The U.S. “official” infatuation with Kenya, in numbers

I’ve spent some time looking at “Official Development Assistance” (“ODA”) numbers for Africa to test my perception that the U.S. seems, for some reason that is hard to pin down, to give an inordinate amount of “development” money to Kenya.

At play Monkeys at play on UN vehicle

Sure enough. Going through the ODA summaries by country from the OECD, for each of 47 countries in continental Africa, we find plenty of verification of this. The U.S. is the leading bilateral ODA donor for 25 of the 47, including Kenya (Kenya’s number two donor is Japan). Kenya is the number three recipient of bilateral ODA from the U.S. for a 2010-2011 annual average (the most recent listing) of $642M, behind only the Democratic Republic of Congo at $1,053M and Ethipia at $791M.

On a per capita basis this is $15.53 for DRC, $15.43 for Kenya and $9.34 for Ethiopia. What about “need” based on poverty? PIn the DRC the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is $190; in Ethiopia $400. Kenya, on the other hand, has a GNI per capita of $820, more than double that of Ethiopia and well more than four times that of the DRC.

Across the continent as a whole, Kenya ranks ninth in per capita U.S. ODA. Three countries of those getting more per capita are special cases: Liberia and South Sudan, post-conflict states where the U.S. has a special historic relationship and responsibility relating to the founding of the country itself and Libya, an immediate post-conflict situation where the U.S. government was instrumental in supporting the removal of the prior regime. All of the recipients ahead of Kenya except for the DRC have relatively small populations.

Among the five countries of the East African Community, Kenya receives both the largest amount and the most per capita in ODA from the U.S., even though its GNI per capita is by far the largest:

Country        GNI Per Capita      U.S. Bilateral ODA      Per Capita      Rank/Reference

Burundi           $250                             $48M                      $5.58        2 (1-Belgium 161M)

Kenya             $820                              $642M                   $15.43       1 (2-Japan $139M)

Tanzania         $540                             $546M                    $10.74          1 (2-UK $219M)

Rwanda           $570                             $167M                   $15.32           1 (2-UK $121M)

Uganda           $510                              $388M                   $11.24           1 (2-UK $163M)

————-
And a sampling of other countries of interest:

Somalia           —-                                 $90M                      $9.38           2 (2-UK $107M)

C.A.R.           $470                                $16M                      $3.56           3 (1-France $29M)

Malawi          $340                                $140M                    $9.69           1 (2-UK $126M)

Mali               $610                                $232M                  $14.68          1 (2-Canada $106M)

Niger             $360                                  $97M                     $6.02          1 (2-France $56M)

Chad              $690                                $124M                    $10.75       1 (2-France 45M)

Jamhuri Day, Christmas and the Year Ahead

Happy Jamhuri Day to my friends and readers in Kenya (and Kenyans in the diaspora–even if you don’t get to vote this time!).

FRESH TEA
Fresh Tea

It has been a week since my last post, even though so much is happening on a day to day basis with the Kenyan election and lots of other news in the region–this reflects a few different things.  For one, perhaps what we could call a “Christmas armistice”.  I live in a peaceful place, and I am enjoying the “festive season” here with my family and am committed to a less digital Christmas.  We’ve survived another election here in the States (in spite of ourselves) and there are a several weeks left in the campaign in Kenya and this is a good time to step back a bit.  In particular, for my family, this is the last Christmas before my daughter goes off to college.  I took my son, our youngest, to get his driver’s license yesterday.  These are the things that can’t wait (and that are uniquely my responsibility).

For another, I have been at this blog steadily for three years.  It’s been through various evolutions and trends and this is an appropriate time for reflective recalibration about what I want it to be going forward.  And in the meantime, there are 601 posts out there for those interested.  And too many of those are just “news” and not real writing, and I do know that I want to get back to “better” rather than “more”.

A third is that I have both new freedom, and new constraints that I need to adjust to.  When I started this blog, and for the first two-and-a-half years, I was a lawyer in the defense industry.  For this reason, I always needed to keep a strong separation between my blog and my professional life.  When I attended the African Studies Association or participated in a “bloggers’ roundtable” at the Millennium Challenge Corporation I was on vacation from my job and generally didn’t talk about it much (both awkward and expensive).  When I was living in Kenya and working for the International Republican Institute I kept entirely away from the job from which I was on leave back home.  Now that I am an independent lawyer, I can synthesize what I know from my prior legal experience and otherwise what I do for a living with the blog to whatever extent I chose, so this is easier.  At the same time, I am also now available professionally as a consultant in matters involving East Africa and have accepted some work, so I need to avoid any conflicts arising out the transition from being purely an avocational commentator.

One thing I have reflected on this past week is the issue of how much is similar and how much is dissimilar between the 2007 campaign in Kenya and the 20012/13 campaign.  All of the major players are the same, although Kibaki will be transitioning from President to “retired President” as Moi is called, and is thus not a candidate himself.  I did get somewhat acquainted at that time and in that environment with Raila and Kalonzo and Mudavadi, and did meet Ruto although never sat down with him.  Uhuru and Dr. Willy Mutunga, who was then at the Ford Foundation and is now Chief Justice, were the only people that ever turned down a meeting request on my behalf when I was IRI Director (a nice symmetry in terms of KANU/Establishment versus Civil Society/Activist roles) so I do have some real sense of many of those involved.  On the other hand, a lot has changed in Kenya, for better and worse, since 2007/08.  So although I know much, much more about Kenya from what I have done from here since I moved back, I don’t want to fall into the trap of relying too much on past experience.

One thing this adds up to is that I do want to write more about “democracy promotion” or “assistance” as a subspecies of “foreign aid” in Africa beyond just the current and most recent past campaign in Kenya.  I also want to do more with East Africa as a region in interacting with the United States–I drafted a “year in review” summary regarding IGAD for a bar committee I am participating in which reminded me of interesting things to explore about how domestic politics in Kenya and in the U.S. will influence cooperation and integration among the East African and HOA states. And then there is Somaliland, which is near and dear to my heart, but I am very cautious in writing about.

For now, I’ll leave you with a few links:

“Uhuru Kenyatta did NOT donate 85 million to Mitt Romney’s campaign” says The Kenyan Daily Post.

Alex Thurston in the Sahel Blog: “Amb. Susan Rice as a Window into U.S. Africa Policy, 1993-Present”

Whither Somalia”–Mary Harper, Bronwen Bruton at USIP

Western storytelling, the East African “middle class” and how to account for “politics”

Here we have an interesting paradigmatic story from Der Spiegel, translated from German for their English version, “Up and Coming in Kampala; Africa’s Growing Middle Class Drives Development” by Horand Knaup and Jan Puhl:

Three good anecdotal stories here of successful start-up African businesses generating local jobs and wealth through import substitution with domestic production. They help to grow a domestic consumer market and ultimately look to export as well. One of the two in Uganda got significant assistance from the national government and the Kenyan business got financing from a German international development arm.

She earned her starting capital by importing clothes from the West, but then she began designing her own collections, and soon “Sylvia Owori” was the most popular label among women in East Africa.

Owori has her collection produced by seamstresses in villages. She has trained 200 women and sponsors the purchase of their sewing machines. “When I receive a big order, I can deliver quickly and flexibly,” she says. On the other hand, she says, the women can stand on their own feet when she doesn’t happen to have any work for them.

Her latest creation is a denim laptop bag shaped like the map of Africa. “This bag was once a pair of jeans,” she says. “You threw it into a container for old clothing and sent it to Africa. We made something new out of it and will sell it back to you.” Swedish fashion giant H&M is interested in the bag, and two other Western fashion chains have asked Owori to meet with them in London.

It’s a question of finding new ways to stimulate economic growth. The corrupt oligarchies in many African countries have made money from the export of commodities, but only a fraction of the population has benefited from the proceeds. The growth being generated by Africa’s middle class is more sustainable, say development experts. Much of it is based on the processing of African fabrics, wood and fruits, and it creates jobs.

Good examples of what is going right and working, from two of Africa’s 50+ plus countries. Well done as such.

“She is the epitome of a success story. And success stories are no longer a rarity in Africa, despite its reputation as a continent of poverty and suffering.” Right and important.

But then we get into the broad assertions and big selective extrapolations. “This growth is producing a middle class that’s growing from year to year. According to the African Development Bank, this middle class already includes 313 million people, or 34 percent of the total population.” To say that “this middle class” includes roughly a third of the population of the entire continent is to me quite misleading in the context of this story,

Continue reading

Gration resigns–to leave Embassy late July

U.S. Ambassador Scott Gration released a statement to the media in Kenya this morning stating that he had resigned, effective late July, citing differences with Washington over “my leadership style and certain other priorities.”

See the Standard here.

Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara said: “the resignation of Ambassador Gration is good news for Kenyan-US relations particularly in terms of the reform agenda. He has been too sympathetic to the lords of impunity.”

Cajun Diaspora

“Cajun Crawfish Invading Africa” from National Geographic news via Africa Files:

It’s a far cry from Cajun country, but a U.S. crayfish used in Southern cooking is now eating its way across Africa, scientists say.  Without any native predators to keep it in check, the Louisiana crayfish, also known as the red swamp crayfish, is gobbling up small freshwater fish, fish eggs, mollusks, crustaceans, and aquatic plants. The 6-inch-long (15-centimeter-long) invader is already widely distributed in lakes and other bodies of water throughout Kenya, as well as in Rwanda,  Uganda, Egypt, Zambia, the Seychelles, Mauritius, and South Africa.

Conservationists are now concerned the crayfish will reach the East African lakes of Malawi, Tanganyika, and Victoria, which are home to hundreds—and probably thousands—of species found nowhere else. “By removing animals and plants from wetlands, [the crayfish] can upset the balance of ecosystems and reduce valuable ecosystem functions,” said Geoffrey Howard, global coordinator for invasive species for the Species Programme of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Louisiana crayfish were first imported in the 1970s into Kenya and South Africa, where the species was grown in aquaculture operations.  People bred the species in Kenya’s Lake Naivasha and sold the delicacy to Scandinavian buyers after that region’s native crayfish had been wiped out by disease.  “They are rarely seen or recognized as a threat,” Howard said, “but they have certainly affected the fishery in Naivasha.”  That’s because, “by eating fish eggs and fingerlings, [crayfish] can reduce the populations of fishable fish.” . . .

Upcoming: Panel on challenges to independent media in East Africa

For readers in the Washington area, Tuesday morning from 10:00 – 11:30am, the Center for International Media Assistance, the National Endowment for Democracy Africa Program and the Solidarity Center will be hosting a roundtable discussion entitled “Independent Media in East Africa: Democratic Pillar in Peril?”  Looks like an interesting event with a distinguished panel:

New challenges to independent media are emerging in East Africa. Recently passed anti-terrorism and information laws allow governments to harass and imprison journalists with impunity. Under these new laws, six journalists have been arrested in Ethiopia since June 2011, and Somali journalists are facing tremendous threats covering conflict and famine in their country. How do local media react when their fellow journalists come under attack? How can an independent press play its crucial role as a pillar of democracy and overcome challenges in places such as Sudan and South Sudan, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya? The discussion will also examine the development of unions and media associations as well as the international donor community’s role in supporting independent media in East Africa.

Information and registration here.

East Africa ranks fourth of five regions in 2011 Mo Ibrahim Foundation Governance Rankings–Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya each move up from 2010

2011 Governance Rankings for East Africa
Rank (of 53-followed by raw score)

4th Seychelles 73
13th Tanzania 58
20th Uganda 55
23rd Kenya 53
25th Rwanda 52
29th Djibouti 49
31st Comoros 47
34th Ethiopia 46
37th Burundi 45
47th Eritrea 35
48th Sudan 33
53rd Somalia 8

Here is a link to a summary brochure of the East Africa findings.

Here is my post from last year’s release.  Tanzania has moved up from 15 to 13, Uganda from 24 to 20 and Kenya from 27 to 23.

[Expanded] Piracy Update: attacks spread south as South Africa signs pacts with Kenya, Tanzania and increase in West Africa, too–but what is the real impact on shipping?

“SADC should act strongly against pirates” from the Institute for Security Studies:

The lack of prey and the constant attention of the international fleet participating in Operation Atlanta​ are forcing pirates to move their operations south, towards areas outside the operational arena of the international fleet. Acts of piracy are also increasingly occurring further away from the mainland in international waters. This migration of pirate activity from Somalia is exerting pressure on coastal countries such as Tanzania to step up their efforts to protect vessels traversing their territorial waters.

 Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete commented during his recent visit to South Africa that Tanzania has experienced almost 30 pirate attacks and that the increasing number of incidents are starting to affect the economy of Tanzania and by extension the whole of Eastern Africa. The impact is the result of ships preferring not to visit the ports in Tanzania due to the risk of becoming the victims of pirate attacks.

South Africa, in an effort to curb piracy before it reaches its doorstep, has committed its maritime resources to the fight against pirates. The main motivation for this approach seems to be to fight pirates in the waters of its neighbours whilst ensuring that the South African shipping lanes remain safe and open for business.  Although the South African National Defence Force remains stoically silent about their strategic plan to get involved in the fight against piracy, the actions of the Government support the conceptual properties of a plan of this nature.

The agreements signed between South Africa and other Eastern African countries concerned about the impact of piracy on their economies contributes to this understanding. These countries are Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, the Seychelles, the Comoros, Madagascar and Reunion. . . .

In the meantime, “Piracy Rises Off of West Africa”  notes an AP item in the NY Times.  “‘Piracy soars’ off coast of Benin” reports the BBC.

Here is the link to the website of the “Save Our Seafarers” campaign,  “one of the biggest ever maritime industry groupings, comprising twenty five of the world’s biggest maritime organizations”:

Over 400 seafarers are being held hostage by armed gangs of Somali pirates, in appalling conditions, subject to physical and psychological abuse.

Their ships have been hijacked at sea and they are being held for ransoms of millions of dollars. The human cost to seafarers and their families is enormous.

This affects YOU. Piracy is beginning to strangle key supply routes. 90% of the world’s food, fuel, raw materials and manufactured goods is delivered by sea. Nearly half of the world’s seaborne oil supply passes through the pirate-infested parts of the western and northern Indian Ocean.

But the world’s politicians don’t seem to realise the severity of the crisis. World trade is under threat. Piracy costs the global economy $7-12bn a year. Yet even when caught red handed by naval forces, 80% of pirates are released to attack again.

You can help stop this hostage-taking and help restore the freedom of the seas. Please add your voice to our worldwide call for government action. More robust laws, stronger enforcement and firmer political resolve are needed to stop these pirates.

.  .  .  .

We understand the problems Somalia faces (the most prolific area for attacks) after 20 years of vicious civil war but we believe our innocent seafarers and the global economy have the right to protection.

All we ask is for Governments to take a firmer stance to help eradicate piracy.

We need committed action now and want governments around the globe to prioritise six key actions:

  • Reducing the effectiveness of the easily identifiable motherships
  • Authorising naval forces to hold pirates and deliver them for prosecution and punishment
  • Fully criminalising all acts of piracy and intent to commit piracy under national laws, in accordance with their mandatory duty to co-operate to suppress piracy under international conventions
  • Increasing naval assets available in the affected areas
  • Providing greater protection and support for seafarers
  • Tracing and criminalising the organisers and financiers behind the criminal networks

And, in case you missed it, here is an article from several weeks ago in Bloomberg/Business Week on the “arms race” against piracy.

UPDATE:  The Guardian today has a David Smith story “Piracy off west Africa increases sharply”:

Pirate attacks off the coast of west Africa have increased sharply, figures show, raising fears that the region could emulate Somalia as a menace to shipping.

Nigeria and Benin have reported 22 piracy incidents so far this year, including two in recent days, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said. Benin did not suffer any such attacks last year.

“I believe we are nearly at a crisis here, and if it’s a crisis there has to be action,” Rear Admiral Kenneth Norton, of the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa, told the Associated Press.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which stretches along the coasts of a dozen countries from Guinea to Angola, has escalated from low-level armed robberies to hijackings, cargo thefts and large-scale robberies over the past eight months, according to the Denmark-based security firm Risk Intelligence.

Nigeria, Benin and nearby waters were this month listed in the same risk category as Somalia by the London-based insurers Lloyd’s Market Association. Neil Smith, its head of underwriting, said: “It’s always been a concern for the shipping industry. The model that’s taken root in Somalia might spread to other areas.”

But how much economic impact are Somali pirates actually having?  Well here, from the “Information Dissemination” blog are excepts from a speech by someone in the shipping business who obviously knows a lot about such things:

[I was sent a copy of remarks made by Stephen M. Carmel, Senior Vice President of Maersk Line, Limited given August 3rd, 2011 at the Commander Second Fleet Intelligence Symposium. After reading these remarks, I emailed Steve and publish them here with his permission.   These are his personal views and not those of Maersk Line Limited, nor those of the very diverse shipping industry.]

So, there are lots of things I worry about and lots of things that impose costs on our business that I’d rather not have to deal with; piracy is one, but not the only one and certainly not the worst. On any one of them if we can get someone to provide some relief, that’s great, including piracy. But piracy is not some existential threat to this country, or the maritime industry. That has, and is, my central massage when thinking about piracy. We must keep it in perspective. Piracy today is not remotely as bad as it was during the days of the Barbary Pirates to which it is usually and foolishly compared. Piracy then represented a true threat to the security of a young US. Today piracy has zero direct effect on our economy and I have yet to hear anyone articulate anything approaching a valid national interest that justifies the costs, and risks to US lives, of that mission beyond that it is the traditional role of the US to ensure stability in the global regime from which the US benefits in an overall way. In fact piracy has had no real impact on international trade.

Traffic through the Suez Canal is near record levels according to data from the Suez Canal Authority, global supply chains through that region remain intact and we are not diverting around Africa to avoid pirates, although when bunkers are cheap enough we’ll do it to avoid Suez Canal Tolls, since below about $300/Ton going around Africa is actually cheaper and now that we’re all slow steaming time is less of an issue. Charging around at 24 knots on our big containerships is largely a thing of the past, and sadly so are $300/ton bunkers.

It is interesting to note that the US government, in the form of the Maritime Administration is itself a source of incorrect information regarding the diversion bit, which is important as virtually every “cost of piracy” calculation relies heavily on some assumed diversion inefficiency to have any level of a “wow factor” attached to it. I can tell you that Maersk, the largest container company in the world, does not divert around Africa and I don’t know of any major carrier that does. Anyway – the Maritime Administration has on their web site a cost of piracy point paper which is again reliant on diversion for its major impact. They reference the cost of diverting a 300k ton tanker as one example, but the only problem there is of course a 300k ton tanker can’t get thru the Suez so would always go around the cape anyway so the real cost of diversion is zero, and we’ll come back to tankers in a minute. They also talk about the cost of diverting containerships. When pressed for data on how many containerships are actually making such a diversion they are silent – don’t even answer me. So, take that sort or argument with a bulker load of salt and even the US government itself contributes to the voluminous amount of misleading to patently false information floating around about that.

Unfortunately for us freight rates on the Asia / Europe trade route – the only international route directly impacted by piracy, are not where we’d like them to be due to over capacity and weakening demand, so it is nonsense so say consumers are paying increased costs due to piracy. Shipping companies, in the face of weak fundamentals search for any mechanism to extract an extra nickel out of customers, including things like bunker adjustment factors and now piracy surcharges – which thanks to frothy news headlines shippers “understand”, but in the end it is the total cost of shipping a box that counts and that is not going up.

And in fact is down considerably from the peak in 2006 just before the financial collapse. More to the point, the routine peak-season surcharge that would normally be applied to that route this time of year has been delayed several times because peak season volumes are not materializing – an indicator of a bad Christmas retail season in the US and consequently very bad news for the US economy. So, from a system perspective, piracy is not an issue. That is an important point – we need to view the effects of piracy from a system level, but the highly emotional nature, the human drama associated with a specific piracy incident leads the general public to view it from a specific individual occurrence perspective and generalize that, rather than from a true system level perspective, a giant mismatch in perspective and effect. Piracy is a cost of business just like many other costs of business and business can manage it, just as they do the others. Piracy is a little different though because unlike emissions targets or bunker prices, piracy gets the general public excited, provides politicians a risk free platform for pontificating, all of which provides some of our industry an opportunity to burden shift rather than take responsible measures to protect their ships.

News in the News

One more player is coming to the East African media marketplace.

Al Jazeera to open Swahili service (Daily Maverick):

This is big news for the East African media market, which is already the most vigorous in Africa, and is a huge step for the Qatar-based news outlet. Al Jazeera’s rise to prominence has been meteoric. . . .

Its move into the Swahili market is part of a strategy of global expansion, which includes plans for a Turkish Al Jazeera and a Spanish Al Jazeera. Its presence is likely to raise the standards of journalism in the region, as they’ll be able to pay proper money for content. Swahili is one of Africa’s most popular languages. It is estimated that more than 100 million people speak Swahili (even though only 5 million use it as their first language).

Anyone interested in the state of the media in Kenya needs to read a report from AFRICOG: “AFRICOG Investigative Journalism Fellowship Report on Media Corruption”. A lot of what I see in the Western and International media about the media in Kenya and East Africa in general reminds me of a lot of what was reported about Kenya’s “free public education” system until scandals surfaced. Simply superficial. Yes, on the surface, the media in Kenya is relatively free and relatively robust–but you don’t understand how life becomes “news” in Kenya without appreciating corruption and other influences beneath the surface.