Thursday, 21 November 2013

Kenya's economic Diplomacy, ICC and all that

David Cameron The UK PM: 
Misreading the signs?
CONNECT THE DOTS and tell me what picture emerges. In the last four Months a flurry of events, have happened in Kenya. In early September Nigeria was given 46 oil exploration blocks in Kenya. In October, Tullow Oil, the British owned oil exploration firm that has been active in Kenya, discovering commercially viable wells almost on a monthly basis, ran into trouble with the local community. In November, Kenya’s President attends the Africa-Arab summit in Kuwait. Here the President Called on Arab-Oil Producers to help Kenya exploit her oil and LNG discoveries. Read anything? I read a warning shot to the west.

 Kenya has grown horns and is poking the soft belly of those not taking note. “Choices have consequences,” so said the Former US assistant Secretary of State, Johnny Carlson, as he appeared to warn Kenyans against voting in the Jubilee Alliance. It seems now the same logic is being applied on the West by Kenya. And the West, which is adept at misreading signals from the developing world, is misreading this one too. The message emerging is; “if you rank low in terms of economic importance to Kenya, you shall rank low diplomatically.”

This far, five diplomats from countries thought to be unfriendly, are still waiting for the President’s dairy to open up. Germany, France, Italy, Austria and Japanese Ambassadors are yet to present their accreditation Papers to President Kenyatta. Where diplomatic links are not the soft under belly, the economic card is being played with warning signals that “no country is indispensable for Kenya.”

Although most analysts link this to the West’s support for the ICC on the cases facing the Kenyan President and his deputy for allegedly financing the 200/08 post-election Violence in Kenya, that could only be a catalyst but not the cause.

Frosty relations with the West began with the first Kibaki Administration after the 2002 elections. Kenya was warming up to the east, equipping her security forces with hardware from the east. Here we are talking about vehicles. The Kenya police and military were traditionally using the British Land Rover.

However, come 2003, and they replenished the fleet using Japanese Land cruisers and other vehicles from China. That had the then British High Commissioner in Kenya, Richard Clay, hopping mad and spewing calumny against Kenya government over alleged corruption.  That did not stop the departure. Instead is motivated Clay’s departure from the British Foreign service.

Apart from refusal to buy western merchandise, Kenya also inched closer to China. Before 2003, China was ranked among other donors to Kenya because their contribution was tiny. Then China began to emerge from the shadows, gained its own rank as a development partner in Kenya and has now muscled its way to the top. So china is now a leading economic and diplomatic partner for Kenya.

 This departure to the east rankled the West who began shopping and propping their own Presidential Candidate. In 2007 the West supported Raila Odinga’s ODM party to the hilt. However, he lost to Kibaki igniting the violence for which Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto are facing the charges against Humanity in The Hague.

Some Kenyan analysts believe the West had a hand in the violence. While a report by UNDP, which was nominated by the West to Co-ordinate election observers, said that Kibaki defeated Raila by a margin of 3 percent, the British high Commissioner in Nairobi openly said they do not recognize the “Kenya government as Constituted then.”

Not only do the analysts believe that the West ignited the violence, but that it also played a part in covering up the real perpetrators of the crime. Consequently the frosty relations with Kenyan are expected to continue freezing.

Tragically, the local press appears to blind to the activities in Kenya.When the local press picked the item on delayed diplomatic accreditation, it said the delay to open diplomatic links threatens Kenya’s trade with these countries. Maybe they should have used another argument.  Trade data seen by this publication shows that the countries in question do not rank highly as destinations for Kenyan exports. Africa is the largest market for Kenyan exports. Uganda leads the pack, and even though Britain sneaks in at second place, Tanzania is not far behind. In fact, Tanzania could dethrone Britain in a short while.

The same countries too do not rank among the major origins of imports for Kenya. The top perch has been taken over by India, followed by China, UAE, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia.  Britain, the US, France, Japan and Germany rank relatively low.  But they once were the major origins of imports to Kenya and were slowly edged out during the Kibaki regime.

However, in terms of investment, Britain ranks high: Companies such as Tullow Oil have sunk hundreds of millions of dollars in oil exploration in Kenya. In addition a number of British Multinationals have pitched tent in Kenya. These include; Barclays Bank, standard Chartered Bank and Unilever group among others.

 Analysts in Nairobi say that Uhuru Kenyatta’s cold shoulder against the West, while mainly born of the case facing him and his deputy at the ICC, are just a continuation of the decade long bad blood between Kenya and the west. Unless the West watches what it is doing, say analysts, the relations could get worse. And the warning shots are in the air.

Will Kenya lose? A few people believe that line.  Already the West’s economic muscle in Kenya is insignificant. Their aid contribution is insignificant, and so is the consumption of Kenyan exports. What is significant is their exports to Kenya and to some extend their investments. So Can the West afford to antagonize Kenya to a point where the relations would collapse? Few informed people think so.

Kenya will definitely not push the relations to the brink; it will have to stop somewhere. But at that point, the west’s hold in Kenya will have been considerably weakened.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Ethiopia: The budding energy power house in Africa

The 6000 MW Grand Renaissance Dam 
WHEN THE NEWS broke out that Kenya has struck a deal to import 400MW of electricity from Ethiopia, a common question arose: Does Ethiopia have the capacity? Is Kenya wasting good money chasing for bad?

 That was slightly over a year ago. Now I know better. I have been disabused of my ignorance. Ethiopia not only has the capacity but the potential to supply the entire east African region with electricity. She is a sleeping electric energy giant-a country with a capacity to supply 67 per cent of Africa’s current population.

Ethiopia, which is emerging from years of communist rule and wars, is not only a champion on track races where her athletes give Kenyans a run for their money; she is a star performer in other areas: Her economy has been growing at an average 8 per cent rate for more than a decade.

 Consequently, the country of 90 million people has seen demand for electricity grows by 32 per cent a year. This means that her current output of 2500MW from hydro sources must increase four-fold to 10,000MW to meet domestic demand by 2015. And she is investing heavily in power projects. Already some 170 MW of wind power have been added to the grid.
The 120 MW Ashegoda wind farm

Among the projects in planned to meet this demand is the 6000MW Grand Renaissance Dam on the river Nile.  Construction of this project, worth US$4.8 billion, is being financed entirely by a long term bond targeting Ethiopians in the diaspora. This is a very large project even by African standards.

Further, Ethiopia’s potential in renewable sources of energy is outstanding in Africa and even in the world. Consider this: Experts estimate that Ethiopia's hydropower potential is 45,000 MW. Geothermal power potential is estimated at 5,000 MW, while its wind power potential is believed to be 13000MW, Africa's third-largest behind Egypt and Morocco.

 Now Morocco generates some 26000Mw of electricity from wind power. It was not immediately clear what Egypt’s capacity is. Some Sources indicate that Ethiopia’s wind power capacity is 13,000MW.  The 45,000MW hydro capacity is higher than D.R Congo’s Grand Inga Dam whose capacity is 40,000MW. According to CNN this is twice as much as the Three Gorges dam in China, currently the world's largest hydro project. The Inga dam project, once complete will supply 500 million people with power, says the CNN report.

 However, Ethiopia is way above D.R Congo in terms of potential to produce power. Figure this 45,000MW of hydro power generation is perhaps the highest capacity in the world. Add to that an estimated 13000MW of wind power and 5000MW of geothermal power, not to count solar energy. We are talking about MW of power 63000MW of power concentrated in a single hand.

 This makes Ethiopia the future power supplier for her neighbours including South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania whose power supply capacity does not come anywhere near.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

AL-Shabaab wiped out?

JUST HOW MANY active Al-shabaab operatives are remaining in Somalia? Or just how many are left in the world?  Reports from the front line indicate that the ragtag army of social misfits may have been obliterated in the last one week.

The operation  led by the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) under AMISOM,  targeted  Al Shabaab training camps and its senior commanders in the tri-border area between Middle Juba, Lower Shabelle and Bay region.

 Two senior commanders were killed by a KDF drone at jillib on Sunday, October 26th, the day the operations were launched. A few days later, the Kenya Air force bombarded hurguun training camp in Dinsoor region. The camp is said to host 400 people 300 of who are trainees. An estimated 300 people were killed. Intelligence reports indicate that the dead were buried in mass graves on Friday, November 1st, a day after the attack. The same day, October jillib was again attacked by ground troops using heavy artillery. The size of loss from this assault is not clear.

On November 2nd, the Somali National army killed  more than 30 Al shabbaab insurgents at a logistical base in Kolbio, close to the Kenyan border. On the same date, the Kenya Navy sank a vessel carrying 15 al-shabaab fleeing Dinsoor.

From the intelligence reports, we can estimate that, at the lower side, some 347 Al-shabaab including recruits, trainers and their commanders were wiped out last week. And this is only in the reported incidents. Some incidents such as mop up operations  are never reported. Whatever the case, Al-shabaab is nearly 400 people or more poorer. The ragtag army has effectively been neutralized.

 The AMISOM operation appears to have been designed to not only neutralize Al-shabaab but also to deter future recruits. The fact that they could be neutralized right in their bases is a strong deterrent  to any would-be recruits. They know know contrary to Al-shabaab propaganda, they Local armed forces and specifically KDF, have the capacity  to hit Al-Shabaab anywhere in East Africa.  They also know that an Airforce is  a lethal force that strike with devastating accuracy. The operation also announced the entry into Kenya’s air force assets, of the lethal drones.

 Kenya deployed more than 4,000 troops to Somalia in 2011, blaming the Islamists for a series of kidnappings and the murder of a British tourist at a Kenyan beach resort. Those forces joined African Union troops from Uganda and Burundi as well as a military deployment from Ethiopia in pushing Al-Shabaab out of Somalia’s major population centers including Mogadishu, the capital. The Islamists threatened retaliation against Kenya and other countries with troops in Somalia, bombing a bar in Uganda in 2010 and claiming responsibility for the Westgate attack.

The next target, it seems are the sleeping cells in Kenya, especially in Nairobi and Mombasa. These cells are suspected to be behind the killing of two Pastors in the coastal regions over the past three weeks. But given that there will be no training camps or trainers in Somalia, intelligence sources say, many are likely to be demoralized and abandon the trade.