The Lubumbashi connection – A trip in DRC, the real africa…

Public services VS private services in Africa

We are used to live with very good public services in Europe, like public transportation with buses, trains, metro and tramway, but also garbage collection, police, post office, retirement, education and many more. And, of course, we pay a lot of taxes to fund those services, up to 70-80% of a monthly wage as an average in France for example. Yes, that’s huge and I call that spoliation.

But it’s very useful and when you don’t have it anymore you regret because you need to organize it yourself in a private manner and pay for it. In most countries of Africa, public services don’t exist, mostly because the public authority is absent except the army and the police (if we can call them like this…). And it’s easy to understand why.

To pay public services, you need to raise taxes and to be able to collect them from people or businesses and to rely on an efficient and uncorrupted administration. It takes decades to put in place such an organization and a stable political situation is mandatory. There’s one tax that is relatively easy and quick to put in place and to collect: the V.A.T. that exists in many African countries, even the poorest or the least well-organized.

I took the following picture in Lubumbashi in 2012. This city is located in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This province is close to old British colonies like Zambia and is cut off from its capital by a thick forest that can not be easily crossed.

While the whole country was colonized by the Belgium for 52 years and adopted the driving on the right, most cars in Katanga have the wheel on the right side like in UK but drive on the right side of the road. It’s a bit disturbing at the beginning but it’s quite easy to understand why: it’s easier to import cars from Zambia which is a left driving country than to make them arrive from the port of the DRC!

These 2 photos are an example of a private garbage collection service locally created and it is not a public concession left to a private company. This is because the public service doesn’t exist that private people did it by themselves to earn money. This guy and his motorcycle comes once or twice a week to collect all your garbage and you pay his company to do this.

I don’t really know if they recycle the garbages but I wouldn’t be surprised that most of the discarded things are reused by people.

2 Comments on The Lubumbashi connection – A trip in DRC, the real africa…

  1. Interesting post, with a balanced point of view…

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