3 January 2013

Rwanda: What Does 2013 Hold for Rwanda?

Photo: In2EastAfrica
Rwandan Franc.


As we kiss 2012 good-bye and usher in a New Year, this is the moment when we reflect on the last 365 days and examine if theres anything worth to write home about.

At an individual level, we either wallow in shame or bask in glory for great strides made during the ending year and begin to set targets for the New Year.

I will not dwell much on what Rwanda accomplished in 2012, since most of my colleague columnists have ably discussed it extensively. However, because its only three days into the new year, its important we look ahead and examine what lies in the basket for Rwanda in 2013, largely shaped by some significant events in 2012.

By and large, the year 2013 holds a mixed bag of fortunes for this country.

First, the events in eastern DRC will continue to influence the geo-politics of this region. Unfortunately, Rwanda is likely to continue to bare the brunt unless something tangible comes out of the on-going Kampala talks.

Though the region and Rwanda in particular have thrown their full weight behind the M23 and DRC government talks, western powers seem to have taken a lukewarm approach, a very unfortunate position that might affect the outcome of these talks.

Indeed these talks started on a low tone and have dragged on for nearly one month only dominated by blame games. Much as any talks from such warring factions are likely to be tense, the Kampala talks seem to lack a sense of urgency and the situation in eastern DRC could once again explode, taking us several steps backwards.

There seems to be less or no international pressure on Kinshasa to take the negotiations serious and the pressure is being piled on one side.

Therefore much as the region and particularly Rwanda want Kampala talks to succeed, in the unfortunate event that they do not succeed, this mess will continue to be a headache for Rwanda in 2013 and will continue to top the agenda of our foreign interests and bog down some of our own domestic programs.

The only sigh of relief comes from the fact that effective yesterday, Jan 02, 2013, Rwanda formally occupied its non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for a period of two years.

This means that anything concerning the Great lakes region will be discussed in full presence of Rwanda and hopefully, some of the lies that have been dominating the UN corridors will find no space on the UNSC table without Rwandas voice.

But more important is that Rwandas presence on the USNC will be rated as successfully--especially for Africa, if it pushes for the review of the manner in which UN experts are hired. Taking the examples of Ghana, Somalia and DRC, these fellows have simply become a menace for the continent as their credibility is often questioned.

Domestically, the economy will maintain steady growth despite the pressure from aid cuts. However, if donor funds do not flow in the first quarter of this year, then the impact of these cuts will likely be felt harder in the last quarter of this year and will likely affect over performance of the economy.

This situation is not made easy by the global economic woes that continue to pile pressure on inflation and weaken the franc against the dollar. As this New Year progresses, the exchequer will grapple with monetary strategies that curb these vices to ensure macro economic stability.

2013 will be a year for parliamentary elections scheduled for either August or September. Personally, I do not foresee any major shifts in these elections but they certainly provide an opportunity for Rwandas chronic critics to again throw tantrums. Because these fellows have completely failed to understand Rwandas chosen political formula, such an electioneering moment becomes a golden opportunity to throw mud at Rwanda---same rhetoric of political intolerance and oppression.

Therefore, much as Rwanda will continue its path towards socio-economic transformation in 2013, external factors, mainly linked with the conflict in DRC will continue to exert negative pressure on domestic progress. A quicker solution to the crisis in Congo will be good news for Rwanda; a prolonged process will continue to waste more precious time.

But if 2012 is to teach us anything, Rwanda is like a moving train and everything you throw at a train in motion, it keeps going.

Wish you all a prosperous 2013.

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