By David Himbara
The bromance of Rwanda’s head of state, Paul Kagame, and the World Economic Forum (WEF) fell apart. Kagame even skipped the 2020 WEF Davos summit. The bromance began to disintegrate in 2018. That is when WEF stopped playing the role of Kagame’s useful idiot. Unlike earlier WEF’s reports that used to delude Kagame, falsely proclaiming Rwanda a highly competitive economy, the reports from 2018 onwards paint Rwanda a mediocre performer. Kagame can’t handle the truth.
How WEF downgraded Rwanda’s economic competitiveness ranking from 52th to 108th in one year
In the 2016/2017 WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index, Rwanda was ranked the 52nd out of 138 economies. In Africa, only two countries, namely, Mauritius at 45 and South Africa in the 47th position were ranked ahead of Rwanda. Fast forward to the 2018 WEF Global Competitiveness Index. Rwanda was dropped by 56 positions to the 108th ranking. In Africa, Rwanda fell by the wayside, surpassed not only by Mauritius and South Africa, but by Seychelles, Morocco, Tunisia, Botswana, Algeria, Kenya, Egypt, Namibia, and Ghana. In the 2019 WEF’s Global Competitive Index, Rwanda’s 100th ranking — still inferior not only to Mauritius and South Africa but also to Morocco, Seychelles, Botswana, Egypt, Namibia, and Kenya.
Rwanda’s own data indicates that it barely has a private sector let alone a competitive economy
The 2019 Rwanda Revenue Authority’s (RRA) data paints a depressing picture of the Rwandan economy. As of June 2019, Rwanda had 193,962 taxpayers, of whom 375 (0.2 percent) were categorized as large taxpayers; 845 (0.4 percent) medium taxpayers; and 192,742 (99.4 percent) small or micro taxpayers. RRA further explains that the combined large and medium taxpayers of 1,220 or 0.6 percent of all Rwandan taxpayers paid 70.9 percent of taxes in Rwanda. Small and micro taxpayers numbering 192,742 or 99.4 percent of Rwandan taxpayers were responsible for 29.1 percent of the taxes. An economy in which 99.4 percent of business operations are small and micro cannot possibly compete.
Is the Kagame-WEF bromance over?
Things fall apart. The Kagame-WEF bromance disintegrated — whether it will be put together again remains to be seen. Stay tuned.