RECENTLY, President Paul Kagame was listed among the 2011 personalities by Forbes Africa Magazine and among the 70 most powerful people on the planet.
According to the December 2011-January 2012 edition, Kagame is named along 20 other most influential personalities, including noble laureates, activists, politicians and economists.
The Rwandan President was credited for his contribution to the country’s transformation following the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, turning it into one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.
The recognition came hot on the heels of the Lifetime Achievement Award Kagame received from the Ugandan capital, Kampala, late last year, for inspiring Africa’s young generation.
An individual doesn’t require personal wealth or fame to be influential.
That the Forbes has listed President Kagame among the most influential people is not surprising.
The changes that have taken place over the last seventeen years cannot be underestimated or sneered at. It is not without reason that Rwanda is ranked the least corrupt country in the region, fourth least corrupt in Africa and 49th in the world. There is a smile everywhere at the State’s endeavor to provide public goods. Poverty has reduced, education and health services are equitably provided. Just a simple example: Between 1962 and 1994, Rwandan universities had graduated a total of 1,926 students only.
Today, there are about 30 institutions of higher learning. Public tertiary institutions currently enroll more than 30,000 students in undergraduate, graduate, and certificate and diploma programmes. Private institutions equally enroll more than 30, 000 students. And it keeps growing; with non-traditional students continuing to enroll in part-time evening and weekend courses.
While in 1994, there were 820,232 pupils in primary schools, the number rose to 2,341,146 in 2011. Primary schools increased from 1,283 in 1994 to 2,543 in 2011.
In addition, Rwanda has the most transparent programme that sends students overseas on postgraduate study and specialist courses. Every year, according to statistics, the country sends an average of 300 students, to study IT and engineering, to India. The government sends about 600 students to graduate schools every year on taxpayers’ money.
To sustain that number, on a continent where state programmes for international study collapsed in most countries years ago or are taken up by children of regime buddies (according to Columnist Charles Onyango Obbo of the East African), makes Rwanda tick.
Apart from South Africa’s the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was chaired by Bishop Desmond Tutu, Rwanda offered the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), which has since delivered reconciliation among Rwandans and continues to share experiences with largely post-conflict states.
The country has one of Africa’s most ambitious IT programmes. The government has distributed hundreds of laptops to pupils under the One Laptop per Child programme.
Rwanda has risen from ethnic bondage to become a united and inspiring nation.
This should set an example for others in positions of leadership to perform remarkably well and work towards helping their people overcome poverty.
Forbes cites: “Kagame is also driving the East African Community initiative, a renowned Publication New statesman named him as one of the 50 people in the world who matter.”
This, therefore, celebrates more than just good governance. It reflects leadership ability to rally others behind a compelling vision.
Not only is he working for a better Rwanda but the President has also helped promote peace, good governance and home-grown solutions in other parts of Africa.
Kagame has repeatedly been on international forums pushing for self-reliance and acceleration of the MDGs.
These accomplishments and many more make President Kagame one of the most influential personalities and reformists the world has seen.