Twenty years after having lived a genocide of enormous scale (one million dead in one hundred days), this small country in Africa with only 12 million inhabitants, 26,000 kilometers and without access to the sea, has become one of the cases of most spectacular success in Africa, No one barks praise at the brands he’s beating.
The Economist qualifies Paul Kagame, the president of the country, “as one of the most successful leaders in the history of Africa” and describes Rwanda as a place where “the population is healthier and more educated than ever, the economy stands out, corruption is minimal and foreign investment grows. ”
Time notes that “many continue to marvel at the capacity of an economy, until now based on subsistence agriculture, to become a technological center in Africa and one of the 20 countries that grow the most in the world.”
At first glance, there seem to be reasons for enthusiasm. According to the World Bank, “Rwanda’s GDP grew between 2001 and 2014 to 9% per year.” But there are more surprising reasons: the first that the country had nothing to justify this trajectory: it lacks crude and raw materials and the genocide of 1994 left it destroyed.
Even more remarkable is that the country has been able to increase its social development indexes. In a recent article Michael Porter cited Rwanda “as one of the countries that have invested the most in social development”, with rates well above its economic level. Between 2007 and 2012, the country reduced the poverty rate by 15% and removed 1.2 million Rwandans from that situation.
A study by the University of Oxford in 2013 states that “in 2033 if this continues, extreme poverty will be a thing of the past.”
Health has been a success story. Atlantic Monthly assures that “the local health system has achieved unique progress. 98% of Rwandans have public health and AIDS and malaria have fallen by 80% in the last 10 years and infant mortality by 60%. “And all with an investment of 55 dollars per person per year. education.
The primary school enrollment rate is 95%, according to the World Bank Recently, the government of President Paul Kagame launched a project to distribute 370,000 computers in schools, even the role of women in society. It is reinforcing: 64% of seats in Parliament are held by women.
The most hopeful thing for other poor countries is that Rwanda has managed to do all this almost without means. Until 1998, the country was living on international aid. Then it only produced 30% of the budget and the rest came from international donations.
This figure has been reversed. Now the aid covers only 38%. The key to improvement lies in political stability and the environment conducive to development. Kagame, whose power comes from a coup d’état in 2000, won the two presidential elections of 2003 and 2010.
He has been in power for 15 years with overwhelming support, over 95% of the vote. Regardless of its greater or lesser legitimacy, Rwanda is integrated, according to The Economist Intelligence Unit, into “the countries in transition to democracy”.
Circulate stories about the direct involvement of Kagame to seduce investors. Ask to be introduced to more important managers to sell them the excellencies of Rwanda. A few years ago he met with the president of Costco, which now buys 25% of the premium coffee harvest.
He held similar meetings with the CEOs of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, or Microsoft, Satya Nadella. Last year he personally presented 15 investment projects to attendees of the Africa Investment Summit in London. Nor has hesitated to switch to English and enter the Commonwealth, despite the fact that Rwanda was a Belgian colony.
He has been able to achieve the friendship of politicians such as Tony Blair or Bill Clinton, who support him in his projects, with his advice and with money.
Despite the strong growth, the country remains one of the poorest in Africa. 90% of the population still lives on subsistence agriculture. And as the population growth is fast (2.7% per year), the Government considers it urgent to find work for a population that will grow from 12 to 16 million by 2020.
Furthermore, since it lacks infrastructures, a new airport, two railway lines, roads and power stations. In terms of economic transformation, the country has its 2020 Vision development program, a strategy based on five areas: a new productive model, rural development, productivity, youth employment and government transparency. Rwanda has started to create special economic zones for industry and tourism.
This year an agreement was signed with China’s C & H Garments for a textile factory, Korea Telecom has invested 130 million dollars in a new network and the US Symbion Power has disbursed 160 million to extract gas in Lake Kivu.
Howard Buffet, the billionaire’s son, has invested 500 million in agricultural projects. Rwanda is interested in technological and telecommunications projects. At the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the country was rated as the one with the cheapest Internet service in Africa.
The Spanish presence is still scarce. A report from the Diplomatic Information Office indicates that the only weight contract obtained by a Spanish firm has been that of Isolux for the construction of electrical substations.
The great risk that looms over the country is the increase of the political instability before the legal impurity of Kagame to opt for a third mandate. The fear of what may come next has generated a debate on whether the constitutional text should be modified.
It is speculated that Kagame in one way or another, will look for a way to stay in power. The politician is well regarded in Europe and the United States despite his past as the leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) or his methods of government.
Kagame has been the subject of denunciations for his activities before and during the genocide, for his support to the Congolese rebels and for the persecution of dissidents. This tolerance, according to many experts, is due to the belief that Kagame is the only one that can guarantee stability,