Rwanda’s economic development journey and the road to recovery is the subject that is never far away from every gathering of social entrepreneurs and development experts.
It is a difficult subject to explain to foreigners about how the extraordinary journey unfolded. They fail to grasp how people who still had fresh scars of the Genocide could come together driven by a sense of purpose.
There is one corner in this city that kind of summarises that “purpose” – not the glitzy new buildings and clean working infrastructure. It is Kigali Special Economic Zone (KSEZ) tucked away in the eastern outskirts of the city.
A few years ago when the idea started germinating, it was difficult to understand how manufacturing firms could be lured to set up production plants in a patch of bush and brush with no infrastructure; roads, electricity, water, etc.
The Government would have to act as a catalyst to draw in the investors. It went ahead and put in the needed infrastructure, all the investors needed was come and install their factories. Today it is home to over 40 industries, the flag bearers of the Made-in-Rwanda label that has contributed in reducing the trade deficit by 36 per cent and created 5,000 and 7,000 permanent and part-time jobs.
And that is just the beginning. It seeks to duplicate KSEZ in satellite cities as Kigali has become overcrowded. Last week the Government approved the establishment of Bugesera Special Economic Zone in southeastern Rwanda.
That is just a feeble attempt to explain Rwanda’s journey to our foreign friends. It needed the commitment of those who dared to dream.
Hopefully, with the same drive, zeal and sweat, it will bear similar fruits. Someone out there might call it “The audacity of hope”.