05 November 2006

Theft and corruption

You can't live 30 years in Tanzania and not be affected by theft and corruption. This past week I thought about both of them.

Theft becuase the price of copper doubled in the past year (or something like that) from its already high price. It now makes stealing copper wire more rewarding. My business that runs the ISP Arusha Node Marie "habari" has 100's of kilometres of copper cable around Arusha. It can get discouraging for our staff and me. We put askaris, we dig it down, we report to police, and we still get it stolen. I just got a message that 30 meters of plain UTP was stolen two nights ago. That costs us about $6! So what is he getting for it? 50cents? Crazy. We put it in the ground and they dug it up!

Corruption comes in when I think about theft as police dont seem concerned or do very little as we are not going to ply them with money. The leaders in Dar only seem concerned with making a nest egg for themselves and not work on getting people employed so they dont have to steal.

The current word on the street (and some press) is that the purchases of new generators for electrical power generation is a big scam. Maybe even the shortage is created, a scam so they can get something out of buying more generators. At times you can get cynical. Munka my best friend said the other day: "Tanzania is a country that recycles inefficiency". If you screw up and get caught stealing you just get recycled in government.

That is kind of negative thoughts but need to be said. In general though I am positive about Tanzania, but the above issues and others are there.

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