Now that it’s close to five years since Rwanda and Burundi were admitted in to the East African Community, it is paramount that we assess how we are faring in the integration process.
Are we now moving on the same footing with Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania? Or we are still trailing far behind them, or we are close to fitting in their shoes?
It is necessary to weigh ourselves and see how far we have gone in terms of education, health, infrastructural development, democracy and good governance and others that we may deem necessary for us to see ourselves in the same footing with the three original East African countries.
In this world of economics it is vital that we first assess how we are faring in terms of business opportunities to our people in comparison with other countries in the same integration process.
If we are to compare Rwanda with Uganda and Kenya in this regard, for instance, we most likely will find that Rwanda still has a large step to take in order to cope up with these two countries.
The level of investment in Uganda for instance is high as compared to Rwanda and Tanzania and, of course, not forgetting Burundi- which is still in the process of recovery.
One wonders whether investment policies in Kenya and Uganda are the most favorable to investors, when compared to the other East African Countries.
Our leaders must look into this matter and make sure that all the five countries in East Africa share a uniform investment policy so that we may, in due course, share the same investment and business opportunities.
When we compare Rwanda’s education system to that of, say Uganda and Kenya, you find that Rwanda still has a long journey to travel; especially since she adopted English language as a medium of instruction.
Many people still find it difficult to adjust to the English system but with the influx of Ugandan and Kenyan teachers, being attracted by better salaries in Rwanda, the problem will soon end.
Rwanda is the first East African country to remove issues of work permits to other East African residents that wish to work in Rwanda and as a result many Ugandans and Kenyans have flocked into Rwanda’s education system.
This will help in improving the quality of our education to the levels of Uganda and Kenya in few years to come.
However more educational personnel must be trained so that we may avoid relying on expensive expatriate labor. In terms of infrastructure development, Rwanda has taken even larger steps; further even than Uganda and Kenya, especially on roads.
It has got the best roads where you can drive for over 200kms without meeting a pothole. A lot of development has also been realized in the housing sector since 1996 with very amazing real estate investments that have greatly changed the face of Kigali City.
Actually in this regard Rwanda is doing better than some of the countries in East Africa.
Plans are also under way to construct a railway line that links Kigali to other towns in the region and when this is achieved transport problems will be reduced to minimal.
One wouldn’t therefore be wrong to recommend that the construction process of this railway line should be expedited.
On issues of democracy and good governance, Rwanda has not lost its sight on democratic values with all of her leaders’ right from village chiefs to top government political officials being elected by the population.
There are also various political organizations in the country majority of which have got representatives in the parliament as well as in the senate.
On this therefore, Rwanda may even be doing better than these other countries in the region. We must also remember that the major indicator of good governance and the rule of law is democracy.
A nation therefore that upholds democratic values is also well governed.
By and large, the size of the East African Community shoe is not too large for Rwanda to fit in. The journey covered so far makes us able to wear the shoe although we still need to work hard so that we may be able to take the same stride as the original three East African Community countries.