President Paul Kagame has said that Rwanda’s approach to set medium and long term growth strategies has been crucial in sustaining growth and overcoming challenges.
The President was speaking, for the fourth time since 2011, at Harvard Business School’s “Microeconomics of Competitiveness” class taught by Professors Michael Porter and Laura Alfaro.
The class examined a case study titled “Rwanda: National Economic Transformation” that tracks the country’s development trajectory from colonialism and independence to conflict and post conflict reconstruction and transformation.
Kagame said that the last 23 years after the 1994 genocide Rwanda had set long term goals as well as immediate goals and backed them with actions.
In 2000, Rwanda set a 20-year strategy, Vision 2020, which set out goals for key sectors including as healthcare, education, and infrastructure development.
With the vision’s timeline lapsing in about two years time, Kagame said that it will be replaced by a 30-year strategy, Vision 2050, which is likely to be implemented in two 15-year phases.
“The starting point in developing and implementing strategies involve creating ownership among citizens so that they are at the forefront of driving development.”
Though there is help and support from various development partners, Kagame said that they should not take the place of citizen involvement and ownership otherwise the progress will not be sustainable.
“Help has been coming at different levels and continues to come, but at the end of the day we have to be united in our purpose about where we want to be and how to get there. Ownership is important,” he said.
“You do not want anybody to come and deal with your problems, even if you were to get help it would not be long term and it is not sustainable over time. What has been built by somebody else will collapse in a short time,” he added.
Highlighting the odds stacked against the country after 1994, which the government had to design solutions for, Kagame said that Rwanda was fresh from a tragedy, landlocked and with minimal skills and not many well educated people.
However, undeterred by the challenges, he said that the country managed to mobilize its citizens to overcome challenges. Among the actions in implementation was creating a knowledge based economy,, which has informed priority investments in education, healthcare, infrastructure and agriculture.
Kagame noted that over time, Rwanda has also worked to ensure that the private sector can invest in areas previously dominated by government. .
He pointed out that other ways long-term goals have been crucial in informing development include regional integration which saw Rwanda become part of the the East African Community and other regional organisations.. This has opened up the country and created more opportunities for citizens and businesses.
The president is a frequent speaker at globally renowned higher learning institutions where he is invited to give insights to Rwanda’s story. Many of these universities have formed diverse education and research partnerships with Rwanda.