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Daily Nation : February 16th 2014
34 | Business There’s no pride in leading a beggar nation SUNNY DAY | Sunny Bindra Myopia: Sending relief food to Kenyans is not a victory of any sort; it is a national shame igwigs flagging off something. hey weren’t launching a race or pening a road; they were flaging off a convoy of relief food. or the long-starving people of urkana. I tweeted at the time: you don’t I flag off relief food in front of the cameras; you send it quickly, quietly and shamefacedly. The president himself was re- peating the exercise a few days later, seeing off relief supplies to a number of counties. However, he was more candid and admitted that sending relief food to starving Kenyans is not an achievement; it’s an embarrassment. And he is right. The fact that people starve in this country fifty years after independence should be a source of deep national shame. Where is the achievement in feeding the starving? Yes, it is vitally necessary to save lives when emergency situations are encountered. But that in itself is not a triumph; the true impact is to create a situation in which future episodes of widespread starvation never occur. I often see groups of private do-gooders getting together to buy food with which to feed the poor. No problem with that, but all you’ve done is fill a few stomachs for a day. Who will fill them tomorrow? And why do so few people ever get together to address the bigger deal here: of ensuring people don’t ever need was flicking TV channels a while back and came upon the spectacle of assorted GoK food are taken care of, you see. The only answer to recurring famine is to attack the cause, not just the symptom. It is to create diversified income streams. So the answers lie in education, awareness, rural infrastructure, income diversification schemes, irrigation and modern farming. I repeat what I wrote in 2011: “In a modern economy, a famine is a moral and intellectual disgrace. It is yet another blot on the tattered national CV. It records our failure to modernise our rural economy, prioritise our spending, rationalise our planning.” We can solve this, but we FILE | NATION A boy picks spilled maize grains at Chokochok in Turkana Central where government distributed relief food to starving residents. humiliating handouts? We can forgive the givers of private charity for not having a greater vision or intent, but we cannot forgive governments, at national or county level. No government should be proud to lead a beggar nation or a poverty stricken county. Every government should be focused on connecting the dots and fixing the bigger problem: of education, of ability and of exchange. President Kenyatta has indicated that it is these problems he is interested in tackling. I have written here before: It The only answer to recurring famine is to attack the cause, not just the symptom” is the failures of men that make famines, not the heartlessness of God. Hunger and deprivation are not immutable. A famine is not caused by lack of food, for the world has plenty of food. A famine is caused by a lack of entitlement to food. That is why, in even the most vulnerable and drought-prone counties, the governors, senators and MPs will never starve, and nor will other bigwigs. Their entitlements to choose not to. We choose to pretend that famines are caused by failed rains. We choose to keep people ignorant so that they can be grateful to be saved by the powers that be. Any person who gives it more than a moment’s thought will know that giving someone food is merely a gesture, a bagatelle. There are bigger deals that await us, but we settle for the smaller ones, those that offer short-term relief but no sustained gain. At some stage we have to realise that settling for the smaller action and expecting applause is a very small deal indeed. The bigger deal is to work quietly and with great urgency, for the greater good and the longer term. We hope this government can begin to crack the real problems of poverty and hunger, which so many predecessors have neglected. www.sunwords.com Curiosity and vanity every scammer’s bait TECHNOLOGY | Sam Wambugu Persuasive: Some schemes involve emails that appear to be from Facebook itself, or other popular sites sending money through mobile phone services, there are many others operating under the veil of the internet and e-mail, who trick people into losing personal valuable information as well as their bank accounts. The good news is that, with a J little bit of foreknowledge, these hoaxes are easy to detect. Hidden within the colourful prose of your average e-mail hoax often lurk telling indicators of the email’s veracity. Hoax writers want their mate- rial to spread as far and as fast as possible. Almost every hoax e-mail will, in some way, exhort you to send it to other people. Some e-mail hoaxes take a more targeted approach and suggest that you send the e-mail to a specified number of people in order to collect a prize or realise some kind of benefit. For the last 15 years, we have gotten used to these online scams. But for the uninitiated, be wary of any e-mail that asks you to click on a link and provide sensitive personal information such as banking details. If you have been using e-mail for any length of time, at some point you ust like there are many conmen in Kenya, especially in jails, who lure people into have probably received an e-mail in the form of a petition. The message requests you to “sign” the petition by adding your name before sending it on to others in your address book. E-mails of this nature generally contain a few paragraphs of text explaining the purpose and intended goals of the petition as well as instructions about how to sign and forward the message. Such petitions are of no value since the e-mail originator has no way of ascertaining the authenticity of the signatures. Some scams involve e-mails that appear to be from Facebook itself, or popular sites. Armed with user names and passwords, thieves will hijack Facebook accounts to target people on their friends list. A simple scheme might use a template from a genuine Face- ‘‘ book e-mail to ask millions of people to update their security questions because of unauthorised access attempts against their accounts. Then when you do, the scamsters snatch your personal information. Still more vulnerable are the many users who accept all friend invitations, along with those having low or no security settings on their accounts. Scammers are also active on twitter. You can get a message like “Can you believe she posted this about you?” with a link attached. Of course your first thought is “Who said what?”, and you want to click on the link. You should never click on these links though. Get it from me − no one said anything about you and if you do go ahead and click on the link you will probably be hit with some nasty malware that could lead to identity theft. A malware is software that at- tacks the user’s computer − or for phishing, the act of trying to gather credit card numbers, passwords or other personal information through links to phony giveaways or contests. Now, there is also too-common Profile Viewer Tracking malware on Facebook. That you click on a link on a Facebook profile and see how many people have seen your profile. However, this is just not a fea- ture that Facebook offers. There is no programme that you can download that will show you who has viewed your Facebook profile. If you try to download one of these programmes, you will probably be left with some type of malware. Simply liking a post, or the More vulnerable are many users who accept all friend invitations, and also those with low security settings” page itself, can’t spread a virus or phish a user. But malicious Facebook apps can, as can external links that page owners may choose to share to their followers. A common denominator in most of these scams is the desire to make easy money, curiosity and vanity. Sam Wambugu is a monitoring and evaluation specialist. Samwambugu@gmail.com SUNDAY NATION February 16, 2014 Kenya fails to finalise trade pact with EU FILE | NATION Ms Jane Ngine, chief executive of the Kenya Flower Council. CONTINUED FROM PAGE 33 “The negotiators did not push hard enough for a common position for the region,” added the official. Because of slow progress towards a deal, it will require a year or so to take the EPAs through ratification procedures. “While EAC won’t budge on ex- port taxes, the EU has a red line on existing customs union with other trade blocs. We think government officials should spend more time resolving the pending issues,” said Jane Ngige, chief executive officer of the Kenya Flower Council. “We urge government officials to push harder,” said Stephen Mbithi, CEO of the Fresh Produce and Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK) who, along with Ms Ngige, was part of the team of trade and foreign affairs officials. Some 15 specific rules of origin are among the outstanding issues that need a lot of time to be resolved. Another sticking point are the divergent views among EAC member states in negotiations leading to the delayed conclusion of the EPA. But other EAC members could still find a lifeline under the Everything But Arms initiative, which covers least-developed countries, a category to which Kenya no longer belongs. Threatened to terminate offer Technocrats in East Africa claim Europe is partly to blame for the delay in concluding the talks after it introduced issues like good governance in tax matters. The EU is also concerned about other trading blocs with which the EAC has free trade quotas including the US Agoa initiative and the Tripartite Agreement that brings together Comesa, SADC and the EAC blocs. But the EU denies these claims and has threatened to terminate the interim offer signed in 2007 that would deny preferential market access terms to countries that have not signed full EPAs with it by October this year. “EAC won’t budge on export taxes, but the EU will be careful not to have coffee and tea reverting to the GSP,” said an official not authorised to speak to the media. Recently, EU delegation chief in Kenya Lodewijk Briët warned that Kenya risks being left out of the agreement. “Although negotiations are at an advanced stage, only a few issues to do with the pact have been finalised,” he said.
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February 17th 2014