Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Thin Line Between Creativity and Insanity

The Bongoland Prime Minister, Hon. Edward Lowassa is currently on an Asian tour. One of the countries he paid a visit to is Thailand. In Thailand, the PM was wowed by a rainmaking technology; the he ordered the technology to be applied in Tanzania. You can make reference to the original story yourself. Given the PM’s working style, I am assuming he made the remarks on the spot without…err...thinking or consulting.

Having visited Thailand myself, I was amazed that this country was capable of such a technology. The reason for that is that all I witnessed was spicy food, tourism, massage parlors and a lot of transactions involving other types of “massages”, if you dig what I mean. Obviously, rice production is one of the major things that Thailand involves herself in. I didn’t know that these dudes can make some rain through mixing chemicals. That should wow anybody.

So given the fact that Mtera Dam has been drying out, the PM saw a golden opportunity to come home with a success story. I guess he thought that this is bound to make the whole Dodoma and Iringa folks, dependent on the Mtera Dam, to be elated. But wait a minute! Some details should make you cringe, given the fact that we have been burned before.

Chemical rain, regardless of how the Thais drum it to be safe, needs to be tested. Thus when the PM orders the testing to be done in Tanzania – he is taking a huge risk for the entire Tanganyika…and Zanzibar. I am assuming he was operating under the kasi mpya mantra, but certain things do not require such an approach. The testing of such a process should be done by our very own chemists. I mean, if the process is such elaborate and the chemicals are widely known, the decision to order such a technology should rest with the Chief Chemist. Unless otherwise this technology was reviewed before the PM made the decision…which I doubt happened.

Another troubling factor with regards to the PM’s impromptu ordering of the “rain makers” is lack of clarity as to which national program, strategy, or policy this order falls under. Essentially, what I am trying to understand is whether this is one of the strategies drafted to improve agriculture, energy, or environment protection. I can rule out the agricultural focus, because even Mr. JK didn’t mention that . So what was PM trying to resolve? I am yet to understand that.

In simplistic terms, the rain that we would chemically make would solve the drought problems in Mtera. That is good, very good. However, ordering the Thais to come and shower the Mtera Dam with chemically made rain is just a quick fix to a long-term problem. I am sure the Mtera Dam dried out of factors that we can control. I can only theorize that the dam dried due to overuse through overpopulation in the area around the dam. Given the fact that Dodoma is a dry region, water would definitely pull folks close by. So my question is: why wouldn’t we deal with factors that led to the drying of the dam in the first place before embarking on a technology that could be harmful?

See as an auditor, I am trained to look for hidden detail. So when the Thai Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Suthiporn Chirapanda tells the Mr. Lowassa that “they had received such requests from Middle East countries, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka”, that raises major red flags. Essentially what the message from Dr. Chirapanda is telling is that this technology has not been applied anywhere else but Thailand. Had there been any practical application in any other country, Dr. Chirapanda would have said, “the technology is currently applied in Middle East countries, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka”. See the difference?

So the moral of the story is that the Thais are making Tanzania their guinea pig. Think about that.

If I were the PM, this is what I would do. I would nod through the presentation and tell the Thais of how I am impressed by their technology. But I would order a thorough review of Tanzania’s own experts before we get too excited. Furthermore, instead of letting the Thais drum up their “wonderful” technology, I would wait until there are proven applicability, safety and results from this technology. I would collect such a proof from other countries in which this technology has been applied. I wouldn’t go first in line to be burned by the Thais, for I know that there is a fine line between creativity and insanity. We need to fill the Mtera Dam, but not through unproven technology.

Do not get too excited, because that is just Metty thinking. Obviously, the PM has not heard the saying that “only fools rush in”. And in my world, foolishly rushing in is insane, unless the PM had information that I don’t.


Jeff Msangi said...

I love this kind of critical analysis expressing not only a point of view but also a proper direction.
I think one major disadvantage of kasi mpya mantra is that lots of decisions will be made "on a rush" purely on aspired political gains.
I am told JK is on his way to New York end of this month.Two times to the US within six months!What is he going to do out there,only him and his aides knows.Why did he come just few months ago if he knew there is another "trip" up North?Hold on,do you remember what the papers back home reported about that trip with flashing photo of him and GB?Political gains ah?
Only if they were normal...they would think differently.

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