13 thoughts on “Development is hard

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  3. Just a thought, as a counter you could post a couple pictures from the Shanghai riverfront.

    Also, love the blog and as a fellow Oklahoman appreciate the intellectual thought emanating from the mid-south-west (wherever the heck we are).

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      • i think the mountain became concrete. seen many mountains dissapear in my life.

        I think this clearly leads one to beleive that development has occurred. kaboom!

  5. I spent a few days in Mbale in late 2013. It’s a pleasant little town, with a good number of old buildings that indicate a past when it was a more active trading town. There’s an excellent business hotel (by rural African standards, although ownership appears to have transferred from the South African chain Protea to a local group since I was there), and I’m happy to report that the mountain in the background isn’t always obscured by dust and haze.

    What people don’t seem to realize, though, is that Mbale’s decline — insofar as those pictures accurately depicts it — is actually a triumph of free market economics. The people living around Mount Elgon produce some of Uganda’s best (and most valuable) coffee. Before the 1980s, coffee marketing was controlled by the government, which led to significant value being captured by intermediaries rather than going to farmers. When Museveni took over, coffee marketing was liberalized dramatically (along with the rest of the economy), which has led to competitive markets for coffee in rural areas and higher farmgate prices than they would otherwise receive. Today, smallholder coffee farmers in Uganda capture a higher percentage of the export value of their coffee than any other African country, so much so that coffee is smuggled across the border from Kenya (where the export price is generally higher, but the market is heavily regulated) to be sold in Uganda.

    So Mbale’s hard times are likely a result of the fact that farmers, who live in the countryside, are doing very well at the expense of intermediaries, who would be living in the city. Although it wasn’t immediately apparent to me, my driver, who hadn’t been to that part of the country before, remarked without prompting that he was amazed at how prosperous the area seemed, as illustrated by the availability of electricity, density of water sources, variety of products available in small shops, etc.

    I suspect that the picture dramatizes the current poor state of infrastructure in Mbale, though, because that road is almost certainly under construction — it wouldn’t be as well-graded and there wouldn’t be that pile of dirt in the middle if it wasn’t. And even if it isn’t about to be paved, I’m sure that anyone who’s spent enough time on poorly-paved, potholed African roads will agree that a well-maintained dirt road is vastly preferable.

  6. Kicking out the managerial class in the 1970s during Ugandinization probably didn’t help, although it can be understood.

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  8. Develop can definitely be hard, but it is not impossible, so we should always go with such mindset, it is possible to do anything if one wishes to do it, but if we don’t want to then we can find 100 excuses, I am very fortunate that I work in Forex market, it allows me to have great develop and teaches me how everything is possible in life with determination and I have 100% support by 11 times award winning company OctaFX, so my task is much easier!

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