East Africa rising…?

01 Nov

I wanted to link a couple of interesting articles this morning talking about the emerging importance of East Africa. As the balance of power in the world shifts, the dynamics of trade, governance and especially the management of the environment become ever more important.  As we surpassed the ‘7 billion people’ mark this past month, the realization that the world is getting smaller and smaller is more pertinent than ever.  This growth presents an excellent opportunity for emerging economies such as those in eastern Africa.  Harnessing the power of people in the region will ultimately be inextricably linked to providing good environmental governance. As the region’s population grows, it’s economic potential is not only linked to the availability of a skilled workforce but how that workforce interacts with the environment and the Ecosystem Goods and Services derived from it.  Have a look at these two perspectives on the population growth and the strategic importance of the East African region.  Let me know your thoughts:




Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “East Africa rising…?

  1. Paul Shaffner

    November 1, 2011 at 13:27

    Thanks for the articles and thoughts, Bryan. I came across an article last night called “The Dark Side of Dubai” and have been reflecting on it:

    All of the commentary that I’ve heard on the ‘7 billion’ story is a retelling of an antiquated (and I would argue, dangerous) Malthusian mindset (overpopulation is the problem). Few international leaders actually want to commit to real reform of economic institutions or talk in a real way about how to combat over-consumption and the abuse inherent in the current global economic system.

    • bryanadkins

      November 2, 2011 at 23:06

      Hi Paul – absolutely agreed. I commented on your blog. I agree that the Malthusian explanation is convenient (and maybe even happening in a few case studies ie Darfur) but that it leaves out a major cog in the wheel, and that that cog is our own self-reflection on our inputs in to a disparate system. I think that there is always a more insidious political ecology of degradation going on in that type of disaster which equally, if not more so, points the fingers back at our own ill-reformed, poorly spatially and temporally planned institutions, and those institutions are not dynamic enough to change until a true crisis comes.

  2. Mr Benny

    November 2, 2011 at 03:21

    Hello Brain. I usually dismiss blogs as uninformed drivvle compiled by people with too much time on their hands. I prefer to read the Economist. Your blogs are usually slighty above par in their content and as I am stuck in an airport with too much time on my hands I thought I would poke my oar in the surf. First off I agree that it is an exciting time for EA and living in Mombasa is much more interesting and up beat than my home city. Mombasa is growing. London is not really. Education levels are improving and a middle class is raising its potentially government altering head. Transparency is improving and trade not aid will eventually become the status quo.

    However to postulate that Germany needs more skilled labour that could be supplied by Kenya is a very futuristic view. I have just spent the last year working with some of Germany’s highest paid skilled labour. These guys did not grow up with a Degree from Kitale College and a work experience packing Kimbo. They were moulded through the powerhouses of German industry that have been producing high end products for the world for a couple of hundred years and still provide most of its exports. I’m not saying Kenya cannot produce valuable skilled labourers. It can. But it will take time. As stated there is a huge base of young educated people but Kenya needs to develop industries to employ these people. The increase in educated youngsters is not being matched by the job market. A degree does not make an engineer bwana.

    I do not see the opportunity for young Kenya in Europe in the mid-term. Europe has lots of skilled labour and is laying people off faster than we employ. The opportunity is at home. There are some great opportunities in Kenya. The growth of Mombasa Port, a new port in Lamu, rail and road projects, potential Oil and Gas discoveries up north and offshore, mining, wind farms, geothermal etc. Using these projects to train youngsters would give these guys a massive advantage in the future as the rest of the region opens up. South Sudan will grow like mad as soon as the government stabilizes a bit. Uganda has just found lots of oil that will need some serious investment to produce and a bloody great pipe running through Kenya. Somalia (and Puntland / Somaliland if they are actually countries) is completely buggered. But one day it won’t be (inshallah!) and they’ll be a whole country that needs building! Germany rules the waves in Europe when it comes to economic might. There is no reason Kenya cannot be the Germany of EA.

    I admit I have taken an industrial standpoint but that is because I do not understand how other ways of making cash works. I will assume that service industries, banking etc will need to develop to support the industry and create yet more opportunity for Kenya.

    Unfortunately all the above will be difficult to balance with the Ecosystem Goods and Services…whatever they are…maybe you can enlighten me! Either way we need a Tusker soon man!

    Salaams from a grey Amsterdam!

  3. bryanadkins

    November 2, 2011 at 23:01

    Hallo Ben,

    Good thoughts and I certainly agree with you that placing Germany and Kenya on par in terms of economic indicators is optimistic at best. As you have put it, there will always be a need for highly regarded technical expertise, honed over generations. It is always the hope that as that expansion in eastern Africa occurs, much of the talent of engineers such as yourself will be retained and even more so, local capacity will be built. This will also be an important draw for the estimated 6 million Kenyans in the diaspora, most with multiple degrees and skills. However, what I believe the author is saying is creating this environment that will be attractive and supportive to that kind of growth is possible in Kenya, not that it is somehow going to die out completely in Germany (if that is what he is saying I disagree). Furthermore, what I was adding to the fray was that it is possible yes, but only if we begin to build a foundation of environmental governance in the first place, a foundation that safeguards the Ecosystem Goods and Services (EGS) on which that population growth is built. By EGS, I mean the things we get free from the earth and things that would otherwise be too costly to replicate such as pollination of our crops by insects, hydrological cycling etc. Many researchers estimate that these goods and services are worth more than 30 trillion $$ annually, and most can not be replicated by technology. All of those things, if not properly managed can be destroyed at the local level, leading to either costly imports, or just less supportive environments on which to build all of that growth. So in short, growth is possible in Kenya, but dependent on capacity building at the professional level and establishing a foundation of environmental governance and the very basis.

    Hope you are well brother. Looking forward to seeing you again sometime soon.



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