Creative Commons

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Time to End Energy Subsidies

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in a robust assessment of energy subsidies in 176 countries, has revealed that he global tab for government energy subsidy by developing and industrialized countries was 1.9 trillion in 2011. Globally the countries that provide the largest energy subsidies are United States ($502 billion), China ($279 billion), Russia ($116 billion).

In the paper, “Energy Subsidy Reform: Lessons and Implications”, IMF economists argue that energysubsidies are expensive and undermine governments’ efforts to reduce budget deficits. subsidies crowd out priority public spending in healthcare, infrastructure and education. Subsides encourage excessive energy use, reduce incentives for investment in renewable energy, accelerate depletion of natural resources and exacerbate global warming.  

Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania spend 48%, 22%, 17% and 10% respectively on electricity subsidies. The driver of such high subsidies is not low retail prices but high production costs, which stem from operational inefficiencies, extensive use of back-up electricity generation and low economies of scale in generation. Deficient electricity infrastructure and shortages dampen economic growth and weaken competitiveness. Weaknesses in electricity infrastructure are correlated with low levels of economic productivity. Studies suggest that if the quantity and quality of electricity infrastructure in all sub Saharan African countries were improved, long-term per capita growth rates would be 2% higher.

The IMF makes very persuasive arguments against energy subsidies. Energy subsidies, they argue, make it unattractive for both state-owned and private enterprises to invest in expansion of energy production. Subsidies stifle public spending necessary to boost critical investments in education, health care, infrastructure and social protection, thus undermining flourishing of humancapital. The burden of energy subsidies on national revenue is substantial and poses even greater fiscal risks for countries that provide huge subsidies. Moreover, subsidies cause fuel prices remain below the levels necessary to capture the negative externalities of energy consumption on the environment, public health, traffic congestion and green house gas emissions.

Moreover, energy subsidies result in inefficient allocation of resources to investments in capital – and energy – intensive activities, with overuse of subsidized technologiesIn Africa, for example, subsidized electricity prices have constrained capacity to invest in increased capacity and improvement of service quality.Moreover, increasing energy subsidies increases energy consumption, which in turn exerts pressure on the balance of payments for net energy importing countries.Egypt, for instance, regularly spends up to 8% of its GDP subsidizing fossil fuels, while running huge budget deficits. Today experts warn of disaster unless Egypt undertakes a package of tax increases and subsidy cuts tied to a $4.8 billion loan from IMF.

By encouraging high consumption and concomitant greenhouse gas emissions, energy subsidies aggravate climate change and worsen local air quality pollution and congestion. Hence, eliminating direct energy subsidies, IMF argues would have the benefit of cutting global greenhouse gas emissions by 13%, improve air quality and shore up the finances of many developing countries, which currently face a double whammy of debt and budget deficits.

IMF further argues that energy subsidies perpetrate social inequality because they largely benefit affluent groups, who are the biggest consumers of energy. It is no wonder that the greatest beneficiaries are those with cars and air-conditioned houses. Take electricity for example, a majority of African countries have huge electricity subsidies but a large majority of the poor in Africa receive no benefit at all because they are not even connected to the electricity grid.

But what really are the impediments to eliminatingenergy price distortions, balancing national budgets andlaunching the world on a low-carbon growth pathway, while cutting greenhouse gas emissions? One of the highest priorities of the United Nations Sustainable Solutions Development Network led by Prof. Jeff Sachs is to identify alternative pathways to a low-carbon economy.

Drawing from 22 case studies IMF outlines the barriers to implementing successful energy subsidy. Theseinclude: inability of the public to make a connection between subsidies, constraints on expanding high-priority public spending, and the adverse effects of subsidies on economic growth and poverty reduction;concerns regarding the adverse impact on inflation, international competitiveness, and volatility of domestic energy prices. Higher energy prices often have effects on inflation, which may have adverse effects on commodity prices and wages.

In the 2009 G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, leaders pledged to eliminate inefficient fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term. We must now this pledge. Now is the timeto act and end energy subsidies, reduce budget deficits improve human wellbeing and halt the dangerous warming of our planet.

Monday, March 25, 2013

PhD and Post Doctoral Scholarships

  1. » PhD Scholarship on “Conflict and Development” (Right Livelihood College Bonn)
    3-year PhD scholarship
    The position starts as of August 1, 2013
    Qualified applicants should come from a developing or transition country (according to DAC list)
    Organisation/Location: Based at the RLC Campus Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF) University of Bonn, Germany
    Application deadline: 31-March-2013
    Details:The Right Livelihood College (RLC) is a global capacity building initiative of universities and the Right Livelihood Award, known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize". The RLC Campus at the Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn, promotes cooperation and exchange between winners of the “Alternative Nobel Prize”, researchers and policy makers in fields of sustainable development in Africa, Asia and Latin America ( The RLC Campus Bonn is sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

    In this context, RLC Bonn and DAAD offer a 3 - year PhD scholarship for candidates from developing and transition countries to carry out an empirical PhD research project related to the topic “Conflict and Development”. The topic refers to the issue that in the last two decades development takes places in an environment which is more and more characterized by fragile state structures, endemic violence and political instability. In this respect, themes such as human security, humanitarian interventions or the civil - military nexus become increasingly important.

    Proposals have to be of practical relevance for the work of ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ winners (see:

    ZEF, the host institute of the RLC Campus Bonn, ranks among the Top 10 of Science and Technology Think Tanks worldwide. It is based in the City of Bonn in Germany - a center of international scientific, development and UN organizations.

    The candidate will be integrated into the ZEF Doctoral Studies Program, a structured PhD program in English language ( ZEFs doctoral program is unique in Europe in terms of interdisciplinarity, internationality (students from 80 countries), and size (around 30 new PhD students each year).

    Qualified applicants should come from a developing or transition country (according to DAC list, and currently reside there. They should hold an excellent master’s or equivalent degree in peace and conflict studies, political sciences, development studies, sociology or related disciplines and have outstanding empirical research expertise. Experience in interdisciplinarity is an asset. Fluency in English is mandatory. The age limit is 32

    The scholarship is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for 3 years. It covers a PhD junior researcher position at ZEF in Bonn and respective costs for travel and research.
    The position starts as of August 1, 2013.

    Your application should consist of:
    • Motivation letter (1 page)
    • A CV in EUROPASS format – see template under:
    • Two letters of recommendation from professors or supervisors
    • Certified academic degree documents (as PDF)
    • PhD proposal related to ‘conflict and development‘ (max. 5 pages)
    • RLC Application Form
    All documents are to be submitted in English. Closing date for applications is March 31, 2013. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. The selection process is due to be completed by mid of April.
    Please send your applications via e-mail to:
    Dr. Till Stellmacher:
    RLC Campus Bonn/ Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung (ZEF), University of Bonn
    Walter Flex Str. 3, 53113 Bonn, Germany
  2. » 4 PhD Scholarships for Kenyan applicants: Pastoral meat value chains (DITSL)
    These studies will be jointly implemented between University of Nairobi, the National Museums of Kenya and the German Institute for Agriculture in the Tropics and Subtropics (DITSL) at the University of Kassel in Germany.
    PhD candidates will be registered at either the University of Nairobi or at the University of Kassel.
    GlobE Project RELOAD: Reduction of Post Harvest Losses and Value Addition in East African Food Value Chains
    Organisation/Location: DITSL at the University of Kassel, research activities in Kenya
    Application deadline: Selection of candidates will start on 1st of May 2013 and continue until positions are filled
    Organisation/Project: These studies will be jointly implemented between University of Nairobi, the National Museums of Kenya and the German Institute for Agriculture in the Tropics and Subtropics (DITSL) at the University of Kassel in Germany. GlobE Project: RELOAD: Reduction of Post Harvest Losses and Value Addition in East African Food Value Chains
    Application deadline: Selection of candidates will start on 1st of May 2013 and continue until positions are filled.
    RELOAD: Reduction of Post Harvest Losses and Value Addition in East African Food Value Chains builds a research network between partners in Germany, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. It is a 5 year collaborative project led by the Institute for Agricultural Engineering at the University of Kassel in Germany. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF),
    and starts in June 2013.
    In Kenya, one focus of RELOAD is on pastoral meat value chains. The high losses along the meat value chain include material losses i.e. weight loss prior to slaughter, wastage of animal products and byproducts, losses in quality as meat products are highly perishable and economic losses due to low net profit margins for the producers. Four PhD thesis projects will analyse different possibilities to reduce losses and increase efficiency along the pastoral meat value chains. These studies will be jointly implemented between University of Nairobi, the National Museums of Kenya and the German Institute for Agriculture in the Tropics and Subtropics (DITSL) at the University of Kassel in Germany.
    PhD candidates will be registered at either the University of Nairobi or at the University of Kassel.
    The following PhD topics are on offer. In all cases applicants need to have very good knowledge on pastoral production.
    1. Assessing the potential of stratified livestock production and marketing systems to reduce losses along the pastoral meat value chain.
      Interest and good knowledge on: Rangeland management, livestock nutrition and husbandry and livestock marketing.
      Contact: Dr. Oliver Wasonga, University of Nairobi, email Scholarship starts in January 2014.
    2. Assessing the potential of pastoral marketing associations to reduce economic losses.
      Interest and good knowledge on: community based approaches, farmer groups and collective action, institutional economy, network analysis, linking farmers to markets.
      Contact Assoc. Prof. Dr. Brigitte Kaufmann, DITSL, email or Dr. Oliver Wasonga, Starts in January 2014.
    3. Upgrading traditional meat preservation techniques.
      Interest and good knowledge on: Value addition in meat processing, food science, community based approaches, indigenous knowledge in pastoral production system, micro-enterprise development.
      Contact: Dr. Hassan Roba, National Museums of Kenya, email: Scholarship starts in August 2013.
    4. Collaborative learning approaches for stakeholders in the pastoral meat value chain.
      Interest and good knowledge on: Designing interactive learning: adult learning & experiential learning; facilitating and managing learning processes.
      Contact: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Brigitte Kaufmann, Starts in September 2013.
    For each topic we offer a PhD scholarship and the research funds to pursue empirical field research. Furthermore candidates will be able to access research infrastructure at the University of Nairobi, the National Museums of Kenya and the DITSL in Witzenhausen in Germany.
    Qualifications of the applicants:
    • Excellent master or equivalent degree in agricultural sciences, natural resource management, range management, animal production, veterinary sciences, agricultural economics, geography, development studies or related fields.
    • Very good English communication and writing skills
    • Team work orientation and networking skills.
    You are a particularly suitable candidate if you:
    • have your family background in pastoral systems.
    • have practiced and liked participatory research and cooperation with practitioners.
    • Have experience in the area of the PhD study for which you apply.
    Female and male applicants are equally encouraged to apply for these positions.
    Please specify the topic to which you apply and provide a statement of motivation for you to choose this topic. Submit your documents to the respective contact person. Application documents comprise: A letter of motivation (indicating the topic you apply for), Curriculum Vitae, Publication list, Summary of the master thesis, Copies of relevant certificates, Contact details of 2-3 referees. Please submit these documents by email in one single PDF file. Selection of candidates will start on 1st of May 2013 and continue until positions are filled.
  3. » PostDoc position – Transdisciplinary research to reduce post-harvest losses and to add value in food value chains (DITSL)
    Project: GlobE Project: RELOAD;
    subproject: “Transdisciplinary research: Stakeholder processes, knowledge integration and collaborative learning”
    3 years starting 1st of July 2013
    Organisation/Location: DITSL at the University of Kassel, research activities in Kenya
    Application deadline: 30-April-2013, or until the position is filled
    DITSL is a non-profit limited liability company (GmbH) at the Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences of the University of Kassel at Witzenhausen. DITSL conducts research on agricultural systems as human activity systems following an inter- and transdisciplinary social-ecological approach.
    We are looking for a dynamic, highly motivated and innovative scientist for a Post Doc position in the frame of the collaborative research project RELOAD: Reduction of Post Harvest Losses and Value Addition in East African Food Value Chains. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and led by the University of Kassel in Germany.
    Within RELOAD, DITSL leads the subproject “Transdisciplinary research: Stakeholder processes, knowledge integration and collaborative learning”. We will investigate food value chains (mainly milk and meat and to some extent vegetables, grains and tubers) as human activity systems, with a focus on communication, collaboration and competition of various actors. Research will focus on actors, their goals, perspectives, strategies, activities, needs and room for maneuvre. Starting out from a stakeholder analysis and the formation of stakeholder platforms, we will offer learning opportunities to the actors to reveal control options in food value chains - so that losses can be reduced and value addition enhanced. We will explore possibilities for collective action by producer groups to bring about benefits especially in the areas of strengthening marketing capacity and market linkages.
    The Post Doc:
    • will lead research activities in Kenya and is expected to conduct field research for about 4 - 6 months per year,
    • will advance methodology in transdisciplinary research,
    • will contribute to capacity building through training of PhD and MSc students,
    • will support project management (financial, logistic, reporting),
    • will coordinate the research activities with other partners in the RELOAD project.
    We offer a Post Doc position (TV_L 13, 80 %) for 3 years starting 1st of July 2013. The project contains the research funds to pursue extended empirical research abroad.
    Qualifications of the applicant:
    • PhD in agricultural/rural -sociology, -economics, -development or -system science, human or economic geography, organizational behaviour or related discipline.
    • Practical experience in (community based) action research, in designing and facilitating learning processes with producer organisations or in value chain development.
    • Interest and experience in working with scientists of other disciplines and with societal stakeholders in Kenya (and to a limited extent in Ethiopia and Uganda).
    • Fluency in spoken and written English. Knowledge of German and/or Kiswahili is an asset.
    • Very good writing skills, team work orientation and good communication skills.
    Female and male applicants are equally encouraged to apply for this position.
    Application documents:
    • A letter of motivation
    • Curriculum Vitae
    • Publication list
    • Summary of the PhD thesis
    • Copies of relevant certificates
    • Contact details of 2-3 referees
    Please submit these documents by email in a single PDF file to PD Dr. Brigitte Kaufmann (
    Candidate screening will start May 1st 2013 and continue until the position is filled.
    Contact: PD Dr. Brigitte Kaufmann, DITSL GmbH Witzenhausen at the University of Kassel Steinstrasse 19, 37213 Witzenhausen, Phone: +49 (0) 5542 607 19 (direct)
  4. » Post-Doctoral position “Improved nutrient and carbon management strategies and gas emission modeling” (University of Kassel)
    Full-time fixed term-position for three years, starting 01.06.2013, with an option for a 2-year extension, corresponding to § 2 Abs. 2 WissZeitVG, subject to the approval of funds.
    Organisation/Location: Group Organic Plant Production and Agroecosystems Research in the Tropics and Subtropics, Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences, University of Kassel / Burkina Faso and Ghana
    Application deadline: 10-April-2013
    UrbanFoodPlus is a multi-disciplinary network of German, African, and international scientists, private sector representatives, and stakeholders which aims at developing site-specific, farmer-tailored innovations for improved agricultural production, food safety, and value chains in four major West African cities (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Tamale, Ghana; Bamako, Mali; and Bamenda, Cameroon). In the context of this project, a postdoctoral position is available for “Improved nutrient and carbon management strategies and gas emission modeling”. The position cannot be shared. Main place of service is Witzenhausen, regular field work in Africa for several months per year will be required. Fitness for service in the tropics is therefore mandatory.

    The successful candidate will be responsible for:
    • Designing and managing field experiments and demonstration sites in Burkina Faso and Ghana to explore nutrient management innovations which aim at increased nutrient use efficiency in vegetable production (locally available soil & manure additives, biochar)
    • Supporting PhD students who determine bottlenecks in on-farm nutrient management and test improved management strategies in close collaboration with our African and international (CGIAR) partners
    • Quantifying gaseous emissions in urban and periurban gardens and fields and using the collected data for the adaptation and evaluation of the DNDC model - Collaborating with other post-doctoral scientists in linking the DNDC model to the NUANCES modeling framework
    • Supervising 2-3 PhD and MSc students during their field work and in overall data processing
    • Coordinating the GIS data collection in cooperation with the post-doctoral scientist responsible for food insecurity risk mapping
    • Contributing to the extension activities in close collaboration with the international and local partners and organizing local and international workshops
    • PhD degree in agronomy or related fields obtained from a European, North American or Australian university
    • Experience in experimental design and management and in modeling
    • Experience in field work abroad for extended periods of time
    • Knowledge of processes determining nutrient fluxes and losses from agroecosystems
    • Fluent knowledge of English and French language, German language is of advantage
    • Ability and willingness to work in a dedicated team with an international and intercultural background
    Application deadline: April 10, 2013
    The University of Kassel is an equal opportunity employer and aims at increasing the proportion of women in research and teaching. Qualified women are therefore expressly invited to apply. In case of equal qualification, disabled persons will be given preferential consideration. Applications shall indicate the position number and title and shall contain a letter of interest, a CV, copies of all university degrees and contact details of two referees (full address including email). Both, a hard copy and digital version of the application are required! The hard copy should be sent to the President of the University of Kassel, Mönchebergstr. 19, 34109 Kassel, Germany. The digital version (acceptable only as single pdf file!) should be sent to For further information refer to the project website or to Dr. Ellen Hoffmann, University of Kassel, Tel: +49 5542 98 1251, Email:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

China’s Charm Offensive in Africa

Once every two decades China’s leadership transition occurs simultaneously with the US presidential election. Barak Obama was re-elected president for the last 4 years of an 8-year term and Xi Jinping was anointed as chief of the Communist Party and China’s president for the next decade. Both Obama and Jinping have been on their maiden presidential outing.

US President Barak Obama just returned to Washington from Israel; his first visit as president and the first foreign trip in his second term. His visit was crowned with a speech, which simultaneously calmed Israelis fears and nudged them toward a peace agreement with Palestinians. Obama reassured Israel that “as long as there is a United States of America, Atem lo levad: Hebrew for you are not alone.” On Iran Obama was clear,  “America will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran”.

Eight days after his installation the world’s second most powerful man, Xi Jinping, visited the Kremlin. Russia is one of the world's top energy producers, and the visit included signing a $30 billion deal with Rosneft, Russia state-owned oil company. Russia is a priority in China’s foreign policy, to counterbalance the US on diplomatic flashpoints such as Syria, Iran and North Korea.

Xi Jinping’s first stop was Dar es Salaam. China has historical geopolitical interests in Tanzania. In the 1960s Mao funded the 1,800 km Tazara railway. With financing from Export-Import Bank of China, Chinese companies will construct a 542 km pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam. The project will cost $1.2 billion funded by a loan from the. Bilateral trade between China and Tanzania reached $2.47 billion dollars in 2012.
Today Jinping is in Durban, South Africa, to attend the 5th BRICS summit where Brazil, Russia, India China and South Africa are expected to launch a joint infrastructure-focused development bank and a foreign exchange reserve pool, challenging the dominance of the World Bank and IMF.

His last stop is the DR Congo with whom China signed a massive resources-for infrastructure deal.  China will provide $9 billion to finance construction of roads, railways, hospitals, schools, dams and development of mines. On their part, the Congolese government will provide the China with up to 10 million tonnes of copper and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of cobalt. The value untapped resources – cobalt, diamond, copper and gold, hydropower – of the DR Congo are estimated at $24 trillion – three times larger than China’s annual GDP. 

Xi Jinping’s charm offensive is designed to cast China not as exploitative but as a benevolent trading partner deeply engaged in Africa's long-term development. Bilateral trade between Africa and China soared from $10 billion in 2000 to $200 billion today, making China Africa’s largest trading partner. China has offered soft loans worth more than $15 billion to Africa. Many analysts believe that China's direct investment and aid have catalyzed the continent's rapid and sustained economic growth.
China has created a network of trade investment, with over 2,000 Chinese companies operating in 50 African countries. Chinese firms have built more than 3,000 km of roads, over 2,000 km of railway, pipelines and ports in Africa by August 2011. Figures from the 5th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation ministerial meeting in July 2012 reveal that China has pledged to build some 100 schools and 30 hospitals. Over the next few years China will train 5,000 agricultural technicians and set up 14 major agricultural technology centres across Africa. China has also launched an $8-million program with the UNESCO to support educational development in Africa.
So far, China’s influence has not damaged African democratic institutions. China must support the strengthening the institutions of transparency and accountability in Africa’s extractive sector. Although China is currently self-sufficient in grains, it must resist the temptation to grab Africa’s agricultural land. There are indications that China is getting interested in African farming because it will need to import circa 100 million tonnes of grain in the next 20-30 years.
China will overtake the US as the biggest economy by 2016, according to a new report by OECD. But with great power, comes great responsibility. As the epicenter of ivory demand, China must find the moral courage to end trade in illegal ivory. As I have said before, it behooves China to declare an indefinite moratorium on ivory imports and work with African Elephant Range States to intensify protection and conservation efforts. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

County Governors Must Prioritize Water Management

Nairobi’s daily water supply is currently estimated at 530,000 cubic meters per day, against a demand of 750,000 cubic meters per day. The current supply deficit is gravely exacerbated because 40-60% of the water destined for Nairobi is lost owing to spillage and illegal abstraction.

Less than 50% of Nairobi’s residents have direct access to piped water of which only 40% have daily access to running water. Only 22% of residents of the informal settlement, home to 60% of Nairobi’s residents, have access to piped water. The Green City in the Sun is insanitary; only 40% of Nairobi residents are connected to the city’s sewerage infrastructure.

In September 2012, the Ministry of Water, the World Bank and the French Development Agency (AFD), launched a master plan to develop additional supply capacity. Phase one of the plan will is groundwater development in Kiunyu and Ruiru. A second phase will involve inter-basin transfer through the construction of a collector tunnel from Maragua, Gikigie and Irati rivers to Thika reservoir. At a colossal cost of KES 25 billion, these projects will increase supply to a paltry 654,048 cubic meters per day by 2017, against a projected water demand of 1 million cubic meters per day.

Moreover, new ground water sources and inter-basin transfers planned between 2018 and 2030 are unlikely to satisfy the projected demand of 2.5 million cubic meters per day by 2030. Nairobi’s water crisis could only get worse owing to rapid population growth, increasing per capita water demand, population climate fluctuations, managerial incapacity and fiscal constraints.

The solutions proposed in the World Bank and AFD master plan – increasing supply of bulk volumes of portable water from outlying rural districts – were first developed and applied in Europe in the 19th century. Meeting Nairobi’s water demand through inter-basin transfer from outlying from contiguous Counties will be severely complicated by competing demand from agriculture, rising per capita domestic demand and climate change. Moreover, it is likely that poor upland farming communities will demand compensation for the “water services” they provide to wealthier lowland urban populations. 

Reliable access to water is fundamental to strong economic growth because of what it enables. Any County that wants to be commercially attractive and competitive must judiciously manage its water to ensure sufficient and stable supply over the long-term.

Governors beware; efficient water management will be seen as an important signal for attracting business investment, particularly in regions that are vulnerable to water scarcity, such as the Coast, Eastern, Northeastern, parts of Rift Valley and Nairobi. Industries that are water-intensive, such as beverage or agriculture, will not locate investments in counties with poorly managed or declining water supply.

As a country, the demands on our water systems have never been greater. Rapid population growth and a warming planet are worrying, but so are the consequences of our hoped-for economic growth through accelerated industrialization and agricultural expansion. Vision 2030 contemplates massive expansion of irrigated land to achieve national food security goals. We must build resilient water supply systems, comprising multiple sources, capable of handling fluctuations owing to drought or extreme rainfall.

Meeting water needs in the 21st century will require a paradigm shift. The development of novel water supply solutions and demand management measures are urgently needed. We can achieve this through higher levels of water reuse through advances in wastewater technology, mandating greater levels of water efficiency and enforcing proper watershed management.

County Governors should make it mandatory for residential, commercial and industrial buildings to adopt measures of water use efficiency, water reuse and rainwater harvesting. Mandating the installation and use of low flush toilet would reduce water use per flush by 50%. Wastewater or grey water from showers, baths, laundries and kitchens is relatively easy to reuse. With physical filtering and settling, grey water can be recovered for toilet flushing and gardening. An ecological engineering through constructed wetlands can be used for the treatment of wastewater and contaminated roof and urban storm runoff. Imagine how many new green jobs we could create!

There is no shortage of exemplars. Singapore now recovers its wastewater, transforming it into 30% of the country’s water supply. In the South Korean city of Songdo, rainwater traps capture storm water, which is recycled for use in sinks, toilets and dishwashers, dramatically decreasing the need for fresh water. If we want to grow our County economies and create jobs, we must manage our water more efficiently.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Fallen Kingmakers of Kenyan Politics

We learn from history that we don’t learn from history. Kenyan politics, like politics everywhere is full of treachery. There are no permanent friends and alliances are akin to traveling on the New York subway; when you get to the appropriate platform, you may switch from one to another.

Oginga Odinga first met Jomo Kenyatta in 1948. In the early 1960s, while Kenyatta was in detention in Kapenguria, Odinga led other politicians to demand that without the release of Jomo Kenyatta there would no independence, in what became the popular cry “Uhuru na Kenyatta”. Kenyatta was released in 1962 and he became Kenya’s first prime minister and then founding president in 1963, with Odinga as the vice president. Odinga’s relationship with Kenyatta deteriorated dramatically after independence.  In 1966 he resigned as vice president and quit KANU to form his own party. Three years later Tom Mboya the man who was propped as a counter weight to Odinga was assassinated.

Daniel arap Moi become vice president in 1967. His years as vice president were tumultuous. Kihika Kimani, a powerful Nakuru politician and a close ally of Kenyatta actively campaigned to have the constitution changed to stop Moi from succeeding Kenyatta, in the event of his then imminent demise. Moi relied on Charles Njonjo and Mwai Kibaki, his allies in the inner sanctum of Kenyatta’s government to keep his jobs. When Kenyatta died in August 1978, Njonjo single handedly ensured a smooth transition, enabling Moi to ascend to power. So in a sense Njonjo made Moi. Njonjo wielded enormous power in the early years of Moi’s rule. It is believed that he referred to Moi as a passing cloud and that he would at some point ascend to power.

In 1983 Njonjo fell from grace. Bundled out of power through a commission of inquiry. Moi parted with the past and was not beholden to anybody. He was president for 24 years, retiring in 2002 after a peaceful but shambolic handover ceremony to Mwai Kibaki. Kibaki won a landslide victory after Raila Odinga declared “Kibaki Tosha”, bewildering and disenchanting Simeon Nyachae, then a close ally. Kibaki and Odinga had come together under the NARC coalition. Kibaki and Odinga fell out royally in 2005 when Kibaki bundled Odinga and his LDP allies out of his government. In 2007, Raila run against Kibaki and lost in controversial election that led to ethnic violence, killing 1300 people and displacing hundreds of thousands. 

William Ruto and Musalia Mudavadi close allies of Odinga in the 2007 election both left him. Ruto and his URP party formed the Jubilee alliance with Uhuru Kenyatta and won the 2013 election. For all intents and purposes, Ruto, like Odinga, Njonjo and Raila before him is the kingmaker. My advise to Ruto is learn from history, it is not what you think.

Kenyatta will govern from the same playbook; emulating his own father, Moi and of course, Mwai Kibaki. Kenyan kings abhor kingmakers. And Ruto must heed Robert Greene, “When you show yourself to the world and display your talents, you naturally stir all kinds of resentment, envy.” From now henceforth, the preeminent brief of Uhuru’s handlers with respect to Ruto, is “containment”.  Uhuru must at the earliest opportunity free himself from the shackles of Ruto; he must free himself of his debt. And I think TNA will bring in other partners to diminish the risk of being held hostage by Ruto. So Uhuru will destabilize and cannibalize CORD, Kisii, Coast and Western Kenya Counties are particularly vulnerable.

And here is what Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in The Prince “He who blinded by ambition, raises himself to a position whence he cannot mount higher, must thereafter fall with the greatest loss”. Every rule in the book says Ruto will fall; it is just a matter of time. But Ruto is pretty cunning too. It will be very interesting to watch the dynamics in the months ahead. 

And as we learn from the Godfather, it's business, nothing personal. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Kenya's Political Transition: Lessons from China

Last week, in what will go down as his swansong, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao lauded the achievements under his watch; a decade of breathtaking economic growth. With the second largest GDP – $8.24 trillion – the Chinese economy will surpass the United States of America in less than 20 years.

Addressing the National People’s Congress, Wen Jiabao outlined the legions of problems he was bequeathing his successor; widening gulf between the rich and the poor, noxious haze over Chinese cities, rampant water and soil pollution and endemic corruption. In November 2012, Communist Party Chief Xi Jinping warned that unbridled corruption could trigger the collapse of the China’s Communist Party. Wen Jiabao’s advise; “we should have a strong sense of responsibility toward our country and people, work harder and solve these problems more quickly in order to meet people's expectations and never let them down”.

Although dreadfully short on how to deal with the myriad problems, the political China’s political class understands how the ordinary Chinese feel. They feel that the policies that delivered stunning growth have been defiled by corruption and that economic benefit accrues largely to a party-connected elite. The Chinese public also is unhappy about problems with food safety, health care and housing.

What is laudable and, I believe, unprecedented in transition history is the candor of the Communist Party leadership about both it triumphs and failures. Moreover, the leaders take intergenerational responsibility, acknowledging that some of the problems that stalk China have built up over several decades, while others have emerged more recently due to inadequacies and weaknesses in our government work.

Here is why China is relevant to Kenya’s political transition. I have had this administration talk in glowing terms about its unprecedented achievements, and they are many. But I have not heard any acknowledgement of the failures and huge challenges, which the new government will inherit. Some of the problems we face today have been 50 years in the making; some have emerged in the last 10 years. I would like to see Kenya’s politicians taking some responsibility.

Today Kenya is one of the most unequal countries in Africa. The richest 10 % of households spent on average 14.3 times more than the poorest 10% of households in 2011. As a result, the development of broad-based consumer markets is constrained as purchasing power becomes concentrated among a small elite. Only 6.25% of our youth who enter the job market can find high quality, well paying stable jobs. This is problematic and is a tinderbox for social and political instability. 

50 years after independence, progress in education perilous for most of our children and is often associated with massive and unconscionable ruin of human potential. In the last decade we made education free expanded access but failed to provide resources to support our children’s aspiration. Today, the Kenyan education system is beholden to the authority of an overburdened 20th century curricular and paralyzed by the tyranny of high-stakes national examinations. For the massive outlay of public resources – 13.5% of the national budget – our education accomplishes far less for our children and society.

50 years later, a cardinal dream of our founders still eludes us. Kenya’s different ethnic groups can only come together, often fleetingly, if they rationalize a negative stereotype or straw man or propagate a mutually compelling and circumstantial narrative of victimology or fear mongering that casts one or more ethnic groups as the villain. Kenyan politicians learn from very early in the careers to stir toxic ethnic sensitivities. Political parties map neatly along ethnic fault lines. Most Kenyans cannot participate freely in a democratic process because their ethnic chiefs frame the political agenda. Political power is appropriated and perpetuated through a combination of three elements:  the culture of corruption and impunity; harnessing negative ethnicity; and manipulating the youth, which is enabled by chronic poverty and unemployment. 

About one-third of Kenya’s GDP is lost each year owing to corruption. 25-30 % of our budget remains unaccounted for because of mismanagement, poor accounting practices. Loss of one-third of our GDP robs our children of their future, sending millions of children to their graves owing to preventable diseases. It denies our senior citizens ort and security in old age. It makes our streets and neighborhood unsafe.

There is a chance to put Kenya on a path of irreversible socio-economic and political transformation. Will Kenyan politicians have the courage to take responsibility for their achievements and failures? Looking East could offer invaluable lessons. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Uhuru Kenyatta's Presidency could be tempestuous

Article 143 of the Constitution of Kenya: Protection from legal proceedings
 (1) Criminal proceedings shall not be instituted or continued in any court against the President or a person performing the functions of that office, during their tenure of office.

(2) Civil proceedings shall not be instituted in any court against the President or the person performing the functions of that office during their tenure of office in respect of anything done or not done in the exercise of their powers under this Constitution.

(3) Where provision is made in law limiting the time within which proceedings under clause (1) or (2) may be brought against a person, a period of time during which the person holds or performs the functions of the office of the President shall not be taken into account in calculating the period of time prescribed by that law.

(4) The immunity of the President under this Article shall not extend to a crime for which the President may be prosecuted under any treaty to which Kenya is party and which prohibits such immunity.

Article 145 of the Constitution of Kenya: Removal of President by impeachment
 (1) A member of the National Assembly, supported by at least a third of all the members, may move a motion for the impeachment of the

(a) on the ground of a gross violation of a provision of this Constitution or of any other law;
(b) where there are serious reasons for believing that the President has committed a crime under national or international law; or
(c) for gross misconduct.

Raila supporters don't have to fight on the streets

Article 140 of The Constitution of Kenya: Questions as to validity of presidential election

(1) A person may file a petition in the Supreme Court to challenge the election of the President-elect within seven days after the date of the declaration of the results of the presidential election.

(2) Within fourteen days after the filing of a petition under clause (1), the Supreme Court shall hear and determine the petition and its decision shall be final.

(3) If the Supreme Court determines the election of the President-elect to be invalid, a fresh election shall be held within sixty days after the determination.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Africa's Economies Growing on Quicksand

The Economist this week characterizes Africa as aspiring, rising and hopeful. Africa’s lion economies are on the prowl.

The average decline in infant mortality in Africa is now faster than what was achieved in China in the early 1980s. In the US State of Mississippi infant mortality declined by 17.5%, from 11.4 deaths to 9.4 deaths per 1,000 in last decade. Over the same period, Senegal cut infant mortality rate by 38%, from 121 to 72.

Progress in education is heartening. In Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, the Gross Enrollment Ratio in secondary school has increased from less than 10% to nearly 35% between 2000 and 2010. Similarly, University enrollment among the East African Community member states grew by 98-365% between 1999 and 2005. According to McKinsey Global Institute, Africa is set to reap the demographic dividend, adding 122 million people to the workforce between 2010 and 2020. By 2035, Africa’s labour force will top 500 million, surpassing China or India.

According to the 2011 growth estimates by the International Monetary Fund, seven African countries were among the world’s 10 fastest growing economies, each with annual growth rates greater than 6.5%. Trade between Africa and the rest of the world has increased by 200% since 2000. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa increased to $46 billion in 2012, up from $15 billion in 2002.

I hate to rain on Africa’s parade. But I think Africa’s growth could run out of steam if the fundamentals for sustainable economic growth and social stability are not put in place. Here are some issues Africa’s politicians and technocrats must grapple with.

About 300 million Africans earn $700 annually and  a majority of them are employed in subsistence agriculture and informal self-employment. Incomes from such sources are inherently unstable and livelihoods vulnerable. Natural resource sectors (gas, oil, mining) will contributions significantly to national revenue but will not create huge numbers of well paying stable jobs by 2035 for 500 million people. Without well stable incomes, 500 million discontented people are a formidable powder keg for social and political instability.

We can and must learn from other emerging economies. Experience from Brazil, India and China show that job creation strategies must remove barriers to growth along industry value chains and provide infrastructure, financing and human capital for priority sectors to thrive. With the right policy and business environment incentives, African governments can spur growth in globally competitive labor-intensive sectors, which can create thousands of stable jobs.

Holding elections in countries where democracy is weakly institutionalized have disastrous social and economic consequences. During the 1990s, electoral conflicts represented an average of 7.6% of all conflicts, while in the 2000s that number increased to 10.1%. Kenya tops the league table of the most violent elections between 1990 and 2010. More than 1,100 people were killed and 600,000 were displaced. Elections and the economy are tightly coupled. For instance, following the mayhem of Kenya’s 2007 elections growth dropped from 7.1% to 1.6% in 2008.

But Africa deserves credit; today, nearly all of Africa’s 1 billion people now vote in regular national elections. Regular elections, however flawed are a luxury that 1.5 billion Asians, with all their economic power, cannot afford. What must engage us is why the simple act of casting a ballot would trigger an evil orgy of death and plunder.

Weak human capacity is at the core of state incapability and institutional failure among African countries. Liberia’s civil service would take hundreds of years to reach the capability of a country like Singapore and decades to catch up with a moderate capability country like India. A 2011 audit revealed that less than 10 % of Kenya’s civil servants have tertiary education. Similarly, in 1998, less than 3% of the national public administration staff of Mozambique had received higher education. In their essay “Africa’s Growth Tragedy: Policies and Ethnic Divisions”, William Easterly and Ross Levin suggested that ethnic cronyism in public service explains a significant part of most of the factors that contribute to state incapacity and institutional dysfunction that stymie Africa’s socio-economic and political progress.

Africa’s current growth is built on quicksand.  No amount of plaudits by The Economist can substitute for Africa’s lack of capability. Africa will persist in an eternal trap of potential, aspiration and hopefulness as long as her human resources remain week, undermining the efficacy of public and private institutions.

Consequences of Kenya's 2013 Elections

Here is why Kenya's 2013 elections are seminal

1.     This is the first election after the murderous orgies of the 2007 elections;
2.     This the first election held under the new constitution and Kenyans will elect representatives at six levels; President, Governor, Senator, Women’s Representative, Member of Parliament and County Representative;
3.     There will be a second round voting to elect a president if no candidate wins a 50+ 1 majority in the first round;
4.     Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, two individuals indicted by the ICCC for crimes against humanity, are presidential candidate and running mate respectively;
5.      Raila Odinga is the oldest man, after Mwai Kibaki to run for the presidency;
6.     In a test of how far Kenya has moved away from narrow considerations of tribe to a merit based society, Uhuru Kenyatta, son of Kenya’s first president is hoping to succeed Mwai Kibaki, Kenya’s third president and second president from the populous Kikuyu tribe. Kibaki has tacitly endorsed Mr. Kenyatta’s presidential bid;

Here are the likely consequences of the 2013 elections. 

7.     If Raila Odinga loses, this will be the end of more than half-century domination by the Odinga family of politics of the Luo tribe. This could trigger an interesting succession duel for the next Luo kingpin. There are no obvious top contenders who could have the enduring stranglehold of the Odinga’s
8.     If Uhuru Kenyatta loses several things could happen:
a.    The tenuous truce between the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin could fall apart with catastrophic consequences, further complicating the land issues in the Rift Valley;
b.    A vicious political rivalry between the Kikuyu’s and the Kalenjin will ensue, energized by claims of betrayal;
c.     The long practice by the Kikuyu community of never supporting any of the other 41 tribes would come under serious re-consideration;
d.    Out of distrust, the Kikuyu could wander in political wilderness for a really long time, working really hard to win the trust and confidence of other communities in search of a viable political alliance for another presidential bid.
9.     In the event of a second round of voting here is what could happen:
a.    Retired president Moi choses to be consistent and supports Uhuru Kenyatta and helps to consolidate the Kalenjin vote, making a TNA victory highly probable. In this scenario he validates and affirms William Ruto’s leadership of the Kalenjin community, at the expense of his sons and at the risk of putting the last nail on KANU party’s coffin.
b.    Retired president Moi decides he will have the last laugh and settle scores with Kibaki for the despicable way he was treated after Kibaki was elected president in 2002. In this scenario he endorses Raila Odinga and sends a clear message to William Ruto that he is still in charge. Such a move by president Moi would hand Raila Odinga the presidency.
10.  If Raila becomes president, the burden of resolving the Rift Valley land problem will fall on his lap. How he resolves an invigorated animosity between the Kikuyu and the Kalenjin would be interesting to watch. And especially when the evidence against Ruto and Kenyatta at ICC begins to pour forth. This is a landmine and has the potential to be a part of his political legacy, regardless of the outcome.
11.  If Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto win here is what could happen:
a.    They decide the election was a referendum on ICC and refuse to cooperate, putting EU and the US in a very tough position;
b.    A slue of legal suits flood Kenya’s courts, all praying the Kenyatta relinquish the presidency;
c.     The possibility and real attempts of impeachment becomes real, heightening ethnic rivalry and tension among the population in both parliament and the senate;
d.    The state of the economy becomes dire, with the shilling registering a major collapse against the Euro and the dollar, raising the cost of imports such as oil, triggering runaway inflation. 


Free sudoku by SudokuPuzz