Over dinner in Tanzania at our house in Kendwa (read my other post: Guests!), we talked with Yahya about many different things. Alex asked Yahya what he thought Tanzania needed the most. Yahya replied with: “Good Governance.” Of course there are other factors including colonialism and the resources that a country had to begin with. Although I thought Yahya’s answer was very interesting.

While traveling in countries like Tanzania and India, I could see how that might be the number one thing those countries need. You need a good leader and good governance to work a healthy country. Even with one bad leader, fifty years of work to build up the country and its wealth could come tumbling down. A good example of this is Venezuela. Venezuela was one of the richest countries in South America until they had a bad leader. Their wealth was growing steadily, the country getting richer, until some bad governance came along. They had been growing for years since they became a country, and now they are only the eighth richest country in South America (note that there are only twelve countries in South America). They used to be in the top three richest.

Some countries need leaders who can bring that country’s wealth and prosperity back up. I certainly couldn’t be one of those leaders. I look at for example India. If I was the President of India, what would I do? If I put myself in the shoes of the leader who was destined to raise a country out from pit of poverty, I don’t know what I would do. In Tanzania I might want to make the roads better. I would need money to build the roads. Where would I get that money? And maybe the project won’t follow through, and then you have an incomplete road with wasted money. We have seen many empty, half-finished buildings like that. In India, How would I get the streets to be less dirty, and the roads less disorganized? Would I put up signs to tell people to drive slowly and more carefully? People might break those rules and think nobody’s watching. Would I then station police next to the side of the road, to give people tickets? The police might accept bribes, and then you have a whole new problem, so a solution needs to be reached for that too.

How would I further employment? How would I clean the Ganges river? How would I clean up all the trash? So many questions that I don’t know how I could do anything about.

Alex told me that when countries are behind it is hard for them to get ahead. When I look at Tanzania, I see how for a poor country it would be very hard to do something big for it. Where would you get the money? Where would you get the money to get that money? So many questions.

In comparison, countries like the UAE and Thailand seem to have had better governance. Dubai was very smart and did a lot to help their growth (read my other post: The Dubai Museum). Thailand also seems better off than Tanzania or India, and seems to be more advanced than their neighbors such as Vietnam or Cambodia. I think that this is the product of good governance. Dubai and Thailand have had better leaders that helped those countries move faster, while maybe not so much in Tanzania or even India.

I could compare many different country’s governance, like the European countries or even the United States. Each one has their own culture and way of governance that helped (or didn’t help) those countries and made them what they are today.

I bet there are also many countries around the world who need good governance. I think Yahya was right. with good governance, countries can improve, although on the other hand, bad governance can lead to further problems.

Below: Polluted river and poor trash managment in India are problems

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Below: Goverment efforts to improve plumbing and electrical systems in Stone Town

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Below: Thailand has more organized roads and services

Below: Dubai invested heavily in infrastructure