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Archive for March 26th, 2007

FRIENDS OF KENYA CRICKET LAUNCHED IN UK

Posted by African Press International on March 26, 2007

Name of Organisation:
Friends of Kenya Cricket – UK

The group was formally launched on Thursday 23 September 2004 proudly sponsored by Mr Gulu and Kewal Anand and held at their award-winning Brilliant Restaurant in Southall, London.

The Launch

KCA Vice Chairman Mr. Harilal Shah in the UK with the ICC Champions Trophy Kenya team, was present at the launch of the organisation. In his speech, he emphasised the importance of an independent organisation like this to support Kenya cricket to eventually achieve test status.

Amongst the hundred-strong guests at the function were Kenyan sporting legends from the hockey and cricket teams, Indian Cricket Legend Farukh Engineer, current Kenya player Hitesh Modi and Mr. Sam Ochieng of Kenya Community Support Network and a host of prominent Kenyan businessmen in the UK.

The committee members presiding over the evening were
Chairman – Mr. Surinder Biant
son of former freedom fighter and friend of Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and former President Daniel Arap Moi – Sardar Bhagat Singh Biant
Secretary – Mr. Ramesh Sethi – former Kenyan cricket player and member of the 1975 East African World Cup
team
Treasurer – Mr. Rukesh Sethi – Practicing Accountant in West London and Active youth coach at Ealing Cricket
Club

Posted by Ira Ndunda

Published by African Press in Norway

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Kenyan minister courting investors

Posted by African Press International on March 26, 2007

     
A lavish forum titled “Business and Investment in Kenya” was held on March 22 in Washington DC, featuring a delegation led by Finance Minister Amos Kimunya and hosted by the Embassy in Washington DC. It was earlier announced that the entourage expected to attend the gathering as part of a four stop US promotion and showcasing of investment opportunities in Kenya for Diaspora Kenyans, was to comprise a delegation of key businesspersons, educationists and government officials who were expected to provide a broad overview of Kenya’s economic situation. The delegation was expected to unveil a range of investment vehicles and products in line with future expected economic growth in the country. The opportunities ranged from buying properties, investing in the NSE, and especially the upcoming Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) on the Nairobi Stock Exchange.
A number of great presentations were made, but I was particularly impressed by the Permanent Secretary for Information and Communication, Dr. Bitange Ndemo, a former Minnesota based Kenyan whose efforts to ensure completion of both undersea and terrestrial broadband infrastructure development are already on course. His concurrent efforts to initiate call center and data processing hubs in Kenya are commendable examples of vision translated into action and results.

Keen followers of Kenyan news will recall Dr. Bitange’s recent brush with the Justice Ministry, particularly the Solicitor General, Wanjuki Muchemi over procurement procedures. The PS must have convinced many that he is indeed focused on bringing positive change in this sector despite the well known interference by contract-hungry colleagues with vested interests in the Justice Ministry. Susan Kikwai of the Kenya Investments Authority also gave a good presentation on opportunities for business and investments as did the US representative of PostaPay Kenya- a recently launched money sending company.

nse.jpg Enter Amos Kimunya and his rosy economic growth figures which were carefully juxtaposed with campaign-rhetoric and opposition-bashing. Granted, the man articulated economic gains achieved under the current regime, carefully avoiding the touchy subjects of poverty (close to 60% of Kenyans live below the poverty line according to latest UNDP figures), and corruption.

What came out significantly during the event was Kimunya’s hyping of election-year rhetoric, the old phrase “I(we) will transform your lives if you elect me(us)”. Such talk brings false hopes and leave people chasing mirages, which is why it must be searched out for substantive and objective messages. His political maturity was in full display when he made a strong effort to tie the policy paper “Kenya Vision 2030 : Transforming National Development” into a political pledge dependent on President Kibaki’s 2007 re-election, giving projections of 10% economic growth rates for the next 23 years. These projections, it is expected, would ultimately transform Kenya into an African economic tiger. Pulling out his gun he threatened, “in the unlikely event that Kibaki loses re-election, all these economic gains will go up in smoke”.

 Confounding his audience by mixing policy and politics, making it difficult to separate wheat from chaff, reality from fantasy, and facts from rhetoric, he seemed to sway lay folks with economic figures, estimates and projections that could easily draw undecided voters towards Kibaki. It was only when the questions started flooding the podium, that the hypnotized were brought back to reality with the glaring fact that poverty was not anywhere near Kimunya’s concerns, and corruption was neither a priority or a problem in his perception and mind. For this reason, Kimunya and his boss Kibaki ought to be judged not on the basis of the visions they promise, but through their record which is right there for all to see.

  ndemoHis failure to address questions regarding massive corruption, the 50-plus billion shilling Anglo-Leasing scandal, Nakumatt & TuskerMattress tax evasion scams running into 18 billion shillings, the Uchumi fiasco, money laundering claims at CharterHouse Bank, claims of illegal procurement cartels, and irregular public assets acquisitions by one investment company which has shown interest in all of Kenya’s parastatals set to be privatized one wondering whether he approves or condones these outrages.

As though to make the case for the charge of complicity, he failed to explain his failure to propose legislation against money laundering or his role at the CBK including whether he had a hand in Jacinta Mwatela’s removal as Governor. It was not expected that he would address the twin issues of corruption and tribalism (raised by someone in the audience) nor how these contribute towards poverty. He did not try, even though these are all record-based realities that can not be wished away through choreographed showcasing of economic “successes” that only profit the already well-off upper classes.

 Next was the matter of investment, especially that of Kenyans abroad. However much investment opportunities are paraded, investors whether Kenyan of foreign always have the same questions about the local environment with regard to; bureaucratic bottlenecks, regulatory climate, corruption, and insecurity. What regulatory bottlenecks will be faced or what conditions must be met? Must one bribe to complete the process and what is the current state of security? Also will pre-tax conditions be imposed, and so on. These questions were part of the concerns of a Diaspora-based Kenyan who has tried, unsuccessfully, to get started in the telecommunications sector during the Kibaki years. John Maina (who intends to vie for Kamkunji’s parliamentary seat) sent these questions along with his personal experience. Again, the Finance Minister refused to answer.

Ironically, long-long before Amos Kimunya’s Ksh 100 million PR exercise was dreamed up, John Maina and a group of patriotic Kenyans, calling themselves KTIG came up with a brilliant investment idea and applied for a wireless phone license in Kenya. Here in a nut shell is what they met, insurmountable bureaucratic walls, overtures for bribes, and massive corruption. Before they blinked an eye, highly ranking government officials in the Kibaki government had cheated them out of their proposal, instead awarding the license to what was described by many as a “briefcase” entity called Econet. The rest is history.

 amoskimunya.jpg Amos Kimunya, Finance Minister and head of the delegation promoting investments in Kenya, no doubt well aware of this case, deliberately ignored John Maina’s questions regarding the hostile investment climate, bureaucratic thuggery, and the hostile take-over of investment ideas. In a flash, the whole trip became an exercise in futility, a waste of tax payer resources. Kimunya and company had come to the USA to explain how the government has made it easy to invest in Kenya. Refusing to address such a specific case is exactly how not to court investors, this is the stuff of investor nightmares.

That the Finance Minister was not interested in dialogue was also proved by his failure to grasp the conceptual benefits of -dual citizenship with regard to investments that was well articulated by Mkawasi Mcharo, (President Kenya Community Abroad-KCA. A citizen of both the USA and Kenya for example, enjoying local status in both countries is unencumbered in his investments by laws decreeing specific local shareholding. This is especially important in heavily regulated sectors like the telecommunications one. The dismissive attitude of the Minister, summarized as- it took the same path as the Wako draft and died- is extremely unhelpful if Kenyans abroad are to take a greater part in nation-building. If the Ministry of Finance is serious about promoting investments by Kenyans abroad it must soon integrate calls for dual citizenship into the minimum constitution reforms that Kibaki has agreed to support?

 I also took issue with the Minister’s wild claim that “it would be retrogressive for the government to keep pursuing past corrupt individuals”. No wonder then that corruption proceeds unabated under Kibaki’s government. A strong signal is being sent out if people believe that they will be forgiven from robbing public coffers, ostensibly because past culprits were also “forgiven”. This clearly exposes the lack of political in this administration to fight corruption and one wonders why we have to pay exorbitant salaries to the likes of Aaron Ring’eera if it’s all just a PR stunt.

The vicious cycle of theft and protection of corrupt public officials must be terminated once and for all by a regime that is willing to take the heat on behalf of its suffering impoverished citizens. That regime, as Kimunya has clearly stated, is definitely not Kibaki’s. In this bizarre world of the Finance Minister’s the government has no business chasing after the Goldenberg looters and the beneficiaries of past economic crimes.

investmentkenya.jpg Kenya has opportunities of investment as was enumerated by Susan Kikwai but until such problems as were met by John Maina and KTIG are addressed, then uncertainty will persist in the minds of potential investors. The proper conduct of the nation’s financial affairs also demands that the Finance Minister address poverty, corruption, tribalism especially in the Finance Ministry itself (including Kenya Revenue Authority), inflation and the escalating costs of basic commodities like Unga, sugar and paraffin, all which have either tripled or doubled under Kibaki’s four year regime.

Finally, better use of scarce resources in addressing Kenya’s poverty concerns should become a priority for the Finance Minister rather than exorbitant spending in useless politically motivated overseas trips by huge delegations of loyalty-pledging public officials.

Mailed by Njuguna, UK

Published by African Press in Norway, Apn

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Mugabe should step down from the presidency

Posted by African Press International on March 26, 2007

Mugabe’s continued rule is doing alot of harm to the people of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe and his associates will have the same fate as that of the late Mobutu of DRC who had to leave the country for a forced miserable exile life before meeting his death.

It is the duty of the international community to stop Mugabe now and to allow the people of Zimbabwe to enjoy the freedom that they have been denied for so long.

By Korir, African Press in Norway,

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Elections in Nigeria next month

Posted by African Press International on March 26, 2007

Nigerians are now getting ready for presidential elections in April.

President Obasanjo is not seeking re-election due to the limiting by the Constitution.

Earlier elections has not been without skirmishes and this one is not expected to be different because of many contestants.

There already ripe speculations that some aspirants fear that the ruling party may pull some rigging in some regions.

By Korir, African Press in Norway

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