By David Himbara
President Paul Kagame has eyes but can’t see. His regime’s maths don’t add up. We learn this from Kagame’s chief strategist, Clare Akamanzi, who runs Rwanda Development Board.
The bad maths of RwandAir and Kigali Convention Centre
According to Akamanzi’s maths, conference tourism in Rwanda is impressive — 3rd in Africa. This success, she says, is due to Kagame’s visionary leadership that invested in RwandAir and the Kigali Convention Center.
So how much money has Rwanda’s conference tourism earned so far? According to the World Bank which assisted Rwanda to establish the Rwanda Convention Bureau in 2014, the country’s convention tourism has performed as follows:
”The increase in meetings, conventions and events following the establishment of the Convention Bureau led to revenues exceeding US$37 million in 2015 and US$47 million 2016. In 2017, revenues from all business tourism in the country are projected to reach US$64 million.”
In other words, by the end of 2017, conference tourism earned Rwanda US$148 Million in three years.
But here is the thing — Kigali Convention Center cost US$300 Million. RwandAir’s assets stood at US$238 Million in 2016. Between 2013 and 2016, accumulated loans and grants to RwandAir was US$530 Million. Accumulated RwandAir losses were US$222 Million.
Akamanzi’s maths, therefore, falls apart. While conference tourism earned Rwanda US$147 Million, RwandAir’s losses totaled US$222 Million. Loans and grants to the airline amounted to US$530 Million. All in all, Kagame has sunk over US$1 Billion into the convention center and airline in 2013–2016.
The US$39 Million deal with Arsenal
Akamanzi’s maths do not add up on the Arsenal deal either. She talks of the company’s marketing expenditure. Rwanda is the company in this context. Rwanda’s marketing expenditure is the three-year US$39 Million contract with the English football club, Arsenal. The club will wear on their sleeves ”Visit Rwanda” to market the country.
Akamanzi’s maths would kill any company. While the company — Kagame’s Rwanda — is spending US$39 Million on marketing, the shareholders go hungry. To avert hunger, the company begs for food. Food aid from the US to Rwanda was US$9.3 Million in 2016.
The children of the company’s shareholders are suffering from malnutrition. To fight chronic malnutrition in Rwanda, the World Bank just signed a US$23 Million financial package that will subsequently increase to US$55 Million.
Rwandan leadership is morally bankrupt
If morality were quantifiable and measurable in numbers, Kagame would be running a shocking deficit. Here is a man in charge of an impoverished country suffering from hunger and malnutrition. While foreigners donate money and food to fight hunger and malnutrition, Kagame has the audacity to pay US$39 Million to an English football club. This is a moral bankruptcy of the worst kind.