It’s been awhile since it was revealed that the United Arab Emirates was again ready to dump its much-coveted Aid Grants to the Seychelles’ Government in the form of patrol boats, helicopter, a new $multi-million Coast Guard Base, coastal radar installation, etc to boost our military defence capabilities.
That the Seychelles’ coastal defence has always been boosted by foreign countries’ assistance is well established. After the helicopters from India, aged patrol boats from Russia and France of the 1980s, we now have the largesse of the UAE, who just happens to have Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s secondary “palatial” residence sitting astride the La Misère hills.
This surge of UAE assistance is relatively new, rising over our horizon about the time the ruler of the UAE took interest in our islands as a secondary home base! The Sheikh’s generosity spilled over into various sectors from IT, public infrastructure to health services, (including medical evacuation of teenage Praslinois bus accident victims). In 2009 alone, US$35.788M poured in (*) which translates into US$426 to each and every Seychellois!!!
What is it that has prompted the UAE to be so generous to us. It cannot only be about a boost to our national development!
We are an island nation of 80K souls, at 57th place on the HDI, with a per capita of over US$8900, and yet we stand 3rd place next to Tanzania (151st HDI, per capita US$550, population 43.7M) and Egypt (101st HDI, per capita US$2758, population 78.7M) in petro-dollar largesse? (*)
There must be something particular in our case that makes us stand out, with a larger begging bowl, far beyond the reaches of poorer countries, more deserving of the UAE’s generosity! Somalia (HDI N/A, per capita US$600, population 9.9M) and Kenya, (147th HDI, per capita US$738, population 39M) our two neighbours confronted with more serious development issues as well as the same plague of piracy, only qualified for US$9.147M and US$1.868M grant aid respectively
Let us not be duped! On the matter of our coastal defence, Al Nayan is probably more interested in, and arranging for, his personal security for when he will spending time in Seychelles, than he is in the host country’s petty matters of crumbling public infrastructures and defence against pirate activities.
I will not be at all surprised to see UAE military / naval personnel in charge of running the new coastal defence installations, with Seychellois dummies up front!