ANNOUNCEMENT OF JKORNET.COM TRANSITION

Managing Editor’s announcement –

After today, July 22, 2013, all of our posts will appear only on the Frontier Markets Compendium website. You may still login to jkornet.com but you will be redirected to the site.

Thank you for your continued interest.

John Kornet

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Corruption in Sierra Leone – Dodging the traffic police

from The Economist, Baobab Africa..

July 19, 2013 | Freetown

BEFORE Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war erupted in 1991, its seaside capital, Freetown, was home to around half a million people. Since then, urban migration has seen that figure more than double. The city’s services and infrastructure have been overwhelmed, and much of the city is almost permanently congested. The most efficient means of transport is therefore a motorbike, usually cheaply imported from India.

Baobab’s investment in just such a machine has afforded him several near-death experiences on Freetown’s terrifying roads, and a privileged insight into the rampant petty corruption that last week saw Sierra Leone ranked bottom in Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer. More than four in five of the Sierra Leoneans surveyed said they had paid a bribe in the past year.

Motorbike-riding in the capital results in almost daily conflict with the notoriously corrupt traffic police, who attempt to solicit “fines” for a bizarre range of offences. On one recent such occasion, two policemen on a motorbike forced Baobab to the side of the road. “You are plying the streets in your underwear,” announced one, gravely. “You will have to come with us to the station; there will be a fine.” Baobab considered this an unfair description of his attire—jeans, a sleeveless shirt, shoes, and a helmet—and told him as much; the men duly went on their way.

But for the thousands of drivers of motorbike-taxis, or okadas, struggling to make a living in the city, bribes can take a heavy toll on the day’s earnings. “The police give us serious problems,” says Kanneh, an okada-driver. “Sometimes it’s 10,000-20,000 Leones ($2-$4), sometimes it’s more.”

Corruption exists at all levels of society. Last week, the managing director of Sierra Leone’s largest commercial bank was charged with fraud, along with dozens of other bankers and tax-workers. A travel ban has been placed on all revenue officials and bank employees. In another recent scandal, the country’s chief medical officer was charged, along with other health-ministry officials, with misappropriating over half a million dollars in grants.

Sierra Leone’s anti-corruption commission appears to be coming of age, and has this year stepped up its activities. Even the traffic police may have to clean up its act: on July 18th the commission indicted four policemen on bribery charges, following a wave of complaints from motorists. But with each new case that is brought to light, the scale of the challenge ahead appears ever more daunting. That is a point vividly illustrated by President Ernest Bai Koroma’s chief of staff, Richard Konteh, who in responding to the Transparency International report, explained that it is “part of our culture to show appreciation to people for good things that they’ve done to you, that is not bribery”.

Link to the article: http://www.economist.com/blogs/baobab/2013/07/corruption-sierra-leone

Sub-Saharan Africa Is Wildly Optimistic About Its Future Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/africa-is-optimistic-about-its-future-2013-7#ixzz2ZVeStnEn

from Business Insider.. 

July 18, 2013

By ADAM TAYLOR

Gallup research about the optimism of countries in 2012 was released today. The data was compiled by asking respondents to rate their lives on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, where zero is the worst and 10 is the highest. Respondents were asked to rate their lives now, and then to rate their lives five years in the future. The difference between the two scores is used to calculate a country’s optimism, or, conversely, their pessimism.

There’s a lot of takeaways from the data, but one of the most fascinating is the overwhelming optimism in Sub-Saharan Africa. Take a look at this chart:

Gallup African Nations Optimism

Around nine out of ten people in all of these countries — amongst the poorest in the world — see their lives as better in five years.

Compare this with the situation in Europe:

Europe Optimism Gallup

Of course, there are some caveats. Given the nature of the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, if a country is already rating itself 10/10, it cannot go any higher and thus cannot be optimistic. Gallup itself writes that optimism may be widespread in some African nations as “people cannot imagine that their lives could get any worse.”

However, there may be cause for real optimism in Africa. Last year Citi published a report predicting that Sub-Saharan Africa will double its share of the world’s economy, and recently updated U.N. population prediction predict a demographic shift that could see Africa’s population quadrupling by the end of the century:

Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 12.39.17 PM

Given this information, it’s understandable that African respondents to the Gallup poll were optimistic. It seems inevitable that life in Africa is going to change. It should, hopefully, be for the better.

Link to the article and interactive graph:  http://www.businessinsider.com/africa-is-optimistic-about-its-future-2013-7?goback=%2Egde_4443627_member_259283075

Albania’s PM-designate vows to ‘defeat’ corruption

from BBC News..

July 18, 2013

Albania is the most corrupt country in Europe according to Transparency International, but the Prime Minister-designate of Albania, Edi Rama, has promised to change this when he takes over in September 2013.

He told HARDtalk’s Sarah Montague how he intends to fight corruption and said he would follow the lessons of other countries that had been successful in defeating corruption.

VIDEO

http://youtu.be/uQdIq09HBn4

LEBANON: STOPPING SECRECY ONE LAW AT A TIME

from Transparency International..

July 18, 2013

lead image

Lebanon is set to become the 95th country to adopt an access to information law that would empower its citizens to participate and question public and political affairs more closely.

Transparency International’s chapter in Lebanon, the Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA), has been instrumental in bringing the issue of access to information to the attention of lawmakers and government officials. In 2008, LTA helped found the National Network for the Right of Access to Information together with Lebanese Parliamentarians against Corruption and the Association pour la Défense des Droits et des Libertés. The initial success came in April 2009 when law-makers submitted an initial draft law to parliament. Four years later, the parliament’s legislative committee has approved the current draft law.

With a law into effect, Lebanese citizens, journalists and civil society groups would be able to obtain public information to keep government and other public bodies accountable. In the recently publishedGlobal Corruption Barometer 2013, 71 per cent of Lebanese surveyed said that corruption is a significant problem across the public sector. Further, more than two in three people surveyed said they saw the judiciary followed by parliament and political parties as the institutions most affected by corruption.

These results indicate that people demand transparency from their public institutions. Legislation that protects access to information and encourages administrative bodies to share information with citizens would also reinforce the people’s trust in the public sector and nurture a culture of integrity.

With the Arab Spring in full swing, Lebanon joins other countries such as LibyaMorocco and Tunisia that are considering the drafting of access to information laws. Jordan and Yemen are the only two countries in the region that already have them on the books but implementation has been sorely lacking.

We ask all authorities, starting with the Lebanese president all the way to the speaker of Parliament, to work and fight for integrity and transparency.”

– Nada Abdelsater-Abusamra, LTA Chairwoman.

Lebanese lawmakers should take into account these experiences and should consider:

  • The adoption of a public interest clause.
  • Devotion of adequate resources for access to information requests.
  • Setting up an independent commission to rule on cases in which a public body declines an information request.

The current draft law abides by international standards in that it avoids vaguely worded restrictions on the nature and type of information the public can access.

This means that any Lebanese may seek access to official meeting minutes and correspondence of parliament and parliamentary committees, government statistics, contracts made by the specific administration that would allow for budgetary and fiscal transparency.

With the security situation worsening in Lebanon and parliament recently announcing that elections will not be held for another year, the Lebanese public needs this law more than ever to keep their politicians honest and accountable.

Link to the article:  http://www.transparency.org/news/feature/lebanon_stopping_secrecy_one_law_at_a_time

Drivel from Dictators – Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe

from Freedom House..

July 18, 2013

“Our people were cajoled by the West into forming an opposition party to weaken the people of Zimbabwe…There are many dodgy NGOs in Zimbabwe doing as little development work as possible while they dedicate most of their time to spying.”

Thus declared President Robert Mugabe at a campaign rally on July 16 at Chibuku Stadium in Chitungwiza.

As Mugabe tells it, opposition parties and NGOs are carrying out a Western agenda and, by implication, are unpatriotic. Yet he lives comfortably while his critics suffer harsh consequences for their efforts to give Zimbabwe a brighter future. Mugabe and his allies are reportedly diverting tens of millions of U.S. dollars in diamond profits from state-owned mines for political and personal gain. His wife, Grace Mugabe, is known for her lavish shopping sprees, and in a country where more than 70 percent of the population lives in poverty, $600,000 was spent on Robert Mugabe’s birthday party in March. Pro-democracy activists, meanwhile, are regularly subjected to intimidation, arrest on trumped-up charges, and physical attacks. Some are even killed, as human rights activist Elliot Dhliwayo was earlier this month. With all that they risk and all that they suffer to advocate for the rights of fellow Zimbabweans, can there be any doubt about how much pro-democracy activists really love their country?

Link to the article: http://www.freedomhouse.org/blog/drivel-dictators