ushering in the new year

Happy new year to all readers.

2011 will be a crucial year for a few countries on the Continent. On January 9th Southern Sudan will vote for secession, creating the newest state in the world. The aftermath of that might be all out war with North Sudan (over borders and oil) and/or civil war in the south (ethnically motivated warfare over control of the new state). That is what most analysts predict. I think there is a glimmer of hope for peace due to heavy Kenyan investment in the south and the desire to build, link and orient the new nation towards the East African Community. Watch this space as it all unfolds.

Uganda will hold elections on February 18th. Yoweri Museveni will win big and dig in even more now that Uganda has oil in the west of the country. Also bolstering Mr. Museveni’s hold on power will be the LRA’s delusional insurgency in the north of the country and the continuing war on terror in the horn of Africa – Uganda’s troops form the core of the African Union (AU) forces in Somalia. Mr. Museveni has been in power since 1986.

The other major election will be in Nigeria, the continental behemoth in the west. President Goodluck Jonathan is favored to win, but his victory will most certainly be tainted with chaos and irregularities.

Other countries holding elections in the new year are Central African Republic, Benin, Madagascar, Cape Verde, Chad, Djibouti, Niger and Liberia.

Electoralism remains largely dysfunctional and inconsequential in Africa because of a myriad of structural impediments (poverty, weak institutions, monarchical presidentialism, etc). In the recent past events in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Cote d’Ivoire have shown how far the Continent is from being a liberal democratic paradise (may be democracy is not for everyone at all times?). 2011′s elections will no doubt fail to buck the trend.

boys dominate 2010 kcpe results

In the just released results (KCPE top performers) of the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams boys have dominated, as usual. The gender disparity, however, appears to be a result of socio-economic conditions. In Nairobi, where most girls do not have to spend hours fetching water, gathering firewood or helping mom plant the fields, girls took 55 of the top 100 slots.

Although not released yet, I am sure that the detailed results will also indicate regional disparities in the provision and quality of education. It appears that no one at Mr. Sam Ongeri’s Ministry appreciates the importance of education as an effective long-run socio-economic equalizer.

Otherwise they would not sit on their hands (when they are not stealing free primary education money) even as the country’s education system continues to reproduce the existing class system.

More on the results here.

gbagbo living on borrowed time

The Central Bank of West African States has signaled the beginning of the end of Laurent Gbagbo’s attempted auto-coup. The BBC reports that the regional reserve bank has denied access to Mr. Gbagbo and his cronies. It is only a matter of time before unpaid soldiers switch alliances and pledge their allegiance to the man that can deliver the paycheck, Mr. Ouattara. Or so I hope.

Mr. Gbagbo lost Cote d’Ivoire’s presidential election to opposition challenger Alassane Ouattara but refused to step down. The international community has thrown its weight behind Mr. Ouattara as the legitimate president. Both men have named their respective cabinets and remain holed up in the commercial capital Abidjan.

 

mps pull kenya from the icc treaty

The Kenyan parliament passed a motion urging the country’s executive to pull out of the ICC treaty. It was left to Gichugu MP Martha Karua to be the sole defender of the ICC process with regard to Kenyan victims of the post-election violence that rocked the country in 2007-08.

The cases against the six named suspects will continue since the procedure to unsign from the treaty takes up to a year and even then signaling the intent to withdraw does not extricate a member country from its obligations while it is still a member. President Kibaki and Premier Odinga have yet to respond to the new developments.

My lukewarm support for the ICC process comes for the fore again: Recognizing the rights of sovereign states to solve their own problems (the Kenyans will not. No illusions about that. They will trade stability for injustice) and while registering my doubt of the ICC’s effectiveness at delivering justice (no apolitical body can do what it purports to do), I am still of the considered opinion that the Chads and CAR’s of this world need an international policeman to keep their tyrannical leaders in check.

suspected drug trafficking kenyan mps named in parliament

John Harun Mwau, William Kabogo, Gideon “Sonko” Mbuvi and Suleiman Joho are the four MPs suspected of being drug traffickers. Prof. George Saitoti, Minister for Internal Security, made the announcement in parliament. Of the four Mr. Mwau’s mention shocked me the most. For some reason I thought his wealth was exclusively from his business skills and sleaze during the Moi era. Messrs Mbuvi and Kabogo have always had rumors of shadiness around them, with the former being a bona fide jailbird. Other suspected MPs include Eugene Wamalwa and Simon Mbugua.

Drug use is on the rise in Kenyan urban centres. It is a shame that it took the intervention of the US Ambassador for the Kenyan security agencies to expose those involved in the destruction of Kenyan lives.

This is yet another example of how the people entrusted with the future of Kenya are the same ones actively undermining it through sleaze, negligence and outright criminality.

More on this here.

Crisis in Cote d’Ivoire

The BBC reports:

The UN’s secretary-general has warned there is a “real risk” of a return to civil war in Ivory Coast after the disputed presidential election.

Ban Ki-moon said the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, was illegally trying to expel the UN’s peacekeeping force after it recognised Alassane Ouattara as victor.

The UNSC should pass a resolution preemptively holding incumbent Laurent Gbagbo personally responsible for any deaths that occur because of his refusal to leave office. Already dozens have died in riots in the Ivorian commercial capital of Abidjan. Mr. Gbagbo lost to Mr. Alassane Ouattara by 8 points.

Since then the world’s biggest exporter of cocoa has been in a state of limbo, with both men swearing themselves in as president. The UN and the wider international community have recognized Mr. Ouattara as the duly elected president of Cote d’Ivoire.

quick hits

The Economist has a piece on the positive prospects for economic growth in SSA in the next few years.

Business Daily reports that Kenya’s property markets are no longer the exclusive preserve of old money or men, for that matter.

Still in Kenya, investment in higher education may start paying off. The BBC reports on Kenya’s growing outsourcing industry. Now they just have to learn Portuguese and Chinese for when they Brazilians and Chinese start calling to ask how to turn their (unplugged) electrical appliances on.

And lastly, Nairobi is (almost) no longer Nairobbery.