“Fixing” Africa’s infrastructure: But at what price?

TIM ZAJONTZ, Pambazuka News

8,500,000,000,000 Ugandan Shilling. This is roughly the volume of a loan, which the Ugandan government currently negotiates with China’s state-owned Exim Bank. The sheer number of digits is impressive, even when converted in less inflationary currencies. The concessional loan of over US$2.3 billion is earmarked for the construction of 273 kilometres of rails between Kampala and Malaba at Uganda’s border with Kenya. The project constitutes the next stage of East Africa’s new standard gauge railway that is designed to link Mombasa at the Indian Ocean with Uganda’s capital and, if plans materialise, will extend to Juba, South Sudan and Kigali, Rwanda in the future. The first stretch of the line between Mombasa and Nairobi has been inaugurated in mid-2017 and celebrated as another milestone of Sino-African development cooperation.

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Vom Freiheits- zum Überlebenskampf

Die TAZARA auf der Suche nach der Erfolgsspur

TIM ZAJONTZ, Afrika Süd 1/2018

„Die Tazara von heute ist nicht mehr, was sie einmal war”, erklärt mir Robert (Namen geändert), den ich zufällig an einem Bahnübergang nahe Ishitu in Sambias Norden treffe. Er arbeitet seit 25 Jahren für das binationale Bahnunternehmen. Unsere Blicke richten sich auf die verrosteten Überbleibsel eines entgleisten Güterzuges. Mein Gesprächspartner berichtet, dass Entgleisungen in den vergangenen Jahren immer häufiger wurden, genauso wie teils monatelang ausbleibende Gehaltszahlungen für die 2.797 Tazara-Beschäftigten. Robert erinnert sich aber auch an die glorreichen Zeiten der „Uhuru Railway” – zu Deutsch: Freiheitsbahn. Continue reading “Vom Freiheits- zum Überlebenskampf”

From the freedom struggle to a fight for economic survival – the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA)

TIM ZAJONTZ, St Andrews Africa Summit Review 3/2017

“The TAZARA of today is no longer what it used to be”, explains Robert (name altered) to me. I met him at a railway crossing not far from Ishitu in Zambia’s Northern Province. He has been working for the bi-national railway corporation for 25 years. We both gaze at the remains of a derailed cargo train. Robert reports that derailments have become more frequent in recent years, just like month-long non-payments of salaries to the 2,797 TAZARA employees. Yet, he also remembers the glory days of the “Uhuru Railway” – the Freedom Railway. Continue reading “From the freedom struggle to a fight for economic survival – the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA)”

The demise of the post-apartheid consensus and South Africa’s search for leadership

TIM ZAJONTZ, St Andrews Africa Summit Review 1/2017

The recent scenes of students clashing with riot police and private security forces on heavily securitised South African university campuses are emblematic for a nation in a desperate search for political orientation. They are also a pressing reminder of how fragile the post-apartheid political consensus to overcome a society built on coercion and violence actually is. It is the so called ‘born frees’, the generation of young South Africans that was born in a democratic republic, who most manifestly expose the country’s severe vulnerabilities: a blatant lack of moral leadership and governance failures that, if unaltered, allow for serious doubts about the survival of the ‘Rainbow Nation’s’ social contract. Continue reading “The demise of the post-apartheid consensus and South Africa’s search for leadership”