Whilst many Rwandans have already had considerable interaction with foreigners, many of us have not taken time to critically consider their contributions to our society.Are they really, as some would believe, just here to steal our jobs?
Does their existence benefit our country in any way?
The answers are no and yes, respectively. Foreigners, who bring financial investments, professional experiences help us to build a solid knowledge base for our human capital and to bring financial capital to a country where most of its population lives in poverty.
If you label foreigners as “the-ones-snatching-our-rice-bowls” you should ask yourself the following questions:
First of all, with Rwanda’s ambitious development agenda aimed at creating wealth and prosperity for its citizens, do the currently uneducated masses have the capacity to drive this process without borrowed human capital?
Secondly, If hard work and knowledge alone are enough to bring our economy forward are we equipped with the skills to ensure tomorrow’s brighter economy?
Finally, should we live in a vacuum while the rest of the world zooms forward with globalization?
Basic economic theory shows us that economies that operate on comparative/competitive advantage advance by interacting openly with other economies, while xenophobic/isolationist economies almost always stagnate.
Much as we need to be self sufficient, it should not be seen as barring foreign human and financial capital altogether. I am amazed when I hear Rwandans making noise that foreigners are taking over.
We should instead stop the whining, and facilitate the integration of these foreigners into Rwandan society to ensure that we find ways to reap the biggest returns on their human and financial capital investments – accepting and embracing them is imperative for Rwanda in the threat of a declining global economy and its ambitious development agenda.
If we choose to view foreigners as learning and investment opportunities, we will advance our development agenda, thus increasing our capacity to do more on our own in the future –this can only be achieved if responsible authorities ensures the quality of these foreigners is put at the forefront.
Moreover, Rwanda is a great place to do business, due to its business-friendly environment and many untapped opportunities, but few Rwandans can take advantage here as they have little capital to start anything.
We also often lack creativity and embrace a risk-averse mentality, making it difficult to create businesses.
On the other hand, I know of many foreigners who came over, became temporary residents and later also started their own businesses employing a significant proportion of talented and bright Rwandans, thus increasing financial flow and improving the quality of life for Rwandans.
The author is a regular columnist