If you were ever thinking that Beijing would loan and build without consequence. Those days should long be gone. The Chinese are planning to earn money on their investments, they don’t care about the Republic’s they are investing in, as long as they are profits on their investments. They want earn on these loans and since the rate of loans are so high. They are now starting to pick collateral for their infrastructure loans, especially the draining of loans to the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).
“While acknowledging China’s leading role in the Kenyan economy as a trading partner, the President called for increased Chinese investments in the country. “China now ranks as the number one trading partner with Kenya accounting for 17.2% of Kenya’s total trade with the World,” he said. “Kenya is open and safe for business. Kenya has one of the most conducive business environments in Africa,” the President added” (President.Go.Ke – ‘President Kenyatta Asks China To Give Preferential Treatment For African Goods’ 02.11.2018).
While Kenyatta are acting as it all positive, the reality is that the state are having giant issues with their “investments” and loans there. But Kenyatta wants to make it sound positive, when it really isn’t, just the rate of the loans have grown and the consequences of the relationship with China is now starting to cost. It is the Kenyans that has to pay these loans down and with every way possible. As the Chinese has leverage over the Kenyan government. Take a look at these quotes from media recently!
Loan Rate in Kenya:
“Kenya’s current public debt stands at approximately 4.884 trillion Kenyan shillings (USD$49 billion) or 56.4% of the country’s gross domestic product.. This is up from 42.8% in 2008. In other words, the country owes more than half the value of its economic output (GDP)” (…) “China is Kenya’s largest creditor, holding about 72% of the country’s bilateral debt as of March 2017. Studies show that Kenya’s Chinese debt poses a threat because the loan agreements are not transparent, projects are not well prioritised, accounting procedures are weak and it’s not clear what projects are costing” (Odongo Kodongo – ‘Kenya’s public debt is rising to dangerous levels’ 05.08.2018).
Selling State Owned Enterprises:
“The Privatisation Commission has approved sale of 26 state-owned corporations to raise funds to support the budget. The commission, under the Privatisation Act, 2005, was mandated to sell 26 poorly performing state corporations to cut down government spending. Those approved for sale are National Bank of Kenya, Consolidated Bank of Kenya, Kenya Meat Commission, Development Bank of Kenya, East African Portland Cement, Kengen, Kenya Pipeline Corporation, Kenya Ports Authority, and five sugar millers — Chemilil, Sony, Nzoia, Miwani and Muhoroni. Others are Agrochemical and Food Corporation, New Kenya Co-operative Creameries, Numerical Machining Complex and Isolated Power stations, hotels (Kabarnet Hotel, Mt Elgon Lodge Ltd, Golf Hotel Ltd, Sunset Hotel Ltd and Kenya Safari Lodges and Hotels Ltd). Also targetted are Kenya Tourism Development Corporation-associated companies, which include International Hotels Kenya Ltd, Kenya Hotels Properties Ltd, Mountain Lodge Ltd and Ark Ltd” (Cynthia Ilako – ‘State to sell 26 companies to finance current budget’ 03.11.2018, The Star Kenya).
China Selling Infrastructure Loans to Investors:
“The plan will see Hong Kong mortgage insurer Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation (HKMC) buy a diverse basket of infrastructure loans next year and explore the idea of “securitising” or repackaging them into securities for sale to investors, allowing it extra liquidity that it can loan out to finance more infrastructure projects. “This initiative we believe will help ‘recycle’ commercial banks’ capital to be redeployed into other greenfield infrastructure projects, besides enabling wider capital markets participation in infrastructure development under the Road and Belt initiative,” said HKMC Greater China chief executive Helen Wong” (Allan Olingo – ‘China plans to sell off its African infrastructure debt to investors’ 05.11.2018).
We are seeing the growth of loans, that is up 42,8% and the debt level of the 56,4% of the GDP. Because of that, the state are now selling of their State Owned Enterprises. Most likely to Chinese holding companies and investors, who are expecting to gets points on their dollars. As well, as securing their future on the investment. They are selling the central institutions and businesses, which was state controlled, but they will now become para-stalls of the Chinese.
But selling the institutions are not enough for the Chinese. They are planning to take it further. Planning to rehash the loans as sub-prime loans for investors, meaning they are taking the risk instead of the Export-Import Bank of China, where the loans are usually collected and distributed from. Therefore, the loans are another target of more profits as they want to earn on them as well into the Capital Market. Just like the US Banks did with House Loans and mortgages in the past.
While all that is happening and with the knowledge of this, the President is still keeping it cool. Kenyatta is still not saying the brazen truth, that they are a debt-slave to China. Are in such big trouble, that the investment of the SGR are killing the economy and they have to trade-off their assets to keep up with their payments. That is what is happening and this is not really developing, but hurting the economy even more. As this institutions and businesses has been controlling their markets. Now, they will have masters from outside, which are not there to secure the market, but make a direct profit. Therefore, the citizens are not only paying their loans for the railroads, but for destroying their economy. Peace.
The Government of Kenya and the Government of Uganda, should both worry about their arrangements and their growing debts, as the non-sustainable rates of debt and higher interests. As the unnatural growth of the national budget, where the lack of revenue is covered with more state debt. To cover both salaries and development projects. All of this has happen over the recent years. As more and more of the yearly budget goes to pay interest on old loans, as the old loans also mature and the rates will become more dire. As the strength of the economy isn’t going in the same rates as the loans. This is in the end a debt trap. A debt trap China has used in other countries.
Sri Lanka is the recent example, which has come into a debt trap, where the Chinese loans has become so dire, become so big and not able to recover. That the collateral for the state was to favorable lease the harbor of Hambantota to the Chinese. They had too, since they couldn’t repay the creditor from Peking. That should be realization from all the others who borrows big and think that the Chinese will not get something valuable back for their funding.
This should be a warning for the Kenyan and Ugandan counterparts, this should be a warning for President Kenyatta and President Museveni. That is if they care about the state resources, about their minerals and about the possible extractions from their republics. If they want to be debt-slaves, or lease away the crown jewels to the Chinese, because they promised favorable debt plans, that in the end put them in juxtaposition, that they cannot come out off; unless they trade away something very valuable. If that would be licenses to drill oil in Turkana or in Bunyoro.
Who knows what the end-game of these massive loans are and if the Presidents and their parties plans to repay them. Or hope that the next generation will try to invent new way of generating money. If so, then they are saved by rare luck and not by planning ahead. These loans are big and taking bigger and bigger slices of the GDP. They are going far beyond the levels of revenue and possible future forecast of funds. Therefore, the loans can only at this point benefit the ones giving them. They will get the repayments and the interests. If they don’t get that, they will take collateral and take other state entities to get their values back. The Chinese are doing that in Sri Lanka, they could easily do that with Kenya and Uganda too. They are in for the taking and ready to muscled out.
The Chinese doesn’t play and doesn’t play with money, they will recollect and they will recover the funds spent. As they are not playing games, they are really investing and hoping to get paid-in-full. They are waiting for the numbers to go from red to black. They don’t expect to loose, and if they do. They will figure other ways to collect the lost.
President Kenyatta and President Museveni should know this, but I doubt they are thinking in this direction right now. They are eating and not caring, but their states and their economist should worry. As the growing debts has a backside, not only the interests and the lack of development it creates, as they have to find bigger revenue to cover the debt and the mature loans, as they have to settle old affairs and such. They don’t go away or get deleted over nothing. They got to take charge and find a way to solve it.
The Chinese will take advantage if they start to default, if they struggle to pay, which could come, if the loans and the negative spiral of lack of revenue continues. That is if the state doesn’t find ways to repay. Than, the Chinese might take a port, might take state owned enterprise, but surely they will be paid-in-full. Peace.
There is certain movements that will strike as more expensive for the East African Community (EAC). This being for the Government of Uganda (GoU) and the Government of Kenya (GoK), who has big plans of petroleum pipelines from their oil-fields and to the coast. That being from Turkana to Lamu Port. While the Ugandan oil goes from Hoima to Tanga Port in Tanzania. Both development and industrial projects will have issues with the funding. The World Bank has supported massive infrastructure projects in both countries.
Therefore, for the two counties big development and oil industry, this is giant set-back, since they have to find funding and loans for the pipelines on the open market. Even with higher interests and making the profits of it lesser, than it would have been with a World Bank loan. It would not hurt the pocket as much as it does on the open market. The banks wants more profits themselves and also make sure they are paid-in-full.
With all this in mind. There are speculations, but first. Parts of the self-answering service. Before we look at the reactions in Kenya and Uganda. All of are important, as the state is involved in the licensing and building the pipelines. They are directly into the development and procurement of the pipelines. That is why this is big blow for the administrations and their possible tax-profits on it.
Word Bank Q&A:
“Q. How is “upstream” oil and gas defined?
Upstream is an industry term that refers to exploration of oil and natural gas fields, as well as drilling and operating wells to produce oil and natural gas” (World Bank, 2017).
“Current projects in our portfolio would continue as planned. However, no new investments in upstream oil and gas would be undertaken after 2019, unless under exceptional circumstances as noted in the decision” (World Bank, 2017).
“The announcement by the bank, which has significant interests in Kenya’s oil prospecting sector, does not bode well for the country’s anticipated entry into the club of oil producing nations beginning next year. Analysts said they do not expect an immediate reaction to the announcement even as they acknowledged that it takes the shine from oil in the long term” (…) “Locally, the World Bank is offering technical support to the Kenyan government, through the Kenya Petroleum Technical Assistance Project, to prime all stakeholders for commercial oil production and sale. The six-year programme is scheduled to run until February 2021 and involves the World Bank managing a Sh5.2 billion fund set up by investors from Germany, Norway and Britain. The World Bank’s private lending arm, International Finance Corporation, is however directly involved in Kenya’s oil fields, having a 6.83 per cent stake in Africa Oil, the Canadian exploration firm with interests in northern Kenya oil blocks” (Mutegi, 2017)
“The pipeline, is expected to be completed by the year 2020, when the country is scheduled to start oil production. In fact, Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart recently commissioned the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline. The two leaders laid mark stones for the crude oil pipeline in Mutukula, Kyotera district and Kabaale in Hoima district. Total E&P Uganda, a subsidiary of French oil giant, Total S.A, is spearheading the construction of the crude oil pipeline on behalf of the joint venture partners. Adewale Fayemi, the general manager, Total E&P Uganda says discussions are ongoing to discuss on the formalities of how the pipeline will be run. Already, an agreement has been reached that the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) will be run and managed by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) – private pipeline company. This means that a private company will be incorporated with joint venture partners – Tullow Uganda, Cnooc Uganda Ltd and Total E&P Uganda, and the governments of Uganda and Tanzania as shareholders in the company” (Ssekika, 2017)
Certainly, this will put a strain on the projects. They have to deliver another type of arrangement to make sure they get funding and have the funds to pay the added interests the banks wants. The added points on the dollar and the interest-rates will hit state-owned firms and the state itself. Since the pipelines most likely becomes more expensive and will be less profitable.
That the World Bank is pulling out of these projects is all within line of the Paris Accord, as they have professed is the reason. Still, this will make these projects more expensive and make sure they are earning less on it. Unless, the crude-oil prices are going up to a level that makes these investments even more profitable. That is only for time to tell. Since it is costly projects and also sophisticated to build. There is needed lots of expertise combined state planning to achieve the development plans.
This is just the beginning, but the pipelines and these investments are vital for both Kenya and Uganda. As the governments are already borrowing state funds on the possible earnings from the oil reserves in their basins. Therefore, they need to drill and need the petrodollar as quickly as possible. Peace.
Mutegi, Mugambi – ‘World Bank dims Turkana oil hopes’ (14.12.2017) link: http://www.nation.co.ke/business/World-Bank-dims-Turkana-oil-hopes/996-4227848-u02v8n/index.html
Ssekika, Edward – ‘East African Crude Oil Pipeline: The Inside Story’ (11.12.2017) link: http://www.oilinuganda.org/features/economy/east-african-crude-oil-pipeline-the-inside-story-details-emerge-of-how-the-crude-oil-pipeline-will-be-financed-managed.html
World Bank – ‘Q&A: The World Bank Group and Upstream Oil and Gas’ (12.12.2017) link: http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/climatechange/brief/qa-the-world-bank-group-and-upstream-oil-and-gas
“The government is borrowing without proper revenue planning or policies that factor in revenue growth challenges. This, according to Parliament’s Budget Office, coupled with the growing need to finance projects, will see the level of Kenya’s debt increasing in the coming year, which is already a cause for concern for some” (Kenya NTV, 2016)
The Parliament of Uganda is supposed to discuss and read the Constitutional Amendment Bill of 2016. This happens as both Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah will not want to be responsible for ushering in the bill. As the current parts of the bill is to amend the Constitution.
The 1995 Constitution that already have been amended and fixed to be perfect for the Executive and his party; the strangest thing is that President Museveni didn’t see his future and how he would act. Because the Constitutions have already abolished the Presidential Term limits, something that happen just in time for the third term; for some reason the President had only written the ability to have two terms. That is without counting the first period where he wasn’t elected, but selected by the gun!
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) prove again their inability to be honest with themselves and with the public. That is because their leader and President don’t have a true vision. Except for the vision that is the man with the vision, without knowing what that vision is. Because if he knew what vision he had the stability of government functions and built institutions would be steady. Since it isn’t so, it’s a proof of the inability to have a steady vision.
Because of that lack of vision and ability to see his own future and how it will turn by his actions; it was by rare luck in the race between him and Dr. Paul Ssemogerere that he blasted out the pledge the citizens the promise of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and he actually worked for it for a while, especially when the donor funds to it came as well. The President Museveni doesn’t have a vision and has an ability now to fix his future. If he had than he been on the farm and not spoken the same lingo of fighting corruption while dropping brown envelopes and extra fees for signing bills and acts in Parliament. That is why the Parliamentarians are travelling to the United States.
That the man who spoke of leaders sitting to long and talking retiring after two terms is still there shows that he has no real vision. If he had a real vision he would have left behind a legacy, a fiscal responsible government and made ready for the next in line to continue his progress. But President Museveni doesn’t have it in him, his only vision was himself. So the Constitutional Amendment is in another Member of Parliament’s Hon. Kafeero Ssekitoleko and Hon. Paul Amoru who doing the bidding for their master.
Even if it was his idea as it is not really news, it has been at former leadership trainings on Kyankwanzi Resolution of 2014 of the Movement said this:
“Live in Kyankwanzi where the NRM orientation and retreat is on going! Resolution has been passed to extend the term limit from 5 years to 7 years!”.
This never happen, because the vision of the President is not existing. If so then he would have managed to pulled through the 2014 Resolution from the Leadership Conference of the Party. But the Museveni doesn’t have that. He we’re able to pull through as younger man and still without fatigue of age the Constitution and nearly 10 years later fixing the Constitution again to amend his lacking vision.
The lack of vision, the vision which isn’t a vision; if he had a vision he wouldn’t be a walking budget who drops 100m Shilling at Nakawa SACCO and also at certain public NAADS in Mukono recently. If he had a vision there would be accounts, accountability and structures for these monies and not just when he pop-by like limited edition Santa Clause. Well, that is because of lesser known vision and knowledge of the reality on the ground.
Just like the vision must be lost in all the giant programs and infrastructure projects that doesn’t seem to be genuine and honest to fix them all; seem more like business to get loans and aid than actual development. That’s like recycling old pledges and promising town and city status during the campaign. Yet, another proof that he has lost his touch and views of any kind of vision.
So that the man is now using MPs to secure his future and getting MPs to vote himself into longer stay in power, isn’t powerful, it isn’t revolutionary. If it was revolutionary than the former despots and tyrants of the world was the ones who drove engineering and invention; most likely that happen in places where people wasn’t told how to think. In the same mind when a leader doesn’t accept the will of the ones he leads; he isn’t visionary. What he really is? More scary; because the values of the citizenship… gets devalued because their leader doesn’t have any vision and doesn’t need to deliver anything to his citizens.
I know it is harsh, but I have compelled him to be racketeering gangster. A man without a vision and just running government on random is being on the up-and-up!
President Museveni doesn’t have a clear vision, when the main goal is getting fellow Members of Parliament to vote himself for life. That is the endgame of the Constitutional Amendment Bill of 2016. If they abolish and rewrite the words of a President cannot be older than 75 years old. The Old man with a Hat doesn’t have a vision under the hat. On his head now he has a hat and he has an expensive car, he buys the MPs to vote his will and uses the speakers to whip them into his line. If he doesn’t’ do that his family leader Gen. Salim Selah talks and fix. Just like he did with the lost-boy Go-Forward Christopher Aine of the Amama Mbabazi Campaign Team; who he got to show up like a rabbit out of a hat.
President Museveni isn’t visionary anymore; he isn’t clear and doesn’t have clear prospect of what he want. Other than getting loyalty by the ones he can pay for their silence and get credit for other people’s work. If not he will complain that others haven’t completed it.
The President is without a vision and only leads because he get checks and controls the people, not because he cares about Government or the Institutions of Government; he is there for his ego and his own wish to rule them all. Therefore he has pushed for the East African Federation, but he will not get the will of the Tanzanian, Rwandan or Kenyan to set him over them. They don’t respect him in that way, unless they can gain some pocket-change from the old man with the hat (Still not a vision). That is why they we’re both fighting for his attention now recently, because the Tanzanian and Kenyan wanted to be sure of the Crude Oil Pipeline.
By now, he doesn’t work for better government, but for a better position for himself and his family. That he even said in an interview to BBC in 2014. So the people shouldn’t forget that. Peace.
Today is a day where I have questions and they are big because when you crunch the numbers for the last three fiscal years and estimated debt ratio it’s start to be worrying. It isn’t a sweet and tender way of asking. I know, but the numbers and the citizens will have to repay the amounts of borrowed cash at one point. As the Japanese will not deliver second-hand vehicles to the hospitals forever like they did during either this or last week in Kenya; Kenyan Government shouldn’t base their budget on handouts, but on tax-monies. The budget now is worrying as the levels of budget that are borrowed as it is going directly to portfolios that are day-to-day business instead of giant infrastructure development.
Why do I say that? Because each year you can question the ratio between the debt and the development projects; like in 2013/2014 the debt we’re 330bn, but the development 224bn. That is a 100bn used on day-to-day instead of building roads to Ethiopia or planning the Standard Gauge Railway. Take look!
In the 2013/2014:
At the fiscal year ending the 25th July 2014 the budget debt we’re 330,440,692,719.35. That means there 330bn debt, which we’re 25.8% of the National Revenue. National Government budget spent on development we’re 224,355,607,699.00 or 224bn.
In the 2014/2015:
At the fiscal year ending 24th July of 2015 the budget debt we’re 400,249,353,175.10. That means there 400bn debt, which we’re 25.1% of the National Revenue. National Government spent on development we’re 270,320,838,230.00 or 270bn.
In the 2015/2016:
At the fiscal year ending the 22nd July of 2016 the budget debt we’re 683,479,898,203.50. That means there 683bn debt, which we’re 36.9% of the National Revenue. National Government spent on development we’re 333,170,357,469.90 or 333bn.
So as you see, the FY 2013/2014 isn’t the worst. FY 2014/2015 is the start of loose government spending. The Jubilee all of sudden borrow 400bn and spends 270bn. That is 130bn that is used on day-to-day business, with loaned fiscal funds instead of the ordinary tax-base that the government should be fixated on. So with the last year FY 2015/2016 the Jubilee went all out in the stratosphere and borrowed from any bank or institution possible; as the debt we’re 683bn and the development we’re 333bn. That is 350bn that are used to day-to-day business and not development. The question remain why the sudden giant loan ratio towards the last year before election and why the lack of projects to use the newly granted funds.
The fiscal responsibility seems weak and not there when a government can splash this kind of funds and use this amount of debt on day-to-day instead of big projects and infrastructure projects needed. I am sure DP William Ruto has more friends that can be sub-contractors for some Chinese infused borrowed road projects around Kisumu. But, the ability to sustainable development with the steady rise of debt is worrying. That the IMF and World Bank is saying the debt ratio is still feasible should be worrying. As the IMF and World Bank never had control of the worst years before the Greece defaulted and needed saving grace from the world around it. The worst comes to worst when the Kenyan Government starts to default and reach it’s limit they have to have a mercy on the Jubilee and the counterparts who are paying for loose fiscal behaviour. The worst comes to worst with the giant amount of added fiscal funds might give the economy a edged inflation and bank rates that weakens the Kenyan Shilling as the deficit between reality and what is really used.
You can wonder why the Jubilee wants to hedge up so much loans and government debt. When the FY 2013/2014 and FY 2014/2015 we’re the net domestic borrowing around 300bn, but by FY 2015/2016 it become 500bn. That is a jump of 200bn of Domestic Borrowing. That should also be questioned together with the ratio already in the budget. This doesn’t seem like a healthy fiscal policy. The public should question the use of the borrowed domestic and total ratio of debt. The governance levels and accountability of the funds should be asked from Opposition and also the Auditor General. The Inspectorate of Government the IGG or Ombudsman should hassle the hustling Jubilee who has gained these funds and been responsible for the allocated budget and inquired for the option for loans to development and day-to-day use.
What do you think? Peace.
“I understand that everyone in the rural areas,the MPs, the MCAs,Governors and all aspirants are claiming responsibility for any upcoming infrastructural project.They are fighting about who lobbied for what and who talked with whoever and who met whoever……..it’s not a question of who lobbied for any development be it roads,electricity connection,building of schools and many more….it’s a question of giving service to the forty to forty two million Kenyans who pay taxes.Hii Maneno ingine yote haina maana” – Uhuru Kenyatta
President Kenyatta has today a State House summit on transport and infrastructure projects in Kenya under his leadership and the Jubilee Government. That has soon finished their first term in the presidency. They had pledges upon pledges when they went into government.
They wanted to build a giant and fantastic electric quick railway. The Standard Gauge Railway and also develop the Lamu Port through the LAPSSET project with fellow neighbors. The Pipeline of crude-oil from the Northern Kenya in Kerio Valley in the Lokichar Basin to the upgraded Lamu Port; where the Jubilee Government also wanted the Lake Albert crude oil from Uganda to go to. Something that fell through as the licensed companies in Uganda though it was too costly to build through Kenya compared to Tanzania. So the Kenyan Government has to do it on they’re own. As the LAPSSET it is waiting for private enterprise to engage and use their monies on the planned infrastructure.
The other issues are stadiums not built in regions where it was promised the fields of glory never came. It was easy to promise the district towns a sports facility, but none of them came to fruition. The others developments we’re that from Kenya had 30 Air-strips before Jubilee and by now they have 50 of those. Still, the discussion on the failed development project and upgrade of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) have not been an issue as the embarrassing project it is for the ruling regime and their PR team.
“There is corruption at the port. Find out who among the people in this room are thieves” – Uhuru Kenyatta.
There are always some issues and even after years in power and set change with rule of law. The Jubilee government tends with the same fractured system, the corrupt Mombasa port where the monies that makes all import more expensive and still they haven’t instilled checks and balances to Ports and therefore the extra taxation of the imports happen on a daily basis. As the corrupt mind and bodies continues to thrive with the speaking up against it, but not dealing with it in Parliament or by sanctions of law.
The Jubilee government has dozens of plans and pledges, as much as they have foreign loans to build the projects from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Chinese. The extent of debt collected by the recent new loans has come to 49% of GDP. In April 2016 the Jubilee Government had collected $1.35 billion in debt, while fixing a massive deficit in the Kenyan budget. Still, this is worrying as the debt and interest has to be repaid to the International lenders and development banks which the tab is taken from.
This was not discussed at the Summit and where is the money for the development projects coming from as they shouldn’t just surface out of thin air. Just like the roads and rails need wages, plans, dialogue and trade to get built. As the landowners need to be compensated together with the companies building the roads need paid for service rendered. Therefore the business of infrastructure is expensive as the giant projects cost a fortune because they are supposed to stay for long and be kept for decades on.
The same with all the roads not taken care of as the feeder roads of the Northern Kenya, which is left in mud and dust; the focus on three Nairobi by-passes to fix the congestion of the capital. Not thinking of other towns who could need extra bypasses like Eldoret or other where the Jubilee doesn’t deliver the needed infrastructure, except if it is fitting with the border-passes and agreement with nation on the other side who needs roads of exporting through Kenya there. Therefore the Summit is more a PR Show, than proving real progress as the corrupt, the debt and all the other problems are destroying the champion sound and roar from the Jubilee Government under President Kenyatta. Peace.