Monday, June 15, 2009

Investing in metal snakes.

I woke up to the most pleasant news to ever come out of Africa in decades. You may think it has to do with the coming of Beyonce to Africa, or our preparedness to host the 2010 soccer showpice, or even any wanky news that is supposed to brighten up a gloomy day. But no. It is far from that. It has to do with steel and locomotives. It is news of an investment in rail road infrastructure.

After getting independence from our colonial buddies (I refuse to call them colonial masters), each African country has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity to do meaningful things. Some countries inherited robust infrastructure which had all the necessary ingredients to propell the countries to economic dominance. But as the years went by, we specialised in rendering such infractructure derelict. We undertook destructive policies and destroyed the foundations that had been laid for us.

So you can imagine how humbled I was when I learnt that the Ethiopian government has embarked on a major construction, not rehabilitation, of 5,000 kilometers of new rail infrastructure. Presently, the only stretch of rail in Ethiopia is from the Capital Addis Ababa to Djibouti. However, over the past few years, the trains could not even reach Adis Ababa. The chief engineer admitted that over the years they have been experienceing about one derailment per week.

Africa must do more to embark on such projects. I met a friend who had never seen a train before she went to London. But the west has embraced trains to an extent that they are the veins that pump blood all over the body economic of such countries. Countries like Japan have revolutionised trains to an extent that it is now better to take a train than fly between places. Whilst we persecute political opponents, stiffle media freedoms, rape basic rights, steal elections and pull down our own development we should stop and reconsider.

This is one hell of a good story which I will not hesitate to write about over and over again. Well done Ethiopia.


  1. Well done, Pen Powder, for sniffing out such a good story about Africa, and putting it out. Yes, it does sound exciting. I can tell you about Ghana. I've heard 4 (if not all) governments of Ghana speak in psalms about the economic importance of rail lines, and nobody has done anything more than just speak. Hope somebody important reads this too.

  2. I would at some point, like to blog about the Spintex Road in Accra. Just a little thought put in there with magnificent results. We are not after all, doomed.