Friday, November 16, 2012

Excellent read on Nation Newspaper on Nov. 15 2012: A National Agenda Elections 2013

The nation newspaper carried a great excerpt yesterday which in my opinion has been one of the most comprehensive and biased look at issues as we approach the election next year. I have been seeing politicians launch their party to great pomp and color but lacking has been substance in form of manifesto’s with a clear road map of what presidential candidates wish to do given a chance. Two of the politicians gunning for president have come up with their 5 point agenda’s. In my opinion some of these agenda’s are very shallow and are not informed by population needs but you can give these two politicians Charity Ngilu and Peter Kenneth for trying.

The following we’re the issues which according to nation newspaper should be addressed by the next chief executive;

1.       Job Creation
2.       Food Security
3.       Health Care
4.       Education
5.       Energy
6.       Water & Environment
7.       Social Protection
8.       Public Infrastructure
9.       National Security & Foreign Policy
10.   Boosting Exports
11.   Devolution & Public Service Reform
12.   Ethnicity

Compare this with what presidential aspirant Peter Kenneth wishes to address;
1.       Water
2.       Infrastructure
3.       Health care
4.       National Security
5.       Education

You will find he falls short in a great deal. The issue of job creation in my opinion is cardinal in this campaign which is lacking in peter Kenneth’s agenda. It is now four months to election date and other major presidential aspirants TNA’s Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM’s Raila Odinga are yet to present a clear agenda as to what they intend to do for this country.

So what have these aspirants been doing?
What I have been observing in the last few months;
·         Presidential candidates have been going across the country populising themselves
·         Coalition talks have been taking center stage with breakfast meetings & lunches and night meetings between different presidential candidates
·         Regional offensive travels. This has been true for TNA’s Uhuru Kenyatta who has visited Tanzania, Sothern Sudan and Burundi while Narc Kenya has been to Southern Sudan 

Presentation by Chris Taggart Co-Founder of Open Corporates on: Holding Companies & their Directors to Account - An Open Data Solution

Imagine a situation where you could search company director’s names and find out which companies they sit on across the world. Well imagine no more. In today’s globally interconnected world where companies have more financial muscle than some governments it is ideal to know these things.
I was therefore happy to sit and listen to Chris Taggart of make his presentation at 88 mph on his initiative to build an open access database with basic information on every corporate entity in the world which can then be remixed and combined with other data, such as government contracts.
What was happening before Open Corporates?
Journalist and researchers had to do manual investigation to track even the most basic facts about a company, such as whether it exists, and who owns it. 
What I took home from this Presentation
Taggard’s presentation opened my eyes on how interconnected companies are in this day and age and how they are using this to their advantage. Some of the things companies are doing are;
·         Registering in multiple countries therefore becoming more complex resulting to their operations becoming even more opaque.  This enables tax avoidance.
·         Colluding with weak governments. This is because ministers of government usually make deals with global businessmen. Open Corporates can help check on some of this incidences.
The other take away of the evening was how to use powerful data-driven tools and open access databases to mine company information from across the world. Though some of this tools one is able to get basic company information and with background data or other sources of information, such as government contracts or regulatory filings, one can gather new insights.
Opportunities that exist on Open Corporates Portal
Some of the opportunities that arose from this presentation are;
·         How Kenyan Hacks can use this portal to check on elected or government officials and interests they may have on companies
·         In an election year. Hacks can check on interests different politicians have across the world and use this for meaningful engagement.
·         Africa is currently having a massive Chinese confluence. Most of these Chinese Companies usually register companies in these countries. If made open, this data can help us understand the Chinese companies and shed light to money flow between Asia and Africa.
Bottom line is that Open Corporates can help check on corruption and make our societies more transparent.
Kenya though a signatory of Open Data is yet to release the company registry data. I learnt that monies to this effect we’re allocated by World Bank. What remains is how soon this information will be made public. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Events: Annual Seminar of Observatory of the Great Lakes in Africa, Nov. 29 2012 @ the Institut Catholique de Paris

IFRA is pleased to invite you to the annual seminar of the Observatory of the Great Lakes in Africa to be held at the Institut Catholique de Paris
Date: Thursday, November 29, 2012. 

The presentations and discussions will be held in French and English. The seminar will be organized along three axes: 
1.       The evolution of political regimes in the Great Lakes
2.       Challenges of regional integration
3.       The current crises in the Great Lakes

The full program is available on the IFRA website

President Barack Obama to American People: 'Thank you. This is your victory'