About me

A COLLECTION OF EXPERIENCES

This blog is about African development with particular reference to Aid Effectiveness and African Agriculture. These topics receive considerable attention from academia, think tanks, business associations, aid agencies and the press. The point of view expressed here comes from experience on the ground and long and careful consideration rather than formal research. I propose such experience can make as needed a contribution as the other perspectives mentioned above. Where academics and journalists proffer their credentials I can only propose this list of credits collected along the way.



In 1984 I crossed the Sahel from Khartoum to the CAR riding on the top on an onion truck and sleeping under the undercarriage during stops. The trip took seventeen days passing through Western Sudan just south of Darfur during the Sahel drought of that year.

In Bangui I bought a one man pirogue (dugout) and paddled down the Ubangi to its junction with the Congo. The trip commenced with three other boats but after some time the little fleet broke up and ten days out of thirty were alone in the canoe passing down river.

There was no telephone directory or commercial index in Kinshasa in the early eighties. I researched and published two editions of The Repertoire Kinois a sort of yellow pages whose goal was to include all the businesses in Kinshasa that had phones. Also a A-Z map guide.

I ran three coffee “campaigns”, two in Bas Congo and one in Equateur. This was my start to working with small growers and rural market chains. The Zairian regulation restricted the buying period and buyers adopted a land rush strategy to get maximum volumes.

I organized and carried out forestry survey in a six hundred square mile forest block outside of Lisala in Equateur to define the concessions resources and viability. This report defined the density per species in secondary primary and riverine portions of the forest.

Worked with Bob Caputo on the National Geographic film for Nat Geo Explorers Zaire River Journey which takes place on the River boat Colonel Ebeya as it journeys up the Congo from Kinshasa to Kisangani.

I organized the logistics and accompanied a National Geographic team of Eugene Linden and Frans Lantig who toured Pygmy Chimpanzee study sites in the central Basin including Takayoshi Kano at Wamba and the Duke University team of Richard Malenky & Nancy Thompson-Handler at Lomako Forest

I traveled to the Lomako again to develop an Eco Tourism project. This included a trip by pirogue up river, some time at the research site, time alone at the proposed tourist camp and travel further up the Lomako past Kitiwali settlements to the abandoned Leopold era trading post.

I contracted to USAID, the DOD and DIA during the evacuation of 1991 and the subsequent security situation in Kinshasa. This was logistical work connected with the support of evacuated Americans utilizing security related arrangements already on the ground.

I revisited the Lomako Forest in 1995 with a Duke University team to investigate reopening the research site after heightened security concerns from the military mutinies. After establishing the camp performed an extended anti poaching circuit in search of Bonobo trade. (SEE: Ndele Research Site)

Negotiated shareholder position to recover 1500ha farm in Northern Tanzania from receivership Managed asset recovery on the part of a creditor trust in the US to take control of shares and assets of company despite disagreement without the necessity of court action.

Wrote-up, pitched and closed with suppliers shareholders, partners and finance on Fresh Produce Export Business to produce, pack and fly fresh beans, mangetout, sugar snap and baby corn to the UK to supermarkets TESCOs and Sainsbury’s

Settled a 22 year land dispute in which 10 eviction orders had been issued and 3 land settlement deals agreed to through preparing a compromise plan and bringing it to all local, regional and national stakeholders including three Ministers and three MPs for consensus before action.

Developed, prepared proposed a Water User Group to self regulate distribution of water for irrigation on the Nduruma River drawing water from Mt Meru. Negotiated on behalf of the same with regard to the rights of Agriculture and residential water requirements.

Set up an innovative small holder model to bring marker capacity and finance to small grower groups selling fresh produce for high end market and secured three set of Aid support for their benefit.

Developed and managed a full set of procedures for compliance with two sets of EU supermarket procedures including commercial & small growers operational manuals, packing, process flow, HACCP & Food Safety Manuals and Ethical, Environmental and CSR manuals.

Founding Member and long time Secretary General of the Tanzania Horticulture Association a business Association involved in advocacy and development. Primary responsibilities for Strategy and Aid Relations. During this time TAHA grew from $40,000 to multiple +$1m USD projects.

Chaired the Select Committee to create the Horticulture Development Committee of Tanzania and sat on the resulting executive. HODECT is a PPP Council on which the public and private sector (and civil society) participate with a view to coordinating development of the subsector.

Additional Public Private service on the Partnership Committee Tanzanian World Symposium on Sustainable Development Market Access project, The Tanzania National Business Council Working Group for a new agricultural policy and the Private Sector Forum platform.

As a matter of the activities above or on a consulting basis two national strategies four institutional NGO Strategies fifteen private enterprises’ business plans and numerous concept notes for soliciting grant and Aid Funding.

In addition to the above African experience work, study, travel and pure curiosity could add some context to the list.

Studied science in Junior College then History two years at McGill University and one at University College London. History has stayed a continuing interest but an academic and objective environment ended then replaced by learning on the way.

Before, during and after university sports was a passion which included canadian football, skiing, track and field but most loved rugby. You can arrive unexpected in any Rugby playing country and have a game that week. Peaked at Eastern Canada vs. England marking Winterbottom.

Across South East Asia and South Asia down the Me Kok River and up the Langtang valley. See the Red Fort the Taj in its perfection. Third class trains and riding on the roof of the bus. Three times into the forest in three countries looking for Tiger.

Across Afghanistan to Iran but taking time off to visit Bamiyan in the central provinces and ride an Afghan pony across the steppe a few miles in the path of the great khan and perched a few moments on the head of the famous Buddha some twenty four years before it was destroyed.

At different times and various places work included. Salmon boat on the pacific coast, underground mine in Tasmania, digging graves, construction and renovation, crewing sailboats in the Pacific Mediterranean and Atlantic, operative in Quebec language politics.

After working in the Congo into the early nineties returned to Canada and there remet Judy McIntosh who has been a partner through all the Tanzanian episodes above. Though having spent 26 of the last 29 years in Africa maintain a strong link to Family in Canada and the States.