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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Obama what is so Powerful about Ubungo?

Obama What is so Special about Ubungo in the Battle for Power?

“As your current saying goes, out of all places in the world, why Obama and Hillary visited Ubungo. If you answer this, what is smelled here may be smoked out” – Colleague

Chambi Chachage

I remember the day vividly as I almost missed my flight. Dar es Salaam city was busy hosting the President of the United States. Roads leading to Ubungo became blocked. A Boda Boda came to my rescue as it circumnavigated my small childhood neighborhood.

After the naming Barack Obama Drive besides the State House of Tanzania on 2 July 2013, the first one to be named after an American president in the country, the celebrated leader visited Ubungo and delivered one of his trademark speeches. Why Ubungo?

This question is relevant now as the debate on the Tegeta Escrow Account scandal rages on. Mind you Tegeta, like Ubungo, is another small area in Dar es Salaam. In our legitimate quest to ‘bring our money back’, we can easily miss the bigger picture – the battle for power between the key global and local players in the energy sector.

The best place to start, I think, is with Brian Cooksey’s 2002 controversial chapter on The Power and the Vainglory: Anatomy of a $100 Million Malaysian IPP [Independent Power Plant] in Tanzania. For more than a decade it has influenced the debate that reached its peak during the parliamentary session on Escrow in November 2014. It has been going ‘viral’, being cited and shared in blogs, websites, newspapers and listservs.

Even the Chair of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) briefing paper that appears in, among other places, the official website of the Development Partners Group (DPG) Tanzania, quotes Cooksey’s chapter extensively. Fittingly entitled ‘How Pan Africa Power Ltd [PAP] acquired Independent Power Tanzania Ltd [IPTL] for almost nothing and looted US$124m from the Bank of Tanzania[BOT]’, it contains a footnote that affirm that its first “section summarises Cooksey (2002)”. It also contains a footnote that provides this revealing disclaimer: “This paper expresses my own views, not those of the PAC. On 29th July, 2014 I submitted this brief with evidences (including letters, judgments, Bank transfer records and receipts of payments to TRA) to the Investigative team under Controller and Auditor General (CAG) that was conducting Special Audit on this matter. The Audit on IPTL matters was ordered by PAC on the 20th March, 2014.” As we all know by now, PAC presented the CAG report in the parliament in November 2014, unleashing an unprecedented level of public debate at least in terms of energy and intensity of ‘burning the midnight oil’ if not scrutiny and probity.

For better or for worse such is the influence Cooksey’s chapter has had in shaping, even if indirectly, our Escrow debate. His is such a fiery text no wonder in 2010 he was officially told to leave the country. But what does it say about my beloved Ubungo?

Before we delve into the matter let us get a bit of a background from J.V.S Jones’s book on Resources and Industry in Tanzania: Use, Misuse and Abuse written in in 1981 and published in 1983. He wrote: “Ubungo Power Station was established through a loan of Shs 35 million from the World Bank in 1968 and the [then] recently completed Kidatu project (Phase 1) was financed jointly by the World Bank and SIDA [Swedish International Development Agency] to the extent of Shs 800 million. The high tension power linking Kidatu with Dar es Salaam…were financed by CIDA [Canadian International Development Agency]…. All the major projects are designed and constructed entirely under the supervision of overseas firms.”

Earlier on Jones thus observed: “Most of the small towns in Tanzania are supplied from thermal stations. However the biggest, Ubungo Power Station, is in Dar es Salaam, with a total capacity of 46.6 MW from eight diesel engines plus 15MW supplied by a gas turbine generator. With the introduction of hydro-power from Kidatu, Ubungo Power Station is retained as a standby station for emergency and there are plans to dispose the gas turbine unit altogether (at the time of writing tenders were being sought). As already pointed out, it is extremely expensive to run, especially if operating 24 hours per day, which was the case prior to opening of Kidatu Supply…. It might be of interest to give an idea of the fuel consumption of Ubungo Power Station: the gas turbine unit consumed 4000 litres of high grade oil per hour, i.e. 96,000 litres per day! – for only 15 MW! The eight diesel sets at Ubungo (46.6 MW) consumed 150,000 litres per day of the much cheaper fuel oil which, although less expensive than the diesel oil, still represents a considerable outlay…. Dar es Salaam’s original thermal power station built in the 1930’s at Kurasini, with an installed capacity of 15.8 MW, has now been demolished.”

Then Jones documented a scandal that sounds like what we might dub ‘Richmond Déjà Vu’ and ‘Escrow Reloaded’: “Prior to the completion of the Kidatu project the maintenance problems of TANESCO were exacerbated by the need to run all generating systems at near maximum capacity, in order to meet the demands for electrical power. In fact, that was not entirely successful because TANESCO was forced to make frequent power cuts when demand exceeded supply, resulting in a loss of production in many industries, particularly in Dar es Salaam. Secondly, machine breakdowns became more frequent because many power units had foregone routine maintenance owing to the pressures upon TANESCO to maintain power supplies. The net results was often the need for more extensive (and more expensive) repairs. One reason for the purchase of the controversial gas turbine generator at Ubungo at a cost of Shs 14 million was to meet the shortfall in generating capacity while awaiting completion of Kidatu. It was intended to cover peak demands only, but TANESCO was forced to operate it for 24 hours per day, because of breakdowns in other parts of the power supply system. No other type of generator could have become operational in the space of three months from the decision to buy (diesel engines take at least 6-9 months to install and hydro-stations more like 4-5 years). However, even the gas turbines (which was purchased second-hand) was not without its breakdown problems, and moreover, it seems that its installation was faulty. One of the crucial bearings was incorrectly aligned, thus allowing the turbines blades to make contact with the outer casing, which lead to considerable losses of power and excessive fuel consumption. Tanzania, therefore, paid dearly for a lack of forward planning to ensure that expansion of power supply corresponded with the expansion of industrial activity....”

Of course with the help of foreign firms we are now discovering gas in abundance and the hopefuls thinks it would be a panacea to the ‘power of poverty’. The critics and the cautious, however, think otherwise. All in all we are still experiencing power cuts.

Coming back to Cooksey, it is important to note that his chapter mentions Ubungo eight times. After documenting, graphically, the plights of another power crisis in 8 September 1997, he wrote: “But the crisis is largely of the government's own making. While the dams are running dry, the four turbines have been mostly idle. They are shut down from March to September 1996, through lack of cash to pay duty on the imported kerosene on which they run, and achieve only about 30% capacity utilisation from October 1996 to September 1997. TANESCO is broke. Customers owe $55 million. The biggest sinners are government departments and parastatal companies, and the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar. Lack of maintenance of existing plant further reduces the country’s effective power generating capacity. Tanesco fails to respond to an offer from Finland to rehabilitate old diesel generators. While the Treasury refuses to waive the duty on fuel, it grants exemptions to an importer of cooking oil, leading local wags to speculate on whether the Ubungo turbines could be converted to run on cooking oil. Failure to fire up the turbines is the cause of the 1997 crisis, not the drought.”

He also noted this: “Conspiracy theorists in Dar es Salaam are convinced that this example of gross mismanagement is not accidental, but orchestrated by IPTL and its local supporters to sell their proposal to the public. Although the project was initially launched as a short-term solution to the 1994 power crisis, IPTL quietly drop this idea and instead negotiate a long-term investment in diesel generators. IPTL and government officials cite the ‘unmet demand’ for power and the consequent urgent need to increase generating capacity as reasons for completing IPTL without further delay. The 1997 drought ‘proves’ the dangers of relying on hydropower. But the addition of 75 megawatts at Ubungo (October 1995) and a further 180 megawatts from the donor-funded Kihansi hydro scheme that is soon to be commissioned are more than adequate to meet projected demand and avoid another power crisis. By the end of 1997, the hydro catchments are full again. In other words, IPTL amounts to excess capacity using one of the most expensive power generating technologies. But by now, politics is already firmly in control of power policy and the local technocrats and their foreign advisors are ignored.”

Ubungo reappears in the following prediction that Cooksey made in 2002: “IPTL will bankrupt Tanesco, force up the price of electricity to industrial and domestic users alike, and oblige the Treasury to introduce power subsidies. The consequences are likely to be catastrophic for the industrial sector, foreign investment prospects, and the planned privatisation of Tanesco…. In brief, by Tanzanian standards, IPTL is a rip-off of unprecedented proportions…. In the event that Tanesco runs short of cash, the Treasury will step in to foot the bill. The 2001 Finance Act contains a provision to that effect, although it did not figure in the Minister of Finance’s budget speech of 14th June. The Treasury have already held discussions with the International Monetary Fund [IMF] on how to pay Tanesco a monthly cash subsidy to offset the cost of IPTL…. Without IPTL, the Ubungo turbines would now be running on natural gas. (The Songo Songo project was purposely held up by IPTL intrigue). Not that it matters: three of the Ubungo turbines have been ‘shut down and need a staggering (sic) 4bn/-for repairs, Tanesco engineers told the Daily News.’ (December 14th)…. The current rains have raised water levels in the dams. Curious therefore that Tanesco should decide to shut down one of Kidatu’s 50 megawatt turbines – for ‘routine maintenance’ – just as water levels are rising. Why not wait for a few months until water levels begin to fall? … Tanesco may soon be forced to spill water from our dams in order to keep IPTL chugging along as planned.”

Then the coup de grâce comes in Cooksey’s epilogue: “The direct and opportunity costs of IPTL to the Tanzanian economy are extremely high. Without IPTL, the country would already be exploiting its huge resources of natural gas and saving on imported kerosene for the Ubungo turbines. The losses to the Tanzanian economy as a result of the power shortages of 1997 could have been avoided had Songas been implemented on time rather than sidelined by IPTL. Huge private investments in stand-by generators were another avoidable cost. The amount of time, energy and travel wasted by government officials in chasing after IPTL, including international arbitration, particularly by Patrick Rutabanzibwa, could have been put to much better use.”

But Cooksey was very aware that his analysis, convincing as it is, smacked as promoting the North-South investment deals and demoting, if not demonizing, those of the South-South. No wonder his chapter contains this defensive undertone: “I soon ran foul of IPTL. In a long letter to the African (1 June 1998) titled ‘Brian’s phobia against South-South Commission’, I am dubbed a racist with a ‘pathological hatred of South-South cooperation’, with ‘derogatory tendencies towards African governments, leaders and its people.’ In a letter to [the then] Minister of Planning, Nassoro Malocho, IPTL copied an article that appeared in East African Alternatives, and accuse me of having vested interests in Songas. I am referred to as a ‘dangerous underground advisor,’ ‘an academic and business crook,’ with ‘prejudices against African and Asian leaders’. I am further described as a tax-evader, an unlicensed gemstone dealer, a frequenter of a disreputable Dar es Salaam dance hall, a ‘foreigner and a self-appointed energy expert.’ East African Alternatives promptly published excerpts from this five-page diatribe. [The then] Minister Malocho never got in touch, though he did circulate the letter among the pro-IPTL group of ministers.”

In fact the chapter contains scathing critiques of the Malaysian statesman who, ironically, is one of the mentors and role models of our chair of PAC who has been instrumental in briefing us about  – and blowing up – PAP’s scandalous acquisition of IPTL and looting of Escrow money from BOT. After noting that “Rutabanzibwa tries to convince the President that IPTL is a disaster waiting to happen” and that if “the cost of IPTL is passed on to the consumer, Mkapa will not make many friends” given that “Business and private consumers will face huge increases in electricity prices” and  “Donors will be incensed” as their “dismissive attitude towards IPTL is on record”, Cooksey wrote: “Benjamin William Mkapa does not know what to do. He is caught in a hugely difficult bind. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir had buttonholed him at a recent meeting of Commonwealth heads of government in Edinburgh to ask why Mechmar’s project was not progressing faster. Rugemalira is publicly challenging the government to put up or shut up, as IPTL’s affairs become increasingly convoluted. Cancelling IPTL would look like capitulation to donor pressures, a point hammered home in the press by IPTL.” 

“In meetings in London and Kuala Lumpur, and via e-mail,” Cooksey intimated,  “Tunku Abdul Aziz pulled me gently, but firmly, into line with invaluable advice on the subtleties of the relationship between the Malaysian state and the promotion of foreign investment. In the article cited above, he declared that: … the sight of the Prime Minister [Mahathir] herding a gaggle of assorted “businessmen” on his official overseas trips and bending over, ever so protectively, witnessing the signing of one grand MOU after another, has created the impression that the Prime Minister has a direct personal interest in all these deals… we are dealing, very often, with people in places where corruption is so rampant that they cannot imagine that there are Malaysians who can win major overseas contracts without resorting to corruption. (East African Alternatives, September 1998, p. 24)”

After referring to an econometric analysis that “found Malaysia to be one of the cleanest major trading nations in the world”, Cooksey informed us that his “more qualitative and journalistic approach led” him “to diametrically opposed conclusions.” One of his findings was that the  “bribers’ index gave the lie to Prime Minister Mahathir’s rhetoric claiming that it is invariably companies from the North which bring corruption to the South, the argument he used to denounce TI’s corruption perception index in 1997.”

Finally, Cooksey thus sums up his conclusion on the matter: “My own investigations led me to a number of simple conclusions on the pattern of Malaysian investments in Africa. First, the speed with which MOUs and contracts are signed suggests that Malaysian investors circumvent the lengthy procedures that DFI into poor countries normally involves. It is rare for a Malaysian company to lose a ‘competitive’ tender. This suggests, second, high level political support for the proposed investments, and, third, the likelihood that systematic bribery is involved. Fourth, sectors targeted by Malaysian companies are often those undergoing privatisation — with pressure and funding from the Bretton Woods institutions and the donor community — including power, telecommunications, and banking. In all these sectors, rents can be earned as long as the privatisation process and regulatory environment are non-transparent and open to manipulation. This was also true of Malaysia’s experience of privatisation, of course (Gomez and Jomo 1999). Another similarity, fifth, is the mobilisation of targeted political and diplomatic support for the proposed investments. Prime Minister Mahathir actively supports Malaysian investments in Africa and elsewhere, appealing to South-South solidarity as a means of ‘delinking’ from the hegemony of Northern multinationals in the global economy. Mahathir actively lobbies for Malaysian-backed projects when he meets with African heads of state at various international gatherings. There is no secret that Malaysia contributed to the ANC's election campaign in 1994.”

It is clear that, notwithstanding the Tegeta Escrow scandal, the battle for Ubungo was/is the battle between the global North – in this case represented by the United States of America – and the global South – in this case represented by Malaysia – almost as it was between the West and the East back in the hot heydays of the Cold War. This reality is thus captured in Cooksey’s chapter when it documents what transpired in 1997: “Jim McCardle is not happy. The World Bank is pressuring the government to sign off on Songas, a Canadian backed joint venture to develop Tanzania’s huge reserves of natural gas, and the government is dragging its feet. The Bank is ready to lend Tanzania $200 million towards Songas’ $350 million price tag. Songas, which McCardle manages, was conceived years before IPTL, yet no contract has been signed to date. The contrast with IPTL, which obtained government agreements, tax exemptions and other requirements in record time, is no accident. Without IPTL, Songas could have been up and running in time to help avoid the 1997 power crisis. Songas plans to build a pipeline to Dar es Salaam to fuel the existing four turbines that are currently running on expensive kerosene. IPTL say they will happily convert to natural gas when it comes on stream, but this is disingenuous on their part…. Tanesco has a serious cash flow problem. If both IPTL and Songas are commissioned, Tanesco will be saddled with monthly bills for gas and electricity of $11 million that it could not possibly meet out of income from electricity sales. McCardle admits that Songas seriously underestimated IPTL. ‘Nolan was a joke. Nobody could take his project seriously. We thought nobody would take IPTL seriously either. We were wrong!’ When the cabinet hesitates to endorse IPTL because of the cost implications for electricity, James Rugemalira accuses the World Bank and Songas of mounting a joint conspiracy against him, with Patrick Rutabanzibwa, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, as their front man. At one point, he refers to Songas as ‘the stillborn child of the World Bank’ (February 1999). In a brilliant tactical move, the government announces final agreements with IPTL and Songas on the same day….”

At this juncture it is interesting to not that in Africa’s Winds of Change: Memoir of an International Tanzanian, Al Noor Kassum (2007) recalls that as the then Minister for Water, Energy and Minerals, he “persuaded the World Bank and the European Investment Bank to drill more wells at Songo Songo” in the early eighties. “Our initial plan”, he noted, “was to use the gas to produce ammonia and urea fertilizer for the local market as well as for export, but the high capital cost of the project (about US$ 500 million) as well as the slump in the price of fertilizers in the world forced” them “ to abandon that proposal” of theirs. “Instead”, he affirms, “we decided … to use the gas as a substitute for fuel oil in electricity-generation turbines.” The “Songo Songo gas-to-electricity project”, reminisces Kassum, “was inaugurated on 4 October 2004 and was expected to save Tanzania US$ 50 million every year through reduced imports of jet fuel and oil. As the result of the steep rise in oil prices since then, the savings have been even higher. At that time the government announced plans to meet nearly half of the total electricity demand in Tanzania through gas-based power generation.”

Kassum proudly recalls that at “the ceremony marking the inauguration of the Songo Songo gas-to-electricity project, which was presided over by the then President Benjamin Mkapa”, he “was one of the several people presented with awards for ‘extraordinary contribution to the success of the Songo Songo project”. He also notes that in outlining his contribution, the then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Patrick Rutabanzibwa said, among other things, that Kassum “thus put in place the basic gas infrastructure and created the market for the gas” whereby without “those two fundamentals, the Project could not have happened.”

“His Excellency Jakaya M. Kikwete,” Kassum also recalls enthusiastically, “was also given an award on the same occasion” whereby “Patrick Rutabanzibwa” thus “said of him:  As Minister for Water, Energy and Minerals from 1990 to 1994 he guided the initial Project negotiations with Ocelot [one of the original sponsors of the Songo Songo gas-to-electricity project, which subsequently became PanAfrican Energy]. In 1994 he selected the original sponsors, Ocelot and TransCanada Pipelines, over their rivals for the Project, Enron. Subsequent to that, as Minister for Finance in 1995 he gave crucial support to what was then seen as an alien concept, that is providing payment and currency convertibility guarantees to private investors.”

Hence the Remarks by President Obama at Ubungo Symbion Power Plant should thus be understood in the context of this backdrop. Arguably the most powerful president in world came all the way from ‘the land of the brave’ to the ‘haven of peace’ to thus declare: “And this plant represents the kind of public-private partnership that we want to replicate all across the continent. This facility was idle. But the Tanzanian government, under President Kikwete’s leadership, committed to making reforms in the energy sector. With support from the Millennium Challenge grant, General Electric, and Symbion, they got it up and running again.”

With due respect and covetous admiration to David Kafulila, whom – together with The Citizen newspaper – the chair of PAC dedicated “all the work” of whistleblowing the Escrow scandal, I humbly query whether, vindicated is it later became, the analysis informing his spirited debate with the Minister of Finance, Saada Mkuya Salum and the beleaguered Minister of Energy and Minerals (MEM), Professor Sospeter Muhongo, on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant went beyond the curtains of the corridors of power. Of course we need money for power. But at the expense of what?

John Cheyo who also participated, passionately and positively, in the parliamentary debate on Escrow and was once the chair of PAC has recently been referenced saying what may not sound as popular in regard to the parliamentary power dynamics vis-à-vis donors from superpowers. In a post on Donors and Dodoma: The International Challenge to Tanzania’s Parliament his interviewer writes: “Following allegations that Tanzanian government officials authorised fraudulent payments worth US$124m to private energy company IPTL, a group of 12 donors suspended a total of US$493m of general budget support. Assurances from donor representatives that the funds will be released as soon as the Government of Tanzania has responded to the recommendations of the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) did little [to] assuage the doubts of parliamentarians regarding the legitimacy of the funding freeze. In October 2014, Budget Committee representatives told us that Bunge had not been consulted ahead of the donors’ decision, and were unanimous in depicting the action as premature. In their view, the IPTL affair had not yet been properly investigated and reported upon. Cheyo explained his misgivings about donors attempting to hurry along publication of the CAG’s report: “If anything, the originators – the PAC – can write to the CAG and ask why it has taken so long. If you start interfering with the work of the CAG and prematurely predicting results from the investigation, where is the independence of the auditing body?”

Now I, for one, was very happy about the accountability measures taken in regard to Escrow. But, strangely, I got some mixed feelings when I was reading the CAG report prior to my own analysis on ‘Who is Who in Escrow’, I couldn’t help but notice the haste in which the audit took place. For instance, I continue to wonder why the name of then TANESCO lawyer, Godwin Simba Ngwilimi, who (apparently) took an oath in regard to what IPTL (apparently) owed TANESCO does not appear among the 33 people appearing in Annex 1 who were called for a debate/discussion with CAG during the audit. If the chair of the board of TANESCO, who is recorded in the CAG report as stressing that they were not aware of that oath, is among the 33, why not the lawyer who was so central in the Escrow debate between the chair of PAC and the Minister of MEM?

We are told the audit report trumps other (unaudited) reports and presentations as it is audited. But who audits the auditor? In the case whereby CAG categorically notes that new information may alter the opinion of the special audit, to what extent can we simply sit and agree that we now know what happened hence we have gone to the bottom of it?

More significantly, the seemingly hasty nature in which the CAG special audit on Escrow was conducted can be conjectured from its page 50 and 51. CAG lists the following 9 court cases involving IPTL’s shareholders and/or creditors and informs us that it only focused on the first 2: Misc Civil Case No. 49 of 2002 pitting VIP against IPTL and Mechmar Corporation in the High Court of Tanzania; Misc Civil Case No. 254 of 2003 pitting VIP against IPTL, Mechmar and the Administrator General in the High Court of Tanzania; Civil Application No.163 of 2004 pitting VIP against Mechmar in the Court of Appeal; TANESCO against Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) ICSID Case No. ARB / 98 /8; Standard Chartered Bank against the United Republic of Tanzania - ICSID Case No. ARB I 10/12; Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited against TANESCO ICSID Case No ARB / 10/20; Martha Kaveni Renju the Administrator Receiver of IPTL against IPTL Case No.124 of 2003; Martha Kaveni Renju the Administrator Receiver of IPTL against IPTL and VIP Engineering and Marketing Ltd Case No. 98 of 2013; Case for Review No.1 of 2012 pitting Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) against Mechmar Corporation, VIP Engineering and Marketing, IPTL, the Liquidator of IPTL, the Bank of Tanzania, TANESCO and TRA in the Court of Appeal.

Is it simply a matter of curbing corruption and affirming accountability, this interest that the donor community has on IPTL? Why, for instance, did a British Ambassador helped Standard Charter Bank delegation contact the PAC chair – then chairing POAC – in an attempt to lobby for the Escrow money? And if the chair had not recently said so publicly in defense of his integrity during the parliamentary debate, how would we have known?

Well, it all about access to power and information. The then US’ Secretary of the State and a presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, knows this very well. When she visited Ubungo in 2011 this is how she put it: “We believe in partnership, and we believe in competition. You heard Paul say that when MCC put out the bid to build power lines across this country, a lot of companies competed. But two American companies won. We are very proud of that because we, frankly, want more American companies competing for business in Africa. And we are going to take that message back to America, and urge them to get out here and compete for these foreign projects.”

And the Physics I was taught in Azania and Tambaza High School tells me that power is about pressure. Clinton also knows this. Little wonder she thus concluded her Remarks at the Symbion Power Plant in Ubungo: “So, I don't want to put a lot of pressure [on] Symbion and Pike Power, and on the linemen and the government, but this is important for everybody. If you do it right, we are going to go and tell that story across the world.”

Yet the pressure is mounting as the following excerpt from the MCC Statement on Board of Directors’ Discussion of Tanzania at the December 2014 Meeting: “MCC takes seriously all of its country partners’ commitments to combat corruption. At today’s meeting, MCC’s Board expressed continued concern over corruption in Tanzania, including the implications of the recent case involving Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL). The Board noted that Tanzania has experienced a significant decline over the past seven years on the key indicator measuring efforts to control corruption. While the Board voted to allow Tanzania to continue working to develop a compact proposal—given its passage on MCC’s policy scorecards and its strong previous performance as an MCC partner—the Board stated its expectation that the Government of Tanzania must take firm, concrete steps to combat corruption before a compact is approved. Further, the Board voted to continue MCC’s engagement with Tanzania with the understanding that, in accordance with the Tanzanian State House December 9 statement, the Tanzanian government would act promptly and decisively on the late November parliamentary resolutions regarding IPTL. The Board also reaffirmed more broadly that Tanzania must undertake a series of previously agreed upon structural reforms to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of the energy sector, and more generally to deal with wider corruption.”

In a way it partly, albeit significantly, echoes Obama’s following remarks at Ubungo:So Power Africa embraces this [Public-Private Partnership] model. Public and private resources will be matched with projects led by African countries that are taking the lead on reform. In this case, African governments commit to energy reforms.  And the U.S. is committing some $7 billion in support, and private sector companies have already committed more than $9 billion. And this is just the beginning -- because we look forward to even more companies joining this effort.”

 But as the soon-to-be outgoing President, Obama was/is probably in a hurry more than Clinton: He thus also remarked: “Now, in order for this to work, then we all have to feel a sense of urgency. One of the things, Mr. President, that I learned around the business roundtable is if we are going to electrify Africa, we’ve got to do it with more speed. We can’t have projects that take, seven, eight, nine years to be approved and to get online.  If we’re going to make this happen, we’ve got to cut through the red tape, and that can only happen with leadership like the leadership that President Kikwete has shown.”

Isn’t the message clear? Away with ‘Ugly Malaysians?’ Enter ‘America the Beautiful’?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What Center holds for African Intellectuals?

What Center holds for Contemporary African Intellectuals?
  
Chambi Chachage
  
I didn’t expect Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire’s Open Letter to Contemporary African Intellectuals to go viral. I thought it would simply be dismissed as a recycling of exhausted critiques and criticisms. Yet I shared it online enthusiastically.

The letter hardly generated a debate in a listserv that boasts a number of African intellectuals, moderated by none other than the celebrated Nigerian Professor, Toyin Falola. It is as if these seasoned debaters felt they had been there before. In Wanazuoni, once promoting itself as a listserv of young Tanzania’s intellectuals, the letter almost passed unnoticed. Yet some responded to Mwesigire’s and he has now issued a rejoinder.

One thing in particular has raised my eyebrows. He writes: “The relevant intellectual centres contemporary Africa in their thinking.” For him, “the contemporaneous intellectual considers Africa’s contemporary needs and centres their ideas around satisfying these.” His definition is centered on contrasting this so-called contemporary intellectual with the “Afrocentric intellectual”, who allegedly “holds up the bygone African as the ideal”, and the “mimic intellectual” who apparently “exalts European modernism as the ideal, the developed.”

 In this regard Mwesigire’s “contemporaneous intellectual is keen to consider the current African reality independent of fantasies of Europe and the African past.” He/She is not only into solving his/her (African) problems, but also into defining them in their own (African) right. “Contemporaneousness”, in his terms,  “has no room for authenticity as a static idea, nor modernity as a Europe-manufactured product” for the “African has the agency to solve their problems while centring their needs, and not by the standards set by Euro-America modernity or ancient African ancestors.”

By way of digressing it is interesting to note that Mwesigire’s compatriot, Mahmood Mamdani, has been busy teaching students of Africa about defining a problem before solving it. This is how he puts in one context: “How you define the problem shapes the solution. So ‘definition’ is crucial. ‘Definition’ tells you what the problem is…. Every doctor knows that diagnosis is at the heart of medicine; not prescription. Wrong diagnosis, wrong prescription, and the patient will die. The heart of medicine lies in the analysis.”

In another context Mamdani puts it this way: “Consultants presume that research is all about finding answers to problems defined by a client. They think of research as finding answers, not as formulating a problem…. The old model looked for answers outside the problem. It was utopian because it imposed externally formulated answers. A new model must look for answers within the parameters of the problem. This is why the starting point must go beyond an understanding of the problem, to identifying initiatives that seek to cope with the problem…One, key to research is the formulation of the problem of research. Two, the definition of the research problem should stem from a dual engagement: on the one hand, a critical engagement with the society at large and, on the other, a critical grasp of disciplinary literature, world-wide, so as to identify key debates within the literature and locate specific queries within those debates.”

However, as we all know, most of these problems did not start today. Many of them hardly started yesterday. It is thus myopic to ignore the centrality of what Mwesigire refers to “Ancient African ancestors” and the “standards” they set. I, for one, am not a fan of “Afrocentric romanticism.” Like Frantz Fanon, I am wary of “tom-toms”. Yet I appreciate applicable attempts to show why it is important to center ancient Africa in our contemporary reality and daily analysis.

Recently Ernest Wamba dia Wamba aptly explained such centrality in his public lectures, which should be published and circulated far and wide in the African world, this way: “When you read any scientific book, by the Western scientists especially, terms used to name certain objects or elements refer to ancient Latin or Greek; the Indian scientists sometime refer their concepts to ancient Sanskrit. Those who studied some African languages found that many basic words have ancient KMTian [Kemet-ian] roots. For purpose of unity in the African research, through African languages, why not make the study of the Ancient Egyptian necessary?”

Wamba thus responds to that rhetorical question: “This would also enhance the development of African languages. We saw that in terms of social philosophy, solidarity is the mark of African traditional cultures. Despite the pressure of peripheral capitalism on societies, the extended family is not disappearing. Expectations for social happiness, for a sacred leadership above corruption, above the desire to accumulate and promotes sharing, which is against lies and mediocrity are still alive in our societies. One has just to go through the African proverbs to be convinced of this. To some extent, we may say that there are still remnants of the KMT social paradigm. Why not formalize this as part of the basic compass in our African societies?”

He also remind us that: “The foundation of African scientific research is still based on a philosophy of returning to the Western sources, not having our own sources and borrowing and learning from other sources as well as other people do. Did Plato go to Greece to look for data and go to Egypt to write his thesis? He studied and learned what he could and went back home and wrote in his language. We find it difficult to do the same because we have neglected our languages and have adopted other people’s languages and call them ‘languages of culture’ as if ours are culturally barren.”

To prove that he is not simply romanticizing the African past, Wamba thus shares his own experience: “I have been involved in the translation of Ancient Egyptian texts into African languages and I have been finding those texts very enlightening and awakening. Some of them touch on crucial issues we have been struggling with: spirituality, morality, leadership, unity, solidarity, etc.”

As if he is directly speaking to Mwesigire, Wamba adds this disclaimer: “We are not advocating a return to the KMT sources, we are advocating a recourse to those sources as a basis of our education system.”

Then comes my favorite passage from Wamba: “I was at Harvard University when the Chinese President spoke there explaining why China decided to open again to the outside world.  It was a historical speech, summarizing a history of more than one thousand years, explaining when China closed to itself and why and when it opened to the outside world and why. It was very instructive. I wondered then whether an African president could have spoken basing his/her speech on one thousand years. What we often hear does not even go as far as the colonial period! And this is due to the kind of education system we have—the one left by colonialists with some patches of modernity.”

While the scramblers of Africa are busy defining themselves in terms of what they consider to be their celebrated past that stretches to the distant past, in general we are busy truncating our history to the ‘postcolony’. No wonder Wamba’s erstwhile colleague, Mamdani made this related poignant observation: “The principal contestants for Africa’s resources – China and the US – are busy defining Africa’s problem from their vantage point. Each would like to provide the solution to Africa’s problems.”

Mamdani also raises these important questions and recommendations: “These days we do not get tired talking of the need for ‘African solutions to African problems.’ What do we mean by this?  Is this mantra meant to justify the same militarized solutions so long as these are implemented by Africans?  Or is it a call for cultivating an independent mindset, one that is African because it is shaped by African experiences. Our primary need, I suggest, is to formulate a narrative that will make sense of our experience.”

The ancient past is contemporarily present. Hence path dependency continues to shape Africa’s trajectory. African intellectuals can make sense of our experiences and formulate sensible narratives and practical solutions to our problems by looking back and forth.

Things don’t have to fall apart. Our African center can indeed hold. Pan-Africanism.

Book and Conference on Africa's Development

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

CSOs on the Role of BOT in Handling ESCROW

"We have reviewed the National Audit Office (NAO) report to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), PAC’s report to the National Assembly on November 26th 2014, and numerous related documents, and....WE ARE CONCERNED about the ease with which the [TEGETA ESCROW ACCOUNT (TEA)] funds were transferred from the Bank of Tanzania (BOT) to private banks, and subsequently to individual bank accounts. These acts manifest a lack of due diligence on the part of the parties concerned. We highlight below numerous related concerns....Although the Bank of Tanzania took steps to indemnify itself against potential legal challenges related to the TEA, it failed to undertake its own due diligence of the case, relying on guarantees by interested parties...." - Policy Forum, Tanzania Coalition on Debt and Development, ACTIVISTA, Tanzania Youth Vision Association, SIKIKA, Action Aid Tanzania, HakiElimu  &Youth Partnership Countrywide in a 'PRESS STATEMENT: Power sector fraud tests the Tanzanian government’s integrity and accountability.

Monday, December 15, 2014

PAC, CAG na MEM - Nani Muongo?

"Mheshimiwa Spika, Kamati imepitia Mkataba wa mauzo ya Hisa kati ya Kampuni ya PAP na VIP na kuthibitisha kuwa Waziri wa Nishati na Madini Mheshimiwa Prof. Sospeter Muhongo (Mb) ndiye alikuwa kiungo kati ya Bw. Harbinder Singh Sethi wa IPTL na Ndg. Rugemalira wa VIP (Kiambatisho Na. 16). Katika mkataba huo wa tarehe 19 Agosti, 2013. Ndg. James Rugemalila alithibitisha kuwa Waziri wa Nishati na Madini Mhe. Prof. Sospeter Muhongo alimwomba kuwasilisha kiasi cha fedha ambacho angependa kulipwa na IPTL ili kumaliza Shauri lililokuwepo mahakamani. Aidha, Bw. Sethi aliwasilisha kwa Bw. Rugemalira ushahidi kwamba PAP imenunua Hisa 7 za Mechmar katika IPTL. “On 11th July 2013, the Minister of Energy and Minerals, Hon. Dr. Prof. Sospeter Muhongo invited VIP to submit to him the amount of money if paid VIP would conclusively settle VIP claims against IPTL”Mheshimiwa Spika, mchakato wote wa kutoa fedha katika Akaunti ya Tegeta ESCROW ndipo ulipoanza na mauzo ya hisa za VIP kwenda PAP na baadaye kuhitimishwa na maamuzi ya Mahakama Kuu ya tarehe 5 Septemba, 2013 ambayo ndiyo yaliyotumika kuhalalisha utoaji wa fedha katika Akaunti ya Tegeta ESCROW tarehe 28 Novemba hadi 5 Desemba, 2013" - UKURASA WA 58 WA 'TAARIFA YA KAMATI [YA KUDUMU YA BUNGE YA HESABU ZA SERIKALI (PAC)] KUFUATIA MATOKEO YA UKAGUZI MAALUM WA MDHIBITI NA MKAGUZI MKUU WA HESABU ZA SERIKALI KATIKA AKAUNTI YA TEGETA ESCROW ILIYOKUWA KATIKA BENKI KUU YA TANZANIA'

"Mheshimiwa Spika, Kutokana na tofauti zilizokuwepo kati ya MECHMAR na VIP kuanzia mwanzo wa mradi, VIP iliamua kuuza Hisa zake zilizoko IPTL kwa makampuni mbalimbali kwa nyakati tofauti ikiwemo MECHMAR kama mwanahisa mwenzake, NSSF, Camel Oil, Great White Shark Opportunity Fund pamoja na SYMBION lakini haikuwezekana kutokana na kutoafikiana katika bei. Mheshimiwa Spika, Baadaye VIP chini ya usuluhishi ya RITA, iliuza Hisa zake kwa PAP kwa thamani ya Dola za Marekani milioni sabini na tano (US$ 75,000,000/=). Ununuzi wa Hisa Asilimia 30 za VIP uliofanywa na PAP ndiyo uliyomaliza mgogoro wa Wanahisa uliyokuwa Mahakamani na kuufanya Mtambo wa IPTL kumilikiwa na PAP kwa kuwa ndiyo iliyomiliki Hisa zote Asilimia 100 za IPTL. Taarifa ya PAC: Katika ukurasa wa 58 wa Taarifa ya PAC imeelezwa kuwa Waziri wa Nishati na Madini ndiye aliyekuwa Dalali Mkuu aliyewakutanisha Bw Harbinder Sethi na Bw James Rugemalira     Ufafanuzi Mheshimiwa Spika, Taarifa hii siyo sahihi kwa kuwa tangu tarehe 9 Novemba, 2011, RITA aliitisha mkutano na kuwakutanisha wadau wote wa IPTL. Wakati huo, Waziri wa Nishati na Madini aliyeko sasa alikuwa bado hajateuliwa kwenye wadhifa huo"  - UKURASA WA 11-12 WA 'UTETEZI WA SERIKALI' KUPITIA WIZARA YA NISHATI NA MADINI (MEM)

"Tarehe 15 Agosti 2013 kampuni ya VIP iliingia makubaliano na PAP ya kuuza hisa tatu (3) katika IPTL, ambapo utekelezaji wa makubaliano hayo ulianza rasmi tarehe 19 Agosti 2013 kulingana na Kipengele Na. 1.26 cha Makubaliano ya Uuzaji na Ununuzi wa Hisa hizo (Kielelezo 65 ). Wakati wa makubalino hayo yanafanyika kampuni ya IPTL ilikuwa katika ufilisi. Mahakama Kuu ya Tanzania iliridhia (taking judicial notice) makubaliano haya katika hukumu ya tarehe 5 Septemba 2013" - UKURASA WA 29 WA 'TAARIFA YA UKAGUZI MAALUM [WA MDHIBITI NA MKAGUZI MKUU WA HESABU ZA SERIKALI (CAG) KUHUSIANA NA MIAMALA ILIYOFANYIKA KATIKA KAUNTI YA 'ESCROW' YA TEGETA, PAMOJA NA UMILIKI WA KAMPUNr YA IPTL ILIYOWASILISHWA NA CAG KWA KATIBU WA BUNGE'

Africa

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Dar es Salaam

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