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Saturday, February 8th, 2020

 

Coronavirus: « Le gouvernement chinois reste entièrement mobilisé pour combattre la maladie » (ministre)

Publié le 08.02.2020 à 23h18 par APA

Le gouvernement de la République populaire de Chine reste entièrement mobilisé pour combattre l’épidémie de coronavirus, selon son Conseiller d’Etat, ministre des Affaires étrangères, Wang Yi. »Le Ministre YI a (…) assuré que le gouvernement chinois reste entièrement mobilisé pour combattre la maladie, comme en témoignent les moyens importants déployés, notamment la construction en toute urgence d’hôpitaux dotés des meilleurs équipements et la mobilisation d’un personnel hautement qualifié », indique un communiqué du ministère sénégalais des Affaires étrangères.

Le texte rend compte d’un entretien téléphonique, ce samedi, entre Amadou Ba, ministre des Affaires étrangères de la République du Sénégal avec Wang Yi, Conseiller d’Etat, ministre des Affaires étrangères de la République Populaire de Chine.

Selon le communiqué, le ministre Wang Yi a aussi donné des indications sur le faible taux de mortalité et de transmission de la maladie et s’est dit confiant quant à l’évolution positive de la situation au vu des dernières tendances enregistrées.

« Dans l’esprit des relations amicales empreintes d’estime et de confiance mutuelle entre les deux pays, le Ministre Wang Yi tenait à informer personnellement son homologue sénégalais de l’évolution de l’épidémie du coronavirus et des mesures prises par le gouvernement chinois pour lutter contre la maladie et endiguer l’épidémie. A ce sujet, le ministre Wang Yi a indiqué à son homologue que les mesures ainsi prises, conformément aux normes et standards internationaux recommandés par l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé, sont rigoureusement appliquées par le gouvernement chinois, avec la meilleure expertise et les moyens les plus adéquats. Ces mesures, incluant la prévention, les soins et le suivi sanitaire, bénéficient à toutes les personnes concernées, sans discrimination selon qu’elles soient chinoises ou étrangères, y compris nos 13 compatriotes résidant dans la ville de Wuhan, épicentre de l’épidémie », poursuit le communiqué.

En retour, note notre source, le ministre Amadou Ba, après s’être enquis des nouvelles de nos 13 compatriotes résidant à Wuhan, a vivement remercié son homologue pour son appel et son exposé clair et exhaustif, et lui a réitéré la solidarité du peuple et du gouvernement sénégalais à l’endroit du peuple et du gouvernement chinois. Il a également pris bonne note, avec satisfaction, des explications fournies par son homologue et lui a renouvelé l’entière confiance du Sénégal quant à la capacité du gouvernement chinois de venir à bout de l’épidémie du coronavirus. 

Les deux ministres ont, enfin, évoqué des questions d’intérêt commun touchant à la coopération bilatérale entre les deux pays et au processus préparatoire de la prochaine Conférence du Forum de coopération sino africain prévu en 2021 à Dakar.


Thaïlande: tirs nourris dans le centre commercial attaqué par un militaire

Publié le 08.02.2020 à 22h50 par AFP

Des tirs nourris étaient entendus avant l’aube dimanche dans un centre commercial d’une ville du nord-est de la Thaïlande où un militaire semble s’être réfugié, après avoir tué au moins vingt personnes à l’arme automatique, lors d’un périple meurtrier.

Une équipe de l’AFP a entendu une fusillade aux abord du centre Terminal 21 de Nakhon Ratchasima, encerclé par la police et l’armée, dans lequel Jakraphanth Thomma, jeune adjudant-chef, a tiré sur la foule plus tôt dans la soirée.

Dans la nuit, des dizaines de clients terrifiés étaient évacués de ce centre très populaire, dont la police a déclaré avoir « pris le contrôle » du rez-de-chaussée, sans toutefois pouvoir donner de précision sur l’endroit où pouvait se trouver l’assaillant.

Le bilan provisoire de la tuerie s’élevait à « environ 20 morts », selon le porte-parole du ministère de la Défense, Kongcheep Tantravanich.

Les policiers qui encerclaient le centre demandaient aux personnes quittant les lieux de sortir « en levant les bras » et de s’identifier, pour empêcher le tireur de fuir en se fondant dans la foule. « Les autorités vous évacueront », assuraient les forces de l’ordre.

Un nombre inconnu de clients restaient dans les nombreux étages du complexe très populaire, où le tireur pourrait avoir trouvé refuge.

« Il y a avait beaucoup de monde dans le centre commercial aujourd’hui » a déclaré à l’AFP un habitué âgé de 32 ans, qui se trouvait sur les lieux avant l’attaque. « Quand j’ai appris ce qui s’était passé, j’étais sous le choc, j’avais quitté l’endroit peu de temps avant ».

« La police, les commandos de l’armée et des tireurs d’élite encerclent » le bâtiment, a-t-il ajouté.

Le ministre de la Santé a déclaré aux journalistes qu’environ 10 blessés en « état grave » avaient été hospitalisés.

– Il a posté des vidéos sur Facebook –

Dans la soirée, des photos et vidéos sur les réseaux sociaux montraient des scènes de panique, des personnes en train de fuir et ce qui ressemble à des rafales d’arme automatique.

Le soldat a également posté des vidéos et photos de lui et plusieurs messages sur sa page Facebook: « Dois-je me rendre? », ou encore « Personne ne peut échapper à la mort ».

Dans une vidéo, qui a été supprimée depuis, Jakrapanth Thomma, portant un casque de l’armée, filmait depuis sa jeep en disant « Je suis fatigué (…) Je ne peux plus appuyer mon doigt », mimant la forme d’une gâchette avec sa main.

Des photos d’un homme portant un masque de ski et brandissant un pistolet ont également été postées.

Une porte-parole de facebook a déclaré à l’AFP que le réseau social avait « fermé le compte du tireur et allait travailler nuit et jour pour retirer tout contenu illégal en rapport avec cette attaque dès que nous en aurons connaissance. »

La tuerie a commencé samedi en fin d’après-midi à Nakhon Ratchasima, ville également appelée Korat, sur une base militaire, a indiqué la police.

Trois personnes y ont été tuées, dont au moins un soldat, lorsque l’adjudant-chef Jakrapanth Thomma a ouvert le feu, d’abord au domicile d’un officier supérieur, puis dans la caserne.

« Il a volé un véhicule militaire et s’est rendu dans le centre-ville », selon le lieutenant-colonel Mongkol Kuptasiri.

Là, il s’est introduit dans le centre commercial et a ouvert le feu au hasard sur les clients avec des armes dérobées dans l’arsenal de la base, provoquant un carnage.

« Le tireur armé d’une mitrailleuse s’en est pris à des victimes innocentes » a déclaré le porte-parole.

Les hôpitaux, dans lesquels des volontaires ont commencé à affluer pour donner leur sang, se préparaient à accueillir d’autres victimes, si nécessaire.

La Thaïlande est l’un des pays les plus armés au monde.

Plusieurs fusillades dans des tribunaux à la fin de l’année dernière avaient provoqué l’inquiétude à propos du grand nombre d’armes en circulation dans le pays d’Asie du Sud-Est.

Une autre affaire a eu un grand retentissement en Thaïlande le mois dernier, lorsqu’un braqueur masqué avait dévalisé une bijouterie, tuant trois personnes dont un garçon de deux ans.


Les Journées africaines de l’écologie et du changement climatique prévues à Yamoussoukro

Publié le 08.02.2020 à 22h18 par APA

Le lancement officiel de la 3è édition des Journées africaines de l’écologie et du changement climatique (JFAC 2020) devant se dérouler du 16 au 21 mars 2020 à Yamoussoukro, est prévu le 10 février 2020, rapporte une note transmise mardi à APA.« Le lancement officiel des Journées africaines de l’écologie et du changement climatique (JFAC 2020) se fera le 10 février 2020 dans un réceptif hôtelier», a annoncé le ministre ivoirien de l’Environnement et du développement durable, lors d’une réunion à son Cabinet, à Abidjan le 3 février dernier. 

Ces journées, placées sous le thème «Transition écologique dans les territoires et employabilité des jeunes», dira-t-il, visent à « toucher le plus grand nombre de personnes et mettre toutes les populations ivoiriennes de l’intérieur au cœur des problématiques environnementales ».

En vue d’une réussite de l’évènement, le ministre de l’Environnement et du développement durable, a eu une séance de travail avec le Conseil régional du Bélier (centre), représenté par son 2è vice-président, M. Raymond Konan et le directeur de Cabinet, M. Eugène N’Guessan. 

Déroulant les grandes activités de ces JFAC 2020, le président du Comité d’organisation, M. Moïse Aboua Assi, chef de Cabinet du ministère de l’Environnement et du développement durable, a évoqué des actions de formations au profit des jeunes de la Région.

M. Aboua a annoncé une caravane de sensibilisation dans les communes et sous-préfectures du District autonome de Yamoussoukro, de même qu’une action de planting d’arbres pour la journée internationale des forêts et un concert ouvert au grand public. 

Il est en outre prévu des prix et des distinctions en vue de récompenser les innovations écologiques. Un accent devrait être mis sur l’éco-tourisme de la région. Le Vice-président du Comité d’organisation, M. Louis Serge Tio, s’est félicité de la « marche prometteuse et sûre vers la réussite de cette 3è édition des JFAC ».

La 3è édition des Journées africaines de l’écologie et du changement climatique est soutenue par le Sénat, le Conseil régional du Bélier, et des partenaires techniques et financiers qui ont d’ailleurs marqué leur intérêt quant à l’organisation de ces journées dans la région.

Les JFAC se veulent une plateforme africaine de partage d’expériences et de vulgarisation de bonnes pratiques écologiques. Divers partenaires techniques et financiers sont à pied d’œuvre pour offrir cet important événement aux populations du Bélier, région abritant le District de Yamoussoukro.


There’s no justice for the society’s poor

SCHEAFFER OKOREBy SCHEAFFER OKORE
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Kenya is a country where poverty is a capital offence, I mean exactly that. Poor people are denied the right to justice, quality services and unwavering protection for the obvious reason that they’re poor. The systemic disregard that poor people are forced to endure cannot be more visible than in the judicial system. In this system, court cases snail for years with zero progress especially when these cases are supposed to be in favour of poor people. This is what happened in the Solai dam tragedy where the victims have been outrightly denied justice.
In May 2018, 48 people lost their lives when an illegally constructed man-made dam within the vast Patel Coffee Estates located in Solai broke its banks. The early signs of notable cracks and leaking were paid no heed even though the people living in the area were right to be concerned about their safety. Poor people are often the ones who pay the highest price of impunity, negligence and systemic failures with their own lives just like in Solai tragedy.
People died, hundreds of lives were disrupted and massive property loss yet no one will be held accountable.
After 18 months of adjournment, the case was finally dismissed. The suspects walked free after the Chief Magistrate ruled that there was a lack of willingness and support from the Director of Public Prosecution office in the case. What do we, as the Kenyan people and most specifically, the Solai people make of this?
Reports revealed that the dam was not licensed meaning right from its existence to its 15 years of operation, it was an illegal entity. An entity which should demand that those responsible for its existence be punished by law but here we are with systems failing when we need them to work.
One important fact is that it is these failed prosecutions that exacerbate and embolden impunity. It is precisely this inability of state institutions to do their work that breeds the ground for man-made disasters.
We’ve witnessed this in the collapse of residential buildings that have killed many Kenyans yet owners of these buildings aren’t prosecuted. Instead, we ask that the people in buildings prone to collapse to relocate which doesn’t address the problem of unregulated construction.
Solai dam was one of these unregulated and illegal constructions which should never have happened to begin with. It points out to a huge gap in leadership, regulating and licensing bodies plus the Judiciary.
Laws become nothing but spoken words when they can’t protect the people without power. A repeat of man-made tragedies is therefore guaranteed to occur when those culpable do not face justice.


Why Treasury and CRA funding war persists

WALTER MENYABy WALTER MENYA
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In the short history of devolution, the stalemate last year over the Division of Revenue Bill proved just who calls the shots when it comes to determining who gets what of the national cake.

For the Senate and the counties that were angling for the Sh335 billion for the devolved units, as had been recommended by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA), the realisation that the holdup was not helping matters eventually broke them down and they were forced to accept the Sh316.5 billion that the National Treasury and the National Assembly, with the backing of President Uhuru Kenyatta, had proposed.

Yet this was not an isolated case. In the first year of devolution, CRA had recommended Sh231 billion for the county governments. The figure eventually came down to Sh190 billion.

The following year, counties got Sh227 billion instead of the Sh279 billion CRA had recommended.

The following year, in 2015/16, counties received Sh260 billion instead of the Sh282 recommended by the commission.

In 2016/17, Sh280 billion was shared among the 47 counties as National Treasury had wanted instead of the Sh332 billion that CRA had recommended.

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REALISTIC PICTURE

Then in 2017/18, CRA maintained its figures from the preceding year, but it was still slashed to Sh302 billion.

In 2018/19, CRA’s recommendation of Sh337 billion was slashed to Sh314 billion. Then came 2019 when the stalemate over the Division of Revenue Bill paralysed operations in the counties.

The trend is set to continue this year after it emerged that the National Treasury intends to maintain a figure of Sh316.5 billion for the counties, which is Sh5 billion less CRA’s recommendation.

“Every year, we have been having issues with the Division of Revenue Bill because the CRA and the National Treasury do not coordinate their proposals. Their differences are then brought to the National Assembly, which is supposed to arbitrate. The National Assembly has over the years supported Treasury’s position because it presents a more realistic picture, of course with slight adjustments,” said Suba South MP John Mbadi, who sits in the National Assembly’s Budget and Appropriations Committee.

According to CRA commissioner Peter Gachuba, “The commission was and is supposed to be a technical commission with a responsibility in Kenya’s fiscal space, specifically having a constitutional mandate of making recommendations regarding the sharing of revenues between the national government and county governments.”

“Yet in nearly 10 years of its existence, none of the CRA’s recommendations have ever been accepted,” he said.

WHY THE CONFLICT?

So why do the CRA figures get rejected? By virtue of Article 218 (2c), there is no obligation on the National Assembly to accept CRA recommendations on the sharing of revenue between the national and county governments.

But according to CRA chairperson Jane Kiringai, the figures they set ideally should be final and “any divergent views on sharing of revenues should be addressed at the commission before the recommendations are submitted to the relevant institutions” since the National Treasury PS is a CRA commissioner.

“Division on Revenue is still a political and technical issue. A lot of compromises are required in this endeavour. Between December and June when the budget is being prepared, we witness a lot of changes in the fiscal framework,” she said.

While the constitution opened up and purposed to demystify the process, the executive has remained hesitant to fully involve others.

How the National Treasury and the CRA often arrive at different figures is yet another question.

Apparently, the CRA relies on revenue projections contained in the Budget Review Outlook Paper and the Budget Policy Statement (BPS), both documents from the National Treasury.

The documents come out in September and December, respectively, yearly, yet the actual financial figures are only known around February 15 of each year.

CRA’S MISTAKE

That is the time the National Treasury presents the final Budget Policy Statement to Parliament together with the Division of Revenue Bill and County Allocation of Revenue Bill, according to Dr Kiringai.

“CRA recommendations are based on the projections which are provided by the National Treasury,” the CRA chair said.

For instance, in the financial year 2019/20, the projected revenue that CRA used to make its recommendation was Sh1.88 trillion while actual/revised revenue was Sh1.77 trillion.

For the 2020/21 financial year, the projection of Sh1.88 trillion has been revised to Sh1.86 trillion.

Consequently, CRA has often been criticised for “recommending fictitious numbers” or “allocating money that was not available”.

But Mr Mbadi thinks CRA has been “a little bit lazy” in coming up with the recommendations.

“Instead of doing professional work of totally looking at the state of the economy and coming up with recommendations that make a lot of sense and backed with evidence, CRA has been looking at previous year’s figure and wholly relying on the projected growth. Yet a lot of times, the collection of revenue is not in tandem with the growth in GDP,” said Mr Mbadi.

REPORT STALLS

Meanwhile, CRA’s third Revenue Allocation Formula remains stuck at the Senate’s Committee of Finance and Budget more than a year since it was published.

A member of the senate committee, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, says the committee carried out public participation the first two weeks of December 2019 but the session expired before they could present their report.

Commissioner Gachuba asserts that CRA did a very good job in the formula work and is confident that it will finally be adopted.

In the absence of a new horizontal revenue sharing formula, Dr Kiringai says the second-generation formula will continue to be used “until such time that Parliament approves the third basis”.


No signs of light in prospect for a dismal year ahead… and Trump

GERRY LOUGHRANBy GERRY LOUGHRAN
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Looking into the future is generally not an exercise recommended for the easily depressed, but usually there are signs of hope, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

When it comes to 2020, however, we search for light in vain. Consider the negatives. Populist nationalism is on the rise, particularly in Europe, as the world loses faith in democracy.

Elections have brought shifts to the right in Italy, Austria, Hungary and Sweden, while Germany and Britain are showing similar tendencies.

A report by researchers at Cambridge University declared, “Across the globe, democracy is in a state of malaise.”

More than half of Americans are dissatisfied with their democratic system and the figure worldwide is similar – 57.5 per cent.

TERROR THREAT

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Climate change could be the greatest challenge to the future of the human race. Sea levels are rising, forests are burning, longer droughts are threatening crops and fresh water supplies.

Yet nations as important as the United States demonstrate few signs of taking the dangers seriously.

Racism and religiously-inspired terrorism are resisting all attempts at reversion or dilution, as Londoners found last week with a new Jihadist incident in broad daylight.

Sudesh Amman, aged 20 and born in Britain, was jailed for three years in December 2018 for circulating terrorist material.

Released early, as was his entitlement, Amman was considered by prison officials to be unreformed, and armed police in plain clothes covertly followed his every move.

EMERGENCY LAW

Last Sunday, he stole a knife from a shop in Streatham, south London, and slashed out wildly at anyone within reach, stabbing two people. He was shot dead within 60 seconds by his police trackers.

The government moved hastily to change a law which permits convicted terrorists to be released automatically halfway through their sentence.

Justice Minister Robert Buckland set out plans for emergency legislation, meaning that prisoners currently held for terrorist offences could face years longer in prison and would need release approval by the Parole Board.

Amman was released from Belmarsh high-security prison on January 23, halfway through his sentence, even though investigators feared he still espoused extremist views.

TRUMP RE-ELECTION

He had refused to engage in programmes designed to manage his risk.

He was tailed from the day of his release by police who were unarmed at first. However, his actions prompted the investigators to become fully armed.

A source told The Observer newspaper, “He was as much a problem when he came out of prison as when he went in.”

And so we have it… violence, hatred, loss of faith, lack of vision, not to mention a future including years of Brexit ill-will and the possible re-election of President Trump. No light there, not even a tunnel.

When I was growing up, there was a widely-accepted opinion that eating fish helped to develop brain power. Now, it’s green vegetables.

A US study of 1,500 young people aged eight to 24 found that foods rich in iron, such as spinach and broccoli, filter information and control movement, learning and emotion.

Iron deficiency can lead to hair loss, brain fog, low sex drive and depression. Other foods high in iron are watercress, lentils, beans, nuts, grains and dried fruits.

The only drawback for ambitious parents wanting brainy offspring could be in persuading them to eat their greens, traditionally the most disliked of food items by children.

I cannot remember the name of the movie but Arnold Schwarzenegger played an alien newly arrived on Earth, who was driving a lady’s car very erratically.

Screamed his terrified passenger: “You don’t even know the traffic lights!” “Yes, I do,” protested Arnie. “Red is for stop, green for go, amber for go very fast.”

The joke got a big laugh from drivers in the cinema audience, and I was reminded of it by a snippet in a newspaper last week.

It seems the carmaker, Seat, has invented a system that allows cars to “talk” to traffic lights so drivers know if they are about to change colour. So no more speeding to beat the red!

A traveller asks the price at a hotel and is told £100 (Ksh12,968) per night, which is more than he wanted to pay.

Helpfully, the receptionist said, “There is another hotel up the road which is only £30 per night but it is said to be haunted.”

The traveller goes to the new hotel and says, “I would like to stay but they say your hotel is haunted.” “Nonsense,” says the manager. “I’ve been here 300 years and never noticed anything unusual.”

A businessman asks the hotel switchboard for a 5am call but it does not come until 5.30.

Angrily, he reproaches the manager: “If I had been on a million dollar deal, I could have lost it.” “Sir, said the manager, “if you were on a million dollar deal you would not have been staying in this hotel.”


Radio cassette? What’s that? Are you still stuck in the past?

SUNNY BINDRABy SUNNY BINDRA
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Do you know what a radio cassette player is?

I ask because it really depends on what age you are. There is a large chunk of young Kenyans (and, I hope, of the readers of this column) who have never experienced such a thing.

Even if you do know what it is, when was the last time you had the experience of using one? You know, of inserting a well-worn cassette tape into the slot in the player in your house or car, and hearing some hissy and scratchy music ensuing as the tape rubbed mechanically against a magnetic head? Anyone?

I am raising this issue because the other day when I was trying to renew my car insurance, I noticed something that has always been highlighted in the policy as one of the items in the vehicle that will be protected against damage or theft. You got it – the radio cassette player.

That item, worded like that, has been in insurance policies ever since I drove my first car decades ago. It’s still there.

Yet the last time I bought a car with a radio cassette player installed was at least 20 years ago.

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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

It seems our insurers missed not only the arrival of the in-car compact disc player, but also its demise; those players have come and gone, without insurers noticing.

Of the quotations I considered, only one company had modernised its wording, referring to the ‘vehicle entertainment system’.

Insurance executives, you leave us wondering: how old are the cars you drive? How do you listen to music these days, and where is your collection housed? Have you come across music streaming yet?

I’m raising this only partly in jest. Insurance is facing immense disruption in the coming months and years.

Not only is app-centred insurance rapidly going to become a mainstream channel, but artificial intelligence will change the game by assessing risk far more accurately than humans do.

Surveillance devices will reveal the truth about incidents and claims more accurately than investigators can.

VALUES, NORMS

On-skin devices and under-skin implants will revolutionise health insurance. Car ownership and accident incidence will enter a new era when electric, autonomous vehicles come into play.

It’s really not a time to be stuck in the past. And yet you are. Language matters. If you don’t even notice how archaic your words are, are you really paying attention to the changes that will convulse your business model?

If you are still run by the old and the tired, will you have the energy and appetite for revolutionary change from within?

This is of course not just about insurers. Many other sectors face these convulsions, caused by the uniquely African combination of a very young populace that’s now always connected by devices and clouds.

Media, entertainment, retail, banking, healthcare, education will perhaps see the most tumult. Are they any better prepared?

Or are they also relying on the minds, models and modes of the past? There is a past we always need to protect.

Things such as our heartfelt business values, our strategic intent, our distinctive way of adding value to the lives of our customers should be ring-fenced and guarded. Those are timeless. We should always stand for certain aims and norms.

STRATEGIC PRACTICE

Everything else changes, though. As consumer habits evolve, our revenue mix will bubble and change.

Business channels, organisational structures, systems and processes must keep pace. A good leader keeps a very keen eye on the likely landscapes of the future.

Such a leader periodically looks at the policies, procedures and processes of his or her organisation and asks: which part of this is hopelessly passé?

What was linked to long-gone technology? What mattered when the world was different, but doesn’t know?

A very good strategic practice to run at the beginning of every year is to ask staff what part of their work is old-fangled, antiquated and irrelevant these days.

Then look through the best suggestions and create a ‘let’s-burn’ list. Gather everyone around, light a symbolic fire, and say goodbye to the words, practices and norms of bygone eras. Sometimes you need to burn the old grass to allow for its renewal.

BE CIRCUMSPECT

If you don’t do this, you always add and never subtract, and end up with a freakish hydra with many heads.

You will hope to win in the future while staying rooted in the past. You will be weird and unwieldy.

So whatever business you’re in, walk around and pay attention to what’s changing.

Will traditional insurers change the language on their policies, or even the policies themselves, at your next renewal date? I am not hopeful.

www.sunwords.com


We need cybersecurity czar to stop hackers

SAM WAMBUGUBy SAM WAMBUGU
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Legions of government services run on the back of technology.

At the heart of those systems are prized, confidential data, without which government services would be crippled.

It’s those systems and their data that cyber attackers covet so much that they are always on the prowl waiting for the right time to attack.

Cyber attacks are one of the biggest government head-scratchers, only that they are rarely reported.

There is also the misguided notion that cyber attacks are not too lethal because no one dies when they strike — the reality presents a different sobering story.

In Kenya, for instance, government websites are often defaced if not crashed by online hackers, a problem that is not unique to developing countries.

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The world is virtually on an arms race with cyber criminals, each trying to outsmart the other.

ADEQUATE PREPARATION

An attack on a power grid in Ukraine, an attempted attack on electric companies in the United States, and attacks on banks in Russia and other European countries give a glimpse of the knotty issues that countries face.

“The blow that knocks you down is the blow that you don’t see coming”, so goes an often quoted saying. To thwart attacks, preparation is key.

While only a few government departments pass the cybersecurity-readiness tests, the frequent seismic changes in the IT landscape complicate the problem.

Compared to developed countries, developing countries rank lowest on cyber-preparedness charts, meaning that many institutions and vital installations are exposed to online attacks.

SCARCE EXPERTS

Cybersecurity engineers — the guards that keep online intellectual property safe — are hard to find.

According to recent estimates, there will be as many as 3.5 million unfilled positions in the cybersecurity industry globally in the next few years.

Moreover, finely polished cybersecurity staff command top salary figures. These challenges should make us defiant and not be defeated.

The government must first sound a warning to cybercrooks by hiring a cybersecurity czar.

The czar would lead a vanguard team of cyber space experts with a singular role of keeping our online wealth safe.

He would help politicians sharpen the spear to take on the attackers legally, politically, and using other appropriate deterrents.

The czar would keep a sharp eye on the usual targets — election management systems, corporate espionage, ransomware attacks and massive data breaches.

FORESTALLING ATTACK

Backed by a savant team of finely tuned specialists, the czar would be the government’s top-most adviser on matters of cybersecurity.

He would be responsible for driving the country’s cyber-safety strategy and oversee its implementation.

He or she should ensure that laws are in place to require all cyber breaches, regardless of whether they are successful or not, are promptly reported.

Failing to report a cyber attack denies the experts the opportunity to learn from the incident and to further fortify our cyberspace against future assaults.

The czar would ensure that the country has the means to bounce back in the event of a strike.


Moi handed back power to terrify victims

OTIENO OTIENOBy OTIENO OTIENO
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Daniel arap Moi must have been one of the luckiest dictators to ever walk the earth.

On Wednesday, February 12, the man who presided over a reign of terror in Kenya for 24 years will be accorded a State funeral complete with military honours.

Since his death last week, Kenyans have been observing a period of national mourning decreed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, with the national flag flying at half mast.

The body is currently lying in State in Parliament. Yet in another country, Moi could have died a disgraced man, most probably in jail or exile.

For much of the 24 years he ruled Kenya, his cruel regime looted the country’s resources, condemned communities to poverty, and jailed and tortured dissenters, forced some into exile and destroyed families.

Confronted with the wave of pro-democracy movements that swept Africa in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he reluctantly accepted a change to pluralism.

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But to preserve himself in power for another 10 years, he continued his reign of terror, instigating ethnic clashes in the then Rift Valley, Nyanza and Coast provinces.

That last act of Moi cruelty produced some of the most horrific scenes of human suffering imaginable: houses set on fire by marauding tribal warriors, hundreds of thousands of families uprooted from their homes and innocent people, including children, lying in hospital beds with poisoned arrows lodged in their skulls.

By this time, opposition politicians, emboldened by the repeal of Section 2A of the Constitution to allow membership of parties other than Moi’s Kanu, labelled him ‘Moibutu’ – a political mongrel with the monstrous traits of Mobutu Sese Seko, the other African dictator who plundered his country Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) and ruled with an iron fist as well.

A shameless dictator, he kept to his routine of attending church services on Sundays despite so much blood dripping from his hands.

So reviled was he among the majority of Kenyans that on the day he showed up at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park to hand over power to his predecessor, Mwai Kibaki, a section of the crowd threw mud at him.

FOND MEMORIES

He spent the past 17 years of retirement largely ostracised from public life.

But in keeping with the African tradition of not saying anything bad about the dead, Kenyans have typically expressed only fond memories of him.

The problem is that the fake celebration of Moi has unwittingly handed him back the power to terrify and silence his victims one last time.

The brave ones like the daughter of Wanyiri Kihoro, the lawyer and former Nyeri Town Member of Parliament who was detained and tortured at Nyayo House and later forced into exile, have taken to social media to narrate how the Moi regime destroyed their families.

But even they have to be apologetic for spoiling the national mourning mood. The lucky dictator from Sacho has had the last word!


This fatalism must end! All life is precious

LUKOYE ATWOLIBy LUKOYE ATWOLI
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This past week 14 children were killed and numerous others injured in a stampede at a school in Kakamega.

Our political leaders got into their helicopters and went to make speeches at the school and then flew back to Nairobi.

Local politicians went for their photo ops at the site and made the obligatory promises to pay for one thing or another and went off to more important business.

The rest of us made the usual social media noise and then moved on to more juicy stories. In the meantime families of the affected children are spending days grieving for their loved ones.

It is a time of darkness for them as they ask themselves what they could have done differently to safeguard the lives of their children.

They have been forced to come to terms with the reality that all the hopes and dreams they had for their children are no more.

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One can only imagine the pain and despair they will have to live with for the rest of their lives. We can only wish them strength to tide them over in these trying moments.

SAFETY COMPROMISED

However, we cannot continue like this as a nation. We cannot blame these deaths on nature or some external forces.

We cannot pretend that the deaths were inevitable and we as a nation could do nothing to prevent them. By many accounts it is clear that these deaths were preventable.

There must exist in some place standards for school structures housing hundreds of children, and these standards obviously provide for the health and safety of learners and their teachers.

The heartbreaking accounts of the stampede that led to the deaths of these little ones reveal, even to the lay mind, problems in the school that compromised the health and safety of everyone using the structures.

There are suggestions that the design of the building made it difficult for large groups of people to move along the corridors and staircases quickly and safely.

There are suggestions that the classes were too large for any one teacher to control effectively.

Overall, it is unconscionable that after the tragedy those in charge are content to issue platitudinous statements and go back to their business as usual, as if nothing has happened.

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE

It is clear that we have decided to place the responsibility for this atrocity on entities beyond our control, meaning that nobody will bear any degree of responsibility for it.

This attitude is in keeping with our traditional mindset in which we will just shrug our shoulders and be thankful that the tragedy did not directly affect us.

We will look skywards and place the matter before our favourite deity and then go on with our lives.

Should we meet the affected families, we will be quick to reassure them that “it shall be well”, when in truth we know that there will always be a void in their lives.

Losing a child is a most painful thing for a parent, but losing a child in the one place outside of our homes where we expect ultimate safety and security is unthinkable.

We must end this fatalism that feeds our cavalier attitude towards the lives of our people, and begin living by our constitutional standard that everyone has the right to life, and no life should be thought to be less precious than another.

Lukoye Atwoli is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Moi University School of Medicine; [email protected]