I’m pontificating about the poor state of African cities in this month’s Monocle. It talks about the problems of basic infrastructure – particularly water and electricity, internet and roads – and the lack of political will to change things. I’d post a link to the story but a) you have to be a subscriber to read it and b) they’ve decided to illustrate the piece on the web with a big picture of me staring moodily into the middle distance.
The day I had to file the story I popped out to the shops at 4.30. It had just stared raining so I took the car. By the time I reached the shopping centre – a short five minute drive away – the drizzle had turned into a monsoon. The roads, lacking any kind of drainage, had turned into rivers. By the time I tried to drive home the city had ground to a halt. Rush hour in Nairobi is normally quite bad, but add in rain and you’re going nowhere. It took an hour to drive home – and I was going less than a mile.
I got home to discover the electricity was out. Apparently the ferocity of the rain had knocked over a billboard, which had hit the main electricity line for Westlands. The lack of electricity meant the internet didn’t work. So I sat in the dark and called my editor at Monocle to epxlain why the article might be a little late.