By Samuel Kahariri

The livestock sector contributes over 12 per cent to the gross domestic product and half of the agricultural GDP with 10 million Kenyans in the arid and semi-arid lands (Asals) derive their livelihood largely from livestock.

The multi-billion-shilling sector has the potential to provide an adequate supply of all animal products and by-products for domestic use and export. It is, therefore, strategic in reducing poverty levels, aiding in the attainment of food security and contributing to economic growth, leading to the achievement of Kenya Vision 2030 and the ‘Big Four Agenda’.

FOOD SECURITY

As we focus on the Big Four, particularly its agriculture pillar, it is critical to note that the livestock sector holds the potential of becoming the single-largest contributor to the GDP and the ultimate achievement of food security.

But that would require the government to establish reliable market infrastructure for livestock and livestock products and create an enabling environment to unlock the sector’s economic potential.

Kenya’s livestock and livestock products are largely uncompetitive for reasons such as prohibitive cost of production, high prevalence of transboundary animal diseases, and low quality of the produce owing to underutilisation of modern technologies and genetic advancements.

They also suffer unfair competition from the neighbouring countries due to illegal entry of animals and smuggling of animal products such as eggs, milk and meat through the porous borders. The main culprits are the Uganda and Tanzania borders.

Due to over-reliance on maize as the national staple, the cost of the cereal is higher in Kenya than elsewhere in the region. And since the grain is a key component in most animal feeds, their prices shoot up, rendering the cost of production for animals and animal products uncompetitively high.

That threatens the enterprises in the entire value chain and may eventually lead to closure and lack of incentives for producers and investors. The net effect is Kenya remaining a net importer of all animal products and lack of realisation of food and nutritional security.

GENETIC IMPROVEMENT

To reverse the trend and avert the impending crisis, the government should consider all possible measures to significantly lower production costs, make the environment conducive for livestock value chain enterprises, devise an incentive system for the local livestock producers.

Over-reliance on maize should be avoided by supporting pastoral communities to expand and modernise their meat and milk storage technologies as well as use other traditional foods to cushion them from the impact of drought in the Asals.

Interventions include zero-rating animal feeds and other inputs, animal genetic improvement, investment in livestock disease control to improve access to the international markets and guaranteeing the safety of the food of animal origin.

Required is a master plan on revival and transformation of the sector to safeguard the millions of jobs and encourage producers to increase the quality and amount of produce.

Dr Kahariri is the national chairman, Kenya Veterinary Association. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Posted On Wednesday, 17 April 2019 08:40

By Rosemary Okello-Orlale 

Solid waste management is a subject that is rarely discussed, especially in policy forums.  Further, when it is done, on many occasions either policy makers or the government receives the brunt of the blame for poor management of the environment. People hardly talk about what their individual role is in solid waste management.

Yet proper waste management can provide an opportunity to generate value from the waste and reduce the quantities ending up in landfills, while at the same time creating employment opportunities as in the case of Netherlands and Austria which have the best waste management programmes in Europe.

This came out clearly during a  recent media policy breakfast, at the Stanley Hotel, on the challenges, barriers and opportunities associated with improving waste management in the transition to a green economy. The event was held by the Africa Media Hub based in Strathmore University Business School, in partnership with Business Advocacy Fund.

Karin Boomsma, the Director at Sustainable Inclusive Business (SIB) while demonstrating a scenario on ‘Beyond Waste’, talked of how we have cultivated a certain view of solid waste in our minds, in our economy and in our country.  According to her, this has made a majority of the Kenyan population to make the Kenyan economy a one-way track of consuming and disposing of.  “We need to change this whole concept by adopting a new concept of take-make and dispose of. And start asking ourselves, how can our waste help us re-build our economy rather than reducing it,” says Boomsma.

In countries where waste management has been given priority, the majority of the challenges they present, including health problems, poverty, unemployment and food shortage, have been addressed. According to her, such countries have developed policies to ensure that no resources are wasted.

Currently, as people the world over are linking sustainable development and business success to form a perfect exchange, three types of economies which are linked to waste management have emerged. These are (i) Linear Economy, (ii) Recycling Economy, and (ii) Circular Economy.

While a majority of countries have shifted their economy to a circular economy, whereby they have transformed their waste into materials, products and set up policies and ecosystems for re-use and recycling, Kenya is still stuck on a linear economy. “This has made our economy to depend on cheap materials and we have resorted to dumpsite which is not a solution,” explains Boomsma.

While the country has in place relevant policies and laws to help address the problem of waste management, little attention is being paid on the many opportunities the country can derive and benefit from the solid waste management.

Kenya made commitments on the environment. Article 42 in the Constitution of Kenya (COK 2010) acknowledges that every person has the right to a clean and healthy environment, while Vision 2030 has accorded some recognition to waste management systems. At the county level, Nairobi, Eldoret, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu and Thika have enacted an Environment Management and Coordination Act.

According to Faith Ngige of KEPSA, this move should be used to redefine waste management, “especially how do we rethink of waste as a nation,” stated Faith. 

“Going by the success registered in the management of plastics in Kenya when the country stopped the manufacturing plastics,” Ms Ngige said, “Having an enabling environment both at the national and county levels can harness the expertise of environmental professionals with the need to deliver improved waste management systems for a green economy.”

Talking on Zero Waste, Ms Ngige challenged every stakeholder that they have every responsibility. “We can change the whole narrative on waste management including how we value the workforce in the sector”.

For the Kibra community, the narrative on waste management has already changed. According to Hamida Malasen of Kibra Green Group, her team is transforming Kibra Constituency through solid waste management because it is helping them address a majority of the challenges faced by the community, including health problems, poverty, unemployment, and food shortages. Through this, they are directly contributing to a number of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as ending poverty, good health and wellbeing, clean water and sanitation. “We demystify the feeling that someone else is supposed to come to Kibera to clean our environment when we ourselves are the ones disposing of the waste,” says Hamida.

Kibra Green sells a variety of products including engraved recycled glass gifts, water and wine glasses, bowls, decoration bottles and glass utensils, packaging bags made from carton, shopping bags from recycled clothing, and, decorative glass bottles and plastics. They also supply plastic and tin as raw materials for recycling to manufacturers. However, its core business focuses on composting organic waste to fertilizer for urban agriculture.  “The remaining products from waste will be mentioned as complements during the sale of organic fertilizer generated from composting organic waste,” says Hamida.

What came out clearly is that the feeling that someone else is supposed to be in charge of waste management is a thing of the past. All of us must be involved in making our environment clean and turning our waste into a resource for the economic growth of our country.

Rosemary Okello-Orlale is the Director of the Africa Media Hub- Strathmore University Business School.

 

Posted On Tuesday, 09 April 2019 13:55

By Karin Boomsma

A circular economy is not an entirely new concept. The Netherlands, for instance, is working on going fully circular by 2050.

This means its economy will run fully on reusable raw materials. It is an idea that is looking quite popular in the tiny European nation sandwiched between Belgium and Germany.

Many businesses and NGOs are signing up for a 100 per cent circular economy.

Like other concepts, the circular economy has its antithesis, which also happens to be the dominant economic model. As the name suggests, a linear economy is simply a take, make, waste economic model. It is an outdated energy system. Linear economy assumes that resources are infinite and that irrespective of how we use them, they always regenerate themselves for the benefit of man. But we now know that resources are finite. In fact, our world as we know it has its limits beyond which it cannot be stretched any further.

Therefore, if we do not manage our resources intelligently and sustainably, there will be nothing to hand over to the next generation.

This is where the circular economy comes in.

Circular economy basically is borne out of the reality that we must manage better and fast to create both prosperity and sustainability. It brings different elements together to drive towards a low-carbon economy. It is about rethinking, redesigning use of materials, reusing (repairing, refurbishing, remanufacturing) and recycling.

The ultimate goal is to not have waste. What this means is that everything which is no longer needed is not disposed of but turned into something else of value. But this poses another challenge.

We are assuming that everything shall be made of material or parts that can be remoulded into good-quality material, which can be used to make a similar or a different item.

Considering the sheer number of poor-quality gadgets that flood our markets, going full circular will require more than lofty policy pronouncements.

Water bottles

It might have significant cost implications to consumers, at least at the time of initial purchase, but then the item so purchased will create more value to the consumer.

The tourism industry, which lives off the environment and markets the environment at the same time, also happens to be one of the biggest users of plastic.

Water consumed by millions of tourists who visit Kenya every year is packaged in tens of millions of water bottles.

The question every tourism industry player should ask is, “what is my footprint of single-use plastic per day, month or annum?”

Single-use plastics end up in our landfills or find their way into the ocean, yet they are not biodegradable? It is a tragedy of unimaginable proportions that every minute one truck full of plastic waste is dumped into the oceans.

Plastics and single-use plastics, in particular, exhaust raw material resources, take hundreds of years to decompose and release toxic chemicals into our environment causing hormone disruptions and cancers, polluting our land and sea and killing marine animal and birds.

Boomsma is project co-ordinator, Sustainable Inclusive Business Initiatives, a partnership between Kepsa and MVO Nederland.

Posted On Thursday, 04 April 2019 08:29

By Dr Amit Thakker and Ms Joelle Mumley

The limits to private doctors’ fees published by medical doctors and facilities regulator Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) recently should worry us.

Despite the supposed good intentions, it will not solve the problem of our weak health system and will negatively affect the workforce and the economy.

Capping prices sets a dangerous precedent for broader economic growth. We saw this phenomenon in the current financial sector with the government’s intervention to cap bank interest rates.

Top-down enforcement to the private market only hurts the economy, making the population poorer and perpetuating the very problems we seek to fix.

MORALE

Our southern neighbour offers a warning to us. For many years, Tanzania created an environment that was unfavourable to private practitioners. The country now suffers one of the worst doctor-to-patient ratios.

This is also the reason we have repeated strikes and low morale within the public health sector workforce.

Strikes do not take place overnight; it’s a result of prolonged unattended agony of the workers.

Striking workers will happily go back to work if there is appropriate engagement and effective leadership from the authorities.

An unfavourable environment is the main cause of a failed health system, not just pay. Along with the maximum fee for doctors, the KMPDB has also set a minimum charge.

DETERRENT

This is more evidence that the publication was not well-thought out. Does this mean that a doctor could be punished for giving a discount or even waiving the bill for a patient who cannot afford to pay?

This, clearly, goes against promoting affordable healthcare. In fact, poor implementation of this guideline may have the unintended effect of raising the cost of healthcare if those at the low end of the range choose to move towards the maximum.

The impact of the cap would be most strongly felt if it were used as a guideline for the public to refer to rather than instituting it as a gazetted document.

Patients and payers could use it as a way of setting expectations, providing a sense of predictability of medical costs.

The purpose of this publication should be to empower patients with knowledge and choice, not to impose caps on the prices of medical services.

If a facility is charging outside the recommended range, patients would be empowered with the knowledge to go elsewhere.

PRICE ISSUE

The medical insurance industry has agreed to use this document just as a tool for negotiation of rates and feels that the rates are too high and may not help in reducing healthcare costs.

Price control is a superficial fix to a much more significant problem: a weak public health system.

The Kenyan health system, stewarded by the government, should be robust enough to accommodate those who need more affordable options.

We have a price issue in healthcare because public sector facilities do not provide the quality of care Kenyans seek, forcing them to go to the private practitioners.

The price of medicines and drugs also contributes to the high cost of healthcare. There are chemists and drug vendors selling all sorts of medicines at all sorts of price mark-ups depending on how much you can pay.

MEDICINES

Patients commonly go “pharmacy hopping”, looking for the best price.

You can also easily buy prescription drugs in Kenya without any legal prescription from a doctor.

This errant trade practice has encouraged fake and counterfeit medicines to flood the markets in several counties, leaving the unsuspecting patient at high risk.

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) is yet another regulator that needs to up its game in this space.

Health sector regulators need to prioritise efforts where they are most required to safeguard the quality of services in the industry, in both the public and private sectors.

A case in point is the recent alleged “botched abortion” at a clinic in Dandora. This unregistered clinic was said to be operating in Nairobi over the past 10 years. Didn’t KMPDB have a clue? How many more are there?

SCRUTINY

The KMPDB must use its regulatory authority to ensure private doctors uphold ethical practices at all times.

It needs to strictly address issues of overcharging, overservicing and poor quality. Too few private doctors have been subject to the necessary scrutiny.

Hence, the public feels that the healthcare is quite “commercialised”, which, generally, is not the case.

How many Kenyans know that they can seek redress if they are not satisfied with a doctor’s care or fees?

It is time the regulators got their priorities right and started helping to strengthen the health system, especially the public sector, which is non-negotiable if universal healthcare is to be realised.

Dr Thakker is the executive chairman of Africa Health Business. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Ms Mumley is a health journalist for Africa Health Business. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Posted On Thursday, 04 April 2019 08:14

By Mercy Chepkirui

The Agriculture and Food Authority has called for public comments on proposed regulations under the Crops Act 2013.

The regulations impose enormous obligations of registration, licensing and criminal penalties to tea growers, manufacturers, dealers, brokers and so on, who are dealing with their private property, without any corresponding responsibilities assumed by neither the national nor county government.

And they are unconstitutional. First, they were made under a national legislation that purports to regulate the growth and development of agricultural crops under the 4th Schedule of the Constitution, which restricts the role of national government to formulation of policy.

Secondly, they place an unnecessary burden on the right to private property. Regulation of land use and private property under the Act can only be justified under Article 66(1) of the Constitution.

SMALL-SCALE FARMERS

Section 4(d) of the Act states that in the management and administration of agricultural land, the national and county governments shall be guided by Article 6(2) — the powers of the State to regulate “use of any land in the interest of public order, public morality, public health and land use planning”.

It is unclear how that applies to farming of tea on private land.

The proposed Section 4(3) states that “no grower shall sell green leaf to any person other than to the manufacturing factory where they are registered”.

But few clerks and trucks lead to poor services at tea collection centres; some leaf is uncollected, and the farmer loses time and potential income.

Small-scale growers produce most of the tea but receive low and fluctuating prices for their produce and are the most vulnerable in supply chains controlled by large firms.

PRICING

Tea is a labour-intensive product; labour accounts for half the cost of production.

Farmers undertake physically demanding tasks, often enduring exhaustion and exposure to chemicals and the elements. But they have no power over factory and company management on pricing.

Tea farmers should be protected from an unpredictable market, ensuring they get prices that cover their high costs.

The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has weakened its supervision by farmers, leading to major compromises that have led to the growers’ exploitation through levies and fees and inflated project costs.

Farmers own the factories yet earn no dividend, even in a successful year of trading.

RESTRUCTURE KTDA

KTDA properties, like the multibillion-shilling high-rise building being put up in Nairobi’s city centre, do not benefit farmers.

The fertiliser prices imposed by the KTDA is perceived by farmers to be too high; it should be subsidised.

And then there is corruption as regards insurance; ‘doctored’ weighing scales; a mandatory 2kg deduction for the weight of every bag, which must hold a maximum of 16kg of green leaf, yet it is hardly half a kilogramme, and the weight of leaf is rounded downwards.

There is a need to restructure KTDA and review its contracts with farmers to reduce the 16 per cent levies and unregulated credit. They make farmers poor.

These issues, and more, should be tackled before implementing any new regulations as that will only add confusion in the sector.

Ms Chepkirui is a law student at Moi University. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Posted On Thursday, 28 March 2019 10:25

By Rizwan Fazal

A year ago, one or two months of dry weather meant an automatic switch from hydro power to expensive diesel-generated electricity. This year is different.

The country is calmly awaiting the onset of the long rains without the yester-year worry about the declining levels of water in the Seven Forks dams which generate the bulk of Kenya’s hydroelectric power.

Energy sector players, including Kenya Power, KenGen and the Ministry of Energy, have not called a press conference to announce power rationing or justify increased uptake of costlier thermal power.

DEMAND

To the contrary, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) reported in January that the proportion of wind power in the national grid had surpassed diesel-generated electricity.

Geothermal, solar and wind energy investments in the past decade are beginning to pay off with great benefits to both the energy mix and the country’s current account. Since Lake Turkana Wind Power started injecting into the national grid in September 2018, it has produced 463.069GWH of clean, renewable energy.

This has increased Kenya’s spinning reserve capacity (the generating capacity available to the system operator within a short interval to meet demand in case of a disruption of supply) and saved the country approximately $35 million in fuel imports between November 2018 and January 2019. The multiplier effect of this is being felt at the macro-economic level.

In one year, wind-generated electricity has grown from a negligible under two per cent of the overall energy mix to 14-17 per cent of total installed national capacity during the day and up to 30 per cent during off-peak hours at night.

Geothermal electricity, now tops, contributes 45 per cent of the overall energy with hydro second at 29.8 per cent.

The most expensive power source — thermal — which used to account for nearly half of the national electricity consumption, now contributes less than 10 per cent.

At 8.53 cents per kilowatt-hour compared to thermal’s up to 28 cents, depending on the global oil prices, wind power offers an enticing opportunity for electricity tariff cuts.

POLICY

There is a need, however, for renewable energy providers and policy makers to have discussions on how a new, lower tariff structure for the citizens can be achieved. Wind, geothermal and solar energy are already viable alternatives.

The fundamental question that policy makers and stakeholders should answer is: With an oversupply of electricity, do you wait for demand to grow organically or actively encourage the growth of consumer demand?

Unfortunately, in the short-term, unless the demand for electricity increases, the cost of electricity will not come down.

From an energy consumption per capita indicator perspective, Kenya consumes half more than the predictive kWh per capita — hence the line-up of planned generating capacity. The solution is not to control supply but to fix the demand side.

The government should hold candid and informed discussions with key energy stakeholders and industry players to develop a clear roadmap for the sector. That is the only way that the Kenyan dream of lower tariffs will become reality.

Mr Fazal is Executive Director at Lake Turkana Wind Power Ltd. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Posted On Wednesday, 20 February 2019 10:18

By Michael Arum

In the Daily Nation dated February 4th 2019, it is reported that Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri stated that he would neither engage with Sugar Campaign for Change (SUCAM) nor receive our report consolidating farmers’ views.

SUCAM is an independent lobby and advocacy coalition consisting of grassroots farmers’ organisations, Civil Society Organizations and private institutions working in collaboration with various farmers associations.

By refusing to engage with us the Cabinet secretary may be perceived to be taking an unconstitutional stand.

The constitution of Kenya, 2010 provides the key principles of governance and the rights of all citizens. One of the key principles is public participation, which sugar cane farmers are seeking. Secondly, farmers have the freedom of speech and that of association. Farmers are free to belong to SUCAM and to express their views, through SUCAM, on the issues affecting them.

SUCAM applauds the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation for constituting the task force on the sugar industry in a bid to find long-term solutions to the problems ailing the sector. The task force was set up through a Gazette Notice No. 138 of 9th November 2018, with the Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya as co-chairs.

The task force was formulated by a directive from the president to the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture during Mashujaa Day in 2018. The president further directed the Cabinet Secretary to have farmers arrears paid in 30 days. The president also advised farmers to supply their cane to millers who pay them promptly. In spite of this directive, by 31st December 2018, farmers had not been paid.

The 16-member task-force consists of 12 public servants, 3 millers and 1 farmer representative. SUCAM seek to have an equitable representation of farmers in the task force. There are 250,000 sugarcane farmers in the country, while there are 13 millers in the country. Increasing the number of farmer representatives on the taskforce would go a long way in improving the likelihood that the voices of farmers are heard.

Equitable representation of all key stakeholders in the sugar sector would enable the Cabinet Secretary to support the sector players to realise value from their endeavours.

On January 16th 2019, the task force commissioned public participation however, it later suspended the consultative meetings as farmers demanded to be paid their outstanding arrears first. Farmers also called for an extension of the timelines the committee was given to present its report to President Uhuru Kenyatta to allow farmers to consult widely.

SUCAM is leading efforts to collect views, and have a unified voice of sugar cane farmers. Farmers have raised the following issues: zoning, pricing of cane, outstanding debts, a suitable regulatory framework, and increased farmers’ representation on the sugar taskforce.   

SUCAM, a farmer based organisation, is not fighting the taskforce nor the Cabinet Secretary. We are advocating for the right of sugarcane farmers to be heard, and their views considered by the sugar taskforce. We stand ready to collaborate with the Cabinet Secretary of Agriculture and irrigation to revive the sector. 

www.sucam.co.ke ; Twitter: @sucamkenya

This article was prepared by Michael Arum, the Coordinator of SUCAM.

Posted On Friday, 15 February 2019 10:57

By Phyllis Wakiaga

Taxation is a key element in cost of doing business and hence should be designed to optimize growth of industry and increase overall competitiveness.

Ideally, favourable tax policies should be useful in predicting aspects of business, for instance, output fluctuations throughout the business year. Consequently, investors can plan their expansions and long-term investments, thereby increasing revenue to the country. Unfavourable tax policies, however, not only discourage investment and growth, but they are also a disincentive to exporters, which in the long run dilutes our competitiveness.

Kenya’s Declining Exports

A quick snapshot of the region reveals that intraregional exports increased from USD 2.7 billion in 2016 to USD 2.9 billion in 2017. The increase was partly driven by increased exports by Tanzania and Uganda to other Partner States which grew by 18.4 per cent and 37.3 per cent respectively. Rwanda recorded intra-regional export growth of 6.4 per cent while Kenya, South Sudan and Burundi recorded decline by 7.4 per cent, 24.2 per cent and 6.0 per cent respectively.

Decline of Kenya’s exports in the region was driven by reduced exports of manufactured products such as cement, iron and steel, salt and medicaments due to a continued erosion in our competitiveness. The two biggest contributors to this are systemic inefficiencies and unfavourable tax policies.

Delays in VAT Refunds

Businesses in the manufacturing sector have experienced major delays in VAT refunds, in some cases going back 3 years. Recent system changes at the Tax Authority, which are aimed at easing the administrative process, are unintentionally causing delays in verification of VAT claims that date back to 2014 despite exporters presenting proof of entry from across the borders.

Other countries have devised ways of tackling this problem, a crucial one being the charging of interests on delayed refunds. The impact of delayed refunds is dire for business. It means financing normal operations become very costly and this is more so for exports. Some manufacturers are currently borrowing expensive loans to maintain cash flow levels; liquidity becomes a major challenge and business operates at low capacity.

When faced with these hurdles, many manufacturers are faced with hard questions. How can the business stay productive and profitable? How can we recoup the heavy investments made in the last few years, to expand capacity and increase export business?

Competitiveness Must Be Addressed

At present, Kenya is at a cost disadvantage of nearly 12% on most manufactured goods, compared to other countries in the region. It is absolutely vital that this cost imbalance be addressed as a matter of priority.

For example, charges of 2% for Import Declaration Fee on all imported industrial inputs, and 1.5% for the Railway Development Levy, adds 3.5% on all products even before any other logistics, administrative and production costs are loaded. Our partner states in the region do not have these additional costs. When other costs such as delayed payments and cost of financing the business are factored, we automatically become more expensive by nearly 12%, making us unable to compete on the same level as neighbouring countries.

Industry, through Kenya Association of Manufacturers, continues to engage Treasury and KRA on these matters hoping for a quick resolve. The government has manufacturing as one of the Big 4 Agenda pillars, and rightly so, because manufacturing is the only one of the pillars capable of providing productive and sustainable jobs. However, tax policies, infrastructure and regulations have to be built to uphold this vision for us to realize the economic outcomes of the Agenda.

The writer is the CEO of Kenya Association of Manufacturers and the UN Global Compact Network Representative for Kenya. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This article appeared on the KAM websites and was accessed on 1st February 2019.

Posted On Friday, 01 February 2019 12:01

By Phyllis Wakiaga

This year, reports and news articles have been awash with stories of a dysfunctional EAC bloc stagnated and in the near-crumbling state. While many countries and regional economic blocs in the world are continuously making efforts to remove barriers within their relative geographical areas, the EAC partner states seem to be heading in the opposite direction. This has hindered the movement of people and goods, which is an essential element for the economic prosperity in any country.

The World Bank Group has stated that countries, which open themselves up to international trade, tend to grow faster, innovate more, improve productivity and provide higher income and much more opportunities for their people. The European Union (EU), for instance, lifted 45 obstacles in 2017, twice as many from 2016, as recorded by a 2018 European Commission Annual Report on Trade and Investment Barriers. Furthermore, the EU companies exported an additional €4.8 billion in 2017 due to barriers removed between 2014 and 2016.

The EAC has in place an Industrialization Strategy that aims to expand trade in manufacturing, by increasing trade among the EAC Partner States for manufactured products to at least 25% and increasing exports of manufactured goods to countries outside the EAC to at least 60% by 2032. Whilst the Strategy seeks to expand trade, it is unfortunate that our regional exports, which are mainly on raw materials, are decreasing.

The EAC global exports decreased by 9.3 per cent to USD 14.7 billion in 2017 from USD 16.2 billion in 2016; whilst the main regional export commodities included gold, coffee and tea. Whereas the EAC intra-regional exports increased from USD 2.7 billion in 2016 to USD 2.9 billion in 2017, Kenya, South Sudan and Burundi recorded a decline by 7.4 per cent, 24.2 per cent and 6.0 per cent respectively, according to the 2017 EAC Trade Investment Report. This is a clear indication that it is time the Partner States work together in driving the competitiveness of the industry to realize the Economic goals of the EAC Bloc.

It is therefore critical that the Partner States work in sync to address the myriad of Non-Trade Barriers (NTBs) that continue to impede the expansion of Intra-EAC trade. If these NTBs are resolved, the region will also see the realization of the EAC Trade Integration Agenda.

The Kenyan government has played a critical role in addressing NTBs through its engagements with the EAC partner states. As a result, their engagements with the Partner States have seen printed labels, motor vehicles, Kenya leaf spring, lubricants and energy drinks accorded again preferential treatment in Tanzania, confectionary and sugar based products and paper sacks in Uganda, Natural juice and steel and steel products in Rwanda and Burundi respectively.

In spite of these efforts, some of our products still face challenges in accessing the regional market. For instance, Tanzania is yet to accord preferential treatment to confectionary and sugar based products, despite the verification study done in June 2018 confirming that the products qualify, and tobacco products from Kenya.

For any industry, the predictability in policy and regulatory environment plays a central role in driving competitiveness. Such trade disruptions result in losses, reduced export volume and ultimately, lowers foreign exchange earning. On the other hand, this can result in unfair practices such as smuggling among other forms of illicit trade, which puts the lives of many at risk. Additionally, companies end up underutilizing their operational capacity resulting in poor economies of scale and deterioration of unemployment rate.

Investing in Intra-EAC trade will not only decrease the imports of raw materials and finished goods into the region, but it will also drive innovation, specialization and technological advancement. At the same time, it gives SMEs a platform to grow and expand.

Kenya Association of Manufacturers has been working closely with the government to identify and address NTBs within the EAC. The Sector Deep-Dive Report released in October, this year, by the Association and Kenya Business Guide highlights the NTBs that local industries encounter and recommendations that will encourage intra-EAC trade. This, however, will only be achieved if the EAC reinforces its market access strategy, prioritizes the removal of non-trade barriers and improves communication and awareness raising for sustained trade and economic development.

The EAC has developed legal frameworks to address NTBs, which include the East African Community (EAC) Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers Act, 2017 and Draft Regulation on the same. However, the review of the Act and development of Regulations is underway to strengthen the structures that address NTBs and enforcement mechanisms in the EAC.

It is also critical that EAC Partner States sustain resolutions arrived on reported NTBs and enforce the decisions of the EAC Secretariat.

The writer is the CEO of Kenya Association of Manufacturers and the UN Global Compact Network Representative for Kenya. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This article appeared on the KAM website on December 18th 2018.

Posted On Wednesday, 23 January 2019 10:35

By Herman Wasserman

Press freedom is often thought of in relation to political pressure. There is more than enough evidence that threats, intimidation and imprisonment of journalists remain a serious cause for concern in Africa. But two recent gatherings on the continent encourage the thinking around press freedom in even broader terms.

One threat that’s getting increasing attention is the lack of media sustainability. This is understood to mean more than just the survival of media. It’s also about access to the resources needed to produce high-quality, independent journalism that supports a democratic culture, transparency and development in areas of government, human rights and economics.

The pressure on sustainability is a subtler threat than imprisonment and harassment. But it’s also dangerous in the long run.

The issue was at the forefront of debates at a World Press Freedom Day panel discussion in Windhoek, Namibia, and at a gathering of media scholars from around the world, the World Media Economics and Management Conference, in Cape Town.

In Windhoek, the focus fell on journalism’s sustainability in conditions of severe economic uncertainty. In Cape Town, the main focus was on the threat to media sustainability and journalism globally, posed by tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter. Their enabling of “fake news”, aggregation of content and hoarding of advertising spend, formed part of a broader panic about failing media business models.

The sustainability of the news media is a precondition for good journalism in the public interest. So economic questions should form part of discussions of press freedom. And that has implications for media ethics.

The Media Sustainability Index (MSI)  conducted by the NGO IREX recently found that media sustainability in the region was on the decline. It found that financing and media management is the weak link, threatening sustainability and independence… (I)t is clear that business management and sources of funding for the media (…) form the missing foundation for many other aspects of media health and are a cause for concern.

Sustainability fears

South Africa is often considered to be a major media player on the continent. But an important new report by Rhodes University Professor Harry Dugmore shows how fears about sustainability potentially hamstring the country’s media in fully fulfilling its democratic role.

Print media circulation has fallen steeply in recent years. Media organisations are struggling to make money out of the migration of audiences to online platforms. The result, the report shows, has been cutbacks on investigative journalism, shrinking newsrooms and the capture of some media by joint oligarchic and political forces.

Similar trends were found in a draft report presented in Windhoek by the Institute for Public Policy Research. It shows how negative economic conditions in the country, combined with failing business models, have led to a loss of senior journalists, retrenchments and closures of media outlets.

The problem of collapsing business models in Africa is compounded by weak economies and struggling advertiser markets. In such circumstances, media become particularly vulnerable to capture by political interests, unethical practices, such as “brown envelope journalism” or cut corners to produce superficial journalism.

But there remain many African journalists who have courageously weathered economic crises. They can serve as examples to the world. The most recent example was the role South African journalists played in exposing ‘state capture’ by former President Jacob Zuma’s friends, the Guptas.

Digital media

A great deal of hope is being pinned on digital media to provide more avenues for information and citizen participation. There are some inspiring examples of this in Africa. These range from independent news websites such as Groundup to interesting blogs and citizen journalism on mobile platforms.

But digital media is not exempt from political capture, as the Bell Pottinger saga in South Africa showed. It drove the Guptas’ divisive “white monopoly capital” campaign.

On top of this, access to digital media is still unequal. Not everyone can afford data costs to access the internet. And the presence of the tech giants can erode independent media’s foothold in Africa.

The challenge is to create models for African media that are sustainable enough to provide journalists with freedom and independence. They must also be relevant to local audiences, and keep the core values of journalism (public interest, truth, human dignity) as their primary goal, rather than chase profits as an end in itself.

This calls for creativity and adaptability, as well as a keen focus on rebuilding trust with audiences and communities.

Suggestions from the conferences included that journalists should immerse themselves in communities, and media houses build relationships with audiences to regain trust. This is especially important in the age of ‘fake news’. Public meetings and events could put media houses in contact with audiences. Digital platforms should be used to meet audiences where they are.

Trust and relationships will be key to charting a sustainable future for news media. If communities trust the media, they can become their allies against political interference, and help support the role of journalists. As CNN’s Christiane Amanpour has reportedly reminded her journalism colleagues: Trust and credibility are the commodities we trade in.

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This article was published in The Conversation on  May 16, 2018.

Herman Wasserman is a Professor of Media Studies and Director of the Centre for Film and Media Studies, University of Cape Town. This article is based on a presentation made at a World Press Freedom Day event in Windhoek, Namibia, where the author was an invited guest of the Namibia Media Trust.

Posted On Wednesday, 23 January 2019 09:37

By Sarah Quarmby

There’s widespread and sustained interest in the role of evidence in policymaking. But because policymaking is inherently messy and complex, there’s no catch-all way of making sure evidence gets used. In this context, “knowledge brokers” are increasingly being recognised as a potential way to improve evidence-informed policymaking.

Knowledge brokers are individuals or organisations that bridge the gap between academic research and policymaking. They work to make sure that useful evidence arrives with the right people, in an appropriate format, at an opportune moment. Successful knowledge brokerage is based on building trusting relationships. This requires an intimate knowledge of both academia and policymaking, including their respective values, norms, and incentives. There’s a limited evidence base about knowledge brokers, but preliminary findings suggest that they do have the potential to improve the uptake of evidence.

How does knowledge brokerage work in practice?

For the last six months, I have been working as a Research Assistant at the Wales Centre for Public Policy, an independent research centre based at Cardiff University. The Centre opened in October 2017, building and expanding upon the work of its predecessor, the Public Policy Institute for Wales, and is a member of the UK-wide network of What Works Centres. We work closely with Welsh Government Ministers and public service leaders to help them identify their evidence needs and then facilitate the provision of evidence. In practice, this means guiding a series of projects, each relating to different policy or public service topics, from the initial ideas stage to delivering a final product.

To take the example of the Welsh Government side of our work, projects usually begin by meeting up with Ministers, their special advisors and/or policy officials (under the auspices of the Cabinet Office) to discuss potential areas of work. When we have agreed the kind of evidence they would find useful, we conduct a short review into what’s already known about the topic. From here we can decide whether to do the research in-house, or to commission it out to an external expert. If we’re outsourcing the project, we identify the most appropriate experts and liaise with them to see if they would be interested in working with us.

Each project is different, but our work often involves facilitating and managing relationships between the experts and the Welsh Government, as well as ensuring effective communication so that the final product meets expectations. The form that the evidence produced takes depends on the specifics of each project. It may be a report (for example, see here), an eventworkshop, or simply a series of structured conversations between the expert and the Welsh Government.

In this way, we navigate the space between academic researchers and policymakers, who have long been thought of as separate communities. Nathan Caplan’s “Two-Communities” theory is still a useful tool for thinking about how to bridge the gap between academic research and policymaking. He suggests that the research and policymaking worlds operate according to such different value systems and timescales that it is as though they were speaking different languages. Policymakers face political pressures and public scrutiny, and are looking for timely, practical input into policy matters, whereas academics are more interested in longer-term, theory-driven research and are under pressure to publish in academic journals. Caplan pointed to the need for intermediaries who are sympathetic towards both cultures and can mediate to best effect.

Why it is important

Our work at the Centre puts into practice some of the latest research on encouraging evidence use in policymaking. A recent study from the Alliance for Useful Evidence looked at what can be done to put policymakers in a position where they are both able and motivated to make use of evidence, and identified six “mechanisms” to improve evidence uptake. Our approach focuses on four of these: fostering mutual understanding of evidence needs and policy questions, facilitating communication and access to evidence, facilitating interaction between decision-makers and researchers, and building the skillset required to engage with research.

Indeed, the way we operate is informed by a wide range of academic literature on policymaking. For example, we’re currently exploring alternative approaches to presenting evidence. Research suggests that policy-makers often respond to narratives and case studies which show how policies affect individuals’ every-day lives. Advocates of this line of thinking claim that evidence presented in this way is far more likely to be used. The problem with this approach is that it has implications for the need for academic neutrality and we don’t want to risk compromising the Centre’s impartial status.

Knowledge brokerage is a work in progress, but research suggests that it’s important that the early trial and error approach to facilitating the use of evidence in policymaking doesn’t turn into an unsuitable longer-term strategy. For this reason, we’re refining our ‘theory of change’, i.e. what we want to make happen, how we’re going to do it, and how we’re going to measure whether it’s been done. Further down the line this will allow us to assess whether we have been effective, and what approaches have worked better or worse than others. We know that our model works in our context and have a lot of examples from our work with the Welsh Government to support this. But the challenge is to systematise ways of working and collect clear examples of where and why we have been able to have ‘real-world’ impact.

This article originally appeared on the LSE British Politics and Policy blog

Sarah Quarmby is a Research Assistant at the Wales Centre for Public Policy

Posted On Thursday, 22 November 2018 11:42
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