Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rwanda wants a life without aid

By NRC Handelsblad in partnership with RNW

March 6, 2009

Rwanda has expressed the desire to do without Western development aid. If the country decides to take that road, it will be the first African country to turn down aid. Rwandan President Paul Kagame approached Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo about the issue, after reading her call to stop development aid to Africa because it has failed to produce economic growth and reduce poverty throughout the continent.

In her book Dead Aid, Moyo provides recommendations on how African countries can balance their budgets without development aid. Dr Moyo studied at Harvard, obtained her doctorate from Oxford and spent eight years in London working for US corporate bank Goldman Sachs.

Phase out aidIn Rwanda, the economist spoke to the president and a wide range of ministers, ambassadors and senior officials. "Imagine", she writes in her book, "that one by one the countries of Africa receive a phone call from donor countries saying we will phase out the aid over a period of five years." Dr Moyo describes how one of the president's right-hand men responded "We want to be the ones to make that call."

At the end of February, the Rwandan government went on retreat to the Serena Hotel Kivu in Gisenyi to review its national development strategy. Western diplomats confirm that the scaling back of development aid was high on the agenda. Rwanda has already asked America for help investing in government bonds.

Loss of dignityRwanda's president has regularly expressed criticism of development aid. He is tired of being browbeaten by Western countries. As he sees it, dependence on foreign aid results in a loss of dignity, undermines innovation and stifles enterprise.

Dambisa Moyo estimates that Rwanda relies on aid for 70 percent of its government expenditure. Western diplomats put that figure at a more modest 50 percent. This represents a sum of 800 million dollars a year, to which the Netherlands makes an annual contribution of 27.5 million.

Read the full story here: NRC Handelsblad International

Radio Netherlands Worlwide

Related Materials:
Country profile: Rwanda - BBC Africa

Rwanda Today: When Foreign Aid Hurts More Than It Helps

Striving for growth, bypassing the poor? A critical review of Rwanda's rural sector policies

On The Myth of Economic Prosperity in Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda’s Rusesabagina Commends Sweden and the Netherlands, Asks Other Countries to Follow their Lead


At March 9, 2009 at 7:25 PM , Blogger Mamadou Kouyate said...

Phasing out Rwanda's development aid has already started with the Netherlands and Sweden.

This situation may somehow explain why Kagame is so excited about this opportunity.

However, as Kamabali Musavuli pointed it out late in 2008, there are concrete policy prescriptions that have to go along with this economic measures to ensure that Kagame does not continue to get rich from looting Congo's resources.

These drastic measures would therefore put the Congo and the Great Lakes Region of Africa on a path to peace and stability.

HPlease find bellow exerpts from the article "Congo in crisis: What President Obama can do to right past wrongs in U.S. policy" by Kambale Musavuli

1. Stop giving President Paul Kagame of Rwanda carte blanche to intervene in the Congo. Kagame invaded Congo twice, in 1996 and 1998, and occupied Congo for six years, from 1996 to 2002, and the biggest fight he had in the Congo was with his ally Uganda over minerals and not the so-called Hutu rebels who participated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which he uses as a pretext for invading the Congo.

2. Call for a political process that leads to the democratization of the Rwandan political landscape, which would allow disaffected “Hutus” to leave Congo and go back to Rwanda to participate in political life. Lack of democracy in Rwanda feeds instability in the Congo

3. A radical change is needed in U.S. policy, which currently favors corporate exploitative interests - see Dan Rather’s “All Mine” report - and has contributed to the exacerbation of the problem in the country.

The International Crisis Group study of July 2007, "Consolidating the Peace," clearly documents how the U.S. skewed the electoral system to favor former rebel leaders, one of whom is Joseph Kabila, who is now the president of Congo. Kabila had no political history whatsoever in the Congo, yet the West provided him nearly unconditional support to ascend to the head of government.

Many brilliant Congolese leaders who truly care about their people have been systematically sidelined because the U.S. is not confident that these Congolese men and women will serve its corporate interests. Hence, the U.S. assured the victory of a weak "leader" who would guarantee unfettered access by U.S. corporations to Congo’s wealth.

4. The solution to the current crisis is political and not military, as is being proffered by many European states. Should the U.S. tell Kagame to stop its support of proxy rebel forces in the Congo, the killing and mass displacement of the people would stop. The U.S. has enormous leverage over Kagame yet has not exercised it.

5. Finally, the U.S. should support national reconciliation in the Congo and support the rightful ownership of Congo’s wealth for the people of the Congo. The Carter Center and the United Nations have made clear policy recommendations that would further this policy but the U.S. government has refused to act on those recommendations, which would ultimately give the Congolese more control over their own wealth and set them on a path to self-sustainability.


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