Rwanda’s president says trade rather than aid needed: FT

Rwanda can beat poverty by exporting more and boosting tourism, and poor nations should not rely on aid to improve their economies, President Paul Kagame wrote in an article in this morning’s Financial Times and republished by Reuters.

Entrepreneurship and trade were the ways to achieve greater prosperity, he wrote.

Aid has often failed to meet its objectives, he said, rarely dealing with the underlying issues of poverty and weak societies.

“Often aid has left recipient populations unstable, distracted and more dependent,” Kagame wrote.

“Do not get me wrong. We appreciate support from the outside, but it should be support for what we intend to achieve ourselves.

“Unfortunately, it seems that many still believe they can solve the problems of the poor with sentimentality and promises of massive infusions of aid, which often do not materialise,” he wrote.

“We who live in, and lead, the world’s poorest nations are convinced that the leaders of the rich world and multilateral institutions have a heart for the poor. But they also need to have a mind for the poor.”

Entrepreneurship will best help Rwanda attempt to increase its gross domestic product by seven times over a generation, he added.

He said Rwanda had grounds to be optimistic despite its geography, recent conflict, lack of natural resources, little specialised infrastructure and low historical investment in education.

“We have a clear strategy to export based on sustainable competitive advantages,” he wrote.

“We sell coffee now for high prices to the world’s most demanding purchasers; our tourism experience attracts the best customers in the world and market research reveals that perceptions of Rwandan tea are improving.”

As a result wages in key sectors are rising at more than 20 percent on an annual basis, and aid as a percentage of total GDP has been by cut by half during the past decade, he wrote. Last year, Rwanda‘s economy grew by more than 11 percent.