It was said a long time ago, that a man shall not live by bread alone. That is, given the nature of humanity, the needs of men and women are not met only in their material wants. For men and women to flourish, it is necessary that they have more then what meets their material needs. Aristotle said that “wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking: for it is merely useful for the sake of something else.” After years of focus, in international development circles, on things and infrastructure, it is becoming clear that people, and their capacities, should take pride of place in the development project. Aristotle understood this fact many years ago when he said “that in household management the people are of greater importance than the material property, and their quality of more account than that of the goods that make up their wealth.” An adequate conception of development must go beyond the mere accumulation of wealth, the growth of gross national product, the rise in personal incomes, industrialization, technological advance or even social modernization (Sen 3).
“Man, not the earth, makes civilization. The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionists are philosophers and saints.” - Will and Ariel Durant, Lessons From History
Development ought to enhance the lives of people and be focused on their well-being, livelihood, capability, equity and sustainability. Simply put, economic growth is not an end in itself. Of course, economic growth and wealth accumulation are very important nevertheless. For surely man does live by bread, though not only by bread. Economic growth and wealth accumulation, rather, are means to the end of full human flourishing. Eco- nomic growth and wealth creation by themselves do not constitute the whole of human flourishing. It is becoming clear that human resource development was significant and strategic to much of Asia’s rise and reemergence in the contemporary world (Sen 41). There is actually nothing new about this idea. It is an idea as old as humanity itself. People are very important. Certainly, people are more important than things (Meyers 96).
To do development it is essential that a clear purpose be defined and established on what development is, and why development should be done. There needs to be a development philosophy so that the development enterprise might proceed with focus and direction.
Amartya Sen, a great contemporary thinker from India, proposed that we consider freedom as the defining purpose in international development. In Sen’s hand, this concept of freedom is not recklessly handled, as is too often the case in much of the modern world, where freedom looks like a kind of moral free fall, anarchic, vacuous and lawless. Freedom here may be positively understood as part and parcel of order and form, constitutive of being itself necessary to human flourishing in the world spiritually, intellectually and materially. It has been said that in the grand scheme of things, there are three things of perennial consideration to all of human knowledge and life. These things are God, the immortality of the human soul and the meaning of human freedom. The profundity of Sen’s thesis may be appreciated in this light. It is a rich and textured concept. From this vantage point, the celebration of human freedom does not close the door on statecraft and leadership, and will not recklessly deny the equally important place of community life, of which the individual in her freedom is always in a creative dynamic relationship. Indeed, statecraft may be more excellently pursued within the context where the freedom of the human person is respected and sealed in law and thought. This concept of human freedom comes to terms with something fundamental about what it means to be human. It acknowledges that there is a transcendent dignity to the human person. Human freedom is of profound religious, philosophic and moral value.
But development, so considered, is not a mere philosophical abstraction, obviously. The reality of human freedom can be most consequential for an individual and a people. It may be concretely manifested as political freedoms, economic facilities, social opportunities and transparency guarantees. It has to do with overcoming deprivation, destitution and oppression (Sen 3). A society that would be free makes arrangements for education and other social amenities in order to deepen the celebration of freedom. A society that would be free is concerned with transparency and openness in the hopes of preventing corruption, financial irresponsibility and dishonesty (4). In the interest of a just social order, development, as freedom, encourages lucidity in all transactions and the guarantees of the rights to disclosure in assorted business and social relationships. The freedom of economic transactions can be a great engine for economic growth. The understanding of freedom as central in development should allow for the crafting of policies that could successfully and confidently confront the problems of poverty, the occurrence of famines, widespread hunger, the violation of basic political rights, the neglect of women’s interest and agency, environmental threats, and sustainable economic and social life (3).
Development should be about the expansion of human freedom, giving men and women opportunities to exercise reasoned agency as responsible persons. But the exercise of freedom is mediated by values, and values are determined by the way a human person appreciates her world and her place in that world. To speak of human flourishing is to get ever deeper into the question of the meaning and purpose to life itself. An inadequate worldview may contribute to values and social mores that affect the level of corruption in the society, the role of trust in relationships, economic, social and political (Sen 9). Such views of the world may not only notcontribute to a people’s wellbeing, but might also be a significant factor in their ill being (Meyers 99). Sen has acknowledged that many traditional societies have done just that. Notwithstanding anthropological admirer of past cultural legacies and traditions, these old ways of being in the world may have to be replaced to fully al- low individuals and communities to flourish and benefit from the fruits of development holistically considered.
For international development, the traditional and cultural question is best left open to discussion concerning their value and worth in today’s world. In other words, tradition and culture are not beyond the pale (99). They are not, by definition, sacrosanct.
A new social context may be required where there is a demonstrated commitment to the development of institutions that will promote human flourishing. These will likely be institutions that will provide for a good education and for the maintenance of peace and good order. It is in this kind of community where individual freedom would be enhanced for the better, rendering the individual an active participant in community life, and allowing her to contribute meaningfully to community well being and well doing. Development must therefore work towards the removal of poverty, tyranny, poor economic opportunities, systematic social deprivation, neglect of public facilities and the repressive state. Development, as freedom, is about people and their transformation and their search for an identity and a vocation.
Development must provide for markets as a concrete expression of human freedom. The freedom of exchange is but a part of the basic liberties enjoyed by the human person. People must be free to exchange and transact for goods and services without let or hindrance so as to satisfy their needs for food, shelter, clothing and health. Human freedom and rights, though valuable in their own rights and preceding economic progress, can be very effective in contributing to economic growth. Markets, however, do not preclude the role of social support, public regulation or statecraft when they can enrich, not impoverish, human lives (Sen 6).
One development thinker has said that development is not an end point but rather a continuous process (Myers 96). This is likely so because development has to do with human growth and progress. Different nations are at various stages of this continuum, and no one has quite arrived. Rwanda, the African model of development under consideration in this article, is one such nation. This nation has, in spite of her tragic past, made remarkable progress by any measure (Streeter and Mc- Naught 12). Rwanda is now considered to be amongst the fastest developing nations in the world. Indeed, Rwanda is not a perfect model, but she is a good and reasonable one. Additionally, while development may have critical universal features, it nearly always has society specific characteristics. Rwanda is a case in point.
Rwanda is a model for African growth because she has demonstrated a commitment to cleaning up corruption and removing the usual barriers to private business investment in post-conflict and developing nations (Streeter and McNaught 12). The Rwandan leader- ship has a strong sense of constitutionalism and purpose. They know what they want to achieve. They are willing to learn and experiment to find policies that work for them. They are commit- ted to building a country of laws by devising an innovative constitution and growing a robust private sector along- side civil society institutions. In these ways, Rwanda is positively instructive to Liberian and other African thinkers and policy makers with interest in creating an efficient state and a successful country.
Rwanda’s Development High Lights
Rwanda’s strategic framework for her progress as a people in the modern world is shaped by these objectives: government efficiency, human resources development, infrastructure development, private sector growth, entrepreneurship and modernization. Rwanda shows remarkable promise in her commitment to good governance and anti-corruption policies (Streeter and McNaught 19). She has a good track record of making government accountable, and has shown a demonstrated commitment to entrepreneurial activity, trade and a zero tolerance policy on corruption (19). The Rwandan leadership appreciates that corruption has the tendency to suck the life out of any effort to improve governance and development. The leadership has made significant progress in reducing corruption and improving the business climate. In 2009, Rwanda became the world’s top reformer (“Doing Busi- ness”). She ranked 49th on the 2011 Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International. This is a ranking higher then Italy or Greece. On the same index, Rwanda was ranked 89th in 2009 and 66th in 2010. These international standards show how careful Rwanda is to make progress.
Rwandans do not want to forget the genocide (Chu “Rwanda’s President” 1). Like a wise and discerning people, they have memorialized it. But this is not the only thing that they want to be known for either. Their aspiration as a people is to now be known as a “purpose driven nation of individual responsibility in harmony with the collective good” (Chu 2). The leadership in Rwanda has won praise for stamping out corruption, restoring stability and attracting investment to the country. Rwandans say “yes to investment and no to corruption”. They have rightly understood that corruption has a deleterious effect on economic growth (Dourado, Shah and Rohac 5). Economic growth is not sustainable in a corrupt environment. The leadership also knows that it is easier to attract capital when you are honest. In their legal reforms, the Rwandans have introduced commercial courts so as to more quickly and efficiently deal with business disputes involving the enforcement of contracts (5). This should bring more predictability to the investment climate, strengthen the rule of law and improve the country’s institutions.
The Rwandan leadership has sought to foster a change in the local culture that would embrace prosperity. The country has distinguished itself for economic reforms made, and its government’s commitment to promoting and sustaining economic growth. Rwanda has a big dream. She wants to be the Singapore of East Africa. Like Singapore, Rwanda desires to leap from a Third World country status to First World in only a couple of generations. Rwanda wants to become an advanced, knowledge- based economy in East Africa, just like Singapore in Southeast Asia. (Dourado, Shah and Rohac 3)
Not surprisingly, the relative success of Rwanda is linked intricately to its tough, disciplined, forceful and principled leadership that has been able to foster national unity and grow a strong sense of self –reliance amongst the people in the country. President Paul Kagame has shown himself to be intellectually curious with a desire to transform Rwanda into a modern, prosperous country (Dourado, Shah and Rohac 7). Rwanda’s government and civil service are technically competent, and have shown a strong interest in continually improving their level of competence (6). The govern- ment has aggressively recruited highly educated members of the Rwandan Diaspora, in many cases using their embassies abroad to vigorously seek out Rwandans and present them with attractive opportunities at home (6). As a result, Rwanda’s high-level public servants tend to be bright, articulate and western-educated. These skilled professionals have given the reform effort in Rwanda a clear sense of direction and the required technical competence to execute those reforms.
The ancient Chinese sage, Confucius, understood long ago that institutions are reflective of the individuals that make up those institutions. We are the state that we produce. The Rwandan leadership has recognized that the rule of law begins with them. President Kagame has said that corruption cannot be fought from the bottom, but must be fought from the top (4). The fight against corruption starts with himself and his high officials. This kind of thinking and being in the world has made accountability a part of the political culture in Rwanda. Government Officials can be dismissed or imprisoned if they fail to disclose conflict of interests. They are also required to sign a performance contract with the President detailing what they intend to accomplish in the coming year, and if they fail to meet their targets they can be removed from office (4).
Rwanda has come a long way from a shattered social, economic, political and cultural fabric to the creation of new institutions that provide good foundations for the crafting of new rules and values to accommodate an inclusive leadership and meet the needs of the population. The government is currently undertaking an extensive program of land registration which aims to formalize all property claims with 70% of land titles issued by 2013 (Dourado, Shah and Rohac 5). Rwanda has set up clear rules for the transition of local and national leadership. She has limited the term of a setting president to two. The constitution has institutionalized a power sharing arrangement, by decreeing that no one party can hold the office of the presidency and the position of parliamentary speaker simultaneously. It has also degreed that the council of ministers cannot be drawn from a single party. While not unduly weakening her governmental center, Rwanda has sought to broaden the concept of leadership by decentralizing and localizing responsibilities and accountability. The government has endeavored to implementbest practice regulation in its bureaucracies. It has legislated state-of- the-art public procurement regulations taken from the international trade laws. Through these and other measures, Rwanda has dramatically improved her institutional environment. The Rwandan government understands that a good legal system weakens the incentive to find a way around it, and helps to decrease the level of corruption in the society.
But Rwanda is not satisfied with good legislation and good policies as impressive as these are. She has also sought to excellently and strictly enforce these laws, regulations and policies. The formation of the Rwandan Development Board has been very helpful in realizing policy objectives. Rwanda ranks 45th in the World Bank’s 2012 Doing Business index survey (Dourado, Shah and Rohac 5). This ranking represents an improvement from previous rankings of 50th in 2011 and 70th in 2010. Starting a business in Rwanda involves but two procedures and takes only three days. This is less time than it takes to start a business in Ireland, Denmark or Finland (5). It is easier to do business in Rwanda then in Brazil, Russia, India or China.
As noted elsewhere, “changing people changes everything”. Rwanda appreciates that one of Singapore’s major advantages is its outstanding educational system. The leadership in Rwanda has made education a key priority for the government (Dourado, Shah and Rohac 5). The Government sees its investment in education as fundamental to its policy of national development (Streeter and McNaught 16). Rwanda has issued a call for experienced professionals to come and assist in the training the Rwandan people. The government education policy focuses not only on formal professional and academic training, but also on technical and vocational training (16). Once people are educated, they can exploit their own opportunities and in that way make substantial contributions to the building of a strong state.
The Government has been ever so careful in its partnerships. It has acknowledged the critical role that non-govern- mental organizations (NGO) play in building a strong state. It has insisted, however, that the work these organizations in Rwanda do, are in line with its development policies and be consistent with the NGO’s own stated mission in the country (Chu “Rwanda Rising” 4). Rwanda wants “investment not corruption” (Dourado, Shah and Rohac 4).
Rwanda is uncomfortable with mere foreign aid. She sees development aid as temporary and transitory. Development aid is helpful in mitigating a great natural disaster, an emergency or a major recovery effort, the reconstruction of strategic infrastructure or vital institution, but never as a permanent part of the resources available to a government indefinitely. Paul Kagame rightly thinks that no country can depend on aid forever (Chu “Rwanda Rising” 2). He sees foreign aid as dehumanizing in the dependency that it breeds, robbing a people of their dignity and self-respect. Rwanda is blessed with vast human and natural resources. When managed properly, these resources should be able to provide well for Rwanda’s needs. Rwanda is interested in commerce, industry, and trade and adding value to her products for export or local consumption. The prosperity of any state is established through the hard earned currency of its people as taxpayers not on foreign aid (2). Foreign aid is not the answer to a nation’s development needs. For the Government and people of Rwanda, development assistance is ultimately not acceptable and unsustainable. With appropriate discernment, Rwanda has, however, used its development aid to create real value in line with her development policy, by investing in people and infrastructure to foster economic and societal growth, rendering her less dependent on foreign assistance.
The Rwandan Government is interested in forming relationship-based strategic partnerships for nation building. They look for good partners for opportunities in business, philanthropy and civil society. They have sent fact-finding missions to Asia in just such a pursuit. President Kagame speaks at Google and meets with American entrepreneurs looking for partners in development (Chu “Rwanda Rising” 7). The Government of Rwanda is now embarked upon establishing an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) center of excellence dedicated to scientific research and technological innovation.
History and Background
A brief historical review of Rwanda is necessary to understand the significance of Rwanda’s rise. The determination of a people for good can lead a country to success.
Rwanda has become notorious for her momentous Genocide of 1994 with 800,000 mortalities. Unfortunately, the death and destruction that occurred that summer, though record breaking, was not new to Rwanda. The unrest in Rwanda goes so far back in history that no one can remember when and how it started. The beginning of Rwandan history involves mainly three tribes, the Hutu, the Tutsi and the Twa. Though the prejudice between the Hutu and Tutsi rose to such intensity the actual difference between the two tribes is not so stark. Historians do not know which tribe arrived in Rwanda first or if the tribes were even established before arrival. Regardless, various kings ruled the tribes, referenced as “clans” during the times of the monarchy, until the time of Colonization (Gourevitch 1).
The Germans in 1884 were the first of two Europeans to colonize Rwanda. As World War I (WWI) began, the Belgians entered and began to introduce small changes into Rwandan society, most with regards to health. But the most memorable modification the Belgians implemented was the infamous race card. The three main Rwandan tribes, though established, were not so starkly recognized until the Europeans arrived. In fact, up to the time of the Europeans, the country was fairly unified, sharing “one language and one social and political culture” (Goure- vitch 162). In the colonial system, the Germans and Belgians preferred the Tutsis to the Hutu and Twa (164). The Europeans, true to their racist proclivities, gave only one reason for their choice of the Tutsis, they were said to be lighter-skinned (“History of Rwanda”). To enforce this idea, the Belgians distributed cards that were to be carried by all Rwandans that identified them by tribe. But the tribal troubles are not to be solely blamed on the Europeans. Scholars have differing opinions on the state of the tribal relations before the arrival of the colonizers; some argue that there was existing turmoil and that European racism simply exaggerated that turmoil. In all, it remains true that the people of Rwanda are morally responsible agents and as such responsible for their actions.
After World War II (WWII), the Belgians began a slow release of the country from colonial rule. By this time the Hutu and Tutsi tribes were so greatly divided that they even began separate independence movements. 1959 saw the first massacre. The event of the massacre was not documented well and thus there is uncertainty about the extent of the killings. It is speculated that within a period of over a year, 20,000-100,000 persons were killed, and around other 100,000 persons were displaced (“History of Rwanda”).
Though the Belgians were still deeply involved in Rwanda at this time, their role in these events is unclear. They officially attempted to stop the massacre. In 1962, the Belgians set up the first Rwandan elections (“History of Rwanda”). They were unabashed in support for the Hutus during the elections. At this time, the reign of the Tutsis was dismantled and the Hutus began to rule (Gourevitch 164). In 1962, there were more clashes between the two tribes involving the deaths of thousands more people (Gourevitch 164).
In light of the foregoing account, the history of Rwanda can be read as a depressing tale of a country split by hatred and mistrust, yet hope was growing. The Rwandan Diaspora remained hopeful. Paul Kagame grew up in Uganda, amongst Rwandans who had fled the civil unrest (“Biography”). For thirty years, Kagame lived and went to school in a Ugandan refugee camp with other Tutsis and Ugandans (Gourevitch 164). Kagame was a good student with dreams of one day returning home to Rwanda (164). There were many other children who shared his dream. Fred Rwigyema, Kagame’s best friend, was one such child (170). “We would discuss the future of the Rwandese… this was always eating up our minds, even as kids”, Kagame reminisced in an interview from 1995; “The political consciousness was there. We had ideas of our rights. Fred and I used to read stories about how people fought to liberate themselves. This was on our minds all the time” (168).
Kagame grew into a man with a strong will to realize his dream (Gourevitch 162). In 1981, there was another coup-d’état in Uganda and the country moved from one dictator to the next (164). Kagame jumped at the chance to be a part of his first fight for freedom, and he joined Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Army (NRA) to fight against the new dictator in Uganda (164). For five years, Kagame and his friend Fred Rwigyema, fought in the bush until Museveni gained power in Uganda. At 29 years old, Kagame was named Chief of Military Intelligence in the new Uganda of Museveni (171).
Rwanda’s trail of hope follows Kagame because his life was typical of many Rwandans. By the mid-1980s, there were nearly one million Rwandan Diaspora, many of them Tutsi (Gourevitch 164). “A sizable number of refugees, like Kagame, had fought alongside Museveni in Uganda,” says Philip Gourevitch in the preface to his interview with Kagame, “after the NRA’s victory; they set their sights on Rwanda” (164).
While hope grew among the Diaspora, there were still struggles at home. In 1987, Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) was founded with three goals: to destroy the dictatorship in Rwanda, to allow all Rwandan refugees to return home, and to create a unified nation through a unified government (Gourevitch 164). The organization realized early on that to create one Rwanda they had to be rid of ethnicities. As a group, they committed to referring to anyone from Rwanda as simply “Rwandan”, no matter his or her status or ethnicity (164). By early October 1990, the RPF, led by Fred Rwigyema, Kagame’s childhood friend, attacked Rwanda from their temporary home in Uganda.
Kagame, meanwhile, was in the U.S., training with the Ugandan army. On the first day of the attack Rwigyema was killed. When Kagame heard the news, he deserted the Ugandans and came home, stepping into Rwigyema’s place (165).
Meanwhile, the tensions in Rwanda intensified resulting in more violence, assassinations and killings (Gourevitch 165). The RPF continued to fight for the next three years. “The RPF never expected a full military victory,” comments Gourevitch, “the objective was only to force a political settlement” (165). Finally, President Habyarimana of Rwanda bent to external pressure to meet the RPF’s demands for negotiations (166). The Hutu extremists were livid. On his return from signing the peace agreements, Habyarimana’s plane was shot down on April 6, 1994.
To date, it has not been determined who actually killed Habyarimana, but the Hutus took the event as their signal to destroy the Tutsis once and for all (Gourevitch 166). In the next one hundred days, the Hutus, numbering around 6.5 million, murdered the Tutsis, numbering around 1.2 million (166). In a Genocide that has been called the most brutal since the Holocaust, 800,000 Rwandans were chopped up, shot, raped and tortured in a matter of one hundred days (“Biography”). The world watched in horror and did nothing.
The RPF marched from Northern Rwanda to Kigali, with a determination to end the killings. By mid-July they had gain control of the situation (Gourevitch 165). They set up a new Rwandan government with a moderate Hutu as president and Kagame as vice president.
At this point in time, the world expected nothing but more failure from Rwanda. The country had murdered an eighth of its population and even more had fled out of shame (Chu, “Rwanda’s President” 1). At home thousands of killers were living alongside thou- sands of victims (Fairbanks, “Rwanda’s president leads” 2). Every aspect of the country was affected by the Genocide, including the economy, which continued to shrink for the next five years (2). Yet while the world had little hopes for the recovery of this self-destructive country, Rwanda herself was not ready to give up.
During the Genocide the international community greatly disappointed the Rwandans and the RPF in particular. The UN did not aid Kagame and his army. The Rwandans learned the fickleness of foreign aid through these events. Their self-respect pushed them to make sure they were never again caught in a situation where the world could let them down. “Such dependency dehumanizes us and robs us of our dignity, and quite frankly it is an unacceptable proposition, besides be- ing unsustainable,” said Kagame (Chu “Rwanda’s President” 2). Rwandans decided with a strong determination that they themselves were their only hope for recovery, humanly speaking. It was essential that all the people share in this resolute determination for Rwanda to have a credible chance at recovery. The new government also realized that their hopes must be for more than survival if they were to avoid indefinitely the violence of Rwanda’s past.
With these ideas in mind, the government put together Vision 2020, a plan “to build an information technology- driven marketplace that could transform a poor, agriculturally dependent economy into a middle income country by 2020” (Darrough 2). It seemed like the Rwandan government was ignoring the smaller issues of getting food on the table and prosecuting the thousands of perpetrators and instead was looking towards building the economy and stabilizing the government. In fact, they were doing just this because they knew such changes would trickle down and benefit the whole country. Though it may not have been apparent, but avoiding more killing was always on the leaders’ minds. “We know that if that past is never to happen again,” said Kagame, “we must grow our economy, create opportunities for higher wages so that we create conditions for tolerance, trust, and optimism. That is Rwanda’s new ‘brand identity,’ as you call it,” (Chu “Rwanda’s President” 2). The smaller issues were not left undone while casting the larger vision.
The success of Rwanda, while beholden to excellent leadership, has not happened without the contribution, and cooperation, of the larger population. The leaders were well aware that their Vision would not be a success if not shared by the people and thus they have strived to communicate it in a way that every person could understand (“The Secret of Rwanda”). In an article on a Wharton University trip to Rwanda, one student was reprimanded by a tour guide for handing out pens to children,“You cannot do that,” scolded the guide, “All you’re doing is teaching these kids to be beggars. That is not acceptable to us.” The author of the article goes on to say that through these events the Wharton students realized that “every person he met in Rwanda seemed on board with a common vision to rebuild the country” (1).
After an interim of 6 years, in April 2000, Kagame was appointed to the Presidency and was elected for a second term in 2010 (“Biography”). Kagame has implemented Vision 2020 by focus- ing on the education sector, cultivating positive aspects of Rwandan cultural practices, and maintaining a careful approach to foreign aid.
Rwanda knew that if Vision 2020 was going to be successful and their society be provided with a technological base, than they would have to focus on properly educating the next generation (Darrough 2). With over fifty percent of the population under 18, the opportunity to change the country for good through the education of the next
generation is incredible (Chu “Rwanda’s President” 3). Rwandans discovered that they weren’t the only ones who appreciated the transformative power of education in human society. In 2004, Dr. Mike O’Neal, a professor from Oklahoma, came to Rwanda to pursue establishing schools in East Africa (Darrough 1). Kagame and O’Neal, along with others, established exchange student programs for young Rwandans to travel to the United States for further education (2). As the years progressed, funding for these programs dried up (4). Rwanda, convinced of the importance of this sector, continues to pour money into education, making her “one of the few nations in the develop- ing world spending more on education than on the military” (Fairbanks, “Rwanda’s president leads” 2). Students continue to graduate with high honors from high schools; earning full scholar- ships to Universities around the world (Darrough 4).
Rwanda has a beautiful culture, and the new leaders took this into account when rebuilding the nation. They began to encourage the parts of that culture that benefited the society. They were, however, careful to revamp these traditions so as to make them effective in a modern setting (Fairbanks, “Rwanda’s president leads” 2). One such tradition is the coffee business. Around 500,000 farmers in Rwanda have coffee farms (2). Kagame saw that this industry was not only an integral part of the economy, but also an integral part of the identity of these farmers. Thus he encouraged the country to invest in this business so as to improve and strengthen it. (2).
Another remarkable tradition in Rwanda is the village court system based on peer justice, called Gacaca, that tried 1.5 million perpetrators in the years following the Genocide (Fairbanks, “Rwanda’s ‘Twitter and Chief ’” 2). Kagame could have looked to other models of reconciliation, but he knew that to address such personal issues there would need to be personal solutions, solutions that Rwandans could grasp and respect. Gacaca, meaning to sit down and talk through an issue, created speedier court processing and involved the community so as to produce a feeling of satisfaction and justice. The international community criticized the tradition, saying it was not an efficient system. While it is true that Gacaca was originally created to only settle small local disputes, this court system, was called upon in a time of need to step up and serve a more demanding purpose. And Gacaca did just that. After processing around 2 million people and lasting 10 years, Kagame officially closed the courts in June of 2012 (“Rwanda’s gacaca” 1).
To truly cultivate culture, one must not only preserve and highlight the positive aspects of the culture, but one must also have the courage to weed out those things that are negative. This is the only way to grow and blossom. The RPF, while appreciating Rwanda’s culture, was not blind to the problem of tribalism in that culture. Tribalism, a cultural institution created by the Rwandans, and exaggerated by the Europeans, clearly lies at the root of much of the evils that have come to the country. The RPF was wise enough to see that to cut down the tree they had to start at the root. Gourevitch says that the “The RPF has consistently presented its revolutionary struggle as one of national liberation for all Rwandans” (164). As mentioned before, the RPF refused to acknowledge tribes, even though a majority of their forces were Tutsi, because they knew that tribalism was dividing them as a people. Once they gained power, they abolished the race cards and created programs to encourage Hutu refugees to return home (Lovgren 2). Hopefully, this healthy critique of their own culture may save the Rwandans from repeating their tragic past. The tribe as an institution or group no longer has a legal status in Rwanda.
Partners in Development
Rwanda’s approach to education and culture has accelerated the country’s progress in development. Her stance, however, on foreign aid has been truly enlightening. Besides being cautious, she has been creative and fecund. Though rightly frustrated with the reliability of the international community, Rwandan government leaders have, nevertheless, appreciated the importance of foreign aid when wisely invested, as noted previously. It is within these considerations, that the Presidential Advisory Council (PAC) was conceived. The council is composed of highly skilled Rwandan and other international professionals, who have vast experience in many important areas such as government, faith-based institutions and global companies. President Kagame has said that the presidential council constitutes a pool of talent of an inexhaustible source of advice and inspiration from people with vast knowledge and experience in areas needed to create prosperity in his country (Chu “Rwanda’s President” 1).These men and women, known affectionately as “Friends of Rwanda”, meet twice a year, once in Kigali and once in New York City, to discuss ways to enable Rwanda to transform great ideas into practice to the benefit of the Rwandan people (1). Rick Warren, an influential American Pastor and author, Scott Ford, the former CEO of Alltel, and Tony Blair are all members of the council (1). The council has been referred to as a high-level, low profile dispatch team and brain trust. The creation of the council is strategic to the implementation of Vision 2020 (1). The best example of what the PAC is doing may be seen in the person and work of Dale Dawson.
Dale Dawson’s relationship with Rwanda started with ennui (Levenick 1). By the time Dawson, an Arkansas-born American businessman, was 46 years old, he felt as if he had accomplished everything he set out to accomplish in life. Beginning as an accountant he worked for 8 years with corporate insurance tax, until he was promoted to national director of the company. Next he was invited to join Stephens Inc., an investment bank that works with many large American companies. He worked there for 10 years, until he was ap- pointed as head of investment banking practices (1). He then bought TruckPro, a struggling manufacturing company. Dawson worked very hard to save the company and by 1998, when he sold the company to AutoZone, an American auto parts maker, he had developed it into the largest independent distributor of truck parts in the United States.
It was around this time that Dawson began to have feelings of restlessness and a sense of dissatisfaction about his life’s purpose and meaning. During this time, Dawson was privileged to meet Bishop John Rucyahana of Rwanda. When the bishop heard his story he counsel Dawson to take his knowledge and skills and go to Rwanda to do service in business.
After talking with the bishop and attending a conference on doing business in Africa, Dawson decided to begin doing business in Rwanda. He did some research and convinced Opportunity International, a nonprofit business organization working in the developing world, to open a bank in Rwanda. Dawson used his skills-set in accounting and investment banking to create capitol for the bank, provide support and give leadership. The bank flourished. Today it employs over 200 Rwandans and has built a $12 million loan portfolio.
Dawson saw that he could make a profit in Rwanda, but he also saw that he could make a difference. After the establishment of the bank, Dawson was inspired to create more business in Rwanda. He knew firsthand the stability and reliability of Rwanda, but he also knew what would be required for Rwanda to become a major player in the business world. He discerned that entrepreneurship would be central to meeting many of the needs in Rwanda. With these ideas in mind, Dawson founded Bridge2Rwanda (B2R), a nonprofit that began as a business incubator. Next Dawson took a step back and saw that to build businesses there needed to be entrepreneurs. Dawson believed that the most transformational thing he could do was to train young Rwandans for business (Levenick 1). Since Rwanda could greatly benefit from young entrepreneurs, B2R expanded their vision to include “building businesses with a mission to transform lives and creating opportunities for Rwanda’s best students to get a global education” (Dawson). Instead of simply inviting business to come work in Rwanda, B2R encourages training through all of their partnerships. They have launched several training courses and internships for Rwanda’s budding entrepreneurs, as well as business and financial advisory services for those already established.
As B2R partnered with Rwanda to improve the business sector, it became apparent that higher education was essential to this process. In 2009, Kagame approached Dawson with the problem of higher education. Of the 25,000 Rwandan seniors graduating each year, many were not making it into college (“B2R Case Paper”). They were struggling with English, and were not trained in taking standardized international qualifying exams. B2R began a scholars program that offered training for Rwanda’s top students attempting to enter college or graduate school abroad. The program not only equips them for higher education abroad but also helps them in attaining scholarships, connects them with host families, encourages them in their spiritual lives and inspires them to community service.
As Kagame began to realize the value of gathering these “Friends of Rwanda”, he noticed the work of Dawson. He visited some of the projects Dawson was a part of, and in 2008, Dawson was invited, along with the bishop who had encouraged him to consider Rwanda in the first place, to sit on the Presidential Advisory Council. Dawson’s relative success in Rwanda is based on relationships of mutual respect for the dignity of the human person. He sees Rwanda as viable player with meaningful contributions to make to their own development and progress as a nation.
Kagame and the Rwandan Government have appreciated the importance of harnessing the interest of people from around the world such as Dawson. These relationships not only produced friends but just as importantly, partners in Rwanda’s development. Through Rwanda’s partnership with Tony Blair, a program has been established that creates opportunities for some of the mandarins of Her Majesty’s government at Whitehall to come and work directly with the Rwandan government. These highly skilled and experienced bureaucrats from Britain bring with them a great tradition of efficiency, professionalism and technical competence. It is hoped that in these ex- changes there will be a transfer of skills and knowledge. Through Joe Ritchie, a multi-millionaire from Chicago, who also sits on the PAC, Kagame has established impressive business and professional relationships with Costco and Starbucks for selling Rwandan coffee all over the world (“Why CEOs love Rwanda). This contact has provided the added value of business and professional internship for Rwandans at these companies. The government is always on the lookout to recruit more friends (Chu “Rwanda Rising” 4). Through the PAC, Rwanda now has the opportunity to pull from high-grade international experts from many fields, while simultaneously convincing the world of the value of investing in Rwanda.
Kagame has not forgotten the lessons learned from the Genocide: that a conscientious leader may disagree with international experts because that leader is ultimately the one responsible for the country and likely knows it best. In the years after the Genocide, international advisors warned Kagame against building up the coffee business (Fairbanks “Insights” 2). They informed him that other more powerful countries were monopolizing the market (2). But Kagame knew the importance of the coffee culture to his people, something the international advisors may not have known. He decided against their advice and as mentioned above, the decision proved profitable to the country.
Rwanda’s cautious approach to foreign aid has led to a greater sense of self-reliance. When funds for Rwandan students exchange program in Oklahoma dried up, Rwanda was not left without options (Darrough 4). Kagame went to Dale Dawson and together they established a high school training program in Rwanda to ensure that Rwandan students would be competitive enough to enter any university in the world (4). This program has the added advantage of cultivating and retaining talent at home for the local universities. Rwanda has flourished. Rwanda is flourishing. The country’s economy has grown annually by 8% for the last ten years. Even the recent down turn in international markets have not retarded Rwanda’s growth. Rwanda is on target to meet its own goals laid out in Vision 2020. In Rwanda, in the last five years, more than one million people have pulled themselves out of poverty, because of the favorable policy environment provided to encourage their personal growth and improvement. Rwanda is now ranked amongst the top ten fastest growing economies in the world (Fairbanks, “Rwanda’s president leads”). In 2012, 18 years after the Genocide, the World Bank called Rwanda a country “at peace and among the most stable in the world” (“The Secret of Rwanda”).
Rwanda has also progressed socially. The country has the unique distinction in the world to have over half of her elected assembly be women (“The Secret of Rwanda”). She has the best broadband connection in all of East Africa. This fact in turn has expanded the number of Rwandans using social media to communicate.
Can Rwanda’s success be replicated in other African countries such as Liberia? Well yes, but not without the technocratic efficient system of governance. This is a system of governance that has a policy commitment to adopting best practices from around the world. It is a commitment to professional excellence in governance by the leadership and the people. This commitment has improved the government’s ability to act quickly and effectively with equity to all (Dourado, Shah and Rohac 13).
Rwanda’s excellent institutions, however, have not automatically translated into economic success. Rwanda remains a very poor country (Dourado, Shah and Rohac 7). She is poorer than Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania (7). It is likely that she is the only sub-Saharan African country whose economic growth is not being held back by bad institutions and kleptocratic government elite (7). This is good news for Rwanda. Rwanda’s problem lies in poor infrastructure, bad neighbors and a lack of human capital (Streeter and McNaught 14). But as we have seen, Rwanda is working hard to overcome all of these obstacles. Rwanda, being a landlocked country, has no sure route to the sea. And because of this fact, her access to international markets is rather limited. The role of good institutions, however, cannot be overstated. It is a great good to any society and, while important to the proper functioning of markets, exceeds any market value. Good institutions are reflective of the order and peace within us as individuals. It is always better to have good governance and institutions then not. They have an intellectual, a moral and an aesthetic value and put a people in a ready state to seize the opportunity whenever it appears.
It is generally believed that Rwanda’s infrastructure limitations may be overcome by a critical mass of investment in a state-of-the-art, modern, international airport facility. This may prove strategic in allowing Rwanda ready access to international markets. The concern for human capital development in Rwanda is not merely with more or even better schooling. As it has been mentioned, Rwanda does have a small class of well-educated, high skill professionals, at high levels in the government. However, a large gap exists between that group and everybody else. And it is that gap that the leadership is anxious to fill. The skills that are needed here are more subtle and tacit (Dourado, Shah and Rohac 11). They are the skills needed to grow an entrepreneurial and intellectual class able to think independently and critically and know what is expected in the business world (Streeter and McNaught17). These kinds of skills are more delicately transmitted within relationships, typically the mentor-student relationship or other forms of highly relational exchanges in commerce and professional-technical interactions between Rwanda and foreign workers. Internships and exchange programs have been suggested as possible solutions to this problem of training and skills. Rwanda needs to build capacity to maximize the benefits from her good institutions and able leadership (17).
Rwanda’s graduated tax system, copied from western models, is not suited to her small tax base and her need to attract foreign investors. But the Rwandans are fast learners. They are learning how to adopt appropriate international standards to serve their purpose. They are in the process of changing their tax structure to meet the needs of their small tax base and their need for more Foreign Direct Investments Dourado, Shah and Rohac 8).
The business of building a modern nation-state is a hard and complex task. Formally certified skills and training are but a mere beginning to a very complicated and varied task. Many years of experience with the nurture of good professional, administrative and intellectual traditions will be necessary. A strong prosperous state is not built in one generation. The virtue that will be key in meeting this great task is humility, that is, having sufficient clarity and self-knowledge to honestly appreciate what one know and does not know about such a complex task. There is much here that can be learned from Rwanda: her lawfulness, her honesty, her integrity, and her pursuit for excellence. Yet what might be most admirable is the strength of her leaders to appreciate their limitations and needs, and actively seek the wisdom and assistance of others to help them meet those needs and curb those limitations and so allow them to render better service
“Biography”. Forbes. June 6, 2007. Web.
Chu, Jeff. “Rwanda Rising: A New Model of Economic Development.” Fast Company. April 1, 2009. Web.
Chu, Jeff. “Rwanda’s President: ‘We will not forget the genocide, but we will not be defined by it either’.” Fast Company. April 6, 2009. Web.
Darrough, Mark. “In pursuit of excellence.” The Independent Post. March 1, 2010. Web.