Andrea Bohnstedt

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...

Resource Control Fuelling Bush Fights

Saturday, January 25, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
Control over resources fuelling Africa's bush fights Southern Sudan’s government and rebel factions have finally signed a ceasefire agreement, even though there are widespread doubts whether this will be a stop towards the resolution of the current conflict: In the FT, Gerard Prunier is quoted describing it as ‘a signature . . . will be a formal, face-saving device without practical effect on the ground’. Writing in Foreign Policy magazine, George Ayittey argues more generally: ‘Face-to-face negotiations only succeed when factional leaders want peace or are forced to pay a price for the...

With Minimal Corruption Anything Is Possible

Saturday, January 11, 2014 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
This week, David Ndii published an article in the Nation, ‘Why you’re still struggling to make ends meet’, in which he argued that this would even be the case if the economy were growing by seven per cent or 10 per cent. He recalls how he and his colleagues in the task force writing the Economic Recovery Strategy (ERS). The focus was going to be employment and wealth creation rather than what he calls ‘poverty business’ – something that he accuses the Moi government of: ‘We strongly advised Narc against going in for a big aid funded programme too early, as these had the habit of unraveling...

Why taking sides might be a riskier gamble in S Sudan

Saturday, December 28, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
If you look back in history, it can be deceptively easy to make a country. Remember the Berlin Conference where colonial powers sat down with a map and a ruler and divided up Africa into lots of countries (which, of course, had little to do with existing populations’ territories, and continues to cause problems until today)? Making a state, however, is a far more challenging undertaking, and despite what all those ‘capacity building’ development professionals tell you, there is simply no make-a-modern-state kit, no easy, quick, five-year-project-plan solutions. South Sudan – which the...

Parastatal clean up will be a bitter pill to swallow

Saturday, December 14, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
Some recent good news, possibly a double dose of it. For one, the presidential task force on parastatal reforms recently presented their suggestions on how to streamline the parastatal sector. And not a day too soon. That the parastatal sector was way too expansive is hardly news (I do remember reading a public expenditure review, a surprisingly interesting one, by Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o back when he was minister of planning and development under the first Kibaki administration in which he drew attention to the fact that there was a profusion of ministries and parastatals that needed to be...

Counties Need To Justify The Need For Devolved Government

Saturday, November 30, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
If you want to invest in Kenya from now on, you’ll probably need to deal with a county governor and/or the county government at some point of time. Whether or not this is better or worse than dealing with GoK is still not clear, although, since you won’t be able to escape GoK anyway, it probably doesn’t matter much – I suspect it will, in most cases, just add another layer of complications. Devolution is great in principle. Devolution in reality is a lot trickier: even in a properly run country, such a complex, large-scale transition would still be a significant challenge. In a country with...

Proposed NGO Regulation Sits Quite Uneasy With Me

Saturday, November 16, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY ANDREA BOHNSTEDT
It Is so easy to mock NGOs. I know, because I do it all the time. Charities may be charitable, but they are not unselfish. It is worth bearing in mind that NGOs – like aid agencies – are run by people. People want jobs, and incomes, and influence and to do things (we all do). So there is an inherent incentive to not resolve an issue: what if poverty were actually ended? All jobs would go up in a puff of smoke. This is possibly a bit extreme – poverty is so widespread that it is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon (and I doubt it will be resolved by NGOs). But you see the issue. If you were...

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