Rwanda on the right path to prosperityBy CHARLES OMONDI | Thursday, July 12 2012 at 10:41
I am through with an extensive tour of Rwanda, and I must confess; it was no fun. It was a journey of mental torture and led to deep reflection on my country, Kenya.
How can Rwanda, a tiny country with minimal resources, be doing better than Kenya in so many ways?
Why have Kenyans resigned themselves to mediocre leadership, corruption and ethnic bigotry when a nation wracked by genocide less than two decades ago has shown that things can change for the better?
Everywhere I went, signs were clear that Rwanda was on the right path to prosperity.
Unlike Kenya’s Vision 2030, Rwanda has Vision 2020. And unlike the former that seems to be long only on rhetoric, the strides the latter is taking are more visible on the ground.
In Kigali, there are no garbage heaps at every corner as the populace observes a strict code with regard to solid waste disposal.
There is respect for the traffic code, as punishment for offenders is severe and spares no one on account of his or her station in life.
Security is reassuring as Rwanda has found an innovative way of using its soldiers, deploying them on the streets from 3pm to help police keep law and order.
There are also CCTV cameras installed in strategic places to help keep miscreants in their place. I attended two functions in rural areas to which President Paul Kagame came driving himself.
Seated next to him was First Lady Jeanette, with only a handful of chase cars in tow. The President seems to mean business when he talks of austerity.
The fight against corruption is real as at least two Cabinet ministers have been jailed for the crime. Indeed, Rwanda today ranks as the least corrupt country in the eastern Africa region.
Networks of patronage
Even more hurting to me was the fact that the Kenyan input in Rwanda’s journey to greatness is enormous.
The country’s information technology revolution was spearheaded by Kenyan IT guru Shem Ochuodho. He then moved to Juba to help South Sudan do the same.
Kenya’s enterprises are visible at every corner in Kigali. Equity Bank and Kenya Commercial Bank are key players in the financial sector.
The Nation Media Group, in existence in Rwanda for only a few years, is already a recognisable and popular brand. Nakumatt is a leading supermarket in Kigali.
Kenol/Kobil has several retail outlets. And there is even a Mount Kenya University somewhere. Kenyan professionals and private entrepreneurs are legion in Rwanda.
They are literally driving the economy of a people who are determined to realise their vision as opposed to creating networks of patronage to plunder their motherland.
At Ntarama, I came face to face with the full impact of ethnic hatred — just what Kenyan politicians and other elites have perfected into an art.
Ntarama, a former Catholic Church, is one of Rwanda’s genocide memorial shrines. It houses thousands of skeletons for it was the scene of the massacre of over 5,000 Tutsi at the hands of Hutu extremists in 1994.
Several Kenyan MPs have been there only to return home and continue with their war-mongering ways.
President Kagame’s democratic credentials may be wanting, at least in the eyes of the Western media, but if dictatorship is what it takes to create order, then who needs democracy?
-Mr Omondi is editor, AfricaReview.Com, a Nation Media Group’s news portal (firstname.lastname@example.org/ www.africareview.com)
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