Kagame, Rwandan Newspapers, Lies, And Statistics

By David Himbara

Rwandan newspapers are intensely competing to paint President Paul Kagame a great achiever.

In the latest case, Rwandan newspapers — both government and private — have gone crazy with statistics/rankings about meetings and events tourism. The New Times, Taarifa, and Igihe have the same headlines and same contents. They are making loud noise that Rwanda is ranked the third most popular meetings/events destination in Africa.

Dear Kagame and Rwandan newspapers, the ranking that matters is based on earnings.

Folks, put generic rankings aside. Forget the various segments of tourism. Let us talk about money earned from the whole tourism sector. We have from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) tourism receipts for 2016. Based on UNWTO data, the top ten African countries ranked according to tourism earnings are as follows:

  1. South Africa — US$7.9 Billion.
  2. Morocco — US$6.5 Billion.
  3. Tanzania — US$2.1 Billion.
  4. Mauritius — US$1.5 Billion.
  5. Tunisia — US$1.2 Billion.
  6. Nigeria — US$1 Billion.
  7. Sudan — US$1 Billion.
  8. Kenya — US$824 Million.
  9. Uganda — US$768 Million.
  10. Zambia — US$683 Million.

Seychelles is at No 11 with US$414 Million, while Rwanda comes in at No 12, having earned US$390 Million. From this, we can conclude that Rwanda did reasonably well, but is hardly among the top performers.

We now await data for tourism earnings for 2017, which should be published by UNWTO anytime from now.

Kagame and Rwandan newspapers remind me of the often cited phrase that “statistics don’t lie but liars use statistics.” This simply means that statistics accurately measure the numbers you feed in the equation. But liars and manipulators cleverly measure the wrong things to impress. This is what the Kagame regime and its praise-singers do all the time. They measure rankings as opposed to earnings that come with such rankings. This is a terrible disease that severely effects not only the regime’s reports but also private newspapers.

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