Rwanda in the news for the right reasons

Rwanda’s desire and efforts to achieving rapid economic development in a few years-less than a generation-has been seen by some quarters as incredibly ambitious, for an African country characterised as a post conflict state.

Rwanda’s desire and efforts to achieving rapid economic development in a few years-less than a generation-has been seen by some quarters as incredibly ambitious, for an African country characterised as a post conflict state.

For many commentators in the region and beyond, there is little in terms of resources like raw materials that would attract investors for Rwanda.

Rwanda officials led by President Kagame, who as the country’s president (who also would be said to be the country’s top most promoter) has come across to some as the Chief Executive Officer of sorts, have pursued a vigorous multi-pronged strategy of attracting investors from wherever they maybe.

Rwanda has got many influential friends and investors courtesy of tireless efforts by the President, foreign affairs ministry and a team at RIEPA and now amalgamated with other agencies into the Rwanda Development Board.

But many ask, what is in Rwanda that will get hardnosed Western capitalists or Asian investors into sinking their money in this “tiny, land locked republic”, a country with no vast quantities of mineral resources to speak of.

It is obvious that the investment promoters of Rwanda are well aware of this. Coupled with this is the fact that the Rwandan people as a nation have undergone a real test in terms of what has been the history. The urgency that is needed in fostering a quick development path has been clearly underlined.

In fact during the December Rwandese Patriotic Front politiburo meeting at Prime Holdings, the President seemed to allude to the fact that the challenges Rwanda has gone through should cause the country to create a situation whereby it achieves a fast rate of development without having to follow the development models of other countries like the East Asian Tigers but at the same time drawing lessons that maybe necessary.

Rwanda’s people are its greatest resource. And efforts have been geared towards this human resource base development. The unique strategy that has bee adapted by Rwanda seems to have started paying off in a way. What is obvious is that people the world over have started noticing Rwanda.

It is said that many westerners, can hardly place many an African country on the map. But Rwanda emerging from the ashes of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis seems to have changed this.

Of course the mention of Rwanda to some people quickly brings to mind the images of the 1994 horrors. But in recent days, the country is getting first rate publicity not for conflict but for its efforts to achieve high levels of development for its people.

This April, writer Jeffrey Chu did a six page story on the “Rwandan story” for Fast Company a top rate Silcon valley publication that focuses on innovation, business and leadership among others. He focuses on the new development strategy.

Rwanda’s economic model may go on to become a subject of academic inquiry and probably become a subject for development theory. To understand the influence of such a magazine as Fast Company, one needs to understand its readership. 

Silicon Valley is the world’s capital of high level technology. Fast Company has a circulation according to some reports of over 700,000 copies. This is not to mention the reach of its online version.

More so, the founding editors of Fast Company were guys who used to run the Harvard Business Review. They, according to Wikipedia would later sell it for a whooping $350 million.

That Rwanda is being noticed for the right reasons other than war, disease or helpless famine is telling. But that is what it should and ought to have been since Rwanda became a nation. But alas most of Africa makes news for the wrong reasons.

The implication to some would be that the managers of Rwanda have their priorities and those of the country right. Reading commentaries from regional papers and beyond, one gets the impression that many are now seeking lessons from Rwanda and others are telling their leaders to do as they do in Rwanda.

This for many especially Rwanda’s young people- the generation next- is a source of pride which brings about that feel good attitude. It is no surprise that many want to associate themselves with Rwanda more than ever before in the country’s post independence history.

Rwanda’s story of recovery where few had hopes presents a challenge and lesson to the rest of Africa. That it is not about oil, or mineral wealth but a question of leadership. It is by having the right leadership with a sense of purpose that invests in its people, that a country can make it.