28 January 2013

Uganda: Unpacking the Kigali Turn-Around

book review

Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Jan. 18 presided over the launch of 'Rwanda Inc.', the first book to be written mostly highlighting Rwanda's transformation rather than dwelling on the genocide against the Tutsi.

The book was authored by Patricia Crisafulli, a creative writer and a published author of many titles, including the New York Times Bestseller, The House of Dimon, a leadership profile of JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and Andrea Redmond, a highly experienced American executive entrepreneur.

Kagame said the authors produced a good product because they were connected the story after conducting extensive research in Rwanda and seeing for themselves what is happening on the ground.

"As they told the story of Rwanda, they were deliberately telling the story of Africa, which is a story of immense potential for business and entrepreneurship, different from the story of poverty and disease.

"The story in 'Rwanda Inc. is real; it's a story of transformation. A complex situation has been put in a book in a simple way that makes everyone connect with it. This reminds us Rwandans that we should not only do things on the ground but also learn to tell our own story. I thank the authors for telling our story."

The Presidentsaid nobody should have any concerns about sustainability of Rwanda's progress, assuring that Rwanda will continue to succeed because it's inevitable.

Patricia Crisafulli, one of the authors said the extensive research she and her co-author, Andrea Redmond, conducted in Rwanda showed that Rwanda is the ultimate turnaround of a country:

"When I studied Rwanda and its leadership, I found a President who behaved more like a corporate leader rather than a political leader. We learnt a lot about Rwanda -not only its past, but its future and aspirations. This is a country that leans more towards the future, knowing that going backwards is not an option."

Rwanda Inc. tells the story of Rwanda's post-genocide success in security, economic growth, and social service delivery.

One reviewer of the book noted that most Rwanda watchers; from Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and several other high placed Rwanda advocates, the story of how Kagame's leadership and homegrown policies that have been critical to Rwanda's development are familiar.

These include gacaca, a system of community-based tribunals used to deliver justice to tens of thousands of genocide suspects, and imihigo, strict performance-based contracts that ensure accountability among all holders of public office.

"The results, including improvements in food security, vast reductions in maternal and child mortality, and a million people removed from poverty between 2006 and 2011, speak largely for themselves," says the reviewer.

The same reviewer in the American newspaper, USA Today, criticized the book for "failing to dig a bit deeper" and provide an "insight into why so many former Kagame insiders, including the one-time army chief of staff, ambassador to the U.S., and prosecutor general, have been marginalised; why looking over one's shoulder in Rwanda is far too common; and why foreign CEOs - like the former country head of the telecom firm Tigo - have been forced to leave the country in an hour for daring to speak up to the president". The USA Today also makes the usual comments about Rwanda's involvement on the side of the M23 rebels in the DRC; all of which the government of Rwanda has refuted many times. In that sense, Rwanda Inc. is making its point of Rwanda's success from the perspective of those who know in a roomful of noisy dissenters who insist on being heard.

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