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Africa is Not Immune from the Global Downturn

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I had been wondering if I was a lone voice shouting into the darkness, shouting impotently at a universe that wasn’t listening. Unlike me, the local press seemed to believe that Africa in general and Kenya in particular would remain untouched by the current financial crisis. Until now, that is.

Business Daily Africa has finally seen fit to report that business confidence is slipping, and that the outlook for 2009 is not as rosy as was expected. But still they maintain the premise that business conditions are merely “uncertain,” as opposed to my favourite acronym: SNAFU.

My favourite line in Michael Omondi’s piece is this gem:

Kenya is staring at a possible emergence of a
vicious circle of ripple effects that may further erode prospects for a
quick economic recovery.

Oh, Michael. Sweet, naive Michael. Can I sell you some magic beans? There will be no quick recovery. This is international in scale, and mind-boggling in terms of size and the number of businesses that will be affected. Unless Kenyan firms have been living in a bubble, there is no way that this is only a minor blip. The world is facing up to what is the biggest financial crisis in living memory. Even China is feeling the pain. Pull on your big boy pants and get ready to start reporting business failures, because this situation is not going away in a hurry. Thank you for playing, though.

Now, this is not actually Michael Omondi’s fault: he is only reporting on what the so-called “experts” have been telling us for months, although it would have been nice for a more critical slant on the news stories that have been reported. One of the earliest posts on this blog, for instance, was fairly sceptical of Finance Minister John Michuki’s projections for the year ahead, and we also took issue with IT News Africa’s report on the health of the telecoms sector. It does not give me any joy to blow a raspberry at the mainstream media outlets and say “I told you so,” because they are the professionals. They should have known.

So cinch your belts and prepare for what could be some vicious cost-cutting. Not all of us will be in jobs this time next year. Some business ventures could go bust, and none of us knows exactly what is going to happen, or when. The best thing to do is to keep your ear to the ground, your nose to the the grindstone, and hope to goodness that you are not lined up in anyone’s sights. Good luck one and all.

And journalists? For goodness sake, start reporting, instead of just regurgitating press releases.

[Image by Nako]

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