Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Just as the mobile phone bypassed the vastly expensive challenge of upgrading dysfunctional African land-line systems, a big push into rural-based aviation, aimed at moving crops from the bush to African cities and beyond, would leapfrog the problem of bad roads.

This requires some kind of Thomas Friedman memorial award.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Apr 13th, 2008 at 05:12:25 PM EST
We can give it an honorary [Moustache of Understanding Alert]

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Apr 13th, 2008 at 05:14:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why bother with rural aviation? Let's leapfrog directly to the 25th century, with a teleport network, having both bulk-commodity and family-sized access ports generously strewn about the continent. The magic of the market will surely bring this about, now that the demand has been created by my clever typing.

Sheesh. How much Stupid (tm) can one person have?

by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sun Apr 13th, 2008 at 08:14:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Teleport. Sure, at the moment you need a hypothetical spaceship with a hypothetical matter / anti-matter engine to run the sucker, but those are just technical details. Surely the market will incentivize those egg-headed people to make one that is more physically feasible with a better EROI.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Apr 13th, 2008 at 10:53:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's see. The implication of rural aviation in Africa is that subsistence farmers (they could be nothing else because, hey, no transportation infrastructure) should start growing something of high enough value to warrant air transport. That would be exotic mangos or flowers, most likely. These valuable yet inedible items would be loaded onto airplanes coming and going between a handy international cargo airport built in the middle of nowhere and I suppose somewhere in Europe. The planes would return loaded with what, exactly? What kind of food will these farmers be able to buy with their earnings so that they can feed their families? Anything worth putting on a plane from Europe to their fine new airport would be  no damn good to eat, and they couldn't afford it anyway. But makes economic sense for the flower merchants. They could undercut those greedy producers in Nairobi. Until, that is, the locals all starved.
by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Mon Apr 14th, 2008 at 12:46:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, the local producers produce food for subsistence, and flowers as cash crops, and the money from the flowers goes into mobile phones, which goes somewhere else ... China, Europe, the national capital, for the farmer it doesn't really matter who the yellow bellied surplus suckers are or what part of the globe they live in.

Oh, yeah, and the farmers are charged for the cost of shipping in the mobile phones and diesel generators to recharge the mobile phones, at the same rate that the flowers get charged, even though it is totally back traffic and in a competitive system would cost maybe 1/10 as much as the main traffic freight on the flowers.

Like I said, Pascal Zachary is stronger on reporting than on analysis:

Floral exports from Ethiopia are growing so rapidly that flowers theaten to surpass coffee as the country's leading export earner. In Kenya, tens of thousands of small farmers who live within an hour of the Nairobi airport grow French beans and other vegetables, which are packaged, bar-coded, and air-shipped to Europe's grocers. Exports of vegetables, fruits and flowers, largely from eastern and southern Africa, now exceed $2 billion a year, up from virtually zero a quarter-century ago.

All useful reporting ... when it comes time to see that there are serious risks involved if the agriculture is primarily for export, well, noticing that seems to be an exercise left for the reader.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Apr 14th, 2008 at 01:05:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Add in the ecological and resource-sharing problems when coffee plantations have been grubbed up to free land for flowers, green beans, lettuces, all requiring irrigation in countries that are short of water.

Unfortunately, it can happen easily when farmers have already been for years (even generations) in a colonial cash-crop system (coffee). Tell them they can make more per acre with another crop, and they'll go there all the more readily that they're accustomed to working for export only.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 14th, 2008 at 03:46:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
think radio-controlled hang gliders...

cowfart-powered zeppelins...


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Apr 14th, 2008 at 04:08:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, I'd rather think biodiesel powered river barges and grain, bean and vegetable powered bicycles.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Apr 14th, 2008 at 11:21:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series