78. Rwanda- The Singapore of Africa....!!

Updated: Jun 23, 2020



Republic of Rwanda is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley where the African Great Lakes region and East Africa converge. One of the smallest countries on the African mainland, its capital city is Kigali. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is highly elevated with its geography dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country.


The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year. Rwanda has a population of over 12.6 million living on 26,338 km2 (10,169 mi2) of land, and is the most densely populated mainland African country.


Pic : Buildings in Kigali CBD, including Kigali City Tower


The population is young and predominantly rural, with a density among the highest in Africa. Rwandans are drawn from just one cultural and linguistic group, the Banyarwanda, although within this group there are three subgroups: the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa. The Twa are a forest-dwelling pygmy people and are often considered descendants of Rwanda's earliest inhabitants. Scholars disagree on the origins of and differences between the Hutu and Tutsi; some believe differences are derived from former social castes within a single people, while others believe the Hutu and Tutsi arrived in the country separately, and from different locations.


Christianity is the largest religion in the country; the principal language is Kinyarwanda, spoken by most Rwandans, with English and French serving as additional official languages. The sovereign state of Rwanda has a presidential system of government.


The president is Paul Kagame of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), who has served continuously since 2000.


Today, Rwanda has low levels of corruption compared with neighbouring countries, although human rights organisations report suppression of opposition groups, intimidation and restrictions on freedom of speech. The country has been governed by a strict administrative hierarchy since precolonial times; there are five provinces delineated by borders drawn in 2006. Rwanda is one of only three countries in the world with a female majority in the national parliament, the two other countries being Bolivia and Cuba.


In November 2018, during a business trip to the Rwandan capital Kigali, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma did not mince his words. Calling Rwanda “a great country that walks the talk,” Ma described his impressions when he first visited the Eastern African nation: “When I first came here, I was shocked by its safety, cleanliness and by its power to embrace change…I said if every country in Africa was like Rwanda, how powerful Africa would be.”


Pic : A view of downtown Kigali from the rooftop cafe of the Ubumwe Grande Hotel


Rwanda, a landlocked country of twelve million people, is infamously known internationally for the 1994 genocide of its Tutsi population. In merely a 100 days, at least 800,000 people were slaughtered by members of the Hutu majority. The carnage resulted not only in the death and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans, but also had a devastating effect on the country’s infrastructure and economy.


When a Tutsi rebel force under the command of President Paul Kagame finally put an end to the killing, the future of the nation looked desperately bleak.


It is therefore all the more surprising that Rwanda has seen strong economic growth in the recent past. According to official figures, GDP per capita increased by 5.2 percent annually between 2005 and 2016. Last year, real GDP went up by a remarkable 7.2 percent. This economic uptrend has not gone unnoticed. These days, many see Rwanda as a role model that other African countries should follow.



I. How It Rose from Ashes of Genocide in 1994 ?


“Rwanda is indeed Africa’s rising star and driver for economic transformation,” the Executive Director of the East African Business Council told Forbes. Given the level of admiration and interest for the country, it is no wonder that the country has been often referred to as the “Singapore of Africa”. However, one could ask if that reputation is really justified.


There is no doubt that Rwanda’s economy has improved significantly in the two decades after the genocide. The statistics confirm this claim. According to the Economist, Rwandans earned on average $700 in 2017, more than four times the number than in the early nineties. While foreign aid used to play a significant role in the country’s economic recovery, it now makes up only a fraction of the GDP.


Instead, efforts have been made to

Promote local industry,

Boost exports and

Develop the domestic service industry.



Growth Strategy


In 2015, the government introduced the “Made in Rwanda” programme in order to encourage the consumption of domestically produced products and address the country’s trade deficit.


This strategy is starting to bear its fruits:


# Exports increased by 69 percent between 2015 and 2017.

# The trade deficit has been reduced by a third. Additionally,

# A National Export Strategy has been drawn up to increase Rwanda’s competitiveness abroad . And to

# Reduce its reliance on traditional exports such as coffee, tea and minerals. Whereas the latter made up 62.1 percent of exported goods in 2013, it only accounted for 32.4% of total exports in 2018.


One sector that promises future growth is that of services.


@ Rwanda is actively trying to foster its image as a Tourist Destination

@ Position itself as a Conferences and

@ Transportation hub in the Region.


A vital source of foreign reserves for a country with limited natural resources, tourism already contributes a sizable share to GDP. In 2017, Rwanda counted 1.2 million visitors, twice as many as in 2008. Perhaps in anticipation of things to come, a new state-of-the-art airport is currently being built near Kigali. Moreover, a $300 million convention centre was opened in 2016.




II. What is the Significance of Rwanda's Growth for Africa ?


Economic progress has also had a profound impact on the Rwandan population. In a 2015 UN report celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Human Development Index, Rwanda was identified as the country with the biggest advances since the inception of the ranking in 1990.


A 30-year increase in life expectancy during that period serves an example of how rapidly the socioeconomic situation in the country has improved.  This improvement has also led to a substantial decline in the child mortality rate, reduced inequality and enabled more children to go to school.


The literacy rate has gone up, and nine out of ten people are covered by public health insurance. Clearly, for many Rwandans, living conditions are better now than 20 years ago.


Despite the astonishing development of a country that was on the brink of collapse less than 24 years ago, some are not happy with the situation it finds itself in today. First, there are doubts regarding the accuracy of official government statistics. As a matter of fact, Rwanda remains an impoverished nation. Last year, the world bank reported that 47% of the population live below the international poverty line of $1.90 per day.


In 2016, seven out of ten Rwandans survived on subsistence farming. Furthermore, an overreliance on public investment and the vulnerability of the dominant agricultural sector to adverse weather conditions could stunt future economic growth.



President Paul Kagame, effectively Rwanda´s de facto leader since 1994, has been widely credited with being behind the country’s “economic miracle”.  Although it is undisputed that Kagame has provided the much-needed political stability and is responsible for his nation’s ambitious modernization programme, he remains a controversial figure. In spite of him being a rebel leader during the genocide and vice-president for a short time after, the fact that is concerning to many is that he has been in power for so long.


In 2017, Kagame won his third term in office by a landslide, securing almost 99 percent  of the vote. In the 2010 election, the figure amounted to 93 percent. Due to to a change in the constitution, Kagame could theoretically preside over the country until 2034, even if he has already been leading for the past 20 years. In the past, he has been accused of ruling Rwanda with an iron fist. There have been allegations of attempts to silence political opposition and of censorship of independent media outlets.


Reports describe the existence of camps for Kigali’s homeless and prostitutes, and political opponents as well as journalists have found themselves in jail for dubious reasons. Finally, critics highlight  the tight grip of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party on the national economy.


Despite the constant flurry of accusations, Kagame continues to rule to this day. It is arguable that the success of his reforms and his authoritarian leadership style have been helpful in that regard. The way Rwanda has developed economically in the last two decades provides valuable lessons for Africa’s future. First, it gives credibility to the assumption that any country, irrespective of its development level, can experience economic growth if the right policies are put in place. At the same time, it highlights the importance of political stability in such an endeavour. Lastly, the nation’s trajectory shows that economic progress does not necessarily coincide with a process of democratization. As long as this is the case in Rwanda, its “economic miracle” will be seen as flawed.


III. How is Rwanda Today ?


Bearing in mind the authorities’ commitment to modernize and develop the country’s economy, there are signs that things are moving in the right direction. Rwanda is the second highest ranked African country in the World Bank’s “ease of doing business” index, currently occupying the 29th place internationally. Foreign investors certainly approve of the low level of corruption in the state: according to the 2017 Corruption Perception Index, Rwanda is the third least corrupt country on the continent.  This might partly explain why last year the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) declared Rwanda the third most popular African destination to host international meetings and conferences.


In a Typical Day, The captain’s voice came over the loudspeaker. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is forbidden to bring plastic bags into Rwanda,” he said, before instructing us to transfer whatever contents we might be harboring in the offending receptacles and ditching them before our plane touched down.



It was just after 7 p.m. as we approached Kigali, the capital of the tiny East African country, and the announcement was as surprising as the view outside my window: Descending into the “Land of a Thousand Hills” felt like being lowered into a dark cauldron illuminated by a trillion tiny fireflies. I can’t remember a more enchanting arrival on any continent.


Rwanda may have the misfortune of being known for a single horrific event—the 1994 genocide still hangs over everything here—but braided into the ambient heartbreak is a disarming charm and a singular determination unlike anything I’ve seen. Not only is the country’s president, Paul Kagame, forward-thinking in terms of the environment, but he has reimagined, and realized, Kigali as a global showpiece.


The city of 1.2 million is all shiny glass towers and perfectly spaced palm trees dotting neat grass medians that divide the pothole-free streets. The place is so clean and efficient you’d think you were in Geneva. And the boutiques, bistros, coffee shops, and galleries nestled into the endless rolling hills are buzzy with the pent-up energy of a generation raised across the border as refugees and hell-bent on building back the country of their dreams.


In the 25 years since the genocide, tourism has emerged as Rwanda’s number-one foreign exchange earner, with much of that cash driven by visitors heading north to track mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park. The experience will run you $1,500 for the permit alone, so you might opt instead for a day visit ($40)—and full-on safari experience—at Akagera National Park, a two-hour drive south of the city. In 2017, 20 eastern black rhinos were introduced to the park, and these days they cavort happily among its lions, elephants, leopards, and buffalo, not to mention nearly 500 species of birds.


Before traveling to Rwanda, I had read about its history and about Kagame himself. He has been criticized for funding some of the militias plundering the minerals of eastern Congo, and for clamping down on journalists and political opponents. I’ll admit that my take was less than positive, but after a few days on the ground, I changed my tune. The country works better than any place I’ve visited in Africa. Its health care is universal and its education mandatory. The last Saturday of every month sees every Rwandan adult putting in a few hours of unpaid community service. There wasn’t a single person I spoke to who didn’t want Kagame to remain in power indefinitely. With good reason, they fear what could happen if—well, when—he goes.



IV. Paul Kagame , President of Rwanda and the man behind Rwanda's abnomal growth.


Paul Kagame (born 23 October 1957) is a Rwandan politician and former military leader. He is the 4th and current President of Rwanda, having taken office in 2000 when his predecessor, Pasteur Bizimungu, resigned. Kagame previously commanded the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the Uganda-based rebel force that invaded Rwanda and was one of the parties of the conflict during the Rwandan genocide.


He was considered Rwanda's de facto leader when he served as Vice President and Minister of Defence from 1994 to 2000. He was re-elected in August 2017 with an official result of nearly 99% in an election criticized for numerous irregularities. He has been described as the "most impressive" and "among the most repressive" African leaders.



As president, Kagame has prioritized national development, launchinga programmeto develop Rwanda as a middle-income country by 2020 (Vision 2020). As of 2013, the country is developing strongly on key indicators, including health care and education; annual growth between 2004 and 2010 averaged 8% per year. Kagame has had mostly good relations with the East African Community and the United States; his relations with France were poor until 2009.


He won an electionin 2003, under a new constitution adopted that year, and was elected for a second termin 2010. Kagame was elected againin 2017, and due to yet another change in the constitution, he could potentially be President until 2034. His role in the assassination of exiled political opponents has been controversial.

Under Mr Kagame's rule, Rwanda opened its first maize flour factory, improved its road network, established a national airline, is building a new $800m (£605m) international airport and plans to boost its status as a business hub with a conference centre that will cost at least $300m.


"Kagame is known as a doer and an implementer, not somebody who says things just like everyone else," UK charity Oxfam's Desire Assogbavi told AFP news agency.


As for his African peers, most of them appear to hold him in high regard, as he has been given the task of spearheading efforts to reform the African Union.


"Without an African Union that delivers, the continent cannot progress, and we face the likelihood of yet another decade of lost opportunity," Mr Kagame said in a report tabled at a meeting of African leaders in January 2017 .


"Tens of thousands of young African bodies have been swallowed by the sea or abandoned in the desert, in pursuit of a decent life for which they are prepared to risk everything, because they believe there is no hope at home. They testify to the urgent need to act," he added.


Conclusion


The Economy of Rwanda has undergone rapid industrialisation due to a successful governmental policy. Since the early-2000s,Rwanda has witnessed an economic boom improving the living standards of many Rwandans. The Government's progressive visions have been the catalyst for the fast transforming economy.


The President of Rwanda,Paul Kagame, has noted his ambition to make Rwanda the "Singaporeof Africa"


Rwanda is a Stunning Story in Africa, rose from the ashes of Genocide in 1994, It has become a Epitome of Success in Africa with Most Growth Indexes like Highest Literacy Rate, Better Health Care, Low Corrupution , High Political Stability and High GDP Growth etc.


Now, Any Developing African Country can follow the Economic Model of Rwanda, Instead of any Western Country Indeed....!!


Thats the Impact of Rwanda on the Political and Economic Map of Africa...!!


Rwanda is the Rising Star in Africa and can be fondly called as " Singapore of Africa "




MM Rao

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Sources :

https://www.bbc.com/news/10479882

http://www.polemics-magazine.com/econ/rwanda-economic-miracle

https://www.mensjournal.com/travel/how-kigali-rwandas-capital-rose-from-the-ashes-of-genocide/

http://paulkagame.com/?page_id=12447

https://www.google.com/search?q=kigali&rlz=1C1CHBF_enIN786IN786&sxsrf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwanda

https://www.google.com/search?q=rwanda+kigali&rlz=1C1CHBF_enIN786IN786&sxsrf=ALeKk02nErEn9sj4kiqIkaMYhAY-m0Kh

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