Steadily moving on to the next stage
If it wasn’t for this time of the year when we remember our beloved ones sacrificed on the altar of human insanity, I would fully call for rejoice! It is indeed with sadness that we remember the over one million souls brutally taken from us in the span of one hundred fatal and infamous days.
We have since then come a long way to reunite our People and rebuild our Nation. It is in that spirit that I still wish to share my joy about what I see as our victory over the evil masterminds and perpetrators of the Genocide who shamelessly thought we would never overcome. It is a victory indeed for us to be able to say with absolute confidence, 18 years after the fact: “we have come a long way”.
The year 2012 has indeed ushered a new stimulus to the Rwandan economy; introducing Airtel and Qatar airways. Who are they, dare you ask? Well, Airtel is ‘only’ the third largest telecom operator in the world and Qatar Airways is ‘only’ the recipient of “the 2011 World’s Best Airline Award”. The former is the new player to enter the Rwandan telecom scene and the latter just started connecting Kigali to the rest of the World. These two are widely expected to give their competitors a run for their money. Next in line: Turkish Airlines.
What’s so moving in these stories for us Rwandans?
First of all, these newcomers are a blessing for the much needed “connectivity” of our society, reinforcing our vision of development, building capacity in our vision to fight poverty and generate wealth. The obvious assessment one makes right off the bat is that of competition going up a notch; the immediate effect of which we hope to be of prices going south. Further in-depth analysis of the situation speaks of much wider and deeper implications for the development of our people.
Case and point: the airline carriers. The monopoly enjoyed for so long by major European carriers resulted in a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ of some sort on how to handle the African market. Average customer care at a somewhat affordable price seemed to be the name of the game. That is all about to change. We may not experience a significant drop in flight rates; our focus will, however, turn to the care we are given for the money we have paid. Yes indeed; customer care will be the deal breaker!
For about the same price and destination you’ll be able to experience five star airlines’ treatment. The management of the customer’s data and how it is handled will have to be clear cut. The aircraft in itself, its entertainment system, the personnel, the booking, the boarding, the catering and the miles fidelity card … all of this will have to be taken into account.
I’ve heard so many stories about people giving up on their fidelity cards from our usual airliners, swearing up and down that change is coming once Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways land in Kigali. That day has arrived and we are ready to change… for the better.
Beyond the fidelity card and the client care of the airlines there is also the hassle of getting a transit, a tourist or any visa from European countries with poor customer care for “EEC’s”, Extra- European Citizens. We can now skip that step and reach all our favourite destinations through ‘friendlier’ skies: for example, if your destination is the USA, we can now go there via Doha or Istanbul. The same if you want to travel or to export to Rwanda; forget Schengen, forget the hassle. And if you’re coming from a European destination, I still believe you’ll enjoy the five star treatment and love the difference. And these are only some lines of the whole scenario …
At this pace the international airport of Bugesera will come sooner rather than later; making even more sense for the railway to follow.
And this is exactly where it becomes interesting. To see how these new dealings between “Emerging Economies” and our continent becomes a boost for Africa’s development. It helps in providing us with a much wider view of the horizon than the one we inherited from colonial times and the cold war. Europe is not the “natural” anchor for Africa anymore.
These new economies don’t look at us as marginal but as a deeper penetration on world markets and a way to expand their development to stand bigger and better next to the usual players. Their impact on our economies can become a quicker win for the continent, for as long as we know where we’re at and want to go.
The upper impact is felt of course at the political level. As “Emerging Economies” increase in political credit and influence in global affairs, so will the visibility of our continent … gone are the days where Africa was dubbed the “dark” continent by her detracting colonisers. We have seen the light, and it’s pointed straight at us… Africa is the next stage!
Is it a coincidence that Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister was invited to attend the Second Meeting of Friends of the Syrian People in Istanbul? The recent Honorary Doctorate in International Relations given to President Kagame by the Fatih University in Istanbul tells of this new era of change in Africa. The citation, read during the ceremony, commended President Kagame for his active role in promoting peace and development internationally and for leading the reconstruction and transformation of Rwanda.
Eighteen years after the Genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda, I truly wish to share the sweet taste of victory and confidence in the future of our Nation; steadily moving on to the next stage.
The author is a media owner and journalist
Contact email: alberuda[at]gmail.com