Since the 2007 election debacle, pervasive hunger has continued to grow in Kenya, while China and the United States promote and backstop the power of leaders who do not care enough

The population of Kenya has grown roughly 25% since my year “promoting democracy” in 2007-08, from around 40 million to around 50 million. These are loose numbers because they do not reflect anything that is of the highest priority for Kenya’s leaders (and thus those outsiders who promote and underwrite Kenya’s leaders).

Kenya is to conduct a census this year, but the process is politically contentious and corruption makes it hard to carry off undertakings of this nature (another area where the United States seems to be moving toward convergence with Kenya recently). And there is always a new gambit, like “Huduma Namba” that comes along, with the help of Kenya’s politically-connected corporates and foreign corporate foundations, to get in the way of the core functions of the Government of Kenya, like conducting the census.

Unfortunately, although the size of the economy has continued to grow hunger has increased and Kenya remains a “middle income” country where the majority of citizens are inadequately fed. Agricultural performance has actually declined rather than merely grown at an insufficient pace as experienced in many other sectors.

Please take time to read this report from the Daily Nation’ Newsplex: Poor planning and inaction to blame for food insecurity” There are a lot of important facts and figures, but here is a key summary of where things stand:

But despite the decline in the undernourishment rate, which is, however, higher than Africa’s 20 percent, the prevalence of severely food-insecure Kenyans jumped four percentage-points from 32 percent in 2014 to 36 percent in 2017, resulting in Kenya’s ranking as the eighth-worst on the indicator globally.

Yes, Kenya continues to have a problem with employment as a whole and the failure of the various power generation schemes over the years has been one factor for Kenya’s reliance on imports rather than it’s own manufacturing. But the decline of agriculture is the more immediate and inexcusable problem–and would be much easier to address if it were prioritized–as opposed to yet another questionable power generation scheme.

New IMF Survey Predicts 5%+ Average Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa

IMF Regional Economic Outlook: Sub-Saharan Africa

The IMF identifies the biggest risk to a return to record pre-financial crisis growth levels in the region as an overall global slowdown, and also notes risk to the pace of policy reforms from the large number of elections scheduled for 2011.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s trading patterns have shown some dramatic shifts during the last few years toward China and other parts of developing Asia, the report said. These shifts were so marked that, by 2009, China’s share in the sub-Saharan Africa’s total exports and imports exceeded that between China and most other regions in the world.
Exports of goods and services make relatively small contributions to aggregate demand in most sub-Saharan African countries. Europe and other advanced countries remain the region’s dominant trading partners. However, in a minority of countries— including the major natural resource exporters— the impact of developing Asia on global export demand and commodity prices is expected to be significant in both the short and long term.

Overall, trade with Asia is therefore likely to be an increasingly important factor in maintaining growth for the region on its current trajectory. But the key drivers of African growth are likely to remain: political stability; the business climate, including the prudent exploitation of natural resources; and the quality of economic management.

Millennium Challenge Corporation roundtable

The Millennium Challenge Corporation was kind enough to include me this morning in a roundtable discussion on the President’s new global development policy with around a dozen bloggers and Sheila Herrling, Vice President of Policy and Evaluation and Charles Cooper, Vice President of Congressional and Public Affairs.

It was fun for me as someone outside of Washington blogging as a matter of personal interest in the issues I write about to have a place at this table and I certainly learned a good bit about what the administration is getting at with their approach, as well as getting some insight into what some of the “thought leaders” and groups are interested in. Hopefully I contributed to the overall dialogue.

Well worth a vacation morning in Washington. I’ll hope to follow up with some of the other participants and read up a bit and have more on this event over the weekend, but in the meantime, I wanted to make sure to post a public thanks to everyone at MCC who made this available.

Roubini asks: “Africa the Next BRIC?”

More on Africa as the latest hot investment trend, amid growing concern about continued economic slowing in the U.S. and elsewhere in the developed world:

In a new proprietary paper, Roubini Global Economics notes the growing interest in Africa as a global investment destination, as well as a location for organic business start-up: "Low cost labor, a fast growing population and an abundance of natural resources are among the benefits of investing on the continent. According to analysts, the return on investment is the highest in the developing world."