Anchorage Drug Treatment Facility Tackles Meth Abuse

Meth-

Alaskan drug treatment centers in Anchorage have been working toward helping people recover from methamphetamine and opioid addiction. Meth has plagued Alaska since the early 2000’s, and while Meth labs have disappeared slowly throughout over time, the drug has remained an issue. Suppliers have simply adapted while demand did not go down.

The Narcotic Drug Treatment Center (NDCT), established in 1974, is one of the facilities featuring drug treatment programs to support people battling to overcome meth addiction in Anchorage. It is a not-for-profit organization with goals of helping people overcome their dependencies on drugs. Their aim is to enforce a treatment philosophy that focuses on a patient’s eagerness to obtain help for their substance use disorder.

Clinical director at NDCT Ron Greene said that there is as much methamphetamine use in the clinic as there is opioid use. In addition, he claims to have predicted the current heroin crisis in 2003, while also recognizing that people began choosing heroin and meth over prescription pills in the years that followed. He estimates that 60 to 70 percent of the people going through opioid addiction treatment in Anchorage could also have meth in their body.

Greene noted that his team detected a variety drugs being used by patients, which was akin to what other states in the country were experiencing.

Due to meth being more powerful than similar substances, public health issues associated with the drug use are increasing in Alaska. In 2016, there were 65 overdoses directly related to meth. 53 resulted in death. This is in comparison to 34 meth-related overdoses and 26 deaths  in 2015, according to a report by Alaska’s Division of Public Health. The report also stressed that the majority of intakes due to meth at the emergency department were for people between the ages of 25 and 29. This represents 27 percent of meth-related overdoses in Anchorage. It was reported that 25 percent of meth-related overdoses involved alcohol, as well.

Meth is being produced in houses, apartments and vehicles instead of a traditional lab. Consequentially, it is cheaper than ever. Federal legislation has made it more difficult to create meth in the U.S. in 2016, so suppliers responded by moving it out of the country.

According to a conclusion by the Department of Justice and Department of Enforcement (DEA), a notable amount of the meth distributed in the U.S. comes from drug cartels in Mexico. The report indicated that the highest availability of meth was in the Northwest of the U.S., with an availability rate of 79 percent, and the DEA claims that the U.S. is filled with potent and cheap meth.

Lieutenant at the Anchorage Police Department Jack Carson emphasized that local meth distributions are less frequent because it is more cost effective to buy the product from Mexico than to search for the ingredients to make it in Alaska. He stated that meth is arriving in significant quantities across the border through the mailing system and being dispersed from that point on.

The cost of meth and heroin on the streets of Anchorage is more than in cities in continental America. The price increases when the drugs are transported to smaller towns and cities.

Law enforcement agencies also stressed that meth quantities have increased over the years. It is not unusual to see large packages of meth trafficked into Alaska.

According to the 2017 National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Facilities, there are more than 25 facilities with drug addiction programs in Anchorage. All of those drug treatment programs are working to fight the drug epidemic in the city and the state and help people overcome their addictions to meth and other illicit substances.

50 Tiny Powerful Things Successful People Tell Themselves Every Day

  1. I am enough.
  2. I am not wrong or weak for feeling things deeply.
  3. I deserve to be happy.
  4. But that doesn’t mean I automatically deserve to have whatever I want, whenever I want.
  5. Tomorrow is always a new day.
  6. Everyone I know is a fully, three-dimensional person with feelings and insecurities and a life story that I haven’t heard – even if I don’t like them.
  7. I can do this.
  8. Bravery doesn’t usually come from feeling brave – it comes from doing something despite how afraid I feel.
  9. I cannot settle for mediocrity.
  10. The people I look up to didn’t get there by sitting on their asses.
  11. Sometimes a really tiny and simple thing can completely turn someone’s day around.
  12. Being in love will not always be easy and effortless.
  13. I am me, and that can be a lot of different things, and that’s wonderful.
  14. Being able to admit when I’m wrong is way more important than being right.
  15. Sometimes I will try stuff that I won’t be automatically good at. But that doesn’t mean I can’t try to get better.
  16. It is okay, and even necessary, to walk away from people who hurt me.
  17. The online version of my life is not what gives me meaning.
  18. Even my ideal dream job is still going to be incredibly difficult, because anything worthwhile takes blood and sweat and tears.
  19. When I am going through heartbreak, it means I am experiencing one of the most universal feelings on the planet. I am not alone.
  20. Sometimes maintaining friendships in adulthood is hard and that’s okay, as long as I keep trying with the people who matter to me.
  21. The people who really love me are the ones who are telling me what I need to hear, even if I don’t want to hear it.
  22. It’s normal that sometimes I truly crave credit or validation or praise. It’s part of being human.
  23. I can be a different version of myself in front of different people, and it doesn’t make me any less authentic.
  24. This doesn’t have to be where I end up if I don’t want it to be that way.
  25. Sometimes, I’m just going to have a really rough day, or week, or year. But I will survive it. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.
  26. My heart is fragile but my strength is unwavering.
  27. I’m allowed to leave a job I hate to find something better.
  28. No matter how careful I am, I’m going to make mistakes. What’s important is how I handle the aftermath.
  29. The times when I really don’t want to get out of bed are usually the moments when it is most crucial that I do so.
  30. Anxiety and depression and other mental health related struggles don’t make me weak. I just need to remember to be strong enough to ask for help.
  31. It’s important to tell the truth, especially to myself.
  32. Everybody is scared. I’m not the only one.
  33. Sometimes feeling lost is a good thing.
  34. Usually when I’m heavily judging someone, what I’m really doing is projecting something that I dislike within myself.
  35. Money can make things easier and less stressful, but it won’t make me happier or more fulfilled.
  36. I’m allowed to be proud of myself.
  37. I should never take advantage of the fact that my loved ones are only a phone call away.
  38. The only time procrastination feels good is in the moment.
  39. I can’t change the fact that my body will age, but I can control how I handle it.
  40. No matter how happy or put-together they seem, everyone is struggling with something, just like me.
  41. Regret is much scarier than failure.
  42. When I make others look good, I look good too. And it’s a much more joyful way to live.
  43. Admitting that I care about something is so much more fun than trying to play it cool.
  44. It’s important to be humble, but it’s also important to stand up for myself when I’m being treated unfairly.
  45. Just because someone is cold to me doesn’t mean I need to be cold back.
  46. There is no better quality than making others feel like, and understand that, they matter.
  47. Laughter should always be a high priority.
  48. Being warm to others can take me so incredibly far.
  49. I am here to do something.
  50. Looking for ways to feel grateful for things, instead of frustrated over them, can drastically change the way I look at the world and the way I feel about my life.

Article inspired by https://quotecatalog.com/quotes/inspirational

Minot Sober Living Home Offers Support to Women in Recovery

A sober living home called the Sanctuary opened at the beginning of the month in the city of Minot, North Dakota, to support women who live in the area and who are recovering from substance use disorders.

The facility focuses on promoting non-chemical coping skills, volunteer efforts, profitable employment, education, and action and bases its program on the 12-step model to recovery which involves structured environments, workshops, as well as spiritual teachings.

There is a total of 11 trained individuals who are involved with managing the sober living home, which can accommodate a total of 14 women for provisional periods in a four-bedroom house. The representatives of the center stated that, in addition to a double room, the large size of the bedrooms allow them to be shared by up to six women.

The staff members explained that they believe that the fact that the women have to share the premises prevents them from becoming isolated.

The Sanctuary features numerous other congregational rooms for the assisting women who have gone through detoxification for a drug or an alcohol addiction but haven’t returned to their homes or routines yet.

The first residents have moved to the center and the staff members are currently in the process of reviewing other applications that have been submitted by potential residents.

Applications from anyone who meets their requirements and is truly committed to achieving recovery will be accepted.

The women are required to go to 14 meetings every week across recovery programs — some of them that are held at the house and some are not, such as the meetings with peer support groups like Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.

The residents of the Sanctuary also have to participate in random and unscheduled drug tests, and due to the zero-tolerance drug use policy, anyone whose tests results come out positive gets evicted.

 

Higher Education and the World Bank

HOPES of higher learning institutions in the country of obtaining faster access to broadband space links on the basis of a project of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology forwarded to the World Bank for a loan facility have now evaporated. A ministry proposal for $7bn loan from the World Bank to finance access to broadband for close to 35 institutions of higher learning fell flat, partly because broadband communication is not a core business of the International Development Association (IDA(), its soft loans window. At the moment IDA is interested in the wider doing business environment, not big ICT.

It is undeniable that the ministry prepared the proposal in line with Vision 2025 and the Big Results Now program, without understanding that the notion of ‘development partners’ does not mean there is always an element of co-financing. The error of the ministry was to seek ‘big finance’ for a big ICT project, whereas it is more likely that IDA         would be safer extending leverage financing, so that it catapults project uptake by other stakeholders like commercial banks, bond holders of university investments like pension funds or private foundations, charities, etc. Asking the IDA for a $7bn ICT loan was faulty, an error on its strategies, mandate.

The lesson from this failed inititive is that Big Results Now has to be pegged more or less consistently to availability of local financing, and this doesn’t just mean the government budget or loans from commercial banks, Indeed it is hard to see how $7bn can be raised by commercial banks at the local level, but it is easier to see how foreign investors actually purchasing land, for instance that which bears this or that mineral, could ‘beef up’ owners of land with that sort of cash. It is a matter of strategy where the government skips its prerogative of owning the land, as that way it is compelled to bring up cash, instead of land raising it in being transfered.

Uplifting the country’s information technology level is vital in mapping out all issues of quality education as well as inserting small local firms, entrepreneurs in the local and regional market. They also need to make inroads into wider markets, where access to bits and pieces of information spread out in websites etc is key to success. Banks can supply much of this finance if they can take land as collateral.

What this drawback means is that the country’s doing business environment needs to be reformed in a way that is more radical than in current government programs, as a conservative attitude on land transfer and ownership presumes that one does not need the land to raise finance. It is to suggest that the government shall meet most of what higher learning institutions need and then it is supplemented by either World Bank loans or grants by donors, a modality that is now diminishing.

For instance Kenya has a fixed broadband subscription of upwards of 43,000 by mid 2013, Uganda upwards of 36,000 subscriptions and Tanzania slightly below 4,000 subscribers to broadband connection. Those who place their hopes in IDA loans should ask if it is the World Bank which facilitated our neighbours to obtain Big Results in the ICT broadband field? Not at all; they used local resources, and this means transferability of property and access to loans, not widening the tax base as some experts constantly scream at the government this side of the border.

Nobody has doubts that the current team of cabinet ministers, the veterans and the novices, all have great ideas about Big Results Now, the problem being that the Tanzanian bureaucracy has not yet come out of its planning mentality. They see achievements not as a result of an excellent business envirronment whose essential premise is the transferability of fixed property but elaborate or ‘deliberate’ plans and powerful delivery bureaus to ensure that results are registered as expected.  When we have one tenth of broadband connections at individual level (not at group level as in offices or internet cafes), and we depend on World Bank loans even to link up universities and colleges, loans we can’t get, do we wait for Big Results?

Questions for the Minister of Finance

FORMER Presidential Economic Affairs adviser and, later, chairman of the Civic United Front (CUF), Prof. Ibrahim Lipumba, is a respected name in the field of economic discussions. He has lately put up a much publicised query on the suitability of Ms Saada Salum Mkuya as the latest Union Minister for Finance.  His premise was that the parliamentary website does not show that she has the right qualifications.

Subsequently, the minister responded via the newspapers that she has two ‘Master’s’ degrees, and is pursuing a doctorate qualification. Excellent.

Still, glancing at the same parliamentary webside, it is unclear where the degrees or diplomas that the minister obtained were earned! For instance as late as 1995, she was just finishing high school… In 1999, she earned an Advanced Diploma in Business Studies… And then, apparently, she earned a Master’s degree in 2010.

Both titles are not identified from which colleges they were obtained, and it is not surprising that some knowledgeable voices query the minister’s actual qualifications for the job – that is, expertise in finance. Perhaps since then she has a second master’s degree.

If that is the case, it could be said that she has been hardworking since she started working in the Zanzibar Treasury as an officer in 2003, rising to administrative officer in 2006 and then becoming the Commissioner of Finance later in 2011. This position then catapulted her to Union Deputy Minister for Finance a year later… And, with the misfortune that visited Finance Minister William Mgimwa recently, she was appointed full cabinet minister. She thus has had sufficient exposure to ‘desk work’ in areas that the former economics professor, Dr Lipumba, noted – although, indeed, her governmental experience is rather limited.

For one thing, the CUF chairman had first to make a position on what he thinks of the usual tendency of President Jakaya Kikwete in picking his ministers: does he make an effort to establish quality and initiative, or is there a lack of it?

At the same time, there is need for constant reminders that pushing youthful but talented people to positions of authority has always been an aspect of organisation, so that public institutions are constantly having experimented and capable people. Otherwise, public offices would wait until a fellow retires to put another person to similar post!

Perhaps as a reminder, there is something in presidential style that Mwalimu Nyerere once confided in a question-and-answer session at the University of Dar es Salaam which educated individuals like Prof. Lipumba must be familiar with.

In 1981 (when Prof. Lipumba was away on his doctoral programme), Mwalimu told a meeting of UDSM staff and students that, when he appoints individuals for posts of minister, regional commissioner or ambassador, he usually knows them personally. But when he appoints persons to other posts – from district commissioners to regional administrative officials (or earlier, regional development directors), he was usually just signing on the dotted line!

In other words, it is true as the CUF chairman appears to be worried that there are appointments in Government where the president just signs; and there are those where the president is supposed to know the person, and evidently that includes who becomes Minister for Finance.

For one thing, it is evident that the president appoints an individual to such a position so that he or she assists him in one way or another, in which case there is something like harmonisation work to be done, in one way or another. When Zanzibar sees one of theirs at the Union Treasury, it eases the task!

Some criticism has also been raised in the direction of Prof. Lipumba that he was pursuing ‘gender discrimination’ in his query, which most reasonable people would reject as unfounded. There is nothing new in a lady at the helm at the Treasury, as Zakia Meghji was there before, an experienced cabinet minister up to that point… In which case, the issue comes back to background and qualification as a pointer to competence.

Given the sort of disputes that have occurred in Parliament – and even within the ruling party CcM – on cabinet performance, casting an eagle’s eye on a minister is right.

All said and done, however, Ms Mkuya is without doubt a bit of a newcomer… But she’s not exactly a novice, as she has learned a few things since mid-2012 as deputy Finance minister.

At the same time, analysts should take note of the fact that ministers are presidential advisers on the one hand, and representatives of major interest groups on the other… In which case, these are roles which she is ready to fulfill in one way or another. There is a strategic reason for her appointment, not just ‘godfathers’ and suchlike.

Turmoil with Banking Technology

VOICES were being heard late last week warning that a nationwide revolt or stoppage of commerce is being risked unless the government does away with electronic fiscal devices or places them in a competitive supply mode where the prices are affordable. It appears that the devices are a rip off organised by the higher fiscal authorities against traders, in like manner as speed governors were imposed on motorists and thousands of them had irreparably damaged vehicles, before that experimentation was quietly dropped. Who is right this time, indeed?

There has been an expanding, seething wave of discontent among traders, all the way from the Kariakoo commercial hub in Dar es Salaam to Mwanjelwa market in Mbeya, and in virtually all other major urban centres. It thus could not have been orchestrated by individuals, especially the usual political bogeys, for the traders class is not that amenable to placing livelihoods in peril to suit any individual’s conveniences. What they are pursuing is something they commonly feel, and it cannot be exaggerated, as otherwise it would be difficult to bring them all together.

Surprisingly enough, few other voices have been heard, or strictly speaking not one of them, in relation to the differences between the TRA and the trading community – such that Finance Minister Saada Mkuya moved to reiterate the government’s position verbatim. It related to the deadline for starting to use EFD as January 31, and beyond that legal measures would be taken on defaulters, and not a semblance of negotiation or dialogue seemed to be continuing or engaged with the revenue authorities or the ministry. It means that latter see no point in any such discussion.

It is also not surprising that the government has an intransigent attitude on the issue because it has the whole of public opinion behind it, by which is meant anyone who has doubts about integrity of Indians and Arabs who form the vast majority of shopowners where EFDs are required, To many people that sort of view or position looks patriotic; as a matter of fact it only echoes colonial reality where only Africans are indigenous, and they hold healthy suspicions on traders-foreigners. The matter is supposed to be discussed at the fiscal and governance level, as to why the government is so intransigent about the devices, not caring what price monopoly suppliers quote or indeed what level of shops ought to use it.

While it is easy to see why a supermarket needs to have EFD, and they had them before the current wave of disputation came up, that is, before anyone said they were necessary, the same cannot be said of a spare parts shop. It sells goods at intervals of anything between half hour and two hours, or longer, and trying to add Tsh600,000 into working capital to procure a device for the sake of it, is not quite rational as a measure. This is an example of an administrative measure conducted wholly in pursuit of conveniences of administrators, who hide behind the facade of tax evasion to impose any rule, wantonly, without due care for its actual relevance.

Looking at the manner in which EFD are used in supermarkets for instance, their more significant purpose is for internal accounting, that the cashiers do not engage in frauds like underquoting the price of an item if it is a close relative shopping, etc. There is often a guard standing not far from a cashier’s desk who casts a glance  at the sort of entries the cashier is making, if the price signal is heard to click and the price recorded on the register, etc. When a trader has no use of the device, that is, he can exercise internal control differently, why can’t TRA adapt to any other method as was usually the case, instead of forced use of a needless device in shop?

This habit of not paying attention to what a particular group in society says due to what the majority thinks of them is faulty and undemocratic, and it explains plenty of Africa’s woes. Most African governments rule only in order to please the sort of majorities that placed them in office, and even if it was a military regime, there would always be some majority opinion that enabled consensus to overthrow the previous government. Things come to a head, confusion and violence because a class of sentiments, or series of classes, won’t be heard; the majority ignores them.

Problems with the Port of Dar es Salaam

STAKEHOLDERS have finally signed an accord to enable the clearing of goods at the port of Dar es Salaam to continue for 24 hours daily, implying working in three shifts for port officials, or a breadth of them. The move is likely to diminish the trend at avoiding the port of Dar es Salaam that was already catching up among neighbouring countries, as Dar port takes an average of ten days to offload cargo and place it on a waiting lorry, while Mombasa was working to reduce the five days it usually takes.It is a good step for the port, but challenges remain aplenty.

For instance, the port of Mombasa did not have to turn to 24 hours of operations to attain a five day clearance schedule of goods, in which case Dar port will have a lot to show if extending some haulage activities at the entrance to the harbour is all what is required to cut down waiting time. At an earlier period the union of agents for importers complained that the move to enable the port to work 24 hours sought to bring them to sign a series of documents as to the time limit they will take to fill forms, pay up various fees, etc and left other stakeholders unscathed. For instance it wasn’t said how long Tanzania Revenue Authority may take to clear containers.

Not much has so far been divulged as to the final terms and conditions which enabled agents for importing companies to sign on, but management reflection would suggest that they don’t have much to choose from. In the final analysis they are clients to the port, itself a government department and not a company like others, hence they have clearly limited avenue to make such an agreement really an accord, as different from a different set of regulations issued by TRA and TPA, the ports authority. That is what it finally comes to, and their signing is meant to make it official or formal that agents will be there at midnight if need be, to clear goods.

There are some aspects in port management which are unlikely to have been covered in this accord, and similarly, such limitations may also be expressed in a different manner when the port works 24 hours. By definition only officials who are absolutely necessary to offloading and clearing will be there, while others will work normal days, plus some overtime. It may open up quite a few ‘opportunities’ for things that would otherwise not have taken place to be okayed with some ease, as procedures of checking  with relevant officials are skipped, rather conveniently.

Analytically speaking, working outside normal time is a disruption of what is called a ‘systems approach’ to work, that is, making decisions in real time as more or less everyone is on the job at that time. It is hard to believe that taking containers out of port is something that concerns desk officials, frontline people that an importing agent meets, standing at the head of the container as it is being offloaded, There are plenty of regulatory matters that need a minimum of decision making which shall either be determined in the absence of the container being at hand for inspection, or other formulas being used, as inspections shall be reduced,

Even when inspections are not reduced, the number of those who are present and the manner in which they can share out work, their presence at the premises, is going to be somewhat altered, and all this leads to disruption of controls in one way or another. This is not however something to totally regret, as it represents something of systemic correction to excessive inspection at the port, meant to ensure that no ’rounding off’ of revenue occurs, that every cent has to be paid. Techniques where container goods are sampled and verified on that basis were put aside for actual inspection in a thorough manner, leading to overwork, exhaustion.

Working for 24 hours is more or less like there were two ports to be handled by the same TRA, whose officials concerned with imports in particular will definitely not be working 24 hours, and even if there is overtime for a series of clerical officials, the manner in which the forms are treated at a professional and regulatory level will have to change. In other words TRA is being compelled to adapt as it can’t just double its employees to cater for the ‘night shift,’ or the ‘night port’ just launched. Not only has it got to deliver with what it has, but also start looking for ways to deliver in the same way within normal working hours, so that procedures are properly followed, many of which aren’t easy to observe …under cover of darkness.

The Problem of Poaching

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete put up a surprisingly candid performance in an international conference on illegal wildlife trade that took place in London towards the end of last week. The president was frank on what is happening in that sphere in the country, almost coming out clean on what the government has done or has not done, to the extent of appearing self-accusatory. He declared that the kingpin of massive killing of elephants in the country was residing in Arusha, and gave no inclination that the government was capable of going after him and his 40 acolytes.

This other figure was also given by the president, that there were 40 ‘master poachers,’ which evidently does not refer to errand boys sent into the jungle to hunt down the hapless jumbos with machineguns, always available these days, but their sponsors. If the government has counted up to 40 presently, precisely why the first ten haven’t faced court proceedings remained a moot question that many in the London gathering must have asked themselves, but they are likely to be familiar with the tortuous pace of international law and its implementation. It needs consensus.

The picture that the president gave, to most delegates, was that he is entirely realistic about the situation, and almost disarmingly insisted that he had nothing to hide. He was talking about a vast network of poaching organized by a few dozen sponsors who are hard to reach as the poachers themselves are hard to get, and ivory that is collected is deemed to be artisanal in its source. That means the hauls of caught ivory are not helpful for legal proceedings for there could be pieces of paper that this was brought by a ‘nameless’ fellow without a proper residential address, etc.

Examining other observations made at the London conference and at times from other sources, it appears that what is happening in Tanzania is more or less what is happening elsewhere, with a few enclaves of greater restraint on the poaching industry. South Africa for instance, which to most of us is better organized and more effective in its wildlife protection infrastructure, has lately been said to be moving rhinos to Botswana where they will be safer. It would appear rhinos and jumbos are safe in zoos or situations like that, not in some well managed open country, etc.

That sort of reality is virtually a death knell for wildlife conservation as we know it, and seemingly this is the fate of the industry, punctuated by groans and moral reminders of the sort that took place in London. What the world poaching industry is telling the conservationists is that the bush is no longer just an object of legislation but like the borders of a country, it has to be defended. When this becomes the case, Africa is now becoming westernized, both in its urban and rural areas, where wildlife were largely an extension of villages, with often times the same dangers.

In a westernized context, which means virtually all land has some specified use and owner, long stretches of territory which the government has decided should be inhabited by wildlife because no tribe was residing there as yet, become functionless. So long as there is something valuable in there it is going to be pulled out, by force if no reasonable contract is available, as in the wildlife conundrum. In the case of findings or uranium for instance, the borders of the respective wildlife zone will be modified for the purpose, and it appears this will keep recurring.

So there should be no excessive blaming of the government on what it is doing with regard to poaching, as the borders of national parks and game reserves or game controlled areas are far too vast for comfort. Secondly, the reigning culture in the police force right now is ‘community policing,’ where the police wait for someone to bring in an accusation, so they go to get the fellow and he has to extricate himself by the usual procedures. Chances that a rumour about there being poachers in the neighborhood being acted upon are few and far between, and it is precisely this outlook that critics hinge in blasting the government for inaction on wildlife decimation. It doesn’t have such police for once, and consequently, even game officials and ‘off duty police’ have a hand in wildlife ….harvesting!

Are Holding Companies Good for Business?

DEBATE has gripped energy and media circles as Swala Energy, fancy named oil and gas exploration firm based in Australia and operating in Tanzania with either a wholly owned subsidiary of the same name, or one that is linked with some local investors. That impression came up as the company protested the cessation of its negotiations with oil and gas sector regulator and operational participant, Tanzania  Petroleum Develeopment Corporation (TPDC), as it argued the rejection ignores the need for ‘local content’ in allocation of licences, blocks. This wasn’t elaborated.

Those who have followed the debate between Swala Energy of Australia (leaving aide its local subsidiary) would realise that the firm entered into a marriage of convenience with another substantially capitalised firm, which apparently did not wish to engage in actual partnership in exploration and eventual drilling. If that was the case, their contract could not have contained a withdrawal clause where the remaining firm ‘acquires the rights of the company that has withdrawn,’ as if this does not affect the quality of the bid. That is what TPDC has been stressing.

Were it that the two firms entered into a genuine partnership to build up a well capitalised firm capable of the stresses and strains of exploration and test drilling, such a clause would have been a bit of a misnomer, asd it is meant to anticipate a ‘friendly withdrawal.’ Were it that the withdrawal was hostile, it would definitely involve a legal battle between the two sides as to their respective liabilities in relation for instance of their joint bid as to the Lake Eyasi block. When this did not happen, it means it was embedded in Swala’s original plan, as ‘window dressing.’

That is also what nags analysts as to the purpose of its continuation with listing on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange, in the wake of the collapse of the bid, and in a wider context of being satisfied not having its erstwhile joint venture partner. This builds up an image of company that is trying to wear boots that are oversized, for its profile is that of a company ready to take up a role in exploration and drilling, but it realises it needed a joint venture partner so as to put up a credible bid. When it is making no effort to salvage the partnership or seek a similar association to shore up its original credentials, listing on DSE instead, what should we read in it?

Reading between the lines, the company is seeking to use its local subsidiary as a local firm bidding for a block, which definitely is a rather patronising reading of the situation, for there is little that it local about the firm but its registration. When it thus lists on DSE, there is a mild chance that it is looking for more capitalisation for a business that is closer to its real capitalisation levels, which means midstream and downstream activities, or seeking to localise itself and thus be able to gather energy and support in shoring up its original profile for upstream activities. That sort of outlook is plausible, as this is the image its protest note on TPDC affirmed.

Whatever the case the company and local regulators seem like they will have their hands full in seeking to place the firm where it either belongs or wishes to be, in which case it may well live up to its name, as an agile species, an operator with aptitude for jumping from one class to another, pitying a burly regulator following it. There is a chance the firm is seeking to shed its foreign image, but this effort is not quite likely to succeed because the local share market is brittle and lacks large investors to beef up its capital profile for that quest. Unless of course there are other foreign investors with funds that are as yet loose, to place in a localised firm.

That is why Swala Energy (T) Ltd can definitely list on DSE after it has conducted the paperwork, as this enables it to start on a different investment trajectory in the country, as listing is unlikely to shore up its Eyasi bid, or a similar interest anytime soon. Whether it evolves into midstream and downstream activities or attracts more capital for its original upstream orientation is a matter for the future, so there is no harm in starting to build up a crop of relatively localised companies in that sector. This could also help us with alternatives on how to sort out some creepy situations.

Are Education Levels Rising?

FOLLOWING the publication of results of last year’s National Form IV examinations and a supposedly higher level of passing, while the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training freely admits that the ‘higher passing level’ was   obtained by reducing sensitive pass mark levels, stakeholders remain puzzled. What next for our education system is an oft-posed question that has really no answer, as hopes remain that the standards and achievements will rise gradually, as expansion has been done since 2006. What remains is an uplifting of standards.

Yet it appears that the descending curve is either not yet reached or it may have finally been reached, subsequent to which it is the rise curve that shall take over. Just how long it will take for the learning and performance curve in local exams to reach the rest of East Africa is anyone’s guess, and if care isn’t taken, the yawning gap could become a permanent feature of educational levels in the region. Tied to it is the class expression of this curve, where private schools increasingly become a top stratum, pushing the best government schools down the ladder, inexorably.

One clear reason for the deeepening performance curve gap is relative diminishing of purchasing power among broad sectors of the population, relatively stagnant levels of malnutrition and stunting of children, which experts regularly put at a third or anywhere up to 40 per cent of children starting school. Certain quarters object to these estimates because of a faulty interpretation of stunting, virtually equating it with mental disability, an exttreme view. It is merely the lack of proportion between age and height or weight, which affects mental development.

Suggesting school feeding programs would be a good idea to correct some of the weaknesses of family nutrition levels as a whole, but in keeping with the tradition, it would have to be a donor funded program also exposed to plenty of misdirected use of grain, milk or fortified foods of various sorts. And in addition such an effort would have to put up with totally unqualified, unwelcome objections of a green lobby much more concerned with dogma about GMOs than nutrition levels among the children. The anti-GMO lobby has prevented the widespread adoption or use of drought resistant seeds for a whole decade wreaking untold havoc in famines.

Looking at the situation a bit closely, there is little more than convergence of the weak points of childbirth (where Tanzania has regularly hit the roof, and is now on a difficult downward slope in maternal and child deaths at birth) and then fewer chances of survival in the first five years. Legions of NGO followers have held countless international conferences, puvblished heaps of glossy reports, under the mistaken intuition that such a situation – as well as proper education – just needs a minimum of sensitivity of those in authority. The reality though is quite different.

What is at issue here isn’t sensitivity of policy makers or encouraging so much more of participation in decision-making at district level or schools themselves but sustainable development. This term has often been mishandled by lobbies in favour of their own preoccupations, for instance the threat to rare frogs if hydro power projects are conceived, etc instead of what it takes to bring about all round development. If taxation and equalisation of incomes was the formula for properly organised development, Tanzania would have been a leader in Africa but it is overall productivity which counts. Tanzania has leg irons holding it back in that regard, with a systematic refusal to let the market work, its belief in state agencies holding sway in virtually all sectors, and trust that screaming at donors will fill the gap of low key capital formation locally plus low foreign direct investment levels.

This resistance to domination by foreign capital, now creeping into oil and gas by deliberate steps weakening market predictability, ensures that children are stunted owing to low purchasing power and faulty priorities in families and government. There is little promise at the moment that Tanzania can arrest all these weaknesses and correct the error of its ways as our priority isn’t children or education, anyway.