Why Is Kagame Applying To Join OECD Development Centre Instead of OECD Itself?

President Paul Kagame

By David Himbara

The East African and The New Times have been reporting that the government of General Kagame seeks to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The East African, for example, proclaimed that Rwanda was ”pulling off a first with OECD membership bid ambition.” In an opinion piece in The New Times, it was claimed that last week the Rwandan cabinet ”approved plans to apply for the membership of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).” Kagame is vain but not foolish — he knows his iron-fisted and low-income dictatorship could never be admitted in OECD. Kagame is therefore not applying for OECD membership. Far from it.

Kagame is applying to join OECD Development Centre

Source: Rwanda Cabinet Decisions, November 19, 2018.

As shown in the Rwanda Cabinet Decisions of November 19, 2018, Kagame is applying to join OECD Development Centre. The role of the Development Center is to help low-income countries such as Rwanda to find…

”innovative policy solutions to promote sustainable growth, reduce poverty and inequalities, and improve people’s lives. We facilitate a policy dialogue between governments, involving public, private and philanthropic actors.”

Dear General Kagame, I have an idea what the OECD Development Center will advise you. They will repeat what some members of the OECD are already telling you. This is what the OECD’s largest member — the United States — says in its 2018 assessment of Rwanda’s investment climate:

” the most frequently perceived obstacles for current company growth are: access to working capital, shortage of qualified labor, tax levels, tax predictability, and lack of reliable electricity and water (especially for mining). Many companies report that although it is easy to start a business in Rwanda, it can be difficult to operate a profitable or sustainable business due to hurdles and constraints, including the country’s landlocked geography and resulting high freight transport costs, a small domestic market, limited access to affordable financing, payment delays with government contracts, and uneven enforcement of laws and regulations. A number of investors have said that tax incentives included in deals signed by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) are not honored by the lead tax agency, Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA). Rwanda’s immigration authority also does not always honor the employment and immigration commitments of investment certificates and deals. Some investors reported difficulties in registering patents and having rules against infringement of their property rights enforced in a timely manner. There are neither statutory limits on foreign ownership or control, nor any official policies that discriminate against foreign investors, though some investors complain about competition from state-owned and ruling party-aligned businesses.”

There you go General. Good luck with the OECD Development Center. Don’t say that I did not warn you.