|Monday 24th of March 2014
Russia will not risk the new Ukrainian government, which it regards as illegitimate, controlling so much of Crimea that it could render Sevastopol naval base inoperable David Owen
Law & Politics
Spheres of influence exist in the minds of many nations, not just
Russia, even if not formally acknowledged in law.
There are other lessons from history too, which I researched for my
latest book. One of them is to be careful about the military
encirclement of a potential enemy. In 1907, when Britain built the
triple entente with France and Russia, Germany and its triple alliance
with Austria-Hungary and Italy felt surrounded. Russia feels this
today as Nato's boundaries come ever closer.
U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove said the buildup of Russian
troops on the country's border with Ukraine means NATO forces need to
reposition themselves and increase their readiness.
Russian troops massing at the border are "very, very sizable and very,
very credible," Breedlove, the top NATO commander, said today at the
German Marshall Fund conference in Brussels. "We need to think about
our allies, the positioning of our forces in the alliance and our
readiness of our forces in the alliance, such that we can be there to
defend against them if required, especially in the Baltics and other
The focus on the crisis in Ukraine is shifting to whether Russia will
seek to claim other parts of the country now its annexation of Crimea
is complete. U.S. and European leaders are warning that Russia faces
further punishment if it doesn't defuse the crisis.
U.S. intelligence and military officials say there are now Russian
troops along virtually all of the country's border with Ukraine. Some
units have moved within 31 miles (50 kilometers) of the border, said
the officials, who requested anonymity to discuss classified
"With thousands of Russian troops still massed on Ukraine's borders,
there's a grave risk of the Ukraine crisis deepening," U.K. Foreign
Secretary William Hague wrote in the Sunday Telegraph today. "This is
the most serious risk to European security we have seen so far in the
Putin Has Exposed NATO's Weakness
Even as Russia's annexation of Crimea is answered with an economic,
rather than a military, response from the West, the crisis is
provoking some uncomfortable reckoning on the part of NATO.
Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has called it a "wake-up call"
that should prompt both the U.S. and Europe to ratchet up their
commitment to the transatlantic alliance.
Asia: The elephant versus the shark By Lawrence Wilkerson
So, where is US Pacific policy headed? If we are not careful the
trajectory heads straight back to 1935. It won't be isolationism - a
nebulous term in any event that is often used to cover lazy analysis -
but a set-up for catastrophic events to come. A short exercise
illustrates the point.
At the top of a letter-sized piece of paper, write "China" and "United
States" and beneath those words the allies of each country. Next, put
down all the other countries of the region, using India as the pivot
point and including all countries to its east. Most countries will
fall into this non-aligned group. Even several countries bound by
security treaty to the United States, such as the Philippines, will
want to be there. Also list Russia, Turkey, and Iran because they too
are in Asia, are important to Asia's future, and are discounted only
If we are schooled in the military arts, we immediately see from this
exercise the prospect of conflict on a massive scale. Countries will
side with the great power most able to compel them to do so or risk
being swallowed up. At the climax of this awesome conflict, the
massive land power will confront the formidable sea power. It will be
an epic contest between the elephant and the shark. The shark cannot
come ashore, and the elephant cannot go to sea. Their attempt to
grapple with one another will create a sheer hell for everyone within
Ultimately, as in every war game in which I have participated that
played this scenario, each side will turn to nuclear weapons as the
only potentially decisive device left in its arsenal. This resort to
the nuclear option will occur after all the economic and cyber
warfare, satellite-killer missions, area denial, air-sea battle, and
other tools of power have been utterly exhausted.
Is there an alternative future?
"If you violate my airspace, our slap after this will be hard," said
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
A Syrian airplane was shot down on Sunday by the Turkish military,
which claimed the jet had violated the country's airspace.
"Our F-16s took off and hit this plane," Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip
Erdogan said. "Why? Because if you violate my airspac
Turkey's Twitter ban backfires: Tweets up 138%, VPN usage up, topic trends
When he visited the wreckage of Baba Amr in Homs, soldiers surrounded
the President with the usual cries of self-sacrifice in the cause of
But Assad himself immediately walked over to the state television crew
and ordered them to cut the sequence from the evening news. This was
the army's victory, not his.
"What we are going to do," quoth Obama, "is mobilise all our
diplomatic resources to make sure that we've got a strong
international correlation that sends a clear message."
Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
Dollar Index 80.13
Japan Yen 102.48 Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Kikuo Iwata speaks
today amid bets the BOJ will boost stimulus to ease the impact of a
planned tax increase due to take effect next week.
Swiss Franc 0.8833
India Rupee 60.715
South Korea Won 1079.85
Brazil Real 2.3262
Egypt Pound 6.9572
South Africa Rand 10.8983
The yen and euro dropped 0.9 percent last week against the dollar,
while the greenback strengthened versus all major developed-nation
currencies except the Aussie.
The Purchasing Managers' Index for China's manufacturing dropped to
48.1 in March, HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics Ltd. said today.
The preliminary reading compares with the 48.7 median estimate of
analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News and the final number of 48.5 in
February. Numbers below 50 signal contraction.
"It was a pretty awful number and typically you'd expect the Aussie to
get a bit more of a slap than it did," Thomas Averill, a managing
director in Sydney at Rochford Capital, a currency and rates
risk-management company, said of China's manufacturing data. "The
Australian economic story is decoupling a little bit from China and
our economic success is less in their hands and that's probably why
you've seen a more muted reaction to that number."
The Australian dollar was little changed at 90.77 U.S. cents after
falling as much as 0.4 percent earlier.
Dollar Index 3 Month Chart INO 80.13 [This is a key resistance
Level and the Dollar looks set to fail to push through it]
Fed Chair Janet Yellen said at a press conference that she saw a
"considerable time" between the end of bond-purchase stimulus and the
first rate boost, meaning "around six months or that type of thing."
Euro versus the Dollar 3 Month Chart 1.3801
Dollar Yen 3 Month Chart INO 102.48
Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Kikuo Iwata speaks today amid bets the
BOJ will boost stimulus to ease the impact of a planned tax increase
due to take effect next week.
Commodity Markets at a Glance WSJ
Gold futures in New York declined 3.1 percent last week to $1,336 an
ounce, while the Standard & Poor's GSCI Spot Index of 24 raw materials
fell 0.5 percent. The MSCI All-Country World index of equities rose
0.7 percent, while the Bloomberg Dollar Index, a gauge against 10
major trading partners, rose 0.6 percent. The Bloomberg Treasury Bond
Index fell 0.5 percent.
Gold 3 Month Chart INO 1327.54 [Prices reached a six-month high of
$1,392.60 on March 17]
Bullion jumped more than 500 percent in the 12 straight years of gains
through 2012, reaching a record $1,923.70 in September 2011.
Crude Oil 3 Month Chart INO 99.20
Copper 1 Year Chart May 2014
Copper for delivery in three months retreated as much as 0.9 percent
to $6,419.75 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange and was at
$6,451.5. The price touched $6,321 on March 19, the lowest level since
THE CHATTER: Reality check for investors in African growth story
SOUTH of the Sahara, economies have flourished over the past decade,
earning the continent the name "Africa Rising". But growing pains are
clouding the short-term outlook for a region that has become a magnet
for foreign investors.
ON THE surface, all looks well. Regional growth is expected to rise to
6% this year from 5% in 2013, the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
estimates, making it second only to developing Asia in pace of
expansion. Inflation remains under control, having stabilised last
year at 5.5%, compared with 47.4% 20 years ago.
But hitherto rising African stars, including Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda
and Zambia, are experiencing economic, social or political troubles --
or a combination of all three.
Add to this the turbulence in emerging markets as the US Federal
Reserve tapers its monetary stimulus, and a Chinese slowdown that has
triggered a decline in commodity prices, and the investment community
has to be asking itself if it got carried away.
"With global monetary conditions set to tighten over the coming years,
investors are now paying closer attention to the region's
vulnerabilities," said Shilan Shah, Africa economist at Capital
Economics consultants. "Some countries may now be required to tighten
policy in line with rising global interest rates, leading to a period
of softer growth."
Sub-Saharan Africa was one of the big beneficiaries of the search for
yield. This enabled the continent as a whole to issue a record $10bn
in US dollar-denominated sovereign bonds in 2013, up from $1bn a
Although investors have held onto this dollar-denominated debt,
capital inflows to local currency debt markets have slowed. This year,
as US tapering started, the Nigerian naira, Ghanaian cedi and Zambian
kwacha hit record lows. South Africa's central bank raised rates to
bolster the falling rand. Zambia and Ghana also tightened monetary
policy to counter rising inflation and depreciating currencies. As
capital flows slowed, economic policy flaws emerged.
Commodities are a big revenue source, but the price of copper, for
example, has fallen to less than $6,500/ton, down more than a third
from a 2011 peak of $10,190.
Willard Manungo, secretary of finance in Zimbabwe, which mines
platinum and diamonds, warned: "If commodities prices come down
[further], we will have a problem."
As Bank of Zambia official Kanguya Mayondi pointed out, capital
inflows have "played an important role in financing" current accounts.
Indeed, the aggregated current-account deficit of the region is
expected to hit 4.1% of GDP this year, up from 1.6% a decade ago. The
number masks bigger individual deficits, such as in Ghana and Uganda,
forecast to reach 10.7% and 13.9% respectively.
Meanwhile, normalisation of interest rates globally will force
governments and companies to pay higher rates to attract foreign
The complex trends are challenging policymakers to tackle lingering
problems if they want to move forward from being designated risky
Nigeria is a good example: its economic growth remains robust, and the
IMF has forecast that it will accelerate to 7.3% this year, up from
6.4% in 2013. But the recent suspension of Lamido Sanusi, the central
bank governor, after he exposed an alleged multibillion-dollar hole in
the oil account has unsettled investors.
South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan remains optimistic about
the outlook for the continent, thanks to its billion-strong pool of
consumers. He concedes, however: "You are going to have dips in the
curve every now and again."
Short-term flows into debt markets might be slowing, but equity
investors are still pouring money into regional exchanges, although
many are worried about sky-high valuations for the most popular
banking and consumer goods companies.
Perhaps more telling is that long-term investment by companies
continues apace. The UN estimates the region attracted a record of
$42bn in foreign direct investment last year, up 10% from 2012.
The immediate future is brighter for some. Investors are bullish about
Kenya, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Mozambique, Botswana and
There is no single-speed rapid-growth trajectory for "Africa Rising".
As David Cowan, Africa economist at Citibank, said: "From time to
time, we are going to have a bump in the road."
(c) The Financial Times, London
U.S. sends Osprey aircraft, more Special Operations forces to hunt
President Obama has ordered a sharp increase in U.S. Special
Operations forces deployed to Uganda and sent U.S. military aircraft
there for the first time in the ongoing effort to hunt down warlord
Joseph Kony across a broad swath of central Africa.
The CV-22 Osprey aircraft will arrive in Uganda by midweek, along with
refueling aircraft and about 150 Air Force Special Operations forces
and other airmen to fly and maintain the planes, according to Amanda
Dory, deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs. At
least four Ospreys will be deployed.
The White House began to notify Congress, under the War Powers Act, of
the new deployments as they began Sunday night. Dory and other
officials emphasized that the Ospreys will be used for troop transport
and that the rules of engagement for U.S. forces remain the same as
for about 100 Special Operations troops that Obama first sent to help
find Kony in October 2011.
U.S. personnel are authorized to "provide information, advice and
assistance" to an African Union military task force tracking Kony and
his organization, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), across Uganda, the
Central African Republic, South Sudan and Congo. While
combat-equipped, they are prohibited from engaging LRA forces unless
The new War Powers Act notification sets the approximate total for all
U.S. forces in Uganda at 300.
Ospreys are tilt-rotor aircraft capable of landing and lifting
straight off the ground like helicopters, but they can also fly and
land as fixed-wing planes. They are faster, and with their refueling
capability, they can fly farther than the small, fixed-wing contract
aircraft being used in the mission.
Each can carry about 24 troops, and the aircraft are equipped with
.50-caliber machine guns for self-defense. "They will make a
significant difference in the ability to respond to leads" about
Kony's whereabouts, many of them generated through growing defections
from Kony's ranks, Dory said.
South Africa All Share Bloomberg +1.52% 2014
Dollar versus Rand 3 Month Chart INO 10.89745
Egypt Pound versus The Dollar 3 Month Chart INO 6.9580
Egypt EGX30 Bloomberg +25.46% 2014
Nigeria All Share Bloomberg -7.83% 2014
Ghana Stock Exchange Composite Index Bloomberg +11.4% 2014
Zambia scrapped two laws restricting foreign-exchange trade in
Africa's second-biggest copper producer, triggering the kwacha's
biggest gain against the dollar in 15 months.
Legislation introduced in 2012 that bans the use of dollars and other
currencies within Zambia is revoked with immediate effect, Finance
Minister Alexander Chikwanda told reporters today in the capital,
Lusaka. The government also abandoned a law that requires companies to
notify the Bank of Zambia of foreign transactions, Chikwanda said at
the briefing while flanked by officials from the central bank.
Before today's announcement, the kwacha had weakened by more than 13
percent against the dollar this year, more than any other African
currency tracked by Bloomberg. The Zambian unit has been hit by copper
prices that have retreated 13 percent since January 1 and policy
announcements that damaged business confidence, Fitch Ratings said
The currency gained as much as 3.4 percent and traded 2.9 percent
stronger at 6.152 per dollar by 5:26 p.m. in Lusaka, the biggest gain
since Dec. 24, 2012 and the world's best performer today. The kwacha
earlier traded as much as 1 percent weaker. Yields on Zambia's $750
million Eurobonds maturing in 2022 dropped the most in two weeks.
The African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) yesterday gave Zimbabwe a
$100m loan to allow its central bank to set up an inter-bank market
for the first time in five years
The central bank will use the $100m to re-introduce an inter-bank
market -- where local banks can borrow from others with surpluses -- and
set an overnight accommodation interest rate, which would act as the
benchmark for market rates.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the fund was part of measures
to improve liquidity in an economy facing declining export earnings
and companies that are struggling to survive.
"This will at the very least unlock surplus funds from surplus banks
for those in deficit," Chinamasa told a press conference
With the continent's population estimated to double by 2050, analysts
expect that electricity demand will treble in Southern Africa and
quadruple in East Africa in the next 25 years.
The Kenyan government is also investing heavily in geothermal plants
and is already installing turbines for a 350MW plant in the Rift
Valley, with plans for a 400MW plant and 800MW facility in the
This is part of the country's plan to generate 26% of its energy from
geothermal sources by 2030. If achieved, this would make clean energy
the largest source of energy in Kenya.
According to estimates from the World Bank, geothermal electricity
production from east Africa's Rift Valley could provide power to 150m
Zimbabwe appoints banker Mangudya new central bank governor
The southern African country ditched its local currency in 2009 in
favour of the U.S. dollar, leaving the RBZ unable to set interest
rates or bail out troubled banks.
KENYA A year of living precariously
The ICC's case against President Kenyatta is in disarray but so are
his own political forces and the managers of his grandiose public
At the presidential inauguration of Uhuru Kenyatta last April, few
would have predicted the chaotic current state of the Jubilee Alliance
government. Then, almost his sole preoccupation was to avoid trial at
the International Criminal Court. The government has since expended so
much energy on the ICC case that the business of running the country
One year on, the ICC case, which Kenyatta once described as 'a
personal challenge', is all but over, say political sources in
Nairobi. Witnesses, one of whom was scheduled to give extensive
testimony on the meetings at State House that preceded some of the
2007-08 election violence, have recanted or disappeared. There have
been indications that the Office of the Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda,
has been looking for the right moment to announce that the trial
cannot go forward.
Yet Kenyatta's government is now deep in a war with an unexpected foe
- itself. The President and his allies are fighting battles against
the bureaucracy inherited from the previous government but are not
prevailing. The conflicts are whittling away at the President's
authority and preventing his government from carrying out even some of
its basic functions.
Crime, inflation and grand corruption have risen sharply in the last
year. Expectations of an economic take-off have dimmed since the
cheers that greeted Kenyatta's disputed election victory. The
government has incurred new debt and inflated the public wage bill
against a background of falling tourism revenue - the result of the
Westgate terrorist attack and Islamist activity on the coast. Beside
concern about loans from China and elsewhere, mostly for
infrastructure expansion, there are worries about the growing cost of
the new, devolved counties (AC Vol 55 No 4, No way to run a railway &
AC Vol 55 No 5, Jubilee lays into America, too & Warning shot or loose
The public sector pay crisis has most starkly revealed the tensions
within the government. On leaving a cabinet retreat a fortnight ago,
Kenyatta announced that he and his deputy, William Ruto, would take a
20% pay cut, along with their cabinet. The reason: the public wage
bill was fast becoming unsustainable. For the President himself, scion
of one of the country's wealthiest families and with numerous perks
and privileges of office, the salary reduction was little more than a
gesture. Wags in the media pointed out that the cost of his
accommodation during the four-day retreat exceeded the pay cut he had
The presidency did not get the joke. State House officials summoned
senior executives of the offending newspaper, The Standard, and forced
them into a humiliating public apology for inflating the cost of the
There appeared to be something more to the State House encounter than
a mere flexing of authoritarian muscle - a habit that Kenyatta
displays with increasing frequency. When, in an ostensible initiative
to confront the public pay crisis Jubilee members of parliament tabled
a bill proposing that the 47 counties be cut to ten, it was clear a
full-blown assault on devolution was under way. The bill also proposed
to eliminate all nominated MPs and women's representatives, as well as
reduce the county representatives from ten per county to three.
The Jubilee government's first year has been characterised by an
impatience with the new constitution and a disregard for other arms of
the state, notably the judiciary, which until recently was widely
considered an independent champion of the new constitution. Kenyatta
and Ruto have maintained a rhetorical enthusiasm for the constitution
but neither supported it in the 2010 referendum.
The President's troops in Parliament began an assault on devolution
almost as soon as they had been sworn in. They first rejected Senate
proposals last May to increase subsidies to the counties. The case was
heard by the Supreme Court and dismissed. Displaying its now
established tendency to go rogue, Parliament - where Jubilee enjoys an
unrivalled majority - then took on the judiciary, attempting to
curtail its budget and dismantle the Judicial Service Commission late
last year. Both the Speaker, Justin Muturi, and the leader of
government business, Aden Bare Duale, are unashamed presidential
loyalists. With the politics of sycophancy reminiscent of President
Daniel arap Moi's era now in full flow, it is hard not to see these
assaults as coming directly from State House.
The swift and irregular impeachment of Embu County Governor Martin
Wambora looked to be part of the same campaign. A Jubilee man and a
district administrator known for his closeness to Moi, Wambora was
impeached by the county legislature based on corruption claims. He
went to court, at which point the Senate, at odds with the Council of
Governors, ignored a court order staying his impeachment and enforced
his dismissal. Muturi remarked that he would not enforce what he
termed idiotic orders from the courts.
In rapid succession, Parliament has now tabled bills limiting the
authority of the governors and threatened to reduce sharply subsidies
to the counties. If the attack on the constitution is part of a slide
back to authoritarian rule, the contest between divergent factions of
the executive appears connected to controlling resources.
Kenyatta has admitted that corruption cartels have touched his own
office but he blames the Deep State, the cabals of top securocrats who
were so powerful during Moi's rule. The most recent scandal concerns
procurement for school computers, a US$300 million pledge high on
Jubilee's manifesto which is now stuck in the mud of corruption claims
at the Education Ministry. Tellingly, the President has been unable to
act, an indication that the Deep State may be tying his hands.
Both securocrats and the judiciary angrily deny claims that senior
civil servants leaned on the Supreme Court last March to reject
ex-Prime Minister Raila Odinga's petition against the election
results. Yet the influence of the likes of former civil service head
Francis Kimemia remains undiminished (AC Vol 55 No 5, Warning shot or
loose cannon?). Demoted for unexplained reasons during the Westgate
attack and its embarrassing aftermath, Kimemia continues to be a key
figure in the administration. Similarly, it escapes no one that no
senior military official, including the Chief of Defence Forces,
General Julius Waweru Karangi, has been punished for their handling of
Westgate (AC Vol 55 No 1, Chickens come home to roost). Moreover,
while Ruto's supporters demanded the dismissal of several key State
House officials for allegedly coaching ICC witnesses to testify
against Ruto, Kenyatta emphatically defended them.
Many believe that Kenyatta is beholden to the securocrats for trying
to get him off the hook at the Hague but does not like it. Key
securocrats continue to wield significant influence but he is only
biding his time, say State House observers, until he can move against
Meanwhile, accountants are delivering their litany of bad news about
out-of-control public spending. The debt portfolio is being pushed
towards a crisis point by grand infrastructure projects, like the new
railway project. Devolution is making the public wage bill balloon and
former President Mwai Kibaki's tax-and-spend policies are still
feeding through the economy.
One year ago, the threats were all external. It was the ICC and the
challenge of Odinga on the rostrums. Out of Parliament and government,
Odinga is a much-reduced figure although he presents a potential
threat to Kenyatta in 2017. It is the enemy within that is Kenyatta's
At least two people were killed, and more than ten others injured
following a gun attack at a church in Mombasa on Sunday morning
At least two people were killed, and more than ten others injured
following a gun attack at a church in Mombasa on Sunday morning, even
as police intensified security against terrorism.
The attack occurred when gunmen stormed Joy Jesus Church in Likoni and
opened fire at worshippers.
"Two people have been killed, they were shot by gunmen who shot
indiscriminately at worshippers and fled," local police chief Robert
Mureithi said on telephone from the scene, where the man and woman lay
Standard Group reports FY PBT +13.3085% 2013 Earnings here
Par Value: 5/-
Closing Price: 32.00
Total Shares Issued: 81481478.00
Market Capitalization: 2,607,407,296
One of the primary Kenyan media groups which includes The Standard
newspaper and Kenya Television Network.
FY Earnings through 31st December 2013 versus through 31st December 2012
Full Year Revenue 4.818808b versus 3.617816b +33.1966%
FY Total Operating Costs [4.472584b] versus [3.306797b] +35.25%
FY Other Income 73.584m versus 112.271m
FY Finance Costs [net] [119.128m] versus [157.926m]
FY Profit Before Tax 300.680m versus 265.364m +13.3085%
FY Earnings Per Share 2.41 versus 2.56 -5.85%
FY Dividend 50cents a share
Circulation grew 6%
Print Advertising +41%
TV Advertising +72%
''Group profitability was impacted adversely following the impairment
of anologue transmission equipment''
Total Provisions of 151m.
I thought these were in fact strong results. Turnover +33.1966% and
Provisions of 151m crimped earnings.