Rwanda harvesting security dividends

Rwanda is hosting yet another large foreign gathering next month coming on the heels of the successful African Development Bank 49th annual meetings held here in May; clearly, after investing in security the country is now harvesting handsome dividends.

Rwanda is hosting yet another large foreign gathering next month coming on the heels of the successful African Development Bank 49th annual meetings held here in May; clearly, after investing in security the country is now harvesting handsome dividends.

This year’s World Export Development Forum starting from 15 to 17 September will be hosted by Kigali, the first time it’s taking place in Africa. 

Officials at the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) who are organising the event say the Forum is likely to attract more than 500 business leaders, heads of trade support institutions, government ministers, policymakers and heads of international agencies.

Normally, high profile officials such as CEOs and Ministers move with their assistants and a flock of investment opportunity scouts, that means the estimated number is likely to double or even triple to about 1500 guests staying for close to a week.

This presents huge business opportunities for the local service industry especially those in the hospitality and transport sub-sectors. Good hotels and restaurants should expect a ‘fat’ kill.

As for the government, the event couldn’t have happened at a better time as it’s going to mainly focus on the latest trends and best practices in SME competitiveness under the theme, ‘SMEs — creating jobs through trade.’

What does this mean?

At the moment, there’s no better salesman for Rwanda’s business community than the government itself. These international meetings that are taking place here show that the country is moving closer to being a ‘conference hub.’

But the foundation for this trust is Rwanda’s current political stability which makes the country one of the most peaceful places in a world littered with violent conflicts.

Simply put, peace is lucrative; that’s why it should be jealously guarded from any kind of threats whether internal or external.

Hosting major events such as the World Export Development Forum should naturally make every Rwandan feel proud of their country but there are some who somehow get angered by this progress.

A good example emerged this week.

As thousands of young Rwandans graduated from university, negative forces were busy behind the scenes recruiting some of them into subversive activities against a legitimate government.

The government’s detractors are getting desperate and now they are attempting to use national achievements to their advantage. Look at it this way, thousands of young Rwandans graduating is a major education milestone but it also creates another national challenge —  a need for more jobs.

As the government works overtime to create employment opportunities for young people, enemies also want to use the same opportunity to their advantage, recruiting desperate jobless graduates into suspect activities.

Even when educated, young graduates are job-hungry a situation which makes them easy targets for enemy forces; gullible therefore easy to fleece.

That means even as the country earns dividends from the peace born out of the current political stability, the government can’t let its guards down, reinvestment in more security is needed to counter those attempting to destabilise Rwanda.

Here’s a historical anecdote.

In 1967, Americans were demonstrating against their government’s involvement in the Vietnam War. America’s ghettos had become war zones; seventy five separate urban riots wracked that country causing 88 deaths, 1, 397 injuries, 16, 389 arrests, 2, 157 convictions and economic damage worth $664.5million.

But President Lyndon Johnson was convinced that the ‘anti-war movement’ was actually being sponsored by the communist governments in Moscow and Beijing. But he didn’t have evidence so he ordered Richard Helms, the head of America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to find it by spying on Americans.

Helms reminded the President that the CIA was barred from spying on Americans. But the President couldn’t budge.

“I am quite aware of that but I want you to do whatever is necessary to pursue this matter; track down the foreign communists who are behind this intolerable interference in our domestic affairs,” ordered the President.

On the President’s orders, the CIA undertook a domestic surveillance operation on Americans codenamed ‘chaos’ which went on for almost seven years even after Johnson left office in 1968.

Given the nature of Rwanda’s enemy, it’s very easy for negative forces to infiltrate ordinary unsuspecting Rwandans and authorities have started unearthing evidence of this effect.

For instance, cases of FDLR agents returning from the Congolese jungles and easily blending in society with the help of their relatives inside Rwanda puts the country’s security infrastructure at risk; it’s a challenge that threatens the current peace dividends.

Therefore, like President Johnson said; Rwanda’s security agencies should do everything necessary to track and stop these negative forces that threaten the current national stability. They should pursue it.