21 May 2019

Rwanda: Why Rwanda's Admission to OECD Development Centre is a Big Deal

Photo: New Times
Trade and Industry Minister Soraya Hakuziyaremye addresses delegates at the high level meeting of the OECD governing board in Paris
opinion

Rwanda's membership to the OECD Development Centre will help the country improve its development policies and share own experience with other member states, experts have said.

Rwanda was yesterday admitted to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Centre, along with Togo, and Ecuador.

This increased the OECD Development Centre membership to 57 countries.

The admission of the three countries was announced during the 5th High Level Meeting of the OECD Development Centre Governing Board at the OECD Forum in Paris, France.

A delegate speaks at the 2019 OECD Forum in Paris yesterday. Courtesy.

Established in 1961, the OECD Development Centre is an independent platform for knowledge sharing and policy dialogue between member countries of OECD and developing economies.

Welcoming Rwanda's admission to the club, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Soraya Hakuziyaremye, said that the membership will help the country enhance its cooperation with other member countries and learn more about best practices in designing development policies.

Delegates applaud at the OECD meeting in Paris yesterday. Courtesy.

"Working with and within the Development Centre will allow Rwanda to participate and contribute to evidence-based policy dialogue; in particular in reviewing and designing key policies and reforms in terms of youth employment, increasing our tax base, enhancing the role of our private sector and reviewing our industrial policy," she said.

Hakuziyaremye, who attended the two-day OECD Forum in Paris that ended yesterday, said that Rwanda's admission to the club is a testimony to the country's transformational development path, commitment to sharing lessons learned, willingness to enhance cooperation with other member states, and need to continue accessing best practices of development from other OECD members.

"On behalf of the Government and people of Rwanda, I wish to convey our appreciation to the OECD Secretariat, as well as the OECD Development Centre teams who have worked with us for four years to ensure Rwanda's membership," she said.

Analysts have welcomed the development.

Herman Musahara, an Associate Professor at the School of Economics of University of Rwanda's College of Business and Economics, said that it is always good to have different sources of knowledge and the OECD Development Centre will be a valuable partner.

"It is always essential to look everywhere for sources of knowledge on development policies," he said.

The professor also noted that Rwanda has a lot to share with other countries, especially its recovery from the devastation of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

"There is no doubt Rwanda will learn a lot from the OECD Development Centre but the country also has something to share with the other member countries," he told The New Times.

The OECD Development Centre draws attention to emerging systemic issues likely to affect global development, particularly in emerging economies.

By using evidence-based analysis and strategic partnerships, the Centre helps countries to formulate innovative policy solutions to development challenges.

Rwanda's admission comes at a time when the country is scaling up efforts to become a regional business hub, with the latest World Bank Doing Business Report ranking Rwanda the 29th best place to do business globally.

Rwanda's Foreign Affairs and Cooperation minister, Richard Sezibera, has previously told this publication that Rwanda seeks to learn from OECD Development Centre, especially in the areas of business standards and trade ethics to help further improve its business environment.

Fourth Industrial Revolution

Meanwhile, addressing the OECD Forum on Monday, the body's secretary-general Angel Gurría said the world is "facing one of the most complex, challenging and contradictory periods in history. The global economy has entered a new slow-down. Trade tensions keep escalating".

"The middle classes are shrinking, while the share of wages keeps falling. Global carbon emissions are growing again, while biodiversity is declining at unprecedented rates. Inequalities keep growing. Public trust remains at record lows."

At the same time, he said, "digitalisation is powering major improvements in communication, sustainability and well-being. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming developing countries. Political participation is rising in almost every region of the world. Civic action is blossoming. Teenagers are taking the lead in the fight against climate change. Public activism is rising."

"Globalisation and digitalisation have brought a plethora of benefits and progress. They have integrated an ever-growing global population, boosted international trade, investment and migration, strengthened international co-operation and regional development, helping us lift millions of people from extreme poverty.

"Globalisation and digitalisation have produced the Fourth Industrial Revolution, giving birth to a cascade of new technologies, innovations and improvements for human development: from the internet, smart phones and robotics, to computational biology, open data and e-government; from intelligent vaccines and drones that deliver blood to remote hospitals, to online education, smart energy grids, robot assisted surgery, blockchain; you name it!"

He added: "At the OECD we believe this change is possible. Because we know these are not uncontrollable forces. We know they are the result of theoretical frameworks, regulations and policies that we have created. Theoretical frameworks that can be fixed, regulations that can be changed, policies that can be improved. That's what we are here for."

"We want to advance in four parallel tracks, inspired by four major objectives: to help countries build a new social contract, one based on inclusion, sustainability and well-being; to help countries strengthen integrity and regain public trust, for there is no possible transformation without the support of the people;

"To help countries empower people for the future of work, because economic success, productivity and human progress are determined by the quality of our skills; and to help countries strengthen international co-operation, making it more efficient, transparent and reliable. Global challenges can only be addressed globally by multilateral co-operation."

The OECD Forum is held at OECD Headquarters in Paris each year.

Membership

OECD is composed of 27 countries, namely: Belgium, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

OECD Development Centre is composed of 57 countries. They include all the OECD members and 30 non-OECD countries, namely: Brazil, India, Romania, Thailand, South Africa, Egypt, Viet Nam, Colombia, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Mauritius, Morocco, and Peru. Others are the Dominican Republic, Senegal, Argentina, Cabo Verde, Panama, Côte d'Ivoire, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, China, Ghana, Uruguay, Paraguay, El Salvador, Guatemala, Rwanda, Togo and Ecuador.

The European Union also takes part in the work of the Governing Board.

The OECD is headquartered in Paris, with four regional OECD offices in Washington D.C, Berlin, Mexico City, and Tokyo.

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