Common sense is very often a rarity in Africa

I was recently inspired by an article called “The Republic of Common Sense,” written by Kishore Mahbubani, an influential figure in Singapore, who argues that modern Singapore is the way it is today because it routinely values and applies common sense.

I was recently inspired by an article called “The Republic of Common Sense,” written by Kishore Mahbubani, an influential figure in Singapore, who argues that modern Singapore is the way it is today because it routinely values and applies common sense.

In reality, however, “common sense” is not so common; we tend to complicate ourselves when looking for solutions to problems. Common sense means using logic and paying attention to the obvious, yet this appears to be more difficult than it sounds.

But why? Having a clean city is obvious and logical for reasons of sanitation and civic pride, yet does not often happen. Having a private sector-led economy monitored by regulations that ensure businesses will thrive is logical, yet meets resistance across the world.

It would appear that the complex part of this “common sense theory” is translating it into reality, an area that Rwanda has inconsistently mastered in recent times.

A good example of Rwanda applying common sense is its cleanliness campaign which has put the country on the map; foreigners are amazed by it, but what is so surprising about being clean?

Another good example: as a Rwandan living overseas, I was proud to see the headlines that “tiny central African nation” is the world’s number one business reformer.

This is an achievement worth rejoicing and one which indicated to me the power of “Team Rwanda” who, through concerted efforts, is able to easily march through brick walls.

But I say that Rwanda has applied “common sense theory” inconsistently because it doesn’t make sense to me why these reforms took so long to implement.

Why didn’t we undertake them years ago? If we intend to be a private sector-led economy, indeed the starting point would be to improve the business environment by first implementing regulations that will ensure the success of businesses. Was such a simple point so complex to figure out?

Again, it is simply an issue of common sense, and we need to start thinking along these lines if we are to move forward and meet all of our ambitious development goals on time.

We do this by foregoing complicated development frameworks and models, and by looking for solutions from a sensible mindset.

In this light, a next step for “Team Rwanda” is to drastically overhaul the cooperative sector which, in my opinion, needs a thorough set of new regulations that will effectively unleash its potential.

I am convinced that this is a sleeping giant that just needs to be teased a bit for it to take center stage.

I have no words for the Private Sector Federation as yet, because even as a Rwandan I consistently struggle to understand its role.

That could mean starting from Square 1, and using common sense to first define what it is that the Private Sector Federation is supposed to be doing, and how.

Rwanda is fast becoming a business country of choice. With excellent business regulations, political stability, a welcoming environment for foreign investment and knowledge transfer, and low corruption, there has never been a better time for entrepreneurs to migrate and establish their businesses in Rwanda.

Rankings by independent bodies reflect the Rwandan Government’s efforts in providing public sector services that support growth of the private sector, and slow decision-making should never be a hindrance in this matter; with a clear mind toward simplification and faster implementation of appropriate policies and regulations, we are much more likely to achieve our economic development goals in the timeframe we’ve set for ourselves.

Does that sound too simple? Well, it’s just common sense.

liban.mugabo@gmail.com

 

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