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Archive for June 13th, 2009

Bedroom odds on the rise – sex is good if spouses care for one another

Posted by African Press International on June 13, 2009

By Shirley Genga
It is like a drug junky that is never satisfied, and is constantly reaching for the sensation created by the initial dose, which soon becomes deflated, leaving in its place a feeling of emptiness. Then the urgent urge to “fill the void” presents with the hope that it will give you that highly desired ecstasy but this is rarely the case. This scenario is equal to an incomplete orgasm.
The desired flash never arrives, despite the effort put in and certainty the user may harbour of triumphing. The repeated doses aggravate the need for pleasure, leaving a deep void in their wake. This void develops in intensity dragging the user like a puppet without will in the name of reaching that elusive high.
This is the latest frenzy that has flooded Kenyan streets. People are no longer satisfied with normal sexual liaisons. They want and want so badly, the prohibited sex that pornography, movies, magazines and books perpetrate to be the ultimate sexual high.

Most couples are so caught up in trying to improve their sex life that they will try anything.

When Jackie, a former househelp met her husband John, he was the perfect man very nice to her and treated her with utmost respect. Because John had more money than she had ever had in her entire life, he was the perfect escape from poverty. Jackie did not need to think twice and she married him very fast. But her marriage turned into one of sexual violations that she was unprepared for.

Trials with the new
For starters, her husband was never satisfied sexually. He always seemed to be unleashing something new for them to try out. And she always obeyed until she could take in no more and announced that time was ripe to set the boundaries. John was enraged and took to beating her silly, every evening when he returned home from work. He would then drag her into watching pornography then coerce her into replaying the scenes in bed.
Jackie says: “I felt violated by some of the gross things he forced me into in the false believe that they were the only way to him getting sexually satisfied. A lot of time it hurt. Some of these things belong only to the animal kingdom. After he was done, I cried myself to sleep, feeling very dirty and used. Worse still, with each session of pornography he watched, he got viler. Then one day he announced that he was bringing another woman into our marital bed for a threesome that it would heighten our sexual experience I knew he had lost his mind. I simply packed up and left. I have a simple job now, but I am happy”.
Pastor Allan Okello Adada of Mavuno church says that for couples to be happy and contented, they need to live by Gods standards. That God did not hinder pleasure but set boundaries outside of which humans will spend the rest of their lives searching for a high that is non-existent.

“The Bible warns us to guard our eyes and ears. Do not be quick to follow what you see on the television because it is simply fantasy. If you want to be happy and satisfied, guard your marital bed jealously do not let anything and anyone in,” cautions Adada.

From pornography, to child pornography, then one-night stands to threesomes and the latest trend swingers, sex is increasingly getting aberrant with time.

Mike, an Engineer thinks these are signs of the end times. He says when he recently confided in a friend about how intimacy with his wife had become boring, the friend invited him and four other married couples for a romantic trip to Mombasa, supposedly to strengthen their unions.

Shock on us
“We stayed in one of the couples house a luxurious beach mansion. On arrival, the women were asked to write their names on a piece of paper. fold and drop it in a cup. The men followed suit. We were then asked to pick a piece randomly only to discover that the name we had picked would be our sexual partner for that day. The routine would be repeated the next day in the name of improving our sex lives! What shocked me most was that everyone else was okay with the idea. My wife immediately packed our belongings and we left in protest. What kind of things are people engaging in today?” Mike posits.
Mike later discovered that the movement his friend was involved in operated under the name swingers an American slang used to describe couples and individuals who see their sexual life from a different prospective and who readily swapped spouses to heighten their sexual experience.
Although this culture is common among the middle upper class in America, it is fast spreading among some wealthy Kenyans.

Christine Mwakima, a Counsellor, from Nairobi Womens Hospital asserts that, although couples should try to spice up their sex lives, they should not be so quick to try anything and everything.

Disastrous results
“The search for this elusive sexual high can only lead to disaster. Many people like to replicate everything they see in pornographic movies, never realising that the person behind it is doing it for money. Pornography is an illusion that will simply get you hooked and promise you thunder bolts in bed but never really satisfy you. People should stick to what they know,” says Mwakima.
“As much as sex is important, most marital problems evolve around sex. Just because you saw “threesomes” on TV does not mean that you need to try it out naively. Sex just like everything else has its boundaries, without which trouble erupts. People struggle so much to achieve this ultimate high but spend little time in developing the all-important emotional connection with their spouse”.
Michael, a banker though married, says that he cannot disengage from one-night-stands and strip clubs. “They create a fantasy that I would never find at home. I know that it hurts my wife when I stray, but our sex life is boring. I get that sexual high from the forbidden acts even though sometimes it makes me feel enslaved”.

Sexologist Getrude Mungai insists that like all things in life, sex in marriage should also be spiced from time to time to avoid monotony and subsequently infidelity. Those boundaries are essential and that couples must return to the basics that sex should be between a husband and wife and no third party or more for that matter should be allowed in.

She says todays couples are caught up in the frantic search for the elusive sexual high because of pornography, the media and bad company. “People forget that the actors in the movies are people paid to do despicable acts that they probably despise, but cant resist the allure of money. Porn could become addictive, elusive and as no emotional attachment. Peers can also bring undue pressure to a couples sex life. Take for example a guy bragging that he can go five rounds a night to his gullible friends, who in turn go back home and demand sex all night! Same case applies to a woman who has never had an orgasm, hearing how glorious an experience it is from sometimes exaggerating friends. All these and more could make people search for that ultimate high in the wrong places, not realising that its all in the mind. The brain is the biggest sex organ!”

Just a fantasy
She adds: “People need to realise that physical thirst can never be quenched and the more one pursues it the more they crave it and the deeper the emotional need gets. Unfortunately, such individuals think it is more sex they need and hence the addiction. This leads to extreme and more daring and destructive actions. Fantasies must stay as such, just fantasies! Believe me they are more exciting in our minds, than in reality. Most times fantasies border the extreme, a place that could not be crossed causally, only in our minds and subconscious,” says Getrude.
Getrude also strongly believes that the ultimate lovemaking is not just physical contact but a connection of the heart, soul, mind and finally the body. She says that only when all these ingredients are present do couples have an enduring, great and healthy sex life. That physical attraction fades within the first year or after a few months. When this happens, couples go on a quest to restore the physical connection. The couple may find temporary solutions, but they soon become inefficient because of the emotional void. Thus couples should work on the emotional if they want a good sex life.
In her parting shot, Getrude says: “Its essential to have boundaries in everything, sex included. As the saying goes, too much of something is poisonous. Couples must communicate their needs and desires. Its also prudent to research carefully before engaging in anything new. They must think about the consequences before hand. I think there are a million ways to have vaginal sex with your spouse only, after over 10 years of marriage there are things I am yet to do with my husband and we keep discovering new ways all the time”.

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Netanyahu to deliver major policy speech

Posted by African Press International on June 13, 2009

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to deliver a major policy speech on Sunday that Western power-brokers hope will make a clear commitment to pursue peace with the Palestinians.

Mr Netanyahus refusal to declare a building freeze in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and to endorse the goal of establishing a Palestinian state both set out in a 2003 peace road map has opened a rare rift in US-Israeli relations.

Anxious to preserve the alliance but also beholden to his fractious and right-leaning governing coalition, Mr Netanyahu has spoken of stop-gap proposals such as Palestinian self-government shorn of sovereign powers like the right to set up an army.

Limited autonomy

The Palestinians, having won limited autonomy under 1993 interim accords, insist on full statehood. Yet theirs is now a divided polity, with Hamas Islamists who reject coexistence with the Jewish state in control of the Gaza Strip since 2007.

USPresident Barack Obama says containing Irans nuclear aspirations which Israel considers a major threat would be helped by progress toward a Palestine deal.

An Israeli official said Mr Netanyahu was still putting final touches to the speech which would present a vision of moving forward in the peace process with the Palestinians.

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Americans Must Keep Asking Questions about Obama, His Goals and Their Consequences

Posted by African Press International on June 13, 2009

(For a Dead Guy, Saul Alinsky Sure Gets Around)

Alinskys Rules for Radicals has once again been pulled off of shelf following the senseless attack on the Holocaust Memorial by one man filled with hate for the Jewish people and Israel. Regrettably, writers on a few well known internet sites, a few newscasters and several others in the mediawho appear to take pride in their ability to distort facts and peoples motivations/opinions/beliefs in ways that serve their (or the people they support) purposes – are in high gear attacking ordinary Americans who have questions about Barrack Obama, trying to somehow equate them with the Holocaust Memorial shooter. Im sure most people see through these attempts and would agree that this purported journalistic reporting/commentary is neither journalism nor responsible.

What it is-is simply the drive-by medias attempt to shape the news and portray anyone who disagrees with Obama as a hate filled racist bigot. This type of reporting and commentary is despicable ends justifies the means activity engaged in by people who surely know better. The vast, vast majority of people who oppose Obama are not racists or bigots and the media knows it. They are Americans (from all backgrounds and races) who want politicians, the Congress and Obama to follow the Constitution, support fair free market principles, and to be fiscally responsible and disciplined. They are Americans who vote, pay taxes and believe that non-violence remains the only acceptable way to effectuate change.

The current feeding frenzy was set off by the despicable act of one crazed man. Raum Emanuel says, You never want to let a serious crisis to go to waste. However, many surrogates and many in the media take Emanuels advice to the extreme. They dont want to let any act go to waste that they can springboard off of to portray people they disagree with (or those who cross/impede their goals) in as negative light as they can.

A recent example is the constant attack of Governor Sarah Palin and her family. During the election, we all heard (over, over, and over) of ethics allegations raised against Governor Palin. Well it seems that Governor Palin has been cleared of ever single one. Where is the media? Oh, they are busy using David Lettermans recent attack on Governor Palins 14 year old daughter. Yet there is no real condemnation from the media, no demand to fire David Letterman as would be the case for any conservative media personality just reinforcement of negative perceptions against Governor Palin and her family. What did CBS do to Don IMUS? Sorry Don, youre out of here.

While Im fairly sure that most members of the media do not have pocket versions of Alinskys Rules for Radicals with them, if one does a minimal amount of responsible, balanced reading from various sources, they would soon find that what is being reported as factual and complete new stories by the main stream media are actually stories missing important information. Stories that are missing important information that can change the meaning and/or inferences are not journalism. Such stories are the very definition of news bias.

My wife listens to National Public Radio (NPR) every morning, so I have a valuable daily opportunity to observe the subtle ways by which the news is shaped by a seemly objective news source. Many times tiny bits of information (facts, opinions, parts of opinion, context, parts of context) are left out, maybe a person being interviewed to give an opposing view regarding an issue is not the best spokesperson available (or their credibility has already been impugned to some degree), or the emphasis/order of presentation directs the listener to certain conclusions each is a way to shape the news. Ive always hoped that NPR was not engaged in the intentional shaping of the news (as opposed to factual reporting); however the more I listen, the more Im convinced that they are. Thats too bad because they all have such nice calm morning voices that exude sincerity for what they are saying.

(Im sure thats how Obama has gotten away with so much of his deception thus far.)

Of course, some in the media and those who are Obamas surrogates are always attacking conservative commentators/entertainers like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage or Glenn Beck because they are well known, influential and have large audiences. Its interesting to note that recently many have been trying to portray Rush Limbaugh as a spokesperson for conservatives and the Republican Party. This is total slight of hand. I suppose they figure that if they can firmly establish a link to Republicans with Rush, then a tarnished Rush will keep voters (who sincerely believe that Obama and many Democrats are out of control) from voting Republican out of embarrassment. Stand by Mr. Limbaugh because, as usual, the Sh^% is coming your way.

Rush Limbaugh is the biggest danger to them because his audience is growing. Its all a disheartening game that the media and politicians play. However, I have not heard any of these men urge people to violence of any kind. In fact, Glenn Beck takes care to urge conservatives to immolate people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King speak up with conviction dont sit in the back of the bus dont react with violence. What I hear from Rush, Hannity, Savage and Beck is that they want Americans to open their eyes and ears and truly behold what is before them. They seem to trust that given full and complete information, Americans will come to their own conclusions – and thats okay.

That used to be the proper role of the media but now it falls upon others such as radio personalities and those active on the internet. They may use harsher words and speak louder, but they need to in order to break through the publics perception of legitimacy regarding the old main stream media. Thankfully the publics perceptions of the media are crumbling.

The truth is that right now there is no clear leader in the Republican Party and most people know that. I will vote for candidates of either (any) party who support the Constitution, who refrain from marching us to a mediocre America through socialism, who strongly support the rights of the individual and States, and who will exercise fiscal responsibility. I will be voting for a lot of challengers in 2010. I think a lot of other Americans will be doing the same.

Most Radio Talk Show hosts are seasoned professionals who have thick skins regarding unfair criticism and they can take whatever is thrown their way. Unfortunately, ordinary citizens who are just now finding their voices are not used to being unfairly tarnished and attacked. It is important that they, that we, toughen up our skin and keep speaking out against injustice; that we keep taking to the streets in peaceful Tea Parties, that we write our Representatives, that we do not cower.

It is well known that Obama and his surrogates such as ACORN are well versed in Saul Alinskys Rules that are intended to intimidate and break down peoples resolve to do what they believe in. We all need to understand what will be coming our way and we each need to commit to having our voices heard. When Mr. Alinskys Rules refers to the enemy – thats you, me, my family, Rush, Hannity, Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and anyone else who is not part of this D. C. power establishment who stands up and says, THIS IS NOT RIGHT.

Alinskys rules are ruthless and you can imagine how they work. Here are the rules to be aware of:

RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)

RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

Alinkiys Rule 5 is the one that can most easily intimidate ordinary people who have legitimate questions about Obama, questions about his birth certificate, questions about socialism, questions about Larry Sinclair, questions about out of control spending, questions about the government take over of GM, questions about closing GM dealerships based on who they made political contributions to, questions about setting aside the rights of secured creditors to do it, questions about Obama apparently firing the Inspector General of Americorps in retaliation, questions about the real consequences of cap and trade, questions about the real consequences of government run healthcare, questions about the intention to run private health insurance out of business, etc., etc., etc.

Americans want their questions answered but they dont want to be ridiculed. They dont want their friends and neighbors thinking that they are conspiracy theorists, irrational, stupid or easily misled. Its like Obama and his friends are the bullies on some schoolyard. Some of us will lose friends and more; but what choice do we have? Surrender to injustice? Screw that.

Americans have a fundamental right and duty to ask questions about their government and to try to get answers.


Posted to API by:

Zach Jones
The truth is rarely pure and never simple.
Oscar Wilde

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Selfish Kenyan Ministers defy Finance Minister Uhuru’s directive on small cars – They want to be placed higher than the voters

Posted by African Press International on June 13, 2009

minister shitanda

Housing minister Soita Shitanda and his official car when he commissioned the Madaraka Infill Housing Project on Friday. Mr Shitanda said he cannot drive into a function in small car similar to ones driven by teenagers. Photo/ETERSON GITHAIGA


In Summary

  • Leaders argue it is not practical to use smaller vehicles as most roads are poor

Cabinet ministers on Friday opposed a government directive to stop using vehicles with engine capacities of more than 1.8 litres.

The ministers and other top government officials continued using stylish fuel-guzzling vehicles, just a day after Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta issued the instruction to help cut government spending.

Presenting his maiden national budget speech on Thursday, Mr Kenyatta sought to confine ministers and senior civil servants to one vehicle each, with an engine capacity not exceeding 1800cc.

If effected, the move would have seen the top of the range vehicles being used by the officials returned to the Treasury for auction to the public.

But on Friday, the ministers and government officials stayed put, attending functions in posh cars, with some categorically vowing not to surrender the cars.

Gender minister Esther Murugi said: I am not going to comply.

Ms Murugi questioned how Mr Kenyatta expected ministers to visit various parts of the country with 1800cc vehicles yet most roads were impassable.

I have one vehicle, which is fine. However, it has to be motorable. In my ministry, we have one vehicle each (her and assistant minister …), she said.

The Nyeri Town MP said the Mercedez Benz 200 she was using was only allocated to her less than two months ago and questioned why she should surrender it that soon.

Although she welcomed the introduction of fuel cards to help cut costs, Ms Murugi termed the limiting of size of cars to be used by government officials as tricky.

She said other methods such as a stop to buying of new furniture and cutting on use of phones should be used to reduce spending.

The use of 1.8litre engine vehicles, she said, could only result in more breakages due to bad roads and thus escalate maintenance costs.

Fisheries minister Paul Otuoma said he will not surrender the 3000cc diesel car he was using as it was cheaper in terms of fuel than a 1.8litre engine petrol car.

I have always been compliant. I use a three-litre petrol car and only have one, Dr Otuoma said, adding that his assistant had no vehicle after the one he was using was involved in an accident in April.

He normally uses mine when I am not travelling, he said. His ministry, he said, had little resources and that it would even require more vehicles to properly carry out fish farming in 140 constituencies countrywide as outlined in the budget.


He proposed that some of the vehicles that will be surrendered by government officials be given to his ministry.

Dr Otuoma added that not all high capacity vehicles consumed much fuel due to advanced technology.

We need further clarification as some vehicles capacity might be low but consume a lot of fuel. Theres also no 1.8litre diesel car, he said.

Roads minister Franklin Bett said it would not be possible for him to inspect roads in places like Marakwet and West Pokot districts with low vehicles.

I dont mind about the engine size as long as the vehicle is high, he said.

He said he could not access some areas to open new roads with a low Mercedez Benz car, adding that ministers also needed powerful vehicles while driving in a presidential convoy.

He called for further consultations in order to come up with a reasonable, fair and viable solution before the measures on government vehicles are implemented.

He expressed concern that some ministers might be forced to use their own vehicles and then seek compensation from government.

The Bureti MP questioned what will happen to ministers with several chase cars if Mr Kenyattas proposals were implemented.

Environment minister John Michuki, Internal Securitys George Saitoti and Agricultures William Ruto are among officials with several chase cars and bodyguards.

Match their status

Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs minister Mutula Kilonzo said he unreservedly supports Mr Kenyattas proposals. He said he had instructed his ministry to buy him a new car to comply with the measures.

The minister currently uses a 3000cc diesel Prado, formerly used by his predecessor Martha Karua.

The change is not going to affect my lifestyle, he said.

But Housing minister Soita Shitanda said ministers should be given an opportunity to mortgage the high-powered vehicles instead of being withdrawn.

He said the ministers deserved the vehicles in order to match their status, adding that he could not drive into a function with a small car, which, according to him, belonged to teenagers.

This is not going to be practical, he said. We cannot drive in the same cars as teenagers. The minister must have been duped by his advisers.

Mr Shitanda was speaking after the launch of a housing project in Nairobis Madaraka Estate.

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Kenya: State budget must make our lives bearable, people plead

Posted by African Press International on June 13, 2009

Nairobi (Kenya) – If the Kenya budget does not address the issue of food prices, then it will not have addressed the core issues affecting Kenyans, various Kenyans say in these short interviews.

Susan Njoki, unemployed mother: Ms Susan Njoki spends between Sh70 and Sh100 a day to feed herself and her children. Hard economic times have forced the mother of two from Witima village to constantly feed on ugali and vegetables.

Hers is a typical Kenyan rural family that lives on less than a dollar a day. Ms Njoki earns a living by doing menial jobs such offering cleaning services. I normally go without lunch so that I can eat well in the evening. But even then the meal I make is not enough for my family. We live on hope that things will improve, she says.

According to Ms Njoki, everyday, she spends about Sh43 to buy a kilo of maize flour, Sh10 on a tomato and onion and Sh20 on sukuma wiki (kales). Ms Njoki cannot remember the last they fed on meat and a different meal. She will be following Finance Ministers budget to see if he will improve her situation.

Simon Mutuku, Security officer, Nyeri town: Mr Mutuku has pegged his daily budget at a maximum of Sh50 and only exceeds when it is extremely necessary. He treks a distance of three-and-a-half kilometres to and from his work station in Nyeri town. This ensures that he saves Sh40 every day.

A morning and afternoon cup of tea in the office where he is stationed suffices for lunch. In the evening Mr Mutuku spends Sh22 on half-a-kilo on maize flour, Sh10 on kerosene, which he uses to cook twice, Sh10 vegetables and Sh5 on cooking oil. Mr Mutuku hopes Mr Kenyatta make the life a bit easier for him in this years budget.

Ms Priscilla Musundi, Trader, Busia: She expects Mr Kenyatta to make essential goods affordable to the common mwananchi (citizen). The trader at Busia market says that for the last one year, it has been hectic for entrepreneurs in the country, especially small scale traders.

Ms Musundi who, deals in tomatoes and onions, says that Kenyans are overtaxed and that some traders have even closed shop. We are doing badly business wise. Everyday the Busia municipal council is on my neck even when I havent sold anything, she says.

The trader says that Kenyans are praying that the Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta reduces taxes on essential goods and foodstuff so that they do not go hungry. We get Sh100 or Sh200 during good days, but with such an amount you can only afford one meal in a day, she says.

Ms Musundi, who is also a parent with school-going children, says that she has been in the business for the last seven years and singles out the last two years as having been the most challenging for her.

The prices of goods that I deal in are skyrocketing everyday, but you have no choice. You still have to buy them because if you do not, others will still purchase them and go on with their businesses as usual, she laments.

She says that the prices of bread, milk, sugar, fuel and maize flour must be reduced or else a majority of Kenyas population will continue going hungry.

Poll chaos victims: Internally displaced victims in the North Rift expect the 2009 budget to cushion them from their predicament. Led by their representatives from both the Kikuyu and Kalenjin community, they said the government should prioritise reducing the cost of farm inputs so that they can invest more in agriculture.

The region, they noted, is the countrys breadbasket and post-election violence adversely affected their productivity. We dont expect to start another financial year with empty promises. Let action speak louder than words this year, said Mr Joseph Ndungu Thairu from Ngarua transition camp.

The budget, he says, should set aside funds to ensure all pending IDP compensation cases are addressed. Mr Thairu further said the government should think of long-term solutions to the countries woes. Donating a few bags of fertiliser to some selected post-election violence victims is a mere temporal measure. Let the budget address the skyrocketing prices of farm inputs, said Mr Thairu.

On the other hand, Mrs Susan Cherotich Sugut says the budget should include funds for food for internal refugees until harvest season. The main challenge for us is that we lack food because we did not plant last season. We were in the camps, said Mrs Sugut. She said that though they had returned to their farms, their crops were yet to mature.

Mr Douglas Jomba, Security guard, Nakuru: He expects Finance minister to reduce the prices of food, especially maize flour and sugar. Life, he says, has become hard for his family and putting food on the table daily is a big challenge.

I have to make a lot of sacrifice, reducing even some basic needs to cut on daily household costs but I am still straining too much, he says. He says his family takes sugarless tea and sometimes he cannot afford milk.

These are things that need to be addressed in the Budget, he adds. He suggests Mr Kenyatta should increase the prices of luxuries such as alcohol and cigarettes and consider waiving tax on food items.

Ms Veronica Munyenye, 45, Fruits vendor, Nakuru: The prices of all foodstuff should be given priority in Thursdays Budget. It is sad that most Kenyans are starving, not because they do not have food, but because the food available is too expensive.

Last year, I would easily provide a decent meal for my children from the profit of between Sh70 and Sh100 that I earned. But sadly, the number of customers has reduced as most of them prefer to spend money on main foods than fruits.

If the Budget does not address the issue of food prices, then it will not have addressed the core issues affecting Kenyans.

source.The Nation (Kenya)

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Africa: 16 million Africans made poor by meltdown

Posted by African Press International on June 13, 2009

Cape Town (South Africa) As the 19th World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa opened yesterday in Cape Town, South Africa, Managing Director of the World Bank, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said the global economic meltdown had further thrown a staggering 53 million people into poverty around the world. Sixty per cent of that figure is in Africa, she said.

But despite the painful effects of the economic slowdown, the crisis, according to her, still presented a remarkable opportunity for African countries to fast track growth in their economies. Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former finance minister, who is a co-chair of the Forum, observed that African countries were growing at an average of five per cent even before the crisis.

“So I think the issue has been how African countries can sustain that momentum in this time of crisis. Africa cannot afford to be seen as a victim in this crisis,” she said.

She stressed the imperative of investing in agriculture and for Africa to inspire its own growth stimulus to survive the crisis. “The crisis should not be seen as a challenge, but as an opportunity,” she added.

Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke at the opening press conference along with the Forum’s other co-chairs, Jiang Jianqing, board chairman of China’s Industrial and Commercial Bank and Soud Ba’alawy, Executive Chairman of Dubai Group, said agriculture held a huge potential for Africa’s economic breakthrough.

“Agriculture helps to bring people out of poverty faster,” she said, adding that such optimism is fuelled both by the fact that foreign investors had lately been showing much interest in investing in commercial agriculture in Africa and also because studies reveal a substantial part of the continent’s agricultural resources remain untapped.

According to her, “For instance, in Nigeria, only a mere 14 per cent of arable land is being used at present.”

The World Bank, she said, had “more than doubled” its investment in Africa in recent time especially in agriculture. But there was cautious optimism expressed by the media about the World Bank’s commitment to truly develop African economies especially in relation to linking aids and grants to what is considered stifling conditions.

In reaction to that, she said: “We have gone beyond imposition of conditions or what you call ‘strings attached’. What we tend to do now is simply work within the context of programmes or reforms as drawn up by individual countries.”

On what she thinks African countries need to do to increase its competitive edge at the global marketplace, she said: “Africa needs to improve its infrastructure to make it more competitive. There is also the need to improve on governance institutions.”

Yesterday’s opening session also featured the launch of the African Competitiveness Report 2009. The report reflects the research efforts of three institutions – the WEF, the African Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank.

The report which ranked Nigeria 10th highlighted the problems posed by limited access to financial services for African businesses. This represents an improvement on last year’s report where Nigeria was not listed among the first 10.

Tunisia, which was ranked highest by the 2008 report, still retained the first position in the 2009 report.

African businesses, according to the report, could increase its competitive edge, but their governments and their international partners would need to improve access to finance, resist pressure to erect trade barriers, upgrade infrastructure, improve healthcare and educational systems and strengthen institutions.

Limited access to financial services remains a major obstacle for African enterprises, but underdeveloped infrastructure, limited healthcare and educational services, and poor institutional frameworks also make African countries less competitive in the global marketplace.

The report also points to a number of success stories in the region that highlight steps countries could take to improve the business environment.

The WEF closes tomorrow.

Meanwhile, former United Nations’ Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former Mozambican First Lady Graca Machel have said Africa will continue to need aid.

But they also said the continent had the potential to become a net food and energy exporter and to boost inter-continental trade.

Speaking under the aegis of the Africa Progress Panel (APP) chaired by Annan, the leaders called on African heads of state to turn the current global economic meltdown into an opportunity for the continent on the basis of shared responsibility with their international partners.

They maintained that the financial crisis had underscored Africa’s vulnerability, notwithstanding a decade of solid progress, APP said at the launch of its annual report yesterday.

The key conclusion of the report is that Africa needs to drive its own development agenda as the basis for partnership and shared responsibility for progress.

“The global economic crisis can serve as a wake-up call for both African leaders and their international partners,” the panel said.

“Africa has transformed in my lifetime and the progress reached so far is proof that concrete achievements are possible amidst adversity,” Annan said.

“The economic, climate change and food security crises are all linked. They cannot be tackled separately.

“We need a new development model that provides security, stability, and addresses people’s needs. Everyone needs to contribute.

“Business has a key role, as do Africa’s trading and donor partners. But the primary responsibility to make it happen rests with Africa’s political leaders,” Annan said.

source.This Day (Nigeria)

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