The sixth annual National Leadership Conference, ‘Umwiherero’ kicked off yesterday. President Paul Kagame is chairing the five-day Kivu Serena retreat being held under the theme, ‘Beyond Aid: Mindset for Delivery and Development.’
In his opening speech, yesterday, President Kagame, focused on the urgent need to rise above the culture of mediocrity by breaking from the status quo to end Rwanda’s dependency on foreign aid.
An appropriate position for discussion, by the over 200 delegates, as it resonates with the mood on the ground here in Rwanda and on the African continent.
Citizens are continuing to count the cost of aid on their livelihoods, questioning why when so much money is poured into the continent, African countries still lag behind, languishing in poverty.
Questioning the un-dignifying nature of aid reliance, as often the one with the purse strings calls the shots.
For sure, aid reliance soon turns into a political weapon as desperate governments, often get forced into unsustainable, contracts with western governments, just in return for development aid.
The dominant theme, amongst critics of aid dependency, is how it often perpetuates and exacerbates, Africa’s suffering, while not being the antidote.
A nexus also exists between development aid and trade agreements, in many of the multi-lateral agreements we are signatory to.
Those with the aid take with the left hand, through unfair trade regimes; what they have given in the form of aid, with the right hand.
It is this vein that Rwanda’s leadership has over the months pondered on the question of foreign aid seeking instead radical local alternatives, which include, developing the current private sector, increasing tax revenues and encouraging remittances by Rwandans in the Diaspora.
With the leadership will and determination, Rwanda is surely leading the way, for Africa, to shake off aid dependency, and climb out of the hole of poverty.