Tag Archives: kenya

A Global Voice for the Private Sector

doha-conference-participants

In 2013, the world faces many challenges, ranging from youth unemployment to the destruction of the environment to armed conflicts that continue to take lives and devastate countries. This week, more than 2,000 representatives of Chambers of Commerce from around the world gathered  to discuss these issues — and the role of the private sector in addressing them — at the 8th World Chambers Congress in Doha, Qatar.

The themes were as diverse as the participants, but one common thread emerged: the business community needs to be involved in helping to solve these pressing problems. And private sector voices are most effective in a democratic context.

Indeed, many of these issues are linked, often to issues of economic exclusion, which can incite violence and perpetuate cycles of conflict and poverty. “Enemy number one to economic development is armed conflict,” said Joost Hintermann of the International Crisis Group, quoting IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

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A Personal Kenyan Voting Experience

Kenyans line up to vote on Monday. (Photo: VOA)

Kenyans line up to vote on Monday. (Photo: VOA)

by Ben Kiragu (CIPE Representative) 3/6/13 at 12:30 AM Kenya Time

Having registered to vote in the first Kenyan election under the new constitution at a school 10 minutes from where we live, my wife and I arrived at the polling station at 7 AM, which is early by all standards, with the expectation that we would be done in an hour as has been our past experience. We were however in for a shock as we arrived to find the polling station full of voters waiting to cast their votes, and we also learned that some had come to the polling station as early as 4 AM and had been waiting for the commencement of the voting at 6 AM.

This time around it was totally different, as the turnout was very high, perhaps indicative of how high the stakes are with this election — even managing to get the middle class who have previously been perceived as indifferent to voting. It took us five tiring hours to vote, occasioned by firstly the big turnout which resulted in long queues (in some stations as long as 5 kilometers), secondly, unlike previous elections under the old constitution where we were voting for only three elective positions (President, Member of Parliament and Councilor), the process was slower this time as we voted for 6 elective positions! (President, Governor, Senator, Women Representative, MP & Ward Representative).

Thirdly, the use of new computerized polling books to authenticate voters also added a further complication and delays to the process. But all in all given the myriad of challenges from limited time for voter education, using of new technology etc., the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission made a good effort. This was apart from attempts made by the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) to disrupt voting at the coast by ambushing police on patrol, which unfortunately left 6 dead. The elections have otherwise gone on peacefully throughout the country.

As I write this article 27 hours since the voting officially ended, only 39 percent of the polling stations (13,000 out of 33,000) have submitted their results . Prime Minister Raila Odinga of CORD has 42 percent of the votes cast while Uhuru Kenyatta of Jubilee has 53 percent. The delay in relaying the results which has  today seen the running mate of Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka call a press conference about 7 hours ago (5pm Kenyan time) to raise  concerns regarding delays and reassure CORD supporter that victory is still within their reach.

With the results released so far it is too early to call the election given that only 39 percent of the polling stations have announced their results. Also the new constitution requires the winning candidate to garner 50 percent plus 1 of the total votes cast, and also 25 percent of the votes cast in at least half of the counties, in this case 24. We expect the final result of the provisional presidential tally to be made known by tomorrow evening (Wednesday); however the election law gives IEBC up to 7 days after the end of voting to announce the final results.

Although people are getting apprehensive at the slow pace at which the results are trickling in there is an uneasy calm. Despite the challenges associated with running such a complex election, with all manner of expectations and suspicions after the 2007-8 debacles, the IEBC has so far been professional, transparent and have run a credible process. This credibility may however quickly be eroded if the delays in announcing the results especially the presidential election continue beyond tomorrow.

Update: Since this report was submitted, Kenyan election officials have been counting votes by hand as electronic systems broke down. Today, March 7, the party of Raila Odinga called for the count to be stopped and claims the vote is being “doctored.”

Kenya’s Imperfect Election

Kenyan citizens line up to cast their ballots in today's election. (Photo: Voice of America)

Kenyan citizens line up to cast their ballots in today’s election. (Photo: VOA)

Long lines as biometric kits fail, sporadic violence that has resulted in death, and accusations of vote buying have not stopped more than 14 million Kenyans from heading to the polls. The international community and many Kenyans are worried that today’s election could result in a repeat of the 2007 election that resulted in more than 1,133 deaths and hundreds of thousands of displaced people. While not perfect, it does seem that Kenya’s 10th election since independence in 1963 will not be a repeat of 2007.

The dynamic has changed. First, Kenyans showed when they approved the constitution in 2010 that they had a new vision for the future. Second, while many political campaigns are still based on tribal affiliation as in the past,  the current candidates do not want to be accused of instigating violence. Kenya has revitalized its judiciary and the heavy hand of the International Criminal Court seems to be in the back of every candidate’s mind. Third, Kenyans themselves realize that in 2007 they stepped up to the precipice and almost dissolved into a failed state, and this time around citizens and civil society have had five years of preparation to prevent a repeat of the past.

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Kenya’s Aspiring Governors Debate the Economy

kam-debate

Candidates for Governor of Nakuru, Dr. Francis Kirangi and Lawrence Bomet engage in KAM-hosted economic debates.

While the recent presidential debates in Kenya are being hailed as a success, a newly-created political office could have a decidedly more powerful influence on the lives of Kenya’s 40 million residents: County Governors.

In order to learn about the platforms of candidates for these new positions and ensure that issues critical to the private sector are addressed, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), with CIPE support, is running a series of gubernatorial debates focusing on economic issues.

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The Role of Youth in Anti-Corruption

This week’s  Economic Reform Feature Service articles highlight the final two winning essays from CIPE’s 2011 International Youth Essay Competition. Riska Mirzalina and Ruth Nyambura, the second and third place winners respectively in the Corruption category, discuss how youth in their countries can engage in anti-corruption movements and advocacy to change the status quo.

In Riska Mirzalina’s “The Cost of Corruptions: A Tale from Indonesia” she points out that:

  • While Indonesia is a land of abundant resources, corruption prevents the country as a whole from benefiting from them.
  • The change from a centralized government to a decentralized government has not had the desired affect and has actually provided more opportunities and alternate paths for people to participate in corruption.
  •  Entrepreneurs, businesses, and associations must unify in their effort against corruption and bribery. The cost of not doing so is increased poverty, human suffering, and underdevelopment.

In Ruth Nyambura’s “Generation Now,” she talks about how:

  • A large percentage of Kenya’s GDP is used to repay foreign aid. Much of the foreign aid is lost or misappropriated due to corruption.
  • “Kitu kidogo” is a Kiswahili euphemism for a bribe. Bribes are pervasive in all facets of Kenyan life. As a result many entrepreneurs are choosing to leave the country, which has a negative effect on Kenyan society as a whole.
  •  The new generation will bear the brunt of corruption. Therefore the youth should refuse any form of corrupt practices including cronyism, nepotism and tribalism. By utilizing technology and adopting social media platforms the youth can fight corruption.

Thank you for everyone who participated in the 2011 competition! We recently closed the 2012 CIPE Youth Essay Competition, and look forward to reading them and announcing the winners in spring of 2013!

What’s Next for the Kenyan Coast?

Security forces patrol the streets of Mombasa after rioting last month. (Photo: BBC)

Mombasa recently made international headlines when the city, commonly associated with the tranquility of paradise-like resorts, erupted in vicious violence after the killing of a radical Islamic cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed. Rogo was suspected of links with the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda. He was killed in broad daylight by unknown assailants in a drive-by shooting.

Coming to Mombasa merely a month after these events, I expected the city to feel on edge, anxious. But surprisingly I found nothing of that sort: life goes on as usual, from hawkers lining narrow, ancient streets of the Old Town to sun-worshipping tourists lining white sand beaches – although in somewhat lesser numbers due to security concerns.

On the surface of it, the unrest was a simple case of ill-targeted revenge. The culprits in Rogo’s assassinations remain unclear. Muslims, who constitute the majority of Mombasa’s population, blame the police, given that Rogo was on the U.S. and UN sanction lists for allegedly supporting al-Shabaab. Meanwhile, the police claim that al-Shabaab killed the cleric “to galvanize support among the youth.” Whatever the truth, disaffected Muslim youths turned their anger against Mombasa’s Christian population, looting stores and burning churches. But was there more to it than religious fervor?

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A New Way of Measuring Corruption in Kenya

 

Anti-corruption suggestion box in kenya (Source: Flickr user lauren_pressly)

Transparency International last week released its annual report, which suggests that Kenya is losing the battle against corruption. According to the report, Kenya ranked 154 out of 182 countries surveyed, indicating that both Kenya and Zimbabwe, who are tied, are at the bottom of the scale of countries worldwide combating corruption. The plague of corruption in developing countries has consequences. Corruption scares away foreign direct investment, creates poverty, leads to unemployment, limits the ability of governments to raise tax revenue, results in a misallocation of resources, poor economic development, and a lack of competition. Against a 19% inflation rate and high unemployment, Kenya can little afford the consequences of corruption.

Studies that measure public perception of corruption are a useful tool in comparing anti-corruption efforts (or the lack thereof) across countries, but they do not provide actionable data to combat corruption. In Kenya, the Center for Private Enterprise (CIPE) and its partners have recently tried a different approach. The Kenya City Integrity Project does not measure the level of corruption in Kenya. Instead, it looks at measures to prevent corruption and how effectively those measures have been implemented. And it does so at the city, rather than the national, level – the level where most corruption actually takes place.

Last week the CIPE, Global Integrity, and the Kenyan Association of Manufacturers hosted a series of roundtables in Kisumu, Mombasa, and Nairobi for Kenyan stakeholders from civil society, local government, and the private sector to discuss the study, which was conducted by four Kenyan research organizations in August 2011. As a new kind of corruption “scorecard,” the study covered transparency, anti-corruption, and accountability efforts in Kenya’s three largest cities, which contribute about 80% of Kenya’s GDP. The purpose of these roundtables was to engage all stakeholders in developing specific recommendations that the government could act upon to improve service delivery and minimize corruption.

The report is the first ever attempt at the city level to understand whether relevant anti-corruption laws exist and whether they are being properly implemented. It is also unique in its depth, covering 177 different indicators. In an effort to understand the key governance and anti-corruption mechanisms that already exist, the study focused on systems that govern city elections, media freedoms, how city governments resolve conflicts of interest, city fiscal and budgetary management, and city administration and business regulations. This report answers the key questions on whether citizens have access to city government, whether citizens effectively monitor government services, and whether citizens can freely and effectively advocate for reforms.

The three city assessments do not seek to measure the extent of corruption but rather to understand the medicine applied to combat corruption: the public policies, institutions, and practices that deter, prevent, or punish corruption. The research was conducted by three Kenyan firms that understand the Kenyan realities – including the Kenyan Association of Manufacturers and Hakijamii Haki Yetu, the Civil Society Organization Network  – utilizing Global Integrity’s award winning research methodology.

Unfortunately, the study found that all three cities need to do a much better job implementing existing laws. Kenyan cities have policies and regulations in place that should allow for transparency and accountability in governance. However, although laws exist, they are not properly implemented. One of the quickest and most effective solutions to corruption in these cities would be for the city administrations to implement existing laws. The reality is that solutions combating corruption are often much more complicated than they appear.

The implementation gap (chart)

Source: Kenya City Integrity Project

In Kisumu, the study found, the media has the freedom to report on corruption cases without fear of intimidation. City elections for the most part are free and fair. There are regulations in place that are being implemented on public procurement of goods and services and there are frequent audits of government purchases. In order to potentially reduce corruption the city needs to create regulations to enforce asset disclosures so that the electorate can determine who is financing the political candidates. There are no codes of conduct governing the city’s executive and legislature. This means that any conflict of interests between city officials and the provision of services cannot be properly enforced. Finally, the city needs to integrate the work of different departments as part of a comprehensive strategy to develop the city, provide services, and attract investment.

The District Commissioner of Kisumu, Mr. Mabeya Mogaka suggested that “all stakeholders focus on hope. Changes are being implemented that include a 14 day requirement that all public officials respond to inquiries in writing. While this report was conducted in August, since then the city has elected new officials and we must give them time to assess what is going on and implement change. This requires that all of us government, civil society, and the private sector work together.”

Mombasa’s strengths include its efficiency in managing public finances, disclosing budgets, collecting taxes, and auditing city expenditures. The researchers spoke highly of the city procurement system for goods and services, but there is ambiguity in how tenders are awarded. Although systems exist, the research revealed that a select few companies or individuals are often the beneficiaries of public tenders. Another weakness is the hiring process for public officials. Civil service positions are advertised in local papers, but the selection process is not very transparent. Although Mombasa has embarked on several development projects, political patronage seems to dominate where projects are implemented. Although journalists are aware of corruption few stories actually make it into the paper as editors block certain stories for fear of losing advertising revenues.

Finally, Nairobi’s strengths include free and fair elections, excellent management of taxation and city audits, and the effective public administration and business administration systems that the city has put into place. Unfortunately, local businesses complain about the poor quality of service delivery in Nairobi even after paying taxes. Many businesses feel that the enforcement of city’s laws and regulations is selective and that there are not forums in place for business to provide input on policies or budget decisions. A business faces burdensome licenses and regulatory approvals and although citizens pay taxes, the quality of services remains poor.

Over the coming months, KAM and the local researchers will present the report to government and civil society along with concrete recommendations that include further engagement, enforcement of existing laws, creation of “one-stop-shops” for licenses and tax payments, and a proposal that high-ranking civil servants sign a voluntary code of ethics.