The Japanese government has loaned the Ugandan government close to one billion dollars to build a bridge across the Nile River. This bridge will connect the Kenyan port of Mombasa with much of rural east Africa. The $99.3 million will be allocated to replace the older Owens Falls Dam bridge. Owens Falls dam provides the majority of hydroelectricity to the country, but was built in 1954, and after sixty six years, is beginning to show wear and tear. Fears about the bridge collapsing may have prompted Japanese generosity, as a collapsed bridge would paralyse the economies of not only Uganda, but Rwanda, eastern portions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan. Although construction won't begin until 2012, it could provide a boon to Museveni as a candidate in offering it as an example of running the state well. Taking six years to complete this bridge will give plenty of time for corruption and money to miraculously disappear, but at this point the project is a hopeful symbol for a lagging Ugandan economy that might be spurred by an improvement in the bridge's efficiency. Since most trade is transported by trucks throughout the country, a better bridge may provide faster shipment times and cheaper shipping overall. Japan is one of Uganda's major creditors for it's infrastructural development in areas like energy, water, and roads for the country.
By Margaret Nunne