The New Times (Kigali)

Africa: Rwanda Safest Place to Live in Africa

Photo: GALLUP
Highest likelihood to move away.

Rwanda is the safest country to live in Africa, the latest report by Gallup Poll shows.

The Global States of Mind: New Metrics for World Leaders report says Rwanda tops the list of countries where citizens are most likely to feel safe, at 92 per cent, followed by Niger, at 84 per cent.

The report by Gallup, Inc., a research-based performance-management consulting company, was released last week.

It seeks to provide leaders everywhere with "timely, forward-looking economics on what their citizens are thinking."

The survey asked African citizens questions that sought to determine feelings on their confidence in and experiences with crime and law enforcement authorities, in their countries.

Elsewhere on the continent

But a number of African countries are failing when it comes to citizens feeling secure, the report said.

At 39 per cent, Gabon and Zimbabwe top the list of countries where citizens are least likely to feel safe.

Gabon and Zimbabwe are followed by Rwanda's war ravaged neighbour, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho and South Africa at 38 per cent, and Chad at 30 per cent.

On the ability of citizens to meet other needs like food and shelter, respondents in the Central African Republic (CAR), at 83 per cent, reportedly struggled most to meet these basic needs. The people in the CAR are followed by those in Togo and Guinea, both at 74 per cent.

Meanwhile, in the wellbeing category which looks at the combined impact of factors like health, social networks, personal economics, happiness and productivity, and citizen engagement, Malawi is the only African country appearing on the list of the top 10 countries with the highest suffering, at 28 per cent. However, no African country appears on the list of countries with low levels of suffering.

On the likelihood of people moving due to a scarcity of local opportunities, West Africa features prominently. Togo is top (at 34%), followed by Sierra Leone (at 33%), Liberia (at 31%) and Ghana and Gabon at 30 per cent and 28 per cent, respectively.

Public reacts

Reacting to the report, Prof Anastase Shyaka, CEO of the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), said Gallup findings on personal safety and security reflect the evidence on the ground with those produced by RGB.

Prof. Shyaka said: "Among institutions in our nation; security organs, the RDF [Rwanda Defence Forces] in particular, enjoy the highest level of trust and confidence by citizens. This transformation is a result of coherent people centered governance and security strategies that as a country, we consistently implemented. For Rwanda, this is critical for national development predictability.

MP Gédéon Kayinamura, the Chairperson of the Chamber of Deputies' standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security said he was not surprised by the Gallop findings, given what he hears about happenings elsewhere on the continent.

Kayinamura said: "If you read newspapers and listen to news on the continent, all cities around this continent, there is no single day or night that you will not hear that someone has been mugged, or killed, for whatever reasons. But, by and large, that cannot happen in Kigali. That alone factors much into the findings."

Moses Kirui, a Kenyan pursuing an MBA at Mount Kenya University (MKU) in Kigali, said: "It is very true. Ask everyone and they will tell you that Kigali is very peaceful and there is security. In Kenya, no bank opens up to 8 pm, like here. In Nairobi, in fact, all banks must close by 4 pm just because of the rate of crime there."

Patrick Ombati, another Kenyan living in Kigali said: "Security wise, you cannot compare Rwanda to Kenya or even Tanzania. Rwanda is very fine. Banks here open up to 8 pm at night and people can travel around safely. No one is asking you for the ID all the time and the police are friendly."

Ordinary Rwandans who talked to The New Times as well agree, and find comfort in the findings.

Ivan Kayonga, a Kigali resident said: "Rwanda is doing all it possibly can to maintain peace and security as a way of attracting investors for the good of economic development. I have personally asked a similar question [issue of safety] to Americans and Europeans who live here and their response was 'they feel safer here than back home'."

"I feel much safer and secure in Rwanda than elsewhere in the region if you compared Rwanda with the crime rate I see on Nairobi or Kampala streets," he said.

Angela Ingabire, a Kimironko resident said: "I agree, one hundred per cent, Rwanda is the safest country among African countries. Of course, there are a number of factors that contribute to this reality but it's only here that you can find all of them."

"This is the country where you are never scared of being killed, or robbed, on the streets at whatever time of the day or night. In fact this is the only place where you can misplace your valuables in a bar, a taxi, or anywhere else, and later retrieve them, still intact, " she added.

Alphonse Muleefu, a Rwandan PhD student and researcher at Tilburg University, in The Netherlands, said he is not surprised by the Gallup poll findings.

"As a researcher, I knew of this feeling earlier before because in December 2009, I conducted a similar research asking people about safety in their neighbourhood and their views were not different from those in that study," Muleefu said.

"When I am home, I am part of those who feel safe whether in upper class quarters or in lower or middle class areas. I have never felt insecure. The only time I was worried was the time of grenade attacks, I remember, I used to remind friends and relatives to always avoid clouded and busy areas. But since such incidents stopped, there is no reason for any Rwandan to feel unsafe."

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