It seems that the world is facing 'The Great Recession' (a catchy term coined by IMF MD Mr Dominique Strauss-Kahn on Monday). He was attending a conference in Dar es Salaam, warning that Africa and the poorest countries of the world stand to be hard hit by the economic crisis, due in part to the fact that demand for African export products will drop. 'world trade is falling at an alarming rate and commodity prices have tumbled.'
I know it sounds naive and highly controversial but a little part of me wonders if the global economic crisis will really be so bad for Africa in the long term? It must be good to see for once that the West is by no means invincible and also makes mistakes.
The good(ish) news for Africa (sorry) is that while the rest of the world's economic growth slows to 0% or below, Africa's slow down won't be quite so bad. In Africa it is predicted to average 3%. In Kenya last year economic growth was around 7% I believe and before the election scuppered things there were hopes that it might reach 9%. On the ground, there is still a building boom going on in Nairobi and property prices have not ceased to skyrocket. Banks are reporting 50% and even 100% profits and there is currently plenty of activity in the city in spite of the higher cost of living and tragically starvation in other parts of the country.
KofiAnnan popped into Kenya today but we don't yet know exactly what he is up to. Hopefully he is busy pasting overcracks between Kibaki and Odinga in the shaky coalition. The latest row between them concerned the handling of an investigation into the recent murder of two Oscar Foundation members. A recent US envoy told Kenya (in slightly different words than mine), 'clean up your act and address the problem of corruption in Government if you want to get anything out of your relationship with Obama.' The pressure to address corruption problems is building.
The popularity of Kenyan politicians is at an all time low. The radio networks are launching a second '24 hours for Kenya' food initiative tomorrow, once again seeking donations from the public for those people starving due to the drought. For instance, Kiss FM is broadcasting messages that say: 'the politicians are not standing with us, so instead we must stand together as Kenyans and fight starvation.' Last time 172 tons of food were donated in twenty four hours and has since been distributed country wide. The target this time is 200 tons and 2 million shillings to be spent on transportation.
On Tuesday university students protested in the town centre against extra-judicial killings by the police. As the day wore on the peaceful protest (inevitably?) turned violent and there was looting and destruction of property in the CBD. They were campaigning to sack the head of police Hussein Ali, Attorney General Amos Wako and Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua, as was recommended in Philip Alston's report.
Michaela Wrong (author of 'it's our time to eat') and other foreign reporters like to predict a total meltdown in Kenya, even civil war but let's hope they are wrong. Kenyans are doing their best to address their problems, joining together in crisis and criticising corrupt leaders for their blatant failures.
In light of the fact that the developed world does not seem to have done such a good job in managing things on the home front recently, perhaps there is some hope that Africa will emerge from this horrible time a little bit stronger, maybe more independent if only for the fact that perhaps, in thrifty times, the Western world is less likely to be guiltily throwing money at 'poor old Africa' without bothering to watch where it lands. Who knows, could the 'aid to africa' shebang be finally put under an 'effectiveness' microscope. UN and aid consultants should be made to justify their shiny new Toyota Landcruisers and hefty travel/living allowances through real results.
Nobody wants more suffering or loss of jobs/income but Africa is more used to hard times than the West. Could the fall of the Developed world be the making of the Undeveloped or will everyone be caught in the downward spiral together?