Home Special Reports “Inspirational” But Still Focused On Improvement, Rwanda’s Approach To Development

“Inspirational” But Still Focused On Improvement, Rwanda’s Approach To Development

by Vincent Gasana
10:47 pm

After her meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Edouard Girente, vice president of the World Bank for Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr Victoria Kwakwa, gave fullsome responses to questions from the gathered journalists, yet her answers, while informative, also served to increase curiosity. That may be the challenge of breaking down complex economic issues for a news agenda.

Any journalist who would not wish to have been a fly on the wall, eavesdropping on the discussions between prime minister Ngirente, and Dr Kwakwa and both their respective teams, is probably in the wrong trade. 

In Kigali to have that conversation, and to attend the 60th anniversary of the Rwanda Central Bank, Dr Kwakwa, and the prime minister had what she described as a “fruitful” “robust” discussion, on a range of issues.

The body language alone, will surely have spoken volumes to that fly on the wall. Two African economists, one, Dr Victoria Kwakwa, representing the World Bank, the other, Dr. Edouard Ngirente, representing an African government, as prime minister. On what did they agree, and where, if anywhere did they part company? 

From Dr Kwakwa’s responses, however, it seems there was convergence on most, if not all points. 

“I am glad to be here in Kigali again, to see the progress that Rwanda is making making and how our partnership is contributing to it.” Dr Kwakwa informed the journalists. 

“I had a fruitful discussion with the prime minister, we touched on our partnership and how we are delivering together. We were successful in delivering and getting approval for all the projects that were planned to go to our board this year, and we’ve been able to implement the projects in the portifolio well, and have a healthy disbursement ratio…” she added.

According to Dr Kwakwa, the discussion touched on almost all areas of development. The provision of energy, agriculture, education and training, financial inclusion, to name but a few. 

It is perhaps in the nature of the discipline that you will rarely find optimism in economists, so, when the dignified, measured, quietly spoken, Kwakwa, speaks about a country’s developmental progress with obvious enthusiasm, that country must be doing unusually well. 

One of the outstanding achievements on which Rwanda scores highly, to the extent that development organisations, like the World Bank, have arrived at the “lessons from Rwanda” moment, is access to electricity. 

The country has a dream of connecting every institution, and every household to electricity, and it is a dream during which they have clearly not been sleeping, and which is becoming a reality at a remarkable pace. 

In 2009, household access to electricity, was at 6%. Fifteen years later, by March of this year, the figure had risen to 75%. The government might be forgiven for allowing itself a moment for a pat on the back, but not a bit of it. 

“This was an opportunity to discuss not only the progress we have made, but also to evaluate what has not worked as we would have wished, and how we can best proceed with the next goals” explained the Minister of State state in charge of the treasury, Richard Tusabe. 

No such meeting can of course, fail to address budgetary contraints, and an important of the discussion, was on replenishing the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), which was set up to provide affordable loans, to low income countries, like Rwanda. On that too, Dr Kwakwa expressed her appreciation for Dr Ngirente’s attendance at a recent summit in the Kenya capital of Nairobi, to discuss the replenishment of IDA.  

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