|Wednesday 25th of September 2019
27-NOV-2017 :: Bitcoin "Wow! What a Ride!"
This, you will agree, is mind-boggling inflation. In my experience,
when I have found myself riding a tiger by its tail, the key issue is
the getting off
Or as T.S Eliot said in The Hollow Men
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of
arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to
skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally
worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
Ozymandias PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
'The Flower That Smiles Today'
The flower that smiles to-day
All that we wish to stay
Tempts and then flies.
What is this world’s delight?
Lightning that mocks the night,
Brief even as bright.
Virtue, how frail it is!
Friendship how rare!
Love, how it sells poor bliss
For proud despair!
But we, though soon they fall,
Survive their joy, and all
Which ours we call.
Whilst skies are blue and bright,
Whilst flowers are gay,
Whilst eyes that change ere night
Make glad the day;
Whilst yet the calm hours creep,
Dream thou—and from thy sleep
Then wake to weep.
PETER HALL STAGES A LONDON 'ORESTEIA' [which is precisely the version to which I am referring]
Law & Politics
When Peter Hall, director of Britain's National Theatre, first
glimpsed its new Olivier auditorium, which is designed to resemble an
ancient Greek amphitheater, an idea long cooking in his head came
bursting to the surface.
At last he would have the opportunity to stage ''The Oresteia,'' and
in a space not dissimilar to the one Aeschylus actually used when the
trilogy won him the annual Dionysian playwriting competition back in
March 458 B.C.
Thus the production Mr. Hall has just unveiled there is a major
project for him and, judging by the journalistic interest it has
generated in England, a matter of some importance to theater
Would it work? Could it work, given the presence of an all-male cast
wearing full-length masks throughout, not to mention the forbidding
subject-matter of the three plays themselves?
Recall how, long ago, Agamemnon's father, Atreus, threw one of those
unorthodox supper parties so popular in mythic times, inviting along
his brother Thyestes and serving him his two eldest sons as a main
Later, Agamemnon himself sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia in order to
guarantee favorable winds for the Greek fleet leaving to fight the
These actions produce their inevitable reactions. On his triumphant
return home, Agamemnon is killed in retaliation for Iphigenia's death
by his wife Clytemnestra, aided by her lover Aegisthus, whose gripe is
that he's the third son of the wronged Thyestes.
So ends the trilogy's first component, ''The Agamemnon.'' The other
two plays involve the particular predicament of Agamemnon's son
Orestes, caught in one of those dilemmas with which the Greek deities
relished tormenting their victims.
In order to fulfil his great obligation as the avenger of patricide,
and avoid the agonies Apollo promisers him if he fails, he must commit
the great crime of matricide.
Accordingly, he kills Clytemnestra and ends up in Athens, defendant in
a murder trial whose implications are sufficiently weighty to attract
some very senior legal talent.
The Furies prosecute, Apollo defends, and the goddess Athena presides
over a jury of freeborn citizens whose six-six split vote ensures
Thus the divinely sanctioned democracy of Athens plays its part in
solving the Oresteian knot, a matter of obvious satisfaction to
Aeschylus but possibly of less moment to us nowadays.
Could we really take more than academic interest in a 2,550-year-old
saga rawly describing the feuds of men and gods and piously
celebrating the moral and political supremacy of an antique city?
As it turned out, the answers to these questions were various. Mr.
Hall's production, played in front of steel walls as vast, brooding
and inflexible as the fate they presumably symbolize, is often
stunning to look at.
When the red-robed, black-haired, shiny-faced Clytemnestra looms like
some implacable Eqyptian priestess over the corpse of the husband
she's just stabbed to death; when Orestes and Electra, frail, pale
figures kneeling hand in hand, implore their father's ghost to rise
from the grave, accompanied by the increasingly urgent cries of a
gray, baleful chorus of Trojan slaves; when the avenging Furies,
wearing their coven uniform of black tatters, white faces and stringy
orange hair, weave and swirl and sway across the stage, menacing the
mesmerized Orestes: at such times one feels ready for 10 hours os
Aeschylus, instead of the five-and-a-half the trilogy actually runs.
Harrison Birtwistle's music, its plunks, bangs and sudden, alarming
shrieks adding greatly to the tension and atmosphere, proves an
unequivocal success; Jocelyn Herbert's masks, a more equivocal one.
But it's surely wrong to see the trilogy too exclusively as concerning
a turning-point in the great sexual struggle. It is, after all, also
about other and more welcome examples of human evolution: spiritual,
moral, social, political, judicial.
'The Oresteia'' shows man struggling from chaos to civilization. It
describes the breakdown of the old, private system of correcting
wrongs and the discovery of a new, public means of ensuring that right
It involves the attempt to reconcile law with justice, mercy with
fear, reason with instinct, the claims of the divine with those of the
In other words, it concerns tensions still with us, has dated more in
externals than in essence, and was as well worth reviving as Peter
And that, of course, is unfortunate as well as fortunate. Brave and
imaginative though his production undoubtedly is, it hardly has the
size, scope and force ''The Oresteia'' demands.
05-AUG-2019 :: "What's your road, man?"
Law & Politics
’ What’s your road, man? - holy- boy road, madman road, rainbow road,
guppy road, any road. It’s an anywhere road for anybody anyhow. Where
body how?” -
The Key question is this. Can Prime Minister Johnson self-eject
Britain? Can he be stopped? This is a political calculation.
Opinion What Saudi Arabia's MBS and @WeWork's Adam Neumann Have in Common @haaretzcom
Let’s compare Adam Neumann and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In less than nine years Neumann built WeWork into a shared office
space giant and virtually created a new industry by dint of a
charismatic personality and business vision.
But when it came time for WeWork’s initial public offering, everything
It turns out that vision and the ability to inspire isn’t enough when
the numbers don’t add up and your company’s business’ prospects are
The crown prince has a degree of charisma and a vision outlined in
exquisite Power Point detail called “Vision 2030,” just in case
readers were to mistake it for Pipedream Whenever.
But when it comes to making sure that floating Aramco, the kingdom’s
giant oil company, will be a success, he also has the help of the
state security services.
As part of the IPO now getting underway, according to the Financial
Times, the crown prince is forcing the country’s wealthiest families
to buy into it, to ensure its success.
The FT uses terms like “strong-arm,” “coerce” and “bully” to describe
the tactics. Remember that many of these same families know pressure
from the crown price very well.
Two years ago, some 300 of them were forcibly detained in Riyadh’s
Ritz Carlton Hotel until they ponied up what Saudi authorities say was
$100 billion in ill-gotten gains.
The IPO pressure isn’t quite so dire, but it is shaping up into the
offering you can’t refuse. Does the prince see any irony in this?
The Aramco offering is supposed to raise tens of billions of dollars
in capital that the kingdom will use to transform itself from a
petro-state to a diverse economy of high-tech and tourism.
The key to this is building a free market and a dynamic business
sector, but it’s not getting off to a good start if the government
employs techniques out of The Godfather to do it.
Prince Mohammed is not only reiterating the big and ugly message he
sent during the Ritz Carlton affair, that business must bow to royal
priorities at all costs.
He is also conveying a silent but important message that the Aramco
IPO isn’t a good investment, certainly not at the stunning $2 trillion
valuation the crown is reportedly aiming for.
The crown prince's vision thing isn’t working. The Aramco IPO, if you
recall, was originally supposed to be a monster sale of 5% of the
company’s shares in a major overseas market.
It would have raised $100 billion and dwarfed the biggest IPO to date
($25 billion by China’s Alibaba in 2014). It was called off in August
2018 because investors thought Aramco wasn’t worth that and because of
their doubts about its independence from the Saudi government, among
Since then, Aramco’s facilities have come under repeated attacks, the
worst being the drone strikes earlier this month that knocked out half
of its production.
That alone should have been enough to push IPO plans into the distant
future, but the crown price began dusting them off this summer and
shortly after the latest attack - named the banks that will manage it.
This time around it’s a much smaller affair: The plan is to sell just
a 1% stake this year and another 1% in 2020 for trading on the local
stock exchange (Tadawul).
More may come later, but for now Aramco won’t be trading in New York
or London and it may raise a mere $15 billion-$30 billion.
The failure isn’t confined to Aramco. Transformations like the kind
the crown prince is trying to engineer in Saudi Arabia take time, but
there’s little evidence he’s making much progress.
The latest estimates from the International Monetary Fund show that
the kingdom’s non-oil economy -- the one that is supposed to take off
under Vision 2030 -- growing by a not particularly impressive 2.9%
More Saudis are entering the workforce, but the pace is not
commensurate with the rate at which the kingdom is forcing out the
guest workers who keep the economy going.
The jobless rate for Saudis has if anything been rising since Vision
2030 kicked off, and passed 12% in the second quarter. The percentage
of Saudis holding down jobs is still low, especially for women.
Vision 2030 is too ambitious, even if Prince Mohammed could raise the
capital to finance it.
Saudis don’t have the skills to build a Startup Nation economy. Also,
the prince may aspire to a capitalist economy but if anything,
government has gotten bigger under his stewardship, with a widening
role for its sovereign wealth fund.
New-business formation is stagnant and older small businesses are
closing, in part because lower-cost guest workers are leaving and
hiring Saudis is too expensive.
The crown price’s goal of making Saudi Arabia one of the Top 5 world
tourism destinations inside a decade is crazy. He would have to build
a $100 billion industry from scratch in that time - in a country that
doesn’t even issue tourist visas yet, bans alcohol and bikinis, and is
unbearably hot a good part of the year. (And will get even more
unbearably hot, according to climate change forecasts - but it denies
such reports anyway.)
The crown prince is right that Saudi Arabia has no future as a
petro-state, but he’s wrong in thinking he can buy himself the economy
Money isn’t the obstacle. The problem is the absence of the rule of
law, basic freedoms, transparency and a modicum of democracy. The
Aramco IPO should serve as a case study in Economics 101 about how not
to do it.
Breaking an electoral suicide pact @EthiopiaInsight
In early August, the EPRDF Executive Committee announced that national
elections will go ahead as scheduled next year. This means Ethiopia is
about to enter a highly charged competition for power, with polling
day perhaps less than nine months away.
Is this a wise move, or foolish bravado?
Less than two years ago, Ethiopia was on the brink of implosion. It
arguably escaped this fate due to the reformist wing of EPRDF, dubbed
Team Lemma, making demands of protesters their own and taking power
via an alliance of the Oromo and Amhara parties. Subsequently,
Ethiopia entered a new era, as abuses of the past were corrected.
But optimism quickly dissipated, and a new phase of bitter political
contest began. Groups previously classed “terrorist organizations”
like the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ginbot 7 returned and new
parties such as the National Movement of Amhara (NaMA) emerged.
Political manoeuvring became more assertive, and, in some cases,
extremist, as in Amhara with Asaminew Tsige and elements with ties to
Some of these groups, such as OLF and NaMA, have irreconcilable
agendas. There is no consensus on many issues, including, critically,
the legitimacy of the 1995 constitution and the ethnic federal
Old debates—over regional boundaries, national languages, and
identity—have re-emerged with vengeance. New aspirations revitalized
Making the situation particularly grave is the recent history. After
waves of protests and lethal state repression since 2014, Ethiopia
more resembles a country that just emerged from civil war than a
Despite last year’s opening of the political space, the country only
seemed to sink deeper into a quagmire.
While the same coalition remains in power, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s
administration differs from the former hardline EPRDF, particularly in
its liberal disposition and in terms of where power resides.
For the first time in Ethiopia’s history, central power stems from
Oromia. This is revolutionary indeed.
Yet, despite this change, the old EPRDF is not dead yet. The coalition
remains a self-declared vanguard, pursuing revolutionary democracy via
Compromise with opposition forces is antithetical to this approach.
This has major implications for how the country moves forward, not
least regarding elections.
Even though Ethiopia held polls every five years since 1995, only one
was competitive. Elections therefore have a vital dual role in marking
a potential transition to competitive democracy and also a move from
partly violent to overwhelmingly peaceful political contest.
The question is whether the current fragility—characterized by
elevated social mistrust, weak democratic institutions, disorganized
opposition parties, and regional insecurities—should be exposed to the
pressure cooker of an election.
For people to be empowered, polls must be held. But elections are not
necessarily appropriate for resolving fundamental differences. Lencho
Leta, a respected Oromo opposition veteran, has stated, “forging a
democratic political order would fail as long as absolutist positions
continue to confront each other”.
Rushed elections are not the way to build a consensus on whether, for
example, Ethiopia should have ethnic or non-ethnic federalism.
Given volatile polarized pluralism, an election will produce winners
and losers, may well increase divergence, and could lead to conflict.
Undoubtedly, polls can stabilize a fragile state, but that does not
mean holding them as soon as possible is desirable.
The experiences of countries including Angola, Cambodia, Iraq,
Afghanistan, Egypt and Nepal, show that the timing of a post-conflict
election is a decisive factor in determining whether peace or conflict
One major negative consequence of an untimely election is that it
increases the probability that one or more parties will reject
Ethiopia has yet to pass the acid test of democracy
Benjamin Reilly in Elections in Post-Conflict Scenarios: Constraints
and Dangers identifies three major factors that influence elections
held in fragile countries: timing; the governance of elections; and
the type of parties, whether they are, for example, personalized or
According to Reilly, “ill-timed, badly designed or poorly run election
can actually undermine the broader process of democratization.”
Dawn Brancati and Jack Snyder agreed in Rushing to the Polls: The
Causes of Premature Postconflict Elections, as they argue, “…elections
held soon after wars end, when political institutions remain weak, are
associated with an increased likelihood of a return to violence.”
And, writing in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, Alon Ben-Meir,
similarly opined that, “premature elections could usher in a period of
continued political instability punctuated by violence, or introduce
new totalitarian regimes that would assume power under the pretext of
maintaining order and stability.”
Ethiopia does not have a political culture characterized by democratic
elections and transitions, and nor does it have the requisite strong
institutions, including a capable independent judiciary.
The country also has yet to pass what Merera Gudina, chair of the
Oromo Federalist Congress, once called the acid test of multiparty
democracy––the peaceful transfer of power from one party to another.
In the long durée, if we consider the Abyssinian polity prior to the
formation of the modern Ethiopian state, conflicts during transitions
were often severe.
In the modern era, the open 2005 election led to a contested outcome
and violence that claimed around 200 lives. Arguably, what awaits
following an election next year may pale by comparison.
Fifteen years before, the ruling party refused to concede defeat,
leading to a more authoritarian grip on power. The forthcoming
elections, if held too soon, could deepen divisions and harden extreme
views, leading to a total breakdown in order.
Another factor that should be considered is the nature of the
opposition. For example, OLF has been engaged in armed struggle for
self-determination of the Oromo people for decades.
It is less than a year now since its leadership joined the political
process. In such a short period, it is difficult to transform from
liberation front to political party, especially when, with an
electoral board and electoral rules in flux, it has not yet been
registered. The fact there are still OLF-linked elements who have not adopted
peaceful struggle, and whose relationship with OLF is not clear,
suggests that it is not yet a cohesive democratic party.
This complicates the situation in Oromia, where it would compete with
the Prime Minister’s ODP.
A number of other former rebel organizations recently entered peaceful
politics, including an OLF faction led by Abba Naga Jaarra, as well as
the Oromo National Party headed by General Kemal Galchu.
In Somali region, the Ogaden National Liberation Front is also trying
to transform itself into a contending party. Come election time, will
former rebels eschew violence as a means to an end? Are these
organizations ready to compromise and abide by the rules?
The proliferation of parties, to around 140 currently, also presents a
challenge. Conducting an election before consolidation prevents fusion
among similarly minded organizations.
The plethora of parties confuses the electorate, making it difficult
to reach consensus on major issues and effectively challenge EPRDF.
The constitution requires a national census to be conducted every ten
years, not least because an accurate electoral register requires
reliable demographic data.
However, parliamentarians decided in June to again postpone the count
for one more year, due to organizational challenges linked to
political and environmental insecurity
It is risky for a government that is not able to conduct a census to
push ahead with an election, which requires more intensive preparation
and has potentially much more serious consequences.
The elephant in the room, however, is prevailing instability, perhaps
the most significant hurdle for peaceful elections next year. Security
remains poor in districts including West Wollega and Guji in Oromia,
the entire Southern Nations, and some areas in Benishangul-Gumuz and
Operations to resettle internally displacement persons are still
ongoing in locations where recent conflicts have supposedly died down.
These areas are either outside the effective control of the government
or under de facto states of emergency. Even if such hot spots could be
it is doubtful a fair and accurate poll could be held in areas
recently under military control, as freedom of expression,
association, and assembly may not have existed for sufficient time
prior to polling.
If any major party does not graciously concede an election this would
represent a major blow to the reboot of democracy in Ethiopia.
But it does not end there—a challenge to the election result could
quickly descend into violence. This would be dire in Ethiopia, where
acute ethnic rifts are rife, and a weakened state security apparatus
is already stretched.
Under current conditions, an unwillingness of some of the many parties
to accept defeat looms large. Academics such as Reilly believe that a
major factor leading to parties not conceding is fear that a change of
power could lead to fundamental shifts in state policy.
In Ethiopia, there are huge differences on key issues, including over
the type of governing system, and who runs the capital. Even on
symbolic matters, such as what the flag should be and who the nation’s
historical heroes are, there is little consensus.
Moreover, political power is tied to material interests. Not only
political appointees, but the overwhelming majority of senior civil
servants, and even lower bureaucrats and kebele administrators, are
ruling party loyalists.
In a country where the state is the biggest employer, one can imagine
that losing such positions would threaten not only many livelihoods,
but also the social power base of the ruling party. This enhances the
possibility that EPRDF may not simply accept defeat.
This problem is not confined to the ruling party. Opposition parties
may also not want to concede. A sense of entitlement exists among
groups that have fought the EPRDF regime for many years.
As a result of their sacrifice, organizations like OLF expect power,
at least in their western Oromia stronghold, as do Ezema, the closest
to a successor to CUD from 2005, in urban areas.
There is also fear that if defeated they may be out of contention for
power for many years to come. The OLF leadership may well believe that
because EPRDF is currently weakened, early elections are an opportune
moment to remove it from its perch.
Recent history suggests that EPRDF may strive to hold onto power.
Trust in the incumbent, as well as some returning parties, remains
A thorough confidence-building process and a legally binding agreement
between all stakeholders should therefore be organized to agree ground
The recent political parties’ code of conduct does not appear
adequate, as it is neither sufficiently inclusive nor comprehensive.
Ethiopia is a country where genuine sharing of power has seldom
occurred. What would happen, for instance, if OLF wins a regional
majority in Oromia, while EPRDF takes the federal parliament?
The handling of these types of risky scenarios must be discussed.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that EPRDF itself is
fragmented. Recent acrimony between the Tigray Peoples Liberation
Front (TPLF) and the Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) is a case in point.
But such internal hostilities are not limited to those souring
relations. TPLF recently accused the Prime Minister of eroding the
constitutional order and vowed it would not let the country descend
How can we hope for the electoral board to conduct an exceptionally
democratic election in a country where such a divided ruling coalition
exists, and is still deeply entangled with the state apparatus?
EPRDF fragility does not end here, as there is also the issue of
power-sharing between constituent parties. For example, currently,
TPLF, which represents a region of six million people, has an equal
number of representatives in party committees as ODP, which represents
34 million people.
This imbalance has been long-questioned and is still subject to
debate. Abiy’s answer appears to be for EPRDF parties and their
affiliates to merge into one organization, but there is little time
for this, and some parties, or faction within parties, may balk at
such radical reform.
The more important question, though, relates to the party–state
relationship. EPRDF remains entwined with the state. Would it continue
utilizing the bureaucracy and government media for campaigning?
Political organizations should come up with a detailed plan and
agreement which would allow them to build trust in each other and
level the playing field. If they do not, the fairness of the outcome
may well be questioned.
This election is occurring without any change from the first-past-the
post, which enabled the mono-party system in the first place. It does
not seem that this ‘winner takes all’ approach is suitable for
Instead, as suggested back in 2016 by the president, some proportional
representation would help to ensure opposition representation. Or
perhaps a consociational model should be introduced to enable
consensual power-sharing at the national level.
Right now, there is just not enough time to engage in such important
discussions before polling day. The upcoming election is critical, and
instead of rushing it, the key is to institute an electoral system
suited to Ethiopia’s federal context.
The push to hold post-conflict elections soon usually comes from the
incumbent, as it wants to hold them before competitors can adequately
The Ethiopian case is no exception. The EPRDF leadership, despite its
divisions, is well aware that the opposition is divided and that it is
But opposition parties may reject the outcome if EPRDF claims an
overwhelming majority, as in 2010 and 2015.
In many ways, we have reached a stage where it has become difficult to
talk about EPRDF as a solid coalition. And on this issue, TPLF pushed
the other parties hard to maintain the election schedule.
This is probably because Tigray is relatively peaceful, the party does
not want to give its regional opponents time and space, and postponing
the election would be major affront to a constitution that TPLF
considers itself the primary guardian of.
To be fair, there are valid self-interested reasons why EPRDF might
want to hold elections as scheduled. Restoring legitimacy is a primary
concern. The protests since 2014 and major reshuffles in government
since 2018 eroded EPRDF’s legitimacy further. Its functionaries
therefore want to reestablish it as soon as possible.
Rescheduling elections may also send a negative impression to the
international community that the country is fragile, or backsliding to
The government may argue that this may harm the country’s image and
have a significant impact on foreign investment. Moreover, there are
legal hurdles to postponing, as the constitution provides no clear
guidance on the procedure.
From among the main contenders, the ONLF and OLF have the same stance,
despite not being registered. OLF seems convinced that it has good
prospects of winning in Oromia if elections are held soon.
The leadership is very likely to believe that OLF has the largest
number of followers in the region, and it also counts on the
legitimacy deficit of ODP due to its past practices. But under Team
Lemma, ODP is also confident, meaning one party is in for a rude
In developed democracies that have gone through many electoral cycles,
opposition parties are not enemies of the incumbent, but responsible
participants that may form the next government.
In this case, all actors should remember that Ethiopia has rarely had
a peaceful transition of power, let alone following a vote. Key to a
peaceful election is trust between major political organizations; and
time is needed to build that trust.
There are deep-seated divisions amongst ethnic groups, and with its
politically active young population, Ethiopia is a highly complex
country to govern.
That said, in spite of everything, the nation could be on the cusp of
something great. If reforms are carefully handled, it has a bright
future of transforming into a more democratic society. But if it is
not handled carefully, it could prove to have been on the cusp of an
The country’s reformed political leadership and newly forming
opposition should consider agreeing a longer road-map to
elections—perhaps looking west to Sudan for inspiration—which provides
the necessary time for wide-ranging discussions and institutional
This could lay the foundations for free, fair, and peaceful polls.
After all, elections are not to be toyed with—and nor should they be a
02-JUL-2018 :: Ethiopia Rising. @TheStarKenya
Abiy Ahmed Ali (Amharic: , Or omo: Abiyyi Ahimad Alii; born 15 August
1976) was appointed the 12th Prime Minister of Ethiopia on 2 April
He grew up in a Muslim family (Ahmed Ali, his Oromo father; Tezeta
Wolde, his mother) and with Oromo Muslim and Christian grandparents.
He is evidently a Virilian and Gladwellian Figure.
“To create one contagious movement, you often have to create many
small movements first.” “Look at the world around you. It may seem
like an immovable, implacable place. It is not, With the slightest
push—in just the right place—it can be tipped.”—Malcolm Gladwell .
He has been Prime Minster for 90 days. During those 90 days, he has
criss-crossed the country, ended a state of emergency, released
thousands of political prisoners, thawed relations with Eritrea [29
Mar 2018 HE Abiy Ahmed @PM_AbiyAhmed - It is time. Lets build a wall
of love between #Ethiopia & #Eritrea], bagged a $1b from the UAE,
announced a dramatic economic about-turn.
In matters language and linguistics, he has tapped into a ‘’Nelson
Mandela’’ 1994 mood. These 90 or so days represent the most
consequential arrival of an African politician on the African stage
since Mandela walked out of prison blinking in the sunlight and
constructed his ‘’rainbow nation’’.
I recalled watching the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi order on a
night of a full moon in Konya, Turkey. I thought what they all have in
common with Abiy Ahmed. It’s all about speed and velocity.
Paul Virilio terms it ‘dromology’, which he defined as the “science
(or logic) of speed“. He notes that the speed at which something
happens may change its essential nature, and that which moves with
speed quickly comes to dominate that which is slower.
“Whoever controls the territory possesses it. Possession of territory
is not primarily about laws and contracts, but first and foremost a
matter of movement and circulation.”
Virilio argues that the traditional feudal fortified city disappeared
because of the increasing sophistication of weapons and possibilities
for warfare. For Virilio, the concept of siege warfare became rather a
war of movement.
Abiy Ahmed has moved at lightning speed, the old guard is like ‘’the
traditional feudal fortified city’’.
He said “The ppl of Tigray are still begging for a drop of water; TPLF
(the party) is not the people of Tigray”.
On the same day he said, “we are in debt, we have to pay back but we
can’t. And secondarily, we aren’t able to finish projects we have
started” and announced his economic Pivot.
Of course, the downside risk of all this infrastructure is plain to
see and Sri Lanka and the tale of its Hambantota Port is now a
cautionary Tale. FX reserves were at less than a month’s worth of
imports and something needed to be done. Expectations are high.
The Prime Minister needs to execute real quick on the economic front
Abiy Ahmed’s first 90 days have been as remarka- ble as the less than
90 minutes of France’s Mbappe’s performance on Saturday.
Zimbabwe Black Market Gap Vanishes After Central Bank Intervenes @markets
The gap between Zimbabwe’s black market and official currency rates
vanished after the central bank tightened regulations on trade in
foreign exchange by bureau de change operators.
On Monday, black market rates for the Zimbabwe dollar ranged from 14.7
to 15 to the U.S. dollar, according to Marketwatch.co.zw., a site run
by financial analysts.
The official rate was at a record low of 14.91, according to the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The central bank said on Sept. 21 that
bureau de change rates would need to be within 7% of the official rate
after they slumped to as low as 23 to the U.S. dollar.
S.Africa rides investor demand to raise $5 bln from bonds sale @ReutersAfrica
The South African government said on Tuesday it raised $5 billion from
the sale of two new bonds in international markets, as strong demand
from investors helped it raise 25% more than it had originally
The transaction was more than twice oversubscribed with interest from
insurance and pension funds, financial institutions, hedge funds and
others from across nearly all continents.
Only one of the top three ratings firms, Moody’s, ranks Pretoria’s
debt at investment grade, while Fitch and S&P Global Ratings have the
country’s sovereign debt on junk status.
“The South African government sees the success of the transaction,
believed to be the largest ever out of Sub-Saharan Africa, as an
expression of investor confidence in the country’s sound
macro-economic policy framework and prudent fiscal management,” The
National Treasury said in a statement.
Africa’s most developed economy was able to pre-fund an additional $1
billion over the $4 billion it had originally planned to raise,
according to the statement.
The country recorded better-than-expected growth of 3.1% in the second
quarter following a deep first quarter contraction, but analysts fear
maintaining growth at that level is unlikely.
The treasury said it sold the bonds on Sept. 23 in two tranches,
raising $2 billion from 10-year notes with a 4.85% coupon and $3
billion from 30-year notes with 5.75% coupon.
Citi, Deutsche Bank/Nedbank consortium, Rand Merchant Bank, and
Standard Bank were joint bookrunners on the deal.
Traffic Jams in Kenya's Capital Bleed $1 Billion From Economy @economics
Cars and minibuses stuck in grinding traffic cause many a missed
meeting in Kenya’s capital, potentially costing East Africa’s largest
economy almost $1 billion a year in lost productivity.
That’s according to the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority,
which ranked Nairobi as the world’s fourth most congested city.
In a new report, it put the average travel time in the city -- home to
3.2 million people -- at 57 minutes, and recommended a Bus Rapid
Transit System for five key routes to stem the gridlock.
KCB Group Takes over Mumias Sugar The Trading Room
Kenya Commercial Bank Group Plc has today taken over Mumias Sugar
Company over default in loans and appointed Ponangipalli VenkataRamana
Rao as the company’s receiver manager to run the beleaguered miller.
Mumias has defaulted on loan repayments from its lenders and has not
paid any dividends for 8 years.
In a letter dated September 20, 2019, KCB Group has instructed the
receiver to use all receivership powers as issued in the KCB
Debentures agreements and in the laws of Kenya to recover defaulted
Mumias payments in full.
Mumias becomes the third listed company to be placed under
receivership after Besieged Cement Manufacturing ARM & Retailer
Deacons E.A Plc.