Yesterday morning, I found my email inbox clogged with stories from FP (Foreign Policy) magazine, detailing how, despite the fact that in President Paul Kagame we had the most effective political leader on the continent, Rwanda was still in a critical state and overrated to boot.
First the ‘good’ news. According to more than 60 experts (the vast majority American) that FP talked to for its ‘Africa Rising?’ survey, our president is the “most effective political leader”, ‘beating’ Senegal’s Macky Sall, Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Ghana’s John Mahama. I don’t know what criteria the experts used to rank the various presidents (after all each of them have their own challenges) but the mere fact that they actually thought that that was a good idea was problematic in my humble opinion. I mean, how arrogant can FP be? What were the criteria that they used? Why was President Mahama less ‘effective’ than President Sall?
Oh, and did you know that Rwanda was the ‘most overrated African story’? According to those 60 experts, we edged out South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda. I’ll be surprised if I ever see a better backhanded compliment ever again. So, is Rwanda a failing state that has ‘confused’ everyone or is it a stable one that has too much good PR? Either way, all I can surmise is that we are doing something well. And honestly, I’d rather be on the overrated list than the underrated one. Potential investors and tourists will hear about the ‘overrated’ African country before they ever hear of the underrated one.
Is Rwanda a failed state?
Guess what, the entire index is put together by a computer programme! The Fund for Peace, states that the Index is based on the,” Conflict Assessment Software Tool (CAST) analytical platform….Through sophisticated search parameters and algorithms, the CAST software separates the relevant data from the irrelevant…. Using various algorithms, this analysis is then converted into a score representing the significance of each of the various pressures for a given country”.
I know that I’m not a genius by any stretch of the imagination, but any computer programme that ranks Rwanda and Mali at the same level has had a virus introduced into its hard drive. I mean, isn’t that the same Mali that our own Gen. Kazura is going to in order to pacify, alongside other UN troops? Isn’t that the same country that had a coup d’ etat just a few years ago? How can Rwanda be ranked similarly to a country that was split almost in two? Where there is still an insurgency?
How could the computer programme get it so wrong? How could Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt be ranked lower than Libya? Well, to understand why the programme seemed to lack all common sense, I had to understand the criteria that it used to come to it’s conclusions. The criteria was demographic pressures, refugees and IDP’s, group grievances, human flight and brain drain, uneven economic development, poverty and economic decline, state legitimacy, public services, human rights and rule of law, security apparatus, factionalised elites and external intervention.
If this criterion was used, how could Mali and Rwanda be in the same playing field, never mind the same position? Perhaps the only criterion that Mali could ‘beat’ Rwanda in was demographic pressure. But if population pressure is what ensures critical statehood, then Rwanda will forever be on the wrong side of the FP/Fund for Peace argument.
But let us see why Rwanda is in a critical state. Is it because Rwanda’s GDP per capita rose from $593 in 2011 to $644 in 2012? Is it because one million people were pulled from the clutches of destitution as poverty dropped by 11.8% since 2006? Is it because the budget is 60% self-financed? Is it because infant mortality fell by 41% since 2006? If it is so, then I can only pray that we continue being unapologetically ‘critical’.