Wednesday, 29 February 2012

In the Heart of Darkness

109 years on

The Economist this week published a report on a 'new' Rwanda with sound institutional mechanisms and a strong rule of law in place to herald a new era of stability and growth.

Rwanda is landlocked and surrounded by war ravaged countries that lack any sort of full functioning governments. As The Economist describes its neighbours:

Uganda is corrupt; Burundi a basket-case; Congo worse.

Due to its relatively small size, a nation of roughly 11 million souls with a land area  just bigger than Wales, Rwanda has aspirations of becoming an entrepot to Central Sub-Saharan Africa modelled on the policies and goals of Paul Kagame's favourite despot Lee Kuan Yew, the enlightened ruler of Singapore.

Mr Kagame, Rwanda's elected ruler in all but ballots, rescued the country from the chasms of inter-tribal genocide not 20 years ago. Mr Kagame so adamant in lifting his country from the ruins of mass fratricide renounced its french colonial heritage and adopted English and the Commonwealth of Nations. Yet I feel, for all of Mr Kagame's good intentions, Rwanda still is for the lack of a better saying, The Heart of Darkness.

The problem with having an annual per capita income of $600, roughly £400, is being in a state of indefinite stagnant inertia, a Catch-22. How can you grow if their really is no market, economies of scale,  friendly neighbours, and most of all, in a world still reliant on trade by ship freighting, a port of access.