Twenty-four years after the Rwandan genocide that killed over 1 million people, Rwanda has risen from a devastated nation to what is seen as a “model and miracle” of development.
The hilly country’s economy was almost at a “zero stage” after the genocide, but now the country has recovered from the genocide and is moving ahead, experts have said. The World Bank said the small country has achieved “impressive development gains” since the 1994 genocide and civil war.
So what makes Rwanda achieve its gains after the genocide?
Political stability helps the country to attract investors, which also boosts the country’s economic stability, said Ismael Buchanan, Dean of the School of Economics and Governance at the University of Rwanda.
In the last 10 years, registered investments in Rwanda have jumped from 800 million dollars in 2007 to 1.675 billion dollars in 2017, which is an increase of more than 100 percent in only a decade, according to the Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
Political stability is almost certainly one of major pressing factors that every investor must consider before deciding to risk their hard-earned cash, Buchanan told Xinhua. Unstable and unpredictable political environments hinder investment returns and do not allow for long-term planning, he added.
“The country was a deeply divided nation in desperate need of economic and political reconstruction in 1994. Since then, Kagame has established firm personal control over Rwandan politics, generating the political stability needed for economic renewal,” said Buchanan.
The tourism sector in Rwanda has seen the highest peak in the last two years because of Rwanda’s stability and people enjoy staying in Rwanda, said Teddy Kaberuka, a Rwanda-based economic analyst.
People come to Rwanda not only for investment but also for meetings and seminars and for holidays with its uniqueness of endangered mountain gorillas, said Kaberuka.
Gorilla tourism remains the backbone of Rwanda’s tourism and conservation industry. In the last nine years, gorilla tourism has generated 107 million U.S. dollars to Rwanda, said RDB in January. From 2006 to 2017, over 298,000 tourists have visited the Volcanoes National Park, said RDB.
Good governance contributes to Rwanda’s economic performance, Kaberuka said, adding that the political system of Rwanda is very clear for what it wants to achieve in the future.
The Rwandan government put a lot of efforts in reconstruction of the country after the genocide, putting all the economic policies which can boost the economy, growing the size of exports and increasing the production on the agriculture sector, he told Xinhua.
In Buchanan’s opinion, Rwanda has shown its competent efforts to continuously improve the rule of law, democracy, effectiveness of government intervention, fight against corruption, transparency initiatives, unity, to name but a few.
Recommendable efforts of the current president Paul Kagame and the Rwandan government contribute to the country’s impressive progress made in most of sectors, said Buchanan.
When the Tutsi-led rebel force Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) defeated genocidal regime and took power in 1994, it didn’t implement revenge policy but see all Rwandan people as one nation, said Albert Rudatsimburwa, a political analyst who owns a private TV and radio station in Rwanda.
The 1994’s Rwanda genocide claimed over 1 million lives, mostly ethnic Tutsis. After ending the genocide, RPF formed a coalition government, which brought parties that did not participate in the genocide together, and started the journey of reconstruction and reconciliation.
Rwanda’s reconciliation status is at 92.5 percent, up from 82.3 percent of five years before, according to Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer released in 2016 by Rwanda’s National Unity and Reconciliation Commission.
According to Buchanan, Rwanda has made enormous strides towards reconciliation, which is a very big step for the country, because it brought unity and it really cleaned out the differences of tribal instincts in the Rwandan people.
The government have initiated programs like “Kwibuka”, an annual commemoration of the 1994’s genocide.
It has also adopted a policy of single national identity. Citizens are registered simply as Rwandans, with no ethnic or tribal references any more on their identification papers.
Education also plays a role in reconciliation. Rwandan schools discourage children from identifying themselves under ethnicity and instead ask them to focus on building the future of a common Rwanda, said Buchanan.
However, Buchanan said that “the road is still long” because Rwanda still faces its own challenges despite the gains over the years.
Development challenges still exist, said Teddy Kaberuka. There are many things that need to be done in order to raise the economy, create more employment for the youth, increase productivity of the farmers to meet their daily needs, he said.
There is a lot needed in infrastructure development including constructing more roads and health facilities, said Kaberuka.
by Lyu Tianran, James Gashumba and Mohammed M.Mupenda