Rwanda: A rising star in Africa Featured

Rwanda: A rising star in Africa

Rwanda, a small landlocked country in Africa has a population of 11.9 million, a GDP of US$ 8.9 billion, and occupies a land area of about 24,670 Km2. Despite what is happening within the African continent in terms of political instability and poverty, Rwanda is already dubbed the “Singapore of Africa.”

Attaining this potential greatness won’t be an easy task for the Rwandan authorities as current efforts must be sustained.

Similarities between Singapore and Rwanda can however be found in the former which was abandoned by Japan after the Second World War leaving many Singaporeans jobless. Although Rwanda emerged from the 1994 genocide in which a quarter of its population died, the country is currently regarded as one of the stable economies in the continent of Africa.

When it comes to ease of doing business, Singapore is one of the leading countries in the world. So also is Rwanda, which ranks 56th in the world and second in Africa to Mauritius. On the rule of law, work ethics and productivity, Singapore is in the forefront. The same goes for Rwanda, which is one of the few countries that have significantly improved its productivity and reduced corruption. In fact, Rwanda ranks 50 out of 170 countries in the corruption perception index, according to Transparency International (TI).

Rwanda’s Kigali is reported to be “Africa’s cleanest city.” This comes at a price as the government has banned the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags since 2008.

Rwanda has made some economic progress by creating four other big cities to stop population explosion in Kigali. Kigali’s Vision City and Lagos Eko Atlantic are among several smart city initiatives taking off in Africa. Today, majority of the world’s population resides in smart cities as the population grows over time. So building smart cities is increasingly becoming more important to cater to urban migration, according to experts.

In addition, the country plans to modernize its agricultural sector. With plans to transition from an agricultural-based economy to a modern hi-tech based economy. Plans are underway to revolutionize tertiary education to graduate job creators, and not job seekers with focus on innovation and creativity especially Science, Technology, Engineering and

Mathematics (STEM). A lot of progress has been made in tourism sector with the aim of attracting foreign direct investors. So sustaining an average of 8-10 percent GDP growth in the next 20-30 years would definitely make Rwanda “the Singapore of Africa” by 2050.

The motive force for the socio-economic transformation of Rwanda is in the unity and peace of the country as citizens go about their lawful and legitimate businesses. Safety and security of the people are given top priority as policy makers in Rwanda are aware that without security of lives and property there can be no meaningful development. The ultimate objective is to have a country with sustainable economic development occasioned by steady economic growth.

At every stage the citizens have agreed to stay united, peaceful, and be accountable. They have vowed to stay true to themselves not forgetting where they came from. They aspire to create a better Rwanda for future generations without forgetting their “ugly” history. They have pledged to stay away from identity politics by remaining focused on cooperation and exchange of constructive ideas instead of mudslinging each other for the sake of being “democratic.” Rwanda’s version of democracy is working well for the country.

The citizens of Rwanda are striving to create a politically and economically-free Rwanda that relies on their abilities only. It’s a country capable of producing majority of the goods and services for itself. Rwanda is also involved in trade with her neighbors and the rest of the world with focus on more exports than imports. The country has a target to be financially free and independent by 2025, and accordingly, has cut down aid dependency from 86% in 2000 to about 17% in 2018. The citizens of Rwanda led by Paul Kagame have realized that to be the “Singapore of Africa,” the country has to be without aid. This goal looks rather ambitious but the country has for several years been promoting tourism and investments.

Within 7 years, Rwanda has “tripled the share of people connected to the grid, and brought electricity to 80% of schools, 76% of health centers and 94 % of administrative centers.” These statistics spurred this writer to write this article. Besides, the story in Nigeria’s power sector is different.

Currently, Nigeria is gloating in darkness. Nigerians are paying the price for corruption in the power sector. Corruption has kept Nigerians in darkness for years with grave consequences on economic activities. Nigerian businesses expend about N5.0 trillion annually on importation, fueling and maintenance of generators, according to the Rural

Electrification Agency. It’s time for the federal government to declare a state of emergency in the power sector in order to have a prosperous nation of almost 200 million people. A government in charge of almost 200 million people needs to think before taking actions always. Without accountability and transparency, no foreign direct investor will be willing to invest in the power sector because of investment risks. A functional power sector is critical to Nigeria’s economic survival. Nigeria can rise above current circumstances and achieve success provided the political leaders are passionate and dedicated about their responsibilities.

President Kagame has advised the citizens of Rwanda not to sit back and relax. So they have chosen to constantly work and improve themselves on both micro and macro-economic levels. Rwanda has survived the genocide, and now they live together peacefully. They want to live together and prosper. The government of Rwanda has concentrated efforts on manufacturing, agro-processing, mining and energy, financial services and ICT. Others are health services and education, real estate and construction, and above all tourism for branding and marketing. The country’s political leadership is fully aware that modernizing these industries will increase the GDP, create more jobs for a healthy and more prosperous Rwanda.

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