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This suffering is immoral; we must end the conflict

Posted WINNIE BYANYIMA

on  Tuesday, December 19   2017 at  19:30

I have seen war and its horror and cruelty in my own country. I have supported peace processes in conflicts since. But all of that didn’t quite prepare me for my trip to South Sudan earlier this year.

Since civil war broke out in December 2013, South Sudan has spiralled into a deeper state of emergency. It is a brutal conflict, steeped in claims of ethnic cleansing. A deadly hunger crisis presides over parts of the country: it is the civilians, the women and the children who are paying the price.

The palpable hope of South Sudan’s independence in 2011 – something so many of us celebrated in our region – now seems very distant.

Strong, hard working and self-sacrificing women told me, “We want to walk freely, we want to farm, we want to feed our families.”
They live in a city called Malakal, in a ‘Protection of Civilians’ (POC) site.

“At home, we used our hands for our work, now we have been turned into beggars and we cannot provide for our families,” Mary* who lives in the site and like many women, has been widowed through conflict said.

I visited what felt like a ghost town. Malakal used to be South Sudan’s second largest city after the capital Juba. Now most of its former residents have fled to neighbouring Sudan – the country which they fought for independence from so fiercely – or they live in the camps.

The camp I visited is now home to many of the displaced women and girls; it is guarded by UN peacekeepers who line its outskirts, in tall watch towers.

They carry heavy weaponry in case the camp is attacked – which it has been, on several occasions.

Wretched conditions

It is not a stretch for me to compare these camps to open-air prisons. This is not because these people are detained – they are not. It is also not a criticism of the UN for creating these sites – they are needed and have undoubtedly saved countless lives so far.

The camps, however, signify the tragedy that the people of South Sudan face: people are there because they need protection from armed groups. I was told that should a person walk out of the camp they face the risk of persecution, harassment, even death.

I will never forget the women I met who told me they have to choose between their children going hungry, or risk being raped if they leave to search for food. The stories I heard are too awful to repeat. I saw the squalid conditions people have to live in, and I heard of the hunger people are enduring.

A war of this nature, that is now so deeply rooted, is unlikely to end without a huge diplomatic effort, which up to now, has fallen short.

Ending the war must be at the very top of African leaders’ political agenda. It is a catastrophe for the entire continent, and our region’s biggest refugee crisis. It is a failure of leadership on our continent.

Negotiations

The people of South Sudan and our region need the renewed negotiations to succeed, in order to bring genuine and long-lasting peace to the country.

Peace may feel distant but it is not unreachable. This week, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development is holding the High-Level Revitalisation Forum in Addis Ababa.

It is a critical opportunity to bring together warring parties to seek a long-term solution to this bloody conflict.

I call upon our regional leaders to push the warring parties to make the hard choices for peace. And together with our partners, Oxfam demands regional and international powers to throw their diplomatic weight behind a transparent and inclusive peace process.

The voices of the people affected by the conflict – women like Mary – must finally be heard. I urge our leaders to give space at the negotiating table not only to those wielding a gun!

Peace that lasts

Any political process must formalise the involvement of the South Sudanese people, including the millions of refugees now living in Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, DR Congo and Kenya.

This is the best way to establish a peace that lasts. Citizens’ organisations have the right to determine the future of their country.

Oxfam is supporting South Sudanese civil society including refugees to come together to deliver their message to this forum. This week, representatives from South Sudanese civil society including refugee communities will present their vision to Igad on how to create long-lasting peace in their country.

The longer the international community is complacent, the more they risk being complicit. Failure is not an option. To ensure a credible peace process, we need timelines, indicators and accountability.

This latest push for peace could end this war. Let us ensure it is guided by its people – not just the political elites. No person I met in South Sudan wants – and none of our leaders should want – countless more lives to be ruined through this war.

Winnie Byanyima is Oxfam’s international executive director.

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We have let down the girl-child

Posted JANET OTIENO-PROSPER

on  Thursday, December 14   2017 at  19:43

Two recent developments in Tanzania have led to an international outcry.

One is the presidential pardon of two men who were convicted of raping children and the other a call by Regional Commissioner John Mongella for arrest of pregnant schoolgirls.

President John Magufuli pardoned singer Nguza Viking, also known as Babu Seya, and his son Johnson Nguza, known as Papii Kocha, on Saturday for raping 10 primary schoolgirls, aged between six and eight, in 2003.

According to the Citizen daily, Mongella said pregnant girls should be arraigned before a court to testify against the culprits, thereby preventing others from engaging in sexual activities.

He argued that pupils were underperforming in the national primary school and abandoning examination due to pregnancy.

In the two incidences, sexual violence victims were being punished as perpetrators walked free.

Were raped

I don’t want to imagine what is going on in the minds of those children who were raped by the duo.

Though they are no longer children, the scar remains. I wonder how their parents were feeling wherever they were.

And in the case of the pregnant schoolgirls, you can imagine innocent children who could probably be victims of rape, being rounded up and taken to cells and dragged to court. The trauma they might get remains for a life time.

Such events might also mean that abused girls and women would have nowhere else to run to for protection as their abusers seem to have an upper hand.

If we are not careful, we might promote widespread sexual violence against women and girls by these developments.

Teenage mothers

Earlier in the year, a presidential directive banned pregnant girls and teenage mothers from attending government schools.

It means, once pregnant, you are condemned to a life of misery and poverty without being given a second chance to try and achieve your educational goals.

Access to education is a human right and should not be denied as victims seek to break from the shackles of poverty.

I know there were many women and children who were horrified at these developments. However, it was still not too late to reverse these decisions and make Tanzania a safer place for women and children.

Punitive attitude

Back to the two rapists; why punish our young girls and children by letting their tormentors walk free? What does that say of us as a society?

I know there are some Rhumba lovers who celebrated the duo's release from prison, but what if one of the children who were abused was your relative? Would you be celebrating?

Violence against women and children should be taken lightly. Children are the future generation and punitive attitude towards them is a violation against their rights.

I still believe we can do better as a society who believes in equal rights for everyone.

I know there is political will to make every citizen feel valued.

Twitter@JanetOtieno

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In Kenya, the poor are unlikely to get justice in court

Posted LARRY MADOWO

on  Wednesday, December 13   2017 at  18:58

On NTV’s Sidebar show a fortnight ago, the insightful researcher, Wangui Kimari, made a statement that Assistant Police Inspector-General Charles Owino immediately took issue with.

“This is state violence against poor people,” she said of her work with the Mathare Social Justice Project tracking the number of people who were shot dead by police in suspicious circumstances. He dismissed her as starting out in activism and trying to use unnecessarily alarmist language favoured by civil society types.

Never mind that her comment came as a result of back-breaking, lengthy legwork which they put together into a document whose title captured the enormity of the crisis: Who Is Next? A Participatory Action Research Report Against the Normalisation of Extrajudicial Executions in Mathare.

When it is people from low-income backgrounds that are dying, their lives don’t mean as much in the grand scheme of things. Their deaths often don’t make the news, flags don’t fly at half mast and important politicians don’t show up at their funerals. The same applies to the entire justice system, which is hopelessly stacked against them.

Shoddy investigations

In the past month, I have been to a resident magistrate’s court twice in a matter in which I am the complainant. Thanks to particularly shoddy investigations by the police, I believe, the two men charged with the crime are completely innocent and I am left with no choice but to drop the case. How that came to be is a story for another day.

Spending time seeing the wheels of justice turn has been an education, but not in the way you would expect. For one, it is immediately evident that this system is not set up to be a fair way of resolving disputes, correcting wrongs and punishing criminals.

The rich can afford fancy lawyers with an army of assistants to make sure that a case goes on forever. When all else fails, and sometimes just because they can, they buy judges and their cases go away.

The poor rot in detention while their matters are mentioned, repeatedly delayed on small procedural issues or prosecutorial errors and lose their livelihoods while waiting for their date with a judge. Their pleas are not heard and most don’t even dare speak up in front of the court, lest they say the wrong thing and offend the important people at the front.

Public office

That a chicken thief is jailed for several years while those who loot billions of shillings get elected to public office should be proof enough that there is a problem. When a poor person takes what is not theirs, it is called theft but when a rich person helps themselves to other people’s money, it is called corruption.

Even the name of the crime is sanitised when it involves those with means. I watched several women dragged before the magistrate and charged with brewing the illicit alcohol, chang’aa, in some of Nairobi’s informal settlements. They didn’t have lawyers and mostly held their heads down as if in shame at being subjected to this embarrassment for trying to fend for their families .

Nimekubali makosa yangu lakini si kwa kupenda kwangu, ni kwa sababu ya shida (I am guilty of the offence but it is because I am out of options),” one of them told the magistrate. She had no prior record, the prosecutor said, and was sentenced to two months in jail or a fine of Sh5,000 ($15). The police led her away.

Public disturbance

Several groups of people were brought in and charged with public disturbance. One by one they all pleaded guilty and were condemned to a day of public service and released. I later learnt that many of them had been arrested on flimsy grounds but were too poor to bribe their way out. This court charade was a way of making the police feel powerful by detaining them unlawfully for several days then presenting them for this parade.

They had to be gone to create room for more youths who could be nabbed just for existing, beaten, thrown into a cell for a few days and then forced to bribe their way out. The judges, prosecutors, policemen and the witnesses all know it is an unfair system designed to protect the rich, but they still willingly take part in it.

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a poor person to get justice in Kenya. Whether you are accused of a crime or you are the plaintiff in a case, you need plenty of money and impeccable English to be even considered in today’s Kenya.

Judicial officers

I saw low-level matters get thrown out because the prosecutor, or the investigating officer, or the magistrate, did not care enough and it broke my heart.

Without public defenders to represent those who cannot afford lawyers, performance reviews of judicial officers, timelines by which matters must be concluded and innocent projects to revisit matters with incorrect convictions, Kenyan courts will continue being the joke they currently are.

This current broken setup needs to be dismantled and reassembled if it is to serve those who need it most.

Is he right? Send your comments to Larry Madowo at lmadowo@ke.nationmedia.com

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Painful moments for Africa, close those slave markets

Posted JANET OTIENO-PROSPER

on  Thursday, November 30   2017 at  17:49

A lot of bad things are happening in pockets of Africa that are really painful to imagine.

In Kenya, there is the brutal killing of unarmed opposition supporters, orchestrated by the ruling elite. The killer goons do not even spare women and children. Teargas canisters are thrown at peacefully sleeping babies and people are flushed out of their houses and killed, if the videos in a cross section of the media and stories are anything to go by.

It is interesting that the Kenyan media is not showing it all, perhaps they are under a gag order.

What is happening in Kenya is painful to imagine. At one moment I thought the images I saw were from Afghanistan. It is so heartbreaking.

Then there is this Libya slave market where our fellow brothers are sold or butchered, which sent shockwaves around the globe.

The capital

According to reports: "Starting the bidding at few hundred dollars each, buyers purchased 12 African migrants at an undisclosed location outside the capital city of Tripoli in a matter of minutes.”

What we read in history is now unfolding before our eyes!

It reminds me of the wise words of Mr Ali Mafuruki, the Chief Executive Officer, Roundtable of Tanzania.

He asked the young people in a room to tell him the richest man in world’s history. Names like Bill Gates and John D. Rockefeller came up.

Nobody in the room imagined an African could possibly be the richest man to have lived. Mr Mafuruki said it really pained him when he saw Malians being auctioned as slaves, while the richest human being in world history came from Mali.

The poor

Mansa Musa Keita – the 14th century African king's fortune stood at $400 billion. He ruled Mali in the 1300s, making his fortune by exploiting his country’s salt and gold production. The rest of the world got wind of his fortune in 1324.

According to the Independent of the UK, many mosques he built as a young man still stand today. Mansa Musa Keita was so rich that one day on his way to the pilgrimage, he caused inflation to the Egyptian economy since he gave so many people who had lined to greet him on the way gold bars and so much money to the poor.

It thus pains that Malians can today be so poor and sold off as slaves since civil wars depleted those resources.

Ironically, right now many African immigrants try to go and look for green pastures, thereby falling in the traps of slave masters or drowning in the sea. During Mansa Musa Keita's time, Europe was poor while most African kingdoms were thriving.

It makes me really angry when Africans are sold as slaves and have their organs harvested. That is what some Libyans have done to Africans who were on transit to Europe.

Being detained

Europe has been training Libyan coastguards to stem the flow of people, thus many of the desperate Africans end up in the troubled North African state..
The slave trade in Libya is a crime against humanity and needs to stop immediately.

Of course Europe, which is crying louder than the bereaved, has a hand in this. It would rather have Libya detain African migrants than let them in.

The tragedy is also a mockery of unity that African leaders have been talking about. And for countries whose nationalities were being detained, they need to speed up facilitating their return and equipping them with vocational skills to be self-reliant.

Africa is rich with resources, if only we shared them equitably among our citizenry!

Twitter@JanetOtieno

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Memo to President: Confront your corrupt buddies

Posted KWAME OWINO

on  Wednesday, November 29   2017 at  16:14

Uhuru Kenyatta Tuesday officially started his second and final term in office as President of the Republic of Kenya.

In the intervening period between the two presidential elections, Mr Kenyatta stressed that the elections impasse should end so that the proper work of economic development could commence.

For all the emphasis about economic growth as important and as the solution that all Kenyans should focus on, one does not see that this administration has had a strong record for Kenya’s growth agenda.

It begs the question what should be the priorities in respect of economic policy in the new term.

The President must fix his mind on what can be achieved within the five years, whose countdown has begun.

A big issue

The challenge that Kenya must deal with is the escalation in the amount of public debt. There is the argument that the debt threshold that signals danger has not been passed.

We may choose to believe what we wish to, but Kenya’s public debt is a big issue for two reasons. The first is not only that it has grown unbelievably fast in the last four years, but also that for all the increase of more than 20 percentage points, expected growth from the infrastructure investments has not followed.

Despite assurances from the Treasury that the debt was spent well and that investments in infrastructure will pay for themselves, it is clear that any sober person should be nervous.

We ought to be nervous because the real debt burden in Kenya is understated by only recognising the debt to multilateral, bilateral and private debtors.

The government has substantial debt liability from unfunded pensions for public sector workers, in addition to the debt guarantees on behalf of State corporations.

The chickens

Thus the President’s first task is to develop and publish a new debt management plan because debt expansion occurred under his first term and the chickens will come home to roost soon. Preparation with coherent responses is indispensable.

The second priority for this administration is to reset the fight against corruption. There is no doubt that government from top to bottom, including within Cabinet, is one mess of corruption and sleaze. The President’s economic development programme will not succeed unless corruption is reduced remarkably.

Mr Kenyatta will not impress anyone with more lamentation and hand wringing. The largest corruption cases on his watch not only came close to home but were also perpetrated by close associates who sell overpriced equipment and services to the public sector.

There will be no success if these people remain untouched and untouchable. All Mr Kenyatta’s hopes that he would unleash an unstoppable burst of entrepreneurial creativity and growth will come to naught unless these close associates and their counterparts in the public sector are confronted.

The thieves

And while he takes on this task, Mr Kenyatta should recall that it is not only a matter of decorum but strategic interest to show regard for the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG).

There is no stopping corruption in Kenya without studying the reports from the Auditor-General’s office and making the thieves in both private and public sector uncomfortable.

The OAG is an ally, even if the head of the institution is not the most admired public sector official in the executive branch of government.

The final priority for the president is to reenergise Kenya’s privatisation programme. There remains no doubt that privatisation has been a productive policy for the country’s economy.

Complete the job

And yet while the institutional apparatus for privatisation exists, there is a big balance of pending jobs to be completed.

This Privatisation Commission should be permitted to complete the entire balance of privatisation within the President’s term and be decommissioned soon after.

Privatisation would yield resources for retirement of the debt while also releasing the public sector to concentrate on services that it provides well.

So the memo to the President should read; manage the debt now, confront your corrupt buddies and complete the job of privatisation.

That’s enough work for a term of five years.

Kwameh Owino is the CEO, Institute of Economic Affairs.

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African elites plunder their countries at public’s expense

Posted RASNA WARAH

on  Monday, November 27   2017 at  18:58

Does the raging political unrest in Togo have anything to with the fact that President Faure Gnassingbe entirely controls and benefits from the sale of phosphate, the country’s main mineral?

According to a new investigative report on how African oligarchs are looting the continent’s wealth at the expense of their own people, the Togolese president and his family have for decades been selling phosphate to “privileged clients” at below market rates and pocketing the money using offshore accounts.

The Plunder Route to Panama: How Oligarchs Steal from Their Countries, an investigation by the African Investigative Publishing Collective in partnership with Africa Uncensored and ZAM, examines the role African political leaders – in collusion with foreign interests – have played in undermining economic development and exacerbating poverty on the continent through the blatant theft of their countries’ natural and mineral resources.

The investigation found that in Democratic Republic of the Congo – the world’s most mineral-rich country – President Joseph Kabila and his twin sister Jaynet have been stashing away millions of dollars in offshore accounts created specifically to receive the proceeds of illicit wealth stolen from their poverty-stricken country.

State treasury

Some of these ill-gotten riches were obtained by extracting “taxes” from mining companies that never made it to the state treasury.

In many cases, politicians deliberately collude with foreign companies to deny revenue to state coffers.

For instance, a Canadian mining company was told that instead of paying the due tax of $60 million, it could get away with paying one-tenth of this amount to the government if it handed over $4 million to the tax director.

When the company refused to do so, its mine was seized and sold to an Israeli tycoon, who had fewer qualms about entering into such arrangements.

In South Africa, “state capture” by the Gupta family has exposed corruption and cronyism in Jacob Zuma’s government. Zuma and the Gupta family’s so-called “Zupta Empire”, consisting of shady contracts, siphoning of tax revenue and other dubious activities, highlights the fact that corruption can thrive even in a country with an independent judiciary, parliamentary oversight and press freedom as long as the top leadership benefits.

The report does not spare Rwanda and Botswana either, which have been hailed as models of good governance, though the looting there has not been as blatant as that in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, for example, where the president and his son have been siphoning millions of dollars to France and other places.

Suspended sentence

(In a landmark ruling, the president’s son, Teodorin Obiang, was recently handed a three-year suspended sentence for embezzlement by a French court.)

I wish the authors had done a more comprehensive analysis of the seven countries they covered so for the reader to get a better perspective of the context in which this plunder occurs.

In many instances, anecdotal information is used when solid research would have been more convincing.

Nonetheless, the report should give a few sleepless nights to some of the leading cast of characters mentioned.

In Kenya, theft of public funds is covered up through businesses that appear legitimate, but which use illegitimate means to grow.

A revealing article by the blogger Owaahh published in The Elephant recently suggests that the dwindling fortunes of the giant Nakumatt Supermarket chain may be directly or indirectly linked to the collapse of Charterhouse and Imperial banks, which were apparently being used to launder money and evade taxes.

Illicit money

One of the majority shareholders of Charterhouse is Ram Trust, which also owns Nakumatt and is domiciled in Liechtenstein, a well-known tax haven.

Perhaps one of the reasons few investors have shown interest in saving this firm, says the author, is that it has been linked to dirty money.

One of the lessons we can learn from the Nakumatt saga is that a business built on illicit money cannot thrive indefinitely and will eventually hurt the economy.

Such businesses do not just impact the owners, but their many suppliers and employees too.

In Malindi (at the Kenya coast), Nakumatt was until recently a bustling shopping centre where people of all walks of life mingled – a refreshing slice of urbanity and cosmopolitanism that is rarely experienced in this town.

Today, its shelves are almost empty and its tellers are idle. It is a sad sight to behold.

rasna.warah@gmail.com

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What Mugabe’s troubles teach us about a dictator’s art form

Posted CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO

on  Thursday, November 16   2017 at  16:30

This week has offered a feast of dramatic news, thanks to the events in the fair land of Zimbabwe.

On Tuesday, tanks and armoured cars were seen moving towards the capital Harare, sparking off speculation of a coup a against 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has tormented the country for most of his 37-year rule.

The moves came a day after the head of the armed forces, General Constantino Chiwenga, warned that the military was prepared to “step in” to end a purge of supporters of Vice-President Emerson Mnangagwa, who was sacked last week.

Mnangagwa, a liberation war hero who enjoyed loyalty in the army, has long been viewed as Mugabe’s likely successor.

Mnangagwa’s supporters and the military, viewed his dismissal as a purge of independence and liberation-era figures to pave the way for Mugabe to hand power to his tempestuous wife Grace.

Whichever way this ends, it was remarkable that, on social media, at least, there was wide support from sections of Zimbabweans, fed up with the depredations of a military coup.

Out of fashion

Coups are supposed to have fallen out of fashion in Africa, too, and that anyone should support one even in the basket case conditions of Zimbabwe, tells a lot about the level of desperation in that once great country.

At a wider level, the dilemma of the corrupt and cruel African despot was fully on display.

The primary problem they have to deal with is what to do with the people. They usually face a few options. First, is to starve and impoverish them, so they are too broken or grateful for crumbs, to rise against you.

This was the route taken by the venal Mobutu Sese Seko in Congo. Mugabe must have picked a few pages from his book.

The second is to ply them with bread, butter, and monuments of glory, so much that many become content to trade freedom for comfort — without you having to resort to the whip.

Watered down

Because most African countries have been or are still poor, this model has not fully been implemented anywhere, but a few have a watered down version of it. Asia has had more success with it.

The next problem is what to do with the security services, especially the military. Here, there are three general approaches. The first was again the Mobutu model.

Here, you don’t pamper the military, leaving them poorly equipped and paid. To make a living, they have to prey on the population.

The result is that they become so hated, the people can never join them in an uprising.

At the same time, they will not have the resources — the cars and fuel — to drive from their bases around the country and converge on the capital to seize power.

Take a bullet

It’s an approach that works, until as in the case of Mobutu, you provoke a determined neighbour such as Rwanda. In 1997, Rwanda led Congolese rebels and ousted Mobutu all the way in Kinshasa. The soldiers will not take a bullet for you.

It was, therefore, interesting that the Zimbabwean military had tanks and armoured cars, and the fuel to run them, although one of them, not surprisingly, broke down.

The other approach is to treat the military like nobility, with special privileges and a vast stake in the economy.

Nowhere has this been perfected into an art form in Africa than in Egypt.

It works, but a military that is treated that way soon rises above narrow partisan squabbles, and because it has so much to lose, will not fight back the people once a million of them come out on the streets, as the revolutionaries did in Egypt in 2011 and ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak.

A business class

The successful model for Big Men, is somewhere in the middle, and as seen in Uganda, and which also kept Muammar Gaddafi in power in Libya for a record 42 years, is to take care of the army just about enough, but set up a well-paid, trained, and fed praetorian guard (call it special forces group, republican guard, or presidential guard), that has an edge over the regular military.

To top it, have a half-or-quarter democratic order, and allow a business class to emerge and grow rich, creating a constituency that provides you with endless cash to buy votes at fraudulent elections.

Mugabe, for all his seven university degrees, has just not done his despot’s homework. He has lasted long, yes, but won’t end well.

The author is publisher of Africapedia.com and explainer site Roguechiefs.com. Twitter@cobbo3

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Africa can learn from the Dubai experiment

Posted JANET OTIENO-PROSPER

on  Thursday, November 9   2017 at  19:47

Last week I visited Dubai where everything happens. I was lucky to be among the five African journalists who were invited to attend the Global Business forum and meet the Expo 2020 organisers.

I mean, if a country can use their oil wealth to reclaim land from the sea and put up magnificent structures, then how else could you describe that?

And a desert transformed into a beautiful city? In Dubai, everything looks glamorous. And interestingly enough, they are now working around the clock to ensure the 2020 World Expo becomes a successful one.

Dubai won the bid to host the 2020 World Expo in November 2013.

From that day, they embarked on extending invitation to people and nations to a global six-month celebration of creativity, innovation, humanity and world cultures.

The Expo 2020 organisers explained to us that it would be a time to create and renew connections that will strengthen and deepen through 2020 and beyond.

Going by the massive construction we saw taking place in the southern district, one can rest assured that it will be a spectacular six month event and an opportune time to do business.

Let me bring you to understand what this expo is all about. According to the media kit we were given, it is one of the world’s oldest and largest international events, taking place every five years and lasting six months.

Sharing ideas

And everyone can learn, innovate, create progress and have fun by sharing ideas and working together. Each expo revolves around its own theme to leave a lasting impact on the path of human progress.

Expo 2020 Dubai’s core theme is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.

What awed me was how the leadership in Dubai and its people have managed to transform their country, which was once a fishing village into a mega metropolis.

And we saw a floor plan of the expo, visited the site then were shown how it will look like by October next year and 2020.

For Africa, it is a testament that everything is possible if we have a good leadership with strong will.

Own pavilions

Dubai has made a great strides in infrastructure development, thereby impressing the world with its rapid growth and amazing achievements.

Our countries should take the opportunity since they will be given their own pavilions and get a few development and business lessons from Dubai.

At the moment, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry is working with Expo 2020 to facilitate communication with Africa.

And they confessed that Africa can no longer be ignored if many Africans I saw working there, is anything to go by.

As they had put it to us when we were addressed by the Dubai’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO and President Hamad Buamim, Expo 2020 Dubai wants to motivate people to come up with solutions to the most pressing challenges we face in Africa.

Good brains

What I am trying to put across is that development is possible in Africa with all the natural resources we have. Not to forget the creative and innovative youth we have here with good brains to boot.

I was looking at the construction workers and wondering if it would be possible to build the 4.38 square kilometres site and transform it into a city by next year.

We were reassured that it was all-possible. I hope I will get the opportunity to go and witness that come true.

I want to be part of that history and I hope our African leaders could learn some development lessons from Dubai.

@JanetOtieno
kikijanty@gmail.com