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“We have done something remarkable today. Kenya thanks you, Africa thanks you.” – Amb Amina Mohamed
On the 19th of December 2015, after hours of grueling negotiations, history was made at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi with the ‘Nairobi Declaration.’
Though this was achieved 24 hours after the WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference was scheduled to end, the Nairobi Declaration has been hailed as historic, particularly for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and for global agricultural development.
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Day two proved to be a day of intense negotiation and dialogue at MC10.
Ministers remained steadfast in their desire to reach an agreement despite divergent opinions over the Doha Development Agenda and agricultural policies, which meant that meetings ran well into the night.
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The first day of the 10th Ministerial Conference saw two significant outcomes for WTO members.
Negotiations concluded on a high note with Liberia’s accession, making it the 35th Least Developed Country (LDC) to join the trade organisation. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia shared her delight saying:
“Liberia’s accession to the WTO marks another turning point in our history, particularly in our journey of economic transformation for inclusive growth.”
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“I believe Nairobi offers a unique opportunity that we must seize” - Amina Mohamed
The 10th Ministerial Conference was officially opened by President Uhuru Kenyatta, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Director General of WTO Roberto Azevêdo and the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Amb Amina Mohamed at Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi.
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“The world will never realise its goals if 50% of the population cannot realise their potential”
Every single day, women around the world attend to their families, their farms and their businesses with grit and tenacity. Their work, which has traditionally been under-appreciated, is now increasingly being acknowledged by global researchers. For example, women invest more in their families than men, in areas ranging from education to health and nutrition, thus creating a secure foundation for the future of their families and communities. The number of businesses owned by women in the world amounts to nearly a third of all enterprises, and according to the International Trade Centre (ITC), “advancing women’s equality can add US$12 trillion to global growth by 2051, and enable economies to unlock their full potential.”
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At a recent World Trade Organisation (WTO) youth discourse held at Strathmore Business School it was clearly evident how passionate the youth are about Kenya and Africa as a region.
They have a deep yearning to be included in the upcoming ministerial conference in Nairobi and to have policies formulated and implemented that specifically target their demographic.
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If you haven’t seen the WTO video Trade Starts Here , featuring Kenyan truck driver Jackson Mutua, I would strongly urge you to watch it. The video clearly illustrates the trickle-down effect of trade agreements. Jackson’s life has been drastically altered by trade policies, and the changes have affected the quality of his life, and the future of his family.
In a way, we are all like Jackson. Trade affects us every day but we are often not consciously aware of this. The bag of rice you picked up from a supermarket, for example, has gone through a long journey to get to your kitchen. The shoes on your feet have been designed, cut, manufactured and shipped to your local retailer before you were able to purchase them. This process has either been streamlined or obscured by trade policies, the type of policies that are made at WTO’s Ministerial conferences. So with the 10th Ministerial conference (MC10) just a few days away, it’s probably worth thinking about how the policies that emerge from the conference will impact you and the people in your community.
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Below the surface of the Atlantic ocean is an entire eco-system of fish and exotic sea creatures, whose existence is crucial to the lives of thousands of fishermen; every year fishing activity is a major contributor to the economic activities of nations such as Mauritania and Sierra Leone.
Contrary to popular belief, fish is not only suitable for filling our tummies but for a number of other uses as well. For example did you know that fish leather can be used to make belts or wallets? That there is swim wear, glasses, foot wear and other items and accessories that are made from fish based products?
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She takes a bite allowing her taste buds to reign supreme, savouring every morsel as it melts in her mouth. Nothing has ever tasted so good, she thinks to herself. She flips over the wrapping to see where it’s from, Switzerland, she should have guessed. Only the Swiss can make chocolate this good. What Anne Kadienge doesn’t know is that at the very heart of that chocolate she is so sinfully gloating over are cocoa beans that most likely originated from Ghana or some other West African state where cocoa farming is popular.
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Every year, Kenyan shoppers are treated to an event that surpasses all the traditional forms of shopping in Nairobi (malls, thrift markets and local tailors) with the Nairobi Fashion Market (NFM). With over 60 stalls, NFM is an event that brings together some of Kenya’s best lifestyle products and brands over the course of two days. And while the beauty of the market lies in its ability to offer a wide variety of things in one location, it is the creation of an authentic lifestyle experience-with food and music-that makes this event so special.
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There’s been a lot of discussion about trade in Africa with the 10th Ministerial Conference coming to Kenya in December. But what has not been emphasized enough is that the outcomes of the conference will have a significant impact on people from all walks of life. This includes the youth, who not only make up a large proportion of Africa’s population – approximately 70% of the sub-Saharan population is under 30 - but who are the driving force behind Africa’s development.
Beyond all the jargon (non-tariff barriers, multilateralism etc.) and the heavy laden trade talk, the youth should not by any means feel left out, depending on how they position themselves they stand to benefit as well.
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Nairobi is not what it once used to be. In the last few years, the city has been seized by a thriving cultural and entertainment scene, as restaurants, events, concerts and hotels seemingly pop up every month. There are not many capital cities for example, that offer a hearty meal in a restaurant nestled in a preserved forest, overlooking the local wildlife, and you can get that here in Karura forest. If you are more inclined to enjoy fresh sea food or authentic Italian, there are numerous options dotted across the city, and are available to you depending on your budget.
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Climate change is a global phenomenon affecting the entire planet. The period between 2000 and 2010 was the warmest decade ever recorded, and global greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise. In order to mitigate against the effects of rising global temperatures, alternate sources of energy need to be developed and adopted.
In Africa, infrastructure development for solar energy and renewable energy has slowly become a priority for many countries. Kenya for example, recently launched a large power project that includes the setting up of 200,000 solar panels to produce 320 megawatts of power.
But the heavy lifting is not being done by large organisations and governments alone. With almost half of the African population relying on agriculture for their livelihood, climate change is of concern to millions of young people who form a large part of Africa’s population.
The United Nations, moreover, reports that young people who live in rural areas and depend on stable weather conditions for food and money are more likely to feel the impact of climate change.
Here are four ways climate change is impacting the youth:
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It’s no secret that mobile technology is one of the fastest growing sectors in the continent. In the first quarter of 2015 an estimated 910 million Africans had access to a mobile phone. At the rapid pace technology is being taken up in Africa, it’s expected that by 2017 half the population will be technologically savvy.
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“When it comes to the people of Kenya -- particularly the youth -- I believe there is no limit to what you can achieve”- President Obama.
Ian Opit is a 25 year old graduate from Strathmore University and Kansas University in the USA. But he isn’t your average 25 year old. While his peers are busy setting up shop in the digital world, Ian is pursuing agriculture.
“One of the major, non-cultural, differences between Strathmore University (SU) and Kansas University (KU) is that at KU, we are advised to study hard so that we may be able to get a good job. At SU, getting a job after graduation is cool, but creating your own job is considered better,” Ian states. This mindset has become increasingly common amongst many young Kenyans who have fostered an entrepreneurial culture through their ‘side hustles’ or indeed through their careers.
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On a crowded Nairobi day, at the popular Masaai Market an artist and trader confidently stated “If we can have the exposure of selling [our] things abroad, I think life will be better.”
Hand crafted jewellery, crafts and cultural goods cover the grounds of Nairobi’s Masaai Market. Every day the traders and artisans move to a different location around the city hoping to attract tourists and make a profit. The consensus amongst many traders at the market is that they are now ready to export their uniquely crafted goods and trade with the world. As business men and women, they are keen to get a piece of the pie and are looking to the government to aid them in this endeavour.
“American [tourists] like our stuff...I would love to export…[but] I don’t know the way,” one lady asserted.
Currently the Masaai Market traders lack a direct channel to export their goods, which means they have middlemen buying their goods and then re-selling them abroad. They want to get access to these external markets and gain global exposure.
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Home to more than half of the world’s unused fertile land, Africa has the potential to be the breadbasket of the world. The continent’s market for food has an estimated value of $313 billion today according to The World Bank. By 2030, that figure could surge to more than $1,000 billion. The agriculture industry moreover, is an important of part of the economy in many countries, providing jobs and food to millions of Africans. According to the United Nations, the agricultural population in Africa is 530 million people, and is projected to reach 580 million in 2020. While 48% of the African population relies on agriculture, almost 70% of the population in East Africa relies on the industry.
In order to properly exploit this opportunity to feed the continent and the world, efficient framework and trade policies need to be established. Indeed Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in a speech earlier this month that: “[Kenyans] have the opportunity to expand the geographical scale of [their] ambition.”
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US President Barack Obama’s recent trip to Kenya was a success in many ways, most notably through his endorsement of Kenya as a secure, stable and attractive business tourism destination.
The influx of business people accompanying President Obama to the Global Entrepreneurial Summit (GES) boosted Kenya’s travel industry. AFK insider reported that various hotels and lodges in the Masaai Mara recorded an 85% occupancy rate. In Nairobi all major 5 star hotels were fully booked from the 21st to the 28th of July according to Kibiwott Koross of The Standard.
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As Kenya welcomes President Barack Obama and thousands of delegates for the 6th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) this weekend, discussions about trade have been pushed to the forefront of debate.
In 2014, President Obama highlighted the importance of trade between Africa and the United States at the US-Africa Leaders Summit. Less than a year later, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was renewed, allowing African nations to continue exporting certain goods in to the US duty-free. It was through the legislation of AGOA that Kenya became the number one exporter of apparel to the US in sub-Saharan Africa. These exports were among the total amount of goods, worth 39 million Kenya shillings, exported to the US from Kenya in the last 12 months.
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