• Private Sector development tops press conference
URUGWIRO VILLAGE - President Paul Kagame yesterday appreciated former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair’s contribution towards building the capacity of government institutions, strengthening good governance and attracting investment to Rwanda, over the past year.
Kagame who was addressing a Joint Press Conference with Blair at Urugwiro Village, said that significant progress, as demonstrated in the quality of work, policy implementation and skills sharing had been achieved since Blair’s team arrived in the country a year ago.
“What I would like people to know is that the type of partnership we have with Tony Blair is totally different from the type of consultancy people are used to,” said President Kagame.
He added: “We work in very strong partnerships whereby not only gaps are filled where they exist, but there’s also the notion of transfer of skills, mentoring, actually doing things that are measurable such that over a period of time, we will be able to know what kind of impact was made.”
Blair, who is also the founder of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) said that Rwanda has registered remarkable achievements over the last 15 years, in terms of good governance and economic growth, adding that the country has positioned itself as one of those with great opportunities for investment.
“It’s easier to tell people today than it was a few years ago, that Rwanda is a favourable place to do business. The President has always said it himself, when people come and see what is happening on the ground, they can gain confidence to come and invest,” said Blair.
“Of course there are still some challenges but the opportunities are clearer today. I personally tell people of the opportunities available in this country, thanks to the leadership which has made it possible.”
Asked whether the strategy should be market liberalisation as fronted by some Western ideologies, Blair responded that he is in favour of enabling the current government to do what it can do to steer the economy ahead while empowering the private sector at the same time.
He added that there are certain things which can only be done by the Government yet a strong private sector with strong enterprises is equally needed, hence the need to strike a balance between the two (Public and Private) sectors.
On Rwanda being wrongly implicated in reports by certain human rights watchdogs, Blair said that Rwanda has come through difficulty and tragedy but the current leadership has been able to take the country to a new level of development.
“Really it’s not about putting the past behind us but what the future ahead means for this country, the capability. Unique circumstances prevail in Rwanda following its recent history and the current leadership places highly the issue of stability, for the benefit of its people,” stressed Blair.
“I think people from the outside don’t quite understand it. But as someone who has been here, looking at the progress the country has registered, stability is key in keeping these precious achievements intact thus the country has done what it has done without putting the achievements at stake, which is right in my opinion,” added Blair.
He added that his team of nine experts who have been working in the country since July 2008 is impressed by the quality and determination expressed by their Rwandan counterparts; adding that Rwandans have proved to be more visionary since 1994 and are aware of what their country is expecting of them.
“From what I have learnt working in different countries, I find working in Rwanda very rewarding actually, the country has to look beyond its historical past and realise what lies ahead,” noted Blair.
Kagame and Blair acknowledged that despite the remarkable achievements, there is still a long way to go, in as far as empowering the Public and Private sectors to reach their maximum capacity is concerned.
Blair pledged to continue working with the Rwandan Government and its institutions to ‘see things done’ and in the right way.
Kagame said that the Government is determined to support the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) such that all these weaknesses in service delivery are ironed out to enable a good investment atmosphere.
Blair last year offered to become an advisor to President Kagame and the government of Rwanda on policy issues resulting in the dispatching of a team from his office to the country.