Motivation for innovation: Things first daughters can bequeath EA

Monday February 19 2024

The EAC big (wo)men should use their discretionary funds to commission well-thought-out, novel projects and, if the monies are not enough, their supporters can collect a few hundred million dollars like they do for their campaigns. ILLUSTRATION | JOSEPH NYAGAH | NMG


So, Ethiopian Airlines, being an enduring international carrier, isn’t an accident! As reported on January 30, the Ethiopians had already made their own airplane by 1935, nine decades ago!

The two-seater bird, which the invading Italians grabbed and only returned to its rightful owners last month, was made by Ethiopian technicians with a German pilot at the Emperor’s command. Aviation is part of Ethiopian culture, after all!

The plane was named Tsehay, after the Emperor’s daughter. Beautiful motivation for innovation. Suppose the eight presidents of the East African Community each bequeathed the region a daring, darling project named after their favourite daughters, so by the time Ethiopia joins EAC they find us with eight game-changing projects underway.

The EAC big (wo)men should use their discretionary funds to commission well-thought-out, novel projects and, if the monies are not enough, their supporters can collect a few hundred million dollars like they do for their campaigns. Each president’s big corporate supporters mobilising a billion dollars locally and abroad over five years wouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Read: OBBO: DRC issue of beautiful wife, maize it planted by roadside

Country #1: Tanzania. A presidential daughter can give us the Tanga-Musoma electric railway with barges on Lake Victoria, though this game-changer in EAC transport wouldn’t be an entirely new proposal.


In 2009, the transport ministries of Tanzania and Uganda had actually created, incorporated and even capitalized a joint venture for developing the port of Tanga complete with a rail to Musoma (then considered the shortest feasible distance between the coast and the lake) for barges to disperse to different ports on Lake Victoria, thus providing seamless sea-rail-lake heavy cargo transit in EAC.

Tanzania actually went ahead with the Tanga development component and that is about it. The western Victorian port of Masaka is just a stone’s throw from northwestern Tanzania, while on the north, the Nile starts its journey to Egypt through Sudan.

This would be the start on making the Nile navigable all the way. Although we like to sound clever by castigating the “colonial” geography syllabus for teaching more about infrastructural projects in Europe and North America than African things, it would be worthwhile to revise how they bypassed water falls housing electricity power dams using canal locks for big ships.

#2: DRC. The Congolese presidential daughter’s gift is not hard to build consensus on — a power station at Inga to power everything that needs to be powered in EAC.

Read: BUWEMBO: Our leaders need EAC character that abhors NTBs

#3: Uganda. From its central location and mind-boggling agricultural advantage, Kampala’s presidential daughter should just bequeath EAC the ultimate international airport with a (bio) Sustainable Aviation Fuel SAF supply network to all eight capitals, plus Addis Ababa.

#4: South Sudan. Our daughter from Juba should just get a petroleum refinery to give the eight members all the bitumen and plastic they may need for 50 years.

#5: Burundi. The Belle from Bujumbura should give us the ultimate integrated health complex, linking all medical referral requirements in the Community and hosting the dream health centre of excellence to grant our existing VIPs several more decades of life.

#6: Somalia. The girl from Mogadishu should give us a mega air and sea port to enable the EAC have a quick trade gateway to the emerging Middle Eastern market.

#7: Rwanda. The Kigali lady’s gift wouldn’t need debate; a graft- proof central banking and finance management system, to be adopted by all member states – you either sign on or you are out. This would help identify who’s serious and who’s wasting our time.

#8: Kenya. The Nairobi young woman’s gift would be the EAC integrated capital markets, whose first tasks would be taking inventory, valuing and documenting the region’s natural capital as a first step to stop the mental slavery that makes us close our eyes whenever our leaders start grovelling in the dust at the feet of foreign money lenders begging for loans.

There certainly are many better ways than these to get the EAC states out of the present embarrassment of being beggars six decades after independence, so let those who are paid to think and plan bring them on forward, so that we of lesser knowledge stop trying to punch above our mental weight.