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Global

Inbox GLOBALIST Ian Beales e Yellow Brick Road to nowhere Boom-time Africa is the new Land of Oz. Millions are quitting their villages to follow their local Yellow Brick Road to the nearest of the glittering Emerald Cities burgeoning across the continent, offering shining shopping malls and a new life of opportunity and hope. This is mass migration on a grand scale. But, for sheer spectacle, it is a mere sideshow to the animal kingdom’s great migration: two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle in thunderous, life-and-death annual treks over hundreds of miles through Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park in search of water and fresh feeding grounds. Not for nothing is it called the greatest show on Earth. Yet hosting this vast show has created a cruel dilemma for Tanzania. For, while it is home to one of the world’s richest eco-systems, it is also one of the poorest nations on Earth. It too would like to see improved transport links to stimulate economic growth. And there’s the rub. The Tanzanian government wants not just a metaphorical Yellow Brick Road to a more prosperous future. It wants a real one, not perhaps yellow or brick, but bitumen-paved, to link the northern tourist centre of Arusha to Musoma on Lake Victoria, slicing through 33 miles of the Serengeti National Park. Right through the path of the great migration. The proposal to turn the current dirt track into the Serengeti Highway has sparked years of outrage and uncertainty at home and abroad. Foreign governments, scientists and a sophisticated environmental lobby warned that a major highway would devastate wildlife, reducing numbers by up to 70 per cent, through physical obstruction, road-kill and increased access for poachers; causing the migration to collapse and degrading the whole eco-system. Travel operators warned of a serious threat to the Tanzanian tourist industry – the tenth largest in Africa and growing fast. Opponents of the scheme scented victory when in June the East African Court of Justice – covering Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda – ruled that a paved road would be unlawful. But that was shortlived. In July, Tanzania lodged notice of an appeal against the judgment. There is also a gaping loophole. The judgment did not automatically disallow a proposal to upgrade the seasonal dirt track to an all-weather four 8 l www.global -br ief ing.org th quar ter 2014 global


Global
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