In life,it’s advisable to travel the world at any given opportunity and I am lucky to have had this chance.
Initially, I was just excited to compare the different ways of life across borders, as well as the odd chance that I’d get to show off among my peers that I’d been to so many places.
With globalization and modernization, one can wake up in Uganda, spend the day in Nairobi and spend the night in Rwanda, a privilege that was previously reserved for the extremely rich. Now, just about anyone is able to travel anywhere in the world, provided they have the means and the documentation that would permit them to do so.
As I grew older, whenever I’d travel to Europe, America or the Middle East, I’d return with a disturbed mind, I love speed and it reflects a lot in the kind of cars I love that can be moved from one place to another in record time. That said, it is a well-known fact that there is no speed limit in Germany. So you can imagine my awe at how people were able to comfortably drive on open roads with speeds in excess of 180 kph. One could argue that yes their roads are good and wide and give so many other reasons. However, I also noticed that the road discipline is generally high. There is no “under taking” yet with the three to four lane roads, people have a general understanding of road signs and good road discipline compared to that of the people in the two countries I call home: Uganda and Rwanda. I have not only seen this in Germany but generally in the European countries I have visited and whose highways, I have managed to drive on. The story is the same in the US, where things are taken a notch higher with people sticking to the respective speed limits.
Speaking of speed limits, during this time I was in Frankfurt, it rained on two days, as expected the roads were a bit wet and the traffic control posted a speed limit of 120 kph. Being the curious fella that I was, I wondered if the speed limit was because it had rained but my host argued otherwise. On our side of town, cars tend to drive slower if it has rained because of wet roads and possible reduced visibility. On the German side (or uniquely the Frankfurt side), speed limits are introduced on the highway to prevent traffic build-ups. It was at this point that I wondered when we would ever reach such levels of development and sophistication in African, as a continent we still have a long way to go in order to match the levels of what Europe has achieved.
For instance, you’ll have a railway network feeding off an airport base/hub, this gives one the advantage of not having to afford a car when you visit another country that has a reliable train network.
To hear of power outages is a thing of the past, in this regard it is not uncommon to have a respective energy department take responsibility for any power outages and in some extreme cases a person in charge resigning over the same. On our side, comments have been passed that some areas are even lucky to have electricity. The respective energy companies in Rwanda and Uganda have tried to have active twitter feeds to aid them in giving their customers/ consumers a platform to freely report all issues however, a lot is still left to be desired when it comes to honoring goals and keeping a high level of service. I mean, while Rwanda has done a lot to ensure that electricity is generally available all the year round with minimal down time, there are the odd annoying intermittent power blackout where power will keep cutting out for more than 5 or 6 times in a day. On the Ugandan side, some areas still go for weeks without electricity due to a blown transformer and no feedback from the electricity transmission people. And it is business as usual.
Lately, my peers and I have been worried about the many businesses that are going bankrupt and being repossessed by banks due to failure to repay loans from banks. Clearly there’s an indication that something is wrong with the economy. The funny reason for such is the inability of such industries to control their expenses, let alone keep the operational costs low. An acquaintance told me how he had to close his recycling plant, because of high energy costs. National manufacturing reports of previous years show a reduction in manufacturing plants. Yet, it can also be argued that these are key to a countries economic growth.
On the other hand, though, if we were to take a leaf from the developed countries, there is both the presence of big and well established industries and the small and cottage industries. So it gets me thinking, is it that hard to start up or focus more on smaller industries with the hope that with many of these, there shall be the chance that these give back to the economy in one way or the other? I say this without removing any light from the already existing initiatives in these related fields.
Without going on and on and eventually losing the major point that I wanted to make. What is happening in these other developing countries is not all perfect but good because something right is being done, it only makes sense to pick out the good and try to emulate what they are doing. From planning their future to managing the environment, to even maximizing clean energy, which should not be rocket science for us to emulate.