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A struggle for land and survival in Kenya's restive highlands France24
LAIKIPIA (KENYA) (AFP) - The broad plains of Mugie, a huge estate on a
high plateau northwest of Mount Kenya, are crisscrossed with cattle
trails and the wildlife is mostly gone.
The knee-high grass remains, but not for long, reckons manager Josh Perrett.
Tensions between semi-nomadic pastoralists and settled landowners are
nothing new, nor is competition between livestock and wildlife, but in
Kenya's central Laikipia highlands they are taking a destructive,
sometimes violent turn.
Last month perhaps 30,000 livestock arrived on Mugie, displacing
wildlife. The illegal herders -- some armed with spears, others with
AK47s -- cut through fences, making off with wire and posts. The
shooting, looting, poaching and rustling that accompanied them left
"Twenty years of time, effort, sweat, money... it's fallen apart in
two weeks, destroyed," says the 35-year-old.
"Before, you would see elephant, a few hundred head of buffalo,
Jackson's hartebeest, oryx, Grant's gazelle, impala. Now you see
thousands of head of cattle, a lot of sheep and goats."
At the 44,000-acre (17,600-hectare) Suyian ranch, south of Mugie,
thatched huts for tourists were burned down and shots fired this week
as herders swept in. Black and white landowners alike speak of
invasions, fear and siege.
- Too many people, too much livestock -
The dangerous situation in Laikipia is an acute expression of a
chronic and complex tangle of population growth, livestock increases,
overgrazing, erratic rainfall, climate change, weapons, money and
A recently published four-decade study by the International Livestock
Research Institute in Nairobi uncovered "catastrophic... widespread"
declines in Kenyan wildlife as herds of livestock displace wild
"Wow! What a Ride!" Hunter S. Thompson
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of
arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to
skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally
worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
The frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine has flared up again
Law & Politics
The frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine has flared up again because
both the Kremlin and the Kiev government are, to some extent,
interested in the escalation as they try to achieve their political
goals in a world shaken by Donald Trump's approach to guiding U.S.
When Putin spoke with Trump last Friday, the two sides' readouts of
the conversation differed. The Russian one said the two presidents
discussed "the major aspects of the Ukraine crisis," but the U.S. one
failed to mention Ukraine altogether. Putin must have liked what he
heard, or what he didn't hear, because the escalation quickly
"Putin will pick a spot here and there and test the West for resolve,"
former Ukrainian foreign minister Volodymyr Ogryzko wrote in the
weekly Novoe Vremya. "Moscow is checking whether its actions will
cause more tension."
Russia, Israel, China are all set to push the envelope.
05-DEC-2016 :: "We have a deviate, Tomahawk."
Law & Politics
However, my starting point is the election of President Donald Trump
because hindsight will surely show that Russia ran a seriously
sophisticated programme of interference, mostly digital. Don DeLillo,
who is a prophetic 21st writer, writes as follows in one of his short
The specialist is monitoring data on his mission console when a voice
breaks in, “a voice that carried with it a strange and unspecifiable
He checks in with his flight-dynamics and conceptual- paradigm
officers at Colorado Command:
“We have a deviate, Tomahawk.”
“We copy. There’s a voice.”
“We have gross oscillation here.”
“ There’s some interference. I have gone redundant but I’m not sure
“We are clearing an outframe to locate source.”
“ Thank you, Colorado.”
“It is probably just selective noise. You are negative red on the
“It was a voice,” I told them.
“We have just received an affirm on selective noise... We will
correct, Tomahawk. In the meantime, advise you to stay redundant.”
The voice, in contrast to Colorado’s metallic pidgin, is a melange of
repartee, laughter, and song, with a “quality of purest, sweetest
“Somehow we are picking up signals from radio programmes of 40, 50, 60
I have no doubt that Putin ran a seriously 21st predominantly digital
programme of interference which amplified the Trump candidacy. POTUS
Trump was an ideal candidate for this kind of support.
Trump is a linguistic warfare specialist. Look at the names he gave
his opponents: Crooked Hillary, Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, ‘Low-energy’
Jeb — were devastating and terminal.
The first thing is plausible deniability
The second thing is non-linearity, you have to learn how to navigate a
linear system (the new 21st digital ecosystem) in a non-linear way.
An insurgent in the White House The Economist
Law & Politics
WASHINGTON is in the grip of a revolution. The bleak cadence of last
month’s inauguration was still in the air when Donald Trump lobbed the
first Molotov cocktail of policies and executive orders against the
capital’s brilliant-white porticos. He has not stopped. Quitting the
Trans-Pacific Partnership, demanding a renegotiation of NAFTA and a
wall with Mexico, overhauling immigration, warming to Brexit-bound
Britain and Russia, cooling to the European Union, defending torture,
attacking the press: onward he and his people charged, leaving the
wreckage of received opinion smouldering in their wake.
To his critics, Mr Trump is reckless and chaotic. Nowhere more so than
in last week’s temporary ban on entry for citizens from seven Middle
Eastern countries—drafted in secret, enacted in haste and unlikely to
fulfil its declared aim of sparing America from terrorism. Even his
Republican allies lamented that a fine, popular policy was marred by
In politics chaos normally leads to failure. With Mr Trump, chaos
seems to be part of the plan. Promises that sounded like hyperbole in
the campaign now amount to a deadly serious revolt aimed at shaking up
Washington and the world.
Trump Twitter Bursts Throw Decades-Old Alliances Into Disarray
Law & Politics
This week, President Donald Trump and his deputies hit out at some of
America’s closest friends, blasting a “dumb” refugee resettlement deal
with Australia and accusing Japan and Germany of manipulating their
currencies. Ties with Mexico have deteriorated to the point its
government had to deny reports that Trump told President Enrique Pena
Nieto he might send U.S. troops across the southern border.
The dilemma for officials globally is figuring out if Trump’s blunt
style is simply a tactic to keep them off balance or the start of a
move to tear up the rule book that has guided relations with the U.S.
since World War II. In the mean time, allies have little choice but to
prepare for the worst.
The president told Turnbull he had spoken to four other global leaders
that day, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, and “this was
the worst call by far,” the paper reported, citing unidentified U.S.
New Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has already pledged to challenge
China over the waterway.
“China has no idea at the moment about how to deal with Trump and
taking a cautious approach,” said Nicholas Thomas, an associate
professor of Asian studies at City University of Hong Kong. “The one
question that everyone is looking at in the region -- and this goes to
the web of security partnerships in Asia -- is what is going to happen
between the U.S. and China over the South China Sea.”
No 'G'day, mate': On call with Australian prime minister, Trump badgers and brags WAPO
Law & Politics
It should have been one of the most congenial calls for the new
commander in chief — a conversation with the leader of Australia, one
of America’s staunchest allies, at the end of a triumphant week.
Instead, President Trump blasted Australian Prime Minister Malcolm
Turnbull over a refugee agreement and boasted about the magnitude of
his electoral college win, according to senior U.S. officials briefed
on the Saturday exchange. Then, 25 minutes into what was expected to
be an hour-long call, Trump abruptly ended it.
At one point, Trump informed Turnbull that he had spoken with four
other world leaders that day — including Russian President Vladimir
Putin — and that “this was the worst call by far.”
Trump’s behavior suggests that he is capable of subjecting world
leaders, including close allies, to a version of the vitriol he
frequently employs against political adversaries and news
organizations in speeches and on Twitter.
“This is the worst deal ever,” Trump fumed as Turnbull attempted to
confirm that the United States would honor its pledge to take in 1,250
refugees from an Australian detention center.
Trump, who one day earlier had signed an executive order temporarily
barring the admission of refugees, complained that he was “going to
get killed” politically and accused Australia of seeking to export the
“next Boston bombers.”
Trump made the call to Turnbull about 5 p.m. Saturday from his desk in
the Oval Office, where he was joined by chief strategist Stephen K.
Bannon, national security adviser Michael Flynn and White House press
secretary Sean Spicer.
At one point, Turnbull suggested that the two leaders move on from
their impasse over refugees to discuss the conflict in Syria and other
pressing foreign issues. But Trump demurred and ended the call, making
it far shorter than his conversations with Shinzo Abe of Japan, Angela
Merkel of Germany, François Hollande of France or Putin.
“These conversations are conducted candidly, frankly, privately,”
Turnbull said at a news conference Thursday in Australia. “If you see
reports of them, I’m not going to add to them.”
DONALD TRUMP THROUGH A LOUDSPEAKER, DARKLY @NewYorker
Law & Politics
Winston Smith, the protagonist of “1984,” is confined in an
authoritarian prison, deprived of the most fundamental freedoms and
inculcated with Newspeak. In my early childhood, at least as I
remembered it, everyone I knew lived ordinary, unmolested lives.
The muddling of fact and fiction is a tried-and-true tactic of
totalitarian regimes. What’s more, when the two are confused for long
enough, or when an indefatigable war on truth has been waged for a
year, or two years, or perhaps eight, it will likely be harder and
more tiresome to untangle them and remember a time when a firm line
was drawn between the true and the false as a matter of course. If
amnesia breeds normalization, fatigue has always served as the
authoritarian’s great accomplice.
I already know what it is like to live in a world with an omnipotent
leader and a renovated reality. I have known loudspeakers, their mass
persuasions, emotional arousals, and booming, relentless broadcasts.
And I know that they are not my destiny, because I won’t let them be.
Food prices rose to a two-year high in January pushed up by an increase in sugar and grains.
Law & Politics
The UN Food and Agricultural Organization said that its food price
index rose 16.4 per cent from a year before to the highest level since
January sugar prices jumped 45 per cent from a year before and 10 per
cent month-on-month, driven by expectations of protracted supply
tightness in Brazil, India and Thailand.
Cereal prices hit a six-month high with wheat, corn and rice all
increasing. Wheat markets reacted to unfavourable weather conditions
hampering this season’s crops as well as reduced plantings in the
United States of America, while higher corn prices mostly reflected
strong demand and uncertain crop prospects across South America.
Rice also rose, in part due to India’s ongoing state procurement
programme, reducing supplies for export.
Calling Trumpsville Washington's radical changes in policy and alignments are starting to hit African governments and economies @Africa_Conf
Until the outgoing Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, told the organisation's summit in Addis Ababa
on 30 January that the United States' travel ban on seven countries
with Muslim majorities presaged 'turbulent times', the continent's
reaction to Donald Trump's presidency had been muted. The best guess
among many African officials was that the lack of any reference to
Africa in Trump's election campaign – bar a sideswipe against his
rival Hillary Clinton on Libya – suggested that there wouldn't be big
changes in US policy.
That now looks mistaken, especially on migration and security. As
Dlamini-Zuma was sounding her warnings about the Trump government's
entry ban, backed up more diplomatically in a subsequent speech by the
new United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, hundreds of
thousands of people were protesting against the order in the USA and
The ban includes AU members Libya, Somalia and Sudan and although it
was introduced as a security measure, many officials now see it as a
prelude to a wider crackdown on immigrants in the US, particularly the
millions of undocumented people living in the country. Estimates of
how many Africans fall into that category start in the low millions.
One New York-based civic activist predicted deepening social divisions
if a government-backed immigrant round-up gathered momentum, as well
as fierce legal battles over the status of 'sanctuary cities' in the
USA where illegal migrants can get local legal protection.
An African diplomat at the UN echoed a memorandum by dissident
officials in the US State Department, arguing that the entry ban would
prove counter-productive, boosting accusations of Islamophobia. It
would also risk 'serious blow-back', with several countries rethinking
security cooperation, he added.
Such warnings would not have overly concerned retired General Michael
Flynn, Trump's National Security Advisor, who takes an extremely
robust view on countering Islamist movements, armed and unarmed. He
set these out in a book, co-authored with historian Michael Ledeen,
called 'Field of Fight: How we can win the Global War against Radical
Islam'. Among policy ideas circulating in Washington, we hear, is
placing the Ikhwan al Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) on the US
Such a measure would be warmly endorsed by President Abdel Fatah el
Sisi, who has banned the Ikhwan in Egypt, where it was founded by
Hassan el Banna in 1928. El Sisi was also the first foreign head of
state to congratulate Trump on his election win on 7 November. Yet his
influence among some of the Trump team extends much further,
particularly with regard to policy towards his western neighbour,
Cairo knows how Libya resonates in Washington. Trump's Republican
Party allies accused President Barack Obama's government, particularly
Secretary of State Clinton, of criminal negligence in failing to
provide heavier security for US diplomats in the eastern city of
Benghazi, where Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other US
officials died during an attack by Islamist fighters on 11 September
2012. Since Trump's election, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have
stepped up support for their ally in Libya, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, and
his Libyan National Army (see Libya Feature, Front lines in flux).
Haftar's political stock has been rising, as has his financial muscle,
since his forces wrested control of Sirte from Da'ish (Islamic State)
in November and seized the surrounding oil facilities, outflanking the
Misuratan militias. Visiting Russia the following month, Haftar was
promised more arms and weapon systems. Then one of his special envoys
flew to Washington to meet the incoming government. We also hear
credible reports of US private military companies operating out of the
Jinja military airbase in Uganda to train more militia fighters in
Libya. Haftar, who was once financed by the Central Intelligence
Agency to overthrow Colonel Moammar el Gaddafi's regime, is following
a script close to Gen. Flynn's book.
Indeed, Flynn's co-author Ledeen takes Haftar extremely seriously.
Close to French businessman and security consultant Jean-Yves Ollivier
and Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, Ledeen wants the
USA to get more active in Libya (AC Vol 41 No 17, Bemba's boys). That
may have prompted an ill-fated but much-publicised bid by
Sassou-Nguesso, the AU's envoy on Libya, to meet Trump to discuss
Haftar and North African security. That would have given Sassou some
kudos in Washington and delivered a snub to Obama's officials, who had
declined to give him an audience with the President.
After the news leaked, it was announced that Trump, who was enjoying
his Christmas holidays in Florida at the time, would have no scheduled
meeting with Sassou. Yet a new Libya policy involving US support,
diplomatic and perhaps financial, for Haftar is under discussion. That
would mean pushing against the current UN-backed peace plan and the
government in Tripoli under Faiez el Serraj. It would also put
Washington and Moscow in close cooperation on North African security,
cutting out most of the European governments but reopening Libya to US
oil companies and technology.
One Libyan politician called the policy 'Syria light', comparing
Russia's weapon deliveries and air support for Haftar with its backing
for President Bashar al Assad in Damascus. Flynn and his team are
understood to be highly critical of African counter-insurgency
efforts, including those backed by US forces, in Nigeria, Somalia and
Peter Pham, who is likely to be the next Assistant Secretary of State
for African Affairs (see Box, Roll call of the Trumpeteers), is
outside these discussions, despite his deep interest in security.
Instead, he has been making a more conventional case for US
involvement in Africa. Pointing out that over a quarter of the global
labour force will be in Africa by 2050 and that it currently hosts six
of the world's fast growing economies, Pham painstakingly lists the
continent's reserves of platinum, chrome, phosphate, bauxite and
cobalt, as well as extensive deposits of rare earth elements.
Pham is also a strong supporter of the African Growth and Opportunity
Act, a trade deal which gives African countries better market access
in the US. Some Trump officials question its value, partly because it
helps oil-producing states, but Pham argues that it boosts
productivity and has created more than 120,000 jobs in the USA (AC Vol
49 No 5, Bush, the farewell tour). Richer states such as South Africa
will face more push-back on trade terms from Washington as it tries to
boost US companies.
If Pham gets the post, US policy could harden against Congo-Kinshasa,
where he wants much more pressure on President Joseph Kabila to leave
office. As a convinced backer of Morocco's claims to the Western
Sahara, Pham would have welcomed Rabat's readmission to the AU at the
On foreign aid, Pham argues for greater national self-interest and
more rigorous monitoring. He cites a US$110 million credit to Mali,
which used the money for an energy contract with China's Sinohydro.
Compared to its $5.5 billion aid to Afghanistan and $3.1bn. to Israel,
the US aid of $10 bn. for all 54 states in Africa (including $1.8 bn.
for Egypt) is far less significant on a per capita basis. Many expect
that most aid budgets except Israel's will be cut.
Trump's choice for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has publicly
endorsed the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a
multi-billion dollar programme introduced under President George W.
Bush to boost distribution of anti-HIV and tuberculosis drugs.
Tillerson was backed by two of Bush's top officials, Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who regard
the PEPFAR initiative as part of their government's legacy.
Although some Trump officials have referred to it as 'global welfare',
PEPFAR is likely to survive. The future of other US funding for
international health programmes is understood to have been the subject
of a private meeting between Trump and US philanthropist Bill Gates
early last month.
In the fraught days after the 7 November presidential election,
questions to policy specialists in Washington about who would be on
President Donald Trump's Africa team were met with blank stares and
long silences. After which the name of Peter Pham, Director of the
Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, would invariably come up as the
most likely choice as the next Assistant Secretary for African
Affairs. Born in Paris to Vietnamese parents in exile, Pham speaks
several European languages but his main academic interests are
security in Africa and the Middle East. That gives him a chance with
the new order in Washington DC. He also argues fluently that doing
more in Africa is in the US national interest.
Also in the frame for the top Africa job at the State Department are:
veteran military intelligence officer and specialist on international
crime syndicates, Charles Snyder (AC Vol 45 No 23); Kate Almquist
Knopf, Director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in the
Department of Defense, with strong academic credentials but with a
brand of Republicanism, including friendships with Democrats such as
the outgoing US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, and former
National Security Advisor Susan Rice, which might be too liberal for
the current zeitgeist (AC Blog, AFRICA/UNITED STATES: Tussling for
influence in Trumplandia); and Jeffrey Krilla, former Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
Rex Wayne Tillerson, Trump's choice for Secretary of State was, as
Africa Confidential went to press, likely to be confirmed after Senate
hearings on 1-2 February. He would then make the final choice for the
top diplomatic posts. As a long time Chief Executive of Exxon Mobil,
Tillerson has a close knowledge of Africa's big oil producers, Nigeria
and Angola. Meanwhile, ExxonMobil's Director for Africa, Walter
Kansteiner, in Washington recently, is tipped for a senior job in
government, perhaps Under Secretary for Political Affairs. Kansteiner,
who was Assistant Secretary of State for Africa in George W. Bush's
government is taken seriously by Tillerson and they share similar
views on economic policy and government relations (AC Vol 44 No 19).
On the periphery of that network is Emmanuel Kachikwu, Minister of
State for Petroleum Resources in Nigeria, who was formerly legal
counsel to ExxonMobil in a particularly tricky patch for the company
there (AC Vol 57 No 19).
With the appointment of the uncompromising retired General Michael
Flynn as his National Security Advisor, who does not have to be
screened by Congress, Trump sent a clear message about his priorities
(see Feature, Calling Trumpsville). Flynn, whom President Barack Obama
dismissed as Director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, wants robust
backing for nationalist, anti-Islamist leaders in North Africa and the
Middle East. His Africa Director, former US Marine Corps Sergeant
Robin Townley, strongly shares this view. Townley has extensive
experience as a counter-intelligence officer and interrogator in
Africa and the Middle East.
If he doesn't get the State Department job, Snyder would also be a
strong candidate to replace Amanda Dory as Deputy Assistant Secretary
of Defense for African Affairs. Insiders see Snyder as a 'cool head'
with an encyclopaedic knowledge of conflicts in Africa and the
proliferating armed factions dating back to the days when Chester
Crocker ran Africa policy under President Ronald Reagan. Once the
State Department's Senior Representative on Sudan, he took the US lead
on the talks that brought South Sudan to independence.
If Krilla doesn't get the top Africa job, a well-informed lobbyist
tells us that he may replace Amos Hochstein as Special Envoy in the
Bureau of Energy Resources, an office in the State Department that
specialises in relations with major oil producers around the world,
especially in Africa and the Middle East.
30-JAN-2017 a big signal about the shape of the Africa – Trump
administration engagement. We are back to a counter-terrorism focus.
30-JAN-2017 US and its US AFRICOM has been advancing rapidly across
We can surely bet the house that this advance will now be turned to 11 as well.
Ethiopia claims success in quashing wave of anti-government unrest FT Subscriber
The government of Ethiopia has vowed to crush all threats to its
economic model and insists it is succeeding in restoring order as it
grapples with the most serious threat to its 26-year hold on power.
Negeri Lencho, the communications minister, told the Financial Times
that a state of emergency imposed in October had succeeded in quashing
a wave of nationwide anti-government protests that left hundreds of
people dead. He insisted that Addis Ababa would not “give opportunity
to any party to block the fast-growing economy and the attempt or
efforts of the Ethiopian government to change the lives of the
But in an apparent acknowledgment of the failings of the government’s
state-driven development model, he admitted that anger over high
unemployment was a factor behind the unrest.
“The government educated the youth and there was not enough
employment,” Mr Lencho said. “So the extremists used this fertile
ground to incite violence.”
More than 500 people have been killed and tens of thousands detained
over the past 18 months as anti-government protests spread across the
country. The violence, which also targeted foreign-owned business, and
the autocratic government’s response, has rattled investors.
The unrest has also called into question the sustainability of Addis
Ababa’s economic model, which has helped drive some of the world’s
fastest growth rates and lured billions of dollars of foreign
investment to the Horn of Africa nation.
The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, a
Marxist-Leninist coalition that has ruled with an iron grip since
taking power in 1991, has concentrated on state-led infrastructure and
industrialisation projects rather than opening up the private sector
as it has sought to develop the impoverished country.
The model has been widely lauded in development circles, but the
government has been accused of taking repressive measures and
committing human rights abuses.
Mr Lencho said authorities had detained more than 20,000 people for
“training” on the constitution since the protests erupted — initially
over land disputes — in 2015.
The minister refused to speculate on how long the state of emergency,
imposed for six months, would last.
He said “armed groups” and “terrorist organisations” bent on regime
change, most of which were overseas, and which he did not identify,
were no longer able to incite violence because of the restrictions on
demonstrating and access to, and use of, social media. But he gave few
specifics, apart from the creation of a “forum” of political
organisations, about how the government was addressing people’s
underlying frustrations to ensure the protests did not re-erupt.
The grievances, which he accepted were largely justified, were a lack
of “good governance, justice, fairness [and] equity in benefiting from
Pro-democracy activists and foreign diplomats have dismissed the forum
as being a sham because it comprises few credible opposition figures.
They say it is indicative of the government’s refusal to countenance
meaningful reform. Ethiopia’s political opposition has been severely
weakened, and the EPRDF and its allies control all the seats in
“They’re worried that if they give an inch they won’t be able to
control the fallout,” a diplomat said.
Activists say Ethiopians flocked to the demonstrations because the
government had steadily curtailed democratic freedoms since
post-election protests in 2005 were ruthlessly crushed.
Protests flared periodically thereafter, but began in earnest in
November 2015 when the government sought to extend the capital Addis
Ababa into Oromia. This plan was eventually shelved but because of the
authorities’ repressive response the demonstrations spread and became
Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister, has admitted that about 500
people might have died while human rights groups and activists believe
the toll is much higher.
Mass arrests followed, which Mr Lencho said fell into two categories:
protesters who needed “training” for a few months and people
considered more hardened criminals.
Initially about 11,000 people underwent “training”, of whom more than
8,000 have been released. A further 12,500 have been incarcerated for
training in a second wave of detentions, he added.
No figures have been given for the total number of arrests but
activists believe it is more than 50,000.
17 OCT 16 :: Ethiopia's Reputation Shattered by Political Tensions @TheStarKenya
Ethiopia has always loomed large in my imagination from the time at
prep school when my Ethiopian friend Ezana Haile, could not go home
and came to spend the vacation with us in Mombasa. I recall reading
The Emperor by Ryszard Kapuściński and in that book Kapuściński
recounts the tale of Lulu, Haile Selassie’s lap dog that was allowed
to piss on the shoes of dignitaries, and the courtier whose job for 10
years was to wipe those shoes clean with a satin cloth. That book
also speaks to how the cushion bearer [ The Emperor was very short and
therefore had to perched on cushions so as not to be beneath his
subjects] became an all-powerful figure at the Imperial Court.
Kapuściński was subsequently trashed for his poetic licence in his
reportage but I accept his mea culpa:
“You don’t understand a thing. I’m not writing so the details add up –
the point is the essence of the matter.”
I first visited Addis Ababa in 2005. It was eerie and disconcerting
sitting in the wonderfully well-appointed Sheraton Hotel perched on
the hill and knowing that an almighty fracas had taken place a near
enough 200 people had been shot dead a few short weeks before. It took
me about three hours to send an email. e ruling oarty EPRDF [which
overthrew the Derg and Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991] brooked no
dissent then. We are more than a decade down the road from that time
and what is clear now is that the dissent has metasized to the point
that the regime has seen fit to impose a six month state of emergency.
Ethiopia has been a Sub-Saharan-African poster child with real GDP
growth averaging 10.9 per cent between 2004-2014. Many folks tout a
double-digit growth rate but the Ethiopians have done it and not for
just a brief moment but for more than a decade. Ethiopia was measured
as the second poorest country in the world in 2000 and was widely
expected to reach middle income status by 2025. Ethiopian Airlines
criss crosses the African skies. Just a few days ago on October 5, the
Ethiopian government unveiled the country’s new $3.4 billion railway
line connecting the capital, Addis Ababa, to Djibouti, on the Red Sea.
Every multi-national company I came across was high-tailing it up
there to set up shop. Kenyan banks were salivating at the prospect of
unlocking this market opportunity. Justin Lin the former World Bank
Chief Economist spoke of how Ethiopia was in prime position to reap
the transfer of low- cost Chinese manufacturing from China into
When I saw the results of the last election where the ruling party won
100 per cent of the seats in parliament, I thought to myself why would
you want to publish a result like that which is not only not credible
its incredible. However, the government got a free pass from the
international community not least because Ethiopia occupies a strong
geopolitical position. It has been seen as a bulwark against Islamic
fundamentalism and is able to marshal and project a compelling
military spear in the region.
The government was able to also point at the trajectory of its growth
and say look at the parabola of our GDP.
However, as Maplecroft said ‘’Ethiopia’s reputation for stability has
been shattered by an escalating series of protests in Oromia and
The government is talking about a number of around 500 when it comes
to protesters killed over the last few months. Most observers I speak
to are talking of at least 10x.
Foreign companies have come under attack. Fana broadcasting reported
on its website that 11 companies ranging from textile firms to a
plastics maker to flower farms had been damaged or destroyed, while
more than 60 vehicles had been torched. Dutch firm FV SeleQt said its
300-hectare vegetable farm and warehouse had been plundered. Another
firm, Africa Juice, said its factory had been partially destroyed.
The government need to change tack and effect a course correction and
history shows us that this course correction is one of the most
difficult things to pull off.
Nigeria's foreign-currency shortage @TheEconomist
DURING Muhammadu Buhari’s stint as military ruler of Nigeria in the
1980s, Fela Kuti, a well-known Afrobeat musician, was locked up for
the offence of possessing foreign currency, to the tune of £1,600.
More than three decades later Mr Buhari is back in office, elected
this time, and the issue of who gets access to foreign currency, and
what they can do with it, remains as contentious as ever in Nigeria.
Last November officers of the State Security Service (SSS), the main
domestic intelligence agency, arrested money-changers in cities across
the country, in what was seen as a response to the tanking value of
the naira on Nigeria’s foreign-exchange markets. The central bank has
for months tried to keep the naira stable at about 315 to the dollar,
after supposedly floating it last June, but a shortage of foreign
currency combined with high demand for dollars has caused the naira to
lose as much as 38% of its value on the black market since then.
The intervention of the secret police has created in Africa’s
second-largest economy “an even blacker [ie more secretive] market,”
says Pabina Yinkere, a director of Vetiva Capital Management in the
commercial capital, Lagos. The supply of dollars began drying up when
the price of oil, Nigeria’s main export, collapsed in 2014. The
problem worsened in 2016 after militants, unhappy with the grinding
poverty of Nigeria’s main oil-producing region, started blowing up
Nigeria is highly dependent on imports, with everything from the
petrol in pumps to the rice in supermarkets coming from abroad.
Importers need foreign currency to pay their invoices, but dollars,
pounds and euros are hard to find. Banks theoretically sell dollars
for around 315 naira each. But few branches have any to sell, or are
willing to part with what they have.
Before the intervention of the SSS, dollars could be bought at
money-changing bureaus for around 465 naira each. But with the SSS
breathing down their necks, money-changers are now forced to accept no
more than 400 naira for each of the few dollars they have. Many
traders have dropped out of the dollar business entirely, says
Abubakar Ruma, a leader of a group of currency-exchange operators in
the capital, Abuja. Changers cannot make money if they sell greenbacks
at the enforced rate.
The public has reacted similarly. People with foreign currency prefer
to hold on to the bills they have in the hope that the rate will
improve. That has starved the money-changers of cash, and the weekly
dollar sales held by the central bank, says Mr Ruma, are not enough to
ease the crunch. The raids by the SSS have not entirely banished the
higher rates. Some money-changers will still buy dollars for 490 naira
or above, from people they trust.
What to do? Higher interest rates would help attract foreign
investors. A negotiated settlement with the militant groups would
allow oil production to return to full capacity, bringing Nigeria back
to its position as Africa’s largest producer of crude. Most important,
the central bank could also help by being more transparent about the
naira’s value. It claims to have floated the currency back in June,
but few believe its value is truly free of interference and the
persistence of a black market suggests the opposite. If investors
could be sure of the naira’s stability, they might start bringing in
the dollars the country so sorely needs.
Geologists have discovered a lost continent beneath Mauritius in the Indian Ocean
An ancient lost continent is lying at the bottom of the Indian Ocean,
underneath the island of Mauritius, according to a new study led by a
geologist from South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand.
“Mauritia,” what researchers have dubbed the continental fragment,
likely broke off of the supercontinent Gondwana as it splintered some
200 million years ago to form the continents of Africa, India,
Australia, South America, and Antarctica. The team found zircons,
minerals found mostly in the granite found in continents, that were as
many as 3 billion years old on the island of Mauritius which is itself
only 8 million years old.
“The fact that we have found zircons of this age proves that there are
much older crustal materials under Mauritius that could only have
originated from a continent,” said Lewis Ashwal, from Wits University
and lead author of the report published in Nature Communications this
Researchers had previously found zircon crystals of a similar age on
the beaches of Mauritius, but critics questioned whether the mineral
could have been blown onto the island from elsewhere. Ashwal’s study
looked at crystals recovered from trachyte rocks, igneous volcanic
rock, where the zircons would have only emerged from volcanic
Laikipia ranch invasions spark friction between Kenya, UK @BD_Africa
The UK High Commission sent an update to its citizens on Tuesday,
detailing a festering bout of insecurity in the area.
The commission said the attacks by pastoralists from neighbouring
Turkana and Samburu communities, are believed to be partly inflamed by
politicians with vested interests.
British ranch owners on Thursday blamed Kenyan authorities’ lukewarm
response to the skirmishes for the continued escalation that now has
caused destruction of property worth millions of shillings.
Drought stokes battle for pastures in Kenya's northern regions Reuters
Armed cattle herders have been flooding onto farms and wildlife
conservancies in drought-ravaged northern Kenya, leading to violence
in which at least 11 people have been killed and a tourist lodge
torched, residents said on Thursday.
"The drought has been a problem for years but people have been living
peacefully. This (flare-up) is because of politics," said Francis
Narunbe, a local chief of the Turkana tribe.
In Laikipia, north of Nairobi, herders from the Samburu and Pokot
tribes tend to back the opposition, while smallholder farmers from the
Turkana and Kikuyu ethnic groups usually support President Uhuru
Kenyatta's Jubilee party, said Martin Evans, head of the Laikipia
"There's political incitement," he told Reuters.
Sasini is set to sell its restaurant chain, Sasini Coffee House, for Sh70 million. @BD_Africa
Sasini says it will sell its entire 60 per cent stake in the company
that runs four restaurants on Nairobi’s Loita Street, Ralph Bunche
Road, Muthangari Road and Mombasa Road.
“The group entered into a contract with Sheb Investments Limited to
sell off its entire shareholding in Sasini Coffee House for a
consideration of Sh70 million,” Sasini said in its latest annual
Disposal of Sasini Coffee House marks the latest divestiture by the
firm whose principal activities are growing and processing of tea and
Sasini in 2015 sold its building on Nairobi’s Loita Street, Sasini
House, for more than Sh600 million. It recently raised Sh1 billion
from sale of its land in agricultural operations it says are
unprofitable, recording large capital gains from the properties it
bought decades ago.
These include land in its two coffee estates in Nyeri — Mweiga and
Wahenya — that it said had been running losses for six consecutive
The agricultural firm recorded a 30.8 per cent net profit drop in the
year ended September on a larger tax charge and relatively lower gains
from asset sales than the year before.
The Nairobi All Share made it a 4 session winning streak and closed
+0.615% at 124.19. The All Share has rebounded +2.416% since the 30th
of January narrowing its year to date loss to -6.86% and the rebound
can gather momentum.
The Nairobi NSE20 Index which had slumped to a 2008 Low of 2,789.64 on
30th January, sprung +1.03% better to close at 2862.39 and is +2.63%
above that multi year closing low from 30th January.
Equity Turnover clocked 653.041m. The Equity Market here in Nairobi
was in a disequilibrium in January and when markets emerge from
disequilibrium, the move can be meaningful and dynamic.
At these price levels, seriously bad outcomes are priced into the
market and as previously stated these price levels will look very
shapely 12 months down the track.
N.S.E Equities - Commercial & Services
Safaricom firmed +0.539% to close at 18.65 and traded shares as high
as 19.00 +2.42% during the session. Safaricom has rebounded +3.899%
since 17th January when it closed at a 2017 Low. Safaricom is -2.61%
in 2017 and will flip to positive for the year as early as next week.
Safaricom traded 13.73m shares worth 256.619m.
WPP-Scangroup rallied +3.715% to close at 16.75 and traded 90,600
shares. Typically in an election year, election related spending is
meaningful and surely WPP-Scangroup is in position to gain an outsize
piece of that pie. WPP-ScanGroup is -7.73% through 2017.
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment
The Banks have been the softest component of the Nairobi Securities
Exchange through January as Investors started to project the Interest
Rate Regime through a FY 17 but are now badly overcooked to the
downside. StanChart was the only Bank to serve up a positive return at
the Nairobi Securities Exchange in 2016 and is similarly expected to
outperform in 2017.
It was a Real pleasure interviewing the very "zen" Tejinder Singh MD
StanChart firmed +1.19% to close at 170.00 and traded 101,500 shares.
StanChart is a big Buy at -9.574% in 2017
KCB is girding its loins for a bounce but closed unchanged today at
24.25 and traded good volume of 3.887m shares worth 95.020m. KCB is
oversold at -15.65% in 2017.
Barclays Bank rebounded +3.27% to close at 7.90 and traded 3.866m
shares. Barclays has rebounded +11.26% this week from a seriously
oversold position. Barclays Bank is -13.186% in 2017 and the rebound
has further to run.
Equity Group rebounded +2.04% to close at 25.00 and was trading at
25.50 +4.08% at the finish Line. Equity traded 3.387m shares worth
85.164m and -16.66% in 2017.
N.S.E Equities - Industrial & Allied
KenGen surged +6.36% to close at 5.85 and on heavy volume action of
4.66m shares. KenGen has rallied +18.18% since closing at an all time
low on 26th January. This price reaction is exactly what you would
want to see after such an unwarranted and egregious sell-off.
EABL firmed +0.44% to close at 230.00 and traded 423,700 shares worth
97.449m. EABL has rebounded +6.976% since closing at a multi year Low
on January 13th. The Release of the H1 Earnings end January gave the
share a further fillip. EABL is -5.73% through 2017.
EABL H117 Earnings Release here and share price data -5.73% 2017