Egypt, Kenya, Africa & The Reality of Failed States

I was watching this video of starvation in Baringo and watching the events in Egypt as well and at some point, you  have to call a spade a spade.  There are some cultures in the world that are “winners” and others that are just  “losers”.  This is just the reality.

When the majority of your citizens cannot afford basic food items, you are a failed state.  This is the reality in both  Egypty and Tunisia today.

When some of your citizens are starving to death and don’t even have water (in a country that is not landlocked!)  you are an utterly failed state.  This is the reality in Baringo and in Kenya today.  How can there not be water when  you sit on the shores of the Indian Ocean? Why not think about desalination?  When you have Lake Victoria, Lake Naivasha, Lake Baringo, Lake Turkana….you get the picture.  This is not about parliamentary select committee’s and new constitutuions.  It’s about a culture that can’t produce anything and this is what ultimately leads to faiiled states (not lack of democracy as others are pointing out).

In my earlier post, I said that it was going to get worse for the world’s poor because the excessive debt loads in the richer, western countries is going to lead to massive inflation and higher commodity prices.  Why? because these western countries are going to try and “print” their way of their debt problems.  It won’t work of course, but the developing world (excluding parts of Asia that will get richer because they actually produce goods) – the rest of the developing world will suffer.

So, when I hear Kenyans talking about the real estate boom & how you can become an overnight millionaire by building apartments all over the city or when I hear them heralding the new constitution and using words like “promulgation” and how they’re going to have all these rights or when I hear that the two principals are meeting yet again over yet another scuffle, I just wonder what kind of reality people live in.

I’ve said it here before: No country has ever achieved real economic growth without FIRST achieving food security.  Incidentally, Egypt still imports 40% of it’s food.  It has not achieved food security.  In some ways, it’s like Ethiopia — Both countries have about 80 million people and they can’t  seem to feed them all.

Kenya is a little luckier because it has  good land and hard working farmers, but still, you can’t have people starving because it means that your “system” of governance is absolutely not working.  Ethiopia, unlike Egypt, has good land and yet, they can’t even afford to feed themselves. That is a failed, failed, failed state.

It doesn’t matter how many speeches Raila gives or Kibaki gives or Mubarak gives.  If you find yourself living in one of these failed states, your best option is to get out.   Yup.  Get out before sh*t hits the fan and only stay if you are a member of the politically connected corrupt elite (where your stealing will pay off for you personally).

11 comments for “Egypt, Kenya, Africa & The Reality of Failed States

  1. winj
    July 8, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    y’al talk alot

  2. Felix
    May 18, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Out of everone posting negative comments about kenya how many are actually Kenyan? If your not kenyan than why don’t worry about your own country?

  3. Ken Thumbi
    March 26, 2011 at 9:46 am

    K.E, I will rephrase one of your statements as follows; no country on this planet has ever gained any sort of sustainability without selfish manufacturing. The talk of BPO’s and other service related industries are merely illusions these are merely value add services… we should not refer countries like India etc as examples of BPO / ICT success, all myth my friends, all myth. anyone with the slightest knowledge of real economics knows this… Guys I would encourage anyone with a curious mind to spend some time understanding how Sub-Saharan (black) Africa formulate and implement the monetary and fiscal policies… you will be surprised…
    Ps. are you guys aware of how much land your government has leased to foreign countries within the past couple of years? if curious of how much of a mess exists, try and find out the history of the Magadi lease? this is now owned by a huge manufacturer (TATA)…

  4. untonyto
    March 24, 2011 at 8:50 am

    In actual fact, thanks to corruption, impunity, poverty and internal division, right now Kenya tuko down. I have observed a rising trend with modern Kenyan commentators who infuse a blast of patriotic zealotry both before and after their arguments in every topic ranging from The Hague Trials to Economic policy. We Kenyans might throw nationalistic stones about being called a “failed state” but we would do well remember the phrase when we go to international fora with begging bowls to feed our hungry.

    As for this topic: starvation can not be viewed outside the context of irrigation of farmlands. The communities in Kenya that can rely on sufficient year-round rainwater are also the communities in power and so are disinclined towards the expenses of desalinating Indian Ocean waters. Dare I suggest that Fishermen and Pastoralists etc are generally sidelined in policy. There we have it: a divided failed state.

  5. Godfrey
    March 15, 2011 at 3:02 am

    Kenya is set to be the regional ICT Hub for East and Central Africa. If you are in Kenya you would see all the supporting infrastructure being built. From Upper Hill, Kilimani Area which hosts iHub and other ICT driven skyscrapers.

    That’s a laugh!! :grin: Have you been to Malili, the proposed ICT hub? I wonder how Kenya expects the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to set up shop in a muddy field of iron sheet structures, lacking access roads, sewers or clean water.

  6. Kenyan dude
    March 9, 2011 at 5:56 am

    Kenya’s future is bleak. According to the FAO, 76.2% of low income countries are net food importers. For middle income countries, it’s 61.5% while for high income countries, it’s 66.7%.


    If a country’s economy is export-driven, e.g. Singapore and Hong Kong, then it can be a net food and fuel importer and get away with it. Problem is our exports aren’t enough to pay for food and fuel imports without raking up an unsustainable current account deficit. That’s why the shilling keeps tumbling and is currently at a 17-year low.

    Setting up an export facility in Kenya is completely pointless unless it’s tapping a natural resource. A manufacturing and technology powerhouse like South Korea has very low taxes.


    We’re ranked 106 in the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom for 2011.


  7. Eunice
    February 10, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    The problem with most Kenyans is that they don’t realize that most Kenyans are poor. Shame.

  8. kenyanentrepreneur
    February 8, 2011 at 10:50 pm


    Am I assuming that Kenya or Egypt are unitary societies? No, but I am assuming that the majority are poor. Actually, that’s not even an assumption. It’s a fact and thus the rioting in Egypt. The majority found the rising food prices to be prohibitive.

    In terms of becoming an ICT hub. Well? who knows? but my anecdotal evidence so far still tells me it’s India, Eastern Europe and places like the phillipines and Malaysia. Eastern Europe especially. Those guys are very smart, they speak good English and they are cheap.

    I’ll check out your link above. Sounds interesting.

  9. onyango
    February 8, 2011 at 6:19 am

    I think KE you are generalizing too much. You go wrong because you assume that Kenya or indeed Egypt are made up on unitary societies. The truth is the differentials and/or disparities within Kenya are very huge. I will give 1 example to illustrate my point.

    Life expectancy in Central Kenya is at 65-67 Years while in Nyanza it is at 44-47 years.

    Similarly some regions produced much more food than they need while others don’t.

    So the truth is we are facing inequality problem rather than one that is across the board.

    Kenya is set to be the regional ICT Hub for East and Central Africa. If you are in Kenya you would see all the supporting infrastructure being built. From Upper Hill, Kilimani Area which hosts iHub and other ICT driven skyscrapers.

    Kenya is also likely to benefit immensely from South Sudan oil as well as investments from Multinational Investors.

    See http://ThikaRoad.tk

    Stay Tuned

  10. Julius
    February 8, 2011 at 4:06 am

    I have always said in other posts that Kenya (and Africa) cannot suceed if it cannot feed itself. We need to have food on the table then we can start thinking about other things like BPOs etc. Those touting ICT as the key to growth in africa a lying to themselves. We need food and the only relevant technology at the moment for africa is agricultural technology-period.

    If we cant feed ourselves, we will invest in ICT then spend more than we are earning to buy food. Investors should venture into food production as it has little competition compared to othe sectors such as ICT.

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