Those who argue that there are opportunities in Rwanda regardless of the havoc wrought by segregation are naive or less informed. Sometimes many of our Rwandan brethren on the diaspora are in such hurry to go and make ends meet in Rwanda. They have a deluded picture of money flowing on the streets of Kigali that no amount of counsel will deter them from their determination to move to that preternatural extension of the hell. But is Rwanda really a haven place? What kind of development can be reached out of discriminatory policies? And how would a big poor population generate opportunities?
Rwanda’s population is now estimated at 12 million. The total population doubles every 20 years, implying that by 2034, the Rwandan population shall be 24 million. President Kagame and his government circles naively argue that such population is good for the country. They say that it creates large markets and therefore contributes to economic growth and development. The advocates of this rather rudimentary theory have always referred to Singapore as a small nation that has developed basing on a large population which generates opportunities with a big market for goods and services. Nonetheless, the objective reality on the ground show that this is an erroneous and deceptive conception. Therefore, the current form and growth rate of Rwanda’s population are not boosters but impediments to the country’s development.
First of all, the Rwandan population lacks a Demographic Dividend which is a situation where people in a country possess high productive skills that create both domestic and international competitiveness. Such a population has a high human capital where every person is a Producer Commodity. An assessment of Rwanda’s population shows a structure that is largely young, dependent, unskilled and therefore uncompetitive. For the RPF regime’s education policy, quantity rather quality matters most. As a result, there is low human capital formation and very low productivity. There is even a guess that the current regional food crisis could have been caused by the increased Rwandan population that consumes without producing. The government has failed to put the fundamentals right.
The economy would not be dominated by services instead of agriculture when about 83% of Rwandans are engaged in agriculture. Investments in agriculture are very insignificant and motivated by political rather than productivity objectives. The government has left individual farmers isolated and vulnerable to exploitative middlemen who benefit from the sweat of toiling farmers by creating politically patronised receiverships called Savings and Credit Cooperatives. This means condemning 83% of Rwandans to poverty, illiteracy and diseases.
As a matter of fact, Singapore has developed from what is called reaping from the Demographic Window of Opportunity, a situation where a country’s population is so skilled and productive that they are exported to provide highly required skills in other countries. Such a population becomes the greatest export commodity, thus contributing to the country’s GDP or wealth. As to Rwanda, the highly educated have white collar skills and lack technical, vocational and informal practical skills. However, the latter are the benchmarks for economic transformation. One can ask this question: are the skills taught in Rwandan institutions the ones required in the job market?
In fact, to reach his development goals, Rwanda should have embarked on a National Qualification Framework where informal technical training is rated at the same scale with formal education. For example, we would have Professors, PhD and Master’s Degree holders in informal skills like tailoring, metal welding, motor vehicle mechanics and carpentry. It is therefore clear that the Rwandan Dream preached by the RPF regime is empty. Rwandan population by both momentum and growth is not making for a better place.
The Rwandan Dream, in its actual form of segregation and terror, lacks the necessary ingredients to be realised. To be more precise, 90% of the Rwandan population lead a life of subsistence, meaning that they do not get money throughout the year. Solely members of the RPF oligarchy and their favourites are financially well off and the rest of the population is surviving in the mire of abject poverty. Incidentally, even when you happen to see people appearing showy on the streets of Kigali, it is merely grabbing an occasion to relax from the tedium of everyday life inflicted by members of aristocracy who live off the people by means of overtaxation and a great deal of violence.
The next time when you see someone succumbing to the lies of the RPF regime, help them think thoroughly. It is not wisdom for someone to quit their comfort zone to simply reach out in the dark.
We have already seen the danger of the economy that is growing at a high rate of 6% per annum amidst the climate of development in separateness. Segregation is a political and social dynamite that we urgently have to defuse for a population that is segregated can neither reach her full potential nor achieve her dream no matter how many millions of people it may count.
A London-based independent activist