Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Taking over the African narrative

 What I said at the Africacounts round table in Kampala, Uganda

In Africa today, interesting and indeed intriguing processes and events are unfolding that are gradually but profoundly shaping the conduct of the political economy and developmental trajectories of the continent. These present significant prospects and challenges for the regions prosperity and stability

Economic growth: Today, Africa is home to some of the fastest growing economies in the world. Uganda’s economy grew at an average 7% annually throughout the past decade (1999 – 2011).  Ghana, Nigeria, Angola, Kenya are now some of the hottest growth markets in the globe. Africa is positioning herself as the 21stC go to investment paradise. The number of investors flocking departments of trade and industry, energy, and finance in Mozambique, Angola, Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan and many other African states is testimony to that reality.

Emerging global market: In terms of demographics, Africa is now home to a huge dynamic population; an expanding middleclass with substantive purchasing power and increasing consumerism. Africa is emerging as a global market that can no longer be overlooked.

Governance: We have made great progress towards accountability and good governance. Several Sub-Saharan countries are reforming their governance systems and inching towards effective constitutionalism, rule of law, open governance, citizen participation, transparency and accountability. Kenya is testing the products of institutional reform in the past five year; Rwanda is reaping the benefits of good governance; and South Sudan is on course towards building a strong state buttressed by modern day democratic institutions. African states are increasingly experiencing civilised political transitions and a new generation of African leaders are stepping up to change the facade of Africa’s political economy. These are developments that cannot be overlooked!

Internalising our externalities: Gradually, African states are recognising the value of maximising the advantages of pooling their sovereignty and moving towards supplying regional public goods. Different states West, South and East of Africa are courageously confronting the challenges and demands for regional cooperation, and are making encouraging progress, delicately weaving the wafts and wefts towards achieving ‘African-multilateralism’ based on the appreciation of the mutual benefits of internalising our externalities.

Closer home, East Africa is making giant strides toward strengthening the East African Common Market Protocol and pushing for higher stakes in the East African Community. The discovery of oil and gas in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania positions East Africa as one of the largest gas producers in Africa and a major global player in oil production in subsequent decades.  However continued conflict and political instability amongst the region’s neighbour’s remains a challenge. State fragility in South Sudan, delicate transition in Ethiopia, insurgencies in the DRC and the Somali crisis ... Moreover, there still persists a lingering spectre of poverty: East Africa has nearly 73% of the population in multidimensional poverty and is home to some of the world’s poorest nations, Burundi for example.

Taking charge: It is time to take charge of the African narrative and it begins with shaping the objects of the story. As we demand that Africa gets its fair share of attention and participation in global governance discourses, we must equally endeavour as states and as individuals to invest substantively producing evidence – new knowledge and using it to inform and shape our engagements between citizens, policy makers, media, civil society and academia. Africa must take an account of our resource endowments, recognise our challenges and appreciate the progress we’ve made. This must be effectively communicated to the globe – that Africans are capable and indeed ready to confront their ills and chart a sustainable path towards restoring our dignity and claiming our fair share of the earth.  

Saturday, 2 March 2013


My name is Kenneth Okwaroh Ochieng. Also Known As Okwaroh Ja’Paprombe on face book. I blog at Okwarohztake. I have a thousand plus friends on facebook, I follow many noble and interesting people on twitter and they follow me as well. I have over 300 connections on linked in, and have close to a thousand people in my circles on Google plus. I have travelled the world and met awesome people, made friends, classmates, workmates ...

Folks am afraid but I have to do this. It is the least I can do to my country right now. My country Kenya is at cross roads. We are less than 24 hours into an extremely important general election. An election that demands of us to deal with a problematic past and juggle the promises and challenges that the future holds. It boils down to folks getting out as many a possible to VOTE. To vote enough to enable us distinguish a clear winner. Going by opinion polls that have run in the past 3 months – it is a neck-to-neck race pitting two arch rivals with strong personal and emotive opposing opinions that is cannon fodder for violence and ethnic animosity.  Our people are reeling from the aftermath of the 2007 general election when unfortunate events led to peace-loving citizens taking arms against one another, killing over 1000 innocent people, displacing over half a million from their homes, destroying property worth trillions and crippling an economy that was in the path towards double digit growth.

I am writing to ask you that PLEASE, if you know a Kenyan, if you have any one of them in your networks (facebook, twitter, linkedin, Google+, foursquare, badoo, etc) - PLEASE ask them to get out on Monday 4th March and VOTE. If they are out there in the Diaspora, kindly ask them to spread this message to their constituencies.

Africa must indeed live up to its true potential. It begins with having civilised political transitions. We need Kenyans to get out and VOTE because if they don’t, we are headed into a RUN-OFF that is bound to be too costly in terms of resources and in terms of undermining the progress we have made in the difficult past 5 years reforming our institutions, reengineering our nationhood and building a responsive 21st century state.

We have already expended way above our means as a nation in real investment towards reforming the electoral process, the judiciary and internal security regime. The campaigns alone have been perversely expensive and have had significant impact on the economy already.

A run-off puts Kenya in a one month limbo when everything and anything could happen. It is appreciably an uneasy calm and we are doing our best to preach peace - but the run-off will sure ignite emotions, tension and will polarise Kenya in unprecedented measures.

As a nation we have brokered peace around the world -  in South Sudan, spearheaded the renaissance of Somalia and are a beacon of regional stability, political tranquillity and economic prosperity in the East African region. Kenya calls on you to at least return a favour at this moment of need. 

If you love Kenya - 1) Our beautiful sceneries – the great Mount Kenya, our cosy beaches in Mombasa, Lamu and Malindi; 2) Our rich heritage – the lion daring Maasai; 3) Our beautiful city in the Sun Nairobi where life never stops; 4) Our thrilller rugby 7s team, 5) our resillient athletes. If you love Peace, If you want prosperity and stability in East Africa, Africa and the world. 


Thank you. Yours truly
Okwaroh Ja’ paprombe

And please if you do not like my message, be the gentleman or lady and just overlook it