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Friday, 28 June 2013

Africa is addicted to aid

“The net result of aid-dependency is that instead of having a functioning Africa, managed by Africans, for Africans, what is left is one where outsiders attempt to map its destiny and call the shots.” Dambisa Moyo

This is explains why the African discourse on the global agenda has been usurped by pop stars (Bono, Bob Gerdof) and western politicians. The world ignores the real players and rarely are Africans elected by their own people heard on a global stage. This is despite the claims of equal treatment of sovereign nation states.

This is yet another anti-aid discourse that demands that these limitations to dominate dialogues in classrooms rather than the obvious monotonous arguments. I will draw from literature to the public, the economic limitations of aid.

Any large influx of money into an economy, however robust, can cause problems. An approximate amount of over US$ 1 trillion of aid has been disbursed to Africa in the past 60 years. This has been relentless and various agendas have been sought for by donors including, development, then money to the poor and lastly to further strengthen democracy. There is nothing to show for it. The economies are still poorly managed, are weak and are susceptible to outside influence and domestic policy makers have little control. The answer through the years has been more aid. This I am yet to prove that is the wrong antidote.

Aid into poor economies has resulted in to four economic challenges: reduction of domestic savings and investments to favour consumption; inflation; diminishing exports; and difficulty in absorbing such large cash influxes.

As foreign aid comes domestic savings decline, that is investments falls. The relatively few select hands who handle it spend it on consumer goods rather than saving the cash. As savings decline, local banks have less money to lend for domestic investment. This diminishes any future growth and results in degrading of existing infrastructure.

Aid money favours consumption of locally produced  as well as imported goods and services. This can be positive. If a corrupt official gets US$ 10,000 and then he uses some of this money to buy a car. The car seller can now afford new clothes, and the trading goes on and on down the line. This is an example of positive corruption. The point, however, is that in a poor environment where there aren’t any more cars, clothes and so on, this will cause prices to shoot up due to this increased demand. Inflation will have eroded the economy and the poor will have to pay for this.

Aid money is now on inflationary terms. In a domestic economy with a fixed exchange rate system, the export sector will suffer. An increased cost will increase the cost of production and this includes raw materials and skilled labour. As a result the prices of the goods and services for export will be less competitive due to their high price. This will result in massive unemployment in order that the export firms can still operate at a profit (Zero economic profit). This will hurt the aid recipient economy.

All the same in a country with a floating exchange rate the same effect will be felt. In order for the US$ 10,000 to be used in Kenya, it has to be converted to the legal tender, Kenyan shilling. This demand for the Kenyan shilling will increase the value of the shilling thereby making the exports more costly. This makes them uncompetitive and thus choking Kenya’s exports (the Dutch disease).

At the early stages of development, there is not enough skilled man power, not enough sizable investment opportunities to out the vast amounts of aid into work. This will force the governments to spend this money (leading to inflation, the Dutch disease). To avert this sharp shock to the economy, African policy makers have to mop up this excess cash; but this costs money. In addition to paying the interest on aid, they have to pay for sterilizing the aid flows. This is even more painful.

In all these painful circumstances, African policy makers have resulted in asking for more aid to clean up these problems. How one can use problems to avert problems is yet a school of thought that is unexplored and thus the failure. There we are, caught in a cycle of harmful aid and the addiction doesn’t end till there is a willingness for rehabilitation from aid.

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The Last Letter of Patrice Lumumba

My dear wife,

I am writing these words not knowing whether they will reach you, when they will reach you, and whether I shall still be alive when you read them. All through my struggle for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and I have devoted all our lives. But what we wished for our country, its right to an honourable life, to unstained dignity, to independence without restrictions, was never desired by the Belgian imperialists and the Western allies, who found direct and indirect support, both deliberate and unintentional, amongst certain high officials of the United Nations, that organization in which we placed all our trust when we called on its assistance.

They have corrupted some of our compatriots and bribed others. They have helped to distort the truth and bring our independence into dishonour. How could I speak otherwise?

Dead or alive, free or in prison by order of the imperialists, it is not myself who counts. It is the Congo, it is our poor people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage from whose confines the outside world looks on us, sometimes with kindly sympathy, but at other times with joy and pleasure. But my faith will remain unshakeable. I know and I feel in my heart that sooner or later my people will rid themselves of all their enemies, both internal and external, and that they will rise as one man to say No to the degradation and shame of colonialism, and regain their dignity in the clear light of the sun.

We are not alone. Africa, Asia and the free liberated people from all corners of the world will always be found at the side of the millions of Congolese who will not abandon the struggle until the day when there are no longer any colonialists and their mercenaries in our country. As to my children whom I leave and whom I may never see again, I should like them to be told that it is for them, as it is for every Congolese, to accomplish the sacred task of reconstructing our independence and our sovereignty: for without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.

Neither brutality, nor cruelty nor torture will ever bring me to ask for mercy, for I prefer to die with my head unbowed, my faith unshakable and with profound trust in the destiny of my country, rather than live under subjection and disregarding sacred principles. History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that is taught in Brussels, Paris, Washington or in the United Nations, but the history which will be taught in the countries freed from imperialism and its puppets. Africa will write its own history, and to the north and south of the Sahara, it will be a glorious and dignified history.

Do not weep for me, my dear wife. I know that my country, which is suffering so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty.

Long live the Congo! Long live Africa!
Patrice Lumumba

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Thursday, 6 June 2013

British Governement enslaves and tortures Kenyans

“We understand the pain and grievance of the Kenyan people under the colonial government. The British government sincerely regrets that these abuses took place and that they marred Kenya’s progress towards independence. Torture and ill-treatments are violations of human dignity which we unreservedly condemn. ” the secretary of State said today in a speech that was aimed at giving a public apology to the torture, pain and deaths that were undertaken by the British during colonial rule.

Their stories
“I remember what happened to me when I stole food, I was beaten by my master. He never gave us enough food and even sometimes he never gave us any food at all. So I was just taking what was mine and fighting for my rights. I was then taken to a room and blindfolded. They tied my hands up to a metal with a hard rope. My legs were then tied apart then a person came in with a pliers and castrated me. It was very painful.” A man recounts on documented evidence.

“I remember when I was on a trip going home with my husband and four children. We were stopped on the road and then ordered to lie down. My husband was castrated and then killed in front of my children. I was then stripped and they put a bottle in me. I was pregnant. They killed my children and I have gone through all this pain and I need to be compensated so that I can be satisfied.” A woman says in documented evidence.

Over 90,000 men were killed and thousands and thousands were castrated. These trials began early 2003 and justice has taken this long to determine that the British were in the wrong side of the law and need to at least offer an apology to these people. Remember that these are survivors of the evils that took place 50 years ago and by now they are very old, still seeking justice.

The British government made the statement of regret earlier today and awarded a compensation of 20 million pounds (approximately 30 million USD) to the 5,200 claimants.

It is, however, important to note how the justice process went  in order to get to this number of claimants. This number, 5,200, has been dwindled from an initial 50,000 who the Kenyan Rights Commission (KRC) identified have admitted to claims of torture. It is then said that the KRC did investigation and found 15,000 could support their claims with substantial evidence. Then the 5,200 are the ones who could identify that they were held in British places of detention and were tortured and abused.

This is called separation of wheat from wheat flour.

This shows that the justice game has been used to down play the figures in order to determine the amount of money to give for compensation. Certainly, you don’t just give money to any Kamau and Wangare who claims detentions and abuse, even if they have some evidence.

This kind of justice deserves crucifixion. I am not arguing from the point of view that it is wrong to determine value of a human being in monetary terms because these people want the money, referring to this as an act of slavery can be right too. All I am against is the length of time it took these people to get justice and for the British to admit wrong and evil. Did they really have to be told to do it? Then is this genuine?

What do we say anyway against those days of enlightenment, the days when we were brought to the light with men that were burdened with it. We were in the dark and perhaps it is true what Kimunya always tells me that, “When you go to Rome do what Romans do”. So in a way we deserved blind dark justice, and apology.
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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Harambee Stars Vs Super Eagles Incentivised loss

The recent case on whether incentives work should be re-evaluated incorporating this as a new found example. The Nigeria Vs Kenya match ended at 1 – 0. This football match was held in Kenya and as many people would agree, this was the best chance for Kenya to qualify for the world cup. Following public demand for the real evaluation on how outside influence affected the outcome of the match I will start form the beginning.

The Harambee Stars of Kenya in early March of this year traveled to Nigeria for the first match and as history had it, the Kenyans were fated to another loss. We were not in any way conceivable to beat Nigeria and their Super Eagles knew this well.

Thus, the Kenyan team was not given good reception, they slept in dorms, they were denied access to places of practice and a nasty bus to take the “Pathetic team around.

The Nigerians seemed not to understand what was motivating these boys to face fate and they were trying to kill their morale. They trained and worked their morning practice in the all-weather playground and awaited their match.

Mike Sonko, the newly elected senator of Nairobi, was interviewed on Livewire of Nation TV and he said that he had promised the Kenyan team one million Kenyan shillings ( around USD 11,751) for a win or a draw. To get a million Kenyan shillings is a dream that many wish will come true before their death.

This is a very good incentive for a team, the best of the many that there ever was. He also revealed that he had talked to the president and he had agreed to offer the team 3 million Kenyan shillings for the subsequent match that was going to be played at home.

The Kenyan team went confidently into the field and managed a draw and Mike Sonko delivered his promise on their landing in Jomo Kenyatta International airport, Kenya. He was very excited and Nigerians were really amazed. A team that they were predicting 4 – 0 or even many more managed a good draw of 1 – 1. Then the incentive worked and delivered results.

The next match was held yesterday and this was not a one million but a four million match. If incentives do work, if more incentives are added then better and better results should be attained. This is just pure logic. The outcome this time defied logic and Kenya lost 1- 0 to Nigeria. Then should we just say that the Kenyan football team is just bad and that is why they lost or that there are other factors affecting success other than incentives.

We should be inclined to take the later with caution because incentives never work. If you ask me, I will tell you that the incentives caused the loss because it stimulated individualism in a game that requires team work for success. Everybody wanted a share of the grand price, so there was competition which destroyed the effectiveness of the Harambee Stars. This is just another one of those things that is explained by; good intentions that lead to bad outcomes. More is needed in order to ensure future success for the Kenyan team other than incentives.

by Dennis
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