Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sound Off: Rwanda Vision 2020-What Lies Ahead

Rwanda is a country that has been on my mind a great deal, these days.... As a matter of fact, my wife and I are planning a trip to Kenya this year and while there, we hope to make it into Kigali (Rwanda's capital). There are just so many fascinating things about Rwanda, these are a few of the things that intrigue me:

  • They will soon be joining the East African Community, which is the regional intergovernmental orginazation currently comprised of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
  • They have taken a proactive approach to investment promotion-coffee (often through fair trade ventures) and IT have been two of their major focal points.
  • They have gotten rid of capital punishment.
  • Rwanda's tourism sector is beginning to rebound nicely.
  • The country's "turnaround" from massive civil strife and turmoil to beacon of hope.

What intrigues me even more than any of points above is their president Paul Kagame. I have heard and read how his greatest mentors and role models are business people. Even how he reminds some more of a very pragmatic business person than a national president. But then again, maybe these two roles share more similiarities than meets the eye. Here's an excerpt from a post on The Next Billion, which to me, reinforces that very thought:

"...Certainly job creation and economic growth is central to raising livelihoods. This given, the mind is once again on the hypothetical; if the goal is job creation, 'What’s the first step?'

In grappling with this question, in 1997 the Rwandan government first set out to detail where they wanted go, then worked backwards to decide how to get there. In consultation with the development community, NGOs, and the private sector, the result of their efforts is Vision 2020. The document rests its development strategy on six 'pillars'; in short, the Nation, the State, the People, Infrastructure, the Private sector, and Agriculture.

(For another take on Vision 2020, check out Worldchanging, where editor Alex Steffen weighs in on the program as a test case for leapfrogging.)

What impresses me most about the document is not its MDG-style ambition, but its level of self-awareness. There is an honest discussion of the country's turbulent political, economic, and colonial history. The country not only knows where it wants to go, but even more importantly, it knows where it is, and how it got there; and as such its first steps, and each one there after, should be firmly grounded..."

That was an excellent synopsis by Courtland Walker and for the most part it echoed my thoughts on Vision 2020. This plan, to me, resembles a business plan and if Rwanda is able to continue carrying out the plan over 13 more years, then Rwanda could become a regional leader in several areas.

The main question in my mind, however, is whether or not it will be carried out when Rwanda's next president comes into office. If this were a Western nation or even a huge multi-national corporation business would most likely just continue as usual. But in a developing nation, or in a developing nation in the Great Lakes region of East Africa can we assume the same? I really want to know your thoughts, is this a valid question or am I being a little paranoid? Please sound off below and let us know.

Rwanda Journal: Vision 2020 | - Development Through Enterprise:

1 comment:

Tony Gishe a.k.a. Negotiator said...

Any idea who can write a solid business proposal for a Start Up Safari Company in Kenya. I'm Kenyan living in Boston. Thank you.