Paul Kagame and Electricity in Rwanda: Evidence of Failed Leadership

Kagame famously called for electricity during his annual State of the Nation and End of Year address in parliament.

Power shortage is of course dire in Rwanda. Although his regime claims there is 100 Megawatts in country, it is more likely to be 80MW if you take into consideration leakages due to dilapidated grid and substations. But even if it were 100MW, it is still so little to power a population of 11million; this is a regime that claims, furthermore, to be aiming for a middle income status in 6 years time in 2020.100MW is so tinny – only enough to power a single integrated steel mill, or run just one large Google data centre. That is why there are frequent power failures in Kigali that consumes the lion’s share while the rest of Rwanda is literally in darkness.

But here are Kagame’s dramatic words on electricity during the State of the Nation Address:

“I hope those who are responsible are listening. I want electricity – quickly, quickly.”

But wait. Is this not the Rwandan CEO? Your Excellency Mr CEO, who are telling this?

It gets worse.

See what the Rwanda CEO stated about the same subject nearly two years ago on 4 March 2012 at the National Leadership Retreat when he blasted everyone but himself for lack of electricity in Rwanda:

“Do you have to attend thousands of seminars on the lack of electricity in Rwanda? Do you need to study how bad it is not to have electricity to power our industries, to light our homes and our streets? Parliament, you should be asking these ministers why we don’t have electricity- but you might actually not be aware that we don’t have electricity…Why don’t our citizens have electricity? We should address this question because it has come up several times at past retreats. But I am going to hold myself at fault because think I should have assumed more responsibility. At one point we even discussed that if needed we should cut the budgets of all other sectors and make sure that money to provide us with electricity is found. Are these retreats going to be about the kind of discussion that never materializes into real results? We need electricity, not stories about electricity. We can’t wait any longer.”

Interestingly enough CEO Kagame bombastically declared at the 2012 Retreat that he would take action.

This is what he said:

“I’ll do some engineering, like we have done before, use government money…we are going to do it…I am really not interested in endless debates that do not deliver results that changes peoples’ lives.”

So now Mr CEO, why do you shed crocodile tears in Parliament about electricity? Where are the actions and solutions you promised two years ago? Show us tangible results since then? Nothing! Zero! Zilch!

Mr CEO, be a man. Admit failure for once! In leadership jargon, you are lousy at execution. As we all know everything boils down to execution; execution is job number one for a real leader not blame games such your dramatics that “you hope those responsible for electricity are listening”. No chief, you are the micro-CEO who is not deploying the necessary talent and resources to ensure that that priorities are addressed. Your focus is on other things – pet projects such as Kigali Convention Centre to make you look great, or so you hope. Mr CEO, your leadership is not destined for failure – it always was a failure, and case in point is electricity. Like I said before, you are a powerful ruler without power.

David Himbala