber boats  to the brothels in Italy,
Brussels or Copenhagen.
It is often said that the poorest of the poor cannot migrate because
migration is so expensive. That is not true in Benin City. All women
can migrate if they go into debt.
“I see women who can’t even write their own name, who have never used
a toilet,” says Nwoha. “They could never get to Europe without help.”
And unless they are willing to work as a prostitute. Whereas the
Italian mammas in the 1990s could keep their profession a secret, now
everyone here knows what happens in Italy.
Surveys by the University of Benin City Observatory  show that almost
100% of respondents know about the work of Nigerian women in Europe.
If everyone knows – and the T for trick is actually redundant – then
why do women still go?
The women are pressured into prostitution ... by their mothers
In a flat on a side street of one of Benin City’s busiest
thoroughfares, 10 women and two babies are sitting around a heavy
wooden table. A woman in a garment that most closely resembles a
nightdress (shapeless, white, patterned with little ribbons and
hearts) is speaking, and the other women uh-huh softly.
“Thomas did not believe that Jesus stood before him until he touched
his scars,” says the woman in the nightdress. Her voice is deep.
“Jesus asks us not to doubt. We should believe what is written in the
Bible.”
This is the morning prayer at the women’s shelter of Sister Bibiana
Emenaha. Her NGO, Cosudow,
See their website here. provides a place to stay for women who have
returned from European prostitution, or, more and more often, from
Libya.
The shelter is badly needed. Families will often not take in women
because their trip has been a failure. Because they have not earned
any money.
The woman in the nightdress asks if anyone would like to share
something about the prayer. One of the women – who was in Italy,
locked in a room where one man after another had his way with her –
sighs: “People always want to see first before they believe. But we
should believe right away.”
Sister Bibiana thinks that is precisely where it often goes wrong. She
looks well put together in her light-blue habit, but her eyes betray
her fatigue.
“98% of these women know that they will work in Europe as a
prostitute. What they do not know is the gravity of what that means.
That they will be stripped of every human right, that they will become
sex slaves.
That their bodies will no longer be their own. They hear the horror
stories but think: I’ll believe it when I see it. That is not my
portion.”
‘Everyone here is competing to send their child to Europe, to build a
house, to buy a car. "Ashawo no dey kill," they say.’ Prostitution
won’t kill you.
Those were the thoughts of 28-year-old Faith – she thought she would
work as a babysitter. Instead, she stood at the side of a wooded road
near Naples, seven days a week for eighteen months. “I was a slave.”
And then there is the pressure. I speak to Sandra – 29, petite, an “I
♡ Human Rights” button pinned to her pink blouse – who is currently
looking out for travel opportunities.
She says she doesn’t want to work in prostitution. “But I am the
eldest of four. My father is deceased, my mother is old. I have to
take care of my brothers and sisters. I have to make my mother forget
that my father is dead. You can imagine the pressure ... ”
Family pressure – often from mothers – is the major reason that women
continue to go, according to Sister Bibiana. “Everyone here is
competing to send their child to Europe, to build a house, to buy a
car. ‘Ashawo no dey kill,’ they say.” Prostitution won’t kill you.
In some neighbourhoods, there are even clubs for mothers who have
daughters in Europe. Not as support groups, but as status symbols.
Visibly distressed, Sister Bibiana says: “Mothers here are ruining
their own daughters!”
Adesode is such a mother, one who “encouraged” her daughters to
travel. She has 10 children, four of whom are abroad. She saves the
snapshots they send her in a thick, red photo album.
Her favourite is the one of her daughter in a Santa Claus suit.
“Thanks to them, I now have a house with a real fence around it,” she
says, pointing to the imposing cast-iron monstrosity.
A few minutes’ ride away is the home of Philomona, who has been caring
for her grandson in the 10 years since her daughter left for Europe.
She shows me the extra rooms that have been built with her euros. But
when I ask about the work her daughter does, the conversation
founders. Philomona begins to stutter.
“She ... she works in a factory ... ”
Me: “What kind of factory?”
“I’m not exactly sure ... A factory in Belgium ... ”
And what about the men?
For a long time, more women than men migrated from Edo state, but that
pattern has changed.
Of those from the state who sought asylum in Europe in 2017, nearly
60% were men. And of those who returned from Libya – those migrants
who didn’t reach Europe – half were men and half were women.
For irregular migrants, statistics from the Edo state government even
place the ratio of men to women at 70 to 30.
This is logical: if the smuggling networks are so deeply intertwined
with the city,  why would men not make use of them? Especially since
opportunities for young men in Benin City aren’t exactly abundant.
In one of the city’s slums, Loveth, a mother of three, runs a small
cafe where a grey parrot speaking pidgin  entertains customers.
Her establishment is mainly a place for unemployed people to hang out.
“Look around,” says Loveth. “These should be tomorrow’s leaders. But
where are the jobs?”
The economy of Edo state has tanked in the past decade. Jobs have
disappeared left, right and centre. The state bus service went belly
up.
The state brewery did so poorly that they did not pay any salaries for
36 months.  Okadas, the motorcycle taxis, were banned.
Loveth says: “Here you are seeing graduates working as waiters, cement
carriers, builders, mechanics. So why would you go to school?”
‘That’s the funny thing ... that friend never went to school and he
builds a house. I have my master’s and I lay the tiles ...’
Edwin (34) knows that frustration like no other. He has a master’s
degree in social work but has been doing volunteer work for years
because no one can pay him. To get by, he does odd building jobs.
He takes me to a gigantic house – surrounded by a wall with
watchtowers and a “God is Great” plaque – where he laid tiles a few
years ago.
The house belongs to a friend in Europe. “That’s the funny thing,”
Edwin says, his wavering voice betraying the tragicomedy. “That friend
never went to school and he builds a house. I have my master’s and I
lay the tiles. That’s the funny thing ... ”
Of course, the women are not the only ones who know how to earn money
in Europe. The men send money home too. Frederik has two younger
brothers, aged 18 and 22, who have just crossed to Italy.
They haven’t been able to find work yet because they are in a
detention camp awaiting their asylum procedure. And yet Frederik is
already calling their departure an “enormous relief”.
“They each receive €50 a month from the Italian government. They send
that money home. My mother is overjoyed.”
Osamuyi and Osaro are also in Loveth’s cafe. Osamuyi has just returned
from Libya, where he stayed for eighteen months in the hopes of
crossing to Europe.
Twice he got into a boat. Twice he didn’t make it. His story terrifies
me: in Libya, he was sold as a slave. He watched friends die right in
front of his eyes.
His friend Osaro has just sold all his belongings so he can begin the
same journey. In his small room just behind Loveth’s cafe, only the
mattress remains.
I ask Osaro if he isn’t dettered by the stories about slavery and murders.
“No. Whether by land, sea or river, I am leaving this country. There
are no opportunities here. I’m fed up.”
I ask if Osamuyi won’t advise Osaro to stay here after all of his
experiences. “No, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from going. Of every
500 who try, 300 make it. I had bad luck; maybe he will be lucky.”
People here need to get lucky before they even leave Nigeria. Osaro
knows that well enough. Among the many smugglers in Benin City, it’s
pretty difficult to find a reliable “connection man”.
Two years ago, his trip failed the day before his departure, when his
smuggler ran off with his money (and that of his seven fellow
travellers). Now he has a new connection, via a friend who has already
arrived in Germany.
I meet a connection man – or “boga” – who specialises in filling out
visa applications. He actually feels more like a middleman because he
doesn’t do the falsification of the accompanying documents.
He only puts his clients in touch with the “right people”. He operates
from his official business, a hole in the wall where he repairs
computers and printers. He is surrounded by dusty devices.
This connection man got his start by helping two family members to get
visas for Cyprus and Russia. “Since then I have not had a moment’s
rest,” he laughs. “People from all over Nigeria are beating my door
down! This year alone I have already helped 15 people cross.”
In the past decades, Benin City has become a migration hub for the
whole of Nigeria. Every Nigerian knows that in Benin City you can find
contacts who can help you get to Europe.
The entire economy runs on migration, just like in other migration
hubs, such as Agadez in Niger or Sabha in Libya.
Seen through that lens, it’s not so strange that Omo calls this
migration “a revolution”. He adds with dramatic flair: “[A revolution]
to free us from slavery and the shackles of poverty!”
Fighting human trafficking
You can imagine that the average family in Benin City is not keen on
measures to curb migration.
Around the year 2000, when Roland Nwoha’s NGO began a campaign against
human trafficking, they became the target of extortion, voodoo
assaults and threats.
A group of women actually marched, naked, to the king’s palace  in
protest against the NGO. Nwoha says: “They were furious. They shouted,
‘Do you want to steal food right out of our mouths?’”
Now, too, there is still plenty of resistance. As the governor of Edo,
Godwin Obaseki, says: “During my election campaign, I was told that I
was not to talk about human trafficking because it would lose me
votes.”
When he was elected at the end of 2016, he did, in fact, start a
robust campaign against human trafficking – with the support and
encouragement of the EU.
Step one is a brand new unit: the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force.
The only things in the office are two desks,  a refrigerator and some
boxes.
The walls are still perfectly white, with nothing hanging on them.
“There is firm resistance from the communities that now profit from
migration,” says Oyemwense Abieyuwa, the secretary of the task force.
“But we must do something. The massive migration is an embarrassment;
it makes our state look bad.”
The new unit and a new anti-trafficking law now afford the state the
opportunity to convict human traffickers, whereas before that was
possible only at the national level.
The unit is now investigating 28 cases. “We want to hit them hard,”
Abieyuwa says. “We are showing human traffickers  that it’s no longer
business as usual.”
And that is having an effect. Everyone in Benin City is talking about
the fact that many bogas are now in hiding.
Read, for example, this piece about a woman from Edo who was convicted
for human trafficking in the UK. Especially since the king began to
get involved in March of 2018, putting a curse on human traffickers
and forcing traditional priests to revoke the juju oaths  of women in
Italy.
People smuggler, parent, victim of human trafficking – in Benin City,
one person can fit into all of these boxes at once.
The question is: who is profiting from this crackdown and the
trafficking networks going underground? Experience in other countries,
such as Niger,  shows that harsh measures do not result in less
migration – rather, they lead to higher prices for migrants, greater
profits for smugglers, more dangerous routes, and stronger ties to
organised crime. And, potentially, to greater instability.
Read more here about how the fight against human trafficking in Niger
can lead to greater instability.
“The main thing is that we must offer alternatives for earning money,”
Abieyuwa says. The governor intends to build factories with
international money – for example, for processing cassava and palm oil
– to create jobs.
Such long-term development initiatives cannot, however, count on much
confidence from the local population. The people of Benin City have
seen governors come and go, seeing little change in their daily lives.
A local NGO staffer says: “As long as our system does not work, it
does not matter how much development money the EU gives our
government. That money does not get to us.
But the money of migrants goes directly to those who need it.
Migration is the only way to survive here.”
This dilemma is what you see if you keep turning the prism of Benin
City. An illegal system that also benefits many. A dehumanising system
that is also a lifeline.
You can’t simply stop people migrating
In the EU, we like to think about migration in terms of neat little
boxes. A person is either trafficked or smuggled (and the former has
more right to a residence permit). A person is either a victim or a
perpetrator (and the latter must be “broken”).
But in Benin City, those dividing lines are not firm. They’re fluid.
It all depends on the angle of the prism. A Nigerian man who hires a
smuggler can suddenly become a victim of trafficking  in Libya. Women
sometimes start out as victims and, once in Europe, become traffickers
themselves.
People smuggler, parent, victim of human trafficking – in Benin City,
one person can fit into all of these boxes at once.
And when Europe uses this narrow understanding of migration to inform
policy, the industry gets more brutal.
In recent years, it has become just about impossible for trafficked
women to pay off their debts because the costs of their journey are
now so high.
But if they recruit five other women, they can reduce their debt by half.
Sister Bibiana sees the effects. During our conversation, she keeps
fiddling with a Post-it. There’s a phone number scrawled on it.
All of a sudden, she says: “I know a girl who has returned from Libya.
She has gone mad; she is in a psychiatric hospital. She didn’t make it
to Italy, but the people who paid for her journey are still demanding
that she pay off her debt! I have never heard of that before. How can
she possibly pay? Yesterday they beat her up. This is the number of
the madame. I have to call her ... ”
Naturally, taking a tougher line on migration requires more
involvement from the authorities, more assistance for victims, and
that the issue be put higher on the political agenda. But even Nwoha,
who fights human trafficking with his NGO, knows that in Benin City
every attempt to stop migration amounts to nothing.
“This migration, even though it is human trafficking, lifts so many
people out of poverty. You can’t simply end it.”

read more













@RichEconomics @NSE_PLC issues a profits-warning statement.
Africa


Performance was adversely affected by a challenging economic
environment and reduced capital inflows from global investors.
The Company took proactive action; cost rationalization,
diversification, launch of Derivatives Market #update

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@NSE_PLC share price data
Africa


Price: 11.10
Market Cap:2,880,485,453
EPS: 0.83
PE:  13.37

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According to the report, industry Gross Written Premium grew by 6.5% to Kshs 174.9 bn as at the end of Q3'2019, from Kshs 164.3 bn recorded in Q3'2018 @CytonnInvest
Africa


The Long-term Insurance segment recorded an 11.0% growth in Gross
Written Premiums to Kshs 69.7 bn in Q3’2019, from Kshs 62.8 bn
observed in a similar period last year, while the General Insurance
segment’s Gross Written Premiums improved by 3.7% to Kshs 105.2 bn,
from Kshs 101.5 bn in Q3’2018;

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
 
 
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December 2019
 
 
 
 
 
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