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Liberian Election (and what comes next)

The Liberian elections have been one of the hotly contested elections this year ending in a runoff between  Senator George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Vice President Joseph Boakai, of the ruling Unity Party, (UP).  Winning an election is not always a rosy affair as seen by the recent happenings in Liberia. In the previous poll, George Weah led by a small margin but unfortunately failed to hit the 50% of votes cast mark. This scenario automatically triggered off a runoff. The runoff was almost a foregone certainty as it is difficult to win 50% of the first ballots cast when there are over twenty candidates in the first round of elections. 

There has been no peaceful transfer of power from a sign president to the next in Liberian since 1944. However, 2017 will most likely see this happen as the outgoing president, Sirleaf will peacefully hand over power to either Boakai or Weah.  

We contest that this will be Weah. 

Weah enjoys broad support among people from divergent social, political and ethnic groups in Liberia. Winning an election requires a contestant to consolidate his or her support from all sections of the society. In Liberia, the support of the youth is most important. George Weah attributes a large number of his supporters from youth to the endorsement and support he received from Doe at the star of his football career. Weah is no doubt considered a football legend and god in Liberia. This fact and the huge number of youths in the country will most likely propel him towards the election win. He will, however, need a cross-party support and validation in order to fulfil the coveted 50% plus one vote requirement. 

This is shown not only by the massive number of new votes the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has won in the first round of the election but the number of new counties that the CDC was unable to penetrate in 2011 or 2014 which it has won (and in some cases convincingly) but also since the runoff, the number of losing parties that have endorsed the CDC for the December 26 runoff election.

A review of the current happenings in Liberian indicates that CDC has all of these winning qualities. For instance, CDC enjoys support from the largest county, Montserrado. George Weah himself is a senior Senator from the largest county.  Secondly, CDC has a large youth support and is very active in youth mobilization. Between the ballot rounds, Weah has secured the endorsements of many youth wings of different political parties that did not make it to the second round. This kind of political mobilization if intensified will most likely see George Weah win the election.

A review of the Liberian election landscape reveals that a total of 15 counties are present.  The largest of these counties in terms of population is Montserrado. A party with the largest number of voters from the largest county as well as support from a significant number of the smaller ones is most likely to win the elections. Additionally, the country has 60% of its registered voters as youths.  This shows that the party that is more oriented and that will manage to mobilize the youth vote will most likely carry the day. Cross-party support will also be important since a runoff is a unique voting experience requiring vote consolidation from across the board. 

The fact that Liberians are yearning for change from the status quo implies that a majority will not vote in the current Vice President who is viewed by many as a poster child of Liberian’s arrogant elitism. Instead, they would vote in George Weah, an anti-elitist campaigner hoping to devolve power back to the people.  Perhaps one of the recent legal boost to Weah’s camp was the dismissal of Charles Brumskine’s appeal against Weah’s first-round win. The political implication of the dismissal is great since it confirms to the entire world that the appeal, which was supported by the ruling party, was defective and hence politically vindicated Weah and CDC from any wrongdoing,  

One of the most important implications of George Weah’s win is that incumbency can indeed be lodged in present-day Africa. It’s quite surprising that a candidate who lacks proper formal education like Weah enjoys a huge national following and thwarts the popularity of highly educated contenders.  This would mean that the level of democratization in Liberia has grown and liberalism is highly practiced in the nation. Perhaps the negative political implications of George Weah’s win would be the return to the national politics of Charles Taylor’s family through his wife, Jewel Taylor.  Jewel Taylor’s party National Patriotic Party (NPP) formed a coalition agreement with the George Weah’s CDC to the dismay of the international community.

George Weah will no doubt win the upcoming runoff elections due to his political machinations and posturing.  The ability of his CDC party to lure in likeminded parties to face the incumbency will no doubt play a significant role in creating a huge voting bloc that is capable of dislodging the incumbent authority. 

However, the biggest challenge for the CDC in our view is not just winning, but governing. We have seen recent examples in Europe where new parties (eg. En Marche) where they have won elections on massive margins then seen popular swings against them as they prove that they are unable to make the lofty promises and imagery of campaigning turn into the content of actual governing. 

This has seen in those countries massive falls in popularity of the new government, in a quick period of time (in France its been a record). The CDC needs to learn from this and get control of the apparatus of government quickly in order to survive. 

The governing element of a country like Liberia is something that the Sirleaf/Boakai administration has failed to accomplish. The country will need to build a budget, with new revenue sources going into a Treasury that allows the Weah agenda of economic development to come to fruition. The revenue will also need a new economic compliance and regulatory system and the development of a whole new set of public service agencies in order to implement it all. 

Our targets for them would be a multinational diverted profits tax or a ‘google tax’ in the same way that the UK and Australia have cracked down on multinational profit shifting. There have been many reports from entities such as the Tax Justice Network about Liberia “ a little-known offshore business registry that has created tens of thousands of anonymous companies and registered them to a non-existent address in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city.

Although these companies are technically a creation of Liberian law, management of the registry is based in the United States and appears to have the support of the US government.
The companies, which can be purchased online, offer near-total anonymity to their clients, allowing them to hide assets without fear of being caught by law enforcement or revenue authorities.”

Furthermore, the use of non-resident corporations in Liberia allows billions of dollars be hid in Liberia by foreign corporations, without the Liberian Treasury seeing a cent of it in taxation. 
Finally, there is the revenue from shipping flags. During the Ebola crisis, the US$20 Million in revenue was all the Treasury was getting from these registrations which made up 6% of the total revenue intake for the government. This is despite that these companies only take the Liberian flag (and Panama flag) in order to dodge international regulations in relation to a host of things, such as the environment, labour law and the state of the ships themselves. 
In a new administration, there is no reason why the government can see this as a potential new stable revenue source for the budget.

Overseeing this, the government will also need to deliver a new, tough corruption enforcement agency. This needs to not just be for multinational companies dealing in the country but for public officials as well. New people dealing in the country need to be reassured of their legal standing in dealings and the public needs to learn as economic evolution comes to the country; that this is not being done with public officials being enriched along the way. 

Liberia will also need personal income tax reform along the way as incomes rise. For the economy to grow in the short to medium term, the emphasis should be on corporate tax revenue and allow personal and consumption taxes to be as low as possible. This can then change as economic growth comes in and incomes start to rise.

The development of the middle class should be priority one economic policy.

The country needs new foreign direct investment badly. Whether it be in the commercial space, major infrastructure or in new residential sector investment. Currently, many investors are put off by the concept as many have faced legal uncertainty, the need for ‘commissions’ or ‘bribes’ to make business happen or other unscrupulous business practices by either private sector entities or public-sector figures. 

This needs to change for Liberia to change. The challenge for the new CDC government won’t be winning this Boxing Day, it will be understanding the size of what comes next.

Kenyan Election Cancelled

On September 1st 2017, the Supreme Court of Kenya gave its verdict on the petition filed by the NASA Coalition Presidential candidate, Mr Raila Odinga, disputing the declared results of the August 8th presidential elections. 

The six judges, led by Chief Justice David Maraga, ruled by 4 votes to 2 that the elections were not properly conducted and that the declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner was invalid, null and void. 

CJ Maraga noted in the summarised ruling that elections are a process, and not an event, and that the election process had been marred by irregularities and illegalities. 

The court ruled that the IEBC “failed, neglected, or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Constitution” and applicable laws.

The court declared that the IEBC committed irregularities and illegalities in, among other things, the transmission of results.

The court also found that these irregularities and illegalities affected the integrity of the entire Presidential Election.

The court ordered the IEBC to conduct fresh elections in strict compliance with applicable laws, within 60 days as provided for in the Constitution.

The ruling shocked most of the country. This is the first time in Africa that a court has nullified the re-election of a sitting President. 

Raila Odinga and NASA supporters were delighted. 

President Kenyatta gave an official statement that though he disagreed with the ruling, he would respect it. However, speaking at various rallies afterwards, the President said that CJ Maraga and his ‘wakora’ (thugs or crooks) had nullified his re-election. He and other Jubilee supporters accused the Supreme Court judges of overturning the will of the people, of colluding with the NASA coalition and also of staging a judicial coup. The President and his Deputy – Mr William Ruto – said they would deal with the Judiciary and they would revisit the matter after the fresh elections. Jubilee repeatedly said that the Court should have ordered a recount of the ballots instead of calling for fresh elections.

Mr Odinga and the NASA coalition demanded that the IEBC, that the court stated had not conducted the elections properly, should be reconstituted before the new elections. NASA named specific officials that they said should be removed from the Commission. Jubilee responded that if the IEBC officials are removed, then the Supreme Court judges would be removed too (though this is not a simple process).

The IEBC Chairman, Mr Wafula Chebukati, invited the Director of Public Prosecution to investigate IEBC staff and prosecute those found to have possibly been engaged in wrongdoing.

On Thursday 14th September, newly-elected Nyeri Town Member of Parliament,  Ngunjiri Wambugu filed a petition with the Judicial Service Commission seeking to remove Chief Justice David Maraga from office. Ngunjiri says that Maraga exercised a judicial coup by annulling the presidential election. He claimed that the CJ exerted undue pressure on the rest of the judges to make the judgement that they did. 

The MP later withdrew the petition, saying that the political climate did not favour it. It was reported that President Kenyatta asked him to withdraw it.

On Monday 18th September, another petitioner – Mr Derrick Ngumu, who describes himself as the Executive Director of Angaza Empowerment Network, filed a petition seeking the removal of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Justice Isaac Lenaola for alleged gross misconduct. The two judges are among the four who voted to nullify the presidential election.
Mr Ngumu accused the judges of breaching the Judicial Service Commission code of conduct during proceedings for NASA's presidential election petition, by meeting NASA leaders to discuss the case as it was going on.

On the whole, Jubilee supporters seem to feel that the Supreme Court was wrong to ‘overturn the will of the people’ and that the judges who voted for the annulment were compromised.

NASA supporters, on the other hand, believe that the Supreme Court vindicated their position that the poll was rigged. 

It is noteworthy that during the hearing of the petition, the Supreme Court ordered the IEBC to allow the parties to the case and the court itself access to the server to examine its contents. IEBC complied only partially with this order of the court. This has solidified the view that the IEBC has some damning information within its servers that it is keen to hide.

After much talk by Jubilee leaders against the Supreme Court and it’s judges, the Chief Justice read a statement on behalf of the Judicial Service Commission, condemning the attacks on the Judiciary and stating that the Judiciary would not allow anyone to dictate to it how to discharge its mandate. He said “if leaders are tired of having a strong and independent judiciary, they should call a referendum and abolish it altogether.”

He called upon Kenyans of goodwill to stand up for the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law. “On our part, we are prepared to pay the ultimate price to protect the Constitution and the rule of law.”
 

Kenyan Election Update: Military Rigging Claims

National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate Raila Odinga said there was a plan to rig the August elections. The opposition leader tabled details of alleged rigging plans involving security forces to aid Jubilee hold on power in an operation named Dumisha Utulivu (Keep the Peace). The statement by NASA and the accompanying documents immediately went viral among Kenyans on social media.

The document presented to the public by NASA indicated that a number of officers and soldiers will be participating in the plot. It mentioned the selection of 'regime-friendly' soldiers and the use of signal-jamming equipment in selected areas mainly in Central Kenya, which is perceived to predominantly support the Jubilee regime.

According to Raila, the soldiers are being trained on how to cut off power and water in Kibera and Mathare slums and keep people out of city centre.

“Also included will be 226 new soldiers, being trained to be deployed in this mission. The soldiers don’t have networks in the military. Because they are new, they will readily take any orders, and at the same time cannot be identified, nor can they communicate with other soldiers who might not be privy to the plot and would oppose it,” Mr Odinga's running mate, Kalonzo Musyoka, claimed.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy President, William Ruto, dismissed the rigging claims saying Raila has sensed defeat and is now discrediting the polls at every opportunity.

In a move that surprised many, on Friday, Kenya Defence Force (KDF) spokesman, Colonel Joseph Owuoth, reportedly confirmed the authenticity of documents presented by NASA on the “Dumisha utulivu” operation. However, he said they were quoted out of context and that military was apolitical and professional.

With just about 10 days to the elections, IEBC Chair, Wafula Chebukati, said the Commission had put “strict measures” in place to prevent rigging. The IEBC chair said IEBC had no plans of deploying KDF anywhere in the electoral process.

Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo disowned the documents presented by NASA, saying she had not seen them and that the KDF were not plotting anything outside the law.

Political analyst Mutahi Ngunyi expressed worry about KDF's admission of the authenticity of a letter presented by the Opposition on an alleged rigging plot.

"Military documents do not leak. And if they leak, military never confirms that they are authentic."

He added via Twitter on Saturday: "KDF Spokesman executing a scheme. Worrying."

NASA politician, Prof. Anyang Nyong’o, claimed that KDF Spokesperson Colonel Joseph Owuoth, who, the previous week, confirmed the authenticity of documents presented by NASA, had gone missing.

Prof. Nyong'o claimed at a press briefing in Kisumu that Col. Owuoth was ordered to go on compulsory leave right after issuing the statement confirming NASA’s allegations. He was also ordered not to talk to the press and to go to his home in Koru.

The Colonel was said to have been in constant communication with his sister until Monday morning. He boarded a public transport vehicle in Nairobi and went silent once he reached Nakuru (or was assumed to have reached Nakuru), and was not heard from again.

These claims caused considerable concern, since they were made just days after the IEBC ICT manager went missing and was later found dead.

Col Joseph Owuoth resurfaced at a press conference at Defence headquarters alongside Defence CS Raychelle Omamo, and dismissed claims by his family and politicians that he is missing. He also said that he was okay and still on duty and not suspended as claimed by NASA leaders.

NASA's Prof. Nyong’o had told journalists in Kisumu that the family of Owuoth has reported him missing, a day being sent on compulsory leave.

The Defence CS, at the same press conference, said that the ministry had "carried out investigations to establish the veracity, authenticity and source" of the documents presented by NASA, and that the ministry "can state categorically that these documents are fake in all aspects."

SA No Confidence: Where to from here?

Tuesday 8th August 2017 is a day that will go down in history in the young democracy of South Africa.  A vote of no confidence in Jacob Zuma as president of the country was allowed to be cast in private and the result was closer than expected and whether this or the fact thevote was in private was most surprising is still open for debate.

However, what was the vote of no confidence really for?  Was the only the fact that South Africans and a growing number of MPs were unhappy about the way Jacob Zuma was running the country? The fact is that the vote of no confidence was a vote of no confidence in many areas of the turbulent and sometimes violent world of South African Politics.

The opposition lost the vote, one cannot truly say that Jacob Zuma won because a number of his own party members turned their backs on him and did not tow the party line. The vote demonstrated a healthy democracy but also highlighted the fact that some MPs and Ministers are so “captured” that it is a case of better the devil you know than to lose a job with good pay given as a reward for loyalty to one man and a family.

The anger towards those who voted to remove the beloved leader is, in the days after the vote, is beginning to surface. The ANC is a divided party, the tripartite alliance is under more strain the than ever before but the weakness or fear of those such as the SA Communist party who have been outspoken about Mr Zuma has become blatantly obvious. Inside ANC structures there is turmoil, vows to oust out or seek revenge against the twenty something ANC members who broke rank is starting to surface, this despite the vote being secret. The ANC, for these members has become a power hungry monster that has lost the moral high ground serving the few not the many like something from an Orwellian Animal Farm nighmare.

Opposition parties have concluded that while the vote of no confidence in Jacob Zuma may have been a win for the president is it a loss for a dying or maybe even now dead ANC. The broken and divided ANC along with its alliance partners is fighting for its life, clambering to find its identity. This leads to desperate measures and the prospect of impossible to honour promises in the run up to the 2019 elections.

A lot of trust in the ANC has been lost; the once loved struggle party is losing its lustre in an ever more educated and now less trusting citizenship of its country. The debate who should be the next ANC party leader is not an easy one and ames put forward are names that are popular only in certain enclaves of the party showing not just a divide but multiple, perhaps fatal, fractures. 

Cyril Ramaphosa, the struggle icon, wealthy businessman and trade unionist missed a golden opportunity to stand up for what is right in the no confidence vote and in the eyes of the people has lost some favour. He had the chance to do what the people wanted and didn’t choosing to stand by his party not his country.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former wife of Jacob Zuma, could be the first woman president of South Africa. The very fact she is or was related to Jacob Zuma is perhaps a bridge to far for South African Voters and many are asking, “What has she really done?” The family ties to corruption are just too strong for many voters to think about with the name sending shivers down the spines of people throughout the country.

Other names in the hat include Former ANC Treasurer-General Matthews Phosa, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, current ANC Treasurer-General and ANC National Chairperson and Speaker of the house Baleka Mbete.

Every single name has in some way been tainted with the same brush that has painted the ANC corrupt, incompetent and untrusted, each has had a chance to stand up and be the change but are either captured, afraid or just weak. This says a lot about the ANC, it shows how people get to where they are. It shows how favour and loyalty to a man or promise rather than being wiling and competent to perform and serve their country has become the norm, shedding light on a once glorious ANC that people had hope in that now shows how a few have benefitted over the many.

The successes of the ANC in improved education and placing some business in black hands have perhaps become the things that ultimately destroy the party, voting them out of power or barely hanging in there in some form of delicate coalition. Better-educated people, people who have waited too long for broken promises and the very fact that opposition parties have made massive changes in a number of major metros they won in local elections, mean the ANC is exposed. The Gupta emails, evidence of mass corruption and in recent days the stance on a senior minister accused of assaulting two women in a nightclub have shown the true colours of the current party.  These true colours clearly show how the party has become a dark, untrusted and distant shadow of the party that once fought and won the fight for freedom two decades ago.

Where can South Africa go? Who will win the next election?  It is difficult to say, party politics can get dirty and the ANC has its back to the wall. What is known is that the people of SA are unhappy and that can only mean two things, a low voter turnout that would favour the ANC or change of political direction that leads to unchartered territory. 

Kenyan Election Update: Ballot Paper Dispute

On Friday, July 7th 2017, the High Court nullified the tender for the printing of presidential ballot papers for the August 8, 2017 presidential election to, Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company.

In its ruling, a three-judge bench hearing a judicial review filed by the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) found that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) failed to conduct adequate public participation in the tender process, a move that they said goes against constitutional requirements. Further, the bench found IEBC’s decision to meet representatives of Jubilee and NASA at the exclusion of other parties fielding presidential candidates was inappropriate.

The court ordered the IEBC to commence the procurement process afresh.

NASA had also argued that President Uhuru Kenyatta has a relationship with Al Ghurair, which  influenced the award of the tender to the firm. The court ruled that the evidence provided to support this claim fell short of the evidentiary standard required to prove it.

High Court judges Joel Ngugi, George Odunga and John Mativo found that public participation in the direct procurement process was necessary for free, fair elections.

In response to the court ruling, President Uhuru Kenyatta warned the Judiciary against what he considered a plan to frustrate the IEBC in order not to conduct the General Election on August 8th.

The President said Kenyans would not accept any attempt to postpone the polls from the date specified in the Constitution.

Speaking at a rally in Baringo County on Sunday, 9th July, President Kenyatta said the Judiciary should not take them for fools for being silent as the courts make decisions that could lead to the postponement of the elections.

(On NTV's talk show 'Press Pass' the next day, commentator Patrick Gathara pointed out that the 2013 General Elections were not held on the day specified in the Constitution, but on a day set by IEBC following a court ruling.)

"I want to tell those in the courts that because we have respected you for a long time we are not fools.
We cannot accept the courts to be used by those not interested in the elections to frustrate IEBC," said the President.

The President said it was strange that the IEBC had been allowed to go ahead with printing ballot papers for other elective positions but not for the president.

Chief Justice David Maraga, in his Twitter handle on the same day, termed the President's accusations as unfortunate.

"I would not ordinarily respond to statements made by politicians in the course of campaign activities, but these accusations are particularly unfortunate, based that they are on completely wrong premises."

The CJ said that he had at no time asked the IEBC not to proceed with the printing of ballot papers, contrary to statements by Deputy President William Ruto in Baringo on that Sunday.

"The comments I made in Mombasa and elsewhere, which were either deliberately or inadvertently taken out of context, were in reference to the courts' efforts to expeditiously clear the numerous petitions arising from the party primaries in order not to inconvenience the printing of ballot papers," said Maraga.

He added: " I have always been at the forefront of defending the cardinal principle of decisional independence of judges, and at no time have I ever directed any judge or judicial officer on how to determine the cases before them."

On Monday 10th July, Jubilee Party leaders accused judges who handled the tender case of conflict of interest.

The Jubilee leaders said that Judge Odunga’s wife is Siaya Senator James Orengo’s niece while Judge Ouko is related to NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga's wife, Ida.

Speaking at the party’s headquarters in Pangani, Nairobi, the leaders led by Secretary-General Raphael Tuju said that Judges George Odunga and William Ouko should have recused themselves due to conflict of interest.

The IEBC appealed the High Court decision on the ballot paper printing tender, arguing that the judges erred in finding that public participation is a mandatory precondition to direct procurement conducted as provided under the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act. 

On Thursday, the 20th of July, the Court of Appeal overturned the High Court judgement and allowed the IEBC to proceed with the printing. 

The Court of Appeal said the High Court decision did not take into consideration the constitutional timelines within which General Election must be held. The five-bench judge also ruled that public participation is not a requirement in direct procurement, which was the procedure used by the IEBC in awarding the contract to Al Ghurair. 

The appellate judges did, however, agree with the High Court that newspaper cuttings are insufficient proof of a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Al Ghurair bosses and that such a meeting influenced the award of the tender.
 

The Future of South Africa

Open any South African newspaper or visit any South African news website and things do not look good.  On every page, there is something depressing and with an initial glance, one would assume things are getting worse.

But, are things getting worse in South Africa?

The answer is “yes” but it will not stay that way.

The Guptavisation of South Africa

Perhaps the most prominent name in South Africa today is that of Gupta. The Gupta’s are a family who arrived in SA in the late 1990’s with nothing, made friends in the right places and rose to become one of the most influential business families in the country.  For many years their business efforts and now exposed, alleged dodgy dealings were of little concern, until a Gupta owned Jet landed at the Waterkloof airbase in Pretoria full of guests for a wedding, a wedding too that has since come under the spotlight funded by corrupt, government money.

A flurry of media activity around the jet soon began to unearth the shadier side of the Guptas, President Jacob Zuma and a gravy train of ANC Politicians and heads of state owned enterprises. In recent weeks the so-called #GuptaLeaks emails have shed further light on the shady dealings of the Gupta Family and their associates of influence in Government and cast a shadow over the once valiant, now deemed corrupt, ANC.

The political space in SA is alive and a young democracy is showing it can work. However, weak leadership in the ruling party and mounting allegations of corruption are putting the democracy to the test. Recent downgrades in the South African currency, the Rand, are in many ways a result of the now political infighting and the results of poor decisions, lack of investment partly due to corruption and the lack growth that stem from this.

President Jacob Zuma is considered to be at the very heart of problems South Africa is facing, and his party, the ANC, is divided over his role as president and this too is beginning cause challenges in the country. There are calls for Zuma to fall with a growing list of over 700 accusations of fraud that the president and his cronies are fighting to keep out of court to enable corrupt gains to continue, and yet time and time again the “Teflon President” still remains in his seat.

Things will get better

Despite the political turmoil and the ever-deepening piles of emails and documents that sway the argument that corruption is rife and state capture has happened, there is hope. This hope is what makes South Africa the country it is and it is this hope that any investor in SA needs to appreciate.

In the middle of the 1980’s the escape out of Apartheid seemed impossible; in 1994, the dream came true. The people rose up and made South Africa new, or as new as they could. This fighting spirit remains in South Africa today, 2019 sees a general election and recent politics and the truth coming out about corruption are reasons for a change in SA.

The ANC, as it stands at this moment, has little chance of securing a majority and should corruption charges against many ANC Members be proven people should think twice about their vote. The rhetoric from other parties is becoming a powerful “don’t vote ANC” with both the DA, the official opposition and EFF, a breakaway from the ANC each gaining significant ground in recent municipal elections with major cities changing hands. These changes have unearthed appalling levels of mismanagement that are being put right, this is something any investor must acknowledge as a sign of things to come.

The view of SA for investors is clouded by smoke from the political situation. However, SA is a place where long term investment will yield good returns and shrewd investors will reap a just return with the right financial, social and humanitarian strategy behind their investment. The Rand, despite plummeting in recent months due to crazy political decisions should not be the deciding factor on investment; it is in fact fairly stable despite its value. One needs to look at the stability of the country outside the world of politics and that there is a nation hungry for jobs and a better country.

A change of government may not necessarily be the panacea investors are seeking to the problems in SA, nor is it something that can be assured of, and one needs to consider much more. The corruption in South Africa is now known to exist and people are aware of it, this will be further addressed as the democracy matures and those at the heart of it are ousted. Right now, is a time where clever money will receive a long-term reward while some of the problems are being fixed, now is the time to get a head start and have some patience.

Structures need to be put in place, the power utility, for example, has to turn itself around along with good governance and either investment or privatisation. South Africa cannot survive at all without this and many other current State Owned Entities that have been milked through corrupt dealings. There comes a point, and many will say it is coming soon, where the people of South Africa will have to rise up, bring the change they want and grow the country again as they did in 1994. Any investment will surely understand the importance of that.

Many lessons have been learnt in the last twenty plus years, these will be used to move forward and that makes South Africa a place that will be hungry for investment especially from investors with a heart for change not just profit.

 

 

Sierra Leone: The Future

Sierra Leone has witnessed a mixed bag of fortunes in recent years. Between 1991 and 2002, the country witnessed a Civil War that killed thousands. However after the war, the country had witnessed impressive growth based largely on mining exploration. In 2013, the economy grew at 20%, making it one of the world’s fastest growing economies.


Unfortunately, in May 2014, the Ebola virus broke out in the country. It took advantage of the underdeveloped health care system and misconceptions about the disease to spread. The virus killed over 3,000 people in the country. But thanks to domestic and external forces, the virus was defeated, and Sierra Leone was declared Ebola-free in March 2016.


The post-Ebola Sierra Leone provides a new opportunity for strategic planning and investment in the country. The government has declared the Economic Recovery Strategy that would shore up investments in critical areas and infrastructure. Other actors such as the mining industry have also reopened for business. In 2016, the IMF believed the economy would grow by 4.3% as business reopened.


Yet, the investment climate in Sierra Leone is still fraught by challenges, most predating the Ebola outbreak. First, despite years of consistent growth, more than half the population remain in poverty and large number of youths are unemployed and unskilled.
Second, Sierra Leone’s economy is highly reliant on the mining for export revenue and growth. This makes the country extremely vulnerable to price shocks whenever global commodities prices decline. A phenomenon it presently faces as Chinese demands for commodities has declined since 2014. This reduces foreign exchange, increases inflation and causes reduction in government spending.


Third, the World Bank ranked Sierra Leone 147 among 189 countries for the ease of doing business in 2016. This ranking was influenced by challenges such infrastructural dearth as road networks remain underdeveloped, low electricity generation, difficulty in accessing credits, high interest rates, and difficulty registering property. 


Fourth, corruption remains widespread in the country, and little government efforts have been made to curb it. In 2015, a report by the country’s Auditor General showed that the country had failed to properly account for large sum funds allocated to fight Ebola. A lack of transparency also in the mining sector, the country’s most important sector, threatens the credibility of negotiations and contracts.


Despite these challenges, Sierra Leone offers great investments opportunities. Its domestic political system has remained stable since 2002, thus providing a peaceful environment for business. Also, the fact that many resources remain untapped provides interesting investment opportunities. Sectors such as agriculture, tourism and natural resource exploration are yet to be fully harnessed. But most importantly, Sierra Leone’s location, and its membership of the 300 million ECOWAS body, grants it huge access to the economies of other West African nations. And through the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) and the Everything But Arms Initiative, Sierra Leone is granted duty-free access to the US and EU economies respectively.


Summarily, the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2015 was a huge setback to Sierra Leone’s development. However, the country, with foreign support has been able to wither that crisis, and has since resumed economic growth. However, like most developing countries, doing business with the country is not without challenges. Nevertheless, Sierra Leone does have some important advantages investors would be wise to key into in the post-Ebola world. 
 

InvestKenya 2017

Kenya has been encountering consistent development for a long while now. The financial figure has been sure with the World Bank anticipating a development rate of 6.6 percent this year and 7 percent come 2017. This force is being fueled by enormous interests in framework and employments, ventures to enhance the business atmosphere, and a lift in fares.

Kenya has one of the best vehicles to promote new investment into Kenya called KenInvest which is the branding for the Kenyan Investment Corporation. Here are 9 macro-reasons to invest:

  1. Tax Treaties and Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements: Kenya is a signatory to a large and growing number of tax treaties and investment promotion and protection Agreements such as the Multilateral Trade System (MTS) ACP Cotonou Agreement, and the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act. This allows exports from Kenya to enjoy preferential access to world markets under a number of special access and duty reduction programmes.
  2. Stability: Since independence, Kenya has maintained remarkable stability despite changes in its political system Since the re-emergence of multiparty democracy and promulgation of a new constitution in 2011, Kenyans have enjoyed an increased degree of freedom.
  3. Regulatory Reforms: Kenya is making efforts to lower the cost of doing business by conducting extensive business regulatory reforms intended to substantially reduce the number of licensing requirements and to make the licensing regimes more simple and transparent and focused on legitimate regulatory purposes.
  4. Access to Large pool of Highly Educated and Skilled Work Force: Kenya prides itself in its large pool of highly educated, skilled and sought after work force in Africa, trained from within the country and in institutions in around the world.
  5. Strategic Location: As the leading economy in East Africa, Kenyas’ strategic location and its well developed business infrastructure make it a natural choice for investors and many international firms have made it their regional hub. This grants investors access to the larger East African Community and regional markets with access to over 385 million consumers. Nairobi is also a major transport Hub in East Africa with Connections from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Major Destinations around the world. All these are coupled with a convenient Time zone of (GMT +3).
  6. Highly Developed Social and Physical Infrastructure: Kenya affords a pleasant and quality standard of living with its spectacular and diverse natural resources. Ranging from wildlife and sceneries. Including the world famous Maasai Mara. The country also boasts of high quality social amenities such as restaurants, hospitals and Entertainment spots. A good reason why the country has the highest number of Expatriates living and working in Kenya.
  7. Fully Liberalised Economy: Kenya fully liberalised its economy by removing all obstacles that previously hampered the free flow of trade and private investment. These includes exchange controls, import and export licensing, as well as restrictions on remittances of profits and dividends.
  8. Preferential Market Access: Kenya is signatory to a number of multilateral and bilateral trade agreements as part of its trade policy. Kenya is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) making her products access more than 90% of world markets at Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment. In addition, Kenya is member to several trade arrangements and beneficiary to trade-enhancing schemes that include the  Africa Growth and opportunity act (AGOA);  ACP-EU Trade Agreement and Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
  9. Well Established and Vocal Private Sector: Kenya has a very substantial private sector, including a significant number of foreign investors and is touted as one of the most resilient in the world. The country has always been a market economy. Key players in voicing private-sector concerns include, The Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) and The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM). Futhermore, the government frequently conducts regular policy dialogue with private sector players through the Prime Minister Round Tables.

Here are a few parts that could give beneficial venture openings in Kenya:

Agriculture: Farming is the backbone of the economy, giving vocation to around 75 for each penny of the populace. There is impressive degree for broadening and extension of the horticultural division through quickened nourishment trim generation, handling and advertising. There are additionally open doors for development in innovative foundation, for example, bundling, hoarding, and transportation. Escalated water system and extra esteem included processing are fine zones for profitable investment.

Manufacturing: Kenya has a very much created development industry. With growth in populace, openings exist in the development of private, business and mechanical structures, including pre-assembled minimal effort lodging. Broad open doors for venture exist especially in the territory of redesigning ghettos and casual settlements, urban restoration, development of center and low pay lodging, fabricate and supply of building materials and parts.

Producing part is a territory where speculation openings exist. The division assumes a vital part in increasing the value of horticultural yield.  An extensive variety of chances for immediate and joint-wander ventures exist in the assembling division, including agro-preparing, fabricate of articles of clothing, gathering of car parts and hardware, plastics, paper, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, metal and building items for both household and fare markets.

Innovation and IT: Kenya has completely grasped the open doors managed by innovation. The bubbly start-up scene is something to be appreciated. This has been floated by great government approaches, with the extent of the neighborhood ICT advertise now is evaluated at around $500 million. The National ICT Masterplan plans to improve Kenya's aggressiveness through usage of its assets in Business Process Outsourcing and fortifying its abilities to meet future innovative difficulties. The 2030 vision for BPO is for the nation to end up distinctly the top BPO goal in Africa. 

Tourism: Kenya at present brags the most noteworthy impart of populace to access to budgetary administrations in Sub-Saharan Africa (more than 70 percent). This is to a great extent on account of the well-known portable cash exchange benefit M-Pesa. Konza City, a cutting edge techno polis is a venture by the Kenyan government which guarantees to drive considerably more development in the ICT division.

InvestKenya2017

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African Investment and Trade: The Future

One would think that on seeing the economic scenario across the developing nations in Africa, investors could not be thinking about zeroing down on Africa as their next destination to strike a deal on investment or trade. Analysts tends to believe that people would rather wait for nations to stabilise before investment or trade will follow. This is a complete misrepresentation of the majority of African states. There are plenty of stable African states that are able to be dealt in straight away and our Gravis Global Invest team are here to help!

Immediately there are 5 major types of trade and investment opportunities on the continent.

These are:

Agriculture: ranking among the business opportunities available to investors and entrepreneurs in Africa, the continent is home to 60% of the world's total uncultivated arable land. As the world's population is now above 7 billion, there must be a systematic approach for producing enough food to feed that many mouths. The challenge in this case has to do with poor connecting infrastructure to facilitate product making it to exit points to enter into markets.  There are also moves with a number of nations to remove trade barriers as well. This allows for agricultural development to support other 'flow on' industries such as fertilisers, pesticides, seeds production and processing and refining businesses.

Infrastructure: this sector is second in importance only to agriculture for investment. Though successive African governments have made efforts to improve infrastructure, a huge deficit in this sector still looms thereby creating bottlenecks in the smooth delivery of trade and investment deals. The World Bank in 2008 estimated that the continent needed US$80Billion annually to cover the infrastructure deficit on the continent. This provides an opportunity for private investors to invest in Build Own Operate and Transfer (BOOT) or Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) deals with governments, especially for infrastructure such as airports, electricity networks, railway networks, roads and airport facilities.

Tourism: Kenya, Mauritius and Tanzania have become some of the worlds favourite tourism spots. There have been estimates that up to 50 million tourists per year coming through the continent since 2012 with that number rising year to year. This creates side markets that become investment ready in hotels, resorts, airline business, transport businesses and tourism related tour activities. 

Mining: This is a sector that has been developed in some parts already and has large amounts of Chinese investment. Chinese companies have been buying the world's major miners out of their interests on the continent which is freeing them up to make new investment elsewhere. It also therefore means that there are large Chinese slabs of influence in this sector. There are however nations in the continent with under-developed mining industries where skills shortages and infrastructure shortages have lead to this underdevelopment. 

Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG): For the first time 2012 saw African consumer spending go past the one trillion dollars (US$1 trillion). With a population that is one of the fastest growing in the world, a middle class of over three hundred million (300 Million) people, the FMCG sector promises to very profitable in the years ahead. Food, beverages, home and personal care products provide an ample opportunity for new profits as the African middle class grows and expands in more countries on the continent. This is a market though that will work on a 'first come, first serve' basis and will lead to long term market dominance if done properly with a good market entry plan.

Gravis Global Invest team expands

In terms of international investment markets the African continent represents huge potential for a number of sectors. As such, Gravis Insights Australia will have an ever growing focus on the continent; not only in terms of helping African nations and businesses seek out new opportunities inbound to Australasia but also to assist outbound investors looking to Africa for opportunities.

As many of our clients know, we are specialists in terms of multicultural engagement and from there derives our connections in the global investment space.

For us at Gravis Insights Australia, we firmly believe that global investment is about two way exchanges of capital and intellectual property. Too often is there a narrow focus on either the inbound nature of investment or the outbound nature of trade but rarely both considered in a dynamic way; here at Gravis Insights Australia - we think a little differently about global investment strategies.

It is to this end that we are proud to announce two new members of our team and how their entrance into our team develops our long term vision for Gravis Global Invest.

We would like to introduce to the team Mr Bobby Whitfield. Bobby is a Queensland Multicultural Ambassador from 2013 and was the first ever person to receive this prestigious award from the Queensland Government Department of Multicultural Affairs under the Ministerial guidance of former LNP Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Glen Elmes

We look forward to working with Bobby on delivering international investment and trade deals from countries such as Liberia, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and other West African nations. 

Secondly, we would like to introduce Leila Abukar to the team. Leila is a long term friend of our team at Gravis Insights Australia. We assisted her and raised money for her failed bid for Yeerongpilly in the Queensland Election of 2015. Leila is now doing some great work for our good friends over at Access Community Services.  Leila holds significant connections in places such as Somalia, Djibouti, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Our Gravis Global Invest team continues to expand and this next stage delivers the full range of expertise and knowledge to help facilitate new deals between African nations and international investment interests. Furthermore, we will even be exploring the partnering of products and services from a number of African nations into the Pacific and into Asia. 

With Leila and Bobby's business and political connections on the continent, we know that these two wonderful additions to our team will deliver real results for our clients in Australia and abroad.