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Andrea Bohnstedt

Land Is The Genesis Of Kenya's Complex Conflicts

Saturday, July 12, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
I feel for Mzee, I really do: Kenya is such a fractious country already, it can’t be easy running it. And then you have Al Shabaab to contend with, and after their Westgate gig, now CORD seemingly encroaching on their business. Plus the rains weren’t very good this year. It must be quite taxing to be Kenya’s president, and noisy, too, what with all those rallies and MCAs throwing chairs and rotten eggs at each other. And now it appears that those 30,000 hectares of land that he owned in Tana are also at risk – in the words of the esteemed poetess Sitawa, the third Namwalie: ‘Oops, I lost my...

How Risk Assessments Work For Eurobonds

Saturday, June 28, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
I have heard mostly two reactions to Kenya’s oversubscribed Eurobond issue: wild excitement because this is such a vote of confidence by investors (and also, hey, LOADSA CASH!) and ‘wait, how does that work exactly? So much money even though Kenya has all these corruption and security problems?’ So what is it ‑ a vote of confidence? Well, yes and no. A sovereign bond is not the only kind of investment. In fact, it is a very different kind of investment decision than, say, considering investing in a factory out in industrial area. An investor in a sovereign bond will lend to the issuing...

Flinging Cash Not A Solution To Youth Jobs

Saturday, June 14, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
One column cycle later, security is still on my mind: Not that Eaton Carey’s life is inherently worth more than that of people who are shot dead without being covered in the papers. But his killing, apart from getting media coverage, also affected me more because it was in my circle of contacts: mutual friends, mutual work contacts, the tech industry that I write about occasionally. Silicon Savannah: yes, it’s all mobile and apps and tech hubs and competitions and M-PESA – and also yet another violent death. Not terrorism, just plain old, business-as-usual violent Nairobi crime. And then...

Security Matters Crucial For Economic Growth

Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
Kenya Army officers heading to the Somali to fight the Alshabaab.
Kenya Army officers heading to the Somali to fight the Alshabaab.
When the last explosions happened in Nairobi, my mum and my aunt checked in to see if I was ok, and I very nearly said that statistically I was probably still at a much greater risk of getting mugged and shot at my gate – but did not, because I somehow suspected that it would not really reassure them (If they read this column, my cover is blown. I will be careful, Mami!). Terrorism is, as President Kenyatta rightly said, not exclusive to Kenya. But the fact that people regularly worry about getting mugged violently at their gate (or maybe just getting held up at gunpoint by guys on motorbikes...

The Maasai 'Shuka' Has Evolved Into A Brand

Saturday, May 17, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
The piece I wrote on intellectual property protection in Kenya a few weeks ago was reposted a good bit, so it seemed to have struck a nerve with a few people. Here is another one that has been rattling around my head recently: In a Refinery article I posted on Facebook, a red and blue checked fabric, was described as 'Buffalo Plaid', prompting one of the Focus Group (aka Facebook friends) to point that it was actually the Maasai fabric. You may remember the uproar when Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer collection 2012 featured those red and blue Maasai checks. Of course that red and blue checked...

Shame Of The Anglo Leasing Payments

Saturday, May 3, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
Southern Sudan is, as we all know, a sad, sorry mess at the moment. This is very depressing, but it is also unsurprising. If you have spent a bit of time learning about the history of Southern Sudan, you will recognise the pattern quite easily. The region has a long history not just of civil war with the north of what was back then Sudan, but also a long history of southern infighting. Re-reading ‘Emma’s War’ a little while ago reminded me of that quite strongly, the narration of the Bor massacre, for example, was a painful déjà vu. So a bit of memory is useful. And I am worried about the...

Entrepreneurs Must Respect Intellectual Property Rights

Saturday, April 5, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
Reading Amani Craft’s blog post, you can be forgiven for quickly giving in to a knee-jerk reaction – what a horrid bitch this woman must be to go after a group of poor women, in the slums no less, trying to sell their beads: Under the headline ‘Who is Penny Winter and why is he bullying us?’, Amani Crafts wrote: ‘We are so upset today, we have received a letter from a British woman’s solicitor telling us we can't make African jewelry and beads made from paper anymore. She has even threatened us with Gwyneth Paltrow, we did not even know what that was. It seems this woman’s company has claimed...

Performing Arts Will Not Uplift Slum Youth

Saturday, March 22, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
There was an intriguing little piece of writing titled ‘Gangs of Nairobi' published on the British Guardian website, as part of a series called ‘Cities in Development – from the global development professionals network’, and sponsored by DAI, a development consulting firm. The article is about Nairobi’s Mathare slum. What surprised me – and colour me ignorant here, because I do know very little about slums – was that women reportedly have a relatively stronger position in Mathare. For one, the author argues, the number of women in Mathare was higher as a result of post-colonional migration...

Matatu Crew And Poachers Are Mere Pawns

Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
Some of the striking matatu operators at Globe Roundabout.Photo/File
Some of the striking matatu operators at Globe Roundabout.Photo/File
The matatu strike looked chaotic, didn’t it? It created massive traffic chaos, something that long-suffering Nairobians needed like a bullet in the head (of which they also get more than they need, and you need roughly zero of that). But there is method to the madness: it may have looked chaotic, but it is hardly random chaos. It was very much organised chaos. And as with so many things, the story becomes much clearer if you follow the money trail. The matatu industry said that they protested over increased parking rates. Compared to the rates for private cars, the new matatu rates did not...

Obsession With Quantity is Kenya's main undoing

Saturday, February 22, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
JUBILEE FLAGSHIP PROJECT: One Laptop Per Child Programme.
JUBILEE FLAGSHIP PROJECT: One Laptop Per Child Programme.
The Economist has a short article on Kenya’s Free Primary Education programme this week, pointing out two crucial, ...umm, challenges (back in my development consulting days, I was told that there were no problems, just ‘challenges’) that it’s not free, and that it’s also not very educational. There may be no school fees as such anymore, but there are certainly plenty of other fees – the Economist mentions a ‘signing on fee’ and an ‘admission fee’. I have also heard of ‘desk fees’, ‘motivation fees’ for teachers and other similar charges. What is even more frustrating, the Economist argues,...

Locals Should Benefit From Mineral Deals

Saturday, February 8, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
Have you followed this? It’s a new report on the extractive industries development in the north of the country looking at the actions of three exploration companies and how they interact with the locals. Land is held on a customary basis and the residents have found it difficult to obtain land titles. As a consequence, discussions about compensation for exploration are difficult – and it is not entirely clear whether the exploration firms have actually pursued those, or if they do eventually, whether they do so in good faith. The locals say that the exploration firms simply turn up in their...

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