The Challenge of Human Development in Africa – Presentation by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of Nigeria

The Challenge of Human Development in Africa – Presentation by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo of Nigeria

Report by J Boima Rogers – October 2018

In his presentation to a packed audience at the event organised by the African Studies Centre of Oxford University School of Global and Area Studies, Professor Osinbajo highlighted four important areas with regard to world development in the next two decades.  These are population, the environment, output of goods and services and social exclusion, under which rubric comes poverty and human capital development, and its implications for global security.  Africa’s success or failure in the four areas highlighted would have profound impact on the world.  Although the presentation covered the whole continent, Nigeria, was the primary focus with 20% of the total population of Africa and projected to have a population of 400 million by 2040, making it the third most populous country in the world posing enormous challenges with regards to jobs and the environment.

He reviewed a list of human capital development indicators which have been summarised by Amartya Sen as the “ability to live a good life”.  Poverty he noted was primarily caused by deficiencies in human capital development; Africa lagged behind the rest of the world in human capital development and Nigeria scored very low worldwide, ranking 157 out of 189 countries.  While tremendous progress had been made in alleviating poverty in Nigeria and Africa in terms of the proportion of the total population the actual numbers had increased. Two fifth of Nigerians were illiterate and between 6 -55% of children were not at school in the various states.

The key factors cited for low human capital development were poverty, corruption, conflict, inequality, climate change, and inappropriate policies and underinvestment by national governments. He highlighted the Boko Haram insurgency and floods and the contraction of Lake Chad caused by climate change as particularly debilitating factors, citing research by Oxford University academic Paul Collier on the devastating impact of conflict on the economy.  Human capital development had been negatively impacted by the structural adjustment programmes of the 1990s and illicit financial capital outflows, which the Mbeki report estimated at $80 billion. Tax revenues were often very low, in Nigeria they amounted to only 6% of GDP.

The government’s role and moral obligation is to reduce poverty, notably, to reduce unemployment with human capital development being a key tool in achieving this objective.  Governments typically have challenges relating to social investment, physical infrastructure, and tax and business policies.  The Buhari administration had made significant effort in dealing with these issues.  It had quadrupled the budget on human capital development, made significant investment on infrastructure and implemented policies to diversify the economy. Its efforts that have earned Nigeria accolades from the World Bank on ease of doing business, with a very significant jump in world ranking compiled by the bank.

Professor Osinbajo said the emphasis has been on measures targeted at the jobless and that the administration has made the largest social investment ever in the country’s history. The government has provided credit to farmers through cooperatives, targeting the most vulnerable households.  The outcomes have been impressive in terms of outputs, recipients and repayment.  The country has reduced its trade deficit in rice, tomatoes and other agricultural products, the uptake and loan repayment have also been significant and encouraged the government to extend the scheme. As part of the effort to improve financial inclusion the government’s measures have resulted two million people opening bank accounts, bringing them into formal business structures. The government’s school feeding programme, involving 9.2 million children, is intertwined with the agricultural sector because it mandates states to use local produce, increasing enrolment and the market for farmers.

In the last two years the administration has trained 500,000 people in its  digital skills (empire) programme and the three pronged education policy aims to: achieve self-sustaining goal by 2030; enrol an additional nine million children in school working in partnership with state governments, religious organisations and other stakeholders and in this process, making use of new technology may mean that children would not have to attend school; significantly change the substance and methods of education with an emphasis on improving Science Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) uptake and quality.  The administration is making use of global brands like Microsoft, Oracle, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in developing countrywide curriculum and skills, building on work with the Bill and Melinda Gates and the Dangote Foundations.

Human capital development is part of the administration’s comprehensive economic and social development strategy.  The objective is to raise the budget significantly and seek long term solutions that target deprivation and the most vulnerable members of the community.  They would be looking at innovative ideas and prioritise good governance.

The presentation highlighted the impressive efforts of the administration in addressing crucial issues with some caveats.  The projection for population growth is an extremely challenging situation and would require measures that were not covered.  He did not mention the crucial issue of the education of girls and women.  Educating girls has been shown to have a significant impact on development and a reduction in the population growth rate – the current growth rate is not sustainable. Typically in Africa education for girls lags behind boys significantly.  The Vice President made only a very brief mention of STEM an area that holds great potential but which Africa lags behind. He did not mention vocational education which is also an area that holds huge potential for the country and continent.  The country has seen a huge explosion in universities with many graduates becoming unemployed while at the same time many low and medium level technical positions are filled by technicians from outside the country and/or the country is not considered an attractive destination for foreign investment because of lack of skilled manpower.  Finally, while Nigeria can do with all the help it can get, major technology brands can only really add value if they are truly in tune with the real needs of the country, which means Nigerians setting the agenda.

J Boima Rogers is Principal Consultant at Media and Event Management Oxford (MEMO) www.oxfordmemo.co.uk

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Will Buhari be given the opportunity to complete his project?

October 2018 – J Boima Rogers

 

In 2019, Nigerians will go to the polls to elect a president.  Will they stick with Buhari or decide that he has been ineffectual, failed and not improved their lives and choose somebody else?  The election of Buhari has been a major new development in the country in a number of ways.  It was the first change in leadership from one party to another, as distinct from a military coup or shift from one leader to another within the same party.  Buhari had ruled as a military leader without amassing wealth and has continued in that fashion since he took office. He has implemented measures to address security, economic, corruption and infrastructure issues.  It has not however been smooth sailing going against entrenched interests, notably, many legislators whose major focus is staying in power, with very high salaries and expense accounts and not much interest in good governance and service delivery.   In many ways reality soon set in, thwarting Buhari’s reform agenda. His project, which aims to realise the country’s enormous potential has been slow to get off the ground and unless he can significantly revamp his narrative, political and economic strategies and pace, he is unlikely to get an extension to complete his project and alter the trajectory of the country’s development despite his laudable goals and objectives.

In going to the public for a second term, Buhari would need to highlight his track record, what he has achieved, how Nigerians are better off compared to when he took office, why he needs more time for his project and how he can do a better job if given a second chance.  The key metrics would depend on what voters consider to be the most important issues.  In the Nigerian context with limited and unreliable polls we need to be cautious.  One can assume though that certain issues which were constantly in the media and which Buhari focussed on when he last went to the polls are important.  These are public safety, the economy, corruption and the infrastructure, notably, power supply.     In his campaign, while he can point to challenges outside his control, including the machinations of his opponents and other branches of government that made it difficult or impossible for him to implement his agenda, the public is unlikely to buy into a narrative that assigns failure to other parties, because it assumes that any leader will face such hurdles and the mark of good leadership is how s/he responds to such challenges and comes on top.

Towards the end of the previous administration the Boko Haram insurgency was quite severe in a number of ways.  It was very active in the north-east, there had been some high profile kidnappings of civilians, notably the Chinook girls and it was spreading to other parts of Nigeria.  The economy had been in the doldrums largely because the Jonathan regime did not appear to have a coherent economic policy but also because of the depressed oil price, Nigeria’s lifeline.  Corruption was as usual rampant but the thing that brought it into focus was the attitude of the administration which did not see corruption, as Jonathan noted, as a problem.  In the run up to the election there were rumblings of a run on public funds by politicians to buy the support of the electorate.  Voters complained about the country’s crumbling infrastructure and in particular, the very limited and unreliable electricity.  The Jonathan administration had privatised electricity in a crony set up with no due diligence being conducted on the new owners to validate their capacity and expertise to provide the services and even more important, to significantly improve the paltry supply and reliability of this crucial service.  Other infrastructure and government services were also under severe strain as a result of lack of investment, mismanagement and corruption although the Jonathan administration could not obviously be totally blamed for a situation that had also been caused by many other previous administrations.  Voters as was their prerogative, decided that they needed a new leader to run the show.

While the Boko Haram insurgency is still rumbling on and as the BBC’s Tony Oladipo noted, continues “to threaten the stability of Nigeria’s north-east and its wider Lake Chad Basin area”, there has been a very significant improvement because of measures taken by the administration. These include changing the military command, moving the command centre to the region most affected by the insurgency, providing more resources and ensuring that those resources were delivered to the fighting force.  In 2015, in Buhari’s first year when his policies were being devised and implemented, there were 270 attacks and 6006 deaths.  In 2016 the 80 attacks recorded were 29% and deaths at 937 were 15% of the previous year, a huge improvement.  While attacks and deaths in 2017 at 109 and 937 deaths respectively are up on the 2016 figures, they are still a huge improvement on what Buhari inherited.     Boko Haram’s attacks are now primarily limited to Borno state.

On the economy the administration has made attempts, albeit in a very modest way, to stimulate non-oil sectors in its long term goal of reducing the country’s dependency on crude oil exports and reliance on imports.  His budgets have made significant allocations for agriculture, roads and power, including renewable power generation.  He has liberalised foreign exchange and thereby effectively removed subsidies to importers who had access to foreign currencies at preferential exchange rates, a perverse policy that was a disincentive for Nigeria’s manufacturers and farmers.  He has taken measures to minimise corruption as noted in my previous paper.  The administration’s policies have resulted in a significant improvement in the ease of doing business in Nigeria with the country moving from 170th in 2015 to 145th according to the World Banking ranking.   Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has seen a modest but steady growth.

It should be noted though at the end of the day Nigerian voters are going to judge Buhari according to their perceptions of how he has affected their lives.  The tepid economic growth which has, in the last five quarters ranged from .72 to 2.11% is significantly less than the population growth rate of 2.6 percent.  Despite major efforts the fight against corruption is still work in progress and in its latest report Transparency International ranked the country at 148/183 with a score of 27/100 in its corruption perception index.  Electricity output has continued to be a problem.  Nigeria’s electricity power capacity at 7,000 megawatts (MGW) is only a fraction of South Africa’s capacity of 40,000 MGWs even though that country has less than a third of Nigeria’s population.  Indeed the country’s actual electricity output is only a fraction of its installed capacity, ranging from 2,000 – 4,452 MGW in an analysis of recent production by Energy Mix.   Buhari has therefore not been able to make a major breakthrough in this crucial sector, although as noted above he has been constrained by the crony privatisation of his predecessor; he has kept within the law and refrained from revoking the franchises awarded by Jonathan.  His effort at diversifying into solar energy has been stymied by payment related guarantees.

The country’s shortcomings are severely limiting its potential, in particular, with regard to industrialisation which Nigeria should have unmatched comparative advantage in Africa because of its natural resource base and size of the domestic market.  In a recent report (September 2018) by Landry Signe of the Brookings Institute on the potential of manufacturing and industrialisation in Africa,  Nigeria had the lowest score on the quality of electricity and second lowest  transport (roads, railroads, ports and air transport) infrastructure among the top ten manufacturers in Africa.  The author noted that “Nigeria continues to be constrained by its political and regulatory environment – especially high levels of corruption, poverty and bureaucratic red tape”.

A review of critical indicators on the welfare of the population shows that much work still needs to be done.  The fragile state index compiled by the Fund for Peace which looks at the security, economy, state legitimacy and demographic pressure faced by Nigerians shows that the country is still very fragile although there has been a significant improvement in the last two years. Another indicator is the Severely Off Track Countries (SOTC) index  which measures a country’s ability to ensure its population can escape extreme poverty over the medium term.  In SOTCs neither the markets nor the bureaucracies are reliable pathways because the former are shallow and inefficient and the latter are under-skilled and ineffective.  Finally, the most glaring indicator of the current situation is the level of emigration, with Nigerians forming a significant proportion of people currently crossing the Mediterranean Sea fleeing to Europe.

So how does Buhari stand in his attempt to persuade voters to give him a second chance?   Detractors are likely to use the famous phrase by Ronald Reagan, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” They will say that his policies have not improved the lives of Nigerians and he does not have the skills to leverage the other legislative bodies, businesses and foreign governments and international organisations to support, devise and implement policies and invest in the country to improve the lives of Nigerians.

Buhari can correctly say that he is on the right path. He has reduced the impact of the Boko Haram problem.  He has taken measures to reduce corruption, to diversify the economy by allocating resources at crucial but neglected sectors – as an observer noted, “Now contractors are actually working on road projects rather than simply pocketing the money and sitting down”.  On the issue of whether the electorate feel things are better off and are willing to give him another chance he can note that this is not be an appropriate way of judging his administration.  Firstly, the time he has had has been relatively short given the immense challenges he faced after decades of mismanagement, rampant corruption and administrations that were indifferent to the needs and potential of the country and the fact that he has shared power with other legislative bodies who do not share his progressive agenda, it was never going to be plain sailing. He is taking an approach that previous administrations did not take but which are crucial in making the country realise its potential.

The challenge for Buhari is how to shape the narrative for the electorate to win the election and then, if successful, how to leave a transformative legacy.  To control the narrative his campaign would need to decipher the attitudes and effectively deliver the relevant message to the diverse voter demographic that he will face, namely, by state, region, age, ethnicity religion and gender. He needs find out how they view his track record, their knowledge of, why or how he has failed/succeeded and aspirations to tailor his message and its delivery to maximise the impact.  This is difficult enough in advanced democracies but in a country like Nigeria with high levels of illiteracy and voter decision making that is significantly influenced by ethnicity and religion it is far more challenging, with voters often taking perverse decisions.  They are for example often swayed by a bag of rice, ignoring the fact that a bag of rice once every four years is far inferior to measures to provide the means to produce or purchase many bags of rice over that four year period.  He needs to sell the idea that corruption is an inefficient and ineffective way of distributing the country’s resources and general development to an electorate that although they only  infrequently get the crumbs of corrupt practices have come to regard such practices as the norm.

To realise his goals and objectives Buhari has to convince the electorate that he needs to complete his project and leave a legacy that all Nigerians will benefit from. Given the governance structure, namely, the federal, state and multi-party democracy, he needs to develop partnerships. The challenge therefore is to get a mandate at the various levels to ensure that stakeholders are aligned to his reformist agenda. He needs to sell his project to create a cohesive party structure in the regions and states. The recent defections from his party by legislators should be an opportunity because he can choose replacements and readmit defectors who will closely adhere to his reform agenda.

Buhari needs a review of his approach if he is given a second shot to leave a lasting legacy.  He needs to take a much more ambitious line and speed up the process relative to his first term.  Nigeria needs a quantum leap in developing its infrastructure and particularly the level of electricity power generation given the needs of the public and industry and its natural resource base.  This has got to be done now, and may require radically departure from the approach so far.  He should borrow from the experience of other African countries.

In borrowing from other African countries he could look at the examples of Rwanda and Ethiopia (which used to be in the SOTC group with Nigeria) that have achieved very high economic growth rates for decades and attracted significant FDIs largely because they have taken bold measures, minimised corruption and invested heavily in their physical and soft infrastructure.  Over half a century ago Nkrumah took a bold step in constructing the Akosombo dam that still provides the bulk of Ghana’s electricity and the Ivory Coast has developed its electricity generation capacity to a level where it exports power.  Ethiopia is currently developing its huge power generation capacity (the project manager is Ethiopian) to a level that will allow it to develop its rapidly growing industrial sector, export power to several countries as well as provide irrigation to thousands of farms. The policies, governance structures and investment partners used by those countries would be relevant to the Buhari project.  Interestingly, in its effort to resuscitate its national air service Nigeria appears to have shortlisted Ethiopian Airlines, one of the few national airlines that have survived in the continent.  While Nigeria is the giant of Africa it can still learn from smaller nimbler countries on the continent.

Buhari’s legacy would be how significantly he can accelerate the fight against corruption and develop the infrastructure that he has started to realise the country’s huge potential.  The country has the potential with regards to power – oil, gas, rivers, sun and coal, diverse agricultural base – rain forest, savannah and semi-temperate highlands, and market for food and manufactured products – 170 million consumers. Buhari’s project will allow Nigeria to rightfully assume its mantle as the giant of Africa.

J Boima Rogers is Principal Consultant at Media and Event Management Oxford (MEMO), www.oxfordmemo.co.uk

 

 

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Trump’s new world order, Trump, family and tribes

August 2018 – J Boima Rogers

In 2016 America elected a president like never before, a disrupter and novice who, true to his promises, is having a fundamental cultural, political and economic impact.  The Trump doctrine is based on Trump, his family, tribes and gut feelings.  Everything must evolve around him, the boss and he brooks no dissent.  The family comes first, and play a major role in the administration irrespective of their qualification.  His tribes take precedence and include the White race, Republicans and the rich.  He goes by gut feelings and has no time for analysis, science or evidence based policy.  This is not really an order or doctrine, rather while Trump has a disruptive effect with implications for his party, the US, allies and the world as a whole, he does not have a logical or coherent solution.  Chaos ensures and he does not have what it takes for a new world order.

Trump’s pronouncements, policies and reactions to developments, the media and criticisms have demonstrated his egotistic tendency.  He has to be the centre of attraction, using tweets and bombastic pronouncements to constantly let his team, party, opponents and the world know that he is the boss.  In an interview with Fox News he stated “I’m the only one that matters.  Because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be.”  Other than his father, he has always been his own boss and his approach reflects this background.  For him, loyalty and subservience are paramount as he recently admitted when he said he was aware that Omarosa, the White House staff member sacked, was not up to the job but was kept on because she was full of praise for him. When he met James Comey, the FBI Director he sacked, he demanded loyalty.  This unprecedented demonstration of fealty to the boss was captured in a cabinet meeting when members praised and pledged their allegiance to their dear leader.  He envies autocrats around the world and considers them to be his true friends.  His frustrations with the media, who as reported by The Daily Beast he has labelled as “enemy of the people”, is because they fail to give him the respect he feels he deserves and expose his lies as expected in a democratic state.  His recent spat with former officials, namely, revocation and threats of revocation of security clearance has little to do with security issues and more to do with the fact that he is asserting his power to strip former officials who have been critical of him, as punishment.  Ex CIA officer David Pries noted that this “is something that happens more in a banana republic than in the USA.”

Trump’s loyalty to his family is unprecedented.  His children played significant roles in his election campaign with his son and son in law allegedly being the conduit for damaging information on the Democrats from the Russians.  His daughter and son in law have been given positions way beyond their qualifications and experience, neither of them having held government positions before Trump assigned them roles.  Kushner, his son-in-law was given a multitude of roles, never before assigned to anybody in the White House even though he has government security clearance issues.  Donald J Trump Jr although not part of the government is frequently lauding the president’s “achievements”, criticising his dad’s opponents and no doubt acting as a conduit for outside interests who want to influence the president.   Trump’s businesses and those of his family have benefited significantly.  His Mar-a-Largo establishment in Florida doubled its fees immediately after Trump won the election.  His company and daughter’s company have been awarded patents and licenses by the Chinese government.  The Republican Party has spent $3.5 million on Trump properties since January 2017 in sharp contrast to the $35,000 the party spent in two election circles up to 2014. The Trump hotel in Washington DC made a profit of $40 million in 2017, the first year of the Trump presidency and indications are that 2018 will be an even better year largely because foreign dignitaries and lobbyists stay there.  Trump more than any other President likes to hold court outside Washington DC and when he does it is often at his hotels, and obviously the US government pays his fees.

Trump is very loyal to his tribes, namely, Whites, Republicans, the rich and through his Vice President, White Christian Evangelicals.  His American First ideology would suggest that this includes America but this is misleading because for him Democrats, non-Whites, intellectuals, the mainstream media and just about anybody who is not part of his tribes noted above or subservient to him is not a real American and since day one he has made no effort to be the president for all Americans.  His loyalty to his White tribe has meant that the Trump’s White House has fewer minorities than any President for decades as Politico noted that of the 55 highest earning staff only half a dozen were non-White.  USA Today has documented ten statements by Trump that have been deemed racists.  Trump’s racist pronouncements and actions started long before he made a bid for the White House, ranging from a court case when his company was accused of discrimination in housing to his campaign against African American and Latino youths who were absolved of crimes they did not commit.  His recent entry into politics started with the false accusation that Obama was not born in America.  He has used derogatory terms against Mexicans, railed against Central Americans who in his words want to “infest” America, called African and Caribbean countries “shitholes” and has frequently lambasted  prominent African Americans for their ”low IQs”.  And of course there was the Charlottesville incident when he failed to criticize neo-Nazis, calling them fine people.  His preoccupation with the Wall, attacks against African American sportsmen, hard-line immigration stand is no doubt due to his racist views.  In his comment on the recent death of Aretha Franklin, Queen of Soul, he said “she worked for me”, obviously, a Black woman who answered to her master.

Trump’s loyalty to his White tribe extends beyond the USA.  He has criticized the EU for opening its borders to immigrants, a point he stressed in his most recent visit to the continent.  He has recently falsely criticised the South African government on killings of Whites and land redistribution policies – Whites who make up 8% of the population own 72% of the land that had been acquired from Blacks under its Apartheid system.  He only raises such concerns when they involve his White tribe, and is noticeably silent on injustices around the world which do not involve his tribe.  He has not made any reference to the Rohingyas even though the UN has just announced that they are facing genocide.

Trump has been steadfast in support of his Republican tribe, and this is reflected in measures with regard to the economy, the judiciary and military budget with one caveat, namely, the dramatic new direction the party has taken under him.  Trump’s Republican brand is no longer the party that advocates free trade, fiscal responsibility, consistent foreign policy anchored to long term allies and civility.  These principles championed according to ABC by the forgotten Republicans, have given way to the Trump doctrine, whose common thread now is authoritarianism and racism.  While racism was always there since Nixon and Reagan adopted the “southern strategy”, Trump has been much bolder and appointed people such as his Attorney General and Steve Bannon, his former strategist who are sympathetic and/or have espoused racist views.

Trump has been very loyal to his rich tribe, giving them tax cuts, getting rid of “onerous” regulations and surrounding himself with millionaires and billionaires in his cabinet and more tax cuts are planned.  Trump, largely because of his devout Christian Vice President has been loyal to White Evangelical Christians as demonstrated in the move of the US embassy to Jerusalem, statements and policies at home and abroad relating to abortion, appointments to the Supreme Court and his current friction with Turkey.

Losers, those outside the tribes, the country as a whole and America’s allies are obviously very unhappy with this president.  Democrats and many independents are strongly opposed to his assault on cherished Obama and general liberal policies relating to the environment, healthcare tax give- away to the rich, and consumer rights.  The country as a whole is not a Trump fan with disapproval rates consistently higher than approval rates in polls since taking office.  While his policies have no doubt built on Obama’s legacy in reducing unemployment, real wages for most Americans, after taking into account inflation, have not increased and following his much touted tax cuts, companies have not passed on the reduced taxes to workers, rather, they have passed on those gains to rich shareholders, buying back shares and increasing dividends.  His threats and actions to damage Obamacare without a credible replacement has been unpopular.   Furthermore, the huge deficit caused by his tax cuts which is projected to increase the national debt by a third has been described as a national security issue by USA Today, particularly as it makes the country less able to withstand another recession.  Even among the winners there are concerns. American businesses are worried about his import tax hikes, causing him to fall out with some free market business supporters, notably, the Koch brothers.  Some of his rural and working supporters have voiced their concerns about the negative impacts of the tariffs.

The most corrosive aspect of Trump’s statements and actions relate to the effect on America’s democracy, the divisive nature of this administration, the absence of analysis in the policy making process and damage to the country’s science culture.  His attacks on the media and judiciary are weakening the bedrocks of American democracy.    He calls mainstream media “fake news” and he is a serial liar, calculated by the Washington Post to be over 4,000 since he took office. This assault on the democratic process is having the effect Trump desires.  A recent poll revealed that 43% of Republicans are willing to give Trump the power to close down media organisations and 52% would support postponing the 2020 presidential election if proposed by Trump. Polls indicate that a high proportion of Republican voters are favourably inclined to authoritarian rule and leaders.   It is frightening watching Trump supporters at his rallies vent their anger at opponents and reporters, notably the vitriol directed at CNN reporter Acosta, egged on by their leader.  The baying crowds at Trump rallies are reminiscent of the dark moods preceding the downfall of the Weimar Republic.  It should be noted that racial prejudice and a feeling that they had been victimised by outside forces and the world were critical factors in the ascent of the monster regime that followed that republic.  Trump has been very successful at engendering unwavering, slavish and sycophantic support from his base hence with all his actions which normally have caused voters to reject such a politician he still commands 85-90% of the support of Republicans.

America is deeply divided with members of the two major parties only exchanging blows and insults and Trump is largely to blame even though the seeds started germinating before he came on board.  In his inflammatory language, actions and insults, he is shaping the Republican Party into a unprincipled (to traditional Republican values) base that primarily watch, listen and trust Fox and other right wing media, adhere to the diktats of their dear leader and are vehemently hostile to Democrats, the media and non-White immigrants.  The party has even changed its stand regarding Russia, its traditional nemesis with polls indicating a significant increase in favourable sentiments towards that country.  At a recent Trump rally participants wore T-shirts saying Russians were preferable to Democrats.  Obviously Putin’s internet trolls have been very successful in convincing Republicans that Russia is the White, Christian and anti-liberal bastion that Trump supporters crave for.  Few Republican leaders are challenging or objecting to the course, inflammatory and false statements that are frequently made by its leader.   The most outspoken of them in Congress are on their way out, their places taken by Trumpists.   Mike Murphy, a vocal Republican critic of Trump highlighted the Republican party’s moral cowardice in the face of Trump’s “racial demagoguery and slurs, abuse of office, dictator appeasement, nepotism and family corruption, blazing incompetence, contempt for the rule of law, betrayal of public institutions, epic dishonesty, authoritarian thuggishness” , pointing out that Republicans and their leaders have been shown no backbone and would pay the price in elections.

The discourse in the Trump era is unlike that in any other administration, course, false, efforts to make up for false statements and disjointed amidst a chaotic policy framework.  Trump sets the tone, as demonstrated when he referred to Omarosa, as a dog, a term he has used on other people.  False statements started almost from day one when his spokesman, Sean Spicer claimed that Trump’s inauguration crowd was the largest ever despite clear photographic evidence showing that to be false.   Trump’s lies have become main-stream to his Republican base who use them as talking points and in repudiating arguments by their opponents.  Kellyanne Conway, a senior Whitehouse staff member coined a new term “alternative facts” for false statements.  Most recently Trump’s Lawyer Rudi Giuliani has stated that “truth isn’t truth” with regards to the Mueller enquiry.  In this chaotic administration,  Trump, White House staff, government departments, outside and Republican congress supporters frequently make conflicting statements and/or are often corrected by the White House or the boss himself.  Policy is often announced for the first time through Trump’s Twitter feed or his favourite media, Fox News without coordination with the relevant department or staff member. This dysfunction can have significant implications, for example nobody knows exactly what Trump said or promised in his recent one-to-one meeting with Putin, Comey, the FBI Director was fired while attending a conference and the Director of Intelligence heard about Trump’s decision to hold a second meeting with Putin from the media also, while at a conference.

Trump unlike Obama is not an analytical President; rather he prides himself as the gut-feeling man, a mind-set that is reflected in his climate, economic and geo-political policies and actions.  His rejection of the climate agreement refuted evidence by most scientists and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been undoing Obama’s policies and rules ignoring robust scientific evidence.  He has sacked and/or refused to consult eminent experts, buried or ignored unpalatable findings.  His tax cuts based on the flawed supply side premise, have failed to address the issues that should be paramount and indeed have exacerbated them.  His trade policies are particularly worrisome at a time when world trade, investment and production are becoming ever more integrated as noted by Kemal Davis and Caroline Conroy of the Brooking Institute, who in their in a recent paper stated that “in less than a decade, it will be huge world markets, that allocates capital finance, and skilled labour”.  Indeed that is already happening in which case, Trump is acting like a modern day Luddite rather than trying to work out the best way America can harness this transition particularly as American companies are leading players in the process. His tariff wars have not looked at the issue in an analytical way but just taken a sledge hammer to deal with a very complex issue.  He has made a big thing about his meetings with the North Korean and Russian leaders but very little preparations were made prior to those meetings which have ended up as mere photo opportunities that benefited those despots.  Trump’s antipathy to analysis is the reason why he got rid of his highly intellectual National Security Adviser, McMaster and has failed to recruit, attract and keep high calibre staff.   Nowhere is this dysfunction in the administration more evident than in science.  In a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists which surveyed scientists in 16 agencies the group noted that the Trump administration’s “record on science policy is abysmal with significant challenges in the use of science to protect the public from environmental and public threats” and that the administration has been “undermining long-established processes for science to inform public policy”.  The Trump administration’s staffing of its science policy unit is a fraction of the level under Obama and even lower than under G H Bush and it has introduced censorship in government documents and websites.  The current top ranking official in the unit is a 31 year old with a bachelor degree in political science. This is a sharp departure from the Obama administration in social and scientific policy process as Ros Haskins and Greg Margolis, in their book, Show me the Evidence, documented the fight by the Obama administration for rigour and results in social policy.

Trump has outsourced much of the actual development of policies and selection of officials to Republican organisations and individuals because he lacks the analytical capability and interest and has not recruited enough staff to do the groundwork.  This outsourcing of policy has given huge opportunities to outside interests in his tribes.  Outside vested interests have had significant input on tax, environmental, immigration, education, religious policies and the selection of key staff members and judges as never before.  The influence of outside vested interest is making policy more ideologically driven with a huge dose of conspiracy theory thrown in and there have been management issues, hence the chaotic Trump policy making process.

While Trump remains very popular in his tribes, his rants and policies are full of ironies verging on the perverse. He constantly rails against China’s trade surplus but his 2020 presidential campaign materials are being made in that country, his company and daughter are benefiting from licences awarded in China and his investment in Indonesia has been boosted by huge capital from China.  He has taken a hard stand against immigration and wants to end “chain migration” which allows US citizens to sponsor their relatives, claiming that he only wants highly qualified migrants.  His company was granted permits for foreign workers soon after he took office.  His grandfather, mother, and wife’s parents recently granted American citizenships recently, and wife’s sister have benefited from “chain migration”.  None of these family members or workers for his company are in the highly skilled category he is touting.  Stephen Miller, his policy adviser advocating hard-line immigration policy who is Jewish was labelled a hypocrite by his uncle David S Glosser saying he had “watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, who is an educated man and well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country”.  Oh by the way, the “fine people” of Charlottesville had placards stating they would not be displaced by Jews and so if they have their way people like Miller could find themselves in big trouble like in the old country they escaped from. William H Frey who recently wrote a book titled Diversity Explosion has noted that Trump’s White supporters have misplaced anxiety. For the country as a whole, but particularly Whites, low birth rates could result a precipitous decline in population growth as seen in countries like Japan.  Immigration he noted will bring in youthful workers and “ironically, it is the older white population that would benefit handsomely from investments in the labour force skills of younger minorities – by the latter’s contribution to Social Security and Medicare” – Trump won the overwhelming proportion of the older White vote.   Trump supporters who received the crumbs from his tax cuts are likely to be negatively impacted by price rises as a result of Trump’s import tariffs. Trump’s rural base who continue to strongly support him, are being hit by tariffs on their exports to China.  Trump’s strongest supporters in the EU, namely, central and eastern European states, are jittery because of Trump’s embrace of Putin’s Russia who they see as a major threat. According to an analysis by the Heritage Foundation, US mills that supply aluminium and steel raw materials employ fewer than 200,000 people while US companies that buy those inputs that will be adversely affected by Trump’s tariffs employ more than 6.5 million workers.  And “Trump Country”, notably the Rust Belt, rely more on exports for jobs than other parts of the country.

Trump does not do irony and such inconsistencies do not matter or apply to him, his family and his tribes.  There is no issue with his family occupying prominent positions and benefiting financially because that is the smart thing to do.  His actions are just are what he has always done, with his business where family members run the show, with tax (avoidance), bankruptcy laws and his (disgruntled) employees.  He is against immigration from “shithole” countries but he is OK with it when it relates to his family, business and immigrants from predominantly White countries like Norway.  His gripe with kneeling (Black) sports stars is because they are ungrateful for what they are getting particularly as they do not actually belong to America as was Obama. He reminded his rich tribe after the tax cut on how grateful they should be that he had filled their coffers.  And his working class White base, well they should be happy with their lot just like the employees and contractors he has shafted.

The Trump new world order/chaos is a cause for concern at home and abroad.  It is more of a chaos than an order and this is partly because his victory was a surprise and there was no real Trump doctrine/plan other than what is in it for Trump and his family, anger, hate and tribal affiliation.  Yes he had some platitudes but these were not well thought out and coherent strategies and policies.  His party is unrecognisable in terms of its long held principles.  American democracy is under threat and one of the earliest experiments of modern democracy is seeing a lurch to authoritarianism reminiscent of the darkest days of the twentieth century.  Analysis and science have been thrown out of the window as Tump takes policies and positions based on prejudice and conspiracy theories.

On the world stage Trump’s statements on NATO and the EU and his embrace of Putin, affinity towards authoritarian leaders, protectionist policies are introducing instability never seen for many decades.  Allies, frequently berated, attacked and surprised by Trump who often sides with traditional enemies such as Putin in the case of the EU, are confused and the most recent statement by the French President, echoing that made by Chancellor Merkel suggests that Europe is finally deciding to take a path that is more independent of the US.  The EU is particularly concerned because of Trump’s support for Brexit, ant-liberal policies of east and central European members and anti EU movements and parties.  In Asia, America’s allies, notably, Japan and South Korea are worried about the mercurial president who despite all the fanfare seems to have achieved nothing in his meeting with North Korea and his reluctance to engage in military exercises.    The whole world is worried about America’s tariffs, his unravelling of carefully crafted accords such as the Paris climate change, Iran, World Trade Organisation, NAFTA agreements and belligerent posture but without clearly thought out replacements.   Trump’s disdain of analysis, science, lack of experience or interest in politics and diplomacy but rather only guided by bloated regard of his own intellect and deal making prowess, his tribe and conspiracy theories makes world leaders worried.  This angry leader, ready to take on the world, armed with the most powerful economic and military force, backed by a sycophantic congress and support from the only people he cares for, his Republican base, is unnerving.  And with his legal issues and the Mueller probe at home, he may just lash out as he is prone to do when he is frustrated and/or wants to change the news agenda.

J Boima Rogers is Principal Consultant at Media and Event Management Oxford (MEMO) www.oxfordmemo.co.uk

 

 

Link | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Brexit: Britain’s journey through minefields at home and abroad

J Boima Rogers – July 2018

The Brexit momentum continues, with the clock ticking away and Theresa May’s government is facing challenges at home and abroad. These challenges include the limited time span for a deal, the government’s wafer thin majority in Parliament, a divided Tory party, rebellious House of Lords and Scottish government and resignations by ministers who had been at the forefront of negotiations, including the UK’s lead Brexit negotiator and Foreign Secretary.  On the (European) continent, the UK’s partners had until recently been exasperated with the lack of clarity from the UK government.  At the global level we are witnessing turbulence because of the Trump factor even as many Brexiteers look to America as a golden opportunity.

There have been some bright sparks.  The UK government has finally published a white paper on a trade deal which the EU lead negotiator initially described as “80% OK”.  The paper set out the government’s position, namely: to minimise disruption of trade through a “frictionless trade” mechanism; avoidance of a hard Irish border; convergence on standards through common rule books; an end to free movement of people and; security partnership. To mollify its hard Brexit parliamentarians it accepted non consequential amendments to the bill.  There have been friendly statements from some member states towards the UK.  Trump’s hostile position on trade with the EU and comments on security issues are also bound to make European countries more appreciative of Britain as a bulwark against Russian aggression.  Some EU states are wary that Britain’s exit will lead to more dominance by France and Germany, particularly, in the case of the latter.  A deal will be made but the timeline is likely to be extended although Brussels has suggested that an extension could only be allowed for a second referendum.  It is obvious, as noted in my previous paper that any deal will not be as good as existing arrangements but should be better than those with other non EU European states.  The Prime Minister and new Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab will be traversing the continent to gauge and influence support for the UK among member states all of whom have to vote for the agreement.

Britain faces three scenarios, soft, hard or no deal but even as negotiations are taking place the EU and commercial operators are already implementing measures that have significant effects irrespective of the outcomes specified. So how will the country fare under any of the possible deals?  A recent report by Darrell M West and Christian Lansing, Global Manufacturing Scorecard, which places Britain at the top of the table in terms of its competitiveness in manufacturing along with Switzerland, could be cited by Brexiteers as a sign that the country is poised for a golden age post Brexit. One needs to be cautious about that conclusion for a number of reasons.  The authors cite “political and economic predictability and open market” as the number one condition.  In the globalised integrated manufacturing setting that companies operate under, they require a smooth supply chain and Brexit is likely to disrupt this chain particularly in the case of a hard or no deal situation.  Many major brands are also foreign owned, this is notably the case with cars, a major “success” area where all volume car producers are foreign owned.  Disruptions in the supply chain, limitations on market access for the finished product and pressure and incentives by home country governments will see production being moved to the EU or other countries which have better arrangements with the EU.  The fact is that the market for over four hundred million consumers in post Brexit EU will always be more attractive than the sixty five million British consumers. The British government’s White paper only covers trade in goods, leaving out the much larger service sector which accounts for 80% of GDP and 44% of exports; the paper makes vague statements on the service sector.

Even as negotiations are taking place, there are moves by the EU and commercial operators towards the divorce.  The EU has started moving regulatory institutions out of the UK and excluding the UK from participation in major projects.   The Euro Banking Authority is moving to France and the Euro Medicine Agency is moving to Amsterdam. The EU is limiting UK participation in the Galileo Space project and Airbus has indicated that its operations in the UK are likely to be negatively impacted and most commercial operators are at advanced stages in their contingency plans.   These regulatory institutions oversee sectors where Britain is a major global force and has significant comparative advantages which will be negatively impacted in any of the Brexit scenarios.  The contingency arrangements by commercial operators are significant investments and businesses take such actions with the high probability of following them through.

Britain’s exit is likely to introduce major shifts in the EU dynamics, notably, a move away from the troika of leading states, Germany, Britain and France leaving the two leading countries as the dominant players.  Germany, the powerhouse and largest net contributor to the EU budget realises that the exit of Britain, the third largest net contributor means that it would have to increase its budgetary outlay.  It has to tread carefully because of resentments by some EU states relating to its history and dominance in trade.  France, the second largest net contributor to the EU budget and embedded dominance in EU institutions – French and English are the official languages and the country has a strong presence in the EU’s bureaucratic framework, including the lead Brexit negotiator, Michel Bernier – will find it hard to fill the financial void because it has yet to fully recover from the economic recession, with stubbornly high unemployment.    Southern and Eastern European countries with relatively large agricultural sectors and/or lower per capita incomes are net beneficiaries of the EU budget.  This is because the bulk of the EU budget is spent on agriculture and structural cohesion measures that benefit those states.  Britain’s exit could therefore reduce payments to them unless Germany and other net payers increase their budget contributions.  Northern European states, net contributors to the budget, are wary of the likely of increases in their contributions to make up for the gap that Britain’s exit will leave.  It also means that Britain, a key ally of their reform agenda with regard to the EU bureaucracy, budget and economy will be leaving these northern states exposed to their southern and eastern partners who are more interested in pork and maintaining the status quo.

Britain’s exit will also have an impact on the EU political and security front.  Ethno nationalism and anti-liberal developments in Eastern Europe, Italy and Austria means that more liberal northern/western members will be losing a key ally against this trend.  Most members also belong to NATO and Britain is a major military force that is crucial to face up to an aggressive Russia whose key aim is fermenting disunity within the EU and NATO.  And Putin now has a partner in pursuing this objective, President Trump.  Trump’s ambassador to Germany has stated that he wants to “empower” right wing governments in Europe.  Britain is a major force in NATO and also plays a critical role in the security infrastructure relating to terrorism and crime which could be affected by Brexit.

Much has been made of new opportunities for Britain in the global sphere but as Lord Malloch Brown noted in his presentation, Britain at sea, much of this is an illusion with significant challenges post Brexit.  The EU, accounting for nearly half (43%) of Britain’s trade and historical, cultural and security ties will continue to interact with the UK in a significant way.  The new factor that was nowhere in the scene at the start of Brexit is Mr Trump, who key Brexiteers see as Britain’s saviour but who is actually the bull in the China shop, not only for the process but also through his actions and pronouncement on the global stage.  Trump in his recent trip to Europe reiterated his support for Brexit, undermining of May’s government in an interview with the mass daily Sun newspaper in which he criticised May’s handling of the Brexit negotiation and lauded her rival and hard Brexiteer, Boris Johnson, the former Foreign Secretary.  He also caused a major upset on a separate but related matter of security, namely, his shenanigans on NATO and embrace of the Russian bear.  His protectionist policies could have direct and indirect impact on the EU, post Brexit UK and globally.  He has slapped higher import taxes on EU products and promised more taxes.  Europe will be impacted indirectly as protectionist measures against countries like China force them to seek alternative markets for their displaced US exports.  Countries around the world may also adopt protectionist measures. The worst case scenario is the development of beggar thy neighbour policies reminiscent of those implemented in the 1920s that caused the great depression as many other countries raised taxes on imports and implemented other protectionist measures.  As we go to press, the Trump/ Juncker (EU President) meeting appears to have resulted in Trump toning down on threats to hike up tariffs on a range of products although those he has already implemented remain in place.

With regards to Britain’s relationship with America post Brexit, as noted in my previous paper, Trump is only interested in transactions when he gets the better of his adversaries and in Trumpworld allies can also be “foes”.  Given this tendency, it is hard to see how Trump would make it easier for Britain, which already has a £50 Billion trade surplus with the US, to have better access.  Admittedly, this anti-immigrant (unless you are White from countries like Norway) son of a British immigrant mother may have a soft spot for Britain and so make a special case for the UK, a very wishful thinking.  Furthermore, it is hard to see how Trump will balance his embrace of Britain which has been targeted by his close buddy, Putin.  Putin interfered in the Brexit referendum, poisoned British residents and frequently makes threatening military moves (Russian military jets in Britain’s airspace) against the UK.

While the negotiations with EU negotiators are not smooth, Britain can take comfort in some positive developments.  The business communities on both sides of the channel want a pragmatic outcome to the negotiations because of significant trade, integrated supply chains and benefits to consumers and investors.  In Britain, hard Brexiteers have not been able to offer any plausible alternatives to what May has proposed. The Trump factor is also a major incentive for an amicable outcome. His belligerent trade posture means that the world and Europe realise that they do not need any additional disruption to the trading system.    Policy makers on both sides of the channel therefore realise that the EU and Britain need to minimise the Trump factor.  Trump’s attitude to NATO and Russia suggests that Trump’s America cannot be trusted to defend Europe and indeed Trump appears to be in cahoots with Europe’s nemesis, Russia.  The UK which has for centuries and is still a strong military force on the continent, will no doubt use this leverage in ensuring an amicable divorce.

Negotiations are going to become more intense and both parties are, as expected throwing punches, making moves which while ostensibly aimed at the opposing side are really largely directed at their domestic audiences to demonstrate to their stakeholders that they are determined to put up a good fight.  The EU also has to take a tough stand to deter other members who may harbour leaving.  Michel Bernier the EU lead negotiator has for example stated that he seeks “solutions that respect the integrity of the single market” and going back on his initial positive position on the UK’s white paper, recently stated that the UK’s proposal is unacceptable because the EU would not delegate its customs policy and excise duty collection “to a non-member who would not be subject to the EU’s governance structure”.   Britain has posited that its “divorce settlement” is at stake in a no deal scenario, a point Bernier disputes because according to him that is a done and dusted deal.  Both sides are making contingency plans, as they should, for a no deal scenario.  These statements and position are typical of any such negotiation and Bernier is also miffed that the UK is trying to go over him by directly lobbying his bosses, EU member states.  It is not going to be easy, and it will be messy, but with so much at stake and in this turbulent world, Brexit will happen without both parties being totally happy or unhappy.

J Boima Rogers is Principal Consultant at Media and Event Management Oxford, http://www.oxfordmemo.co.uk.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Creating Wakanda: youth, technology and entrepreneurship across Africa

Report by J Boima Rogers – June 2018

This report on an event which was co-hosted by the Blavatnik School and the Pathways for Prosperity Commission evoked the recent Black Panther movie which is inspiring a generation of Africans to see themselves as technological leaders in a sci-fi world.  The objective was to discuss real-world technologically driven future vision of Africa, how this future can be created by people from the continent and whether Africa’s young entrepreneurs hold answers for Africa’s development and challenges such as youth unemployment. Presentations were made by Strive Musiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of the Econet Group, Atherton Mutombwera, founder and CEO of Hutano Diagnostics Ltd. and Jessica Price, co-founding partner of the Rhodes Incubator, which empowers scholars from diverse global communities. Professor Ngaire Woods, dean of the Blavatnik School of Government moderated the event.

In his opening statement Strive noted that technology is the path to prosperity and highlighted the exponential pace at which changes are taking place in the technology space making the process very disruptive.  The issue is how to manage the opportunities that arise from such disruptions. Africa needs to dramatically improve its educational systems, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), where it is lagging behind.  Entrepreneurship should not be viewed as a mechanical process or merely for profit rather entrepreneurs aim to solve problems.  Universities on the continent are producing graduates who cannot find jobs and the focus is training people to work for other people.  The challenge in developing an entrepreneurial culture is how to recognise, nurture and take it to the next stage.  The continent needs to move away from arrogance of governance, in particular, passing laws without consultation. Africa does not need to be focussed on foreign investment because there is significant capital that can be mobilised domestically.  The emphasis should be on how to harness entrepreneurship.  There must be a move away from reliance on natural resources because the pathway to prosperity is being smart. The private sector has more funds than governments and governments need to develop policies that will assist in the mobilisation of capital and movement of it across the continent.

Strive noted that stock market exchanges across the continent are not up to the challenge and need to up their games.    He cited Israel and Silicon Valley as models to look up to. In Israel the culture is promoted at high school level.  When he visited Silicon Valley he was very impressed on what the government was doing to make the environment conducive to entrepreneurs, something he noted the Chinese had copied.  Policy makers need to visit those countries as well as other African countries to see what have been achieved and how they can improve their own systems. He highlighted the mobile phone revolution in money transfers in Zimbabwe which was even more advanced than Kenya which pioneered the process and is often hailed.  Mauritius has developed a cyber city and is unique in having the facility for business registration where Econet is registered. Key challenges for entrepreneurs in Africa, which are universal, are: getting it right with regards to the product, customer base and monetising the product/concept; organising people (Staff) and; the business process, including the supply chain.

Atherton revealed that his start-up is looking at 7 diseases which are endemic or are severely impacting the continent to try to simplify diagnosis, a crucial development because there are only 14 laboratories for such processes on the continent. His unit is having conversations with stakeholders, developing the business at various levels, namely, the concept, company structure and execution.  His unit is based in Oxford to have access to technology and capital but plans to start a manufacturing and distribution in Africa.

Jessica introduced the Rhodes incubator she has co-founded which targets projects that will make a significant impact.  The challenge for Africa is developing eco-systems that will make it attractive for investment, notably, the legislative framework and funding streams. She noted that the success of technology has a cultural perspective which needs to change, in particular, the expectations of what the government can do.  Governments need to realise that they are not omnipotent and must be willing to give up rights and be ready to partner with other stakeholders.  Access to technology needs to be broadened.

Comments and analysis

Professor Ngaire Woods posed the question of what are the pathways to prosperity and what governments can do to create a more conducive environment.  She noted that crucial factors are the mind-set, minimising risks and developing a supportive infrastructure and highlighted the work of the Gates Foundation. Other participants noted the need for more conversation on opportunities and barriers to investment.  Countries, as South Africa has done, need to develop one-stop-shop facilities to enhance the investment process.  Kenya had recently hosted an event to review the regulatory regime to learn and test how to use the regulatory regime to support innovation, develop peer learn and peer pressure and networking, with the aim of enhancing new product development and minimising risks. A major point learned from that event was that regulators do not have the skills for innovators.

The event was very refreshing and part of a series that Blavatnik have organised in its pathway to prosperity programme. It gave a platform to innovators using new technology in a variety of ways, namely, a very successful African telecommunications, media and technology entrepreneur, an interesting start-up that aims to address pressing health issues facing the continent and an incubator which will broaden the technology landscape and mobilise funds to spur investment and development.  It brought into focus the notion that Africa offers investment opportunities and African entrepreneurs are active in the technology space.   While there has, as should be a lot of attention on the physical infrastructure, the focus at the event was on soft infrastructure, namely, the regulatory framework and training.  African governments, it would appear need to up their game and the continent needs to place more emphasis in developing STEM where it lags behind, to the detriment of a fast moving global technology sector.  It is rather perverse that it is turning out so many high school and university graduates who cannot find jobs while missing out on investment opportunities because of lack of skilled labour.

While it was laudable that Blavatnik hosted the event, such events should also be hosted in Africa, to make sure that this conversation hits home for all stakeholders.  One solution should be for events such as this one to incorporate a webinar capacity, whereby audiences in Africa and elsewhere can participate. Two other processes could further develop this important forum, ensure that it is not just a talking shop and build momentum.  Firstly, it would help if such forums are documented to allow stakeholders who cannot participate to have access to the event.  Blavatnik, the African Union and national governments could develop databases of such forums, initiatives, regulatory regimes, stakeholders and indices that governments and entrepreneurs could tap into to learn from, offer advice and facilitate networking.

One issue that I disagree with Strive about is the fact that he downplayed the role of Africa’s natural resources.  While I do not think these should be the sole focus in the development process, they can and must play a major role.  Developing and processing products from these natural resources still have a crucial role to play.  African countries have for too long exported raw commodities and imported processed products.  Processing such commodities will add value, provide employment, develop other related downstream products and minimise the volatility in prices and revenues that commodities are often subjected to.  Technological breakthroughs could assist in making this transition.

With regard to one of the major challenges facing the continent, youth employment, making use of the continent’s vast resources will be more effective by increasing the production and productivity of minerals and agricultural products and processing them.  This in no way means that technology should be ignored, indeed it will be an ever increasing part of the development process which requires a multi-pronged approach.  Training, particularly focussing on STEM as noted by Strive should be a priority but this should be in tandem with improvements in traditional sectors.  While Africa cannot afford to continue lagging behind new technology, the sector can only absorb a small percentage of its fast growing labour force.  It will generally help improve its overall competitiveness and economic growth, allowing farms, mines, factories, supply chains and services to offer employment opportunities. The crucial factor here though will be improvements in physical and soft infrastructure, reduced corruption, avoiding wars and civil strife, all things that are not specifically geared towards the technology sector or sexy, but just plain simple good governance.

Technology should not be viewed as a stand-alone sector but rather the engine for development.  The challenge is how to leverage new technology to assist in the development process.  Mobile phones have played a part in providing market intelligence for farmers.  Mobile phones played a crucial role in Nigeria’s effective and prompt response to the recent Ebola epidemic. Atherton’s work in the health sector and Jessica’s start-up which aims to diversify access to new technology are part of that process.  In my paper on the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa I noted that Big Data would be very useful in mapping the spread of the disease and efforts to stem the epidemic.  New technology, in particular, the digital revolution can and should therefore be used for a range of sectors, including agriculture, mining, tourism, health etc.

One interesting point is that all of the presenters are operating out of their home base which itself demonstrate the challenges African countries face and how they lose out on one of their most significant resource base, their entrepreneurs.  Strive’s Econet is based in South Africa and registered in Mauritius, rather than his native Zimbabwe.  This is partly because of the protracted and bitter fight he had with the Zimbabwean authorities who tried to muzzle the operations of their talented son, according to my sources, because he would not give in to corrupt government officials. It is also likely that the depressed market conditions and dilapidated infrastructure of that country, Mugabe’s legacy, was not a conducive environment for his company.  Atherton’s Hutano Diagnostics is based in the UK rather than his native Zimbabwe, as is Jessica’s Rhodes incubator instead of her native South Africa.  African countries must therefore do a lot more to hold on to their crown jewels and attract those who have flown the nest.  This factor is even more so in the globalised digital world.

BIOGRAPHIES

Strive Masiyiwa is the founder and executive chairman of Econet Group, a pan-African telecommunications, media and technology company with operations and investments in over 20 countries. Masiyiwa has been selected twice, in 2014 and 2017, to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. Over the last few years, Masiyiwa has devoted his time to mentoring the next generation of African entrepreneurs through his Facebook page, which has a growing followership of nearly 3-million young people from across the continent. Facebook has identified his platform as the most engaging of any business leader in the world. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards including Unilever Plc, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Group, and the Hilton Foundation’s Humanitarian Prize Jury. Strive is founder and co-chair of the Pathways for Prosperity Commission on Technology and Inclusive Development.

Atherton Mutombwera is the founder and CEO of Hutano Diagnostics Ltd. Hutano Diagnostics Ltd is a start-up developing a diagnostic and surveillance platform for diseases caused by emerging and dangerous pathogens which cause recurring epidemics in Africa. The company is currently developing an Ebola diagnostic and surveillance platform. Atherton has experience in healthcare provision, Nano biotechnology research and business. He graduated with an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy, then obtained an MSc in Nanoscience as a Mandela Rhodes Scholar. He was awarded the Coursework Masters Award in the Science, Engineering and Technology fields by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2016. His research focus during the MSc was the development of a rapid diagnostic device for Ebola. He has most recently completed an MBA at the University of Oxford as a Louis Dreyfus-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann Saïd Scholar.

Jessica Price is a co-founding partner of the Rhodes Incubator, which empowers scholars from diverse global communities to use entrepreneurship to drive impact. Jessica is particularly interested in the intersection of entrepreneurship and complex societal challenges, particularly questions of access to healthcare, and improving health systems. She holds an MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) and MPH from the University of Cape Town, and is currently on a Rhodes scholarship in Oxford studying for a DPhil in Primary Care Health Sciences.

 

J Boima Rogers is Principal Consultant at Media and Event Management Oxford (MEMO) www.oxfordmemo.co.uk

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Britain at Sea – Brexit

 

Presentation by Lord Malloch-Brown at Blavatnik, University of Oxford

J Boima Rogers – June 2018

In a presentation by Lord Malloch-Brown last week in which he outlined how the UK can salvage its foreign policy, he expressed anger at Britain’s decision to leave the EU, highlighting two hypotheses which he asserted meant that that the country was facing a storm and had lost anchor.  These were the turbulent environment that Europe and the US currently face and the challenges of the post-war liberal order that is facing a significant unprecedented challenge. British society he noted is rooted in continuity and had fought for centuries for a balance of power.  Brexit supporters were deluded in trying to revive the country’s imperial global status, ignoring the fact that the county no longer has the economies of scale which the European Union (EU) offers. For too long British politicians cast the EU as the bogeyman, with some of the right wing media featuring distorted stories, fuelling anti EU sentiments.  The reality he noted is that EU has been good for both parties, Britain and the EU.  The EU is the UK’s principal trade partner, security arrangements have been enhanced and as well as the country’s global posture by belonging to a larger entity.  Many EU partners appreciate the UK’s input in making its institutions more efficient and effective and less protectionist on trade issues to the benefit of all member states.  EU leaders at the top level have been magnanimous in the negotiations, not to give ammunition to the right wing media although at a lower level, local politicians have been more pugnacious, citing the Mayor of Paris who wants his city to supplant the city of London in finance.

Overseas observers view the British government’s position with bewilderment and comment that the country is not relevant.  While he felt that the country is in no danger of losing its Security Council seat in the UN at the moment, France will position itself as the European representative.  Europe is defecting and the commonwealth is not taking up the space. The UK’s position is however not unique as in other parts of the EU national electorates are turning against the union.

On security, in the face of the Russian strategy of disruption of western democracies, Britain is viewed as the weakest link.  In Europe, Hungary, Greece and Italy cannot be depended on to back the fight against the Russian aggression.  Europe’s dependency on oil imports from Russia makes the continent vulnerable to that country.  The Trump administration’s call for closer ties with Russia is likely to receive some support in Europe because of these conditions, particularly from countries noted above.  Britain, with its mercantilist position, is isolated.  On the global stage, some large countries are moving towards authoritarianism and country first positions and taking a cue from Trump towards bilateral relationships.

The British brand is still strong with regards to soft power.  It is one of the few advanced countries to devote the.7% of its GDP to foreign aid that is recommended by the UN.  The BBC and the country’s championship of human rights and the environment are a big plus which means while still a small country, it punches above its weight and this is magnified as part of the larger EU entity.   In moving away from the EU, the UK will have to depend on institutions like the UN for world solutions where, as a small country it is vulnerable.  He noted that foreign policy is effective when driven by values and Britain needs to join the EU to build global collaboration and conversation to democratise foreign policy, particularly as studies suggest that electorates around the world have lost trusts in governments.  Europe needs to fashion its unique path as one of three blocs, namely the EU, China and the US.  In post Brexit, there would be moves, led by the French to minimise the UK’s leverage within the EU. The UK needs to be part of the EU bloc EU, using its expertise to make the bloc more effective on the global stage.

The fight against Brexit must be multipronged, highlighting the economy security, shared values and bread and butter issues like healthcare.  He noted that uncertainty is dangerous and there must be a clearly specified time limit for negotiations after which Parliament and the electorate should have a vote.

Comments and Analysis

In discussions by the audience it was noted that the former Prime Minister, David Cameron was partly responsible for Brexit by joining the hard right group in the European parliament which reduced his Conservative party’s ability to work with mainstream conservative groups in that body.  The UK had failed to make use of clauses that would have allowed it to limit immigration.  Europe, it was noted, does not have a single focus and would find it difficult to navigate its way on the global stage particularly with American dominance of technology, international banking and military power.  This has been demonstrated in Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran agreement as EU companies have pulled out of that country despite support for the agreement by EU members and other signatories.  Macron and Merkel it was noted were charting further EU integration, notably, among the 16 members sharing the Euro currency.

The most profound comment was made by a member of the audience who noted that there were very few young people in the audience made up primarily of middle aged and elderly academics and professional people.  In the referendum the young voted overwhelmingly – 75% of voters aged 18-24 – to remain in the EU, however as a percentage of all voters in that age group only 36% voted against over 80% of voters aged 55 and over. A majority of the working class also voted to leave. This means that the views of the young, whose future was being decided and who backed staying in the EU were not reflected in this momentous decision.  The working class, who felt more threatened in terms of jobs and housing from increased immigration and voted for  Brexit, do not as a rule participants in formal debates but rather made their decisions informally, in discussions with family and friends.  This indeed is the challenge that Lord Malloch-Brown and other remainers face if they are to press politicians to stay in the EU, negotiate for closer ties after Brexit, call for a new referendum and if that is granted to win that referendum.

The issue which was not discussed in detail was the tools needed to convince supporters of Brexit to change their position.  The right wing media is very vocal in support of Brexit.  However significant changes in the media landscape and people’s formulation of views, notably, the importance of social media, means that the fight for voters is more complex and so far remainers do not seem to have found solutions.  The strongest influence on voters is often the views of friends and family, people they trust, often these days through social media.  Often such views can even be inimical to the interests of such voters as I pointed out in my paper on Trump’s America.  Logic does not often take prominence, a fact that Russia has played on in elections in Europe and America. How to penetrate and sway the tribe is the major challenge.

There was only a brief mention of the post Brexit opportunities and challenges of the US and other non- EU partners and the Trump doctrine and how they could affect the debate.  Malloch-Brown admittedly noted that it was unlikely that the commonwealth would take up the slack that Brexit will unleash.  The UK would need to work hard in strengthening links with other (non-commonwealth) countries.  A key factor is the bilateral US/UK trade negotiations that are already taking place even though this is at an informal level.  Since the UK/EU trade is much larger than UK/America trade, the outcome, if the these negotiations result in the US supplanting the EU as a market and source of goods and services, if indeed that is feasible, would have very significant effect on Britain’s jobs, economy etc., way beyond the “chlorinated chicken” issue that Lord Malloch-Brown noted.  Lord Malloch-Brown’s statement that the EU has been magnanimous in the negotiations is not correct.  As I noted in a previous paper, the EU has to insist on punitive actions to make Britain realise that there is a cost to Brexit, if anything as a deterrent to other states within the Union.  Consequently, the EU has also indicated that Brexit will usher in new EU/UK relationships and collaboration including research, space, security, supply chains and other areas.

The remain camp need to push harder on prominent Brexiteers who are often deluded as regards the huge opportunities they paint, notably, Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, who not only disdains links with the EU, has lauded the relationship with Trump’s America and recently reportedly stated that Trump was a much better  negotiator than the Prime Minister.  As Robert Kagan stated in his article in the Brookings Institute titled, Trump’s America does not care, ”Those that depend on the United States, meanwhile, will be treated with disdain, pushed around and used as pawns.”  This point was echoed by Thomas Wright, Director of the Center of the United States and Europe who noted in his article titled, Trump is choosing Eastern Europe, that the Trump administration in its current bilateral trade negotiations with Britain is insisting that Britain break away from the EU and adopt US regulatory framework thereby making it difficult for the UK to come to an agreement with the EU, is therefore “treating Britain as an easy mark, not as a vital strategic ally”. Rather than ensuring a proud Britain anchored in a strong EU, Mr Johnson it would appear prefers the UK to become Trump’s poodle.  Malloch-Brown and his remain group need to highlight these issues and hopefully engender British pride and the antipathy towards Trump by British voters to further their cause.  This will probably be as effective if not be more than the dry technical arguments about the negative impacts of Brexit. They should highlight the dangers of siding with a mercurial and nationalistic leader against the UK’s natural and major trading partner, the EU.

Furthermore, aligning closely with Trump rather than being closely linked with leading liberal democratic stalwarts within the EU, namely, France and Germany will tarnish the UK brand that Malloch-Brown alluded to, while diminishing the UK’s clout.  Trump has demonstrated an inclination to dictators and “strong leaders”.  Even in Europe, in a speech on the Trump’s Europe strategy by Wess Michell, the US Assistant Secretary of State, he indicated that the US was pivoting away from Western Europe towards central and Eastern Europe which have been trending away from liberal democratic values.  A post Brexit Britain would therefore be aligned to a grouping of undemocratic states, become the poodle of Trump’s America, lose the major role that it shares with Germany and France in the most powerful economic entity in the world, the EU and, be an outlier minor player in world forums, even with its UN Security Council seat.

Britain is at sea, buffeted by strong winds, in the form a hostile Russia, a domineering and nationalistic America and an assertive EU.  On deck, the crew, while not quite in an open state of mutiny are in a rebellious mood, notably, Scottish demands for a more prominent role at the table, the Northern Ireland/Irish border quagmire, the House of Lords push for Parliament to have a strong input in negotiations, Labour and Lib/Dem assertiveness and Conservative party fights between moderates and hard-liners.  Among voters while there is an element of buyer remorse among people who voted to leave the EU, no one knows how deep this is or if voters will be asked again for their verdict.

J Boima Rogers is the Principal Consultant at Media and Event Management Oxford, http://www.oxfordmemo.co.uk.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trump’s Perverse America

 

December 2017 – J Boima Rogers

The election of Trump as president demonstrates the perverse attitude of a significant segment of the American electorate and his policies have validated this point.  The definition of perverse is irrational, illogical, contradictory and senseless, and indicates support for actions that are inimical to the interests of the person.  His policies have hurt the country, his base and his party rather than making America great as he frequently quips.  This is the case even with his most recent “success”, the tax cuts.  Why did Americans elect this man? As in any such decisions there are seemingly credible reasons to his supporters although the majority of Americans, in terms of the popular vote, which he lost, did not agree during the election and subsequently given the fact that he is the most unpopular president since polling started.

Trump’s election beggars belief.  He was the least qualified of the candidates within his party and against his Democratic rival.  He had no experience of government; other candidates and previous presidents had worked in government, as civil servants, in elected roles or the military.  He had not distinguished himself in business, having inherited his wealth from his parents and was legally bankrupt four times.  One analysis of his wealth concluded that he would have been better off if he had saved his inheritance.  Candidate Trump asked for and presumably received assistance from America’s major military and strategic rival, Russia.  He advocated spurious and unrealistic policies and encouraged and attracted racist organisations.  He was accused of indecent actions against women and was caught on camera making lewd and sexist statements. Dr Elaine Kamarck, Senior Fellow in Governance and Director of the Center for Effective Public Management at the Brookings Institution said “we have elected the least experience person ever to hold the office of the presidency”.

Since taking office, Trump has implemented policies that are, contrary to his claim, caused America to lose its leadership position in many ways.  He is loathed by the public and leaders around the world, including in states allied to the US.  In a recent poll conducted by Pew Research in 37 countries, 22% had confidence in Trump doing the right thing in marked contrast to the 64 percent who agreed with that statement for President Obama; 74% had little or no confidence in Trump compared to 23% who expressed the same sentiment about Obama; favourable views of the US had dropped from 64% to 49% since Trump took over.  His initial statements and/or lack of affirmation of core principles of NATO, the cornerstone of US/European defence since the end of the Second World War, made his European allies jittery and got them thinking that America under Trump was an unreliable ally.  While, he has subsequently reaffirmed America’s commitment to the alliance, his allies are still wary because they view those initial statements as the true Trump, as confirmed by his desire to be friendly to what NATO allies consider to be the alliance’s biggest threat, Russia.  In a meeting of the G20 last summer, he ignored allies and walked over to have a long chat with Putin at a dinner function.  In a recent speech after the US published its National Security Strategy which labelled Russia and China as the two major threats to the US, Trump pointedly ignored that document and instead focussed on the need for a “great partnership” with Russia.  He took America out of the Climate Change accord.  He abandoned the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement that Obama had worked so hard to build, largely to counter China’s relentless rise.  In both the climate accord and TPP decisions he gave China the opportunity to take up the space vacated by the US, thereby ceding America’s role to a key rival.  His position on climate change is likely to see other countries edging the US from its leading role in new technology; other countries involved in TPP have subsequently signed up to an agreement dubbed TPP light.  America, the beacon of democracy has lost that position as Trump has cosied to dictators and attacked the media, judiciary and the democratic process at home.

The American people and in particular, his base are paying a price for Trump dogma and ignorance.  He has dismantled Obama’s environmental protection rules causing increased pollution. He appointed a man who is very hostile to environmental issues to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who has subsequently allied himself with industry leaders, potential polluters, rather than advocates for environmental concerns.  His attack on his predecessor’s rules protecting consumers from predatory finance companies will hurt the public.  After several unsuccessful attempts to dismantle Obama’s healthcare legislation that provided healthcare to millions of people, his recent tax cuts have finally got rid of the Individual Mandate in Obamacare, a major blow to the programme.  According to the Congressional Budget Office dismantling the scheme will result in thirteen million people losing healthcare as well as increasing premiums for everybody else. His major “success”, the tax cuts will, according to the Tax Policy Centre see 83% of the benefits accruing to the 1% wealthiest Americans while increasing the budget deficit that America’s children and grandchildren will have to pay. Trump and his family will obviously be major beneficiaries of these tax cuts. In addition to this lopsided benefit to the wealthy, The National Low Income Housing coalition have noted that the removal of subsidies in the private activity bond scheme will result in a reduction by 800.000 in rental housing construction for low income people.  As a follow up to the reforms, largely to pay for the give-away to the rich, the administration is reportedly planning significant cuts to social programs like Medicare and Medicaid that benefit the poor and middle class.   The tax cuts will result in what many commentators consider to be one of the major issues, namely, the huge disparities in income and wealth between the rich, like the Trump family and the middle and working classes and poor; this is particularly the case because of the steep reduction in inheritance tax.

Leaving aside the social implications of the tax cuts, the economic benefits touted are a mirage and rather than resolving some of the country’s major challenges, the bill will exersabate them.  Most Economists, including banks have noted that the additional economic growth generated by the tax cuts will be minimal and short-lived. The additional growth rate, according to most Economists will not generate sufficient tax revenue hence US debt will balloon.  The legislation will encourage tax avoidance, using new rules for Pass Through and C-corporations; consequently the 1.5 trillion dollar cost of the bill is likely to be even higher.  These observations are not merely based on theoretical analysis but have played out in a much smaller scale in the state of Kansas where Republicans adopted similar policies; state revenues plummeted and the economic growth rate for that state was only a fraction of other states with much higher tax rates.  In a meeting with business leaders when Gary Cohn, President Trump’s chief economic adviser asked them  whether the tax cuts would result in increased investment only a handful put their hands up.  Analysts have noted that companies are more likely to buy back their shares and pay off debts and shareholders rather than invest or raise the wages of employees.  America’s huge trade deficit could rise because of the shift to a territorial tax system.  The shift in taxes to only income earned in the US will encourage multinational corporations to shift operations abroad.  Trump’s tax cuts which penalize California and New York, with high state taxes which used to have those taxes deducted from federal taxes but can now deduct only a small fraction of those taxes, will damage the US economy.  Both New York and California account for a high proportion of America’s output and exports largely because they have developed good infrastructure.  Trump’s bill therefor risks damaging two of its most productive states, a point made by the Wall Street Journal.  Consequently the tax cuts which will have limited effects on the economic growth rate will only worsen America’s major challenges, output, government debt and trade deficit.

Trump’s tax cuts and approach fails to support areas where the US has comparative advantage, namely, education, science, technology and the creative sectors.  The tax bill will impose new taxes on leading universities and the net neutrality rules change which reverses Obama’s policy will restrict access to internet content and encourage major providers to hike prices.  Trump’s Education Secretary, driven by dogma is introducing changes that most experts believe will be detrimental to the educational sector. Unlike Obama who was lauded by the scientific and creative community, Trump is viewed with suspicion and even antagonism. This is partly because he has taken positions that are clearly at variance with science, notably his position on climate change and the people he has appointed to key position who share his ignorance and scepticism to established scientific findings.  He has railed against leading actors and Hollywood in general which has largely been anti-Trump.  It should also be noted that his treatment of California and New York in the tax cuts which host a large proportion of these sectors will have a detrimental effect on America’s most productive and promising industries.

Trump’s perverse America has exhibited a dysfunctionality that has huge implications for the country which will last a long time.  Republican support for Russia and authoritarian rule is on the rise.  In a YouGov poll in December 2016 37% of Republican voters had a favourable view of Putin, nearly quadrupling the 10% that had a favourable view of him in July 2014.  Putin’s net negative had dropped from 66% to 10% among those voters and was much better than the 66% recorded for Obama during that period. A major reason given for this trend by Republicans is the strong leadership qualities shown by Putin. Trump is appointing a record number of very conservative and often unqualified federal judges, according to the American Bar Association, that will have life time tenures and work their way through the system.  Both houses of congress continue to have historically low approval ratings from the American public and with Trump that applies to the presidency.  Similarly, the public has a high distrust of the media and with the increasing reliance of voters on social and “trusted” partisan traditional media, the public, particularly Republican voters are becoming increasingly polarised and not open to objective analysis.  These trends are very disturbing for America’s democracy.

Trump has not been good for the Republican Party.  The party of Lincoln is now regarded as the nasty party, increasingly controlled by and/or accommodating religious and racist extremists who Trump panders to.  Trump has received prominent support from the Alt-Right and openly racist organisations like the Ku Klux Klan.  While these types of supporters were embedded in the Republican Party, dating back to the 1960s and 1970s due to the party’s southern strategy, explicitly outlined by Lee Atwater in early 1980’s, Trump has encouraged them to come out openly to support him.  A notable case in point is Trump’s support for Roy Moore in the Alabama senate election.  Trump went against his own Congressional caucus and leading Republicans in supporting this candidate who had been removed from office for breaking US federal laws, accused of sex with minors and had made racist statements.  The party that had prided itself on financial prudence and had railed against Obama’s “reckless” spending which saw America recover from the great recession faster and stronger than all other major developed countries – remember the Tea Party – is now adding trillions to the national debt even though the solid economy Trump inherited from Obama makes such a move unnecessary.  The party of defence hawks, fiercely antagonistic to America’s nemesis, Russia, now has a standard bearer who wants to embrace the Russian bear.

Why has America chosen an unqualified president?  Why have working class Whites chosen a man that clearly does not have their interests at heart?  Why has the Republican Party chosen and its congressional leaders cosied up to a man who clearly does not have its traditional interests on trade, global hegemony aspirations and fiscal prudence that it has always prided itself with?  This is largely because he is the antithesis of the suave, intellectual and cautious Obama who was often accused of too much nuances in his policies and pronouncements, leading from behind and not being tough on foreigners.  Here was a tough talking guy who was going to” make America great again” and foreigners were always taking advantage of America.  Race is a major factor as The Atlantic magazine stated when it described Trump as the first White president.  Trump started his bid for the presidency by questioning the legitimacy of the first Black president.  While not explicitly stated, his support base views Obamacare and social programmes as disproportionately benefiting Blacks and other minorities.  And then there is the demographic time bomb which will see Whites lose their majority status in the next 30 to 50 years. Trump is, to give him credit, a superb salesman as we all know how clever sales gimmicks often get us to buy things we do not need.  Much of his appeal is to do with ignorance and prejudice, cleverly exploited by the rich who saw early on that Trump was going to make them richer; Trump confirmed this recently when he told guests in Florida that his tax reform would make them richer.

Trump, particularly to his White working class base, makes them feel good, speaks their language, is kicking asses and to hell with those foreigners and the coastal cosmopolites.  Rationality does not come into play and because even though this guy is clearly part of the 1 percent, he is regarded as their kind of guy, now that is perverse.

America has elected the least qualified president who asked for and received help in his election from the country’s major adversary, Russia; it has abdicated its leadership role in key forums and lost favourable views around the world; implemented policies that adversely affect wide sections of the America environmentally, in consumer finance and health; adopted a tax cut which gives huge benefits to the rich while failing to address America’s key long term challengers and penalizes its most productive states; fails to spur sectors where it has huge comparative advantages and; moved away from the ideals and tradition of his party which is causing the Republicans to lose their appeal to the electorate as confirmed recently when the Democrats won a senate seat in Alabama, a feat they had not achieved in that state for a quarter of a century, a trend that polls suggest will continue and result in huge losses for the Republicans in the congressional elections in 2018.

 

J Boima Rogers is Principal Consultant at Media and Event Management Oxford (MEMO), www.oxfordmemo.co.uk

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment