Let me first of all thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for the kind and encouraging words, about the modest achievements we have realized in Rwanda during the last fourteen years. I am delighted to visit Singapore again and appreciate very much your invitation. I trust that we will have an opportunity in Rwanda to host you, in the near future, and reciprocate your generosity.
I have read that when Singapore gained independence in 1965, instead of celebrating, your leaders were deeply worried. This was because the challenges facing Singapore were overwhelming.
Here was an island city-state with neither natural resources, nor skilled human resources, in a conflict-ridden sub-region. The idea of surviving, let alone becoming a prosperous nation seemed, at the time, distant.
But as we all know, Singapore became one of the most successful countries in the world – it is one of the few cases whereby a poor country joined the ranks of rich nations in a single generation.
As the Right Honourable Prime Minister noted, beating the odds is a challenge we Rwandans and Singaporeans share. Fourteen years ago, our chances of building a successful nation appeared slim – the debate at the time revolved around how Rwanda as a failed state, could be governed under some sort of United Nations mandate.
Rwandan tenacity and resilience made a difference – and since then, we have been working hard, laying our socioeconomic and political foundation for a better and more sustainable future.
Guided by our development vision of value-added agriculture, innovative private sector, human capital, and information technology, aimed at fostering a knowledge-based economy, we have maintained a seven percent annual growth rate in the past several years.
Like Singapore , Rwanda is a small country without significant natural resources – our potential and strength lie in our people, and skills acquisition for powering our economic growth and development.
Singapore is a living example of how investment in human capital leads to effective results – your port, airport, airline and civil service are among the most efficient in the world, leading to greater prosperity and improved lives for all.
Besides being one of the largest global financial centers, you have world-class oil refining facilities. More recently, your Economic Development Board has spearheaded the creation of a biotechnology industry by providing, among other things, first-rate scientific infrastructure and investment capital.
The basis of these Singaporean achievements, no doubt, is strong leadership, focus, consistent policy, and investment in education for creating human capital, together with the values of hard work and thrift, and the virtues of competition and productivity, as well as openness to innovation.
This is an inspiration for us in Rwanda. We are determined to accelerate the pace of our socioeconomic transformation, create employment opportunities, and ultimately improve Rwandan lives.
Domestic and foreign investment in Rwanda is increasing significantly, and we continue to improve our institutions, business climate, infrastructure and human capital in order to draw more investment.
It is in this context that I thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, the people and Government of Singapore, for providing us with technical expertise in several strategic sectors to drive our reform agenda.
I hope that more Singaporean experts can lend a hand in our public sector – and also call on businessmen and women from this country to seek investment opportunities in Rwanda , our sub-region and Africa.
I wish to invite you to join me in a toast to the good health of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, to prosperity for Singapore, and to the continued friendship between our two peoples.