Namibia must learn from Rwanda

THE State visit that was undertaken by Rwanda President Paul Kagame this week presents Namibia with an opportunity not only to add impetus to the strengthening of Rwanda-Namibia bilateral relations and cooperation but also to take a leaf from Rwanda’s economic recovery strategies.

Over the years, Rwanda has been labelled the economic miracle of Africa due to how it was able to rise from the ashes of a genocide in which some 800,000 people were killed in just 100 days to building a thriving economy, reigning in on corruption and indeed doing exceptionally well in the fight against poverty.

From the beginning, Rwanda has always been looking to reform in order to attract investment and business. This is attested by the 2019 World Bank Doing Business index which revealed that Rwanda is the 29th easiest place to do business in the world, the only low-income country in the top 30.

On health, some notable progress has been recorded with child mortality dropping 70%, and malaria-related deaths plummeting more than 85% since 2005.

Today, transparency International counts Rwanda as the second least-corrupt nation on the continent, and recently the consulting firm A.T. Kearney ranked it as the most attractive African market in its first African Retail Development Index.

On the education front, 92% of children attend primary school, and Rwanda’s parliament has a 64% share of women which is higher than any other legislature in the world, something Namibia has followed with its gender equality in parliament initiative.

After all, Kagame has promised that Rwanda will be a middle-income country by 2020, a hugely ambitious goal for a nation whose per-capita GDP was just US$644 in 2012.

To maintain steady economic growth for almost two decades, the government invested time and resources into soft and hard infrastructure in order to attract foreign direct investment.

The government established key institutions that would help it achieve its objectives enshrined in Vision 2020.

The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) was put in place in 2009 to help oversee the country’s business regulations, foreign investments, tourism promotion, environmental conservation and broader economic and development planning. According to Vision 2020, the Rwandan state is tasked with ensuring good governance, which includes accountability, transparency and efficiency in deploying scarce resources to key sectors of the national economy.

The masterstroke for Rwanda came in 2016 when the country was chosen to host the World Economic Forum. They seized the opportunity to ensure their infrastructure and systems are on point such as roads and hotels, as well as the airport shuttle transport system and the efficient networks that ensured no hiccups in clearing delegates. It was a perfect opportunity for the country to sell itself and indeed they did just that.

While President Hage Geingob told Kagame that his visit should allow the two country’s to broaden partnerships in the areas of trade, agriculture, tourism and ICT, there is more that Namibia needs to harness from Rwanda in view of policy and economic reforms in order to turn around the economy that has recorded negative growth in consecutive months.