As stated multiple times, Rwanda must own its development. The great nations of today built themselves up through development of strong, private but nationally-interested companies.Terracom was supposed to be one of them. Promising 300 fiber-optic-linked schools by the end of 2006, we near the end of 2007 with only one-third connected.
Now Terracom is gone from Rwandatel, and the country’s national telecommunication service is up for grabs. Companies from as close as Uganda to as far as Jordan are setting their sights on a $12-20 million business.
The fiasco with Terracom, and February fallout with gas company Dane Associates should alert Rwanda to a potentially damaging, yet still infantile problem that is reoccurring.
Rwanda has opened itself up for business 13 years after having no business at all.
The results have been nothing short of astounding. This past May, the Rwanda Investment and Exports Promotion Agency (RIEPA) held its fourth annual banquet in the newly-renovated landmark Serena Hotel, attracting thousands of businessmen and women from all corners of Earth.
Ambassadors, movie stars and music moguls have come to the country, praising its leader and people.
But we need a very clear and workable approach doing investor business if we are to avoid embarrassing results. When companies and entrepreneurs come to Rwanda, it is up to us, not them, to make sure they do not treat the country as a financial squatter camp.
Just because our country is open for business does not mean it will give away its treasures willingly.
There is little doubt in economic theory that the private-sector is more efficient and potent than any public or federal agency.
But Rwanda obviously cannot only look out for the business side of things.
The risk the country has run in so generously opening itself up for investment is that potential business deals, especially those of the Terracom/Dane Associates nature, seem to be more in the hands of the investors.
Let us make sure that this time things are done so professionally that even if there is a foul up later, we only lose the time, but not the money, as far as stalled projects go.
Investors should know they stand to gain so much if they invest here, but also that there will be no brooking incompetence, which must be paid for should it rear its ugly head.