Learn more about the Rwanda miracle
Paul Kagame was born in October 1957 in Rwanda’s Southern Province. His family fled pre-independence ethnic persecution and violence in 1960, crossing into Uganda where Kagame spent thirty years as a refugee. Determined to resist oppressive regimes, as a young man, Paul Kagame joined current Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and his group of guerrilla fighters to launch a war to free Uganda from dictatorship. Under the new government, he served as a senior military officer.
In 1990, Paul Kagame returned to Rwanda to lead the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s (RPF) four-year struggle to liberate the country from the autocratic and divisive order established since independence. Led by Kagame, the Rwanda Patriotic Army defeated the genocidal government in July 1994 and the RPF subsequently set Rwanda on its current course towards reconciliation, nation building and socioeconomic development.
Paul Kagame was appointed Vice-President and Minister for Defence in the Government of National Unity on 19 July 1994, and four years later was elected Chairman of the RPF, a partner in the Government of National Unity. On 22 April 2000 Paul Kagame took the Oath of Office as President of the Republic of Rwanda after being elected by the Transitional National Assembly. President Paul Kagame won the first ever democratic elections held in Rwanda in August 2003 and was re-elected to a second seven-year mandate in August 2010.
President Kagame has received recognition for his leadership in peace building and reconciliation, development, good governance, promotion of human rights and women’s empowerment, and advancement of education and ICT, and is widely sought after to address regional and international audiences on a range of issues including African development, leadership, and the potential of ICT as a dynamic industry as well as an enabler for Africa’s socioeconomic transformation.
During President Kagame’s leadership, the country has experienced a significant economic transformation which translated into alleviating poverty and improving the lives of all Rwandans. The real GDP growth increased from 2.2% in 2003 to 7.2% in 2010 with a peak growth of 11.5% in 2008. Overall, the average growth rate has been 7%. This was achieved through the long-term economic development plan, Vision 2020, and its medium-term strategy, the Economic Development Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) which gives a clear direction on how to move from poverty to a middle income country. From Vision 2020, a blend of programs and policies have been formulated and implemented in several key sectors- agriculture, investment, tourism and ICT. The Green Revolution: The End of Subsistence Agriculture In 2007, His Excellency the President launched the Crop Intensification Program (CIP) as part of the Integrated Development Program (IDP) which transformed the agriculture sector. The program aimed to consolidate land and cultivate a limited number of crops (the ones most adapted to the region), to increase the use of fertilizers and improved seeds. This resulted in growth of the sector of 7.6% in 2010 against 2.7% in 2007. This program was also complemented by the ‘one cow per poor family’ targeting the neediest Rwandans..
Top Ten Global Reformer
A series of reforms have been implemented to create a conducive environment for business. Rwanda was ranked one of the top ten global reformers in the World Bank Doing Business Survey 2010, and second global reformer out of 183 countries. Rwanda is also the 9th easiest place to start a business in the world and the 6th most competitive economy in Sub-Saharan Africa according to the 2010 World Economic Forum global Competitiveness Report. These reforms have been made possible by Government of Rwanda’s commitment to a politically stable country with well functioning institutions, rule of law and zero tolerance for corruption.
Tourism on the rise
Rwanda has become widely recognized as one of the safest countries in the world. The city of Kigali is the first city in Africa to receive the prestigious Habitat Scroll of Honor Award in recognition of its cleanliness, peacefulness and security. With its rich biodiversity, stunning natural beauty and excellent climate, Rwanda is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. Gorilla tracking in the Virungas is the country’s premier attraction, supplemented by the mesmerizing savannah and plains wildlife of Akagera National Park, the incredible biodiversity of the extensive Nyungwe rainforest and a range of hills and lakeshore beaches around the expansively beautiful Lake Kivu. In 2010, Rwanda hosted 666,000 visitors who generated US$ 200M- a 14% increase from 2009.
ICT for all
In line with the Government of Rwanda’s commitment to increase nationwide access to ICT, the rollout of fiber optic cable has been completed. The use of technology was also extended to the agricultural sector with the establishment of E-Soko- an Agricultural Market Information System that has been deployed to provide farmers with reliable, up-to-date market price information. With this infrastructure, service delivery in public and private sectors will be dramatically improved and access to information will no longer be a luxury as high–speed internet connectivity becomes affordable and accessible.
Democracy and Democratic Processes in Rwanda
After 1994, Rwanda steadily and progressively built the foundations and institutional framework for a modern democratic polity that responds in a principled way to its deeply divided legacy. Today, with a new Constitution, separation of the three branches of power, good governance through decentralization, the fight against corruption and a new justice system, the government of Rwanda has established a credible, inclusive and effective Government.
Branches of Government
The Government of Rwanda has three branches of Government namely the Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary. While separate and independent, the work of these three branches is complementary. Executive authority in Rwanda is vested in the President and Cabinet, emphasizing both the direct electoral mandate of the president as well as the collegial nature of decision-making implicit in cabinet government. The term of office of the president is limited to two terms and President Paul Kagame is currently serving his second term. The Senate and the Chamber of Deputies Parliament is composed of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies in charge of passing laws, legislating and overseeing executive action in accordance with procedures determined by the Constitution. The Supreme Court and other Courts exercise judicial power and are independent and separate from both the Executive and the Legislative branches of Government.
A new Constitution: Free and Fair Elections & the Protection of Human Rights
The Rwandan Constitution institutionalizes a systematic electoral process, with free and fair elections and guaranteed what no Rwandan constitution had done before: the equality of all people in rights and duties and before the Law, the right to physical and mental integrity, the prohibition of discrimination of all kind, torture, application of retrospective laws and punishments, freedom of press and information, and freedom of association and assembly. It also provides for a right to education through a compulsory and free universal primary education. With offices such as Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Gender Monitoring Office, Rwanda has institutionalized the protection of human rights.
Rwanda embarked on the promotion of good governance through the decentralization of power to the lowest government levels. The main thrust of the policy is to ensure equitable political, economic, and social development throughout the country, and to be a cornerstone of the fight against poverty by increasing people’s participation in the planning and management of the development process. One of the key tools introduced by the GoR in 2006 to reinforce participation and accountability of local government is the performance-based contracting, locally referred to as ‘Imihigo’. Imihigo is an old cultural practice of Rwanda where an individual would set him/herself targets to be achieved within a specific period of time. Through this approach local governments and communities set their own priorities and strategies to achieve their goals. With Imihigo, local leaders are held accountable and local communities have become the drivers of the social and economic development of their Districts.
Zero Tolerance for Corruption
Coming from a period of rampant tribalism, regionalism and corruption, Rwanda had become a country of severe inequalities however the post 1994 Government undertook a number of anti-corruption measures and institutionalized non-discrimination as the framework for service delivery. Political will and the support of the public have led to the creation of institutions to fight corruption and impunity such as the Ombudsman’s Office, the Auditor General Office, the National Public Prosecution Authority, National Police, Rwanda Public Procurement Authority and the Rwandan Revenue Authority. With these efforts, Rwanda has been internationally recognized for its zero tolerance policy. Transparency International’s perception index ranked Rwanda 8th in Africa- an improvement from its 89th position in 2009. The East African Bribery Index ranked Rwanda the least corrupt country in East Africa.
Justice: A Catalyst for Reconciliation
With the 1994 genocide, the justice system went from being characterized by weak judicial organs and a lack of lawyers to a total loss of all of its qualified professionals. In an effort to rebuild this crucial sector, the Government of Rwanda committed to establishing a justice sector capable of providing a solution to the larger number of cases, the need to for a stable environment for investment and business and the decentralization of the justice system. One of the most successful undertakings is the revival of the Gacaca court- the traditional mechanism to resolve disputes. Gacaca courts were a response to the extremely high number of genocide related cases that would have taken over 100 years to be tried. With truth telling and reconciliation taking precedence over punishment and retribution, Gacaca courts was able to prosecute 1.5 million people. Most importantly, Gacaca has become a key part of the reconciliation process.
Through the use of innovative institutional reforms, the Rwandan government has been able to achieve unprecedented progress since 1994. Today, the Rwandan government is internationally recognized for its achievements in gender equality, reconstruction and reconciliation, universal primary education, access to health care and a continuous commitment to culturally based initiatives that deliver results for every Rwandan and the use of technology to improve the lives of every Rwandan.
The Government of Rwanda, under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, has made women’s empowerment and inclusion a hallmark of recovery and reconstruction. This approach has been globally hailed as novel in both intent and scope. In May 2003, Rwanda adopted one of the world’s most progressive constitutions in terms of its commitment to equal rights for all, gender equality and women’s representation. With 56% female representation in Parliament, Rwanda has far exceeded the 30% constitutional requirement and has now become the first country in the world with the highest female representation in decision making institutions.
Free basic education
The vision of the Government of Rwanda is to become a knowledge-based economy with an educated population that can contribute to the social and economic development of Rwanda. To achieve this goal, education has become 18% of public expenditure for the continuous committed improvement of the quality and access to education. In 1994, a three phase policy was elaborated to achieve these goals. The commitment of resources to rebuild the education system was followed by the Declaration and Implementation of Universal Primary Education (UPE) which led to the implementation of nine year Basic Education in 2007. During his 2010 presidential campaign, President Paul Kagame announced a fourth phase- free twelve year basic education. Since 1994, Rwanda has achieved universal primary education and increased the number of higher learning institutions from 1 to 29 and yearly graduates are now up to 50,000 showing a stark contrast with the 2000 graduates in the 30 years preceding 1994. With these policies, Rwanda has become a country where education is the right of every child.
Quality health care for all
In 1994, the Rwandan government was faced with a health sector with a destroyed infrastructure and very few health professionals. Less than two decades later, the Rwandan health sector is globally recognized for its remarkable improvement in the quality and access to health services. The introduction of community based health insurance- Mutuelle de sante, transformed what was once a luxury into universal and affordable access to health. In addition to insuring access, the introduction of a performance based financing system has been put in place to ensure quality services. Health coverage has now exceeded 90%, over 80% of HIV/AIDS infected Rwandans are receiving treatment and mother and child mortality has dramatically decreased. Innovative practices such as the introduction of community health workers responsible for delivery of primary health care, the nationwide community nutrition surveillance program and the widely accessible family planning and reproductive health services have all contributed to the impressive reform of the health care system. With these achievements, Rwanda is now on track to achieving the MDG goals by 2015 as well as the ones outlined in Rwanda’s Vision 2020 goals.Today, what was once considered an insurmountable challenge has become one of the greatest examples of success stories in Africa
Homegrown solutions: One Cow Per Family (Girinka Munyarwanda)
Initiated by President Kagame, the programme is both a tribute to the Rwandan culture as well as an effective mean to increase the economic status of the less privileged. As many recipients of this program have expressed, this program allows for a multitude of advantages ranging from providing milk and associated products that allows for better nutrition, generation of income through milk sales and the provision of manure for farmlands. This project is conducted with the the full participation of the community through Ubudehe- a community program based on the tradition of mutual assistance. With the community’s knowledge of those most economically vulnerable, Ubudehe allows the community to choose the beneficiaries of the Gira Inka program. The “one-cow-per- poor family” policy initiated by President Kagame has impacted the lives of nearly 100,000 families. Today nearly 100,000 families have been given a cow.
Bridging the Technology Gap: One Laptop Per Child
Vision 2020 repeatedly emphasizes the need to use ICT to transform Rwanda into a knowledge-based economy. In 2007, Rwanda took a step toward its long-term goal when it became the first country in the East African Community and the third on the African Continent to join “One Laptop Per Child” program. This international initiative aims to introduce computers to the youth of developing countries in an effort to bridge the global digital divide. The first school in Africa to actually receive computers from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) programme was Kagugu Primary School in Kigali, where 3,105 laptops were distributed in 2009.
OLPC simultaneously launched a Learning Centre at the Kigali Institute for Science and Technology to support professional training for the educators who would use the laptops in the classroom. At the end of 2010, 32,000 laptops had been distributed in primary schools across the country with a commitment to reach every school by 2012.