Umushyikirano is an ingredient of Accelerated Change, says Rwandan development expert and entrepreneur

Juvénal Turatsinze is a development expert, entrepreneur and author based in Nigeria. J. Karuhanga.

Juvénal Turatsinze, a development expert, entrepreneur and author based in Nigeria, was in Kigali last week to attend his first Umushyikirano (National dialogue).

Shortly after attending the 16th National Umushyikirano Council, Turatsinze who has authored a new book, “The Formula for Accelerated Change” talked to Sunday Times’James Karuhangaabout his first Umushyikirano experience.

Most importantly, he expounded on his unique formula for accelerated change and how Rwanda can accelerate development and attain the targets of Vision 2050.

Below are the excerpts:

This was your first attendance of the annual Umushyikirano, Tell me about that experience?

As a Rwandan in the Diaspora, my first participation in Umushyikirano 2018 was an exceptional experience. Before, I had followed it online live or watched recordings, but attending it and feeling in reality its spirit shifted my mind and gave me a strong belief that Rwanda is on the right path of becoming a great nation in the world.

How was it organised?

The organisation was outstanding and time well managed.

Any quick take away from it all?

My surprises started with how you approached me [online] for an interview earlier. The way things moved so fast. I said to myself this is ‘The Rwanda of Today’, and I gave you my answers in just three minutes and the interview was done.

To my surprise, I was featured in the next day’s issue of The New Times under the title: ‘’All set for Umushyikirano 2018’’ where I said that I came to listen, observe and learn. Indeed, I later learned a lot.

Before Umushyikirano 2018, when had you last visited Rwanda? How did it feel being home again?

I left Rwanda to work abroad as a consultant in 2004 but I come back regularly, once a year for a week. But every time, I get surprised with the positive changes on the ground. As a development worker, I see much development and progress when I compare with countries where I have been working, mainly in West African countries like Liberia, Guinea, and Nigeria.

What things excited you and your Diaspora group?

The day before Umushyikirano, Rwanda Diaspora participants got a message on our WhatsApp group convening us to meet at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 6 am on day one, Thursday. By 7am more than 100 participants from the Diaspora were gathered and buses were ready to take us to Kigali Convention Centre.

While waiting, some who have participated before started to ask when we are getting badges, but no badges came. Welcome to paperless Rwanda! Always expect changes.

When we reached the Kigali Convention Centre all was done digitally, our IDs were scanned, and by 8.30 we were all seating and chatting comfortably in this magnificent hall with its amazing roof. In our seats, Diaspora members looked very excited but with high expectations.

What can we say was the most interesting part or session for you?

The event started with the opening remarks and the State of the Nation address by the President, followed by the report presentation on the previous Umushyikirano by the Prime Minister and then a topic discussion panel.

All speeches were very short and straight to the point. The most interesting part came when a session of questions and answers from the audience, different sites in the country; Nkombo, Kirehe, Huye, and others, from abroad through social media.

Every Rwandan from everywhere was given an opportunity to engage, make a contribution to any issue raised. As a development expert, I observed the highest level of people’s participation where every citizen can engage directly with national leaders, including the President to find, together, solutions to national problems.

And, on a personal level, what was your mission?

My personal mission to Umushyikirano was to experiment “The Formula for Accelerated Change’’ that I have recently developed and put in a book with the same title.

Shed more light on this formula, please.

The formula (VxP²xAxT=C) translated as ‘Visionary People Together in Action over Time make Change.’ When people work together with the same vision the outcome is squared.  So, visionary leadership and people working together are critical factors because they allow synergy, accelerate change and produce an exponential growth.

Fine, bring this closer to home; in the Umushyikirano discourse, for example. How was it demonstrated?

The importance of these factors was demonstrated during a debate on VUP loans on the second day. When the President called an unexpected panel of the Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Minister of Local Government and the Governor of the Central Bank, and said that he was going to play the role of the moderator, he demonstrated his highest quality of visionary leadership.

He questioned the ministers and the Governor and proved that goals set for the VUP loans was lost when the fund was handed over to SACCOs to manage. The fund was created with the Government’s money as an instrument with a purpose to lift the poorest citizens; Ubudehe category one and two, from poverty.

The President highlighted that the confusion was a result of limited coordination and not really ‘working together’ that are necessary to have a common understanding and take concerted decisions and actions towards achieving a shared national vision.

And, generally, what does Umushyikirano attest to you?

Overall Umushyikirano 2018 proved that Rwanda can accelerate development and attain the targets of the Vision 2050. Reaching the GDP per capita of $12,467 in 2050 is very ambitious or seems impossible, prominent economists would say.

It will require a sustained economic growth of 10 per cent per annum over the next 30 years. That is unrecorded in history, except maybe by China. So, how is Rwanda going to do it with its multiple and well documented challenges, such as large population, small market, limited exports, unskilled youth, and so on?

You are the expert here. That’s the question I need you to answer…

Despite those challenges, it is possible and the formula proves it. Let us assume that 2,000 people who took part in Umushyikirano 2018 are walking in the shoes of our President, as visionary leaders, they understand, commit and act as him at their respective positions and levels, be it ministers, governors, district mayors, sector executive secretaries, cell and village coordinators, leaders in private sector and civil society.

In the current positive and conducive environment, 2,000 visionary leaders could deliver 32 million people with improved lives and out of poverty by 2050. The output is calculated as follows: Vision is given a value of 2 as an average vision targeting between 1,000 and 100 million; people are 2,000 visionary leaders; Action is given a value of 2, Action is a second national vision, Vision 2050 with all its programmes (Vision 2020 is the first national vision with a value of 1); Time is given a value of 2 as it will be second generation of 30 years from 2020 until 2050.

The first generation is 20 years for Vision 2020 from 2000 until 2020. Change is measured by the number of people whose lives are improved. By inserting these figures in the formula VxP²xAxT=C, we get 2x2000x2000x2x2=32,000,000 of people with improved lives or out of poverty, including some people beyond its borders.

Remarkable, but I will take time to digest it. Are you, or is this formula, for real?

‘It always seems impossible until it’s done,’ Nelson Mandela said. So, Vision 2050 can be done, if all Rwandans, we think big and ‘crazy’ enough by breaking some mind barriers and become change accelerators.

This can happen by thinking, planning and acting together, long-term, globally and exponentially. The Umushyikirano, as a home-grown solution, is a testimony that Rwanda is on the right path to the Vision 2050.