In Africa, it is difficult to select a country as a model for the development and progress of other developing countries. It is so due to the chequered history and entrenched corrupt activities of its leaders. Indeed, it is more difficult to single out an African leader who understands the challenges of his country and the confidence and knowledge of many African leaders in addressing the challenges of the continent.
Conditions are mostly attached to aid for many countries here in Africa due to the lack of trust and the lack of faith in our economic, social and political structures. For instance the International Monetary Fund demands certain specific economic and political changes before lending out money to developing countries. Who wants to risk giving out billions of dollars to countries with defects in its political and economic structures? But at least there is some hope. There is a Kagame and a Rwanda to learn from.
My three day visit to Kigali was unexpected but a trip that rekindled my confidence for the future of the continent. Rwanda may have had a gloomy past but its ‘resurrection’ defeats its tragic past and reinforces the need for African leaders to shun ethnocentrism and evil partisanship that derails the efforts of the people. Touchdown in Kigali and the first observation is the stringent security measures around. Armed police and military officers are scattered in and around the capital for the obvious reason of protecting citizens.
There is a similar module in Ghana but the numbers and vigilance in Kigali is enough to assure any visitor of maximum security. A friend who had visited Kigali some weeks ago felt intimidated by the tight security measures but what is the opportunity cost of not having this visible security; increased crime. Every public institution and hotel I visited had scanners and tight security.
A country located in the midst of the threat of Al Shabab, the security measures in place overly deals with that threat. Indeed the level of security I saw in Kigali is nowhere near what we have in Ghana where security is so relaxed with a general sense of insecurity. Nothing is screened when entering our only international airport, be it a vehicle or a traveller and the only scanners you see at public institutions signifies the presence or possible arrival of the President. With the threat of Boko Haram in the sub region, can we safely say as Ghanaians that the country is indeed secured?
A neat capital it is; a country that has been bold to ban plastics to save its ecosystem and rid the surroundings of filth and dirt. In fact, the clean environment in Kigali is no news now. In Ghana we are struggling to deal with plastics compelling the President to signal the possible ban on plastics but as is the case here, we just talk, have dinner and go to bed. There is still no clear waste management policy and this is the time for our Environment Minister to head to Kigali before citizens die again of Cholera.
Where Ghana failed, Rwanda succeeded
They have a burgeoning airline that represents the culture and goodwill of Rwandese. From Ghana Airways to Ghana International Airlines, our attempts as a country to have a national carrier has been bedevilled with corruption and widespread maladministration. We have failed to match the likes of Kenya, Namibia and South Africa. Rwandair has been in existence for over ten years but their strategy to expand its fleet of aircrafts (they are purchasing new boeing and airbus aircrafts), to facilitate their global reach is commendable.
Speaking to the Chief Operations Officer of the airline in Kigali, he stated that the management of the airline are given targets to reach and added that government does not interfere with the administration of the airline; clear lessons to learn from if we want to succeed with the establishment of another airline which is currently in the pipeline. The booming tourism industry in Rwanda clearly has enhanced the image of that country.
A capital with no potholes and polluted air. Again, this has been our challenge as a country. It’s common to see potholes in Accra and other regional capitals especially after heavy rains. I spent days in Kigali, combing through the city and there was no pothole much to my dismay. I travelled three hours outside Kigali and still saw no pothole. All their markets have been well constructed and their vehicles, be it commercial or private do not puff out fumes. The air is clean and I never saw a motor rider without a helmet. Well-manicured lawns are a common feature in Kigali and for three hours roaming through the capital, I did not hear the horn of any vehicle. The conduct of residents looked rehearsed much to my dismay.
Of course there is the man Paul Kagame. He takes the hard decisions and ensures the successful implementation of national policies. He walks the talk and understands what development means. His desire to consolidate the gains of the country and his determination to promote national unity is unparalleled. If I were a billionaire like Moh Ibrahim, I wouldn’t wait for him to retire before honouring such an astute leader, who talks less but act more. Again if you ask me, Kagame should be a syllabus of study.
He has changed my understanding of what real development means. So that development isn’t about skyscrapers and ratings from the World Bank but rather the quality of life of citizens. Don’t be surprised if Rwanda, under the leadership of Kagame becomes the sixth African country, to have a seat at the United Nations Security Council. I am not in any way saying that Rwanda has a perfect system of governance and development but definitely we can learn from their progress and success.
By: Franklin Badu Jnr/citifmonline.com/Ghana