By David Himbara
The New Times mixed up things in its story titled ”Kenya plans Sub-Saharan Africa’s first cable car.” The proposed US$60 Million cable car project to release pressure off the Mombasa port ferry service won’t be the first in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). There is a cable car in Cape Town, South Africa. More to the point — Rwanda was supposed to be the second SSA to have a cable car. This is the famous Kagame’s Karisimbi US$38 Million cable car that was to become operational in 2015.
Here is how The New Times reported Kagame’s Karisimbi cable car in 2013:
”This project involves installing a cable car to facilitate people especially tourists to access the summit and it is expected to be operational by November 2015.
The cable car ride will provide a unique tourist product for the region, and help make Rwanda a tourist destination of choice…
Leitner a North American company and Doppelmayr, Austrian company both leading cable car manufacturing companies, have submitted their final technical and financial proposals that are being evaluated in the business plan…
The commercial viability of the cable project is a big challenge considering its up-front cost of $38m (Rwf25billion).”
Interestingly, Rwanda announced in 2016 that it had awarded the contract to build the cable car.
President Paul Kagame’s Karisimbi project included much more than the cable car — the project integrated four components. First, there was the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa’s Airspace Station to manage air traffic within the region. Second, was the Climate observatory Station to monitor climate change. Third, was broadcasting which is to enhance electronic communications and broadcasting services in Rwanda and the region. The fourth component was the cable-car. While the cable car was to be completed by 2015, the other three were to be completed in 2017.
The Climate Observatory component was supported by an MIT team of professors. MIT described progress in 2014 as follows:
”Rwanda and MIT are collaborating to build a world-class observatory on Mt. Karisimbi measuring climate change and the atmospheric gases forcing climate change; the observatory is ultimately to be run by local researchers. The project evolved from discussions in 2008–2009 between President Kagame, his ministers, and the MIT administration…
Access to the 4,500-meter-high summit of Karisimbi will be facilitated by a new cable car being built for eco-tourism.
So, The New Times, what happened to Kagame’s grand projects — cable car, observatory station, airspace, and telecommunications? Bring us up to date, please. It is wonderful to read in your pages about Kenya’s cable car. But we also wish to know what is going on with the Karisimbi cable car. We are now in the middle of 2018 — Karisimbi cable car ought to be running for the past two years and a half.