The key to economic development is capacity building, but our efforts to build capacity as African nations have been ignoring the main point of the whole process - we are failing to plug into the little capacity we have.
No human being is a skills vacuum, they have within them an innate quality to contribute economically, this talent or quality is stimulated by curiosity and the person is self-taught.
The myth of capacity building is that we first have to build our capacity, and then join the global market.
We already have capacity that we are not recognizing and connecting to.Human resource development is the first pillar of capacity building, we have this in abundance.
When the Chinese started their quest for world supremacy, they had no capacity as such, what they had was human labour in huge numbers.
This labour multiplied over time could be converted into a tangible sum merely by recognizing its existence. On my road there is a barber, tailor, cobbler, charcoal seller, and several casual labourers who just operate in a semi-legal environment, none pays taxes and yet such economic activities constitute 90% of our economy.
You cannot survive this expensive city without a job.
This human resource capacity has to fit into an organizational framework, and organizational capacity is important.
This requires connecting the basic skills base to a management skills base, the Chinese succeeded by using their efficient administration system to be the basis of future economic development.
Then you require the legal framework to regulate the capacity, and this is illustrated in Rwanda by the Umuganda system, Ubudehe system, TIG, cooperatives and countless other volunteer projects recognized in Rwanda.
The most important thing is to be plugged into the capacity of your nation before you attempt to build. Our biggest curse is our biggest blessing in Rwanda; we are cursed in the sense that we have too many people, but actually we are blessed to have too many people.
When we go abroad looking for investors our message should be simple “we have a population of 11 million hungry for work.” That should be our number one statistic and selling point. Forget minerals, tourism, coffee; our potential is our people, and they have enough already, we just need to plug into it and sell it to the world.
In Hong Kong, you have an even more miraculous model than in Singapore.
The main difference between the Hong Kong and Singapore experience was that, in Hong Kong, the government plugged into an already industrious productive community and enabled it to expand through light-touch regulation, in Singapore it was more state-driven although with free market principles.
In Africa we have potential; we have labour, skills, organization, regulations to make a global impact, and not in 20 years time but right now.
We need to give out tax and social security numbers to all Rwandans, then sit down with them to see how to advance their lives.
We will find that the hidden economy and our GDP will show its true number, and we will find we had what we were looking for all along.