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Kenyan Elections 2017

Kenya's General Elections for President and other positions will be held on Tuesday August 8th 2017. Excitement and tension is building up towards that day, especially with regard to the Presidential election. 

The incumbent President, Uhuru Kenyatta will be vying for a second term. Mr Kenyatta was declared the winner of the 2013 elections, after his main rival at the time, Raila Odinga, disputed the results of those elections and filed a suit in the Supreme Court of Kenya. The Supreme Court upheld the declaration of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as President a few weeks later. 

President Kenyatta is running on the recently formed Jubilee Alliance Party - a party formed out of the coalition of parties under which he vied for presidency in 2013. Mr William Ruto, the Deputy President, will be his running mate once again.

Before the 2013 elections, the current opposition formed the CORD coalition (Coalition for Reforms and Democracy). The principals of this coalition were Mr Raila Odinga, who was then Prime Minister and is the leader of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Mr. Kalonzo Musyoka, who was then vice-president and is the leader of the Wiper Democratic Movement and Mr. Moses Wetangula, who is currently the Minority Leader in the Senate and is also the leader of the Ford Kenya party 

Mr Odinga was the presidential candidate of the CORD coalition and Mr Musyoka was his running-mate.

A few notable political leaders have now teamed up with the CORD coalition to form what they have called the National Super Alliance (NASA). 'Nasa' also means 'to seize' or 'capture' in Swahili, Kenya's national language, and the opposition has declared their determination to capture the Presidency this year. 

One of the NASA leaders is Mr. Musalia Mudavadi, 56, the leader of the Amani National Congress, who was also a presidential candidate in 2013 and came third in those polls.

A recent addition to the NASA coalition is Mr Isaac Ruto, the current governor of Bomet County, and former member of the URP party that was part of the Jubilee coalition. His entry to NASA is seen by some as a blow to Jubilee and a boost to NASA, at least in terms of perception and possibly in terms of votes as well.

The NASA coalition has publicised an agreement on positions that each principal will get if they win the Presidency and form the next government.

As many people expected, once again, the 72-year-old Raila Odinga will again be running for president this year - for the fourth time. Mr. Musyoka will once again be his running-mate.

Mr. Musyoka served as Vice-President of Kenya from 2008 to 2013. He was a presidential candidate in the 2007 elections, and after those elections, he was appointed Vice-President, even as the country was engulfed in violence as the opposition disputed the election results that declared Mr, Mwai Kibaki the winner of the Presidential race. 

This violence eventually led to the current President, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his Deputy, William Ruto, (the two being in opposite political camps at the time) being brought, with others, to the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity. The cases against them were eventually dropped due to lack of evidence. 

Mr. Odinga, who believes he was the actual winner of the 2007 elections, was appointed Prime Minister in April 2008 in a power-sharing deal with Mwai Kibaki. Mr. Odinga was Prime Minister until 2013.

The fact that Mr. Odinga and Mr. Musyoka were in government between 2008 and 2013 is often cited by Jubilee and their supporters when pointing out perceived failures of the administration of that time, and by extension, the failures of the two, though these supporters often don’t also point out that their own leaders were also in the same government.

Officially, there are 18 people in total who have registered with the IEBC as presidential candidates. Only a few are comparatively well known such as Dr. Ekuru Aukot, former member of the Committee of Experts on Constitution Review that worked on Kenya's 2010 Constitution and Mr Peter Ondeng’, who is expected to get at least some votes from evangelical Christians. The effect of these less prominent candidates on the presidential vote and if they might cause a run-off is yet to be seen.


Kenyan politics, to a significant extent, is based on tribal affiliations. Presidential candidates usually get major support from the areas largely inhabited by their ethnic communities. It is likely that tribal arithmetic – the number of voters from each tribe and their turnout at the polls - will play a significant part in the 2017 elections, but there are also emerging voices of opposition to this approach. A number of people in their forties and younger, are declaring that supporting a candidate based on tribe does not benefit them in their personal lives, and they would rather vote in competent leaders from whichever tribes. 

For example, there was a strike by doctors serving in public hospitals, which resulted in their union leaders being jailed for a few days (for failing to call off the strike). The fact that the doctors come from various ethnic backgrounds and they stood together for their cause may be seen by some as an indication that the tribal mindset may be weakening, at least among the younger generation.

Corruption in government will certainly be among the top issues harped upon by the opposition. USAID recently withdrew funding for government health projects citing corruption and the opposition will likely point this out as an example of government corruption being visible even to outsiders.

The current rising food prices will also likely be raised and the opposition will probably cite this as an example of failure by the government and probably also state that this failure was deliberately orchestrated to allow well-connected cartels to sell food to the public at exorbitant prices.

The Jubilee response to these accusations seems to be that the food shortage is caused by drought and that is beyond the government’s control. Some supporters also say that there was a similar hike in food prices when many of the opposition leaders were in government, so food shortage and high prices are not something new.

The opposition has often said that the Jubilee government has recklessly borrowed money, especially from China, and indebted the country beyond reasonable levels. They have also claimed that a lot of this money is then misdirected to individuals after it is received. 

The incumbent side usually responds by saying that the borrowed money has been used to start long-term projects that will lay the foundation for the country’s future growth and prosperity. The Standard-Gauge Railway (SGR) project is one of the main projects that the Jubilee administration proudly takes credit for. It is supposed to ease transport of goods and services between the port town of Mombasa and the interior of Kenya and has created jobs for those working on the project. 

However, some claim that the cost of the SGR project was inflated and that it did not yield good value for money, when compared to a similar project in neighbouring Ethiopia, for example.

Apart from the polls themselves, IEBC, the body mandated to manage the elections, has been under criticism about its preparedness. In 2013, the polls faced challenges of failure of its machines and officials were later accused of negligence in procuring equipment. The commissioners of that time were compelled to resign following pressure by the opposition and new commissioners were selected and sworn into office. The IEBC recently admitted that it had as many as 128,000 records with shared details in its voter register. This register is currently undergoing audit by an independent audit firm.

In elections like Kenya, predicting elections isn't a straight forward business; but we will be keeping our eyes on the campaign and the results and the opportunities that can come from it it to engage with this part of Africa.

French Presidential Election

In the aftermath of Brexit and the tensions caused by the Dutch elections and Geert Wilders, The French Presidential Campaign will catch everybody’s attention and it will be the second of three big challenges European Union will face in 2017.

With regard to migration, the rise of nationalism or populism in several European countries in the last couple of years has concerned European leaders for eventual harms it could do to the European project and single market. For French people, nationalism is not something new. In fact, the radical right-wing party National Front (Front Nationale in French) has been participating in every French electoral campaign since its founding in 1972, however, their national relevance in french politics was very residual until the 2002 Presidential campaign of Jean-Marie Le Pen.

In 2002, Jean-Marie Le Pen shocked all critics and media when he assured a 2nd round with Jaques Chirac against all the experts' expectations who thought 2nd round would be Chirac facing Lionel Jospin. 

This result made the French parties to announce their vote preference in Chirac. As a matter of fact, 2nd round was too easy for Chirac. Besides the support of all moderate and progressive parties, Chirac had media and syndicates on his side, and so it became quite predictable his victory. In the end, Chirac’s won with 88% of the vote.

From that moment until 2008, Jean-Marie Le Pen kept his position as President of National Front and competed in all French and European elections; however, he never reached the heights of 2002.There were many reasons for the decline of the radical right-wing party such as the modification of the regional electoral system to contain the influence of National Front in some regions; party faced a financial crisis and forced the party to make a restructuring to solve it.

Furthermore, the beginning of the 21st century was a time of some prosperity for both European countries and European Union. The European currency “Euro” had a bright start and it gained a very good reputation in the international markets, which gave some credit to the European project. The Euopean project was at an all time high of popularity in its member states.

After the results in 2008, Jean-Marie Le Pen retired from the Presidency of National Front and there was an internal run between his daughter Marine Le Pen against the vice-president Bruno Gollish. In January 2011, Marine Le Pen was elected president of National Front and with her presidency, National Front was able to win 24 seats in the European Parliament.

This year, eleven candidates are running for President, but only 4 have any real chancey to get the final two places for a run-off election. What has changed the dynamic of the election is that both the Socialist candidate for President (Benoît Hamon) and Republican Candidate and Former French Prime Minister under former President Nicholas Sarkozy; Francois Fillon have both had lacklustre campaigns which have also seen Fillon has stubbornly resisting calls to step down after revelations he paid his wife and children government salaries, though they apparently did little or no work in return. He has not denied the payments but insists he did not misuse public funds.

Most French voters are not vindictive with regard to such minor instances of corruption, and given the other choices may decide to forgive Fillon because of the experience, demonstrated competence and sheer gravitas he would bring to the presidency.

Opinion polls show around a third of France's 45.7 million voters might abstain, an unprecedented number in a country with a long tradition of high turnouts. Even among those who intend to vote, about one-third have yet to make up their mind on how to cast their ballot.

When Fillon won the Republican Primary election in November, he proved that he was a strong finisher and will be betting that he gets a good split of the 30% undecided factor in recent French polling.

Heading into March, this race looked like it would have been the first election in French post- war history where there was not a major party candidate in the run-off election; which Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron being the likely candidates. Le Pen and Macron had 25% and 24% taken at the end of March by PrésiTrack OpinionWay / ORPI for Les Echos and Radio Classique.

While Fillon is attacking Macron as a closet Socialist too close to the unpopular Hollande Government, Le Pen has her vulnerabilities as well. Le Pen relies on support among young and working class voters, two groups where abstention is forecast to be high. 

According to the dutch Investment bank Rabobank, Emanuel Macron is the most likely candidate to succeed Holland in the presidency. According to the last polls Macron and Marine Le Pen are tied with 23%, followed by François Fillon and Mélenchon (Communist) with 18% each. 

This has been backed up by the latest Ifop-Fiducial poll on 12 April showed Le Pen winning 23.5 percent in the April 23 first round, one point ahead of centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Both Le Pen and Macron's support dipped by half a point from Tuesday while conservative Francois Fillon was stable on 19 percent and Melenchon unchanged on 18.5 percent.

The top two candidates go through to a run-off on May 7, where polls say Macron would easily beat Le Pen.

Mélenchon has surged in recent weeks with some good debate performances, in a field where enthusiasm is low (outside of Le Pen), however, his platform by many is seen as far too left wing even for left of centre voters who are gravitating to Macron's campaign as the only 'viable' opposition to Fillon or Le Pen. 

With Mélenchon and Le Pen rising in the polls; until the elections are over, the financial markets will see unrest as both want to put the EU membership of France to a vote and Le Pen wants to take France out of the Euro.

However, we predict that if Le Pen is in the final run-off election; she will lose. Le Pen, just like her father will galvanise all of the other parties against her (providing Mélenchon doesn't make the run off, which we see as unlikely). It is predicted that Macron, as the most likely to run against Le Pen would receive the endorsement of the Socialist President Hollande and the Republican Party through its standard bearer Fillon. 

This prediction is not only based in history when the same phenomenon saw Jacques Chirac receive the support of every other party to block Jean Marie Le Pen but in every head to head poll completed this cycle shows Le Pen losing to either Fillon or Macron.

Wellington Startups. A new opportunity.

New-Zealand is one of the most business-friendly countries in the world. Because of enough resources in the country, there are so many startups are growing up. In New Zealand, you will get the maximum benefits as an entrepreneur. There are some cities in New Zealand which are playing a vital role to increase the startups in New Zealand. One of the most startup-friendly cities in New Zealand is the Wellington City. You will find almost any type of resource and support which you needed to start a small business.

In Wellington, you will find so many industry leaders; they will encourage you and provide you the proper guidance for your business growth and success. This is not a big city, and the population is fewer, but the environment is perfect for the startups. The best part of Wellington city is the business and start up community. Managing a business load is so much easy in this city if you have a fabulous idea. The only thing you need to do is generate a decent idea and make a proper plan for the implementation.

Why are Start Up Companies Growing at Wellington?

Startup Community: There is a startup community in Wellington which is a network of collaboration which is significantly helpful for new startups. They also celebrate startup weekend where they arrange entrepreneur’s events. There is a chance to meet with the influencers. That means, there are opportunities to share experience with the real entrepreneurs. Also, have web stock which is an annual technology conference with international guests.

Supportive: As an entrepreneur, I love the supportive people of this city. When you are a new entrepreneur and going to start a new small business, you needed care from different types of individuals. That is why Wellington is the best place to initiate the business. There is a wide range of organizations, and they arrange boot camp and other business related conference for the newbies. Sometimes you also need some financial support to carry on your business, and some organizations have made this process easier. 

Startup Programs: In Wellington, there are so many incubator and accelerator programs arranges in all the time of a year. This is a perfect way to gain some knowledge for your future business. Here you will learn where to invest and where you shouldn’t spend. You will learn the basic things of the advanced stuff. Successful entrepreneurs share their success stories, and they also share the things which they have considered to start the business. Another thing which I love a lot is the networking probabilities. Maybe you will be able to arrange a good investment on your idea, or you will get a partner who knows some basic things about your idea better than you.

Without the above reasons, there are also some other opportunities which you will love a lot. If you have an excellent idea and you are confident enough, plan to start your business in Wellington in New Zealand for the maximum success. 

For all of your market access and entry strategy needs, click here to get in touch with the Gravis Global Invest team today!

 

 

Foreign Investment in New Zealand

With the scrutiny on foreign investment here in Australia, it would also be worth noting that New Zealand is undergoing a similar conversation about foreign investment in the 'Land of the Long White Cloud'. 

In New Zealand, this has been largely triggered by big investments into two sectors; Housing (particularly in Auckland) and into the famous Dairy Industry. KPMG found Canada accounted for 22 percent of overseas investment in 2013-2014.

China - though by far the biggest foreign player in the dairy sector - was second on overall investment with 14 percent, followed by the US (13 percent) and Australia (11 percent). The US was the biggest buyer of land in that period.

The report, Foreign Direct Investment in New Zealand: Trends and Insights is the second of its kind by KPMG and is based on Overseas Investment Office (OIO) decisions over the last two years. To read that report click here.

The issue of housing investment into the New Zealand housing market has become a big issue in New Zealand politics. This has caused the Key Government to introduce a suite of restrictions on foreign home buyers as fears rise about the effect of this investment on home prices, especially in places such as Auckland. 

In May 2016,  Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) released data which showed that 474 out 11,955 houses sold between January and March in 2016 went to non-residents.

Of the sales to foreign buyers, 276 houses went to Chinese residents. The next biggest investors were Australians, with 45 properties.

Across all of New Zealand, 3 per cent of houses sold between January and March went to people who were not New Zealand citizens or holders of a residency, student or work visa.

Chinese tax residents snapped up 321 of those properties (29.5 per cent of non-resident purchases), followed by Australians on 312 properties (28.6 per cent).

However, fears around loss of sovereignty and suspicion around the motives of Chinese buyers are prompting a rise in protectionist politics; from One Nation and the Greens on the right and the left of Australian politics and New Zealand First on New Zealand's right and the Greens on New Zealand's left. 

A large number of investments do not need approvals beyond the normal legislative business framework for New Zealand-based companies.

The Overseas Investment Act 2005 regulates the acquisitions by overseas entities of 25 percent or more ownership or control of interests of sensitive New Zealand land and significant business assets.

However, just as Australia has an independent Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), New Zealand has regulatory arrangements as to what needs higher 'testing' from government. These tests are unique to the growing economic circumstances New Zealand faces. New Zealand has seen as massive growth in its economy since John Key came to power after a long term of Helen Clark as New Zealand's Labour Prime Minister. 

These three tests are:

  • sensitive land (eg farm land, historical landmarks, regional parks)
  • significant business assets (eg New Zealand securities or assets, or the establishment of a business, worth more than $100 million)
  • fishing quota (an interest in fishing quota or securities in a person that owns an interest in fishing quota).

However, this is balanced by an efficient Department of Trade and Enterprise that can assist with investment into New Zealand successfully. 

Some of the services NZTE can provide include:

  • supplying general and customised reports on New Zealand investment opportunities, costs and regulatory processes for your investment
  • facilitating your visit to New Zealand by identifying potential investment targets and arranging suitable meetings, including introductions to other contacts in New Zealand (eg regional economic development agencies) that could support your investment
  • facilitating the selection of suitable sites for your investment project
  • helping coordinate your investment, including providing information and facilitating access to other Government assistance programmes, and helping to remove potential obstacles
  • providing information about potential New Zealand-based advisors or suppliers for your investment project

With our team having extensive dealings with New Zealand Government agencies, we are perfectly placed to assist investors in their regulatory engagement with New Zealand. If you would like to talk further, please click on the button below.

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. 

NT Land Development Corporation

Following the landslide win of Labor which ended the CLP reign in control of the Northern Territory, the new cabinet has been sworn in. Under these ministerial arrangements, Deputy Chief Minister Hon Nicole Susan Manison MLA has been sworn in as the Minister for Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics. 

This makes her the Minister responsible for the Land Development Corporation. The Land Development Corporation is the Northern Territory Government’s strategic land developer -  operating within industrial, commercial and residential sectors across the Northern Territory. This is the entity which investors need to engage with in order to pursue investment opportunities in the Northern Territory. 

We believe that there are massive strategic advantages to new investment opportunities in the Northern Territory, including investment climate and proximity to key Asian markets. 

The Land Development Corporation is focussing on two main strategic projects at this time. One is the Titlemaine Marine Park and the other is the Tiwi Islands. 

The Tiwi Land Council is working with the Land Development Corporation to support economic development on the Tiwi Islands by providing the private sector with investment opportunities. There are a range of development opportunities available via long term leases. The Land Development Corporation is seeking expressions of interest for developments on the Tiwi Islands.

Long term leases of up to 99 years will be available to suitable investors. The leases will be established on a commercial basis with a fair market value for rent. There are a range of business models that may be suitable including private ownership and a joint venture with Tiwi people.

There are a range of opportunities available on the Tiwi Islands including: 

  • Tourism and Residential
  • Aquaculture
  • Agriculture
  • Industrial

A significant benefit to investors is the support that can be provided by the Land Development Corporation, including interaction with Traditional Owners, assistance with Government process and technical advice.

The Titlemaine Marine Park is strategically located on premium waterfront land in the East Arm Logistics Precinct, the 150 hectare Marine Industry Park will establish an integrated marine services precinct that supports the Defence, oil and gas, coastal barging and logistics sectors.

 Within easy reach of key transport nodes including the East Arm Wharf, Marine Supply Base and the AustralAsia Rail Freight Terminal the MIP will position Darwin as a prime location for marine maintenance and servicing facilities in the region.

 The Marine Industry Park will drive economic growth and attract significant business and investment to the Northern Territory through delivery of land suitable for a variety of industrial and marine uses. Key activities supported by the Marine Industry Park include:

  • common user area
  • multi-user barge ramp
  • marine maintenance area
  • marine services area
  • marine logistics area
  • strategic industrial land.

For expert advice on pursuing investment options in the Northern Territory, please get in touch with the team at Gravis Global Invest today.