Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rwanda: St. Paul Kagame

The Sunday Times ( New Times Rwanda Sunday edition ) canonises President Paul Kagame

Kagame operates like a company CEO – book

President Paul Kagame presided over the launch of Rwanda, Inc., a new book that showcases the country’s journey towards becoming an economic model for the developing world.

Authored by New York Times bestselling author, Patricia Crisafulli and Andrea Redmond, the 256-page book was published on November 13 2012; it mainly focuses on Kagame’s leadership style, describing him more as a company CEO than a political leader.

I sort of have to wonder if it is a book launch or a re-launch of a book. I certainly missed the November launch.

The book’s launch in Kigali Friday evening at Serena Hotel attracted over 100 notable dignitaries from both the government and the corporate world.

Rwanda, Inc. received uttermost praise from Kagame, who described it as a “true and real account of economic issues in Rwanda.”

Hang on lets actually take a breath of fresh air here. We have Paul Kagame  President of Rwanda giving utmost praise to a book that gives the utmost praise to The President of Rwanda who is Paul Kagame. One might assume from that, that Patricia Crisafulli and Andrea Redmond are writers of fiction.

“This story in Rwanda, Inc. is real – it is the story of Rwanda’s transformation. It is no longer an issue of whether this or that will happen – the only question that people worry about now and want to keep working at, is the pace of development,” Kagame said in his address to the guests.

“The problems of poverty and democracy go hand-in-hand and must be treated at the same time. The only medicine you will ever find for them is business, entrepreneurship and innovation. If you create a climate for functioning businesses and markets, then you treat the sickness of poverty and democracy.”

Interesting view point on democracy, it is a sickness like poverty.

The President further praised the book for shifting from the usual rhetoric represented from writers in the developed world who describe Africa as a failed continent.

“Many people in the West believe that Africa is a place of poverty, disease, conflict and all kinds of things – yet the truth is that Africa is of immense potential. All Africa needs is to get a few things right, by especially improving its potential for business and entrepreneurship,” Kagame said.

“Success does not come cheap, it is not easy, yet it is a must. That is what I believe and that is what Rwandans believe. This is the story of Rwanda, where we have come from, where we are today and where we want to be”.

Both authors told the audience that they were inspired to write the book after realising that Rwanda was a different picture from what it had been painted by several other books they had read.

“When I first traveled to Rwanda, I was astonished by what I found – it was far from what I had been reading. In a little spec of time, you find a building in a place where it wasn’t. What seemed like pure exaggeration became a reality to us – a country dedicated to development,” Redmond said.

Crisafulli added: “President Kagame operates more like a company CEO than a political leader. He is totally focused on the attainment of goals, building strong institutions, security, discipline and good governance, more like what a real corporate leader would do”.

Yes business operate without the moral imperatives that governments are supposed to follow. I guess Rwandan incursions into the DR Congo should be looked at as an investment.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Louise Mushikiwabo, also commended the book for taking on a business angle, different from what many writers on Rwanda are focused on – the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.

“I am glad that this book is not about the Genocide. Books on genocide are important but what I think is that Rwandans should not be seen only in the light of genocide. There is more to us than just the genocide,” she said.

The book received mostly positive reviews from a variety of dignitaries, including former US President Bill Clinton, Stephen Kinzer, author of A Thousand Hills, Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, among others.

Hmm. Mostly positive, well the first review I read was interesting. Eric Liebetrau in The Boston Globe   

In their latest collaboration, Patricia Crisafulli (“The House of Dimon”), former business journalist with the Chicago bureau of Reuters, and business consultant Andrea Redmond focus on Rwanda. Though less than 20 years removed from one of the most brutal examples of genocide in history, the authors make a somewhat less than convincing case that the country, led by its “CEO’’ president Paul Kagame, is poised to become a high-tech player in the global economy, “the ultimate turnaround story on a continent better known for broken promises and unfulfilled potential.”


Certainly, few can deny the significance of Rwanda’s progress since the genocidal slaughter that culminated in 1994. Poverty levels are down significantly — 44.9 percent in 2011, down from 56.9 in 2006 — and per capita income has increased from $200 in 2000 to $560 today. Rwanda is also unique within Africa with its zero-tolerance policy on corruption. However, Crisafulli and Redmond fail to persuade on the economic viability of a country in which subsistence agriculture supports 80 percent of the population and, as of 2011, less than 11 percent of households were electrified.

And then we get to the actual substance of the book.

The majority of the book is given over to praise for Kagame’s vision, determination, and dedication. Few will argue that “the economic and social progress realized in Rwanda since the genocide is directly attributable to the leadership of Paul Kagame,” but the authors lavish attention on the president and his mantra of self-sufficiency at the expense of building a coherent case about the country’s growth.
In other words this might as well have been an autobiography by Paul Kagame, it is ironic wholly appropriate I discovered this work of fiction in Rwandas State sponsored daily fictional outpourings.   
The occasional anecdotal stories about citizens making the most of available opportunities make for inspirational reading, but the book lacks in-depth analysis and suffers from a choppy prose and an awkward integration of research and quotes. Further, the authors consistently belabor obvious points — “a better educated Rwandan population will help the country continue its growth and development.”

...............Redmond served in a variety of additional leadership roles while with the firm.

She co-led the Chicago office for over six years in which she had P&L responsibilities for the business which experienced significant growth and operating profits under her leadership.

Additionally, Redmond was a founding member the firm’s Global Training Committee. She was also twice elected to serve on the firm’s Executive Committee.
Praise for the book
“In Rwanda, Inc., Crisafulli and Redmond recount the rise of an unyielding people and their chief executive, President Paul Kagame. The Rwandans rallying around their national pride have built predictable systems that reward enterprise and hard work, and create an exceptional blueprint for other developing countries.”- Bill Clinton, former US President.

“Crisafulli and Redmond investigate the Rwandan renaissance focusing on ‘Rwanda’s CEO,’ Paul Kagame…a fascinating portrait of a nation and a president at a pivotal moment in history.”- Publishers Weekly.

“Rwanda is the most amazing story in Africa - the fastest rate of poverty reduction ever achieved on the continent, despite huge handicaps of history and geography. Yet, until now, these achievements have largely been missed by the outside world. This book will awaken you to Africa’s most extraordinary phoenix.”- Paul Collier, author of The Bottom Billion.

“Rwanda, Inc. documents this beautiful country’s ongoing transformation through the lens of leadership, capturing the resilience of the human spirit and the potential for any country-or company- to chart an ambitious new course with ingenuity, collaboration, pragmatism and passion.”- Howard Schultz, Chairman, President and CEO - Starbucks.

“In the 21st century, finding ways to transform poor countries may mean the difference between war and peace. Any country that can provide a model for how to make a poor society prosperous will contribute decisively to global stability. This book suggests Rwanda may be building that model. Rwanda, Inc. is the story of the most exciting development project underway in the world today.”- Stephen Kinzer, author of A Thousand Hills.

About ‘Rwanda, Inc.’

The book looks at Rwanda’s emergence on the world stage with a unique model for governance and economic development under the leadership of its strong and decisive president, Paul Kagame.

Authors Patricia Crisafulli and Andrea Redmond look at Kagame’s leadership, his drive for excellence and execution that draws comparison to a CEO and emphasizes the development of a sophisticated and competitive workforce that leverages human capital.

The book describes how in Rwanda, the ultimate turnaround, strong and effective leadership has made a measurable and meaningful difference.

It depicts Rwanda’s progress as an example to other developing nations to lift themselves out of poverty without heavy reliance on foreign aid through decentralization, accountability, self-determination and self-sufficiency.

The authors also explore Rwanda’s journey towards its goal of becoming a middle-income nation with a technology-based economy, and its progress to encourage private sector development and foster entrepreneurship, while also making gains in education, healthcare and food security- and all with a strong underpinning of reconciliation and unification.

Rwanda, Inc offers a timely and fascinating look at the implications of Rwanda’s success for the rest of the continent and the world, at a time when so many nations stand on the brink of political and economic revolution.
More from the Boston Globe.
The authors present an interesting argument that Rwanda’s future growth will benefit from two cultural customs that emphasize self-determination and accountability: imihigo, “a kind of performance contract” dating to precolonial times, in which failure to deliver is not an option, and umuganda, national days of community work that occur on the last Saturday of every month.
To be sure, there is something impressive and admirable in the Rwandan national character that has helped to heal the deep, vicious wounds that remain from the years of genocide, and there are important lessons to be learned from the “Rwanda model: do for yourself, remain independent-minded and self-determining, and forge strategic partnerships with those who support your vision.” However, Crisafulli and Redmond rephrase this mantra so many times throughout the book that the message loses most of its impact. While Rwanda’s story is impressive by many measures, this rosy chronicle of its progress seems provocative but premature.


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