Paul Kagame

53

Paul Kagame : biography

23 October 1957 –

Economy

Rwanda’s economy has grown rapidly under Kagame’s presidency, with per-capita gross domestic product (purchasing power parity) estimated at $1,592 in 2013, compared with $567 in 2000. Annual growth between 2004 and 2010 averaged per year. Kagame’s economic policy is based on liberalising the economy, privatising state owned industries, reducing red tape for businesses, and transforming the country from an agricultural to a knowledge-based economy. Kagame has stated that he believes Rwanda can emulate the economic development of Singapore since 1960, and achieving middle income country status is one of the central goals of the Vision 2020 programme. Kagame’s economic policy has been praised by many foreign donors and investors, including Bill Clinton and Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz. However, the DRC government and human rights groups have accused Rwanda of illegally exploiting Congolese minerals, which the London Daily Telegraph describes as an "important part" in the success of Rwanda’s economy.

Rwanda is a country of few natural resources, and the economy is heavily dependent on subsistence agriculture, with an estimated of the working population engaged in farming. Under Kagame’s presidency, however, the service sector has grown strongly. In 2010, it became the country’s largest sector by economic output, contributing of the country’s GDP. Key tertiary contributors include banking and finance, wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants, transport, storage, communication, insurance, real estate, business services, and public administration, including education and health. Information and communications technology (ICT) is a Vision 2020 priority, with a goal of transforming Rwanda into an ICT hub for Africa. To this end, the government has completed a fibre-optic telecommunications network, intended to provide broadband services and facilitate electronic commerce. Tourism is one of the fastest-growing economic resources and became the country’s leading foreign exchange earner in 2011. In spite of the genocide’s legacy, Kagame’s achievement of peace and security means the country is increasingly perceived internationally as a safe destination; in the first half of 2011, of foreign visitors arrived from outside Africa. The country’s mountain gorillas attract thousands of visitors per year, who are prepared to pay high prices for permits.

Rwanda ranks highly in several categories of the World Bank’s ease of doing business index. In 2009, the country topped the list of reformers, and was eighth on the 2012 rankings for ease of starting a business; the Rwanda Development Board asserts that a business can be authorised and registered in 24 hours. The country’s overall ease of doing business index ranking is fifty-second out of 185 countries worldwide, and third out of 46 in Sub-Saharan Africa. The business environment and economy also benefit from relatively low corruption in the country; in 2010, Transparency International ranked Rwanda as the eighth cleanest out of 47 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and sixty-sixth cleanest out of 178 in the world.

Education and health

Kagame has made education a high priority for his administration, allocating of the annual budget to the sector. The Rwandan government provides free education in state-run schools for twelve years: six years in primary and six in secondary school. The final three years of free education were introduced in 2012 following a pledge by Kagame during his 2010 re-election campaign. Kagame credits his government with improvements in the tertiary education sector; the number of universities has risen from 1 in 1994 to 29 in 2010, and the tertiary gross enrolment ratio increased from in 2008 to in 2011. From 1994 until 2009, secondary education was offered in either French or English; since 2009, due to the country’s increasing ties with the East African Community and the Commonwealth of Nations, English has been the sole language of instruction in public schools from primary school grade 4 onward. The country’s literacy rate, defined as those aged 15 or over who can read and write, was in 2009, up from in 1978 and in 1991.