Rwandas President Paul Kagame is seen as having promoted economic growth at the expense of human rights. Ruben Sprich/Reuters

Rwanda is the envy of Africa and the world

Vision 2050 seeks to make Rwanda a wealthy country, writes Victor Kgomoeswana.

“Sometimes when you play music, watch the dancers on the floor to know how good your music is; otherwise, you might praise yourself unduly.”This was the ever business-like Rwandan President Paul Kagame answering a question about whether his government had achieved the goals of its Vision 2020.

“Why don’t you as, a Rwandan, tell me?” Or, better still, ask the people out there, he added. He was wrapping up a press conference soon after the end of a two-day national dialogue.

Termed Umushyikirano, and in its 14th consecutive year, this open no-holds barred consultative platform was held under a theme as apt as attitude of the man synonymous with the progress made by this east African country since 1994.

Even though he insists that he could not have achieved it all by himself, Kagame once again staked his claim to the mantle of Africa’s Man of the 21st century.

Still, he admitted at the end of the two days that he had been tempted to ask the delegates to stop praising him. Almost everyone, young and old, gave him credit.

“Right now, it is not about being praised, but it is about the people of Rwanda,” he said.

Commonly a man who speaks for 15 minutes or less, his closing remarks lasted 25 minutes.

This annual event was convened under the theme “Creating the Rwanda we want”. It attracted about 1800 delegates to the newly-built Kigali Convention Centre.

Government ministers, advisers, civil society, the military, youth representatives, friends and partners of Rwanda gathered to reflect on the past year and to shape Vision 2050, long before the expiry of the deadline of Vision 2020 – which is about creating a middle-income economy. Vision 2050 seeks to make Rwanda a wealthy country.

With the gross domestic product per capita having crossed the $720 (R10140) threshold in 2015, the plan is to scale $1240 in 2020 and $12 476 in 2035.

Rwanda’s achievements are well documented. Besides shaking off the effects of the 1994 genocide, improving the ease of doing business to the second-best in Africa, increasing tourism and boosting access to electricity and IT, as well as taking the representation of women in parliament to 60 percent, the country is the envy of Africa and the world.

Be not complacent, cautions Kagame. In his closing remarks, he devoted more than half the time warning his fellow Rwandans against two things: tolerating poor customer service everywhere and developing a superiority complex.

Failing to complain or demand quality service, in the public and the private sector, makes us partly responsible for the problem.

Another risk, according to Kagame, is basking too much in the glory of past achievements, while failing to do what is possible.

One speaker on the first day had compared Rwanda with economies with a similar per capita income to show that it had over-achieved.

“No country with the per capita of Rwanda,” the speaker had said, “has streets as world-class and as clean as Rwanda.” Besides, he had added, back in 1890, the US and the UK were where Rwanda is today, in terms of development, but had not accomplished nearly as much as what Rwanda has done already.

While the crowds applauded, Kagame was non-plussed.

This could easily be used by our colleagues in government to countenance corruption, laziness and mediocrity, Kagame said, because we happen to be much better than these countries were back in 1890.

He asked rhetorically: “Which century are we living in now – the 19th or 21st century?”

He slammed the door on complacency by concluding: “Whatever is possible today, let us do and do it faster; not relax because we happen to be better than the US in 1890.”

What made Umushyikirano 2016 more representative was the video-conference link to delegates at different sites in all five provinces, participating live in the discussions, plus the usual live broadcast on both radio and television.

If some African leaders emulated Kagame, as they should, half our problems would vanish.


Original article can be found here.