Africa: A week of Firsts

11.11.2012. In Africa’s everlasting development quest there are many ‘firsts’ to be recognized and perhaps even applauded. From commuter trains in Dar es Salaam to the appointment of Somalia’s first female Foreign Minister, this week marks many new beginnings on the continent.


Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan, is the first Somali woman to be appointed Foreign Minister in Somalia. Adan is one of ten politicians joining newly elected Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon’s cabinet. The September election was considered the first fair poll in more than 40 years. Adan believes her appointment “turns a new page for the political situation of our country and will lead to success and prosperity.” However, given the complexity of clan history and the opposition of the Islamist group, al-Shabaab (who argues the recent election was ‘manipulated’ by surrounding countries and the West), Somalia’s political and social future is still in a state of instability.


Also in Somalia, are the first streetlights lining Mecca Mukarama Avenue in the Somali capital Mogadishu. The Norwegian government donated the solar powered lighting system. The reconstruction project, one of many under the newly elected government, marks the first time the city experiences both light and safety after more than two decades of civil war and darkness.


The first commuter trains in the Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam, carried Transport Minister Harrison Mwakyembe and passengers on its maiden journey this week. The trains aim to relieve congestion in the city as well as prove cost accessible. Mwakyembe remarked the trains signify the “beginning [of] the new era of providing services in the city”.  Officials recognize a myriad of challenges face this project but more importantly debunked a common development myth—that foreign operators are essential for the success of a local project.


Whether of political, social or infrastructural significance, these examples remind development scholars and citizens alike that the face of development is always multifaceted and interlinked. For example, streetlight can exemplify the role of foreign assistance, the need for local security, and the impact of small development projects on the daily life of citizens.



Picture: Wikimedia Commons


Alex McPhedran