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You can’t manage what you can’t measure, but not in Tanzania

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By AIDAN EYAKUZE
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Experts say it took just four minutes from beginning to end.

First, some sensors failed. Then the pilots lost control of the plane, it stalled, went into freefall and smashed into the surface of the Atlantic Ocean at a force 35 times greater than that of normal gravity. None of the 228 people on board the May 31, 2009 Air France flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris survived.

The tragedy that unfolded that night was triggered by failed airspeed sensors. Without the air speed reading, the computer systems failed and the pilots, flying literally data-blind, were unable to regain control of the aircraft.

Statistics are society’s sensors. Independently collected, processed, disseminated and debated, they are vital to the health of a country. We supress, fabricate or ignore them at our peril. At the risk of stretching the Air France 447 example to breaking point, sensor failure can be fatal.

Amending Tanzania’s Statistics Act

According to the website of Tanzania’s parliament, MPs last week passed the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments (No.3) Bill 2018. It contains nine substantive amendments to the Statistics Act 2015.

Most are positive – for example the offence of publishing statistics that are “false” or “may result to the distortion of facts” has been removed. But one proposed change is truly alarming. The amendments introduce the following new text in Article 24A(2):
“A person shall not disseminate or otherwise communicate to the public any statistical information that is intended to invalidate, distort, or discredit official statistics.”

This article means that, if any official statistics happen to be incorrect (or even just disputable), then pointing out the problem and correcting it will be illegal. Any commentary querying or challenging official data would arguably be illegal under the amended Act, regardless of whether such commentary was correct or not.

Indeed, this clause effectively outlaws fact-checking, unless any fact-checking confirms that the facts being checked are correct. Further, publication of any statistical information that contradicts, or merely cast doubt on, official statistics, could be prohibited under this amendment.

The value of independent statistics

Independent statistics can save lives. The Ramani Huria project has mapped poor, flood-prone areas in Dar es Salaam for flood modelling and therefore better upkeep of the infrastructure, improved warning systems, and improved and more accurate response in event of a flood crisis.

Under the proposed amendments to the Statistics Act, these independently produced maps and the potentially lifesaving information they contain could become illegal.

Independent statistics – when credible and transparent – can help boost the economy. Small business retailers are important to Tanzania’s economy, and could also be an important source of revenue.

But, according to a 2017 report, “There are no official statistics on the number of small business retailers in Tanzania. However, secondary research data … indicates that the total addressable market (TAM) is quite large and unpenetrated: One interviewee made a rough approximation of between 350,000 and 500,000 small retailers in the country.”

These numbers would not exist were they not collected – and made public – by independent (non-state) entities.

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Independent statistics, or data collected using methods pioneered by non-state actors, can improve inclusiveness.

A recent water point mapping (WPM) exercise carried out jointly by the World Bank and the Tanzanian government and inspired largely by WPM methodology developed by WaterAid, helped to make a strong case that the resources mobilised during the first phase of the Water Sector Development Programme (2007-2014), which increased Tanzania’s spending on water by a factor of four, had not led to the anticipated improvements in access to clean water.

This motivated reflection by government and donors to ensure that future investments would have their desired impact. In addition, the government has recognised that WPM data can be a useful input to identify wards and villages with the greatest need and opportunity.

Governments benefit from understanding what citizens say they want and need. Unfortunately, those sentiments are almost never accurately captured in official data and statistics.

Afrobarometer surveys inform government policymakers about what citizens want. Of course, this does not always mean that the policymakers will decide to prioritise goals in exactly the same way, because of competing opportunities and constraints on policymaking and implementation. But without this feedback, governments may be surprised by negative reactions to their efforts.

While public sentiment is often expressed in other ways than public opinion surveys — such as through protests, social media, etc — the discipline of rigorous independent statistics allows researchers to be sure that such opinions actually represent the views of a larger population and to identify differences of opinion within key segments.

Independent actors can fill crucial gaps in how public service delivery is monitored. This example from Uganda is instructive: In June 2003, the results of the first directly observed study of teacher attendance in a national sample of 100 Ugandan schools was presented to the Ministry of Education.

The data revealed that more than one in four teachers who were supposed to be in class were away from school. The unanimous official review was that the methodology was invalid and the problem was nowhere near as large.

Three years later, in May of 2006, another independent national survey of schools yielded similar results to the 2003 survey. This time the review was mixed. A reluctant minority of officials acknowledged the problem.

By the beginning of 2008, the ministry started discussing teacher absenteeism as an important challenge in service delivery. In May 2018, the Office of Prime Minister announced an initiative to use biometric machines and monetary penalties in 20 pilot districts to address the problem of teacher absenteeism.

Avoiding disasters through statistics

There is little visible drama in the lives damaged by flooding, poor access to clean water, or even teacher absenteeism, when compared with the instant tragedy of the AF 447 disaster. However, the underlying principle is the same: All sorts of disasters can be averted when decisions about what to invest in are informed by as complete a set of data and statistics as can be mustered.

Official statistics alone are a small part of the full picture. Independent statistics make a huge difference. We need them to get a more accurate reading of our airspeed and to ensure there is sufficient lift under our collective wings. Amendments to Tanzania’s Statistics Act must promote independent statistics.

Aidan Eyakuze is executive director of Twaweza. This article was first published on Oxfamblogs.org

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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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