12.01.2013

The Blasian Bridge to Nowhere

In graduate school, I studied international politics and economics. My area of focus was Sub-Saharan Africa. I had come across many articles and books about Asian and African relations. Well, this is what most of those texts were about:
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! China building something in Africa(insert African country name here), to help boost trade on the continent.
Infrastructure and economic projects between African and Asian countries (China) in Africa have been many in the recent decade...here is the article:
Kenya has formally launched a new, Chinese-financed railway which should extend across East Africa to reach South Sudan, DR Congo and Burundi.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25134276s/

Here is my issue with this Blasian Bridge: It won't work.

I'm not going to discredit the Chinese nor the Kenyans for trying. But here is the real issue for Africa, disagree if you like. Africa does not have an economic nor political plan that caters to its specific issues. Many Asian countries who have begun to flourish by incredible numbers do have a plan. Let's take Korea. Now, I refer to South Korea as Korea because Koreans do. It is a Western idea that there are two Koreas. Of course the South Korean is not an idiot and understands that its crazy Uncle up in the North cannot be invited to Chuseok dinner anymore (Chuseok: Korean Thanksgiving) because he always causes problems at family functions. However, the plan in this country is that Korea is one. The West may divide us, but one day we will be one again. See the plan? Korea is technologically massive. Internet service/wifi is everywhere! They have the fastest internet in the world running on 5G. BUT just as much as they invest in these 21st century things, they invest in their countries incredible history, in their children's education (This is the same for many other economically thriving Asian countries). They have been able to balance the traditional with the modern. This is their model...they still have issues and we'll discuss that later.

Now, Kenya is going to build a railway connecting it to Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, and South Sudan. WHAT THE HELL!

Knowledge: Kenya has a huge Somali refugee problem. Rwanda's president is Tutsi, Burundi's president is Hutu...no they have not reconciled (white man lies). Rwanda, according to every body and they grandma at the United Nations, is the main cause of the millions of people dead and still dying in the Eastern Congo, DR Congo's President is not Congolese, he is Rwandan (see the connection), Uganda is slaughtering folks left and right for even thinking the word 'Gay", and South Sudan has a rebel problem and it just became a country.

Yeah, you thought you had problems. 

A railway system is not going to make things better. Looks great in photos, but turn that sucker over and you'll see the truth. This Blasian Bridge has already burned. I'll check back in 2030 to see if this project worked out.

Until next time, good people.

5 comments:

  1. Hmm...how is DRC's president not Congolese but Rwandese? I've seen this before honestly and could not believe it, so I just dismissed it as anti-Rwandan sentiment and/or more of the West's lies. But as you're from there, I really wonder how someone who is not from the DRC managed to be the president of the country.

    I actually don't believe Rwanda is to blame (or certainly not the sole perpertrator) of the crisis in Eastern Congo, and I thought the main beef Rwanda has was with Tanzania. Btw most of my East African news comes from Charles Onyango-Obbo's blog.

    This railway really does seem like a bridge to nowhere, but part of Africa-China relations are big shows of "win-win cooperation" like this. And correct me if I'm wrong but I believe there is still significant movement between the borders of these countries despite the problems you've outlined. So maybe those folks will benefit from the railway?

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    1. Valid points you bring up and such confusion is my reason for this post. The President after the infamous dictator Mobutu Sese Seko was Laurent Kabila (The DRC and Rwanda were allies at this time). Laurent Kabila adopted a son who was from Rwanda. When Laurent was killed his son became president. It is hard to understand and to believe. I didn't at first. And yes, you are right, how does someone not from the DRC become its president? My point exactly. But without a constitution or a legitimate government, anything goes.

      It would be silly of me or anyone to solely blame the atrocities in the Eastern Congo on Rwanda. But to exclude them and their allies would be just plain ridiculous. Yes, Rwanda has a beef with Tanzania too. Everybody has a beef with somebody. My point exactly. Will a railway solve this beef? I get my news from friends and family on the ground and from this amazing resource from my friend and colleague Youth Activist Kambale Musavuli. http://www.friendsofthecongo.org/resource-center/coltan.html

      And the movement between borders is not secure/safe. Refugess move between borders, exploited minerals move between borders. A 13.8 billion dollar railway before access to clean water, food, and shelter benefits no one, I think. It makes the big-wigs look good, sure. Is that 13.8 billion a loan? A gift? Who will build this railway, who will pay them? If someone is hurt, which insurance will cover them? How will they be compensated? Where the railway will be built, are there families that live on that land? Will they be compensated for having to move?

      I would love a railway to be built in order to increase legitimate trading. Keyword: legitimate. That kind of interconnectedness is what the continent needs. I would love to see the relationship between Africa and Asia grow. But there are some structural (internal, institutional) issues in these countries that I hope are being looked at as well.

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    2. Is that 13.8 billion a loan? A gift? Who will build this railway, who will pay them? If someone is hurt, which insurance will cover them? How will they be compensated? Where the railway will be built, are there families that live on that land? Will they be compensated for having to move?

      These are great points. The less glamorous problems have to be solved first. Like you, I'm all for Blasian Bridges; they're a great idea. As usual, the problem is the execution. I would prefer to read stories about record high employment rates, literacy rates, school enrollment rates, home ownership, and universalized healthcare. But I guess they're just not headline-worthy.

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    3. @SilverTiger
      Wow so Joseph Kabila is adopted? This is amazing, but do you think he still maintains his ties to Rwanda? I mean if he was adopted as a baby, wouldn't he be more Congolese than Rwandese?

      I agree that Rwanda should definitely not be excluded, but I keep on hearing their name more than I hear, say Tanzania or South Africa (which actually has never popped up in any Western source I've read despite having interests in Eastern Congo as well). I remember been confused about the M-23-Rwanda link when I read that the former was firing cannons into Rwanda. But African politics is really more complicated than people give it credit for.

      I thought business moved between borders more than refugees and exploited minerals, but honestly that may just be my West African thinking...which would not necessarily apply to the East. All those questions are legitimate. It is entirely possible that the 13.8 billion will never materialise. Half,or maybe more, of the projects promised as part of "Africa-China" actually never make it past the initial announcement. They may no reach their goal at all. It does seem like a total waste of money and resources. They would have been better of repairing the roads.

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    4. @cosmicyoruba I so agree with about them being better off building roads. Yeah he was adopted and then lived and worked in Rwanda as a taxi driver...ohh yes you know I was chatting with my parents anout this article and the first thing they said was "wouldn't it be better if they invested something lik this in West Africa" because business tradings are more stable and legit there right now. So interesting you mentioned that.

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