Friday, January 31, 2014

Event: Kenya’s Songs of Protest: Documentary & CD Compilation Preview Concert, Jan. 31 2014 @ Alliance Française

Songs of Protest
In the recent past Kenya experienced different forms of protest. The protests have ranged to the eye catching Occupy Parliament protests lead by photo activist Boniface Mwangi protesting the high pay Members of Parliament enjoy to the recent protests against new taxes by county governments.   

Musicians have not been left behind and you have quite a number of young musicians telling truth to the people in power through music. Some of this music is quite popular since it deals with issues of bread and butter and the current problems being experienced. 

Therefore the exhibition above ought to be a MUST attend event for anyone interested in issues of governance.

Date: January 31, 2014
Venue: Alliance Française
Time: 7-11 pm
Free Entrance

Performance by: Just a Band, Sarabi, Eric Wainaina and Makadem
Hosted by: John Sibi-Okumu

Friday, January 24, 2014

Opportunity: Washington Fellowship of Young African Leaders 2014 by January 27 2014

Lecture: Origins of Political Order by Prof. Francis Fukuyama on Jan. 22 2014 @ Strathmore Business School

Lecture Poster
Professor Francis Fukuyana gave a lecture titled the Origin of Political Order on Wednesday evening at the Strathmore Business Auditorium. The lecture was premised on his most recent book going by the same title.  The professor kicked off his lecture by giving us a background on the thought process plus what influenced him to come up with this book. The September 11 2001 twin tower attacks by terrorist and America's quest to attack Iraq and result to a nation building war / exercise were the catalysts. Hence he embarked on a search of the origins of political order since intervention by the United States tended to get things wrong on the countries that they wanted to 'democratise'.

The professor also enumerated the evolution of political order and classified this into three components namely;

  1. The State [the formation of the state as we know it today by the Chinese and how war and dynasty conflicts was instrumental to this. Notable was the mention of German Sociologist Max Weber]
  2. The Rule of Law [under the rule of law the professor highlighted the role of religion and notable mention was Pope Gregory the 7th and his work on reforming the Catholic Church]
  3. Institutions of Accountability [Lastly, was democracy and why he prefers to Accountability as opposed to democracy]
On the last classification, the professor went to great lengths to showcase that in authoritarian regimes such as China there is considerable accountability in this case in economic terms. The central committee is try as much as possible to secure economic opportunities for its citizens and this nuance is as a result of its unique history. 

Lastly the Prof. Fukuyama tried to tackle Africa from the position of an outsider. He concurred with the Africa Rising narrative and made specific observations. He then concluded by making us aware of a sequel to his book will be published this year. The book looks at the origin of political order in Africa.

The output and learning points from Prof. Fukuyama was there is need to understand local nuances before engaging in democratisation projects by international institutions. I think his works might inform current concepts such as R2P.

Find Prof. Fukuyama Bio and his current projects here:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

IMF’s MD Christine Lagarde Visit to Kenya: Dispatches from Mindspeak Forum

Mindspeak Poster
I attended the Mindspeak forum on Monday, January 6 2014 where the key guest was the IMF MD Christine Lagarde. Ms Lagarde was in the country for a three day working visit.

Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), will visit Kenya from January 5–8, 2014, to meet with policymakers and other representatives of Kenyan society. – IMF Press Release No. 14/01 January 2,2014

Notable things picked from this session is despite the look east policy adopted by Kenya plus the perceived thawing of relations brought about by the ICC case the country has been engaging the IMF. To date Kenya has received almost $ 1 B from the time IMF. The monies we necessitated by a rapid decline in the value of Kenya Shilling to the dollar in the year 2012. The country applied for IMF short term lending which was approved and disbursement of these funds was divided into three tranches. The last which was approved by the BoD of IMF just before Lagarde jetted in.

Other insights gain from the MD speech was the health of Kenyan Economy. As pointed out –

‘Indeed, Kenya’s economic gains over the past few years have been nothing short of remarkable. Coming on the heels of a delicate political transition, growth remains robust—at more than 5 percent in 2013. And a set of bold economic reforms have laid the foundations to lift the economy to middle-income status within the next decade—if Kenya maintains the reform momentum.’ - Christine Lagarde

This is essentially important given Kenya will be launching a Eurobond either at the end of this month or in February 2014. The assurances from the IMF will certainly go a long way in making the bond issue a success.

The other aspects which were addressed by the speech were the growth prospects for SSA tagged together with the risks to look out for. In her off the cuff remarks Ms Lagarde mention with the recovery of Western markets capital is expected to flow back from emerging markets to the developed markets as the returns there become more meaningful.

‘Overall, we expect Sub-Saharan Africa to enjoy continued robust growth—which our projections in October place at 5 percent in 2013 and close to 6 percent in 2014. But this outlook is not without risks. Policymakers must remain vigilant to threats from slower demand in emerging market economies, unfavorable changes in commodity prices, or higher financing costs.’ - Christine Lagarde

On the quest of Middle Income Status by Kenya m/s Lagarde offered a roadmap in her three C’s namely;
  1. Completing fiscal devolution; 
  2. Closing infrastructure gaps; and 
  3. Continuing regional
The full speech by m/s Lagarde can be accessed here