Rwanda has had its share of troubles in its past. The genocide of 1994 was a culmination of acts on both sides of a Tutsi – Hutu tribal conflict which caused massive damage to the region. The population dropped dramatically after that, but began to climb following it with a peace that has sustained to this day. It is primarily a rural society however it does have one of the highest population densities in Africa given the relatively small geographic area (26,338km2).
While not everyone will say that Rwanda is run democratically and fairly to all, it must be noted that many people now believe that the country has made dramatic changes for the better in a few key ways. The country has advanced philosophies of progress towards modernization. Government policies regarding access to the internet for everyone and a focus on education are key cogs in policy that have seen the GDP grow and more people have access to more information.
One of the new policies established early on when the country was rebuilding, was the public shunning of bribery. Rwanda is one of the only countries in Africa where graft is openly shunned and people who hear of this activity will report it to the police, who themselves appear to be uncorrupted. (Transparency International ranked it 5th cleanest country in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2014) It is a great place to do business, where the value of your proposition counts more than the names of your powerful friends.
Several government ministers in Rwanda are not politicians. The President choses his cabinet among the best people available. I’ve met ministers who came from business backgrounds because they were the best candidate for the position rather than being someone who was elected. Elected officials still have their role in government and cabinet. There is also a rule that at least 24 of the 80 member Chamber of Deputies (lower chamber of the house of Parliament) and 30% of the Senate (higher chamber) must be women which is progressive compared to many other African countries.
The country is also one of the places in Africa where it is relatively safe to walk around. The streets of Kigali are bustling and there is a general feeling of security everywhere. People seem generally happy and the country is open for business.
Under the current constitution, a President (who does have broad powers as head of state) can not stay in power for more than two 7 year terms. Following a 2015 referendum request signed by 3.8 Million Rwandans, the Constitution may be amended via a referendum allowing a third term for the current two term President Kagame. While the country itself is not one of Africa’s powerhouses, with a population of around 13 million, the country and its leader, definitely shoot above their weight in many African committees and leadership groups. While the president himself is the subject of conjecture about his role as a leader in the genocide, the country remains stable and open for business. It is a smaller market, but one where the risks are minimized by the structures in place.
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