Turn the challenges of least developed countries into best-practice examples: Rwanda

Published: 07 December 2010

Rwanda – a landlocked, largely deforested and country without any natural resources. If we think about Rwanda, we immediately think about the genocide 15 years ago. Which country’s conditions for a healthy development could be worse that these of this little country with about 10 million people? We would probably never think about Rwanda as a best-practise example of effectiveness of development help and economic growth. Rwanda has shown it is in fact possible: “Even though Rwanda does not have natural resources and a history of genocide, it tries to focus on knowledge of science and technology”, says Charles Michel, Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Minister for Development Cooperation, Belgium. Rwandas government has committed to investing annually 5% of its GDP in science and technology by 2012. The country now boasts one of the best business climates in the region, an average growth rate of about 7 percent in the last decade and belongs to one of the fastest-growing countries of Africa.

EU development aid in Rwanda

Rwanda is the first of seven ACP countries to benefit from an MDG contract, which is offered to countries demonstrating good performance and sound economic management. Under this MDG contract, budgetary support is provided within a predictable long-term framework: EUR 175 million for the 6-year period, 2009-2014. In Rwanda, according to Kampeta Sayinzoga, Permanent Secretary & Secretary to Treasure, Ministry of Finance of Economic Planing of Rwanda, Rwanda is so successful for many reasons: “The whole government is being held accountable to actually not spending money, but spending money that translates into directly to individuals. The role of the European Union to provide financing and really to be open and listen and provide advice, but not telling us what to do.”

Without economic growth no development

So far only 2% of all global investment goes to the least developed countries like Rwanda. But without no investment and trade, there will be no development: “In order to be able to enter the global market, African products have to better improve their quality, have to be moe productive. Otherwise Africa won’t be able to compete with the global market”, warns Chieck Sidi Diarra, United Nations High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

No common recipe

16 years after the genocide Rwanda is developing pretty and is seen as one of the best examples how development aid has actually been effective and the country can surely set an example but “there is no recipe for every country”, ensures Charles Michel, Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Minister for Development Cooperation Belgium.  Every country has to find its own solution. But the example of Rwanda shows that it is not only about the preconditions of a country like natural resources but also about the willingness of politicians to find effective actions to fight against poverty and to fight for development.