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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Wednesday 14th of October 2020

Wild life @TheHorseCure @spectator

I stood under huge skies in the open country of our farm in northern Kenya and, after months of London lockdown, I remembered those Japanese tourists I had once seen, weeping with wonder at the sight of Africa’s savannah after their lives imprisoned in cities. 

I’ve been savouring every little detail of home since we returned the other day: the taste of water and mangoes, the joys of talking cattle with the stockmen, seeing my 95-year-old mother at last, birdsong and crickets, long treks with our dogs tearing off wildly after baboons and buck. 

I woke up before dawn when several lions noisily killed a zebra in front of our house. 

I lay in bed listening to them scrunch up the animal’s bones and felt that all was well in the world. 

On my rounds of the farm I discovered that during the time we had been away, our wonderful Kenyan team had kept the place well in hand. 

Our new bull had been randy; scores of calves were born; young trees had shot up, rains had filled the dams and pastures were sweet and green. Oh, what happiness.

It has been a relief to be back among Kenyans, who are much more level-headed about Covid-19 than hysterical Europeans. 

The pandemic has inflicted great economic hardship, but people here take life as it comes. 

Many Kenyans we know simply went home to the village and survived among relatives, adopting a fresh interest in farming. 

Our neighbours spent the pandemic enjoying their cattle and farms. One young couple I know wandered for months across the slopes of Mount Kenya, with its giant heather and trout-filled tarns. 

Several lived on the beach, surfing every day during a year of the best wave swells anybody can remember. They had the best time of their lives. 

Broke though everybody is, for these friends 2020 could not have been better.

When you’ve grown up with malaria around you, survived lean years and the occasional political upheaval, a Chinese bat virus isn’t going to make you panic. 

Kenyans are younger and healthier than Westerners. As of this week, we’ve lost 554 people to the virus and this is probably thanks to the natural resilience of ordinary folk, since during rush hour Nairobi seems as crowded as ever. 

A great problem we face is that bars and restaurants are not allowed to serve alcohol, though in one brasserie I visited I was offered ‘ginger beer’ — which turned out to be white wine. It was such fun to be living in an echo of Prohibition.

Look around Africa, and it’s clear that aid money earmarked for virus control was quickly eaten — as all aid always is. 

Otherwise, I’d say the continent has responded very well. Virus deaths across Africa this year are a little higher than the number we normally lose to snake bites — and significantly lower than traffic accident casualties. 

In many countries, economies are reopening. In Somalia — supposedly the most corrupt country in the world — the courts have sent officials to jail for stealing public virus funds. 

This would never happen in Britain, where cowboys win multimillion contracts to dump fake Chinese PPE on nurses and doctors. 

Tanzania’s authoritarian President John Magufuli famously exposed how bogus Chinese testing kits were when he secretly ordered them to be used on a goat, a pawpaw and a ‘wild bird’ — and got false positives every time. 

After admitting to just 21 deaths, Tanzania has now declared the pandemic over. 

Ironically, if Boris’s Conservative government was a sub-Saharan regime, the Western press would be talking about how its Covid track record simply reconfirms how useless and corrupt African rulers are. 

Instead, it turns out that Tanzania has done a better job than BoJo.

After a time at home on the farm, we headed for my mother’s house on the north coast. We have spent our days swimming and surfing. 

One morning, a pod of dolphins swam all around us in the water, very relaxed, with babies nuzzling their mothers. They splashed around and came so close I thought about the absurdities of social distancing. 

There are no tourists here at all, which is a tragedy for many local people. Kenya needs you back, readers. The beaches are empty. The national parks are empty. The people are friendly, sensible — and not hysterical. 

This year almost nobody saw the great wildebeest migration across the Maasai Mara. Think of what a wonderful chance this could be to see East Africa. My invitation to host any of you passing by the farm for a cold Tusker on the veranda still stands.

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(utakiona cha mtema kuni .. ) @frankminja @tillya_04

A terrible sight to behold on Mt #Kilimanjaro  .. we used to be warned as kids - you will see fire on the mountain! (utakiona cha mtema kuni .. )

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Countries with fastest increase in new #COVID19 cases past two weeks. @jmlukens

Country: Cases/Day Increase

#SriLanka: 9.70x

#Switzerland: 3.54x

#Malaysia: 3.50x

#Latvia: 3.38x

#Poland: 2.80x

#Belgium: 2.66x

#Slovakia: 2.48x

#Italy: 2.42x

#UnitedKingdom: 2.05x

#Netherlands: 1.86x

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Near-term outlook. Global growth is projected at −4.4 percent in 2020, a less severe contraction than forecast in the June 2020 World Economic Outlook (WEO) Update. @IMFNews #WEO
World Of Finance

Risks. The uncertainty surrounding the baseline projection is unusually large. The forecast rests on public health and economic factors that are inherently difficult to predict. 

A first layer relates to the path of the pandemic, the needed public health response, and the associated domestic activity disruptions, most notably for contact-intensive sectors. 

Another source of uncertainty is the extent of global spillovers from soft demand, weaker tourism, and lower remittances.

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This shows where global GDP has been hit. @RencapMan
World Of Finance

The US economy expected to shrink by $626bn this year even as China's economy grows by $490bn.  

The US GDP fall in $bn is the same as the fall of 125 other countries combined. 

Emerging Markets also hit hard including 4/5 of the BRICS

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.174160

Dollar Index 93.562

Japan Yen 105.442

Swiss Franc 0.915105

Pound 1.291165

Aussie 0.716550

India Rupee 73.3971

South Korea Won 1144.960

Brazil Real 5.5702

Egypt Pound 15.689800

South Africa Rand 16.464855

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Africa countries with most average #COVID19 cases per day. @jmlukens

Country: Cases per Day

#Morocco: 2,359

#Tunisia: 1,475

#SouthAfrica: 1,445

#Libya: 765

#Ethiopia: 733

#Kenya: 290

#Algeria: 132

#Nigeria: 121

#Uganda: 112

#Angola: 109

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Online Disinformation Campaigns Undermine African Elections @BW Pauline Bax and Loni Prinsloo

In the runup to Guinea’s elections on Oct. 18, voters are grappling with a familiar-sounding problem: disinformation and a lack of transparency over who’s providing the news they’re getting.

In the U.S., similar complaints led to a crackdown on campaigns such as those staged by Russia during the 2016 presidential vote, won by Donald Trump. 

This election cycle, Facebook has banned new political ads in the week before Election Day on Nov. 3 and—following Google’s example—indefinitely after, while Twitter has also pledged to better police misleading information.

But in Guinea, a West African nation of 13 million that was under authoritarian rule until democratic elections in 2010, social media platforms are a powerful tool for the government—not some foreign entity—to dominate the narrative around the campaign.

The internet has become a welcome space for Africans to gain access to information and join political debates. 

A recent survey across 14 African countries found that 54% of young people read news on social media, and a third spend more than four hours a day online, mainly on their smartphones, according to the South Africa-based Ichikowitz Family Foundation, which commissioned the study

But there’s growing unease about the darker side of social media in electioneering on the continent. 

Critics such as Stanford University’s Internet Observatory and Cyber Policy Center worry that online platforms have become yet another instrument for governments to tighten their grip—joining such traditional methods as controlling the content on state-run broadcasters and limiting the freedom of expression with draconian laws.

While laws are in place in most African countries to restrict political advertising on traditional media, there isn’t enough accountability for platforms such as Facebook, Kenyan activist Nanjala Nyabola argues in her book Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics. 

“This assumption that developing countries are blank slates onto which technological fantasies can be projected is really dangerous,” Nyabola told the Centre for International Governance Innovation last year. 

“What we’re seeing is the consequences are usually far more grave than they are in countries that have robust legal and political frameworks.”

A survey in Ghana last year found the use of social media was increasing the cost of already hugely expensive campaigns and strengthening the position of wealthy politicians, whose social media machines drown out the voices of smaller parties, according to researchers of the University of Exeter in the U.K.

In Guinea, dozens of patriotic-sounding Facebook pages say President Alpha Conde is a savior and his main opponent wants to destabilize the country. 

(That’s a frightening thought for citizens who recall the most recent military coup, in 2008.) 

Paid workers regularly post on pages promoting Conde’s ruling party, including Alpha Conde TV, and one called “Guineans Open Your Eyes,” which targets Conde’s rival and carries a picture of a bloody clown on its banner. 

But an analysis of the pages by Stanford shows the people controlling them rarely divulge that they’re paid, and most don’t use their real identities so viewers can know where the information is coming from.

Tech companies’ higher standards for the U.S. vote aren’t a panacea across the ocean. 

“Because Facebook is an American company, largely run by Americans, it is able to rely on institutional knowledge of American politics and its dynamics” to figure where misinformation enters the process in the U.S., says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director at African technology research company World Wide Worx. 

“It does not have the same depth of knowledge or understanding of most other countries.”

In the case of Guinea, most Facebook pages promoting Conde, the 82-year-old president, who’s seeking a third term, appear to lack transparency, according to Stanford. 

In a report last month, researchers said they found 94 pages that are “clearly” tied to the ruling party but fail to disclose that their operators are being paid to post text and images. 

Many of the administrators hide their identities, using names such as “Continuity, Continuity” or “Alpha the Democrat.” 

The pages have a combined following of some 800,000 people, equal to about a third of the country’s 2.4 million internet users

The Guinean network of pro-government pages pushes up against the boundaries of acceptable behavior on Facebook, says Shelby Grossman, a research scholar at the Stanford Internet Observatory. 

“If you are being paid by political candidates to post media that supports those candidates, you should be transparent of who you are and who you are affiliated with,” she says.

According to one of its spokesmen, Alhousseiny Makanera Kake, Guinea’s ruling party has established a dedicated social media team that’s active on various platforms, not just Facebook. 

The spokesman for that team, however, has not responded to phone calls. Messages to six pro-government Facebook pages have also been met with no response.

Facebook says the pro-government pages do not violate its standards. A company investigation showed that the pages are operated by real people with real identities, a company spokeswoman said by email. 

The company is working on tools that enable people to better understand the pages they follow and who’s behind them. 

In the U.S., the platform has introduced a tab called “Organizations That Manage This Page” to help avoid a “misleading experience,” and the company may bring the tab to more countries, she said.

That isn’t enough to help users in a country such as Guinea, where web literacy is in its infancy. 

Political propaganda has become completely “normalized” as parties across Africa have grown more sophisticated in their use of social media, says Thomas Molony, co-author of the book Social Media and Politics in Africa. 

“It’s when the pernicious content gets in, and the line between verified news and fake news is crossed, that we should be concerned,” Molony says.

Like Guinea, social media campaigning in other African countries comes with huge problems of accountability. The ruling party in Ghana, which will hold elections on Dec. 7, already had a social media army of some 700 workers by mid-2019, prompting the main opposition party to catch up and recruit its own “communicators,” as the University of Exeter study called them. 

All the main parties in Ivory Coast have deployed teams to campaign on social media for a contentious Oct. 31 vote

The East African nation of Tanzania, which will hold a presidential vote on Oct. 28, has taken the opposite course, having pushed through legislation in 2018 and 2020 that criminalizes some social media posts by journalists and suppresses the growth of online media, including radio and TV.

Internet-powered politics is overwhelming underfunded grassroots political activists. “For us, this is completely unorthodox and hasn’t happened before,” says Sekou Koundouno, head of the Guinea branch of Balai Citoyen—or Citizen’s Broom—a civil society group active in several countries. 

“It’s not regulated at all, and you see people taking money from the state to try and keep the ruling party in power.”

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Whoever Controls The Narrative Controls The World

And it all left me wondering Who exactly is controlling the Console?

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28-OCT-2019 :: From Russia with Love

In July this year, a three-minute animated video appeared on YouTube. Called Lionbear, the cartoon was aimed at children and told the story of a brave but beleaguered Central African lion, who was fighting a losing battle against a pack of hungry hyenas. Luckily the lion had a friend who came to the rescue — the strong Russian bear. The bear fights off the hyenas brings peace to the land and everyone lives happily ever after.The video was produced by Lobaye Invest, a Russian mining company with links to the Wagner Group. Lobaye runs a radio station in the CAR, and orga- nised a Miss CAR pageant. But, as a CNN investigation reported this year, Lobaye also funds the 250 Russian mercenaries who are stationed in the country.

“The dividend for Lobaye Invest: generous concessions to explore for diamonds and gold in a country rich in mineral wealth,” it reported. The Russian mercenaries are officially there to train the CAR’s national army.

Andrew Korybko writes Moscow invaluably fills the much-needed niche of providing its partners there with “Democratic Security”, or in other words, the cost-effective and low-commitment capabilities needed to thwart colour revolutions and resolve unconventional Wars (collectively referred to as Hybrid War).

To simplify, Russia’s “political technologists” have reportedly devised bespoke solutions for confronting incipient and ongoing color revolutions, just like its private military contractors (PMCs) have supposedly done the same when it comes to ending insurgencies.

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4 JUN 12 :: Maputo, Boom Town

GREETINGS from the Serena Polana, Maputo. I can confirm that Maputo is the land of wonderful and flavoursome tiger prawns.

The Architecture is also deliciously retro. By the way, the Polana was built in 1922 and the flavour is fabulously Riviera and very swanky. 

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EPRA has allowed some 34 PPAs expected to inject 1,891 megawatts into the grid Kenya power says it will be forced to pay for power without consumers to utilize it @moneyacademyKE
N.S.E Equities - Industrial & Allied

Kenya power wants energy sector regulator (EPRA) removed from power purchase agreements

Says EPRA has allowed some 34 PPAs expected to inject 1,891 megawatts into the grid

Kenya power says it will be forced to pay for power without consumers to utilize it. 

— Business Daily

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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October 2020

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