When it was announced that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was taking on the role of advisor to the Rwandan government, it became apparent to me that Rwanda had, indeed gained a special position among the community of nations.
After resigning as Prime Minister, Blair took up an appointment as an envoy working for the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations in the Middle East. The peace process in the Middle East has for a long period of time been high on the foreign policy agenda of world powers. So it would not be very surprising when an international political figure of Blair’s standing turned his attention to Rwanda.
However, when he decides to take up an advisory role for an African government, many people would have to double take. It has been stated and convincingly so, that many people in the developed world have little knowledge of African countries.
When one of their former leaders decides to work (unpaid!) for an African government, they may be left wondering what could be so special about the place. I am now firmly convinced that many leaders the world over, have immense respect and admiration for the Rwandan leadership. And they find it important to be associated with the reconstruction process that has been ongoing since our current leadership assumed office.
Britain’s Guardian journalist, Partrick Wintour, reported on January 18, that Blair has always held the view that; “government capacity, good governance, and fighting corruption are vital to development”. The fact that he has decided to play an advisory role to the Rwandan government, indicates that he sees those practices being upheld in Rwanda.
The role of President Clinton through his Clinton Foundation comes to mind when one talks about international figures currently engaged in different ways with the Rwandan people and their government. This is not limited to the political leadership but also business leaders.
It has at times been argued in some quarters that, such figures in the international community feel an obligation to help the Rwandan people because they did little to stop the 1994 Genocide.
Though, such line of thinking may sound convincing, there is more to it than that. People who have led world powers have a strategic approach to whatever they do. This is also the case with chief executives of such corporations as Starbucks, Microsoft and even evangelicals like Rickie Warren.
They would not just for the sake of charity or mercy want to be associated with any leader or government. It is my conviction that they would proceed after a careful analysis of the government they seek to engage with. The fact that Rwanda is under an able and progressive government must have influenced these international figures to want to work with it.
They must have realized that unlike many other African countries, in Rwanda such vices as corruption in government are never tolerated. This is one reason that would make somebody like Bill Gates give his money to our government. He must be fully convinced that his money will reach its intended beneficiaries.
In my view Blair would also never want to associate with a government that would put his name in disrepute. He knows that the Rwandan leadership is unique and up to the task. That’s why he will confidently go out there and use his international standing to influence international investment into Rwanda.
This also goes for CEO’s in corporate America. Corruption can never be an inducement for any investor who has long term interest in any venture. That reputable companies like Google and Starbucks are willing to invest in Rwanda, speaks volumes about what executives of such corporate institutions think of the government of our country.
Their willingness to invest here thus is a huge vote of confidence in our leadership. They must be convinced that, it is worth the effort and they will reap where they have sown.
Francoise Brougher, a director in Google, was quoted in Fortune magazine last year, saying that the Rwandan leadership is “extremely progressive” in the area of information technology.
All this has clearly demonstrated the capacity of a people with a visionary leadership to overcome great obstacles. It clearly indicates that Rwanda has already taken off and is on the way to social-economic transformation, thanks to a resilience and determination to put the past behind us and forge a better future.