President Kagame speaks to a group of women during a visit to Southern Rwanda in February 2013. The President told an event at Oxford University today that accountable leadership has put the country at its current level (Photo by PPU)
President Kagame has said that his leadership style of being accountable to the people has contributed to Rwanda’s performance in development.
Speaking at Oxford University May 18, Kagame emphasised the need for “taking responsibility for what I need to take responsibility for”, adding: “I work with my team – hold them accountable and am held accountable to them.”
The President made the remarks this afternoon at the Oxford Africa Business Conference where he gave a keynote address and was later awarded the inaugural ‘Distinction of Honour for African Growth Award’ by the Oxford Business Network for Africa.
Drawing on Rwanda’s recent development trends, President Kagame said that the nation’s growth has relied on structural factors like political stability.
Now Rwanda is 5th best place in the world to do business, as it takes only six hours to open a business in Rwanda. Rwanda targets 11.5% growth in the next 5 yrs, said the President.
He said the current government never envisaged the struggle to develop Rwanda to be anything easy, which helped to make hard, but right decisions.
Turning to education, Kagame explained how Rwanda’s education system has changed and produced more university graduates, from 2500 in 1995 to 75 000 to-date.
Brushing off sceptics
Regarding criticism about his administration, Kagame took a swipe at sceptics describing their views as not based on facts on the ground about Rwanda’s gains. “It’s not possible for positive and negative sides of Rwandan story to co-exist,” he said.
“How can providing health coverage and education to over 90% be authoritarian?,” he asked the audience of business personalities, academicians, politicians and university students.
He added that democracy and human rights are about people and Rwanda’s good record on health, education and women empowerment are indicative of Rwanda’s positive gains.
“We have focussed on the number one asset, which is our people,” he said, adding: “our people are mobilized, motivated and ready to embrace meaningful partnerships and meet their full potential.”
Aid cuts confused
The Q&A session also touched on the recent suspension of donor aid to Rwanda, that the President described as “confused”, adding that Rwanda is being blamed for the failures of the DRC government and the UN.
Several donor countries slashed aid to Rwanda amounting to about $240m, but most have already reinstated their packages to Rwanda. Rwanda criticised the alleged support to M23 rebels, as baseless and unfounded.
Recently Rwanda initiated the Agaciro Development Fund as a pool where Rwandans and well-wishers can contribute as the nation works towards self-sustainability.
Third Term talk
On speculation that he may seek a third term, President Kagame said that this is not part of his plans. “I have not even given thought to a third term,” he said.
Even as questions keep piling up on the topic, President Kagame has stated on numerous occasions that he does not intend to seek a third term come 2017 when his current term ends.
His call to the nation has centred on looking at continuity, change and stability for Rwanda.
Progress on unity and reconciliation
President Kagame also responded to questions regarding unity and reconciliation as the nation recovers from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. He said that the government had opted to achieve justice and reconciliation at the same time.
Rwanda adopted Gacaca, a traditional justice system that has tried about two million cases relating to the Genocide.
Through the Unity and Reconciliation Commission, Rwandans are also encouraged to reconcile and live together.
Optimism over Africa’s potential
Talking about Africa’s development, President Kagame expressed optimism over the continent’s growth pattern, saying that what remains is how such growth can be sustained. He advised that structural changes are needed to sustain it.
Kagame predicted that about 40 African countries will gain middle income status by 2025 due to increasing stability and governance.
He said that poverty rate in Africa is falling and there is indication of a bright future for investment.
Kagame praised African countries for “charting their way forward and recognising the need for partnership”.
The Oxford Africa Business Conference was attended by academicians, business personalities and university students. President Kagame is also scheduled to attend the Rwanda Day 2013 event in London that has attracted over 3000 guests.