Is Rwanda Africa’s answer to Switzerland?

MORE than two decades on from a genocide that claimed 800,000 lives, Rwanda is taking another step towards looking like the closest thing Africa has to Switzerland. The tiny, landlocked, mountainous nation’s economy has outperformed almost all its continental peers, with annual growth averaging 7.8% since 2000. Like Switzerland, which hosts the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos every year, it is also about to welcome delegates to the organisation’s annual African gathering. “Nurturing an attractive business environment has become more important for many African nations to sustain growth, as commodity revenue and aid inflows have fallen,” Mark Bohlund, Africa economist with Bloomberg Intelligence in London, said. “Rwanda has led the way by cutting red tape, providing tax incentives and improving governance, which has helped overcome the disadvantages of its small size, lack of port access and limited natural resources.”

However, the Swiss parallel of Rwanda’s economic success story, furthered with a ranking by the World Bank as mainland Africa’s easiest place to do business, does not extend to its reputation for upholding democracy. Civil-rights groups accuse the government of stifling opposition and have criticised a constitutional change that will allow President Paul Kagame, who has been in power since 2000 and taken credit for Rwanda’s economic success, to stand for a third term…..more

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