Unveiling of the 49-metre tall African Renaissance monument statue in Dakar, Senegal

Monday, April 05, 2010

NRK has a short video here of Dakar's new monument, a statue of 49 metres in height, which every article one can find fails to neglect to mention is a bit higher than the Statue of Liberty (46 metres), though when the pedestal is included the Statue of Liberty reaches 93 metres...but then again this new monument also seems to be on top of a hill...anyway, they're both big statues.

Total cost: $27 million or 20 million euros, and a symbol of 50 years of independence. It is no surprise that some are calling the statue a waste of money. Is it? Well:

Senegal has a GDP per capita of $1066, which makes the cost of the statue equivalent to that of the salary of 25,328 people over a year. Comparatively speaking, this would be the equivalent of a project in the US costing a bit over $1 billion.

But then again these comparisons can only go so far as if the statue does end up becoming a tourist destination the $27 million spent to construct it would seem small in comparison. Future economic growth in Senegal is also a factor, as if the country can work to bring more and more people out of poverty (and construct nuclear power plants by 2020 as it plans) over the next decade or so the cost of the monument will pale by comparison, and if not then it may end up as a huge boondoggle and symbol of government waste. The Eiffel Tower is a good example of the former, and Kim Il-Sung statues in North Korea that light up the night sky while other parts of cities stay dark (you can see it from Dandong in China when night falls and Shinuiju - 신의주 - on the other side of the Yalu River becomes dark except for the big statue and a few pinpricks of light in buildings) are probably the most extreme example of the latter.

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