President Paul Kagame’s mirage railway in back – surprise!

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Kagame says his global-trotting between 18 August and 7 November that begun with Rwanda Day in Atlanta, USA and ended in New Delhi is about mobilizing resources. For nearly three months? He has now claimed that top of his agenda is to bring railways to Rwanda – that is what he is hunting for in his global travels.

But hold on…it is important to draw lessons from Kagame’s history on the mirage rail in Rwanda before prematurely celebrating that he is looking for resources to build it by 2018.

Here is the gentleman’s record:

* Early 2000s, President Paul Kagame moots the idea of building a rail line linking Rwanda to the Tanzanian rail network to the Indian Ocean port of Dar es Salaam; He sees Burundi as part of the plan;

* 2005-2006 – Kagame persuades the African Development Bank (AfDB) to co-finance the survey of the rail route that would link Isaka, Tanzania to Kigali/Bujumbura; AfDB was to have covered 90%, with Rwanda and Tanzania covering 10%;

* 2007 – a leading American rail builder and operator, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), is recruited by the Rwandan President to assess the viability of the project;

* 2008 – United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) funds early investment analysis on a proposed upgrade to the Dar es Salaam to Isaka Railway; BNSF conducts an investment analysis;http://www.ustda.gov/…/Sub…/Tanzania/TanzaniaRail_111908.asp

* 2008 – President Kikwete announces that construction of the railway would begin in 2008, supported by BNSF;http://www.afrika.no/Detailed/16049.html

* 2009 – Kagame government confirms that not only is BNSF’s design of the rail already advanced, potential inventors to finance the project were already found.

* 2009-2013 – Not only was the rail forgotten, Kagame became arch-enemies with President Kikwete through whose territory the rail would go.

Here we are in 2014, and President Kagame is claiming that among the reasons he is global-trotting is to find money to build a railway! Would he find rail builders/investors in Altanta? In Abu Dhabi? Busan, Korea? Jakarta, Indonesia? New Delhi?

Don’t bank on any of these half-cooked and hasty pronouncements about building railways in Rwanda by 2018. This mirage will go the same way as Kagame’s Kigali-Dar lunatic express – dead things that are permanently on the drawing board.

Dr David Himbara

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