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Society & Success

Eyes on Kenya ahead of elections after turbulent year of politics and conflicts

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Anti-riot police corner a demonstrator during the Cord anti-IEBC protests in Nairobi on May 16, 2016. FILE PHOTO | JOAN PERERUAN | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Anti-riot police corner a demonstrator during the Cord anti-IEBC protests in Nairobi on May 16, 2016. Investors flee uncertainty. If Kenya can deliver free and fair polls, then expect a flood of investment after August polls. FILE PHOTO | JOAN PERERUAN | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SCOTT BELLOWS

Posted  Wednesday, December 28   2016 at  18:13

In Summary

  • The strengthening of the American economy would usually mean greater emphasis for Kenyan firms on export to the nation.
  • However, the uncertainty surrounding President-elect Donald Trump dampens Kenyan expectations by possible repeal of AGOA or greater general tariffs on exports.

The year finally screeches to a halt this weekend as Kenyans wrap up what commentators the world over uniformly call the year of turbulence.

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Here we saw multiple political showdowns and an exceptional reduction in bank interest rates, but otherwise a more stable year economically and with improved security.

Inasmuch, Kenya served as a bulwark of stability in a tumultuous world.

Globally, terrorists raised their ugly heads through attacks in Aden, Charleston, Baghdad, Paris, San Bernardino, Istanbul, Orlando, Nice, Dhaka, Berlin, Sinai, Jakarta, Kabul, Brussels, Aktobe and Medina, among other locations. Continued wars raged in stalemate in Eastern Ukraine and Syria.

The European Union fought a renewed Greek debt bargain and the aftermath of the unprecedented migrant crisis, South Africa observed infighting within the African National Congress and President Jacob Zuma, while Australia continued its inhumane treatment of refugees.

The South China Sea and East China Sea witnessed stunning Chinese expansionism through territorial disputes with Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia, and Brunei shockingly reminiscent of 19th century Europeans and Americans.

Turkey launched an unparalleled crackdown on its citizens following the attempted coup d’état while South Koreans turned out in their millions to protest shady dealings by the inner circle of President Park Geun-hye.

The year marked a stark shift from the 2015 electoral hope brought in Nigeria, Myanmar, Tanzania, and Canada while 2016 voters on five continents stunned the world by bucking polling predictions or voting against their own interests through medieval opposition intimidation in Uganda’s election, vote against the FARC peace deal in Columbia, election of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte who kills his own people without trials, Britain’s vote to leave the most stable trading bloc in the world, Americans’ election of a reactionary self-righteous provocable, even dishonest and ignorant political neophyte as president, and Italian voters decision to keep bureaucracy, giving ex-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi a stinging referendum rebuke.

All the above turbulence leads to economic uncertainty. Investors fear uncertainty whereby they cannot guarantee expected returns. Economically, the US saw the highest consumer confidence and lowest official unemployment in over 10 years.

Conversely, the year saw the inability of Chinese equity markets to recover from dramatic losses of 2015 with a 10 per cent drop in exports during the first nine months of 2016 alone.

Here at home, our gross domestic product growth continued to exceed five per cent by most estimates. Businesses and consumers benefited from continued record low oil prices.

We saw global glimmers of hope as Austrians vanquished the resurgence of the far right in presidential elections, while Ghana and the Gambia held elections with opposition candidates winning at the polls and Ecowas supporting the latter to implement the results.

Zambia held another peaceful and fair election.

South America pulled off its first Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro whereby Kenya performed spectacularly.

What can Kenyans expect for 2017?

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