By David Himbara
Rwanda’s General Paul Kagame is an evil genius – here is a clever strongman who uses his manipulative abilities to receive more foreign aid and make money. Kagame has found a winning scheme – fighting in war-torn African countries. Kagame’s latest fighting venture is in Benin. On July 23, 2022, Benin Armed Forces Chief of Army Staff, Brigadier General Fructueux Candide Ahodegnon Gbaguodi was in Rwanda on an important mission. General Gbaguodi announced in Rwanda that he “was mandated by the President of the Republic of Benin, His Excellency Patrice Talon to exchange on security matters and share experience with his Rwandan counterpart.” By September 9, 2022, it was reported that the government of Benin is in discussions with Rwanda about providing military expertise of up to 700 troops to help fight Islamist insurgents in Benin.
Kagame’s venture into Benin follows his intervention in Mozambique where he deployed a 1,000-person contingent of the Rwandan armed forces to Cabo Delgado Province, home to the French multinational TotalEnergies’ US$20 billion investments in liquefied natural gas. The background to Rwanda’s intervention in Cabo Delgado is the rapid normalization of diplomatic relations between France and Rwanda in 2021 which sharply increased France’s foreign aid from 0 to “the total amount of French funding in Rwanda to nearly €500 million” up to 2023.
Meanwhile, it was reported that Kagame’s ruling party’s business empire, Crystal Ventures Ltd, is doing thriving business under “a big contract on Mozambique’s huge liquefied natural gas project.” Crystal Ventures Ltd’s civil engineering subsidiary, NDP, is under contract on the TotalEnergies-led project, doing clearing and structural work.
Before deploying to Mozambique, Kagame had made a similar bilateral military adventure into the Central African Republic. Initially Rwanda had contributed forces to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) since 2014. But on December 20, 2020, Kagame entered a new bilateral security deal with the government of the Central Republic under which Rwanda made a new deployment separate from MINUSCA.
Soon after the deployment, Kagame ruling party’s Crystal Ventures Ltd landed several business projects in the Central African Republic. For example, under the MOU signed by Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, Crystal Venture Ltd smiled all the way to the bank, as the ruling party newspaper, The New Times explained:
“Central African Republic has provided 70,500 hectares to Rwanda, which are ready for use…under the management of Crystal Ventures, a local Rwandan company which is the parent of the agro-processing firm Inyange Industries, among other firms.”
As we are often reminded, for centuries, genius minds have changed the world. However when genius is used for selfish ends, the results become twisted and ugly chapters in history that never end well. Rwandan strongman will be no different – using the state to accumulate private wealth is nothing less than state capture. Kagame’s evil genius in form of clever manipulative abilities for self-promotion while making money from conflicts will not end well.