Bits to Start the Week–Coffee, Al Shabaab, EA Common Market, CIA

More on Kenyan coffee branding from the Business Daily. Kenya’s coffee sector makes up 3.5% of GDP–annual production is currently 50,000, having peaked at 130,000 tonnes in 1989/89, with the decline attributed to “mismanagement, indebtedness and bad returns”
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“Al-Faisal’s gone, questions linger” from Muthoni Wanyeki’s column in the East African.
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Also from the East African, Charles Onyango-Obbo on the East African Common Market: “Who’s Afraid of Big Bad Kenya?”

One commonly hears statements like the “Kenyan economy is bigger than Tanzania’s and Uganda’s combined.” Yes, but that was 20 years ago.

Kenya’s gross domestic product in 1990 was $11 billion. Tanzania’s was $5.4 billion, and Uganda’s $4.03 billion. Kenya’s economy then was bigger than Tanzania and Uganda combined; twice that of Tanzania, and nearly three times Uganda’s.

By 2008, Kenya’s GDP was $31 billion. However Tanzania’s was $21 billion, and Uganda’s $15.8 billion. It’s no longer bigger than Tanzania’s and Uganda’s combined; it is not double that of Tanzania; nor is it three times bigger than Uganda’s. Indeed, depending on the GDP figures you look at in three or so years, Tanzania could be East Africa’s largest economy.

The story of the past 20 years in East Africa, therefore, is not how large Kenya’s economy is compared with those of its neighbours, but rather how much the others have closed the gap.

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“Row Clouds Process to Pick New KAA Boss to Replace Muhoho” from the Sunday Nation is a “must read” as for anyone that wants to assess how locked down or open opportunities in Kenya are now in the second Kibaki administration and how public business gets done.
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Last for now, but not necessarily least, the Standard on CIA Director Leon Panetta’s visit to Nairobi.

“How Kenyan Politics is Shaping Uganda Election Campaign”

New Standard item on linkages between Kenyan and Ugandan parties/factions.  This has a lot of potential to contribute to indirection and lack of transparency in both countries, with lots of extraneous interests–and one more thing to distract Kenyan politicians from getting anything done in the Government of National Unity in the meantime.

In the Quicksands of Somalia | Foreign Affairs

In the Quicksands of Somalia | Foreign Affairs.

I highly recommend this article which I have referred to several friends.  The author was the program officer at the National Endowment for Democracy who worked with our Kenya program funding and I met her briefly on the way to Africa in June 2007.  From my perspective, she seems to have it right and I would simply add that the consequences of the US support for first the invasion by Ethiopia, and then the African Union force to try to uphold the Transitional Federal Government have included the US incurring debts to be paid to other governments in the region, including Kenya and Uganda.