Kagame should heed development lessons from Mauritius
By Timothy Cox
Friday, July 23, 2010
Richard Grant’s Telegraph article highlights President Kagame’s intention to model Rwanda’s development upon Singapore. In light of recent developments Kagame could do worse than looking a little closer to home for a model: Mauritius.
Like Rwanda, Mauritius suffers geographically and has little in the way of natural resources. However, following a successful democratic transition in 1976, Mauritian government reforms steadily built a favourable environment for businesses. Crucially, Mauritius developed a free press and strong independent legal institutions. These helped to expose and prevent the terrible corruption of political power for self serving aims that has stifled economic growth elsewhere in Africa.
Kagame is half way there. His oversight of a remarkable economic transformation should certainly be lauded: foreign investment has increased tenfold in the last six years. But he must abstain from intruding upon individual liberties. Freedom of speech, a transparent political legislature and an independent press are not optional extras- they’re wholly necessary to limit any government’s powers of intervention within the economy.
Economic freedom is not an a la carte menu and the longer Kagame continues to treat it as such, the greater the risk of spooking investors and derailing his development project.