Grand Regency Saga: A Wake up Call for Africa
Published on 1st July 2008
The current scandal in Kenya that entailed the Grand Regency hotel being allegedly sold to Libya at a paltry Kshs 1.8 billion instead of Kshs 7 billion raises questions on whether Kenyans are able to profitably negotiate trade deals or handle huge sums of money.
The saga is a wake up call for African citizenry to prevail upon their governments to send relevant people on the negotiating table. Africa is home to tremendous diversity of minerals and crops such as tea, coffee and cotton but its inhabitants remain impoverished. Internationally, the continent has received raw deals for sending politicians instead of trade experts on high level negotiations such as the WTO.
In the minerals sector for example, a document by the Lawyers and Environmental Association of Tanzania (LEAT) revealed that Tanzania has lost around $755 million in the past five years over "deals" that led to the operations of three major mining companies.
Politicians are driven by populism as opposed to the profit margin. If Africa has to benefit from the trade advances of India, Japan, China and Russia, she must revisit her trade deals, know the value of her assets and release the right foot soldiers on the battlefront of business deals.