Kagame says his banana republic is consolidating middle-income status from which it will move to an upper-middle-income level

By David Himbara

General Paul Kagame’s rhetoric recalls the infamous notion that “keep repeating a big lie over and over again, and the people will believe it.” Rwanda remains low-income with a gross national income (GNI) per capita of US$780. Lower middle-income economies are countries with a gross national income (GNI) per capita of between US$1,036 and US$4,045. Upper middle-income economies are countries with a GNI per capita of between US$4,046 and US$12,535. In 2021, the IMF classified Rwanda as one of the 25 poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world.

The magazine, New African, described General Paul Kagame as “one of the most articulate and connected leaders in the world.” Kagame responded in kind, lying his way through the interview with the magazine, including the bogus claim that Rwanda is consolidating a middle-income status from where it will move onto the upper-middle income level. This is how Kagame put it:

“We successfully managed to put in place institutions of governance…Once you’ve laid the foundation and made the right investments, then you uplift the nation to a much higher level…We adopt development that changes the lives of people. It ensures transformation. We are on that path.”

Kagame concluded that Rwanda is consolidating the middle-income status, and “then we will move to an upper-middle-income level.”

This rhetoric is embarrassing. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently classified Rwanda as one of the 25 poorest and vulnerable countries in need of emergency financial support. On April 13, 2020, Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the IMF issued the following statement:

“Today, I am pleased to say that our Executive Board approved immediate debt service relief to 25 of the IMF’s member countries…This provides grants to our poorest and most vulnerable members to cover their IMF debt obligations for an initial phase over the next six months and will help them channel more of their scarce financial resources towards vital emergency medical and other relief efforts… I urge other donors to help us replenish the Trust’s resources and boost further our ability to provide additional debt service relief for a full two years to our poorest member countries.”

The 25 countries classified as “the poorest and most vulnerable countries that received the IMF’s emergency debt service relief are: Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, DR Congo, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Tajikistan, Togo, and Yemen. Somebody, remind Kagame that he has built a banana republic, not a middle income economy.