Dining with your predator – the essence development dynamics

It has been said, quite often that there is by far more talk about national paperwork on everything development than actual execution of development agenda in Kenya. Such paperwork will be called national strategy, national policy, national plan of operations, national assessment, national report and everything else national that can be put on paper. Of course developing the paperwork requires consensus building, which in turn requires government officers, bi lateral partners, UN bodies, solution vendors among other stakeholders to deliberate and dine in exotic hotels.

The stakeholder meetings will be called workshops, seminars, conferences, trainings, and any other name that represents a group of privileged people who do not normally meet at their routine work places to say the same things over and over again. Needless to say, participants of such meetings also have to draw a handsome allowance to facilitate the temporary displacement from their normal work station. The stakeholders will also get a chance to share the best and worst practices across their industry while consolidating positions in exclusive clubs of globe trotting workers - increasing their tallies in the frequency tables of global workshop participants.

Now, before you get me wrong, putting our paperwork right is always important and the consensus building meetings are indeed useful. The issue that our government officials of integrity should beware of though is the need to answer a question of - Which of the stakeholders / participants is really genuine? It is also the question of who else is seeking to contribute fairly in the execution of your most well thought, noble development agenda.

Is it the multi-lateral partners?
 
Common wisdom has it that that UN systems are really just inefficient bureaucracies of first class world citizens. The elite bodies and their exclusive clubs inevitably have armies of globe-trotting elitists enjoying tax contributions from member countries. Needless to say these elite members themselves hardly feel the burden of heavy taxation regimes like that of Kenya. Enjoying a handsome, untaxed pay is not bad after all for the well connected, hard working elite. However beware of the less genuine UN elite who will procure and connive with a vendor or a shrewd consultant to drive the weirdest of agendas for a host country.

Is it the bi-lateral partners
 
Bigger countries will always want to look like they are taking care of their smaller sisters in the developing world. The US in the name of USAID, PEPFAR, CDC or whichever other vehicle fronted as a Donor agency are set up to look after America's own interests. It is easy to be flattered, that we have a big brother offering a hand of support. Watch closely and you might see that their most genuine interests will boil down to some economic value to the big brother. It may not matter whether it is the Chinese – Kenya partnership, Japan and JICA, UK and DfID. They are innocently ensuring that some modern day imperialism is propagated to the future. When the spotlight reaches the real agenda they will say it is globalisation and we shall nod our heads in helpless concurrence. Such predatory patterns might be more obscure where intellectual property such as research data, software licences and royalties are at stake. Moreover, beware of paying too much attention to some under skilled or unprofessional individuals off-loaded to Africa with strange sounding titles such as Technical Advisers.

Is it the solution vendors?
 
Whether it is the software company representative, the training solutions provider, the hotel salesman, the travel company executive or the storage hardware provider ranting away, they remain nothing else but businessmen. No matter how elegant they sound about the pertinent issues, all they want is some revenue stream from your development agenda. The more perpetual the revenue stream looks for them the better of course. Wanting to do business with the government is not necessarily bad – as government should not really be the solutions provider to its people. However beware of those predators who will only see a perpetual revenue stream for their business, whether or not it helps you efficiently deliver on your noble mandate of actualizing your tax financed development projects. Furthermore beware of interesting deals, recently baptised Public, Private Sector Partnerships – PPP. No matter how innocently you look at them, for graft ridden developing economies like Kenya, you need to be an angel to execute a fraud free PPP initiative.

Or is it yourself?
 
And lastly for the most statistically represented predator, ourselves – you and I. Have you ever prioritised the country's development agenda higher than your new investment project, your MBA, your house under construction or your junior's school fees? I need not say more about these as genuine stakeholders – lest I get arrested for presenting white lies.

 Enjoy the week!