By Dr David Himbara
President Paul Kagame has cultivated an image of an impeccable economic moderniser especially in high tech field of ICT. It does not seem to matter to him that his sequencing and completion rate are exceedingly poor. For example connecting Rwandan districts with fibre optics to spread internet rushed ahead of the availability of electricity. This anomaly has turning US$100 million ICT national backbone into a scandalously dormant asset.
On top of Mt Kalisimbi lies dead assets that were part of Kagame’s grand plan to turn Rwanda into an ICT haven. Along the way, the only land-line telecom, Rwandatel was privatised in 2003, re-nationalised in 2007, re-privatised again in 2008 and re-nationalised in 2010, until it collapsed and liquidated in 2013.
More recently, Kagame has been making even bolder and grander promises to regain his credentials of an economic moderniser.
Let us look at the major promises:
- Power generation – according to Kagame government, Rwanda will by 2017 have electricity generation capacity of over 1,000 megawatts costing or US$4.7 billion;
- Railway link to the coast 1 – by 2008, Kagame had recruited an American firm, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) to construct a railway line linking Kigali to Dar-Es-Salaam seaport. Kagame has never explained why this plan never materialised. With Kagame-Kikwete at war of words, we forget Kigali-Dar rail.
- Railway link to the coast 2 – Kagame has now joined his Ugandan and Kenyan counterparts to build a new railway line to connect Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda at cost of US$13.5 billion to be completed by 2018.
- New Bugesera International Airport – Rwanda is said to be finalising talks with China State Construction Engineering Corporation to build the new airport at a cost over $650 million.
- Broadband connectivity for nearly all Rwandans – by 2018, 80% of Rwandans will be connected to the internet as opposed to 8% in 2013.
Let us make a deal with Kagame – deliver & rule us
I say we make a deal with Paul Kagame. He wants to rule forever. Fine! But first deliver the following as per your claim:
- 1,000 Megawatts by 2017;
- Railway to Mombasa by 2018 – but show substantial progress in 2017 before we remove presidential term limits;
- Bugesera International Airport by 2016;
- At least 64% of Rwandans should be connected to internet by 2017, leaving 16% to be connected by 2018 – thereby fulfilling your promise of 80% broadband penetration in Rwanda by 2018.
Mr President fulfil these promises in the timeframe you yourself have set and become head of state for life. You are free to rule us as long as you please!!!!!
Dr David Himbara was the Principal Private Secretary to President Paul Kagame in 2000-2002 and 2009. He was the founding chairperson of the Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU), the founding chairperson of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and the founding chairperson of the Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR). A Rwandan-Canadian, David Himbara is an independent reform strategist and an Adjunct Professor at the University of the Witswaterand, South Africa which he has been associated with on-and-off since 1994. Himbara left Rwanda and returned to South Africa in January 2010.