Happy Saba Saba Day–and how is Kenya?. (from July 7, 2012–would appreciate your comments here or by e-mail about what has and has not changed)
Today is the final “Saba Saba Day” in Kenya under the “Government of National Unity.” The presidential campaigns are in full swing and new political parties, alliances and temporary coalitions are announced and denounced weekly.
So how is Kenya?
To be positive, there are lots of important things right in Kenya (as always).
For one thing, there is energy in politics and some real hope that votes will be counted and thus that Kenyans will chose their leaders going forward under the new Constitution. Of course it must be remembered that Kenyans were more hopeful in 2007. An improvement politically is a lack of complacency or naiveté.
The economy in the aggregate continues to grow and attract increased foreign investment. Over the last couple of years taking note of Africa as the last great investment frontier has gotten so commonplace as to be, finally, cliché.
Kenya has tremendous advantages in reference to serving international investors over most other Sub-Saharan African countries at the inception. Aside from Indian Ocean coastline which makes Kenya a natural gateway for Asian trade, Kenya speaks global English and is home to Nairobi which was already well-established during the era of what I have called “the aid bubble” as the favored location for internationals. Whatever happens in South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia in the next few years, a lot of the international support/involvement will come through and be “back officed” in Nairobi. Kenya has been the key regional military ally of the United States throughout its history, while separately serving as “Americans’ favorite African country” in the popular imagination, and attracting a lion’s share of private tourism and aid/mission activity. And of course there are close ties to Great Britain and British companies of long-standing and plenty of interchange with the rest of Europe. Nairobi has been an attractive draw for white African businessmen, especially since the mid-90s, and has become more Continue reading