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Category Archives: Country Post
Based on what I’ve learned this term, I would advise Yayi Boni and the other leaders in Benin to continue to increase their engagement and trade with the outside world. They already have extensive trade relationships with China and France. The country also receives a great deal of aid from the U.S., but hopefully the U.S.’s growing economic engagement in Africa will result in increased trade with Benin. While the country has no obvious U.S. interests or natural resources, it is an attractive trade partner and place for investment due to its track record as one of the most stable democracies on the continent. This appeals to American ideals of democracy and economic liberalism.
Some assessments of Boni’s administration suggest that he has worked to reduce corruption and encourage development. While this may indeed be the case, I would suggest that he and his administration should continue working in this direction. While Benin may be relatively calm and not be as poor as some of its neighbors, it still has a long way to go in terms of economic development, and any efforts that can be made to move the country towards a better economic future should be a top priority. In terms of corruption, it’s not evident exactly how widespread a problem it is in Benin, but Boni’s efforts to crack down on it can only have positive effects on Benin’s future.
Just as a shift in U.S. economic relations with Benin could be beneficial, I think that Benin would be well advised to try to use any pull it has in diplomatic relations or international organizations to move its relations with its top aid donors towards direct investment and trade. Countries that fall into this category include Japan, the Netherlands, and Denmark. While they are all top aid donors, it seems like investment is what has helped Benin develop to where it is now, and increased investment and trade from these countries will help continue that trend.
Another crucial factor in Benin’s future is environmental policy. With the majority of the population living in the coastal region in and around the two largest cities of Cotonou and Porto Novo, the effects of climate change and rising sea levels could be particularly devastating in Benin. This is compounded by the intricate system of waterways and inlets found in the coastal region. Much trade and transportation still takes place via these waterways, as it has since pre-colonial times. A major shift in the water levels would disrupt the economy based on this kind of trade. I would advise current and future administrations to pay special attention to sustainability as they continue to develop the country.
Overall, Benin has done relatively well for itself in terms of political stability and economic development. What will determine the country’s future is how political leaders work to maintain and further improve Benin’s environment, political climate, and economic growth. With such a strong foundation and a history free of major conflict, Benin has the potential to be one of the leaders in development in the region, even if its size may limit it from becoming a dominant economic force like neighboring Nigeria. I sincerely hope that Yayi Boni and his successors will be up to this challenge.
Since its declaration of Independence in the early 1960s, Senegal has come a long way in terms of its political and economic development. In recent years, the country has maintained relations with powerful allies in the US and the EU while managing new relations with up and coming global players like China. These partnerships have yielded a great deal of revenue in the form of international aid, largely off of the strength of Senegal’s progress in democratizing its government and being accountable to its society. Additionally, Senegal has also bolstered its reputation at the international scale by showing that it, at least relative to many of its West African neighbors (Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone certainly not excluded), is a reliable diplomatic force and a state that is committed at least to the idea of infrastructural development and pushing forward modes of good governance.
What is most important for Senegalese leaders moving forward is that given its relationship with foreign players in terms of receiving aid, improving its government’s accountability to its people and building institutions that check the power of national government should be the country’s prime interest. This claim is supported by the fact that for Senegal, the nature of its most important relations with world powers links its ability to democratize and establish good governance with its eligibility to receive large amounts of aid. The implications for Senegal in this regard are both internal and external (i.e. international).
Senegal must realize that on the international level, the most valuable commodities that it can give to its allies are: being a stable democracy, acting as a security and peacekeeping ally in West Africa, and serving as a pocket of moral influence and example in its sub-region. These factors, for the most part (excluding the contracts and development opportunities that China extracts from Senegal) are what the world powers want Senegal. These allies are less concerned about the produce and resources they can offer: the total dollar amount of revenue that Senegal collected from exports in 2011 was only just over $2 Billion dollars. Countries in the West, like France, rely on Senegal more for its military support and its army bases. Countries like the United States, that values democratic allies in particular, would like to see Senegal improve the strength of its judicial branch and check against the power of the executive branch of the national government- these countries are more than willing to give aid money in exchange for these expectations and services. Senegal should use these qualities as a point of bargaining power as part of its foreign policy strategy.
Furthermore, the Senegalese government must recognize that in terms of Senegal’s economy, the promise of more aid money is increasingly becoming tied to demonstrating good governance and political development. In other words, there is a growing trend for international organizations and donor countries to make their aid packages conditional, favoring conditions in particular that encourage good governance: allowing freedom of press, eliminating political corruption, establishing government bodies that improve accountability, making sure that the constitution limits the power of the executive, and myriad other indicators (Santiso, 2001).Currently, President Macky Sall has worked to express his intentions to keep Senegal on the path to becoming a democratic and free country: he is working to reinstitute the constitutional term limits of the presidency as well reverting to the former term length of 5 years (from 7 years). If president Sall oversaw the creation advisory committees that monitored corruption, worked on legislation to make the judicial bodies stronger, and endowed the parliament with more powers to veto decisions by the president, Western countries are more likely to have strong incentive to give more money. Some aid programs, like the oft-mentioned Millenium Challenge Corporation, reward countries that are on a clear path to political development and democratization with aid money to pursue proposed infrastructural projects. This money can and probably should be used not just to make more roads and create jobs but to build medical centers and invest in healthcare programs for the more than half of the population who lacks appropriate medical attention on a daily basis.
Over the course of this term, we have gained a comprehensive understanding of African international politics. While there are many cases of similar countries, one thing to take away is that because Africa is so large and spans a wide range of political, environmental, and social climates, it is important for policy makers and scholars to really take the time to assess each African country as its own and stray away from making large generalizations. This definitely holds true for a country like Cape Verde. Cape Verde is undoubtedly one of the most stable countries in Africa. While it doe suffer its own form of corruption, in terms of violence the country has not had a violent conflict since the 1970s. However, weak institutions have left the country extremely poor and dependent on aid from various sources. While the U.S. and Europe are some of the major donors to the country, China has also emerged as a powerful force. In terms of engagement, Cape Verde needs to find a way to do more to have a voice on the continent. Because of its location, the islands of Cape Verde are more quickly associated with the autonomous regions of the Azores islands or Madeira (which are autonomous regions of Portugal). Though it is a part of ECOWAS, Cape Verde needs to find ways in which to engage more economically with the other members of the organization. This is where its location can play a major role as it opens up West Africa to not only the Western market but also to Europe and the other autonomous islands in the area. The Cape Verdean government should attempt to make this more of an important issue. Overall however, Cape Verde’s engagement with the other West African countries is stable however it would be interesting to see what would happen if Portugal treated the island nation as another protectorate
On the other hand though, I do think Cape Verde should continue to be a pioneer of human development in Africa. While a large portion of its economy does rely on aid and remittances, the strides the country has made in terms of poverty reduction and infrastructure development is commendable. Cape Verde is still one of the only African countries to be awarded a second Millennium Contract. This millions dollar contract gives the country money to develop infrastructure projects such as new roads, water line development and much more. I would urge the government to continue to hold these projects as some of the top issues for the country. Brain drain is also a big issue for Cape Verde. With more Cape Verdeans living outside of the islands, there needs to be a better way to develop professions at home. With many skilled workers and minds leaving the country it will be hard for the Cape Verde to develop in a way that promotes Africans. Undoubtedly Cape Verde needs a lot of help in order to become a strong nation. However if it continues to promote good governance and have more program that benefit the people then it is well on its way.
The next decade in Angolan politics will be an important one to watch. Questions of democracy, corruption, and economic development hang in the balance. My major recommendations for Angola are to focus on holding a second round of presidential elections, implement additional regulations on the use of oil revenues, diversify the economy, and continue to use its oil power in negotiations with foreign powers.
Angola held its first presidential election in 2012, and being able to hold another even more democratic election will be an important sign of progress. Additionally, a transition of power would be an important sign of both the political stability of the country and the truth in its claims of being a multiparty democracy. Additionally, the government has an important role to play in the regulation of oil revenues. Angola’s oil wealth could be used to spread economic and social development throughout the country, but much of it is lost to corruption. As I have noted in previous posts, the syphoning of funds from the oil and diamond industries is a pressing problem. At the moment, I think that significant change in corruption is unlikely, as maintaining the status quo is important to maintaining the power of the dos Santos regime. If, however, there is a regime change, the regulation of corruption may change.
It is also important that Angola focus on diversifying its economy. Oil and diamonds create a lot of revenue for Angola, but relying on these natural resources cannot create sustainable development in the long term. Investing this wealth in other domestic industries, such as manufacturing or service industries, could be an important step toward sustainable development. Additionally, Angola must continue to exercise its power in negotiations with foreign investors and donors, such as China and the U.S. Recently the Angolan government has pushed back against China’s oil-for-infrastructure deals, and Angola must continue to exercise this type of agency in negotiations with foreign powers. Angola is a country with significant natural resource wealth, and it must remember that countries like China and the U.S. need those natural resources. The Angolan government should continue to leverage this fact in order to meet its own development needs.
After a long semester my knowledge of international politics in general—not only within Africa—has grown immensely. In the case of my country Mozambique I believe there is great hope going forward, indications of which we have already seen in recent years. This optimism does rest on certain conditionals however if the country is to overcome the “development traps” described by Gordon.
Mozambique’s recent economic growth has been a result of its increased mineral production and export—especially coal. It is important that in the short term the country continue to create jobs farther down the commodity chain, for example with its Mozal smelter which has also significantly boosted export earnings recently. These revenues can be relied on in the short term but I believe the government should be looking in another direction: that of agriculture.
Currently, 81% of citizens are involved in small-scale farming (CIA WFB), many at the subsistence level. This creates a tremendous opportunity for the country to become a food exporter by fostering innovation in this sector. Introducing new technology and farming techniques, while avoiding massive, large-scale farms will enable Mozambicans to produce a greater surplus while continuing to provide for themselves. Internationally, grains and other foodstuffs are becoming increasingly valuable and will continue to do so—the same can hardly be said for coal in the long-term.
In doing so Mozambique must avoid the increasing amount of land-grabbing that has occurred on the continent (for example by China), and needs to pursue models that export but that keep land ownership in the hands of locals. Gordon discusses how Bangladesh has gone in this direction and provided training to farmers in order to secure a percentage of production from certain African nations.
At the same time, triangulating between Washington consensus-esque strategies and the new ‘Beijing Consensus’ will allow the country to avoid dependence (or colonial relationships) with both the East and West. Recent growth should allow policy makers to be more issue driven and less consumed by exports and the nation’s GDP. In doing so regional cooperation is a great way to partner with neighboring countries and foster more South-to-South relationships.
Turning towards foreign aid, Mozambique needs avoid dependency and mismanagement and work on partnering with donors rather than simply being a recipient in order to capitalize on foreign involvement. Part of this should include the continuation of efforts to stamp out HIV in the country, which we have seen is debilitating for individuals and nations. USAID and PEPFAR have helped in this and efforts should be made to partner with these programs to train and proliferate medical practices.
Lastly Mozambique must invest in infrastructure for transport, energy and information technology. These public goods lay the foundations for further development and will also stimulate foreign investment and will empower Mozambicans, especially those living rurally, which many do.
The current state of Madagascar is one of political and economical instability. President Ravalomanana was re-elected in 2006 but then ousted by Andry Rajoelina in 2009 with the help of the military. Even though Rajoelina is recognized by few as President, there has not been a legitimate elected head of state since 2006. After taking power Rajoelina dissolved the National Assembly and the Senate, leaving Madagascar without a legislative body. Although Madagascar was suffering from high levels of poverty before the coup d’état in 2009, levels of economic instability have severely increased since then. In 2009, their GDP was estimated at 8.6 billion USD with 69% of the population living below the poverty line of just one dollar a day. The agricultural sector, manufacturing sector and tourism were the largest contributors to the nations GDP. However, all have decreased due to political instability since 2009. Imports were 52% of Madagascar’s GDP including food, fuel, capital goods, vehicles, consumer goods, and electronics. Many of the roads in Madagascar are still unpaved and are impassable during the rainy season. As of 2009, only 6.8% of Madagascar had access to water while only 9.5% had access to electricity. There is very little access to medical care. In 2010, Madagascar had on average three hospital beds per 10,000 people. While there were a little over 3,000 doctors, 5,000 nurses, 175 pharmacists and 57 dentist to provide for the nations population of 22 million. Radio broadcasts remain the principle means by which citizens receive international, national and local news. Most of the radio stations are owned and monitored by the government. Media censorship has always been a problem in Madagascar, with reporters being occasionally harassed and other media outlets being forced to close. The United States and many other international agents have severely decreased investment and aid to Madagascar due to the coup d’état. Before the 2009, foreign aid was 40% of the Malagasy governments budget and 75% of investments in public spending. The World Bank reports that Madagascar has lost more than 400 million in donor support.
It is clear that political stability must be reinforced in Madagascar so as to see an increase in development. However, the necessity to create a political sound and stable regime should be emphasized rather than immediate action. As Gordon points out in chapter 13, many African countries that were pushed to enact western policies failed to implement structures that were sustainable in the long run. Madagascar development fully depends on regaining international aid and investments. However, given the history of political corruption and failings, the democratic regime needs to be credible in order to create an environment where aid and investments can help the economy flourish. The current discourse about Madagascar’s political future does not imply that this will be the result. In 2012, Rajoelina and Ravalomanana both agreed that democratic election could ensue without the threat of either of them running. However, in January of 2013 Rajoelina announced that he will be running for re-election this year due to the fact that Ravalomanana’s wife, Lalao Ravalomanana, will also be running. There are approximately thirty other candidates running, but Rajoelina and Ravalomanana have dictated the political arena for over a decade that much of the attention falls on them. Other forms of deceit have occurred such as Rajoelina continuously changing elections dates or Rajoelina holding a referendum in 2010 in order to change the constitution. Regardless if elections are held in 2013, it is a fair assumption the political ideals in Madagascar have not changed.
Madagascar may have been one of the many African countries that implemented a democracy that wasn’t entrenched in democratic ideals. The country still lacks freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The United States and other international actors cutting aid and administering sanctions was a positive form of international pressure to the political leaders in Madagascar. However this has only exacerbated poverty for citizens while the political instability is now reaching its fourth year. The main focus of Madagascar should be to create a better political structure. One possibility is to increase competition in Madagascar so as to end the polarization of control from these two parties. International agents could invest in different local politicians or parties so as to create a more abundant race to the top. However this will not be possible without creating a space where free speech is promoted and voting becomes a process that is free from dishonorable handling. The international community could also invest in agencies, municipalities and other authoritative groups that are not directly tied to the government and entice them to invest in public services. It is clear that Madagascar, although a democracy, is missing a system of checks and balances. Supporting and working to give local, judiciary and legislative branches a stronger presence in the political realm could also help to alleviate the polarization of power. Madagascar is suffering from political instability but solely electing a president will not be the solution. Drastic change towards political responsibility, accountability, citizen involvement, competitive elections and a stronger legislative and judicial branch can help to create a foundation. This foundation can thus use aid to provide better public services and investments in numerous sectors to create a robust work force.
Ploch, Lauren and Cook, Nicolas Madagascar’s Political Crisis Congressional Research Service (June 2012) http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R40448.pdf (Accessed 2 April 2013)
E.F. Who Will Take Over? The Economist (January 2013) http://www.economist.com/blogs/baobab/2013/01/malagasy-politics?zid=304&ah=e5690753dc78ce91909083042ad12e30 Accessed 4-8-13
ABC World News Madagascar’s President to Run for Re-Election (May 2013) ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/madagascars-president-run-election-19109375#.UYooysiYbIg Accessed 4-8-13
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madagascar Accessed 4-8-13
Goran Hyden’s article African Politics in Comparative Perspectives and Gorden’s Chapter “Trends and Perspectives” both analyze the future of Africa’s development. Gordon’s chapter has outlined a variety of issues that Africa still needs to address including technological disadvantages, local business development, poverty reduction, debt reduction, attracting other investments other than those tied to natural resources and improvements in education are the few that Gordon touches upon. An aspect of Gordon’s reading that I saw when researching Sierra Leone and my assigned country, Madagascar, was encouragement from international agents to implement western policies that didn’t necessarily help development issues. The 1990s was the time that many African countries underwent democratic and economic reforms (Gordon 417). Many African countries complied with creating democracies in order to continue receiving investment and aid, but these were falsified forms of democracy. Many of these corrupt regimes held onto their patriarchal ideals, and rarely invested in the public. I see this as an example of the overarching problem: disconnect between African countries and international agents.
Hyden articulates this problem by using the more general subject of foreign aid. Many investors assume that the government to which they give money to believe in the same principles of good governance and that they have the financial and operational capacity to keep track of what happens with the funds (Hyden, 255). However that is not the reality and countries such as Sierra Leone and Madagascar serve as examples. A large portion of aid and investments are put into the hands of “well-placed individual” that are looking for “attractive opportunities to make quick gain[s]” (Hyden, 252). Hyden believes that foreign aid tends to have the effect of reducing the pressure on these governments to take political responsibility (Hyden, 257). African governments need to have a growing dependence on their domestic arena rather than foreign resources. This needs to happen in order for many of these countries to see a sustainable future.
However, this does not imply that experts should address all African countries the same or with the same ideals. Many western experts to tend to lean heavily on western principles of governance without thinking how well or badly they fit into local African processes (Hyden, 253). A new group of experts have emerged in the recent decades as economists, lawyers and political scientist who approach Africa in a theoretical sense rather than one that is more specific to certain countries. Similarly, there has been a shift away from donor involvement (Hyden, 254). African countries need international experts that are addressing their needs on a more specific country-by-country basis and external actors need to be more connected to the internal actors in these African countries.
I thought this article was mostly trying to articulate the importance of creating politically sound environments in African countries so as to create viable spaces that investment and foreign aid can flourish. Hyden calls for a more pragmatic approach that pushes for interventions and policy prescriptions that aren’t imposed from the outside (Hyden, 259). Characters involved must agree and participate on formal rules established on how to behave in the public realm (Hyden, 262). The limitations set by external debt and trade barriers need to allow African governments to have more control, but other actors such as independent executive agencies continuously need to be created as to have a check and balance system on where money is being allocated. This coupled with legal public institutions handling funds can help to have aid well governed and held accountable for. Mismanagement of foreign aid is large portion of Africa’s problem. However that problem can be addressed if a complex system is created internally and externally as to create accountability.
The two things that Zimbabwe needs to focus on moving forward are the revamping of its agricultural sector and a government shift towards being concerned with the interest of all the country’s people. As a young independent country Zimbabwe had a very strong agricultural industry and there needs to be a return to food production for both local consumption and international trade. Whether it be Mugabe’s regime or a different one, Zimbabwe needs to adopt a governing structure that has the people’s best interests in mind.
I think that the Land Reform Programme needed to happen but it was carried out in a way that was cruel and irresponsible, aggressively dislocating previous farmers and more importantly, giving the land to political party members unqualified to manage the land. Zimbabwe needs to run a large scale education program for landowners on how to effectively farm all the land and provide the materials necessary to farmers. One way this could be achieved is through a deal with China, ensuring the delivery of industrial farming equipment for a promise of a share in the agricultural products over the course of the next decade. Parts of Zimbabwe are experiencing famine and the first priority will be to create a distribution network of food within the country. When the agricultural sector has returned to past productivity Zimbabwe can consider exporting, both regionally and globally.
Mugabe’s regime has been notoriously mismanaged, giving power to people because of their party affiliation or ethnic group, regardless of the candidate’s concern with Zimbabwean people. Zimbabwe (like all governments in the world) needs transparency to ensure that positions are being given to people who are concerned with Zimbabwean issues and not gaining power in a political regime. Because Mugabe and his regime have been largely refuted by the Western world, Zimbabwe has been protected by a lot of the negative impacts Hyden outlined that foreign aid imposes on a government. It could be argued however that certain aid related pitfalls still plague Zimbabwe due to its relationship with China, in particular the dependency and the declining public accountability. The political science-based approach to reform that Hyden discusses which are most relevant to Zimbabwe are the need to think in the long term and create partnerships with foreign countries that have Zimbabwe and its people’s best interests in mind, not just the regime currently in place.
Other industries that could be reevaluated are the industrial industry and the tourist industry. Tourism dropped by 75% after the Land Reform programme and many people lost their jobs. Zimbabwe lies in an area with a lot of tourist traffic (that now goes through either Zambia or Mozambique instead) and could stand to make a lot of money off of a well regulated tourist industry. Zimbabwe could also eventually look to starting to produce industrial goods with all the raw materials being gathered in the country. Zimbabwe currently exports all the minerals from Zimbabwean mines while finding ways to create more jobs with those materials locally could create another market.
If most of the things mentioned are done, Zimbabwe would fall back into favor with the West. This is not to say that Zimbabwe should begin to take aid from the West but being on positive terms paves the path towards economic agreements such as trading which could be mutually beneficial. As many of my posts (and my research paper) have probably indicated, I don’t think Mugabe is the man that can make these changes happen. He is a relic of an old Africa, too focused on keeping his chokehold on power to worry about Zimbabweans themselves. Zimbabwe needs a new wave of politicians who realize that what is best for the people of Zimbabwe contributes to a strong country and in turn what is best for the government itself.
Throughout the semester, I have been rather disheartened by the chaotic political instability that has plagued this nation for generations now. With a temporary interim government in place, and a massive drug industry controlled by the military. the African nation of Guinea-Bissau requires a huge restructuring of politics with the help of regional and international organizations. Outside, non-affiliated forces need to step in and allow for democratic processes to establish a new civil government. The military also requires a vast investigation into its corrupt policies and relationship to the rampant drug economy that is so interwoven in Guinea-Bissau. Since this drug trafficking phenomenon does not benefit most Guineans, and in fact most of the money remains in foreign or elite hands, it is therefore not detrimental to the economy of Guinea-Bissau, or the wellbeing and livelihoods of its citizens to eradicate this trafficking.
The interim government that has been established has proven a barrier to much of the foreign aid the nation could be receiving from international actors like the EU. For this aid to return, Guinea-Bissau needs to hold democratic public elections. There needs to be no corruption within the process (as we have seen how corruption can create conflicts during election periods in nations like Kenya).
Guinea-Bissau is known for violations such as torture, poor conditions of detention, lack of judicial independence and due process, interference with privacy, restrictions on the freedoms of the press and assembly, violence and discrimination against women, trafficking of children, and child labor. There has been inability to hold corrupts officials accountable to these violations as well. There have been several reports of arbitrary killings potentially committed by government agents.
In conjunction with the December 2011 killings of Vladimir Cotta and Yaya Dabo, PAIGC member of Parliament Roberto Cacheu disappeared and, after the release of other suspects in those events, was presumed dead. Members of the former government were allegedly responsible (AllAfrica).
Police were ineffective, poorly and irregularly paid, and corrupt. Transit police often demanded bribes from vehicle drivers whether their documents and vehicles were in order or not. Lack of police detention facilities frequently resulted in prisoners walking out of custody during investigations. The transition government has taken steps to increase the number of police vehicles and patrols on the streets in Bissau, which contributed to a drop in petty crimes in some of Bissau’s least-developed neighborhoods (AllAfrica).
It has been about a year since the coup in April 2012 occurred. The interim government had originally declared plans to have ended by now. There needs to be a set deadline for democratic, free and open elections for the entire nation soon, otherwise the international and regional communities will become increasingly more unsettled and potentially less willing to deal with or invest in Guinea-Bissau as a nation. As an incredibly poor nation with little factor endowments or natural resources, Guinea-Bissau cannot afford to lose any more investments or aid. A more legitimate and transparent civil government is necessary for the willing support of the international community.
Guinea-Bissau is eleventh from the bottom on the UN Human Development Index. Economic growth is key to the development of the country and to the fight for the eradication of severe poverty throughout the country. The coup has been incredibly detrimental to the economy, halting payments from international donors. Investors were already hesitant over investing in the nation, due to its long history of political instability. Guinea-Bissau must enforce some semblance of political stability for the sake of its economic future and development.
Kenya, in comparison to many other African countries, has capably managed its relations with the rest of the world. It has maintained a largely neutral role in international politics, a technique that has worked well for the country. Therefore I suggest it maintain the status quo.
This may become more difficult as time passes and the US becomes more concerned with China’s growing power in the region. Although neutrality is certainly preferred, China is the more important player (or soon will be) and should be treated as such. USAID to Kenya is certainly not a discountable figure, but I suspect it will grow smaller as terrorism in Africa moves farther away from the national political consciousness. Also, given the rampant corruption, USAID probably does not help the average Kenyan as much as Chinese investment does. The United States is still an incredibly important player on the global stage, and Kenya should maintain and even prioritize its positive relationship with the USA. Nevertheless its first priority should be cultivating a good relationship with China.
India must also stay on Kenya’s radar. The two countries already have significant trade relations, and they are tied by the population of Indian immigrants living in Kenya. As India vaults to economic power, their relationship will become more and more important. As with China, Kenya must focus on cultivating these relationships before they become essential. The situation is similar concerning the other BRIC countries, although Russia and Brazil are not quite as important as China and India. Nevertheless Kenya already has great relationships with all of the BRICs and it should do its best to maintain these.
The greatest problems in Kenya are corruption and ethnic tension. These are obviously domestic issues, but a failure to address them could affect Kenya’s international relations. Foreign aid, as an institution, has received more and more criticism. Much of the concern is over corruption reducing, or even entirely negating, the effectiveness of aid. Additionally some academics are worried that foreign aid promotes patronage systems. Kenya, a society strongly rooted in neo-patrimonialism, has often been accused of rampant governmental corruption. In fact in 2006 the World Bank and the IMF delayed loans on the condition that the government take action on corruption (CIA World Factbook). Although the loans recommenced without notable government action, this indicates that international donors are aware of the issue of corruption in Kenya. And as foreign aid is more criticized in general, donors will be more deterred by Kenya’s high levels of corruption. Ethnic tension could become an issue if it becomes violent as in the 2007 elections. Any serious violence would not only be extremely harmful for the country, but would harm Kenya’s reputation as a stable and reliable African country, potentially having negative long-lasting impacts on trade.
As it has been doing Kenya must cultivate strong relationships with the BRICS, focusing on India and China. At the same time it should continue to maintain a positive relationship with the United States. Finally it must address ethnic tension and extensive corruption for the consequences of failing to do so could be tragic, both domestically and for Kenya’s international relations.