By David Himbara
The New Times is full of fabulous stories about what is happening in General Paul Kagame’s Rwanda. First, the newspaper shares good news about a new factory that will export silk of over $100 million by 2025. Then there is the story about Rwanda’s acquisition of ”the first African air quality and climate laboratory” that will measure more than 50 gases that deplete the ozone layer.
We have a bit of a problem though. Both of the silk and climate center were previously launched and died on the drawing board.
Take the silk industry. Back in 2000, Kagame embraced silk production in Rwanda. He was persuaded that sericulture would generate significant employment and export revenues. Soon after, mulberry cuttings were brought from India and planted in different parts of Rwanda. Sericulture experts began to train farmers to produce cocoons.
In 2006, the first silk factory in Rwanda was commissioned — and started reeling Rwanda’s first silk yarn in 2007. By 2009, the New Times was reporting that ”silk products are expected on the local market this year.” So what happened to the silk industry since then?
The climate observatory center was originally initiated by Kagame when he visited Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008. It was downhill from there. Look at the 2013 New Times report titled ”Mt Karisimbi infrastructure projects to be completed by 2017.”
”Karisimbi project comprises integration of Comesa air space control, climate observatory, broadcasting and cable-car system…
All the projects have different time limits within which they are to be implemented, and the furthest, according to the official, is to be complete at least by 2017.
For the Broadcasting part of the project, presently there is nationwide radio FM and analogue TV transmission from Karisimbi, a 40-meter broadcasting tower…
The Comesa Air Space Integration Project involves building communications navigation surveillance/air traffic management integrated systems (CNS/ATM), using satellite technology, to enhance safety, reliability and efficiency of air traffic and space within the Comesa region…
The climate observatory station involves installing a world class climate observatory at the summit of Mt. Karisimbi. It will provide a region-wide centre for climate data gathering and analysis that will feed into national, regional and global planning activities.
The other project involves installing a cable car to facilitate people especially tourists to access the summit and it is expected to be operational by November 2015.”
All these Kagame fantasies remain a heap of dead projects on top of Mt Kalisimbi. Let us hope that the silk industry and climate change observatory projects are for real this time around. Don’t bet on it.😂