Kagame’s Singapore of Africa Is Fake

David Himbara, Ph.D.

Tonight I was reading several reports including the World Bank’s latest Global Findex and the state of accounting in Rwanda. From the Global Findex, I was attempting to understand how far Rwanda has progressed in reducing the huge number of the “unbanked.” This is vital in terms of citizen financial inclusion that is fundamental to sharply reducing poverty. With regards to the state of accounting in Rwanda, I was trying to get a sense of how far the country has increased the pool of important professionals needed to take the country forward.

In both cases, the results are disastrous confirming what we already know. Kagame’s modernization agenda rarely goes beyond prestigious building on the main roads of his capital city.

Let us begin with the field of accounting in Rwanda.

According to both Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) and the Institute of Certified Public Accounting of Rwanda (iCPAR), there are 35 approved practitioners in Rwanda. Of this number 18 are foreign nationals mostly from Kenya. Approved accounting firms operating in Rwanda number 29. Just imagine that.

It is stating the most obvious to say that professional accountants perform a vast array of roles. These roles ensure effectiveness and efficiency of public and private sectors, not-for-profit sector, regulatory or professional bodies, and academia. Their wide-ranging work and experience find commonality in one aspect – their knowledge of accounting that is fundamental to national good governance from leadership to management at all levels. Therefore a country with only 35 professional accountants can’t be any good. It is a fake.

Regarding financial inclusion, Rwanda hardly features in the Global Findex. In the case of East Africa, the Global Findex concludes as follows with regards to expanding financial inclusion driven by mobile money:

“Kenya has the highest share of adults with a mobile money account, at 58 percent, followed by Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda with about 35 percent.”

There is more. In Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, receiving payments for the sale of agricultural products into a mobile money account is also widespread. In Kenya, 16 percent of adults do agriculture sales via this platform, against Tanzania’s 12 percent, and Uganda at 9 percent.

So where is Kagame’s Singapore of Africa? Where are the results of Kagame’s frequent overseas travels marketing Rwanda as “ICT regional hub”? How did he earn the name Africa’s “digital president”?

Synonyms for the term “fake” include counterfeit, forgery, counterfeit, pirate(d) copy, sham, fraud, hoax, cheap imitation, and dummy. Any of these apply to the so-called Singapore of Africa.

Dr David Himbara