Author Archives: Guest

How the Lack of Accountable Local Government Holds Back Democracy and Development in Pakistan

Pakistan_tehsils

Some of Pakistan’s districts — where administrative power is concentrated — contain more than a million people.

Fayyaz Bhidal is a CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Atlantic Council

If one were to number the challenges Pakistan faces today, one may end up with an exhaustive list of issues ranging from poor security to faltering economic growth, rising crimes to social unrest, corruption to political instability, among others. A closer look at these problems, however, will reveal that a great deal of these issues stem from poor governance and the centralization of political and administrative powers on the part of both provinces and federal government.

Take Punjab for example. A province that is spread over 79,284 square miles and houses of over 100 million individuals, it is divided into 36 administrative units called districts. Despite having a democratically elected political establishment in the provincial center, Lahore, the districts are governed and administered by senior bureaucrats known as Deputy Commissioners (DCs). This position is a legacy of the colonial era and emulates a system with highly concentrated power, allowing no say to the local communities in decision making process.

Read More…

Five Ways to Ensure the Public Has a Say in Libya’s New Constitution

libya-vote

Mahmoud Bader is CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED).

Ever since Libya’s General National Congress’ (GNC) elections (dubbed the “electoral wedding”) had a 2.5 million-voter turnout according to the High National Electoral Commission (HNEC), turnout has never been the same. Libyans lost confidence in both the previous government and the GNC. Today, the Libyan people’s hopes rest on the Committee of Sixty – sixty members who are tasked to draft the constitution.

Despite the fact that the total voter turnout for the Committee of Sixty was low — a modest 1.1 million total voters according to the HNEC — it could still change. The Committee’s biggest challenge is to find a way to regain the people’s confidence and guarantee the public’s participation in the drafting of the constitution. It could do that by:

Read More…

Indexing the Well-Being of Youth: An Opportunity for Nepal

In early April, I attended the launch event for a report entitled The Global Youth Wellbeing Index, at the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS).  According to the report, there are 1.8 billion people between the ages of 15-25 in the world today. The report surveyed Nepal’s neighbor to the south, India, and profiled several practices from which Nepal can learn.

This report is the first of its kind to measure the well being of young people in various domains and suggest critical paths to improve the situation of young people’s role in changing society. More than 80 percent of the youth represented in the index have very low levels of well being, lack economic opportunities, and face various challenges and limitations.

Read More…

Can Kenya’s Government Replicate Ports Success to Create Jobs?

Mombasa Port. (Photo: Business Daily)

Mombasa Port. (Photo: Business Daily)

By Ben Kiragu

One of the things Kenya’s new government succeeded in doing within its first year was to reduce the number of days it takes to move cargo from the Mombasa port to Malaba from 18 to 8 days — a 56 percent improvement in just 6 months. This is a major achievement which has boosted commercial relations with Uganda and other neighboring landlocked countries, forestalled competition from alternative transit routes, and ultimately reduced the cost of doing business, therefore improving economic growth in the region. How did the government accomplish this?

First of all, the president set up a cabinet subcommittee of Cabinet Secretaries dealing with the Northern Corridor — the transit links connecting Kenya’s landlocked neighbors to the sea — which reported to him during weekly cabinet meetings.  Second, administrative changes were instituted; all agencies involved in the process including KRA, KEPHIS, KEBS and KMA were instructed to work under the authority of the Kenya Ports Authority and relocated to Mombasa port. Also all government agencies were to take orders from KPA and finalize operations in Mombasa without reference to any other authority. Finally, the process of clearing was digitized and weighing bridges were modernized.

What are the lessons learnt from this? There was very clear knowledge, analysis, and understanding of the problems and where the bottle necks lay, therefore solving the problem was undertaken with almost surgical precision. There was very little need for new financial resources or the construction of major physical infrastructure. This is one of the key reasons why most projects in Kenya are delayed, as they wait for budgetary allocations or get into procurement bureaucracy and controversy as we have come to see especially as a result expanded democratic space. Lastly  and probably most important there was clear and dynamic leadership, the president led from the front on this one and delegated to decisive and action-oriented managers. The impact is there for all to see.

Creation of jobs was one of the rallying calls of the Jubilee campaign with 1 million jobs promised per year, but so far no major job creating initiative has borne fruit. The government seems to be waiting for big projects such as the Standard Gauge Railway and the Galana-Kulalu irrigation project to create jobs; one wonders if this will work, as time is clearly not on their side especially given the issues associated with some of these projects. My recommendation: why not replicate the cargo movement magic to prune low-hanging fruits and achieve quick wins in job creation by creating an enabling environment for micro and small enterprises (MSEs)?

Read More…

Lessons from U.S. Manufacturing Associations for Kenya

Executive Summit

Frida W. Mbugua is a CIPE ChamberLINKS participant at the Manufacturing Alliance for Productivity and Innovation in Arlington, Virginia.

For the past four weeks, I have been participating in CIPE’s ChamberLINKS program in the Washington, DC area.

The program commenced on April 15, 2014 and runs for six weeks. I am based at the Manufacturing Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) for the first five weeks, and so far it has been amazing. The President and CEO of MAPI, Stephen Gold, together with all the members of staff, have been very warm and welcoming and have made these four weeks a great experience so far. Gold put me in touch with other manufacturing associations, and I have had the privilege to learn so much from them.

I was with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) for one week, Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) for three days, Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) for three days, and will be at the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) next week for two days. This opportunity has given me the chance to interact with various members of staff in different organizations, learn what they do, and learn how they run their activities while actively serving their members and maintaining valuable relations with the various government agencies.

Read More…

Learning from the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce

2014-05-02 11 07 31

Aliya Ahmed is a CIPE ChamberLINKS participant at the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce in Denver, Colorado.

It’s been three weeks now since my arrival here in the Unites States for CIPE’s 2014 ChamberLINKS program. It gives me immense pleasure to be fortunate enough to participate in this year’s program; I am excited to experience the differences between Pakistan and the United States, as well as to learn the best practices chambers in the U.S. are adopting. After my selection, I was anxious to further augment my knowledge about the work of chambers in foreign countries by joining the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

The most inspiring aspect of the ChamberLINKS program for me is that it is in line with my professional goals, which are to learn as much as I can about chambers’ work and acquaint myself with the latest trends in the field, contributing to my overall mission and professional skills.

I have been placed with the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce & Industry (CWCC), which is located in Denver. CWCC, established in 1988, is a progressive chamber actively engaged in providing opportunities and visibility for women in business through relationship development, education, mentorship, partnership, and alliances.

I am shadowing Director of Events Katie Knorr, with whom I partake in daily chamber operations such as planning meetings, events, and conferences.

Read More…

Business in Crimea Faces Economic Uncertainty

mcdonalds-closed-crimea

McDonalds, along with some other international firms, closed its stores in Crimea shortly after the Russian annexation. (Photo: Newsweek)

By Iryna Fedets

Recent events have brought uncertainty to the business community of Crimea, particularly with the approach of summer for a region where the economy depends heavily on Black Sea tourism.

A year ago, businesses in Crimea were active, and optimistic. A report on the investment climate in the regions of Ukraine published by the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting in April 2013 placed Crimea in 4th place among the 27 regions of the country according to their attractiveness for investors.

While corruption and extensive business regulations have been the problems for the whole country,  Crimea showed better results than most regions of Ukraine in many aspects. In the sub-category “Absence of corruption,” Crimea held the 4th place nationally, and the 3rd place in the “Administrative procedures” sub-rating. Moreover, business there proved to be the most optimistic in Ukraine as Crimea took the 1st position in the “Business optimism” sub-category.

Now, Crimean businesses are looking to the future with anxiety, not optimism. Some international companies like McDonalds are closing their venues in the region, and local entrepreneurs are left with the limited options of either continuing in uncertainty or selling their business.

Read More…