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Riveting Rwanda's Rise & Why We Should Pay Attention
A look at the past of a small country in Africa and a glimpse of its future glory.
Hello there Zedites,
We’re happy and no, it’s not because of the weekend. The reason for the little dimple in our cheek, and we can’t believe we’re saying this, is math. We’ve been averaging an open rate of about 60% and even though we hardly ever look at our numbers, this one really makes us thank our lucky stars!
Thank you for the immense love showered upon this newsletter!
A Story For You
In 1994, international peacekeepers and the rest of the world futilely bore witness to one of the goriest cases of genocide in the modern era. It all began with Rwanda becoming a Belgian trusteeship under the League of Nations mandate, right after the First World War.
The League of Nations was an international diplomatic group developed after World War I as a way to solve disputes between countries before they erupted into open warfare. A precursor to the United Nations, the League achieved some victories but had a mixed record of success, sometimes putting self-interest before becoming involved with conflict resolution, while also contending with governments that did not recognize its authority.
Ethnic tensions brewed when the Belgians favored the minority Tutsis, over the dominant Hutus. The turn of events that led to the beginning of bloodshed are as follows:
1959: 3,30,000 Tutsis flee the nation due to the successful Hutu revolution that reduces the population of the already outnumbered.
1961: The Tutsi monarch is banished by the Hutus, forcing them into exile.
1962: Rwanda breaks free from the shackles of colonialism and becomes a republic, officially gaining independence in July.
1973: A coup ousts former President Grégoire Kayibanda and places Major General Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, in power.
April 6, 1994: An aircraft carrying Juvenal Habyarimana and former President of Burundi Cyprien Ntaryamira is shot down over the capital of Rwanda - Kigali. No one survived.
Mayhem ensues in the next 100 days as the death toll reaches one million, comprising mainly of Tutsis, who were labeled traitors, and some moderate Hutus. The world turned a blind eye and the ones trusted upon to resolve such matters, watched in deafening silence as innocent blood was shed across the country. It’s been almost 3 decades since the horrific occurrence but it forever remains in the history of country that’d like to forget all about it.
Neither does the black page in Rwanda’s history reflect how it stands today, nor does it encapsulate where it ought to be in the next 20 years. Diligently strengthening its foundation over the course of three decades, the landlocked country, nestled in the Great Rift Valley of Central Africa, stands sturdy, stable and stout, on its way to become the powerhouse of the Mother Continent.
Nicknamed the land of a thousand hills, its meteoric rise has rubbed off on its neighboring country - the Democratic Republic of Congo, as both nations are touted to be the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2023 (6.7%).
Summary of Rwanda’s Rise
Declining rate of poverty - 60% in 2001 to 37% in 2017 (credible data is yet to be gathered for the previous 5 years).
Ranked 6th in the Global Gender Gap Index 2022.
A steady decline in the unemployment rate to 1.1% in 2019 until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Rwanda remains the lead reformer in East Africa. The government continues to make improvements in the regulatory environment for private businesses. Foreign and domestic investments remain at a high level. The market is open to all investors. However, it is dominated by commercial banks, which account for 80% of all holdings. Long-term and large-scale financing are limited to a small section of businesspeople. (Credits: BTI)
Ranked 38th in the Ease of Doing Business Report, 2nd in Sub-Saharan Africa after Mauritius.
Ranked 1st among 12 low income group economies in the Global Innovation Index 2022.
Kigali Innovation City (KIC) is being developed to be a mixed-use, master-planned, innovation city to be situated on 60 hectares of land in Kigali, Rwanda. KIC will seek to facilitate the development of pan-African talent and act as a technology innovation hub. Its plan includes four universities, office spaces, and start-up business incubators, alongside supporting facilities for retail, hospitality and accommodation.
Rwanda is on a roll - it’s adamant on shifting its reliance from the primary industry to the tertiary industry, leaping above and beyond the traditional secondary industry route. Even though approximately 60% of the 13.28 million Rwandans are employed in agriculture, the government, under President Paul Kagame’s leadership is putting measures in place to cement Rwanda’s place in Africa as the designated IT hub.
…, despite the country’s achievements over the last quarter of a century, poverty remains widespread in Rwanda.
About 39 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and 16 percent lives in extreme poverty, according to government statistics.
Despite sustained economic growth, the government's biggest challenge is still to eradicate the high rate of poverty and create employment for the majority of the population who are young.
(Credits: TRT World)
Trade relations between Turkey and Rwanda are steadily growing as more Turkish businesspeople show interest in investing in the East African nation.
“Total amount of Turkish investments has reached $400 million, constituting 13% of FDIs [Foreign Direct Investments] in Rwanda,” the envoy said, noting that the total amount of Turkish investments was recorded at $13.5 million in 2019 alone.
The main investing countries, other than Turkey, are United Arab Emirates, India, United Kingdom and Portugal. Rwanda’s FDIs have picked up pace after the world stalled for a year, with priorities aligned to battle the pandemic.
The world is beginning to gauge the potential that this small country in Africa holds. It’s not backed by natural resources or pre-established infrastructure, but Rwanda is a testament to what can be achieved without complaining about the lack of means. It has been 28 years of building grounds for Rwanda to be able to take off now and boy, will it reach feats of glory when the countdown begins.
The question is:
Are you going to be there when it does?
P.S. Happy New Year to everyone! We’ll see you on Monday with our own resolutions! Ciao!