As a child almost everything goes your way. You are born with one of the most effective nuclear weapons, a baby’s cry. The moment you cry then it is your way or no way. In adulthood things are not the same anymore. Adulthood is therefore all about learning that you cannot always have your way. It is about learning to appreciate the gains and to take the losses on the chin.
Just before I sat to write this, EAC was waiting eagerly to hear that one of its finest sons, Ngugi wa Thiog’o was finally going to walk away with the coveted Nobel prize for Literature. That did not happen and those waiting seem to be losing the energy to continue hoping.
The prize went to French historical author, Patrick Modiano. The consolation is that here in East Africa we do not need to see a Nobel Prize for us to appreciate his immense contribution to literature. And I am sure he does not do it for prizes. The Nobel Peace Prize went to Malala Yosafzai who became an education activist after being shot in the head by the Taliban.
With Ebola still ravaging West Africa and cases being reported in the US and Spain, East Africa must count itself lucky for not having to deal with the disease so far. Sadly, Uganda lost another doctor to the deadly disease. John Taban Dada is the second Ugandan doctor to die in Liberia after Dr. Samuel Mutooro who died in July.
Another Ugandan, Dr. Michael Mawanda contracted the disease in Sierra Leone and was flown to Germany for treatment. It is so heartbreaking when a disease kills the people who are trying their best to handle the situation. Back home, Marburg which some have called a cousin to Ebola has been reported in Uganda with one death recorded so far.
With our cultures that are so generous with handshakes and hugs this issue of Marburg should not be taken lightly. It is commendable that President Yoweri Museveni clearly pointed out how people can minimise chances of getting infected with the disease or spreading it and indeed led by example, by not shaking anyone’s hands even fellow presidents.
Despite all the above East Africans have things to smile about starting with the fact that after all the talking, roaming rates are being slashed for real. Rwanda and Kenya have already done this and Uganda is expected to do the same next week while Tanzania and Burundi will also get with the programme soon.
Affordable rates for communication are crucial for integration. We cannot integrate when it is so costly to keep using our phones once we cross a regional border. In the same spirit, MTN Rwanda together with the sister company MTN Uganda are going to make it able for one to send money across the border on their Mobile Money platform. Tigo is already doing this with customers able to send money from Rwanda to Tanzania or the other way round.
While in Uganda, President Kagame joined President Salva Kiir and Eng. Michael Kamau to launch the Malaba – Kampala standard gauge railway.
Before heading to Uganda, for the independence celebrations, Tanzania’s President, Jakaya Kikwete had received a copy of the draft constitution and now Tanzanians are preparing for a referendum on the constitution. Like Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki, Jakaya Kikwete seems determined to retire after a new constitution is place for his people.
More good news on the aviation front is that apart from the fact that Rwanda is set to resume flights to Mwanza, Tanzania, FlyDubai is also joining the market with rates that are expected to increase competition at the regional level and hopefully bring down the fares too. However there is still need to for the governments to step in since the airlines blame them for the high airline industry taxes.
And by the way did you know that on September 19, Tanzania in a legal notice revoked the Foreign Investors Regulation of 2003 to allow foreign investors to purchase listed securities. Yes finally other East Africans can buy shares in listed Tanzanian companies. To me this is a big step in the right direction since Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda already moved in the same direction. The future is bright.