No potholes for World Cup

South Africa has really incredible infrastructure.

Visiting from the airport to the highways to a dorm room in rural Rhodes University, you can almost feel that you’re in Zurich or Illinois i.e. in Europe or America, but not in Africa. Especially when your seat-mates on the plane are school kids flying in uniform back to their boarding schools, fresh from holidays in Spain and playing video games on new Sony vaio laptops.

Toyota corolla’s that are ex-Japan or via UAE (known at Dubai cars) are the most common cars in Kenya. Here in SA, its’ small Mercedes, BMW’s, Citroen, Opel, Peugeot’s and Toyota cars – many coupes and hatchbacks, with very few SUV’s on the road which indicates small families and good roads.

Roads range from 3 lane highways in the city to good equally good roads between towns that enable one to cruise in a matatu at about 100 km/h between towns.


One Kenyan commented on the (similarly good) infrastructure of Harare (Zimbabwe) with a joke that maybe Kenyans should not have been in a rush to independence and perhaps given the British more years to build up the infrastructure of Kenya.

So plan to be back in 2010 for the World Cup, Insha’Allah.

20 thoughts on “No potholes for World Cup

  1. Kagz

    I think i read s’where that you schooled in the US.

    If yes, what are the notable differences btwn SA & US.

    (All things considered, World Cup 2010 here i come…)

  2. coldtusker

    Exactly… You would have no idea it was in Africa at first glance!

    If you can go to Sandton (the financial district) & the JSE… Also see Nelson Mandela Square & you are in the USA with space, space & more space! Even more than comparable European capitals!

    Getting credit is easy as becoming bankrupt!

    SA folk love their cars… almost better to buy a car than a house! This is a problem for the economy that concentrates the money into fewer hands coz savings rate is low.

    I have heard & read (not seen) about the much better infrastructure in Harare… remember these were not the Brits but the White-contrlolled governments that built these roads (Ian Smith & the Afrikaners) since both Zim & SA were “independent” of Britain for many, many years…

    Well, the roads (according to my folks & grandfolks) were FAR better in the colonial days thru the 1960s in Kenya including the Nairobi-Mombasa road coz very few could afford to travel by air…

  3. Holy Cow

    Those south African folks are giving us competition in the tourism sector.

    I hear Kenyans Studying at Witswatersraand University have a place called “Moi avenue” where they meet and chat about home in Swahili.Anyway, What was your experience about xenophobia and the crime rates? Told Jo’burg is a super risky city.

  4. gathinga

    have you been to the jse?
    what kind of infrastructure do they operate? how many companie are listed, whats the $ mkt. cap, any recent IPOS. How does it compare to nse

  5. coldtusker

    toiyoi – Of course, we don’t hate you but the comment!

    Since you put it out there, I assume you have some “reasoning”, “argument”, “discussion” or whatever semantics are out there to support your view…

    Share those with us otherwise your comment makes no sense is simply inflammatory!

  6. toiyoi

    See the simple questions i raise in toiyoi.blogspot,( which by the way i created just because i like commenting on bankelele, but he is doing away with Anon comments and forcing me to be a blogspotter), which basically is asking:
    (i)Why the mirery in Africa?
    (ii)Why inability to control or find ways around simple environment issues such as lack of rain?
    (iii)If their leaders(or rulers) must “eat”, why milk the cow dry?

    Everyone in the world sees all thses. What does it all suggest?

  7. Kudrinketh

    Before we dismiss toiyoi’s comments as inflamatory, lets just sit back and be objective if we may.

    We all know that the level of corruption in Africa is very high, well, question is whether this is due to a culture of corruption or lack of legal enforcement?

    To disentangle these two factors, a study was done that took advantage of the presence of thousands of diplomats from around the world in NYC.Diplomatic imunity ensured that the only factor examined would be the cultural norm.

    Go ahead and guess which diplomats got the most tickets, yes you got it right;diplomats from high corruption countries have significantly more tickets.And what’s the number one factor impeding economic development;CORRUPTION!

  8. Ig-know-rant

    The infrastructure in Harare is excellent. Two year ago, we drove for two hours out of harare and i got to see no pothole. If you asked me, that’s the place to buy a retirement pad. Other countries with good roads would include Ethiopia (starting with the 7 one way lane highway in Addis!!)

  9. bomseh

    the bridges are also sights to behold.come to durban and experience the cool breeze and beautiful beachfront.
    infrastructure-wise, we cannot reach SA’s standard.

  10. aJamaa

    How long have u been in SA for banks?

    I have been here for the last four months so I have gotten a real feel of their culture, workings of their economy and generally how they do their stuff.

    I have never been to Europe or the US so I can only compare their roads with East African roads and there is a distinct difference. They have highways with up to three lanes going one way. But the roads leading to the equivalent of Githurai where a significant number of black guys live are not that good, they are like Uhuru highway.

    Power blackouts were unheard off until earlier this year. A Kenyan working as an IT Manager once told me that he had hard time convincing his MD to invest in a UPS when he started working here since there were never any outages, power surges e.t.c After two months he gave on the idea since he had not experienced any problems with power for the three months he was there. But like I said that was until this year, when a nuclear power plant in Cape town broke down and they had serious outages which led to all sorts of mayhem since people did not have generators, hurricane lamps and such other items an ordinary Kenyan has to keep in their homes.

    As for telecommunications, they have a terrestial line service provider called Telkom that is very similar to their Kenyan cousins. I had to wait 21 working days to get a line fixed. Their mobile phone companies are not very different from their Kenyan counterparts, in terms of quality. Vodacom is leading provider in terms of customers (around 17m including guys in Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana) and it does suffer network congestion. A distinct difference between their mobile phone companies and Kenyan companies arises in pricing. It costs my bro 10/= to send me an SMS while it costs me 20/= to reply to him. A Vodacom to Vodacom call from a prepaid tarrif costs 30/= and 10/= off peak while an SMS costs 8/=.

    Contract and credit driven
    Everything here is contract driven. If you want to join a gym you need to sign at least a one year contract, to rent a house you need to sign a one year lease. To gain membership a video store you need proof of residence a.k.a a lease and then you can only borrow a video for one day. Most items are paid for on a monthly basis including insurance. And since most payments are by debit order a guys salary is gobbled up as soon as it checks into the bank.

    Credit is easily accessible. Banks are falling over themselves to give overdrafts, vehicle financing, mortgages. And the South Africans have not shied away from taking up the debt. Clothing shops even offer credit. Basically a guy is suppose to walk into a shop, indicate he would like to open an account, and after a credit check the shop extends him a few months credit. It is beyond me how a guy can leave knowing his socks are on credit.

    As a result an ordinary South African’s life is greatly impacted by interest rates.
    In the last four months interest rates have gone up by 1% and everyday I hear my workmates complain about how expensive things are becoming. By the way interest rates are still controlled by the Central bank. The current rate is 11.5% which is even cheaper than a SACCO loan in Kenya.

    As for the banking industry. I provided a detailed account of my personal experience opening an account here

    It is true that they do not have Dubais and that there is very large proportion of BMW’s, Mercs, Jaguars, Audi’s Posche’s e.t.c But what is not true is that these are the kind of cars most South Africans drive. I n my assessment (based on observing the car infront of me, behind me and beside me and cars at parking lots)for the last four months, most South Africans drive small 1.3l engine Toyota’s, VW Citi Golfs, Opel lites, Nissans, and Hyundai’s. In my view the reason that one may think that most South Africans drive BMWs and Mercs is that their is a higher proportion of these cars than in Kenya and these models will of course stand out.

    The comment that Kenya may have had better infrastructure if it had remained a British colony is probably true. But its also probably true that most of us would have been living in some reserve in North Eastern and that the highest station we could aspire to achieve is being a shamba boy or house boy, and so would never enjoy the full benefits.

    South Africa is a rich country. And there are many extremely wealthy people. Historically the whites who make up around 5-7% of the population controlled all aspects of the economy.

  11. coldtusker

    Unlike in the past, the same resources need to be spread over a larger population.

    Nevertheless, it does beg the question (look at toiyoi’s blog)… could S.Africa achieved the level of sophistication (esp economic & political) if it had become “independent” (majority rule) in the 1960s (like Kenya, T, etc)…

    Most African nations are failures when compared to most of the other countries (except Latin America).

    Imagine how pathetic the situation would have been in Zimbabwe if mugabe had been the prez since 1965!

  12. bankelele

    Kagz: Yes US, but it will take more time to compare the US and SA, if that is possible at all

    Coldtusker: Unfortunately could not make it to Sandton. One thing with the infrasture here, a car si an absolute necessity (like in most parts of the US)

    Holy Cow: They are on a grander level, but arguably (&open for debate) we have better tourist attractions – but we don’t realise it.

    Gathinga: Didn’t reach JSE. maybe next time

    bomseh & Pesa tu: It’s what a road should be like

    toiyoi: We are in the 21st century. Am sure if we had the resources SA had, we’d have had much better infrastructure. Am sorry about the anonymous comments, but it was difficult to respond to them (I may return them at some point)!

    Kudrinketh: Even with the corruption we have, having SA-like resources would have put us on the map in a big way

    Ig-know-rant: I plan to see the Victoira Falls before I drop off

    aJamaa: Just a week so you’d better please enlighten us on your observations and we can interact more later on SA life.

    Have seen US and Europe – and even there infrastructure in poor communities is not as good as in the richer parts of town(s). On communications, other delegates complained about teh vast ineffciensice of Telkom (SA) and that SA had among the highest communications costs in the world (& one reason they are so keen on EASSy)

    A contract (i.e. post-paid) /subscription system for most services is very similar to US & Europe and is indicative of a established credit/rdference system – credit is also over-estended to those with good ratings/income, while the poor have to pay higher interest rates

  13. boyee4

    Men! I hav never been to johans but reflectin “no potholes for world cup”
    the same case to the delegates who are
    on a summit in Nairobi-” No potholes for Africities”

  14. coldtusker

    boyee4: No potholes is 4 years PRIOR to the World Cup! Expect even better roads before the WC. When I was in SA (April 2006), they were building NEW roads leading to Soweto since this area will a popular “tourist” mecca esp the Mandela house!

    A tip: The house was an anti-climax but my fault coz what was I expecting? A palace? Cost me R20 for a 10 minute tour!

  15. Kagz


    Kindly allow me to answer you on his behalf…

    -Go to & log in using your username & password

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    -Put the name you want (Jakarumba) on the “Display Name”.

    -Scroll down and hit “Save Profile”

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