Friday, May 8, 2009

Kagame on creating Africa’s own road to prosperity

Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s very sensible advice to the rich world and multilateral aid agencies:

We who live in, and lead, the world’s poorest nations are convinced that the leaders of the rich world and multilateral institutions have a heart for the poor. But they also need to have a mind for the poor.

Aid has not only often failed to meet its objectives; it has also rarely dealt with the underlying issues of poverty and weak societies. We see this with our neighbour, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There, 17,000 United Nations peacekeepers – the largest and most expensive presence of its kind in history – treat the symptoms rather than addressing the issues of capacity, self-determination and dignity.

No one should pretend that they care about our nations more than we do; or assume that they know what is good for us better than we do ourselves. They should, in fact, respect us for wanting to decide our own fate.

And, a need for government role in fostering entrepreneurship in the African economies:

Government activities should focus on supporting entrepreneurship not just to meet these new goals, but because it unlocks people’s minds, fosters innovation and enables people to exercise their talents. If people are shielded from the forces of competition, it is like saying they are disabled.

Good piece from an African head of state who is successfully leading the genocide-torn country out of the past quagmire (impressive growth rates of 10.5% between 1996-02, 5.6% between 2003-2007, 7.9% in 2007, and 8.5% in 2008). He emphasizes entrepreneurship as the main driving force for Rwanda to move up the stages of prosperity. Will the donors and multilateral aid agencies listen to him?