Rwanda and the New Lions of Africa

from The Wall Street Journal..

May 19, 2013, By PAUL KAGAME

Economic growth and improved governance have changed the lives of citizens across the continent.

As the world economy continues to stagnate, a story of hope is unfolding on my continent. Nine out of 15 of the world’s fastest growing countries today are African. Over the past decade, the continent’s economies have grown at an average 5% per annum. Foreign direct investment, which stood at $9 billion at the turn of the millennium, last year exceeded $80 billion. Far from being a flash in the pan, this is the result of a sustained period of increasingly sophisticated economic management and stable politics.

Screen Shot 2013-05-22 at 12.59.32 PM

A  view of downtown Kigali, Rwanda • Associated Press

This improvement in governance has changed the lives of citizens across the continent. In Rwanda alone, more than a million people have overcome poverty in the past six years. Ten years ago, Rwandan villagers would ask the government for food and basic necessities; today they demand better roads, improved electricity access and fast broadband. From Sierra Leone to Ethiopia to Malawi, the story is the same: an emerging middle class, growing in confidence and ambition, that seeks the same educational, economic and social opportunities that Americans and Singaporeans enjoy.

That’s not to say the picture in Africa is perfect. Far from it…


There is a view that development is a marathon, not a sprint. We do not agree. Development is a marathon that must be run at a sprint. In our pursuit of progress, we have of course looked to East Asia’s so-called “tiger” economies for inspiration. But Africa’s experience is unique, and we must now define our own destiny.

So while being described as an “African tiger” is a welcome recognition of how far Rwanda has come, perhaps it isn’t quite right. After all, our continent has its own big cat. Step forward the new lions of Africa.

Mr. Kagame is president of Rwanda.

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