Rwandans voted for seven more years of RPF’s economic policies; they have seen their GDP per capita double from $256 to $560 a year.
Almost all Rwandans have seen some benefits in that time, particularly in the agricultural sector.
One of the best testimonies I received was from a farmer who remembered when they used to sell potatoes at 3Rwf a kilo, and now the price is 110Rwf a kilo. So now their produce is actually making a difference in their life.
The next seven years promises a lot, but Rwandans expectations will also be raised.
My hopes for the next seven years are several but I will focus on the aspirations of the Rwandans I spoke to during the campaigns.
We must modernize our banking system: Our average growth of 8% is all the more amazing due to the fact that our banking system is not at optimum capacity.
It can even be said to be outdated; it needs to speed up transaction times, be more inter-connected, and deliver more services.
If one wanted to withdraw money from one account to pay into another, it can take several steps and a longer time than necessary.
Savings and pensions should be encouraged. People should even be allowed to opt out of CSR if they promise to save elsewhere, alternative pensions are needed.
Banks should also provide health insurance and life insurance cover, the wall between insurance services and banking should be removed as they often perform the same role.
We need to massively expand the tax base. We could register 4 million new tax-payers by 2017. It can be a way to professionalise the informal sector, all Rwandans should have a TIN number, whether they are subsistence farmers or consultants.
When they are registered then we can think of ways to tax them or give them tax credits. All professionals should be able to register for some kind of assessment and eventual training in whatever field they want.
The cooperative system which has been so instrumental in delivering economic change to millions of Rwandans should be extended to every form of economic activity.
They should even be allowed to float on the capital markets and sell off future profits in exchange for capital to invest in transport and equipment.
Looking at the next few years, I see even more reforms that will benefit Rwandans but I cannot predict the big reform policy that will change people’s lives.
Maybe the question is, what smaller but simple body of policies can make that big change? I still think our banking sector should be reformed drastically.
Maybe we need a banking regulator that is semi-autonomous, under BNR but able to think outside the box. A regulator that can advocate for the consumer while talking into account issues facing the bank and the central bank.
Rama Isibo is a social commentator