29 January 2008


It's really incredible that we've sent out a hundred posts since i started this blog last summer.Actually i'm not a good writer but luckily i'm sensible to problems,especially what is happening to my sweet Africa and i can't just sit down and watch,without giving my own contributions in my own way.I know the journey is far too long but i also believe step by step,we'll one day achieve some good results from the seeds many out there are sowing.

Haven met a lot of people,friends and well wishers in this adventure,i used this opportunity to thank all of you good fellows who read me often and for the experience i've gathered also coming to know you through your blogs.
This day is important to me because initially it was a challenge as i never new exactly what blogging was all about.I'll consequently consider this experience as a beginning that will enable me gear towards other goals.
I wish on this day that all the conflicts devastating our beloved continent should come to an unconditional end,extending my cry to all leaders,the masses,politicians,chiefs,musicians,artists,footballers,civil servants,business and laymen,men and women;please stop the killing of Africans by Africans.We are doing harm just to ourselves and to no one else.The aid would only come after disaster has left a lot of wounds that aren't easy to heal in our hearts.
Think of the children,the old,the women and the future of your communities,violence will never be the solution,whatever be the reason.
Luckily watching the AFRICAN NATION'S CUP in Ghana,one has the possibility of seeing the actual colors of Africa full of folklore and happiness,despite the hardship.
I'm sure the pursuit for positve development will continue in Africa so long as there are many people of goodwill out there contributing everyday for this long acclaimed social change!

21 January 2008


15 January 2008

FAMILY DESTINATION | AFRICA; Trips to Help Shape the World

HAVING watched celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Bono give their time and money to Africa in recent years, families can now play a role in the global campaign to ''make poverty history,'' while also enjoying the beauty of the land -- and maybe even a quick safari.

Thanks to a group of volunteer organizations now offering ''volun-tourism'' trips to Africa, families can take part in vacations that involve clearing trails, building houses, teaching the young and helping the elderly in tribal villages throughout the continent.

''I think parents are getting tired of the typical beach resort with a kid's club,'' said Kristina Pentland, a spokeswoman for ResponsibleTravel.com, a Web directory of thousands of prescreened vacation operators from around the world who work to ensure that the local communities benefit and the environment suffers minimally from tourism.

''Now they are looking for destinations where they can immerse themselves in the local culture, experience the benefits of giving back, and bond as a family in a more life-altering way. Africa is one of those places that they hear so much about and really want to see,'' she said, adding that a Kenya family volunteer and safari trip (a 10-day trip that combines both community development work, time on the beach and a visit to an elephant sanctuary) is now particularly popular, despite a cost of roughly $4,000 per family for a 2- to 3-bed tent or $5,200 for a 4- to 5-bed tent, not including flights.

David Taylor, a psychiatrist living in California decided to forgo a bar mitzvah for his son, Virgil, in 2006, in favor of a three-week trip to Tanzania with Global Citizens Network, a nonprofit volunteer organization based in Minnesota that welcomes families. ''Part of my motivation was to expose him to what the world is like and make him think about what he can do to shape it,'' said Mr. Taylor, who, along with his son and a team of volunteers, split rocks to help prepare a new school building site in a hill town. ''It was daunting,'' said Mr. Taylor, remembering the lack of books and teachers at the local school, which led to his son's running an art class with the supplies they had brought over with them.

Brandon Wick, a spokesman for Cross-Cultural Solutions, an organization that sends volunteers on a wide range of international community work projects, said the company recently added a second volunteering trip to Tanzania in the coastal area of Bagamoyo, in addition to one it already operates in Kilimanjaro. ''It was our response to demand as there is such a great interest in Africa right now,'' he said, adding that children under 16 work alongside their parents on projects, rather than engage in separate volunteer activities. ''Most parents work in schools so the children can enjoy the cultural exchange.''

Cross-Cultural Solutions' trip to Tanzania costs $2,885 per adult for three weeks and $1,709 for children under 12, not including airfares, and is tax deductible, Mr. Wick said. Programs are run year around.

Luckily for those who actually want something of a vacation while on these trips, almost every African family volunteer program includes activities beyond work, whether it be hiking, taking drum or dance lessons, or learning a few words of Swahili. And though some accommodations are less luxurious (sleeping in tents or in a room shared with your fellow trip mates), that is also meant to be part of the experience.

''Ours was not a fun trip in the traditional sense,'' said Mr. Taylor of his journey to Africa with his son, even though they did add on a safari. ''But it will be in our minds for a lifetime.''

Cave to Casbah: Adventure for All Ages

The family vacation is increasingly taking an adventurous turn, with more parents looking for exotic alternatives to yet another trip to Disney World. Here are three far-flung destinations on some families' to-do lists for 2008:
Vietnam has historic cities (the picturesque French colonial outpost Hanoi; Hue, a Buddhist center and former imperial capital; and the bustling, urban Ho Chi Minh City), as well as beaches, caves, parks, pagodas and museums. Children should love being pedaled around on a cyclo, shopping at the markets, and even eating the food (kid-friendly noodle soups are a Vietnamese specialty). And parents need not worry about finding suitable accommodations -- nearly every major hotel chain now has an outlet in Vietnam.

Rock the casbah in Morocco by first visiting Marrakesh, where the main square is like a circus for kids with snake charmers, jugglers, acrobats and food stalls (lots of child-friendly chicken and couscous here). Then head across the Atlas Mountains and stay in a real 17th-century casbah in the desert. With souks, Berber villages, Roman ruins and even camel trekking, Morocco has something for every age.

Croatia has not only the historic cities of Dubrovnik and Split to offer, but also the ''Dalmatian Riviera,'' where active families can take part in sailing, kayaking and even mountain biking trips around the various Croatian islands. This region has some of Europe's best seafood, though the kids might prefer bureks (pies filled with beef or cheese).

14 January 2008

Nigeria takes on tobacco giants

Nigeria's government is suing three international tobacco firms for $44bn (£22bn) - the first such case in the developing world - due to start in the capital, Abuja.

Smoking at a young age is a problem across Africa. Tobacco manufacturers are putting unacceptable pressure on the country's health services, and companies are targeting younger and younger people in an attempt to replace former smokers in Europe and America.

British American Tobacco (BAT), Philip Morris and International Tobacco Ltd, deny the claims and say they are socially responsible companies who do not target children.

They question the massive sums demanded by the government and say the case "has no merit".

But government lawyers are convinced they have a strong case.

E-mails between tobacco firm employees to be shown to the court in the capital Abuja will reveal deliberate attempts to increase the number of "young and underage" smokers and attempts to influence lawmakers to keep tobacco sales unregulated, they say.

Documents we have refer to ways of increasing the number of 'YAUS' [Young And Underage Smokers] in Nigeria
Babatunde Irukera
Government lawyer

Four Nigerian state governments also plan to go to court early in 2008 to argue similar cases.

Cigarette smoking is widespread in Nigeria and BAT recently set up a factory in the West African country.

Campaigners in Nigeria say children are sent positive messages about smoking all the time.

And young people across Nigeria can buy cigarettes from vendors in single "sticks", which campaigners say makes it easier for young people to pick up the habit.

The World Health Organization estimates that 18% of young Nigerians smoke - storing up huge potential health problems in a country of 140 million people, most of whom are under 20.


"If this case gets to the evidence stage, the companies are dead on arrival," says Babatunde Irukera, prosecuting the case for the government.

"We expect they will try to delay the case by questioning the jurisdiction of the court. But if they see that they're in trouble we expect them to try and settle out of court."

We haven't got a clue where the government got the amount they are asking for
Catherine Armstrong, BAT
He says they have a dossier of evidence that runs to 3,000 pages consisting of internal company e-mails discussing how to target children and influence lawmakers in Nigeria.

"Documents we have refer to ways of increasing the number of 'YAUS' in Nigeria. We have expert testimony that says YAUS means 'Young And Underage Smokers'," he said.

The e-mails come from a public depository of evidence uncovered during a series of class-action lawsuits across the US.

Many of those cases have been initially successful, but litigants have seen payouts slashed or kicked out on appeal.

In 2000 a Florida court awarded $145bn damages to hundreds of thousands of smokers, but the case was thrown out on appeal.

The Florida supreme court said making such an award would "result in an unlawful crippling of the defendant companies".

Poor hospitals

Nigerian public hospitals are chaotic, poorly funded places where equipment is often out of date or broken.

Corruption and inefficiency are also responsible for the overload on the health service.

Tobacco company lawyers may argue there is little evidence that the government has been taking responsibility for its own health services.

"We haven't got a clue where the government got the amount they are asking for. Much of what they claim doesn't add up," said British American Tobacco spokesperson in London Catherine Armstrong.

The company says they have been operating in Nigeria since the early 1900s and has never targeted children.

"It is false to suggest that tobacco companies have had a knee-jerk reaction to falling markets elsewhere in the world," Ms Armstrong said.

The tobacco firms expect legal arguments to go on for "years and years", she added.


But anti-smoking campaigners say children are definitely the targets of marketing campaigns.

Cigarette companies sponsor fashion shows and music concerts, said Eze Eluchie of People Against Drug Dependence and Ignorance (Paddi), a Lagos-based organisation.

"They have something called an 18-plus programme, which they say tries to prevent young people from taking up smoking. But when 16- and 17-year-olds see that, it makes them think smoking is grown-up. It's counter-productive," he said.

Whatever happens with the court case, the government is already trying to curb the spread of smoking.

Cigarette adverts have been restricted - only allowed on radio and TV after 2200 and billboards have been scrapped.

The authorities in the capital, Abuja, are also considering a smoking ban in public places

11 January 2008

China: Poverty at heart of Darfur crisis

BEIJING - A Chinese special envoy described the true cause of conflict in Darfur as internal competition over resources, saying Thursday that activists should not try to shame Beijing into dropping its support for a Sudanese government accused of carrying out genocide.

China has been denounced for not using its economic leverage to apply more pressure on the Sudanese government for peace in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million are homeless. Activists have attempted to shame China by saying its inaction makes it unworthy as host of the Aug. 8-24 Beijing Olympics.

"The heart of the problems in Darfur is lack of development ... Desertification has spread quickly and this makes the people in the area fight over the limited resources, leading to conflict and bloodshed," Liu Guijin, China's special envoy to the region, said in a question-and-answer interview posted on government Web site http://www.china.com.cn.
By ANITA CHANG, Associated Press Writer

"People shouldn't just pay attention to the political process and peacekeeping, but also the development and reconstruction of the area," Liu said. "Otherwise, once the peacekeepers pull out and the political treaties are signed, the Darfur region will continue to be poor and people will still fight for resources."

Liu repeated previous statements from Beijing officials that groups should not try to "politicize" the Olympics, which China wants to use to show that it is ready to join the ranks of the world's top countries.

Energy-hungry China buys two-thirds of Sudan's oil output and has refineries, a pipeline and joint exploration projects in the east African country. Beijing also sells weapons to the Khartoum regime, which is accused of unleashing janjaweed militias on ethnic African rebels.

Liu denied that Beijing was complicit in allowing atrocities that have included razed villages and rapes.

"China's government has never supported a massacre of Sudanese citizens by their government. Of course, we acknowledge that because of conflict and war and because of reasons related to both the government and rebels, there has been unnecessary deaths and a humanitarian crisis," he said.

The United Nations and African Union have struggled to establish an effective peacekeeping mission in Darfur, with Khartoum being blamed for resisting a force that is not predominantly African.

Liu, a longtime diplomat, said he was taken aback by the grinding poverty in the region on his first visit as special envoy in May 2007. His group arrived in a sandstorm and conditions in major Darfur cities were worse than those in the Chinese countryside in the 1960s or 1970s, he said.

"Even though I had been working in Africa for many years, I had rarely seen such tough environmental conditions like those in Darfur," he said.

Kenya: World Bank Boss Under Fire

"World Bank Boss' Leaked Memo Stirs Controversy"

A World Bank internal memorandum endorsing the controversial re-election of President Kibaki has stirred a major diplomatic controversy over the polls outcome.

The memo has also put Mr Colin Bruce, World Bank's Kenya country director, on a collision path with the Orange Democratic Movement, whose presidential candidate Raila Odinga is contesting Mr Kibaki's re-election and has opened internationally mediated talks, demanding his removal from office.

The talks, led by Ghana's President John Kufuor, were yesterday wavering with Reuters news agency claiming that former UN Secretary- General Kofi Annan would take over as the mediator.

The international community's attention was, however, focused on the leaked memo and the subsequent exchanges within the World Bank, the European Union and the UK.

It reveals the behind-the-scene battles that ensued as the international community struggled to deal with the poll outcome and the political fallout that has claimed nearly 500 lives and destroyed Sh60 billion worth of property. Analysts said the memo also unravelled the various diplomatic interests that are shaping debates on Kenya in Western capitals - mostly driven by foreign policies of the participating governments.

The battles will also help shed light on the underlying positions that the various international organisations have taken and the great powers that support them. This could influence the outcome of the political settlement reached by the mediation process.

Email correspondence between senior World Bank officials in Washington and Nairobi show that two leading international bodies, the UN and the World Bank - which offer the most development aid to Kenya - consider the re-election of President Kibaki to have been proper.

The UNDP office in Kenya however denied having agreed with the World Bank on anything in relation to the Kenyan elections. The UNDP office in Kenya told the Business Daily that the World Bank "had misquoted them".

While the US has dispatched Jendayi Frazer, its Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and asked her to stay in the region - as long as it takes - the Kenyan problem now appears to be tied to the future of the war on terror.

Endorsement by the World Bank was also being understood to explain President Kibaki's confidence in announcing the date of the opening of the 10th Parliament and his naming of a Cabinet, even as President Kufuor, the preferred mediator of both President Kibaki and Mr Odinga, tried to arbitrate.

On January 7, a statement from White House "condemned the use of violence as a political tool and appealed to both sides to engage in peaceful dialogue." A day later Mr Odinga called off the protest rallies he had planned for the next day as Mr Kibaki went on to name a Cabinet and announce the opening of Parliament.

"The endorsement could of course have contributed to the confidence the president had in announcing a date for the opening of Parliament and naming the Cabinet," said Dr Kithure Kindiki, the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Law, at the University of Nairobi.

In a clear departure from the stand taken by international observers, and in particular the European Union the Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM) in Kenya, the World Bank memo indicates that Mr Bruce, who is in charge of Kenya, Comoros, Eritrea, Rwanda, Seychelles and Somalia, together with the UN, had initially broken ranks with the EU-EOM about the results of the presidential elections.

"The considered view of the UN is that the ECK announcement of a Kibaki win is correct," reads the internal memo between Mr Bruce and Hartwig Schafer, the Director of Operations Africa Region based in Washington DC.

Mr Graham Elson, the Deputy Chief Observer of the EU-EOM, however told the Business Daily, that the EU-EOM still stands by the contents of the preliminary statement they issued.
Relevant Links
East Africa
International Organizations and Africa

"We will release a full statement in February which will give more details," he said.

The email, obtained by the Business Daily on Monday concludes that upon receiving complaints from the opposition about irregularities, the ECK spent 24 hours, in the presence of observers, reviewing each concern.

"On balance, they determined that there were more irregularities of consequence on Mr Odinga's side than on the Kibaki side. For example, ECK considered reported turnout above 90 per cent to be a red-flag for irregularities. Data available so far indicates that the highest reported turnout in a Kibaki stronghold was 90 percent; in Mr Odinga's strongholds, there were six heavily populated areas with a reported turnout of between 102 to 116 per cent," reads the email, which however does not name the six areas.Click on the title above entire article at www.allafrica.com

7 January 2008

The effect of $100 oil price on African economies

During the past week, the price of crude oil eventually and finally reached the $100 record mark per barrel thanks to the unrest in Nigeria's Niger Delta, the locked production in Iraq, surging demand in growing Asian economies...
Kpalimé, Togo

...and the cold winter months. This forebodes many things for different groups. Ordinarily, when the price of any commodity goes up, it means good news for the seller or producer.

African nations make up 6 of the 23 top oil-producing countries and this ought to mean good news for these African nations. These nations would be awash with cash, never mind that the oil companies too would also go away with large profits. The windfall these nations would experience could not have been dreamt possible some 5 years ago. The question is what does this translate to for the African nations and by extension the people of Africa?

Nigeria, Angola, Gabon, Libya, Egypt, Algeria - to a lesser extent Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Tunisia and Cote d’Ivoire - all have significant production and income generation from the sale of crude oil and natural gas. Nothing stops these countries from deploying the windfall into laying a solid foundation and investment in infrastructure. The UAE, Kuwait, and Qatar -not to mention the oil rich Saudi Arabia- are but few examples of what a purposeful government can do with accumulated wealth- transform the landscape and by extension the living conditions of your people.

Africans for decades have complained of poor development and blamed poverty and thin financial capacity as the excuse for not being able to grow their economies, but with this unprecedented gold-mine in high oil prices, one wonders why there is yet so much despair and so little progress being seen in changing the fortunes of the African people. At least, for a start, let these nations set the example for the rest of Africa to follow.

Corruption and blatant mismanagement of resources has been a recurring malaise in most African nations. Governments and politicians sit tight and amass the wealth meant for the people and instead of building the social infrastructure that will galvanise growth and generate employment opportunities to the average person, they feather their own nests, and steal stupendous mind bogging sums.

The high technology dependent world of oil business makes it difficult for the small scale investor to be a player in the business. Big multinationals and government corporations like the NNPC, are the ones that can provide the financial muscle and skill to play in this big game.

In Nigeria, insecurity and unrest in the Niger Delta has become the natural fall out, as the local communities allege years of neglect while bearing the brunt of social and environmental degradation occasioned by the activities of exploring and drilling for crude oil. Corporate Social Responsibility and partnering with the communities are attempts being made to douse the angst and raging insecurity in the region. These efforts have been described as too little too late.
African governments have to formulate policies and muster the discipline to execute programmes that will develop the continent, provide adequate infrastructure including education and health care to the suffering people that have become victims of this blessing turned curse.

Oil being a depleting resource needs significant investment to ensure new reserves are found and developed. The IOCs are therefore not in this for charity. They also have to compete among themselves and ensure they keep their shareholders happy. It behoves on these lucky African governments to ensure that revenues including taxes and royalties, they generate in these auspicious times, are judiciously deployed in the best interest of the people.

Overdependence on oil, as a mono-cultural economy, is a bane of most of these African economies.
There should be an effort to diversify away from oil to other sectors where the ordinary medium scale business person can participate, such as in local home-grown industries and the services sector.

Esi Ejumabone currently resides in the Netherlands and works for an international oil and gas company. His interests cover studies into how local governments and private organisations can partner with rural communities to achieve sustainable small scale business growth in Africa.

One laptop project loses partner

One laptop project loses partner
The OLPC laptop is being trialled in Nigeria
Intel has pulled out of a project to put cheap laptops in the hands of children in the developing world.

Citing "philosophical" differences, Intel has withdrawn its funding and technical help from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project.

OLPC aimed to boost learning in poorer nations via a custom-built laptop intended to cost no more than $100.

Intel's withdrawal is a blow to OLPC which has found few nations willing to buy large numbers of laptops.

Machine code

Intel joined the OLPC in July 2007 and was widely expected to work on a version of the project's laptop that used an Intel chip. Many expected this machine to be unveiled at the CES technology fair which opens in Las Vegas on 5 January.

The first versions of the OLPC or XO laptop were powered by a chip made by Intel's arch-rival AMD.

Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC
OLPC was always going to face an uphill battle when confronted with a mighty corporation like Intel
Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology correspondent

Read Rory's thoughts in full
The green and white XO machine was designed specifically for children, was made rugged to cope with conditions in developing nations and could be kept powered using a hand crank.

Intel spokesman Chuck Molly said it had taken the decision to resign from the OLPC board and end its involvement because the organisation had asked it to stop backing rival low-cost laptops.

On the OLPC board with Intel are 11 other companies including Google and Red Hat.

The chip maker has been promoting its own cheap laptop, the Classmate, in many of the same places as the OLPC.

"OLPC had asked Intel to end our support for non-OLPC platforms, including the Classmate PC, and to focus on the OLPC platform exclusively," said Mr Mulloy . "At the end of the day, we decided we couldn't accommodate that request."

He added that the use of AMD chips in the first XO laptops had not influenced its decision.

Cost breakdown of OLPC laptop
So far the OLPC has yet to comment on the split.

Prior to Intel's involvement, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte criticised the chip firm for what he called its attempts to undermine the project's work.

He said Intel was selling its Classmate at a loss to make the XO laptop less attractive.

While Dr Negroponte's initial aim was for a laptop costing only $100, the final versions that have been trialled in Nigeria and Uruguay cost $188 (£95).

Costs were supposed to be kept low by governments ordering the XO laptop in shipments of one million, but large orders for the XO laptop have, so far, not materialised.

In a bid to boost the numbers of laptops available, OLPC ran a "Give One, Get One" programme in the US from 12 November to 31 December.

This allowed members of the public to buy two XO machines - one for themselves and one for a OLPC project elsewhere.

OLPC said the success of this had helped it to launch programmes in Haiti, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Mongolia, and Afghanistan.

5 January 2008


"The U.S. has in our view gone back to a Cold war paradigm where it supports any regime as long as it fights America's war on terrorism," said Maina Kiai, the head of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. "The result is that the Americans have leverage with Kibaki but credibility almost nowhere else within Kenya."

NAIROBI, Kenya _ Mary Wambui sat dazed with grief under a tree on the outskirts of this embattled African capital, her pauper's hut looted by a gang of thugs, her sister recovering from rape in a local hospital and all her worldly possessions stuffed into a plastic bucket salvaged from the ashes of Kenya's recent spasm of election violence.

"Americans won't care about this," Wambui, 18, said, pressing a fist to her mouth as if to still her quavering voice. "They will just say we are hopeless, like another Somalia."

Many Americans might indeed be tempted to dismiss the recent television images of Nairobi's bleeding slums and flaming roadblocks as just one more baffling example of Africa's flirtation with chaos.

But alarmed U.S. diplomats and analysts know better. The unprecedented political violence that has rocked this once orderly country, pitting the supporters of re-elected president Mwai Kibaki against an enraged opposition that claims the vote was rigged, threatens to upend years of carefully erected American foreign policy across a vast, strategic and deeply troubled swath of Africa.

Bound painfully to the United States by the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi by al-Qaida affiliates _ a terrorist attack that killed far more Kenyans than Americans _ Kenya has become many things to its Washington ally: an outpost of peace and economic stability in a impoverished and violent region; a logistical springboard from which to funnel billions in aid to nearly half the continent; and a quiet bulwark against the lawlessness of Africa's Horn, a tough neighborhood that security experts have begun calling the third major front in the war on terrorism, after Afghanistan and Iraq.

"This isn't an ordinary African political crisis," said Stephen Morrison, director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a foreign affairs think tank in Washington. "The stakes are pretty big for the U.S. If they lose Kenya, I'm not sure what the Plan B is."

Not that Kenya is doomed to anarchy yet.

On Friday the nation seemed dazed after five days of mayhem that saw homes and churches torched, untold numbers of women raped and upwards of 300 people slaughtered in political clashes that quickly devolved into grisly ethnic vendettas.

In Nairobi, a trickle of cars and rickety taxi vans began circulating on otherwise empty streets. A few shops cautiously yanked up their shutters. And hundreds of riot police patrolled the reawakening downtown.

Raila Odinga, the fiery opposition leader who says he won the Dec. 27 election, warned that a new vote must be scheduled within 90 days or Kenya would slide deeper into bedlam. A government spokesman shrugged off that suggestion as political "blackmail."

Foreign leaders and diplomats, meanwhile, were scrambling to keep the two leaders talking _ and Kenya from toppling over completely into a humanitarian as well as political catastrophe. Few delegations were pulling out more stops than the Americans.

"Kenya is an important counterterrorism partner," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, adding that Washington was working hard to help what is arguably America's closest African ally "get back on the nonviolent democratic path they had been on."

The stakes couldn't be higher. Indeed, they might surprise Americans who associate Kenya with fine coffee and benign wildlife safaris.

The United States relied on Kenyan airspace and armed border patrols a year ago when the Pentagon backed another regional ally, Ethiopia, in crushing a radical Islamist regime in neighboring Somalia. Kenya has acted also as a logistical corridor for a billion-dollar humanitarian aid effort, paid for largely by the U.S., in southern Sudan. And Kenyan intelligence agencies collaborate closely with U.S. counterparts in monitoring al-Qaeda infiltration into the unstable Horn region.

The alliance only deepened after al-Qaida operatives blew up an Israeli-owned hotel in the Kenyan seaside resort city of Mombasa in 2002.

Such pro-American stances have paid off handsomely for Kenya.

Total U.S. aid mushroomed more than tenfold over the past decade, from $29.5 million in 1997 to $390.5 million in 2006, the last year when government figures are available. Much of that largesse comes in the form of food donations and anti-AIDS funding. American military assistance, however, has grown apace. In the five years before 9-11, it amounted to $3 million; in the five years after the New York terror attack, it zoomed to $34.8 million.

Still, Washington's embrace of the Kibaki regime has caused some awkward and unexpected blowback in the current crisis.

The eruption of post-election violence appears to have caught U.S. diplomats flat-footed, political analysts in both countries say, because Washington is too cozy with Kenya's often corrupt ruling elite. An embarrassed State Department retracted a too-hasty congratulation to Kibaki after international poll monitors declared last week's vote-counting process deeply suspect.

"The U.S. has in our view gone back to a Cold war paradigm where it supports any regime as long as it fights America's war on terrorism," said Maina Kiai, the head of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. "The result is that the Americans have leverage with Kibaki but credibility almost nowhere else within Kenya."

The Nairobi-Washington alliance also has managed to alienate many of Kenya's minority Muslims.

Over the past year, Kibaki has been accused of permitting suspected Islamic extremists to be deported without trial to secret jails in authoritarian Ethiopia _ a local version of Washington's clandestine rendition program.

"Ninety percent of Muslims voted for the opposition in this election," said Said Athman, the director of Kenya's National Muslim Leaders Forum. "We feel that the current Kenyan government is a proxy of the United States. We view the U.S. as hostile towards us."

Yet the special relationship is likely to continue, unless Kenya utterly collapses.

"We have no other reliable, coherent partners in the region to contain trouble spots like Somalia and Sudan," said analyst Morrison. "Even if (opposition leader) Odinga eventually takes power, the U.S. will work with him."

Which may or may not be a comfort to Wambui, the young slum refugee and victim of electoral violence, who was camping rough under the trees.

Americans may not be particularly moved by her faraway miseries. But at least Washington is watching anxiously.


(Staff writer Bay Fang contributed to this report from Washington.)

4 January 2008


I came to stumble on this book review which i'll like people interested in knowing what is exactly happening in Africa,to Africa,how and by who to read.This rich but forsaken continent is facing continuous unscrupulous hijacking of it's God given resources in the eyes of the whole wide world,including the Africans themselves who are part and parcel of this shameful stupidity,greed and wickedness.John Ghazvinian narrates what many BIG GUNS should be ashamed of.
"The collision and competition between China and the west, especially over Africa, will be one of the hallmarks of the 21st century. Reading "Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil" is one way to prepare yourself for the battle."

The role played by oil in world politics (and U.S. foreign policy) is hard to quantify but impossible to deny. While the Middle East is the center of oil politics, the new frontier is Africa according to "Untapped: The Scramble for Africa's Oil," an important new book from John Ghazvinian. The book, which could have been a dry recitation of the devastation caused by colonialism in Africa, turns out to be a great and rollicking read which gives a more accurate picture of dusty, sweaty, poor, and invigorating Africa than anything I've seen recently.Travel TalesGhazvinian writes about a trip across Chad: Inside, the Land Cruiser had been converted into a sort of cattle truck, with two hard wooden benches running along its length. Ten people had already squeezed in, along with more belongings, and were looking intensely uncomfortable in the scorching early-morning heat. I plumped for a $25 "first-class" ticket, thinking that sitting in the passenger seat and facing forward would make the ten-hour journey more pleasant. What I had not been told was that a first-class ticket entitled me to only half the passenger seat. It was just as well, then, that the vehicle broke down at least eight times during the journey. (I lost count after the seventh.) The seat was tilted so far forward that my neighbor and I had our arms pressed against the dashboard for the duration of the journey, and every time the driver pulled over to fiddle with the fan belt, it was a welcome chance to step out into the blessed relief of the 120 degree heat and walk around the camels... On the way back I treated myself to both first-class seats... While this leg of the investigation was uncomfortable for the author, other parts were life-threatening and, perhaps, foolish. I've been in some touchy situations in Africa, but nothing like Ghazvinian's trip in a small, decrepit boat with a failing engine out into Nigeria's Delta (think Florida's Everglades with no National Park Service) in search of locals stealing oil straight out of the pipelines. These are people with no incentive to spare the life of a nosey white journalist asking questions. Somehow he survives.
Amazing Wealth, Breathtaking PovertyOf course the book does cover the oil-soaked history, politics, economics and treachery of half a dozen countries. In Angola, the author captures the disparity in lifestyle between the wealthy, "top 100" families and the rest of the deeply poverty stricken country. The SUV driving nouveau riche of Angola can't hold a candle to the outlandish spending of the Obaing ruling family in Equatorial Guinea. And Ghazvinian shows how deeply the Obaing tentacles reach into America. The nation's oil generated cash reserves of $700 million were long held at the Dupont Circle branch of the Riggs Bank (now part of PNC Bank) in Washington, DC where President Obaing, his son and one nephew were the only names listed on the account. The Senate report [into Obaing's finances] even details two rather colorful episodes in which the Riggs official in charge of the accounts walked the mile back to Dupont Circle from the Equatorial Guinea embassy, carrying suitcases stuffed with $3 million worth of $100 bills wrapped in plastic cling film. The author was run out of Equatorial Guinea in February of 2005, and is apparently still the last foreign journalist to be there. He later went to another tiny African nation, Sao Tome, where few barrels of oil have been pumped, but the mere speculation about oil sent the nation into a political and economic tailspin.China RisingGhazvinian's on-the-ground descriptions of China's role in Africa gives the book urgency and makes it a must-read for anyone interested in the future of geo-politics. China is now the world's second largest importer of oil (after the United States). And by 2020 they will need two times more oil per year than the annual output of Saudi Arabia. Thus the oil fields of Africa are a global prize. And China is making friends across the continent. He writes: The scale and ferocity of China's entry into Africa has been breathtaking. China has started construction on a new railway in Nigeria and a new port for Gabon, has paved most of the roads in Rwanda, and is building roads, bridges, power stations, schools, and cellular-phone networks in at least a dozen African nations. At any given time, the China Road and Bridge Corporation alone is likely to be engaged in five hundred projects throughout Africa. In tiny Lesotho, nearly half the supermarkets are owned and run by Chinese, who also operate textile factories in the country. Mauritius, home to many Chinese-owned textile factories, added Chinese language to the national school curriculum in 2004.Clash With United StatesAll this could be described as China engaging in healthy competition with the long entrenched American and European investments in Africa. But quite often, China's approach to the continent is different than America's, Ghazvinian point out: Beijing's growing reliance on African oil has put it on a collision course with U.S. political priorities for the continent. A growing chorus of voices in Washington--from congressmen to newspaper commentators--has been complaining about China's willingness to do business in countries the United States is trying to pressure or isolate. The example most frequently cited is Sudan, whose (notionally) Islamist government many hawks in Washington would dearly love to see destabilized or overthrown, but Beijing's cooperation with Equatorial Guinea and with Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe are also frequently in the crosshairs.

From Keith Peter,guide on U.S foreign policy.

3 January 2008

African Cup of Nations Ghana 2008


Not for the first time, an African country is paying a terrible price for the tolerance of its corrupt government by its western partners.

The crisis in Kenya leaves a guilty stain on the west

By Michael Holman

Published: January 1 2008 18:37 | Last updated: January 1 2008 18:37

As western leaders scramble to prevent Kenya’s descent into chaos they should find time to consider their own failure to respond to a crisis that has been long in the making.

Seldom has an African tragedy been signalled so far in advance. And seldom have western policymakers been so complicit in a crisis that is turning into Kenya’s catastrophe. For the past three years the international donor community, led by the World Bank and supported by the International Monetary Fund, have ignored the warning signs and knowingly backed one of Africa’s most corrupt regimes.

For the outside world, Kenya has been the acceptable face of Africa: a safe destination for a million tourists a year from Europe, Asia and North America to the country of surf and safari; a reliable base, in a tough neighbourhood, for a burgeoning aid industry; regional headquarters for the United Nations; and – less well-known – a country whose military pacts with the US and Britain have made it a crucial ally in the “war against terror”.

Kenyan politics, however, has never been healthy. It has been dominated by ethnic allegiances, stained by assassination, distorted by one-party rule until 1991 and, above all, oiled by endemic corruption.

When Mwai Kibaki swept into power in December 2002, ending Daniel arap Moi’s kleptocratic era, he was regarded not primarily as a member of the Kikuyu, Kenya’s largest tribe. Rather, he was seen as a reformer who led a coalition that promised clean government.

The euphoria that united the country was short-lived. On a mid-winter day in London in early February 2005, John Githongo, the man whom Mr Kibaki had appointed Kenya’s anti-corruption chief, and himself a Kikuyu, chose exile in Britain rather than staying silent at home.

For the first time in Africa’s post-independence history, an insider was ready to reveal how corruption worked – with evidence that included secretly taped conversations with cabinet ministers.

Not only were Britain and other aid donors given an opportunity to tackle corruption, using as leverage aid that exceeds $16bn since independence in 1963. It was also a chance to ask some tough questions about how that money has been spent.

If aid has worked in Kenya, how do development agencies explain the growing pauperisation of its people? In 1990 about 48 per cent of the population was living below the poverty line. Today, more than four decades after independence, nearly 55 per cent of Kenyans are subsisting on a couple of dollars a day.

And for all the 6 per cent annual gross domestic product growth achieved in the past two years under Mr Kibaki, the gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening. To see the crisis only in terms of tribal allegiances and ethnic clashes is to miss a vital element in the Kenyan picture. The population has doubled in 25 years to 31m. Unemployment is growing, and the number without land is growing. For these people there is nothing to lose by taking to the streets, driven by frustration and fury that transcend their tribe.

Alas for Kenya, the bank, the fund and leading bilateral donors such as Britain chose not to act on Mr Githongo’s evidence. Instead, it has been business as usual. In the case of DFID, the UK development agency, aid flows have in fact risen – from £30m in 2003-04 to £50m in 2005-06.

So why did the donors duck away from this unique opportunity to tackle graft?

The truth is, they never had the stomach for a fight. They did not believe it was ultimately in their interests to have a showdown with the barons of corruption. They did not want to upset what they saw as a regional “island of stability” from which the UN and other international relief agencies, including hundreds of foreign non-governmental organisations, operate – a thriving business that accounts for a fifth of Kenya’s annual foreign exchange earnings.

Weighing in the balance are the longstanding military agreements Kenya has signed with the US and the UK, which have assumed particular importance since President George W. Bush launched his war on terrorism.

Not for the first time, an African country is paying a terrible price for the tolerance of its corrupt government by its western partners.

The writer, former Financial Times Africa editor, is author of Last Orders at Harrods (Abacus), set in Kenya

Rich nations attacked for failing Congo

Here we are in another new year,2008 and we are driving nearer to the year 2015 or rather d-day to solve Africa's major crisis,hunger and disease.This, in fact seems to be some sought of utopia as rich nations are much more involved in enrichening themselves with Africa's resources and doing very little to solve the problems in which they are also shareholders(as evidenced in most conflicts).

The head of the United Nations refugee agency has accused the rich world of failing to respond adequately to the humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, even as its multinationals “systematically loot” the country of its resources.

In an interview with the FT shortly after his return from the DRC, António Guterres, UN high commissioner for refugees, said western assistance came nowhere near meeting people’s needs in a vast country where continuing instability and widespread poverty had created one of the worst humanitarian situations in the world.

Mr Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister, attributed this neglect in part to the fact that, unlike Iraq, Afghanistan or even Somalia, misery in the DRC involved no perceived threat to western governments.

“Even if we face a humanitarian disaster, as in North Kivu where there has been a dramatic increase in violence, nobody in the outside world feels threatened and so the international community is not really paying attention to DRC.”

Aid groups say 3m-4m people in the DRC, a country with a population of about 60m, have died in recent years as a result of conflict, poverty and disease. While most of the country is now stable – the civil war ended in 2003 and UN-supervised elections were held in 2006 – 400,000 people have been uprooted in the past 12 months by a resurgence of violence in the eastern province of North Kivu.

The UN estimates that 800,000 people have been displaced in North Kivu, which has also seen violence against women, including rape and mutilation, reach terrifying proportions.

Although international agencies and donor governments are providing some assistance, and the UN has mounted its biggest-ever force of some 16,500 peacekeepers, this is small in comparison with needs, Mr Guterres says. He points to the sheer size of the DRC – about four times that of France – and the high cost of operating there, given a lack of infrastructure that requires everything to be transported by aircraft.

Failure to improve living conditions would put at risk the democratic process and could threaten regional stability, he warned.

“One of the most frustrating things is to see a country in which you had [successful] elections but then you have to say to people: nothing can be improved in the next few months, even in the next few years, in infrastructure, in water, in sanitation, in health, in education, in jobs. And so the population starts to ask itself whether democracy has any value.

“Think about the amount of resources that have been taken out of this country. Lots of companies operate in DRC, taking out its resources, in many circumstances, without a minimum respect for any rules. The international community has systematically looted DRC and we should not forget that"