January 11, 2007


Keep looking ahead: Despite its dreadful history, the country in some ways is going in the right direction (The Economist, Jan 11th 2007)

It is amazing to think that Rwanda, of all places, is trying to set an example of good governance in the region. When the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) took control of the country in the summer of 1994, it looked finished: the stench of death was everywhere. Some 800,000 Rwandans, mostly from the once-dominant Tutsi minority, had been killed by members of the majority Hutu tribe in a matter of weeks: truly a decimation. These days the country is ambitious. "The view in the past was that it was our fate to be poor," says a minister. "We don't believe that now. We believe our fate is to be rich."

Rwanda's government is certainly focused on "performance" and "service delivery". So while Kenya's talks about computers in universities, Rwanda's is busy installing wireless internet in rural primary schools. The government, still RPF-dominated, says it expects to meet most of the UN's Millennium Development Goals before 2015. Alone in the region, it eagerly promotes family planning. Foreign investors are wooed. Along with neighbouring Burundi, Rwanda will join the East African Community in 2007--a big step in its plan to become a bilingual trade hub linking French-speaking central Africa with English-speaking east Africa. The idea of a rail link with Tanzania is being aired.

Donor money--guilt money, some call it--has paid for nearly all of this. It used to come with policy prescriptions attached. Now large amounts of it go straight into government coffers. For that trust, Rwanda can thank the austere if harsh leadership of its president, Paul Kagame. He says that curbing corruption is a top priority. Ministers get one car, for which they have to pay in part themselves. Mr Kagame spends his evenings reading the Harvard Business Review and other management literature. He enthuses about competition. If landlocked Rwanda is to have a future, he says, it must add value, to its people by education, then to its tea, coffee, mining and tourism.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 11, 2007 5:06 PM

Ditto for Iraq. And speaking of justice, most of those who design, play, and critique the legal game seem to undervalue its non-rational component. To meet individual and societal needs, justice must be more than an abstraction enshrined in a zillion-page rule book.

Posted by: ghostcat at January 11, 2007 7:23 PM

Gee, don't ya think that the time they spend plundering eastern Congo might have something to do with their prosperity?

Posted by: Brandon at January 11, 2007 9:02 PM


"ditto for Iraq"

The minority Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), is back in control. For the analogy to Iraq to work the Sunni would need to retake power. (of course I realize that is not what you or OJ suggest)

Posted by: h-man at January 12, 2007 5:15 AM

Once the scores are settled the politics is wide open.

Posted by: oj at January 12, 2007 8:58 AM

In Iraq, they're still settling scores from 760 AD - so naturally the politics is abysmal.

Posted by: ratbert at January 12, 2007 10:41 AM