President Kagame says aid is more political, markets are neutral

President Paul Kagame officially opened the Capital Markets East Africa International Conference which is taking place in Kigali, under the theme Accelerating Economic Development.   Click here to see the video

During a session on Making Markets Work for Growth, President Kagame intervened:

The question of preference between markets and aid can only be asked in Africa, not in any other region of this world.

Let’s not be diplomatic, let’s not gloss over issues. Markets are markets. We know what they offer outweigh what we have in aid by thousands of times. All kinds of wealth lying all over the place in Africa and being recycled to us in forms of aid and in the end we are told, you must be humble and quiet and not say anything. Let’s not be diplomatic, let’s not gloss over issues. Markets are markets. We know what they offer outweigh what we have in aid by thousand of times.

Aid is more political than anything else. Markets are less political, they are neutral.”

Rwandas Prime Minister inaugurates new Science and Technology Centre

Rwandas Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi today inaugurated a new Science and Technology Centre at the Adventist University of Central Africa (AUCA).

Located in Gishushu, the Centre has the capacity to accommodate up to 6,000 students.

Speaking at the inauguration, Prime Minister Murekezi said:

We are counting on skilled and competitive graduates, with a mindset of innovation and entrepreneurship, to seize new opportunities, in our rapidly growing economy.

It is fitting that this new campus will focus on science and technology. The building is not only a distinctive architectural contribution to Kigali’s skyline, but inside it also integrates the modern technologies, that young Rwandans must master to compete in the global knowledge economy.

AUCA was founded in 1978 but opened in 1984, and it remains one of the key higher learning institutions in the country.

Kigali-based fashion house listed among 50 most innovative companies in the world

Fast Company, whose mission is to inspires a new breed of innovative and creative thought leaders who are actively inventing the future of business, has listed Made in Kigali among the worlds 50 most innovative companies.

The Kigali-based fashion house is praised for helping to build an industry from scratch.

In a blog post, Emma Whitford explains why the company made it to the list:

[Scorpio Ramazani Khoury,] 26-year-old, a mineral trader by profession, is trying to lead the way—and in the process, boost Rwanda’s reputation as a global exporter (of textiles, of course, but also minerals). Her fashion house, Made in Kigali, expanded in a year to employ nearly 50 tailors, and is currently working with the minister of trade on a large-scale training center in Kigali that could handle 3,000 tailors.

Made in Kigali is listed alongside world renown brands such as Apple, Google, Alibaba, Instagram, Samsung, and more.

Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Ministerial Conference on Education Opens in Kigali

Rwanda hosts the Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Ministerial Conference on Education Post-2015. The three-day conference attended by 47 ministers and delegations from across the Sub-Saharan Africa who have come together to set out an African vision for the post-2015 education agenda.

This regional ministerial conference is organised by the Government of Rwanda in collaboration with the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO).

The conference is also attended by stakeholders from regional economic communities, international organisations, civil society representatives, UN agencies and academics from countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

In his opening remarks, Rwanda’s Minister of Education Prof. Silas Lwakabamba stated that, in the last decade, the Sub-Saharan part of the continent has made progress in increasing equitable access to basic education which now stands at 96.6 percent at primary level.

Notwithstanding such successes however, we do recognize that improvements in the quality of education needs special attention, especially during the early years of schooling.

Speaking at the conference, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Education Mr. Qian Tang pointed out that the conference is held in preparation of this year’s World Education Forum, and that its outcomes will inform perspectives and recommendations for the post-2015 agenda:

This conference will promote an analysis of regional progress in education, particularly in the context of Education for All (EFA) goals. It will also contribute to the elaboration of the Framework Action to be approved at the World Education Forum.

The conference plays a crucial role in ensuring that Africa’s voice is heard and contributes to defining the education agenda.

In its National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation, Rwanda prioritises investment in education to achieve the country’s development objectives with an aim to develop strong and efficient networks of skills and knowledge.

Rwanda promotes scientific and technological innovation as key enablers to ensure sustainable economic growth and the countrys vision is to become a knowledge-based economy by 2020

What Greece should learn from Rwandas economic turnaround

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde (C) talks with Rwanda’s Bank Governor John Rwangombwa (L) and Rwanda’s Finance Minister Claver Gatete (R) at the Ministry of Finance Building on January 27, 2015 in Kigali, Rwanda.

What Greece should learn from Rwandas economic turnaround

As a financier and portfolio manager, I pay a close attention on every single aspect of global capital market behaviour. My daily routine starts with sipping off a cup of chamomile tea at 5AM, while following European live trading along with Asias closing day numbers before I turn on my New York Stock Exchange monitors.

This first week of February has  been extremely volatile as far as Wall Street is concerned but also it brought some new key global highlights that not only have increased the level of my days adrenaline, but also have made me sit back and realise how Rwandas policy makers have outweighed their Greek counterparts.

This Friday 6 February 2015, the Standard & Poors (S&P) has downgraded the Greek sovereign bond to a B with a negative outlook—which means it could be worse. This has caught my attention—not only I am an active sovereign bonds and Credit Default Swaps (CDS) trader—Rwandas recent rating by Fitch Rating Agency was a slam dunk of a whooping B+, with a positive outlook from a B.

Question is: what happened to Greece for the past couple of decades?

In fact, what didnt Greece see coming that Rwandas policy makers anticipated beforehand? Shouldnt Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsiprass tour have been to learn from Rwanda’s finance minister Clever Gatete and central bank governor John Rwangombwa, as opposed to trying to cut a debt release deal with French president François Hollande, Angela Merkel of Germany, or Mario Draghi of European Central Bank (ECB), to name a few?

In 1995, Rwanda was struggling to rebuild. The countrys Debt to GDP ratio was at its all-time high—at 119.50 %, Rwandas cumulative debt was slightly higher than its Gross Domestic Production in 1995.

During this particular year, Greeces Debt to GDP ratio was about 126%. One would look at these two scenarios as being similar. On one hand its slightly the same as far as numbers are concerned but these two nations were different, with Rwanda’s 1994 genocide put into the equation.

Today, 20 years later, Rwandas Debt to GDP ratio is at 29.42% with an all-time low of 21% in 2008, as opposed to 175% for Greece today. The former means Rwandas debt accounts for nearly 30% of its internal gross production.

One doesnt have to be a genius to appreciate the remarkable turnaround that Rwanda has accomplished over the past 20 years. It is impressive indeed.

Today, Prime Minister Tsipras is touring Europe to reach an agreement with creditors to a €240 Billion bailout, otherwise his cash-drained-out government is even threatening to leave the Eurpean Union shouldnt the credit agreement be reached soon.

This reminds me of the saying that when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

Greece kept digging for the past two decades and it seemingly shows no intention to stop any time soon. It has been spending far more than it earns overtime. Greece has lacked similar economic policy such as Rwanda’s Kwigira, which has turned Fitch’s heads to earn a one-notch upgrade for the country.

Fitch has stated that the Rwanda economic outlook is promising due to political stability, effective business and investment approaches, increase in commodities export forecast, such as tea and coffee to name a few. The most important factor that Fitch couldnt leave out is Rwandas policy of financial independence that gave birth to the mainstream Agaciro Development Fund. Such policies would help Rwanda’s budget deficit, without digging into a much deep debt hole as now seen for Greece.

Greece didnt see this crisis coming. They didnt understand that those Eurobonds, if not backed up with effective GDP numbers, would eventually backfire. Today, most of Greece 10-year treasury bonds are due while the country cannot even afford to keep the basic internal government operations running.

With the Euro currency weakening against the US dollar, along with the Quantitative Easing that ECB just put in effect, which would weaken the Euro currency even further for the sake of deflation; the future of Greece is nearly as speculative as its Credit Default Swaps, as opposed to Rwanda which has formed a V-chart for the past two decades.

Now, what happened to this former Europe tourism powerhouse?

Why did I have to go to Brazil or the Dominican Republic for my Christmas holidays instead? Isnt it because those Greek medieval theatre stadiums havent been innovated up to par? Why does S&P has to downgrade Greece while Rwanda is upgraded? Isnt it maybe because its financial modelling formula has turned out ineffective?

Perhaps Prime Minister Tsipras should look back and probably pay a visit to the heart of Africa, to learn from Rwanda’s story, instead of letting Merkel and Hollande laugh at his face—to send him home empty handed.

Forbes lists Clarisse Iribagiza among top 30 promising young entrepreneurs in Africa

Forbes lists Clarisse Iribagiza among top 30 promising young entrepreneurs in Africa

In its list of 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs In Africa 2015, Forbes has featured Clarisse Iribagiza, CEO of HeHe Labs (formerly HeHe Limited):

Iribagiza, 26, runs Kigali-based mobile technology company HeHe Limited, which builds custom mobile applications for businesses, provides 24/7 online and offline support and cloud storage services. Iribagiza founded the company in 2010 after winning a $50,000 grant from Inspire Africa, a Rwandan TV entrepreneurial contest. Iribagiza’s clientele includes a number of government agencies in Rwanda.

The myths about Rwanda’s youth

Team members of Imagine We Rwanda and Inkstain at a recent comedy event

The myths about Rwanda’s youth

I have only been back in Rwanda for six months after almost six years of being one of the world’s weirdest nomad. Of course with social media, we tends to have very inaccurate images of our mamaland. I have heard the best and the worst about Rwanda’s youth but I really couldnt wait to just make my own judgments! So here I am back home and trying to have my good share of participation in the development of Rwanda.

So let me elaborate on the myths I heard of while I was wandering in this world.

Myth Number 1: Young Rwandans are lazy

Wrong! Of course there are some lazy human beings in every country of the world. But generalizing this behavior to all Rwandans is just very, very wrong! I have been working in Rwanda for five months now, and I have met some hardworking entrepreneurs. Can I emphasize that they are all under thirty?

I mean, I have met interior designers, computer engineers, graphic designers, illustrators, fashion designers you name it! I am amazed by the fact that these young men and women decided to pursue their dream and took the necessary risks to become as successful as they are today. And that is amazing!

My friend Dolph, who is a multitasker (read umu-TT), is just a workaholic. I worry that he doesn’t even sleep.

Rwanda is being built by these young men and women who spend restless nights to bring their best to the country. They do not only strive for success but they are addicted to it. And they are definitely challenging that myth!

Young Rwandans are not lazy. And if you fall under the lazy category, please move out of there!

Myth Number 2: Rwandans are just not creative at all

I have to admit that I used to fall for this myth when I was wandering across the earth. Rwandans are not creative, they imitate what others do, they blah blah blah… Of course, I am ashamed to say that I once believed this! And I am so glad that I was proved wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong!

I am blessed to be surrounded by creative young minds. Sometimes they make me feel like I am the worthless lazy, uncreative bum!

Just yesterday, I was talking to the manager of an interior and product design firm. I had so many questions that he probably thought I was investigating (Girl, you are crossing the borders!) Anyway, he was telling me about how he was about to open up yet another company because the business is growing and it is promising.

Of course, you might disagree with me, there is still much to be learned. But, these are young people taking the risks and seizing opportunities by the neck!

The hardest thing I have learned in life is taking risks. We all love the comfort of our comfort zones. Yet, here in Rwanda, there are young people moving earth and sky to leave their mark on Rwanda.

Myth Number 3: Young Rwandans are just not professional

Uh, really? Are you sure? This myth is one that has been spread so much that it is easier to believe in it than to even try refuting it. But I like a challenge so let me just go ahead and refute it! Yes, big yes, young Rwandans are professional and are getting even more and more professional.

Have you ever heard of organisations such as the Peace and Love Proclaimers (PLP), HeHe Labs, Live Again Rwanda, Inkstain, or Ejo Group  the list goes on. Seriously, if you haven’t please do check them out and spend ten minutes with them; you’ll see what I mean.

Professionalism is one of the key ingredients to success. Can we agree on this? It involves the ability to have a clear vision of what an organisation needs to portray and also where it needs to go. It involves having the right skills and expertise to move an idea forward! How about that?

Do I think that the Rwandan youth has the above? Yes, I certainly do! If Rwanda is growing, it is definitely because there is some amount of professionalism. And, yes, thank you!

I strongly believe in our youth today. I am so proud of what we are doing and what we desire to build for our country! I also believe that Rwanda is the country of a thousand opportunities and the smart ones will enjoy the fruit of the land!