04 Oct

Rwanda dials up investment opportunities by playing to its strengths

My first impressions of Kigali, capital of Rwanda, largely agreed with the ‘Singapore of Africa’ analogies I’ve heard and read about. Things are efficient, orderly and extremely clean. The difference between Rwanda and some other East African countries can be likened to removing yellow-tinted sunglasses after having worn them for a while – the world just looks different when it’s not covered in a layer of dust.

Kigali’s cleanliness can be attributed to a combination of factors, including people generally not littering, having enough street sweepers to clean up after those who do, a ban on plastic bags, and the fact that, on the last Saturday morning of each month, it is compulsory for Rwandans to come together and clean their neighbourhoods. This community work forms part of a government-led effort to build a shared national identity, and to boost economic and social development.

I was in town to attend the Afreximbank (short for African Export-Import Bank) annual general meeting, held at the impressive new Kigali Convention Centre. The event brought together prominent African government and business leaders, such as Paul Kagame, Olusegun Obasanjo, Tony Elumelu and Aliko Dangote.

In recent years, Rwanda has transformed itself into one of the region’s most business-friendly destinations. It is second in Africa (56th globally) in the World Bank’s ease of doing business rankings, and is the continent’s third-most competitive economy, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index. Its economy has also grown rapidly, expanding by an average annual rate of 7.6% between 2007 and 2016.

But despite its reforms, Rwanda has a number of drawbacks: a small population of about 12 million, few natural resources, and no seaport. While the fact that Kigali is safe with relatively little congestion is great for jogging or driving to work, it doesn’t exactly leave one with the sense that there is a massive market of under-served consumers the same way that Addis Ababa or Lagos does.

Read more: Rwanda dials up investment opportunities by playing to its strengths


18 Sep

Rwanda: Kagame – Broadband Progress Should Serve As Demonstration of Possibilities

President Paul Kagame has said that gains and progress within broadband rollout ought to serve as a demonstration of what is possible in the sector.

Kagame was speaking in Yale Club in New York, US, where he was co-chairing the 14th Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development yesterday.

President Kagame said that success by the Commission in its various endeavors should serve as a demonstration that it is possible despite not being easy.

“When we succeed we must use this as a demonstration. It is not easy, but possible and we must continue to push forward,” he said.

Commending the Commission for the progress so far, he said that advancements do not happen automatically even where it seems obvious to most though that should not be a determent to stakeholders.

“Things will not just happen even where it may seem obvious to most. This should not discourage us, or deter us,” he said.

The President called on stakeholders to continue to mobilise consumers to adopt broadband as well as find relevant frameworks that contribute to solutions.

“We must continue to mobilise the ordinary consumer and find a framework that enables us to find common solutions,” he said.

Efforts by the Commission remain crucial in ensuring that broadband and information communication and telecommunication receive due attention in the global development agenda, he said.

During the meeting President Kagame co-chaired two working sessions on enabling digital entrepreneurship for 2030 as well as a discussion on current work and future directions.

The session on enabling digital entrepreneurship focused on the potential of the internet to drive inclusive growth as well as drivers for micro, small and medium enterprises.

Among the key drivers for small and medium entrepreneurship include access to affordable technology and connectivity, enhanced digital literacy, access to finance and payment systems, underpinned by sound legal and regulatory frameworks.

Read more: Rwanda: Kagame – Broadband Progress Should Serve As Demonstration of Possibilities 

07 Aug

Paul Kagame re-elected president with 99% of vote in Rwanda election

Paul Kagame re-elected president in Rwanda election

Former guerrilla leader praised for bringing stability and growth after genocide but criticised as authoritarian wins third term.

Paul Kagame, the controversial president of Rwanda, has won a landslide victory in the small African state’s election, securing a third term in office and extending his 17 years in power.

The result will surprise no one, inside or outside Rwanda.

Kagame, 59, has won international praise for the stability and economic development he has brought Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, when an estimated 800,000 people were killed, but he has also been accused of running an authoritarian, one-party state. Some have dismissed the polls as a sham.

Friday’s election came after a constitutional amendment, which ended a two-term limit for presidents and theoretically permits Kagame to remain in power until 2034. The amendment was approved by 98% of voters.

In the final tally for Friday’s election, he won almost 99% of votes cast, said Kalisa Mbanda, chairman of the National Electoral Commission.

The board expects turnout in the east African country of 12 million people to have topped 90% in an election that fielded only a single opposition candidate, Frank Habineza, and an independent.

Habineza, a former journalist who leads the Green Democratic party, said last week the authorities in Rwanda were “starting to understand the opposition can play a role in running the country”.

“We are still treated as if we are enemies … but so far in this election no one in our party has been killed or imprisoned or harassed and that means at least some progress,” he said before a rally in the small southern town of Rango.

The election board disqualified another would-be opponent, Diane Rwigara, despite her insistence that she met all the requirements to run.

After results were announced, Kagame said he would work to sustain economic growth. Infant mortality and poverty levels have dropped rapidly in Rwanda in recent decades, while literacy rates and other indicators of development have soared. New roads have been built and an ambitious programme of investment launched. Kigali is perhaps the cleanest and most orderly African capital city.

“This is another seven years to take care of issues that affect Rwandans and ensure that we become real Rwandans who are [economically] developing,” he said in a speech broadcast live on television.

Kagame led rebel forces into Rwanda to end the 1994 genocide and went on to wage further wars in the region. He won the last election in 2010 with 93% of the vote, and said during this campaign that he again expected an outright victory.

Despite some discontent over joblessness and other issues, the president appears authentically popular in Rwanda, which has had some of the fastest economic growth rates in Africa and has become known for its stability in a deeply troubled region.

At a succession of rallies attended by large numbers of supporters from the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party, Kagame promised more schools, roads and clinics. Supporters at a rally in Burera in the north of the landlocked country said last week that they could not imagine another leader.

Reuters reported that voters celebrated the election result into the early hours of Saturday.

“Last night was fantastic. People kept coming in until my bar had more than 200 people. I usually get 100 on normal days. They were all celebrating and I left at 2am, but they were still dancing and more were coming,” said John Habimana, owner of the popular Roasty Bar in Kigali.

Other residents were less happy, the agency said. “To me I see this as a one-man race. I simply did not go to vote,” said one man in the capital who asked not to be named.

via The Guardian