27 January 2013

Rwanda: Building a More Resilient Rwanda


As a consequence of the accusations that Rwanda supports M23, a Congolese rebel group fighting the Kinshasa government, we are currently experiencing stresses and shocks that have emerged from the punitive suspension of aid.

The government, which is the biggest employer and spender, has embarked on austerity measures that might see the economy slowing down.

All government organisations have been instructed not to recruit workers, and there are fears that retrenchment might kick in as well. This does not look good.

Of course, government expenditure will noticeably decline which will subsequently strain the private sector since government is the biggest spender. This will drag our economy into a quagmire, but it should provide us an applied lesson to be more resilient.

Like all humans, we are not born resilient. We learn, adapt and advance our resilience. This is truly applicable to organisations, systems and societies.

In a recent Huffington Post blog, Dr. Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, stated that building resilience is not a task of a single actor or a single sector, no matter how innovative and passionate.

With the current situation, where the Western big boys have yet again abandoned the Rwandan people to die of hunger and epidemic diseases, building resilience will therefore require partners from every sector: government which creates the right policies, plans and infrastructure investments; and business, which ensures that our economic system functions. The international injustice that Rwanda is undergoing is not surprising and new. This has happened and still happens across Africa, and it will take many years to change because the attitude of the western powers is unlikely to change soon. There is a vicious circle that is always applied on Africa.

This vicious circle keeps the West in business but keeps Africa in bondage and repression. It normally starts with a war, then relief, reconstruction, and democratisation and human rights. It keeps spinning on and on. These four components are kept running to ruin Africa and maintain ground for employment, business and power control for the west.

It is through the usual hullabaloo of democratisation and human rights that western powers will fuel rapture in African societies, which lead to war or conflict. If a war breaks out, they establish a UN peacekeeping mission that will bring in billions of dollars for the Western community.

If the war is over and thousands of poor Africans are dead and displaced, there comes a relief mission which is a source of employment and business for the West. As soon as the country starts reconstructing itself and aiming towards becoming self-reliant, human rights reports start flying in from all corners andaid is suspended.

As long as we continue depending on aid, we shall never be independent of the affluent West.

Many years ago, India rejected a lot of aid and subjected itself to painful suffering. Its emphasis on home-grown solutions and technology paid off later and now India is one of the BRIC economies - Brazil, Russia, India and China - the world's fast-growing economies. It might not sound realistic when you talk about Rwanda and highlight India as a model because of dissimilarities in terms of size and population and many other ways. But, there are smaller countries with smaller size of population that have managed to grow strong economies which don't depend on aid such as Botswana and Singapore.

Before the diamonds were discovered, Botswana's source of foreign currency - the dollar and pounds sterling - was exporting beef. Beef accounted for up to 85 per cent of its export revenue by then. Now, beef only accounts for about 3 per cent of Botswana's export revenue as the advent of minerals has taken charge at almost full measure.

These countries are where they are because they built resilience. Resilience is not a luxury. It's a 21st century imperative. We should rather die on our feet than on our knees.

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