Banish all doubts, Rwanda is sure to be the Singapore of Africa by 2020
Article By Charles Robertson
A visit to Rwanda on 6th April provided the greatest positive shock in this analyst’s professional career.
If you have any doubt that an African country can emulate the best performance seen in emerging Europe or Asia over the past few decades, then please allow us to take you to Kigali to challenge these assumptions.
From the ease of visa-free travel and a well organised and hassle-free airport, to the reassuring presence of police and security forces, street lights, low crime, good roads and broadband (due from the end of this month), we suspect there will be much to impress you.
A side trip to see the gorillas would be helpful for the country’s strong tourism revenues, too.
To be a Singapore of Africa is Rwanda’s ambition – and in our view, it is succeeding.
The country is politically stable, with the next presidential elections due in 2017.
There is a zero-tolerance attitude to corruption, and we heard this is effective.
It was the world’s best reformer, according to the World Bank’s 2010 Doing Business survey in 2010, 6,000 companies were registered in this country of 11million people, about equal to the number registered over the previous five years.
Away with aid
Keen to do away with foreign aid by 2020, the country is a darling of the aid agencies, with highly effective implementation and use of foreign inflows.
We saw clear evidence of forward planning and a strategy for the country.
With access to a market of 130 million people in the East African Community (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi), Rwanda aims to be a hub for investment for both East and Central Africa.
Lastly, and much to the distress of any macrostrategist, we failed to find significant macro risks for the economy.
How is this happening? Undoubtedly, President Paul Kagame has played a very significant role, and we’d not be surprised if Lee Kuan Yew’s book From Third World to First has, as well.
Singapore in the 1960s had per capita GDP of around $400, was vulnerable to ethnic and ideological conflict in a region beset by wars, was excessively dependent on foreign aid (UK military bases), and most CEOs could not find it on a map – but it was transformed by vision, infrastructure planning, the creation of an economic development bank, industrial parks to attract investment, and even beautification of the airport and city to give foreign investors a positive first impression, all underpinned by sound macropolicies.
The Rwandan Development Bank, the use of privatisation proceeds to roll out a fibre-optic broadband network, and the recent launch of a Special Economic Zone for industry and technology and warehousing just a kilometre from the airport might all be seen as following Singapore’s example.
Like Singapore at first, Rwanda is keen to attract any investors and is changing its requirement that investors export 80 per cent of production, though an Indian pharmaceuticals company’s $60 million investment (worth 1 per cent of GDP) is targeted at exports to the region.
We believe the concentration of GDP in a small area – Kigali, the capital – could be a significant advantage.
What’s next? The government intends to turn Rwanda into a service economy and a conference hub.
The ongoing construction of a $300 million conference centre, a planned new airport and the privately funded Marriott hotel under construction will allow continued expansion of the roughly $100 million earned through business tourism (roughly the same value as tea and coffee, or all mining exports).
Roads have been upgraded across the country, including to Burundi and Tanzania, with a route to northern Congo to be finished in mid-2012.
The next transport projects include extending the rail line from Tanzania to Rwanda by 2015.
The government intends to boost power generation from a sufficient 85 MW to 100 MW in 2012, and as much as 1,000 MW by 2017 through tapping methane gas in Lake Kivu and using recycled waste.
It plans to improve energy supplies through extending a 1,200km oil pipeline from Kenya.
Access to Uganda’s oil production is possible from 2015-2016.
At present, all petrol is trucked from Mombasa, which is one reason why a litre of petrol costs $1.67 in Kigali (vs about $1 in the US); improved access to energy could dramatically improve Rwanda’s competitiveness.
On the fiscal side, the cabinet just approved plans to introduce a flat 15% income tax rate, for individuals and corporations, to take effect in 2012.
To improve the country’s skill levels, free schooling has been extended from age 12 to 15, and a German company has been brought in to continue the roll-out of colleges, which will focus on vocational skills.
In the meantime, Rwanda is open to immigration to provide the skills the country needs.
The economy today is quite different from where Rwanda expects to be in 5-10 years. Services are expected to rise from 40 per cent to 60 per cent of GDP.
Today agriculture represents a third of GDP, half of merchandise goods exports and 35 per cent of the Per Capita Income basket, and it employs 80 per cent of the population in largely subsistence farming, with high dependence on the short and long rainy seasons that do so much to drive inflation – in December, inflation ended the year at zero, due to ideal weather in 2010.
Recent value-added developments include fully washed coffee beans that sell at twice the normal price, and a move into horticulture that may challenge export players, from Kenya to Colombia.
Land reform, the application of fertilisers and allowing land titles to be used as collateral might all support the country’s ambitions to become a regional exporter of agricultural products.
Mr Robertson is Renaissance Capital’s Global Chief Economist.
Brig. Gen. Frank Rusagara the Defence Attache at the Rwanda High CommissionUK gave a presentation at the African Agency in Peace, Conflict and Intervention one day seminar held at Birmingham University as part of the British International Studies Association (BISA) Africa and International Studies working group’s seminar series on African Agency in international politics.
The seminar explored the role of African agency in shaping both African and international responses to conflict and insecurity on the continent.
The Presentation: Military Integration – the Rwanda case study by Brig. Gen. Frank Rusagara (Rwanda HighCommission, UK)
We are meeting on the 17th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide – a key example of the failure of the international community and Africa to act and a lesson which may well be informing today’s response to crises in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire.
The Rwandan process of military integration before, during and after the
conflict has lessons for peace-building processes. Of three models of military integration (consent model;complete demobilization model; and coercive model) Rwanda most closely followed the consent model with ex-combatants fully integrated into the post-conflict army, although in this case the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) began this process before the end of hostilities.
For Rwanda this was centred on the traditional concept of Ingando: emphasising national interests above sectional ones and providing a focus
for dialogue, emotional un-burdening of combatants on both sides and accepting collective responsibility for the tragedy.
A central aspect of this case was the local ownership and management of the process, with a limited role for international agencies. Ownership and management in this sense referred to: the need for home-grown peace-building processes; making peace a positive-sum game; the need for local capacity in order to be able to say no to a paternalistic and patronising international community; and that the process should not be one of scapegoating but of collective responsibility.
The following questions and responses were raised in the discussion:
- Whose responsibility is it to develop capacity – society, the state or external actors?
- The role of the military is (and needs) changing from the colonial conception of military as guards of power to a more collective understanding of security in society
- The extent to which civil society can be brought into peace-building processes and the critical need for stability as a prerequisite for broadening out such processes
- Critical need for leveraging agencies that are often excluded or marginalised, particularly women, who can make a major difference to the dynamics of conflict resolution
For details of the full presentation or to discuss the presentation, Please email Gen. Frank Rusagara at firstname.lastname@example.org
Statement by H.E. Mr Ernest Rwamucyo,
High Commissioner of the Republic of Rwanda to the United Kingdom,
On the 17th Commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi, organized by the High Commission, Southwark Cathedral and the Rwandan Community in the United Kingdom
London, April 7th, 2011
Your Excellency, Deputy Secretary General of the Commonwealth,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners and Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Officials of the UK Government,
Members of Parliament and Lords,
The Leadership of Southwark Cathedral and the Rev. Andrew Nunn, Acting Dean of the Cathedral,
Friends of Rwanda and Members of the Rwandan Community
Today April 7th, 2011 marks the 17th commemoration of the genocide in which more than a million Rwandans were murdered.
From April 7th, 1994, for 100 days, darkness descended on Rwanda. Over 1 million innocent people were slaughtered.
The entire country was reduced to rubble. Innocent lives were destroyed. Dreams of young men and women, smiles of babies, the wisdom of the old, the talents and skills of able bodied Rwandans were all destroyed.
The very foundation upon which the Rwandan society was built was shuttered. Infrastructure was destroyed. Rwanda was a failed state.
Those who survived the genocide against the Tutsi were traumatised. Many were disabled. A large number of Rwandans were left with physical and psychological wounds.
Let me remind everyone that this is a genocide that should have never happened. It could have been prevented. But it happened and with catastrophic consequences. I only hope the world learnt something.
We are here to remember and commemorate the victims of the genocide against the Rwandan Tutsi. This act of remembrance is very important. It is a must and an obligation. We owe it to the victims and the survivors.
It is in remembering that we dignify those who were killed in the most in-humane way. Through this act of commemoration, we offer support and stand with the survivors who continue to endure untold suffering. This period of commemoration encourages survivors to tell their untold stories. This is an important part of the healing process.
Equally important, by remembering, we re-commit to ensuring that what happened in Rwanda 17 years ago, should never happen again. Never again in Rwanda or elsewhere on the face of this earth.
This requires unequivocal commitment from each one of us to make our individual and collective commitment to initiatives and actions that aim to prevent atrocities like this happening anywhere.
But in remembering, we must also forgive. Remembering while committing to forgive those who sincerely seek to be forgiven has been a key consideration in Rwanda’s search for unity and reconciliation.
The very foundation upon which the Gacaca courts were built as a form of reconciliatory justice, rooted in Rwandan values and culture, placed solid emphasis on dialogue, community ownership, truth and forgiveness. This was an important consideration for the sake of healing and reconciliation.
A compromise had to be made if we were to uproot the culture of impunity, administer justice fairly while taking Rwandans through a process of healing and building a strong foundation for a new and harmonious society.
A punitive, classical justice system would not have achieved this objective.
Your Excellencies, allow me to emphasize that;
For all Rwandans, this 17th commemoration is a time for us to pause and reflect further on the journey we are on of building a prosperous and secure future for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. We need to look back with honesty and ensure that the legacy of genocide is faced with truth and dignity. Then we can look forward with a deepened understanding.
The theme for this year’s commemoration “Upholding the truth; Preserving our dignity” aims to emphasize this fact.
For the survivors, dignity comes when their stories and experiences are witnessed and believed. Truth telling honours the victims and survivors.
This time of commemoration is a time for those survivors who have not yet told their stories to step out of silence and find their voice and share with others and find dignity in doing so.
Dignity and taking ownership of the tragedy by Rwandans in the aftermath of the genocide has been critical in rebuilding the country.
17 years on, Rwandans have picked up the pieces. The process of healing continues. Rwandans have been gracious in the face of despair. There is a determination to move on and not be bogged down by an unfortunate past.
Survivors of genocide and former perpetrators of genocide continue to live alongside each other. They go to the same church. Draw water from the same well. Their children go to the same school. They are members of the same producer cooperative and sit on the same village committees.
Rwanda has changed. It has changed for the good. The momentum of positive change in our country cannot be stopped.
Rwandans are very positive and optimistic about the future.
Children, who were born after the genocide stopped, have today qualified to play in the under 17 world cup in Mexico this summer, taking Rwanda to this precious tournament for the first time in the country’s history. Such is the hope and ambition of a new Rwanda.
Women are influencing decision-making and contributing to development.
The economy is growing. In 2010 alone, the economy grew by over 7%. Per capita income has doubled from US$250 in 2000 to US$ 540 in 2010.
The infrastructure has tremendously improved. Access to information and communication has greatly expanded with increased access to internet and mobile phones. 95% of the country is connected on the fibre optic cable for high speed internet.
96% of Rwanda’s boys and girls are enrolled in primary school and over 90% of the population has access to health insurance.
Rwanda is an active member of the East African Community. We are celebrating our first year as a member of the Commonwealth.
The country has zero tolerance for corruption and is focussed on results and accountability.
Tourism is booming. Private sector investment is growing. This year alone, Rwanda is targeting to attract new investments worth US$550 million.
The country is changing. Indeed the country has changed. It will continue to change and change for the better.
President Paul Kagame has to be credited for providing the country with visionary leadership. This has been of critical importance in giving Rwandans confidence, ensuring stability and inculcating a culture of hard work, self sacrifice and discipline that has steered the country through the darkest periods of our history to a more optimistic focus on the future. Every country emerging out of conflict needs this kind of committed and visionary leadership. Rwanda has been very lucky to have a leader of that calibre.
In concluding, I take this opportunity to thank our partners who have stood with us, believed in us and continue to support the various development initiatives we have undertaken to rebuild our country.
We assure you that in us, you have a principled and trustworthy partner. Our relationship can only get stronger and more fruitful for our common good.
I would like to thank the leadership of Southwark Cathedral and the Reverend Andrew Nunn for hosting us and organizing this commemoration event. Indeed Southwark Cathedral has become a home for the Rwandan Community in the UK where every year we gather to remember and commemorate our relatives, friends and neighbours who perished in the genocide. The Cathedral kindly offered to continue to host us for future genocide remembrance events.
For this, I would like to pay tribute to the late Venerable Reverend Colin Slee who suddenly died late last year. Colin Slee’s death was a huge loss to all of us.
He was a man with a big heart for Africa and a very good friend of Rwanda. He was passionate about development and championing the dignity of humanity. His towering personality will remain with all of us who had the honour of working with him. May his soul rest in eternal peace
For those who participated in the commemoration event last year will remember that Colin formally launched the fundraising for the project of a Permanent Genocide Memorial to be built here at Southwark Cathedral and a scholarship fund for Rwandan students. We are committed to ensuring that this project he initiated and was so passionate about will be successfully be completed.
I would like to thank all of you for standing with us.
Good News Rwanda!
CNN’s Richard Quest reports from Kigali Rwanda, where the city is attempting to position itself as the high-tech of East Africa
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Good News Rwanda!
”Transparency International said it was unable to produce a comparison of how Rwanda’s institutions fared because reports of bribery were so low – and no Rwandan organisation was included in the regional comparison.”
Read full article by following the link:
BBC News – Rwanda has negligible corruption – Transparency http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-10726324
Rwanda’s High Commissioner to the UK, Ernest Rwamucyo, has said that 17 years on, Rwanda’s development momentum for change cannot be stopped.
Rwamucyo made the remarks during a commemoration service in honour of the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in London on Thursday.
The event was organised in London by the mission in conjunction with the Southward Cathedral and the Rwandan Community in UK.
The service, which took place at the Southwark Cathedral in London, was characterised by testimonies from Genocide survivors, songs reminding the world of the never again commitments, lighting of candles and observation of a minute’s silence.
The High Commissioner stressed that the Genocide should never have happened, noting that it could have been prevented.
“We should remember the victims while making unequivocal commitment from each one of us to make our individual and collective commitment to initiatives and actions that aim to prevent atrocities like this happening anywhere,” Rwamucyo urged.
He underscored that remembering, while committing to forgive those who sincerely seek to be forgiven, has been a key consideration in Rwanda’s search for unity and reconciliation.
The envoy reiterated that the Rwandan people, today, are very positive and optimistic about the future.
He cited an example of children, who were born after the Genocide, who recently qualified to play in the under-17 World Cup in Mexico. He said that this was the first time in history that Rwanda would take part in a such a prestigious tournament.
The High Commissioner concluded his remarks by paying tribute to the late Venerable Reverend Colin Slee who died late last year.
Slee was instrumental in establishing a relationship between Southwark Cathedral and Rwanda. He initiated the project to construct a permanent Genocide monument in London to be built at Southwark Cathedral and establish a scholarship fund for Rwandan students.
The Dean of Southwark Cathedral, Rev. Canon Andrew Nunn, said that despite the world’s commitment to the ‘Never Again’ call, atrocities are being committed elsewhere on the African continent.
During the service, the acting Dean of the cathedral, Bishop Kenneth Barham narrated to the congregation how Rwanda has picked itself from a failed state to the most improved country, not only in Africa, but in the world.
The service was attended by UK Government officials, parliamentarians, members of the civil society, friends of Rwanda and members of the Rwandan community in the United Kingdom.
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