‘Ariko’, Rwanda has arrived!

‘Ariko’, Rwanda has arrived!
‘This is Rwanda. Expect more!’ - the tone is set in the introductory chapter. The book opens to a foreword by Joseph W. Saunders, CEO of Visa Inc. who tells us why he whole heartedly chose to partner with Rwanda towards electronification of its economy. This 2012 publication (publisher: Palgrave Macmillan) is not a book on economics as its name tends to suggest, it can although pass as a handbook on leadership-  drawing on the exemplary leadership of President Paul Kagame who runs the country as a CEO: and that’s where the book gets its name!

The genocide of 1994 was not a sporadic event but an outcome of brewing hatred which divided the Hutus and minority Tutsis. The mass killing of more than 1 million Tutsis and associated horrors of genocide was Rwanda’s nadir. Kagame, formed Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) at 33 and waged valiant battles to save and propel his nation to where it is today. Kagame singlehandedly etched progress on the country’s forehead with a goal of unification.

The president networked with business leaders, gave them free market environment and created all conditions conducive for investors. Unlike elsewhere, a government job is not a cushy one under his leadership! Dignified and a disciplinarian, he has zero tolerance for corruption. Kigali airport entrance reads ‘Investment Yes. Corruption, No.’ He doesn’t believe in pandering for foreign aid but in fostering self determination.

‘With overall GDP growth in 2010-11 of 8.2 per cent, reduction in poverty came down to 44.9 per cent in 2011 from 56.9 per cent in 2006. That translates into 1 million people, out of a total population of about 10.7 million, emerging from poverty in just 5 years’. Ariko,  which means but, still stays following any mention of Rwandan rise.

In spite of a disclaimer by the authors about the book not being based on Paul Kagame’s life, well- it is just that. The book also manages a few déjà vu moments though purely out of repetition.

Our PM’s ‘Swacchta Abhiyaan’ can take a leaf out of Kagame’s sustainable Rwandan model of Umuganda- a day (last saturday of each month) Rwanda goes to work for itself: clearing land, building classrooms, making roads. However will Kagame’s successor be able to carry forward the momentum, remains to be seen. Rwanda seems unstoppable; and so Rwanda Inc. aptly ends with ‘..Rwanda marches on’.
Ruchi Ahuja

Ruchi Ahuja

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