Saturday, August 7, 2010

Obama, International Community salute Kenya

Obama, international community salute Kenya
Saturday, 7th August 2010

By Athman Amran and Samuel Otieno

US President Barack Obama was among world leaders who congratulated Kenyans for endorsing a new Constitution.

In a statement, the US President said by holding a peaceful, transparent and credible referendum, the country has made a significant step forward in democracy.
"My Administration has been pleased to support Kenya’s democratic development and the Kenyan people, including through the visit of Vice President Biden earlier this year," the US President said yesterday.

He said by overwhelmingly approving a new Constitution, Kenyans have shown a desire to put the country towards a path of improving governance, greater stability and increased prosperity.
"Kenyans across the political, social, and ethnic spectrum now have a chance to come together to support implementation through an inclusive dialogue," said Obama, adding that reaching out to one another, Kenyans will be able to take advantage of the historic opportunity to move the country forward.

The US President said the implementation of the new law would play a decisive role in achieving these objectives in a way that would benefit all Kenyans.

"As Kenya’s close friend and partner, the United States will work with the international community to support the implementation process, and to stand with the Kenyan people as they reach for a better future," Obama said. Since taking power in 2008, Obama has been constantly critical of Kenya’s sluggish reform process after the 2007 post-election violence.

The Panel of Eminent African Personalities led by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, said it was encouraged by the successful conclusion of the referendum.

Win for all Kenyans

"We very much welcome reports which indicate that Kenyans were able to vote in a free, fair and peaceful atmosphere," the Panel said in a press statement issued from Nairobi.

They said there were no winners or At the same time, Britain, the European Union (EU), Canada and Germany also joined the international community in lauding Kenyans for approving a new Constitution. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said this was a landmark decision that raises hopes for a new era of stability and prosperity in Kenya.

"I hope this result will encourage Kenya’s Government and people to continue to strive for further reform and development," Mr Hague said, promising that the UK will stand by Kenya throughout the reform process.

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said the referendum was a historic event for Kenya and a landmark in the reform agenda.

"The EU trusts that the new Constitution will help to unlock further necessary reforms, such as to its electoral system, police and Judiciary that will enhance Kenya’s future stability and prosperity," Ms Ashton said in a press statement from Brussels. She expressed the EU’s readiness to continue supporting the country in the implementation of the new Constitution and the overall reform agenda.

And the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon said the peaceful referendum demonstrates the Government’s commitment in strengthening governance and accountability and removing inequalities in Kenya.

"Canada supports the Government of Kenya in its efforts to deliver on the reforms both parties in the Coalition Government agreed to in the National Accord of 2008," Cannon said in a press statement from Canada.

German’s federal Minister Guido Westerwelle described the referendum’s outcome as a milestone in the country’s political development.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The answer to Africa hunger is in her hands

Muchiri Karanja NATION Egerton University lecturer and researcher in sweet potatoes Mary Oyunga.
By Muchiri Karanja,

Posted Friday, July 30 2010 at 21:00

Kenyan researcher has made the orange-fleshed sweet potato the work of her life
To her friends, she is know simply as mama Ngwaci, though Mary Anyango Oyunga does not boil and hawk sweet potatoes in the streets.

Instead, this Egerton University-trained food technology graduate’s potato passion is rooted in her life’s work.

Ms Oyunga’s study of indigenous plants resulted in her professional gospel: “God may not give everyone in Africa their daily bread, but there is something much cheaper and more nutritious than bread — the orange-fleshed sweet potato.”

Her research expertise contributed to the development of that breed of sweet potato, and places her among the growing ranks of female African agricultural researchers.

Ms Oyunga’s achievements have been acknowledged by the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development programme, which recently granted her a two-year fellowship.
As one of four Kenyan researchers to receive this honour , Ms Oyunga and fellow women awardees are among just 20 per cent of all agricultural researchers in Kenya. By contrast, women perform nearly 80 per cent of all agricultural work nationwide.

While Ms Oyunga’s work on the sweet potato has fed thousands of Kenyans, it has also fed her career, making her one of the most sought-after indigenous foods researchers in the region, and a member of the prestigious UK-based Nutrition Society.

Her main focus is the breed that she helped create, along with a team of agricultural researchers at Nairobi’s Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. Ms Oyunga believes that the orange-fleshed sweet potato is the answer to Africa’s nutrition woes.
It comes with white, yellow, orange, red or purple skin, and differs from an estimated 214 local varieties of sweet potatoes. That’s because it is not only packed with energising carbohydrates, but also contains as many vital vitamins as mangoes, carrots and green vegetables. Besides improved health, farmers also benefit.
Sweet potatoes need less rain than the country’s staple, maize. The crop yields more produce per acre compared to grains, and unlike grains that can become toxic if stored poorly, the sweet potato does not incur storage costs. The crop can sit in the fields for months unharvested.

To Ms Oyunga, the orange-fleshed sweet potato is much more than a traditional African delicacy — it is a major breakthrough in a country that struggles to feed itself, as thousands grow obese on tonnes of junk food.

She says the orange-fleshed sweet potato might just save millions of lives, more so children.
“Everyday the sweet potato competes with other foods like bread, chapati and cake on the breakfast table; whether it wins or not, I can tell you its more reliable than both,” says Ms Oyunga.

The sweet potato offers an alternative solution to weight-conscious Kenyans due to its low calories.
A 100-gramme serving of boiled orange-fleshed sweet potato contains 85 calories, compared to 220 calories in white bread and 300 in chapati.

Besides, while bread and chapati offer more starch, a serving of orange-fleshed sweet potato offers vitamins A and C similar to a serving of mangoes, carrots or dark green vegetables.
To spread her gospel of the sweet potato, Ms Oyunga has taken her message to the streets of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, where she is researching on street foods.

Less of chapatis
“So far, my research shows that more Kenyans are relying on street food especially in some urban estates. I want to see more sweet potatoes and less of chapatis on the streets,” she says — and she is not alone.

Kari director Ephraim Mukisira says the tubers hold the solution to Kenya’s food security problems.
An acre of sweet potatoes can provide a hundred times more food than an acre of maize, especially in low rainfall areas, he says, adding: “Our hunger problems began when we started edging out our traditional foods, like the sweet potato.”

Dr Muskisira and Ms Oyunga say the sweet potato was viewed as poor villagers’ food. History indicates the sweet potato featured prominently on the English royal dinner tables during the reign of King Henry VIII.

His first wife, Catherine of Aragon, is said to have introduced it in the queen’s palace as part of her dowry.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Clock is Ticking Away when The Big Brother and the World are keenly Watching

All is well That ends Well

We have keenly taken stock of what has failed Kenya all these years. We know who the
enemies of Kenya and Kenyans are, those who are determined to fail Kenya But, we have faith and trust in the two Principles’ Leadership (President Kibaki and PM Raila), we believe they
will deliver the much awaited Reform Agenda through the Referendum in August 4th 2010.
We have faith that the New Constitution will pave ways for a New Era for “The Kenya We all Want” that which we will be proud of.

We also believe majority Kenyans are tired of living a wasted lifestyle. It is time for CHANGE and REFORM in a forward strategy development agenda for progress and prosperity.

It is time Kenya must show the world that "It is Ready for the World" in Economic, Social and Political challenges and competition, that which will provide a balance and make the Universe a better place to live in Unity, Peace and Love, caring and sharing for each other and preserving nature as was purposed by God upon creation.

Big brother and the world are all keenly watching the unfoldings in Kenya as the time keeps ticking.

This will be an opportunity for President Kibaki to offer and deliver a special gift to Kenyans. He will have broken the cord of the Devil which has been holding Kenya backwards and has kept Kenya behind from achieving its development worth, a sorry and truely sad-state-of-affair.

For many years, Kenya has remained sunk into bottomless deeper in oppression, corruption, impunity and in depleting poverty which has caused Kenya to remain behind in their development agenda strategy. This will now remain behind us.

President Kibaki will have in essence delivered true and real "Freedom" to the people of Kenya to mark the dead end of the long, hard and strenuous journey for Kenya’s freedom. Consequently, this move will begin to heal the broken hearted and be able to make history that which will be remembered by all Kenyans for very many years to come. A very memorable record will then be set on the Books of the World History of Fame, that which will have been made in Kenya, following with the rest of Africa in general.

We also noticed President Kibaki has already declared August 4th a holiday for Kenya. Surely this holiday is worth Celebrating in a big-big way. May I take this opportunity to request for a chance on behalf of all Kenyans, sympathizers, friends and foes to provide a moment for “Shake the Leg”? I believe it is prudent? This will suffice for an immediate antidote, a sure way to begin to forget and heal.....Spread the Word people, because, Ni Dawa !.... Let us all CELEBRATE.

We will all value, cherish and celebrate the month of August 4th in a couple of many ways, not
forgetting that, the August 4th is also a Grand Memory Birthday of President Barack Obama,
and for this, President Kibaki will have given Kenyans a privileged opportunity to appreciate and honor the Son of a herdsman from Kogelo "The Pearl of Africa" The President of United States of America in style. Glory to God, what a Blessing!

Seing all women come out to soldier, I am already in a good mood. I must therefore, in advance take this moment of relief and offer appreciation, sending a word of “Thank You” to all from the bottom of my heart. Those who participated in all other ways and means to assist, those who pulled and help put all these activities together to a fruitful end, the push and shove of all kind that brought us this far, with those who stood by me in breathtaking moves, including those who acted in spar of moment upon the sound of the voice of alarm from the wilderness, to all partners and sympathizers, with those who diligently worked on their own volution, doing their own things which they know how that which contributed in part, as a result which has brought us this far, and in the most weird moments in upscale, deserve to be thanked.......and I thank you all.

Most sincerely, I must say, you deserve Kudos President Kibaki! Because of you, we are in a FREEDOM CORNER.

At such times, therefore, when Great Things are about to happen, many are called home to God, BUT, I humbly Pray to God to let me and my family with all those who are in the struggle, have a chance to see and feel the beautiful moment of the end of this Wonderful Story of The long Journey for Struggle, of 50 years to Kenya’s True Independence.

I am looking forward to seeing a situation where the People of Kenya will be in command
to make things happen for purposes of Sustainable Development where in Partnership with the Government, and under the New Constitution will provide Good governance with improved Legal Justice dispensation, where Public will Demand for their needs and provide directions to their legislators for service delivery, while focusing on how they wish to be governed, within the code of Ethics Rules of checks and balances, transparency and accountability, Responsibility and Commitment in a shared Public Services delivery. Or else, lazy leaders will be re-called back for poor performances ............This will in essence be a journey to a success story of True Reform Agenda achieved within time frame ..... proving the fact that, in Faith, “Yes” it can be done People ! ……

Let us not relax, the struggle is not over, we must continue to endeavour in close watch and observation for the best of results.......... Voters must not begin to celebrate until and after election is closed and votes counted.

So Go Vote "YES" on the Referendum Day for a New Beginning.....

Cheers !

Judy Miriga Diaspora Spokesperson Executive Director Confederation Council Foundation for Africa Inc., USA

Onyi Papa Jey - Hon. Omondi Anyanga

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

British court Goldenberg scandal corruption

Economic history

British court Goldenberg scandal corruption

In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama said: “To the people of poor
nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let
clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.”

To achieve this lofty goal, there will have to be reform in how the United
States addresses the issue of food security. Too often, we see this as charity
for those suffering from natural disaster, war or civil unrest. However,
climate change has entered out consciousness as a major cause of hunger. We now
better understand that what had been considered chronically poor rains is
actually a change in climate to which donors and recipients must adapt.
Lifestyles developed over millennia must change, as will the international
response to the issue of hunger. Furthermore, unless we want to provide food
aid indefinitely to the same people in the same areas of Africa, we need to look
at long-term strategies to enable Africans to meet their own food needs.
Capacity building for farmers and cooperatives, better access to international
markets and enhancing available financing are among some of the recommendations
to help Africans become food sufficient in
the long run.

Audit reveals taxpayers losing millions in anti- poverty projects

Updated 16 hr(s) 53 min(s) ago
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By Robert NyasatoThe taxpayer could be losing millions of shillings in grants through the Njaa Marufuku Kenya (NMK) programme, an initiative of the Government to eradicate poverty.
An audit ordered by the Internal Auditor General says laxity in monitoring disbursement of funds and their use was to blame for the rot.

The report notes most groups fizzled out after they received grants contrary to their proposal, which facilitated the funding.

"The groups might have misinterpreted the word ‘grant’ to mean the money was given out freely by the Government. This compromised accountability and transparency," the audit report states in its findings.

For instance in Nyanza Province, an audit conducted in Nyamira District between November 2 and 10, among 21 self-help groups that received grants from NMP since 2005, shows the taxpayer had lost more funds to individuals. The groups received grants amounting to over Sh2.6 million. And the figures are alarming in other provinces.
The report affirms that supervision from the ministries of Agriculture and Livestock was not adequate after facilitation allowance was exhausted.

Diversion of funds
This is why the diversion of funds has been rampant, notes the report. The affected groups include Morara Self Help Group, Nuru Integrated self-help group and Tusaidiane Youth Group, Kiabokire Youth Group.

The Morara self-help group lost Sh70,000 to a civic aspirant. At the same time an organisation which approved the groups proposal blocked it from meeting the NMK after it approved their proposal and gave them Sh369,000.

"It is evident that supervision by the ministries of Agriculture and Livestock was insufficient after facilitation funds got depleted," the report adds.
The audit recommends that there is need to review the name grant and substitute it with one of transparency and accountability to public.
It further recommends steps to be taken to recover funds from groups that received the same and can’t account for it.

The Nuru Integrated self-help group that had embraced commercial poultry farming disintegrated after receiving Sh120,000 in December 2007. The group shared the grant among its members contrary to their proposal, the audit revealed. It is not clear why it deposited Sh40,000 with a jua kali savings and credit cooperative society embroiled in managerial problems, the report adds.

Sharing the grantAnother group, Tusaidiane Youth Group that received Sh120,000 funds in April, 2006 for poultry keeping shared out the funds among its 10 members then dissolved.
At Monfly SHG, which received Sh120,000 for tomato production in April 4, 2006, its members shared out the grant and disintegrated. Others groups on the audit list of fraudsters are Kiabokire Youth Group (Sh120,000), Egetonto Adventist Choir Women Group (Sh120,000), Mwananchi Banto Women Group(Sh120,000) among others.

When contacted, NMK Nyamira District Chairperson Constrata Rabera denied knowledge of any misappropriation of funds by the groups. "As far as I am concerned the fund has helped alleviate poverty to some level and improved food security," she said in an interview.
In Kisii District the story is the same. Local District Agriculture Officer John Katimbwa says some groups started loaning out money after they were given the grants contrary to their initial proposals.

He said the groups received in excess of Sh2.5 million and an audit of the same was on in the country.

From 1991 to 1993, Kenya had its worst economic performance since independence. Growth in GDP stagnated, and agricultural production shrank at an annual rate of 3.9%. Inflation reached a record 100% in August 1993, and the government's budget deficit was over 10% of GDP. As a result of these combined problems, bilateral and multilateral donors suspended program aid to Kenya in 1991.

After independence, Kenya promoted rapid economic growth through public investment, encouragement of smallholder agricultural production, and incentives for private (often foreign) industrial investment. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annual average of 6.6% from 1963 to 1973. Agricultural production grew by 4.7% annually during the same period, stimulated by redistributing estates, diffusing new crop strains, and opening new areas to cultivation. Between 1974 and 1990, however, Kenya's economic performance declined. Inappropriate agricultural policies, inadequate credit, and poor international terms of trade contributed to the decline in agriculture. Kenya's inward-looking policy of import substitution and rising oil prices made Kenya's manufacturing sector uncompetitive. The government began a massive intrusion in the private sector. Lack of export incentives, tight import controls, and foreign exchange controls made the domestic environment for investment even less attractive.

In 1993, the Government of Kenya began a major program of economic reform and liberalization. A new minister of finance and a new governor of the central bank undertook a series of economic measures with the assistance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). As part of this program, the government eliminated price controls and import licensing, removed foreign exchange controls, privatized a range of publicly owned companies, reduced the number of civil servants, and introduced conservative fiscal and monetary policies. From 1994-96, Kenya's real GDP growth rate averaged just over 4% a year.
In 1997, however, the economy entered a period of slowing or stagnant growth, due in part to adverse weather conditions and reduced economic activity prior to general elections in December 1997. In July 1997, the Government of Kenya refused to meet commitments made earlier to the IMF on governance reforms. As a result, the IMF suspended lending for three years, and the World Bank also put a $90 million structural adjustment credit on hold. Although many economic reforms put in place in 1993-94 remained, Kenya needed further reforms, particularly in governance, in order to increase GDP growth and combat poverty among the majority of its population. Lack of progress in the Goldenberg scandal marked an unwillingness to deal with corruption.

The Government of Kenya took some positive steps on reform, including the 1999 establishment of the Kenyan Anti-Corruption Authority, and measures to improve the transparency of government procurements and reduce the government payroll. In July 2000, the IMF signed a $150 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility, and the World Bank followed suit shortly after with a $157 million Economic and Public Sector Reform credit. By early 2001, however, the pace of reform appeared to be slowing again, and the IMF and World Bank programs were in abeyance as the government failed to meet its commitments under the programs.
This is a chart of trend of gross domestic product of Kenya at market prices estimated by the International Monetary Fund with figures in millions of Kenyan Shillings.
Gross Domestic Product
US Dollar Exchange
7.42 Shillings
16.43 Shillings
22.86 Shillings
50.42 Shillings
78.58 Shillings
75.55 Shillings

Forestry and fishing
Resource degradation has reduced output from forestry. In 2004 roundwood removals came to 22,162,000 cubic meters. Fisheries are of local importance around Lake Victoria and have potential on Lake Turkana. Kenya’s total catch reported in 2004 was 128,000 metric tons. However, output from fishing has been declining because of ecological disruption. Pollution, overfishing, and the use of unauthorized fishing equipment have led to falling catches and have endangered local fish species.[1]

[edit] Mining and mineralsKenya has no significant mineral endowment. The mining and quarrying sector makes a negligible contribution to the economy, accounting for less than 1 percent of gross domestic product, the majority contributed by the soda ash operation at Lake Magadi in south-central Kenya. Thanks largely to rising soda ash output, Kenya’s mineral production in 2005 reached more than 1 million tons. One of Kenya’s largest foreign-investment projects in recent years is the planned expansion of Magadi Soda. Apart from soda ash, the chief minerals produced are limestone, gold, salt, and fluorspar.[1]
All unextracted minerals are government property, according to the Mining Act. The Department of Mines and Geology, under the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, controls exploration and exploitation of such minerals.[1]

[edit] Industry and manufacturingAlthough Kenya is the most industrially developed country in East Africa, manufacturing still accounts for only 14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). This level of manufacturing GDP represents only a slight increase since independence. Expansion of the sector after independence, initially rapid, has stagnated since the 1980s, hampered by shortages in hydroelectric power, high energy costs, dilapidated transport infrastructure, and the dumping of cheap imports. Industrial activity, concentrated around the three largest urban centers, Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu, is dominated by food-processing industries such as grain milling, beer production, and sugarcane crushing, and the fabrication of consumer goods, e.g., vehicles from kits. Kenya also has an oil refinery that processes imported crude petroleum into petroleum products, mainly for the domestic market. In addition, a substantial and expanding informal sector engages in small-scale manufacturing of household goods, motor-vehicle parts, and farm implements. About half of the investment in the industrial sector is foreign, with the United Kingdom providing half. The United States is the second largest investor.[1]
Kenya’s inclusion among the beneficiaries of the U.S. Government’s African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has given a boost to manufacturing in recent years. Since AGOA took effect in 2000, Kenya’s clothing sales to the United States increased from US$44 million to US$270 million (2006). Other initiatives to strengthen manufacturing have been the new government’s favorable tax measures, including the removal of duty on capital equipment and other raw materials.[1]

[edit] EnergyThe largest share of Kenya’s electricity supply comes from hydroelectric stations at dams along the upper Tana River, as well as the Turkwel Gorge Dam in the west. A petroleum-fired plant on the coast, geothermal facilities at Olkaria (near Nairobi), and electricity imported from Uganda make up the rest of the supply. Kenya’s installed capacity stood at 1,142 megawatts a year between 2001 and 2003. The state-owned Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), established in 1997 under the name of Kenya Power Company, handles the generation of electricity, while the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), which is slated for privatization, handles transmission and distribution. Shortfalls of electricity occur periodically, when drought reduces water flow. In 1997 and 2000, for example, drought prompted severe power rationing, with economically damaging 12-hour blackouts. Frequent outages, as well as high cost, remain serious obstacles to economic activity. Tax and other concessions are planned to encourage investment in hydroelectricity and in geothermal energy, in which Kenya is a pioneer. The government plans to open two new power stations in 2008, Sondu Miriu (hydroelectric) and Olkaria IV (geothermal), but power demand growth is strong, and demand is still expected to outpace supply during periods of drought.[1]
Kenya has yet to find hydrocarbon reserves on its territory, despite several decades of intermittent exploration. Although Australia continues the search off Kenya’s shore, Kenya currently imports all crude petroleum requirements. Petroleum accounts for 20 to 25 percent of the national import bill. Kenya Petroleum Refineries—a 50:50 joint venture between the government and several oil majors—operates the country’s sole oil refinery in Mombasa, which currently meets 60 percent of local demand for petroleum products. In 2004 oil consumption was estimated at 55,000 barrels a day. Most of the Mombasa refinery’s production is transported via Kenya’s Mombasa–Nairobi pipeline.[1]
[edit] Services

Tourists on a safari in Kenya
Kenya’s services sector, which contributes about 63 percent of GDP, is dominated by tourism. The tourism sector has exhibited steady growth in most years since independence and by the late 1980s had become the country’s principal source of foreign exchange. In the late 1990s, tourism relinquished this position to tea exports, because of a terrorism-related downturn. The downturn followed the 1998 bombing of the U.S Embassy in Nairobi and later negative travel advisories from Western governments. Tourists, the largest number from Germany and the United Kingdom, are attracted mainly to the coastal beaches and the game parks, notably, the expansive Tsavo National Park (20,808 square kilometers) in the southeast. The government and tourist industry organizations have taken steps to address the security problem and to reverse negative publicity. Such steps include establishing a tourist police and launching marketing campaigns in key tourist origin markets. Tourism has seen a substantial revival over the past several years and is the major contributor to the pick-up in the country’s economic growth.[1]
Tourism is now Kenya's largest foreign exchange earning sector, followed by flowers, tea, and coffee. In 2006 tourism generated US$803 million, up from US$699 million the previous year.

Other elements of Kenya’s services sector face challenges of downsizing, in particular, the financial system. The Kenya banking system is supervised by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK). As of late July 2004, the system consisted of 43 commercial banks (down from 48 in 2001), several non-bank financial institutions, including mortgage companies, four savings and loan associations, and several score foreign-exchange bureaus. Two of the four largest banks, the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and the National Bank of Kenya (NBK), are partially government-owned, and the other two are majority foreign-owned (Barclays Bank and Standard Chartered). Most of the many smaller banks are family-owned and -operated.[1]

[edit] LaborIn the early 2000s, agriculture remains the population’s main occupation and source of income. In 2006 Kenya’s labor force was estimated to include about 12 million workers, almost 75 percent in agriculture. The number employed outside small-scale agriculture and pastoralism was about 6 million. In 2004 about 15 percent of the labor force was officially classified as unemployed. Other estimates place Kenya’s unemployment much higher, even up to 40 percent.[1]
[edit] Currency, exchange rate, and inflationThe value of the Kenyan shilling (KSh), Kenya’s unit of currency, declined during President Moi’s last term (1997–2002) from about KSh60 per US$1 in 1998 to KSh78.75 per US$1 in 2002. The exchange rate of the Kenya shilling between 2003 and 2005 averaged about KSh76 to US$1. As of June 1, 2007, the rate was KSh67=US$1.[1]
In 2006 the inflation rate for consumer prices was estimated at 14.5 percent. This rate was a significant rise from the previous year’s 10.3 percent, reflecting higher food prices, which carry a 50 percent weighting in the consumer price index.[1]

[edit] Government budget
The budgets of the Moi era (1978–2002) carried increasingly worrisome deficits, and the Kibaki government’s first budget for fiscal year (FY) 2004 was similarly unbalanced. In 2006 Kenya’s revenues totaled US$4.448 billion, while its estimated expenditures totaled US$5.377 billion. Government budget balance as a percentage of gross domestic product⎯a low –5.5 percent in 2004⎯had improved to –2.1 percent in 2006.[1]

[edit] Foreign economic relations
Since independence, Kenya, a nonaligned but pro-Western country, has seen both substantial foreign investment and significant amounts of development aid, some from the communist bloc, most from the West. Between 60 and 70 percent of industry is still owned from abroad. Development assistance has come from increasingly diverse sources in recent years. The share provided by the United Kingdom has fallen, while that of multilateral agencies, particularly the World Bank and the European Development Fund, has increased. When President Moi left office in December 2002, one of the major concerns of international donors was removed, and they prepared to step up aid. The International Monetary Fund resumed aid after a three-year gap, and others followed suit with pledges of US$4.1 billion from 2004 to 2006 for development and budgetary support. By February 2005, however, relations with donors were again deteriorating, and some promised aid was suspended because of disappointing progress in tackling corruption and in instituting economic reforms, including privatization.[1]

Aside from ties with advanced economies and donors, Kenya is active within regional trade blocs such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC), a partnership of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. The EAC, dissolved in 1977 because of political tensions, was revived in 1997. The ultimate aim of the EAC is to create a common market of the three states modeled on the European Union. Among the early steps toward integration is the customs union of 2004, which eventually will eliminate duties on goods and non-tariff trade barriers among the members. The question of how the EAC will relate to other regional trade blocs, including COMESA and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), is in flux.[1]

Kenyan exports in 2006Kenya’s chief exports are horticultural products and tea. In 2005 the combined value of these commodities was US$1,150 million, about 10 times the value of Kenya’s third most valuable export, coffee. Kenya’s other significant exports are petroleum products, sold to near neighbors, fish, cement, pyrethrum, and sisal. The leading imports are crude petroleum, chemicals, manufactured goods, machinery, and transportation equipment. Africa is Kenya's largest export market, followed by the European Union. The major destinations for exports are the United Kingdom (UK), Tanzania, Uganda, and the Netherlands. Major suppliers are the UK, United Arab Emirates, Japan, and India. Kenya’s main exports to the United States are garments traded under the terms of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Despite AGOA, Kenya’s apparel industry is struggling to hold its ground against Asian competition and runs a trade deficit with the United States.[1]

Kenya typically has a substantial trade deficit. The trade balance fluctuates widely because Kenya’s main exports are primary commodities subject to the effects of both world prices and weather. In 2005 Kenya’s income from exports was about US$3.2 billion. The payment for imports was about US$5.7 billion, yielding a trade deficit of about US$2.5 billion.[1]
In 2006 Kenya had a current account deficit of US$1.5 billion. This figure was a significant increase over 2005, when the current account had a deficit of US$495 million. In 2006 the current account balance as a percentage of gross domestic product was –4.2.[1]
In 2006 Kenya’s external debt totaled US$6.7 billion. The debt is forecast to be a manageable 30 percent of gross domestic product in 2007.[1]

Kenyan policies on foreign investment generally have been favorable since independence, with occasional tightening of restrictions to promote the “Africanization” of enterprises. Foreign investors have been guaranteed ownership and the right to remit dividends, royalties, and capital. In the 1970s, the government disallowed foreign investment unless there was also some government participation in the ownership of an enterprise. Notwithstanding some restrictions, between 60 and 70 percent of industry is still owned from abroad. The most active investors have been the British.[1]

Agriculture and industry have traditionally been viewed as two separate sectors both in terms of their characteristics and their role in economic growth. Agriculture has been considered the hallmark of the first stage of development, while the degree of industrialization has been taken to be the most relevant indicator of a country’s progress along the development path. Moreover, the proper strategy for growth has often been conceived as one of a more or less gradual shift from agriculture to industry, with the onus on agriculture to finance the shift in the first stage.
This view, however, no longer appears to be appropriate. On the one hand, the role of agriculture in the process of development has been reappraised and revalued from the point of view of its contribution to industrialization and its importance for harmonious development and political and economic stability. On the other hand, agriculture itself has become a form of industry, as technology, vertical integration, marketing and consumer preferences have evolved along lines that closely follow the profile of comparable industrial sectors, often of notable complexity and richness of variety and scope. This has meant that the deployment of resources in agriculture has become increasingly responsive to market forces and increasingly integrated in the network of industrial interdependencies. Agricultural products are shaped by technologies of growing complexity, and they incorporate the results of major research and development efforts as well as increasingly sophisticated individual and collective preferences regarding nutrition, health and the environment. While one can still distinguish the phase of production of raw materials from the processing and transformation phase, often this distinction is blurred by the complexity of technology and the extent of vertical integration: the industrialization of agriculture and development of agroprocessing industries is thus a joint process which is generating an entirely new type of industrial sector.

statistical evidence of its economic importance worldwide

before reviewing how conditions for agro-industrial development are currently changing worldwide as a result of changing trade policies and regimes and the evolution of both technology and food consumption patterns.

the growing internationalization of agroprocessing activities, in particular through the increasing importance of international capital activities, and the role played by multinational corporations in this process.

Agroprocessing industry thus means transforming products originating from agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Indeed, a very large part of agricultural production undergoes some degree of transformation between harvesting and final use. The industries that use agricultural, fishery and forest products as raw materials comprise a very varied group.
A further specification is related to the nature of the production process which, in many cases, can range from craft to industrial organization.

This implies that agro-industry today continues to process simple agricultural goods while also transforming highly sophisticated industrial inputs that are often the result of considerable investments in research, technology and innovation. Corresponding to this growing complexity of inputs is an increasing range of transformation processes, characterized by physical and chemical alteration and aimed at improving the marketability of raw materials according to the final end use.

The potential for agro-industrial development in the developing countries is largely linked to the relative abundance of agricultural raw materials and low-cost labour in most of them. The most suitable industries in such conditions are indeed those that make relatively intensive use of these abundant raw materials and unskilled labour and relatively less intensive use of presumably scarce capital and skilled labour.

Many of the industries using agricultural raw materials have in fact those characteristics that make them particularly suitable for the circumstances of many developing countries. Where the raw material represents a large proportion of total costs, its ready availability at a reasonable cost can often offset such disadvantages as a lack of infrastructure or skilled labour. Furthermore, for many agro-industries, a small plant may be economically efficient, which is another important factor in developing countries where the domestic market is limited by low purchasing power and sometimes by the small size of the market itself.

As for the cost structure, raw materials and utilities (water and power) account for well over half the total cost of production in food processing (column 3). In most countries the cost of these inputs represents between 60 and 90 percent of the gross value of production. The proportion tends to fall as productivity rises.

It is important that policies applied at all levels of the food production and processing system are compatible and work towards the achievement of the same goal. Whether in the form of a tax, subsidy, support or tariff, policy interventions must generate net benefits for society. In other words, the loss in fiscal revenue from a reduction in taxes must be more than offset by the increase in jobs and benefits associated with the industry; the cost of a subsidy must be more than offset by gains for the direct and indirect recipients of such a subsidy; relatively high prices must ensure the required increase in production and expansion of the industry concerned, with benefits in terms of employment and income; and the subsidy to final consumers must have net benefits in terms of nutrition and productivity.

Food distribution systems, in particular, have relied on forced procurement and import subsidies, thus lowering simultaneously the supply of local produce and prices of processed food products. Incentives to develop local manufactures for a variety of food products have thus been artificially depressed, especially in sectors such as dairy products, packed meat and wheat derivatives. On the other hand, in several developing countries the rise of a domestic fruit and vegetable processing industry has been indirectly encouraged by the punitive policies adopted against the production of basic food items.

The transition process has changed the economic environment by removing or substantially reducing food subsidies, by privatizing agriculture and industry and by deregulating local markets. In the absence of a comprehensive liberalization programme, however, new disequilibria have been created. Higher retail prices for food are often not transmitted to farmers because the processing industry is free to use market power to appropriate monopolistic rents. At the same time local producers are faced with strong competition from imports of higher-quality, Western processed food.

The current trend towards liberalization and increased market-orientation of agricultural policies opens a series of interesting perspectives for agricultural and agro-industrial producers. In an international macroeconomic framework characterized by low inflation and low interest rates in the industrialized countries, international trade should receive a significant impulse, especially in liberalizing agricultural markets. Growth prospects appear favourable, particularly because of the increasing diversity of food consumption, the switch to high income-elasticity goods and the increasing importance of marketing and processing. These phenomena could result in a massive reallocation of agricultural products along new lines of comparative advantage, following both the new market perspectives and the possibilities disclosed by technology and the evolution of tastes.

a question which has been the object of strong debate between supporters and critics of this type of investment.
Although technological means of improving the environmental performance of many industrial activities already exist, their mere existence does not guarantee that they will be adopted, especially by small firms. One effective way to influence small firms is through extension and advisory services for industries. For example, the Pollution Control Cell of the National Productivity Council in India’s Ministry of Labour works to devise solutions that both reduce pollution and improve profits.
Generally, building pollution prevention into new agrifood investments is cheaper than adding it on later. Hence the importance of undertaking environmental impact assessments for proposed new large-scale investments. Developing countries with open markets will be able to gain from importing clean technologies already in use in industrial countries.
Protecting the consumer

A New Vision for Agriculture
Deepening public-private collaboration to accelerate growth in sustainable agriculture
The IssueIn the past year, food security and economic crises have highlighted both the urgent need and the potential for developing sustainable agri-food systems. Over one billion people, or one out of six globally, do not have access to adequate food and nutrition today. By 2050, the global population will grow to a projected 9.2 billion people, and demand for agricultural products is expected to double. In the intervening years, the agri-food system will face increasing constraints and volatility driven by resource scarcity and climate change, raising the risk of production shortfalls. While substantial gains can be realized through improved technologies, policies, infrastructure and investment, it will require an exceptional level of collaboration among stakeholders in the agricultural value chain including, individual farmers, consumers and entrepreneurs; governments and companies; civil society and multilateral organizations. And while many initiatives and processes are underway, few effectively tap both public and private-sector insights and capacities. Alignment around shared priorities and large-scale initiatives is therefore key to success on both global and regional levels.

A New Vision for Agriculture The World Economic Forum’s Consumer Industries Community is championing an initiative through multi-stakeholder engagement in developing a shared agenda for action to meet food security, economic development and environmental sustainability goals through agriculture. The New Vision for Agriculture initiative engages high-level leaders of industry, government and international institutions and civil society– with support from leading experts – to define joint priorities, recommendations and opportunities for collaboration. Issues to be addressed will vary according to the region and forum, but may include:

Leveraging public and private-sector investment for agricultural growth Boosting good stewardship practices of natural resources and preservation of biodiversity Developing agricultural markets through improved infrastructure and policies Driving economic growth through agriculture, including opportunities for small-scale farmers

Through a series of structured dialogues, engaging key public and private-sector actors, the initiative will provide opportunities to develop shared insights and priorities; provide advisory input and recommendations for focus and action by key stakeholders; and identify and support existing initiatives which offer promising opportunities for collaboration and scaling.

Who Is Involved?This project creates a neutral platform for engagement of a broad array of stakeholders including industry, governments, multilateral organizations, and civil society. The initiative is led by a Project Board comprised of select Consumer Industry Partners of the World Economic Forum. The Project Board provides strategic leadership and oversight to the project, as well as direct championship of its activities.

The New Vision for Agriculture Initiative also receives advisory support from the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Food Security. As a multi-stakeholder group of high-level leaders in the food security arena, the Council works to identify and leverage support for priority actions to improve global food security. The Council will play a key role in the New Vision for Agriculture Initiative through advising and leveraging support for the project’s recommendations.

For more information on this project, please contact:• Helena Leurent, Director, Agriculture, Food & Beverage Community, at • Lisa Dreier, Director, Food Security and Development Initiatives at • Jennifer Baarn, Project Manager, New Vision for Agriculture Project, at

Boosting agricultural productionVarious policy responses have been proposed to reverse the slide in agriculture and help boost production and enhance food security. One of the major responses is the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which was endorsed by African governments in late 2002 in the context of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). The CAADP has three immediate "pillars" and one long-term pillar which together can help tackle Africa’s agricultural crisis. The mutually reinforcing pillars on which to base the immediate improvement of agriculture, food security and trade balance are:

Extending the area under sustainable land management and reliable water control systems. Building up soil fertility and the moisture-holding capacity of agricultural soils, and rapidly increasing the area under irrigation, especially small-scale irrigation, will not only provide farmers with opportunities to raise output on a sustainable basis, but will also contribute to the reliability of food supplies.

Improving rural infrastructure and trade-related capacities for market access. Roads, storage, markets, packaging and handling systems, and input supply networks should be improved to raise the competitiveness of local production vis-Ă -vis imports and export markets.
Increasing food supply and reducing hunger. Several factors including the limited use of irrigation and other inputs undercut crop and livestock yields. There is a need to improve access to technology by small farmers. These can play a major role in increasing food availability close to where it is most needed, raising rural incomes, and expanding employment opportunities and contributing to growth in exports. Food storage and its protection from mildew and pests are of critical importance. It is also important to respond to the growing frequency and severity of disasters and emergencies which impact on food security. In addition, conflict and war also disrupt food production. As a result, more aid is being diverted to emergency relief than to necessary long-term development.

Agricultural research, technology dissemination and adoption is the long-term pillar to achieve accelerated gains in productivity and requires:

Irrigation. Large-scale farming in south-western Burkina Faso.(Source: D. Tiveau/CIFOR)
Smallholder farming using furrow irrigation, Burkina Faso.(Source: Y. Katerere)
enhanced rate of adoption of the most promising available technologies by linking, more efficiently, research and extension systems to producers;
technology delivery systems that quickly bring innovations to farmers and agribusinesses through appropriate use of new information and communication technologies;
renewing the ability of agricultural research systems to efficiently and effectively generate and adapt to Africa’s new knowledge and technologies, including biotechnology; and
mechanisms that reduce the costs and risks of adopting new technologies.

It was estimated that a budget of US$251,000 million for the period 2002-2015 was needed to successfully implement these four pillars. If Africa were to invest in agriculture the total of about US$22,000 million it spends annually on food imports and food aid, it would take the region less than a decade to implement the four proposed agricultural pillars highlighted in the CAADP. The CAADP budget is slightly less than Africa’s total debt of over US$292,000 million for the period 2000-2002. Africa’s debt burden has been described as a major obstacle to the region’s economic growth and poverty reduction, threatening efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly that of halving poverty by 2015.

Further ReadingECA, 2004a. Achieving Sustainable Development: Building Partnerships. Economic Commission for Africa. Africa Investment Forum, 14 September 2004, Johannesburg.
ECA, 2004c. Land Tenure Systems and their Impacts on Food Security and Sustainable Development in Africa. Economic Commission for Africa, Addis Ababa.
FAO, 2002a. Besieged mountain ecosystems start to turn off the tap: reduced water flow threatens agriculture and food security around the globe. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
FAO, 2002c. World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030 - Summary Report. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.
FAOSTAT, 2004. FAOSTAT – FAO Statistical Databases. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
ILRI, 2004. Raising Livestock Production in Africa: summary note. Proceedings of the Assuring Food and Nutrition Security in Africa by 2020: Prioritizing Action, Strengthening Actors, and Facilitating Partnerships Conference. Kampala, Uganda. 1-3 April. International Livestock Research Institute.
NEPAD, 2003. Action Plan for the Environment Initiative. New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Midrand.
UNCTAD, 2004. Economic Development in Africa - Debt Sustainability: Oasis or Mirage? United Nations, New York and Geneva.
UNEP, 2006. Africa Environment Outlook 2
UNEP, 2006. Africa Environment Outlook 2, Annexes
World Bank (undated). AIDS Regional Update: Africa. World Bank, Washington, D.C.

The New Constitution

There are some people who want to imagine Reform Agenda is dead, or corruption will not be done with, just because African corrupt leaders even after they have pinpointed and asked to step down for investigations are stuck in the government and will not oblige. These leaders have stolen so much from their citizens and have stored the stolen money and public utilities in foreign countries……But, with determination of the Civil Society and all people of Africa, things can change extremely dramatically and drastically when we hold firm, enough is enough……and as reformists, we believe, we will achieve our goals just when we stay the course and remain focused. In solidarity we must remain committed to improve living standards and achieve development in Africa…..this means we are looking for “Good Governance free from corruption” with valuable sustainable developmental growth for each and everyone. Please note this quote from UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon, when he said………"Corruption is not some vast impersonal force. It is the result of personal decisions, most often motivated by greed." We must deal with this decisively and without mercy.

Even with the best Constitution put in place, if policy instruments to meet challenges and competition are not sequential, the importance to appropriate role of the government in facilitating it becomes non-effective, a window best created for corruption. It is important that African Country Governments in their varying Political structure, engage in gainful Institutional settings to include Civil Societies, Professionals, Scholars or Academicians, Non-Governmental Organizations with other private organizations (Not hand-picked) to build Developmental Vision in a clear high standard challenging and competitive set goals, with Institutionalized Country-Specifics and Capacity-Specifics specified laid down principles for achieving developmental set goals. We must therefore, expose any element local or foreign who we think is an obstruction to our development success or those who we think are giving cushion cover or back-up support to those who are the machinery for corruption, who are nailing us into poverty den. We must all stand up and challenge bad leadership and bad governance.

We have also noticed some people issuing threats, those who have been paid to perform disruptive measures or speak on behalf of these corrupt leaders so they can stage technical resistance to have status quo of thieving and loopholes of the same to remain the way they are……We have seen like in Kenya the corrupt leaders send their Agents to speak on their behalf, to clear their names from wrong doings and like PNU demanding for a weaker Constitution a reason to cause delaying tactics so that they can continue stealing from public. This must not be allowed and must be at all cost condemned in the strongest term possible.
Corruption is the cause of Africa’s poverty, Ethnic hate and dis-Unity. It is the reason Africa has remain backwards in development, it is the reason Africa is heavily in debt……..who is going to pay all these accrued debt if we do not develop stiff strategy measure to stop this behavior and reclaim our stolen money and resources that have either been banked overseas or been transferred to personal accounts locally or internationally and into their private business investments and international partnership? This is why they are having cushion support from individual personnel in the UN and the International Finance Institutions, the reason why, as Citizens of Africa, it becomes extremely difficult for us to penetrate and stop this chronic menace of corruption.

It is a conspiracy people…..we must fight it all round, locally and internationally. We must collaborate to organize the return of our stolen assets that are and have become the proceeds of corruption by African Leaders. We must be careful, the same corrupt group of people will take this advantage to send ahead of time their own people to be seen to be Agents playing that role of public asset returns, we must remain on top of the game and know who is who so we do not get blackmailed. Therefore, Public Asset Recovery and Return MUST be PEOPLE DEMAND DRIVEN, not Country-led because we will never get to catch these politically connected thieves who steal huge sums of money and facilities under the International conspiracy. This is a high powered network from both within the corrupt Government machinery personnel system led by the Politicians within the UN and the Senior Personnel of International Finance Organizations who provide technicalities for safety-net with the legal framework for exercising safe Corruption Enterprise.

We therefore need concerted help and commitment from the United Nations including the Foreign Government Leadership, the Civil Society, NGOs and Private Organizations to help with the Restrictive Regulation formulation to stamp-out Corruption in African Government all-round system so to achieve sane political landscaping for sustainable development.

Cheers ! !

Judy Miriga
Diaspora Spokesperson
Executive Director
Confederation Council Foundation for Africa Inc., USA

G8 : Playing neatly into the hands of corrupt leaders ...
who have shackled Africa in the chains of misrule
Tuesday 8 July 2008

In the runup to the Group of Eight meeting in Japan last week, activists of all stripes were working hard to ensure that their issue would be on the agenda. While the agenda changes from year to year, one item has become a mainstay: debt relief. The fact that this issue repeatedly resurfaces calls into question the effectiveness of a well-intentioned development tool.

By Franklin Cudjoe

Instead of promoting debt relief year after year, the time has come to pursue more sensible, sustainable solutions. The G8 finance ministers have established several laudable and impressive goals that commit them to facilitating economic growth and development in African countries and affirming the importance of "good financial governance, including long-term fiscal discipline for resource-rich countries."
If African economies are to sustain their growth and lift millions of citizens out of poverty, as India and China have done, better fiscal discipline and financial governance are essential.
For too long, ordinary Africans have struggled to get ahead because of poor governance, corruption and a general lack of economic freedom; the G8 would only perpetuate these policies with its well-intentioned, yet ill-practiced policies on debt forgiveness. More than 90 percent of external debt of heavily indebted poor countries arises from official loans from creditors such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Much of this debt has already been forgiven and paid for by Western taxpayers.
Yet, despite hundreds of billions of dollars in debt cancellation and donor aid, Africa’s leaders and their rock-star champions still demand greater donor assistance to provide even the most basic services. In 2005 the G8 championed debt forgiveness and promised to increase foreign aid spending dramatically.

Debts of past corrupt gov’ts

There does exist some cases in which debt should be forgiven. For example, debt accumulated by rogue leaders, such as the former-Zaire President Joseph Mobutu, should not shackle the current population of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Much debt accumulated under the economic misrule of Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda has been forgiven, and under the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s HIPC program, funds released from debt payments are being used to pay for health programs, among other things. Still, great caution must be exercised in forgiving debt so that it doesn’t reward corrupt leaders and perpetuate failed economic policies.
The G8 goes beyond debt forgiveness by seeking an end to "aggressive litigation" against heavily indebted poor countries. This litigation often arises when investors who have abandoned hope of recovering their debts sell their debt at discounted rates on secondary markets. The secondary market investors then use the judicial system to recover from sovereign states what is owed to them. Disparagingly known as "vulture funds" these investors play an important role in international finance.

Astonishingly corrupt Denis Sassou-Nguesso

Take the case of the Republic of Congo, a country with vast resources that is ruled by the astonishingly corrupt Denis Sassou-Nguesso. Every year the Republic of Congo (distinct from its neighbor the Democratic Republic of Congo) earns almost $6 billion from oil reserves, but little of this is used to improve the lot of ordinary Congolese. According to the United Nations Development Program, Congo’s Human Development Index, which accounts for a range of factors such as life expectancy, health care and education, ranks the country at 139 out of 177.
Over the past 20 years, as the quality of life for most people around the world, particularly in South Asia, has rapidly increased, it has gradually decreased in Congo. The profligate corruption of the ruling elite is part of the problem. Credit-card receipts prove that Denis Christel Sassou-Nguesso, son of Congo’s ruler, charged over $200,000 on luxury items on shopping sprees in Paris and elsewhere. When his president-father’s entourage visited New York for a U.N. summit, they racked up a hotel bill of more than $300,000, paid mostly in cash. Yet Sassou-Nguesso pleaded poverty and refused to pay the country’s debts when they were taken over by hedge fund managers Elliot Associates.
After years of investigating Congo’s actions, Elliot Associates exposed rampant corruption and maladministration in Congo and finally arrived at a settlement.


Yet, the G8 and some U.S. congressmen want to outlaw such practices, playing neatly into the hands of corrupt and venal leaders that have shackled Africa in the chains of their misrule for too long. If the G8 really wants to help Africa, it should work to build sound financial systems and ensure that the ruling elite are held responsible for the debts they incur. To expect less accountability and responsibility from African leaders than the G8 expects from itself is to sell Africa short.
Furthermore, it betrays those Africans, like myself, who are trying to build better societies and economies based on the rule of law, individual responsibility and rights, free trade and private enterprise. Unless the G8 holds governments and the ruling elite accountable for their bad decisions, there will never be any incentive to improve policies and make good financial decisions.
Without such reforms and improved accountability from the real vultures — the ruling elites — ordinary Africans will be kept poor and isolated from the global economy and the hope of a better future.

Franklin Cudjoe is editor of African Liberty and executive director of IMANI Center for Policy and Education, a think tank in Accra, Ghana.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lake Victoria Kenya/Uganda/Tanzania

Lake Victoria -- also known as Victoria Nyanza, Ukerewe, and Nalubaale -- rakes in the superlatives: it is the largest lake on the African continent, the largest tropical lake in the world, and the second largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area. Joined by five others, Lake Victoria is one of the Great Lakes of Africa, extending into three countries: Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania (6, 45, and 49 percent, respectively).

Lake Victoria provides drinking water, hydroelectric power, water transportation, and economic development to the area. The lake supports industries such as commercial fishing, agriculture, trade, tourism, and wildlife preservation.

Though Lake Victoria has been around for more than 400,000 years, the first accounts of human arrival come from Arab traders in the 1100's, who arrived in search of gold, ivory, and slaves. Europeans later arrived in 1858, when British explorers John Hanning Speke and Richard Francis Burton arrived on a central Africa exploration expedition. Believing the lake to be the mouth of the Nile, Speke named it after Queen Victoria of England. Debate ensued on whether the lake actually held title as Mouth of the Nile, and many explorers arrived to either prove or refute Speke's claim. Eventually, the American Explorer Henry Morton Stanley discovered the lake's outflow at Ripon Falls, thus validating Speke's original statement: Lake Victoria forms the headwaters of the great Nile River.

Ripon Falls in Uganda was the only natural outlet for Lake Victoria. With construction of the Owen Falls Dam and Nalubaale Power Station in 1954, the original Falls were submerged. An agreement between Uganda and Egypt dictated that water releases through the dam would correspond with the natural outflow before damming. The Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) operates the power station, which supplies electricity to Uganda and neighboring Kenya. Uganda completed a second hydroelectric powerhouse, the Kiira station, in 2003, and a third power station at the Bujugali Falls has been planned. However, due to prolonged drought and hydropower generation, Lake Victoria water levels have fallen to their lowest levels since 1951, with serious negative impact on fishing, transportation, electricity, and tourism. The three countries bordering Lake Victoria have prepared National Environmental Action Plans, acknowledging that cooperation is necessary to address the challenges of water pollution, biodiversity loss, land and wetlands degradation, and deforestation.

Though Lake Victoria extends into Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, international water travel is not possible. Visitors to the area must choose their country, and the offerings are many. One of the most common ways to reach Lake Victoria is by safari, allowing you to visit the lake, its islands, and several neighboring national parks.

Kenya offers rich natural and cultural offerings, and a visit to the Kenyan shores of Lake Victoria will give you insight into the people and animals that make their home here. Western Kenya is largely unexplored, and absent are the mass of safari vans that so often dot the African landscape. Instead of mass tourism, here you'll participate in cultural immersion and get even deeper insight to African life by overnighting in a home stay. You'll soon find that community-based tourism is a central part of life here, educating visitors and helping local communities sustain themselves.

A Kenya-based Lake Victoria safari usually starts in Nairobi to Ndere Island National Park. Located in the Winam Gulf of Lake Victoria, the island has been uninhabited since 1986. Ndere means "meeting place" in Dholou, and here you will first meet the lake's waters, flora, and fauna. If you're lucky, you'll catch a glimpse of African fish eagles, hippopotamuses, swifts, and Nile crocodiles that are known to make their home here. Later, travel to Homa Bay, a town and bay on the southern shore of Winam Gulf. Gaze at the vast Mount Homa, investigate Ruma National Park, and keep your eyes peeled for giraffes, roan antelope, and hartebeestes. Next stop is usually Rusinga Island, which includes a history museum, native Luo people, and growing sustainable tourism options. Several safaris will also take you to the Maasai Mara National Reserve, where you will meet the native Maasai and explore the landscape before heading back to your home base. Terms of Use

A visit to Lake Victoria's Tanzania coast will likely bring you to one spot: Rubondo Island National Park. The only national park in the country, the 93 square mile island is a mass of green trees, sparkling blue waters, and varied wildlife. Nature lovers will enjoy seeing giraffe, elephants, crocodiles, hippos, monkeys, otters, suni antelope, and marsh mongoose, though bird watchers will be those most satisfied by a visit to Rubondo Island National Park. Home to almost 400 bird species, the island is a avian paradise of cormorants, kingfishers, hornbills, ibises, storks, flycatchers, herons, and many birds of pray, including the world's highest density of fish eagles. There are several tours available on-island, and lodging options are also available, allowing visitors to make the most of their time on Tanzania's Lake Victoria coast.
Uganda, which Winston Churchill called the "pearl of Africa," offers Lake Victoria visitors incredible scenery, vast wildlife populations, and volcanic ranges, all with a background of beautiful snow-capped mountain peaks. Rare mountain gorillas live in the mountains, and among Uganda's tourist offerings are a Gorilla Safari and Chimpanzee treks, offering you scenic vistas and shoreline explorations.

Your days visiting Lake Victoria will be filled with wildlife watching, birdwatching, and appreciation of the varied African landscape around you. Depending on your time constraints and trip goals, choose your country wisely, and you will glimpse the Lake Victoria that Arab traders and European explorers first discovered.