We changed our story to growth – Kagame

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We changed our story to growth – Kagame

President Paul Kagame addresses the Rwandan community in London

President Paul Kagame said on Tuesday that Rwanda was no longer “just a country of genocide” and now had a positive story to tell about reconciliation and economic growth.

He warned though of the dangers of dependence on foreign aid and of the failings of international institutions, saying developing countries had to form closer regional links to increase stability.

Speaking at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, on Rwanda’s role in an emerging Africa and an uncertain world, Kagame said states in which the West had heavily invested had been allowed to fail, shaking confidence in other countries.

We changed our story to growth – Kagame

“Rwanda is always in the spotlight because our tragic history became closely intertwined with the question of the international system itself,” he said, referring to the 1994 genocide by the Intarahamwe militia and the sluggish global response.

He said there could be an “endless blame game” about the past, but there was also a “positive side to the story” that was bringing Rwanda’s recovery to wider attention.

“We are finding that our country’s story means something positive to people beyond Rwanda. We are no longer just a country of genocide. Perhaps we even have something to offer as a nation to others,” he said.

But while Rwanda now has the “trust” of financial markets, “we still have a long way to go compared to the goals we have set for ourselves,” he added.

We changed our story to growth – Kagame

Twenty years on since the Genocide, Rwanda ranks 11th out of 52 countries in the 2014 Ibrahim Index of African Governance the first in East Africa, coming second in terms of the overall business environment and gender equality.

“It is sometimes said that Rwanda’s economic and social achievements are somehow offset by a lack of democracy and the popular voice. The truth is exactly the opposite,” Kagame insisted in his speech.

“What is commonly perceived as Rwanda’s biggest weakness is actually its greatest strength. We would have got nowhere without robust mechanisms that enable many changes, based on popular participation.”

During his presenation, supporters waved placards reading: “We love Kagame”, “Rwanda today: zero corruption” and “11 million Rwandans know the truth”.

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About the author

Olive Ndaka is the Junior Editor for RwandaEye. An investor and young entrepreneur, she is a quick learner and has contributed many articles for RwandaEye in Kinyarwanda.

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