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05-DEC-2016 :: "Somehow we are picking up signals from radio programmes of 40, 50, 60 years ago."
Don DeLillo, who is a prophetic 21st writer, writes as follows in one
of his short stories:
The specialist is monitoring data on his mission console when a voice
breaks in, “a voice that carried with it a strange and unspecifiable
He checks in with his flight-dynamics and conceptual- paradigm
officers at Colorado Command:
“We have a deviate, Tomahawk.”
“We copy. There’s a voice.”
“We have gross oscillation here.”
“ There’s some interference. I have gone redundant but I’m not sure
“We are clearing an outframe to locate source.”
“ Thank you, Colorado.”
“It is probably just selective noise. You are negative red on
the step-function quad.”
“It was a voice,” I told them.
“We have just received an affirm on selective noise... We will
correct, Tomahawk. In the meantime, advise you to stay redundant.”
The voice, in contrast to Colorado’s metallic pidgin, is a melange of
repartee, laughter, and song, with a “quality of purest, sweetest
“Somehow we are picking up signals from radio programmes of 40, 50, 60
“There are dead stars that still shine because their light is trapped
in time. Where do I stand in this light, which does not strictly
exist?” ― Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis
Blackwater founder held secret Seychelles meeting to establish Trump-Putin back channel
Law & Politics
The United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between
Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a Russian close to President Vladi
mir Putin as part of an apparent effort to establish a back-channel
line of communication between Moscow and President-elect Donald Trump,
according to U.S., European and Arab officials.
The meeting took place around Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s
inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean,
officials said. Though the full agenda remains unclear, the UAE agreed
to broker the meeting in part to explore whether Russia could be
persuaded to curtail its relationship with Iran, including in Syria, a
Trump administration objective that would be likely to require major
concessions to Moscow on U.S. sanctions.
The Pink Star diamond.Photographer: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images
Hong Kong-based jewelry retailer Chow Tai Fook bought a 59.6 carat
pink diamond for about $71 million, setting the world record for the
top auction price for any gem. The stone has an unusual distinction:
it has attracted even higher bids in the past.
The jeweler made the HK$553 million winning bid for the Pink Star,
ending a five-minute contest that included three phone bidders,
Sotheby’s said Tuesday. The oval-shaped diamond dethroned the
Oppenheimer Blue, which fetched $58 million in May at Christie’s.
Congo's Kabila and the Dictator's Dilemma NYT
if Mr. Kabila does not go willingly, he makes his departure
increasingly likely to be accompanied by armed violence. Congo’s
president finds himself in a dictator’s dilemma. If he gives up
control of the military and remains in Congo, he and his immense
wealth become targets for his enemies. Mr. Kabila would most likely
need guarantees of protection, or have to live in exile. The longer he
defies the Constitution, however, the harder it will become to cajole
him to hold elections, and possibly leave.
Congo streets deserted as millions heed 'dead cities' call FT
Millions of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s main cities
heeded an opposition call to stay at home on Monday in protest at the
collapse of talks to end the country’s escalating political crisis,
leaving streets largely deserted.
“It’s becoming increasingly clear that he wants to stay in power as
long as he can,” said a Kinshasa-based western diplomat. “He’s
probably hoping the opposition campaign will run out of steam.”
The Man Who Would Be King of Congo Foreign Policy
Tshisekedi is facing strong headwinds as he attempts to live up to his
illustrious name. But if and when the elections happen — whether in
2017 or years from now — he will be forced to reveal the extent of his
ambitions. If he does covet the presidency, he will first need to
sever his alliance with Katumbi and the G7, which will clearly be wary
of empowering him. Kabila is surely rooting for such a rupture and for
Tshisekedi and Katumbi to become their own worst enemies.
Zuma's Early Exit No Sure Thing in South Africa
Jacob Zuma might be at his weakest point since becoming president of
South Africa in 2009. His sweeping cabinet changes, including the
firing of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, have precipitated a
political crisis to go along with his own scandal-checkered history
and the nation’s economic struggles -- high unemployment, slow growth
and a wide budget deficit. Following the March 31 dismissal of
Gordhan, a favorite of investors who had kept a lid on spending and
pledged to cut debt, S&P Global Ratings cut the nation’s credit rating
to junk for the first time in 17 years. Opposition parties, civic
groups and allies of the ruling African National Congress are
demanding that Zuma quit. He’s not due to step down as party leader
until December and as president in 2019.
1. How is Zuma still holding on?
The campaign by opposition parties and business groups to push him out
won’t succeed without the backing of a significant portion of the ANC,
the nation’s dominant party since the first post-apartheid election in
1994. In the past, the party has closed ranks in the face of
opposition moves against its leaders.
2. Are there any cracks in Zuma’s party support?
Yes. Top leaders, including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, have
criticized Zuma for firing Gordhan. The South African Communist Party
and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, both ANC allies, are
calling on Zuma to go. But the ANC’s top decision-making group, the
National Executive Committee, has backed Zuma so far because many of
its members owe him for their positions. And there’s no sign of the
groundswell within the party that would be required to really threaten
Zuma’s continued rule.
3. How could he be removed?
While there are clear mechanisms to remove Zuma, it’s no easy task.
The NEC, a group of about 100 party leaders, could decide by majority
vote to call on Zuma to resign as president. This isn’t unprecedented.
The committee forced out then-President Thabo Mbeki in 2008.
Parliament could also act. The speaker, Baleka Mbete, is considering a
request from the two biggest opposition parties, the Democratic
Alliance and the Economic Freedom Front, to call lawmakers back from
their Easter recess for a no-confidence vote. (Zuma survived four
previous such votes.) If such a motion won support from all opposition
members of the 400-seat National Assembly, it would still need 50 of
the ANC’s 249 members to win a majority. Zuma’s opponents are working
to persuade disgruntled ANC members, such as those purged in the
cabinet reshuffle, to turn against him.
5. Are foreign investors fleeing?
Not yet. Yields on South Africa’s government bonds are among the
highest for countries that have at least some debt rated
investment-grade; the benchmark 10-year bond had an average yield of
8.7 percent in the first quarter. Some investors say yields are rich
enough to compensate them for the increased risk. Offshore investors
remained net buyers of South African rand debt throughout the turmoil,
with inflows in the week Gordhan was fired the highest since June.
While S&P now rates South Africa’s foreign-currency debt BB+, one
level below investment-grade, Fitch Ratings and Moody’s still assess
its creditworthiness above that threshold. Downgrades by those rating
companies would spark forced selling by investors who track debt
indexes. For the country’s local-currency debt, though, ratings are
still investment grade, with foreign investors holding about a third
of the 1.74 trillion rand ($128 billion) of this type of debt.
He will be very difficult to remove.
Kenya's $4bn railway gains traction from Chinese policy ambitions FT Subscriber
A few miles outside the town of Makindu on the Nairobi-Mombasa road
sits a heavily guarded compound. Only the sign outside, in red Chinese
lettering, indicates that this is the project site for “section 9” of
a new $4bn Chinese-built railway that will run 300 miles between the
Kenyan capital and the Indian Ocean port.
The railway is the centrepiece of an infrastructure splurge by
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces re-election this year and whose
Kenyan government has invested heavily in roads, pipelines, oil
development and geothermal power.
It is also one of China’s most important investments in east Africa
and follows the opening in January of a $4.2bn, 470-mile line from
Djibouti to Addis Ababa, the capital of landlocked Ethiopia, replacing
the 100-year-old French-built railway. And contrary to some critics,
who have voiced concerns at China’s growing presence in Africa,
residents of Makindu are upbeat on the biggest infrastructure project
in Kenya since independence 54 years ago.
“It’s very smart,” says Elizabeth Wanjiru Ngima, a housewife,
referring to the elevated line and towering new station just outside
town. “It’s very quick, very quiet and when you are on it you [will]
feel like you are in heaven,” she adds, conceding that she has not yet
ridden on the new train, which will be commissioned in June.
Other residents of Makindu, including the barber, counter a common
complaint in Africa that Chinese do not hire local people, saying the
construction company employs Kenyan labourers, guards and chefs.
In the past 10 years, China has gone from having little presence in
Kenya to becoming one of its most important trading and investment
partners. Thanks to shipments of rolling stock and other equipment,
Kenya’s imports from China ballooned to nearly $5bn in 2016 — a
threefold increase from 2010 — against $780m from the US.
Kenya is on the outer reaches of China’s One Belt One Road project,
through which Beijing intends to invest almost $1tn in infrastructure
on the old Silk Road and as far as Africa’s east coast, in a push to
improve trade links, win political influence and deploy the excess
capacity of its steel and construction industries.
The Nairobi-Mombasa railway is the first leg of a line intended to go
all the way to Kampala in Uganda and, eventually, to Rwanda, knitting
together swaths of the east African Community’s emerging trade bloc.
It will replace the near-defunct British railway — dubbed the “Lunatic
Line” because of the cost in lives and money it took to build —
constructed in the late 19th century.
“The entire Africa continent can be connected by Chinese rail, so this
Kenya rail is a kind of prototype for all future projects,” says Wang
Dehua, a professor at Shanghai Institute for International Studies.
“It is a big strategic move for our country.”
China is providing Kenya with financing for roughly 90 per cent of the
Nairobi-Mombasa project. The railway is being built by state-owned
China Road and Bridge Corporation, which will operate it for the first
five years, and financed by China’s Eximbank. Of $3.6bn in financing,
$2bn is a 15-year loan at Libor plus 360 basis points. The remaining
$1.6bn is on concessional terms of 2 per cent interest, repayable over
20 years, according to the China-Africa Research Initiative at Johns
The loans, which have pushed Kenya’s debt above 50 per cent of output,
have raised concern that Mr Kenyatta’s government might be building a
white elephant. Critics say the railway will cost significantly more
per mile than equivalent projects in Ethiopia and Morocco, raising
suspicion that much has been creamed off by unscrupulous politicians.
Kwame Owino, executive director of the Institute of Economic Affairs,
complains over the lack of transparency of a project he says was
negotiated in secret.
“It’s clear that Kenya got the short end of the stick,” he says. “This
is a very expensive piece of infrastructure whose specifications have
Mr Owino adds that the advertised improvement in speed — just four
hours from coast to capital, compared with double that by truck — is
not important when it comes to cargo. “The economic benefits for Kenya
China has not been exactly open about the railway. At Makindu, the
Financial Times was politely referred to the Chinese embassy in
Nairobi, which refused a request for an interview. Still, China Road
and Bridge has sought to head off criticism by employing nearly 20,000
local workers. It has also made concessions to environmentalists by
building underpasses for wildlife to cross the section of railway that
passes through Tsavo National Park.
Aly-Khan Satchu, a Nairobi-based investment consultant, reckons the
economic benefits could be higher than sceptics think if the rail
makes Kenya a more efficient transport conduit for east African trade.
China, not always known for its soft-power skills, may even be
learning a few tricks, he says, for example by training Kenyan women
to be train drivers.
Whatever the criticisms about China’s investment drive in other parts
of Africa, they are not evident on the streets of Nairobi.
“We heard that the British gave billions of shillings to build roads
but they never got built,” says Lillian Wamuyu, who helps run slum
schools in the capital. “But if you see two Chinese working, you know
that road will be done in two months.”
(SMS) volumes hit an all-time high of 15.8 billion sent in the quarter ended December [Betting correlated]
The data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) showed a 29.1
per cent increase in the number of messages from 12.2 billion messages
in the previous three months.
“As has been the norm, the trends of on-net and off-net local mobile
SMS traffic remain similar with on-net SMS posting the highest volume
as compared to off net SMS. The overall increase in the number of SMS
sent could be attributed to increased activities during the quarter
under review,” read the CA report.
According to the report, the number of SMS sent from Safaricom’s
network increased by a sizeable margin to record 15 billion messages
up from 11.5 billion messages posted during the previous quarter. Its
SMS market share was registered at 95.1 per cent during the quarter
compared to last quarter’s share of 94.4 per cent, representing an
increase of 0.7 percentage points during the quarter,” further stated
The Nairobi All Share rose a marginal +0.13 of a point to close at 131.32.
The NSE20 firmed 4.29 points to close at 3101.12
N.S.E Equities - Commercial & Services
Nation Media Group reported FY 16 Earnings at the Sarova Stanley this
morning. FY 2016 Earnings Per share declined -25% on the back of an 8%
FY Revenue decline.
The CEO Joe Muganda said "It's tough in as far as advertising is
concerned; and the reason is simple:The economy isn't doing well"
NTV booked a +7% Year on Year Revenue gain, Business Daily eked out a
1% Year on Year Revenue gain, whilst the flag-ship Daily Nation was
-6%, Daily Monitor -20%, Mwananchi -23% and NTV Uganda -29%. Digital
Revenue [towards which NMG has pivoted] was +14% which looks
lackadaisical. Nation Media maintained its FY Dividend Pay Out of 10/=
and is paying a Final Dividend of 7.50 a share. The Dividend Pay-Out
is 112.35% of the FY Earnings Per Share. Nation stamped down hard on
Costs which were -22% Year on Year. Its been a torrid year for the
Media Industry and headline growth has been hard to find but they have
evidently done some heavy lifting in right-sizing the business as
evidenced by the -22% Year on Year reduction in FY costs.
Nation Media retreated -3.157% to close at 92.00 on light trading of
10,300 shares. NMG is -1.075% through 2017 and the Final Dividend is
worth 12.26% on the closing price which will underpin the share price.
Safaricom was the most actively traded counter at the Exchange and
closed unchanged at 18.30 with 9.470m shares worth 173.484m traded. We
learnt that the number of SMS sent from Safaricom’s network increased
to a record 15 billion messages up from 11.5 billion messages posted
during the previous quarter +23.33% quarter on Quarter. I recall a Lot
of Folks pronouncing that SMS were dead and buried when WhatsApp
turned up. However, I suspect the correlation is with Betting and SMS
Blasts by the online Bookmakers to their Customers.
Uchumi rallied +8.00% to close at 2.70. This Up Move was triggered by
an Interview with the `CEO who confirmed that the GOK was all set to
pony up close to 1.3b shillings.
N.S.E Equities - Finance & Investment
Equity Group firmed +1,503% to close at a Fresh 2017 closing High of
33.75. Equity is +12.5% in 2017 and Buyers outpaced Sellers by a
Factor of 3 versus 1 today.
KCB Group ticked -0.74% lower to close at 33.75 and traded 1.749m
shares. KCB is +17.931% in 2017 and embarked on a stunning rebound
after releasing its FY 16 Earnings.
N.S.E Equities - Industrial & Allied
KenGen firmed +2.34% to close at 6.55 and traded 146,600 shares. PIC
has been on a mopping up operation up to 6.60 and I would have thought
they are close to extinguishing the Supply at these levels.
EABL firmed +0.44% to close at 227.00 on the same day that Citibank
issued a 285.00 Price Target.