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WTO in Nairobi, At Whose Benefit?

As on 14th December, 2015, the World Trade Organization is convening its 10th Ministerial Meeting in the heart of Nairobi, there are many questions than answers. Many Kenyans would ask how this important global conference will bring food on their table. How will this great event held in Kenya ease the burden of life on workers, unemployed, the aged, the retirees, and benefit earners? This story is ready to reveal some insights in such international negotiation platforms.
Kenya hosting such an important global event has no essence on ordinary Kenyans if the government does not put some appropriate policies to make the host state benefit. It can come and go as any other global event elsewhere. What is so evident is that during the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris earlier this month, actually, civil societies were engaged in lobbying mission. Even if the negotiations were not about France but international environmental issue, France has in place proper strategy and policies that can make it tap the proceeds of the event.
Many Kenyans would certainly ask whether “Jua Kali” products can get into the global market? The WTO is concerned with policies and setting regulations to enable all members benefit equally. African members have always been given a raw deal since it was initiated in 1995. The question is why?
It is not upon the highly industrialized countries to teach African governments on the skills and ways of getting into the world trade process. The main players have been Oil Producing countries under OPEC. Besides we have seen great manufacturers such as China and now India. However, the industrialized nations in European bloc and America have been dominating the whole global trade. Asiatic region has joined the process with Japan, China, Indonesia, and others such as Thailand demonstrating an accelerated move to trade boosters.
What has shifted the paradigm so fast is the economic globalization process. China for instance, has learned how to relax her policies and regulations that attracted European and American investors. Low production cost and cheaper means to achieve such ends have made it easy for many multilateral companies to open their branches in China. This has boosted the Chinese capital market making Yuan be equally strong in the world financial market.
All this possibility is pegged on one factor, learning the rule of the game. Many African states are still engaged in unethical politics. For instance, the great DRC is full of minerals and other resources that can make it be the heart of the African economy. Due to several civil wars, bad governance, and failure to develop infrastructures, Democratic Republic of Congo has never improved her economy. The former President, the late Mobutu Sese Seko demonstrated too much egoism for his own self gain and prestige more than developing the nation. Actually, he smuggled lots of wealth to Europe rendering the former Zaire one of the most vulnerable countries. South Africa is the only one where policies and strategies are suitable for the understanding of the world trade. The former regimes had set-up industrialization strategies that have made it possible for international and regional trading (COMESA). Libya grew up very fast under the late Muamar Gaddafi lead. But this was due to fossil energy and anti-Western policies. Libya did not make it to the highest strides despite her wealth. Nigeria is another great African oil producer followed by Angola and many other such as Gabon.
Dear readers, fossil gas is no longer attractive due to anti-global warming policies. There is resort to climate friendly options. Where are we heading to? Countries like Kenya have been good exporters of agricultural produce such as coffee and tea. But such products are even better sourced from Brazil and other Latin American countries at low cost. The Agricultural market is volatile but solid since every person will always need food.
As there is no much option for industrialization in African countries, alternatives must be considered. One alternative is services and re-working the already produced products. If not, then African countries must consider attracting multinationals to open up their branches in Kenya. For this to happen, the leaders must consider many things and even make sacrifices.
One sacrifice is to keep labor cost low, reduce taxes, relax regulations and work on technology. This move can be costly but it is the only viable way, many African states will easily fit int he World Trade Market. For instance, “Jua Kali” products may lack the quality Western consumers are looking for. Turning scrap metals to Kitchen items may not be so attractive. Sculptures and Kiondo producers have been beaten by various challenges.
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About Peter Onyango

Dr. Peter Onyango O. is one of our main contributors. He is a senior law lecturer, a writer, a consultant, peace ambassador, and a researcher. He assists so many professionals, legal minds, and debaters with his skills and scholarly wealth! He supports children and village community as a way of giving back to community. He edits, proof reads, and publishes various articles for our page!

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