Sheila Mutavu at the Dusk Zone of the Remarkable Rwanda Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Kamal Kassim/Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Nothing to shackle them down, the over 13 million Rwandans are set to take their country to the high echelons of socio-economic power in 2050. This is the message of the “Remarkable Rwanda Pavilion,” located at a corner lot of several rows of buildings at the Opportunity District of the Expo2020Dubai.
Divided into three floors, the pavilion tweets the past, present and future of the landlocked East African nation.
The “Dusk Zone” relates the early settlements and migration of various tribes into the present-day Rwanda since the late Stone Age from the 300,000 B.C. to the Iron Age until 550 B.C.; the formation of the earliest form of society called “ubwoko” (clans) which eventually inter-married to revolve into eight kingdoms; the entry of the German East Africa Empire that included the present-day neighbour of Burundi from 1894 to 1918; and the Belgian “trusteeship” as per the League of Nations decision until 1962. The “Night Zone” is the darkest age, referring to the horrific 1994 100-day Tutsi Genocide, triggered by the April 6, 1994 assassination of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarinama, a member of the Hutu tribe, at the Kigali International Airport. In 1990, a Tutsi-led rebel group of refugees called the Rwandan Political Front, from Uganda, sparked civil war.
Incidentally, on May 22, 2021 and in commemoration of the 27th year of the Tutsi Genocide, Rwandan Ambassador to the UAE and Saudi Arabia Emmanuel Hategeka praised the courage and humility of the survivors to forgive the Hutus. He asked the international community “to recommit to the ‘Never Again’ (movement) by bringing to justice the yet-to-be-apprehended remaining 1,100 genocide suspects spread across the globe. “Humbled and honoured” to represent the host government, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem Ebrahim Al Hashemy said: “This is a very important milestone for us to remember and honour the victims and also to pay respect to the survivors and ensure that what happened never happens again…We stand hand-in-hand with you (Rwandans) and we pray that this not only happens again but we work actively together to ensure all forms of hatred, all forms of extremism are fought and tackled.”
The “Dawn Zone” narrates the unity and determination of a broken people to move forward post-Tutsi Genocide becoming an emerging African economy, able to break down parameters set forth by international bodies such as the World Bank (WB). The “Day Zone” encapsulates the aspirations of the Rwandans who, guided by Vision 2050 of the national government are positive to be among the First World.
Rwanda Ministry of Foreign Affairs-Economic Diplomacy and Partnerships Principal Officer Shiela Mutavu in a pre-arranged interview said: “Yes, something good happens and it has come out of the darkest period in our nation’s history. Rwandans have become united, determined and resilient through all the challenges. We all never want to go back to that part of our history again.”
That mindset not to have history repeat itself is the backdrop of the pavilion theme, “Remarkable Rwanda.” They want to show the world the transformation they have built since 1994 and their Vision 2050: “Our overarching goal is to show the world what Rwanda is, and what Rwanda means to us. We are immensely proud of our country, and this pride is the root of our successes over the last 27 years. Our more direct goals are to attract more investments to Rwanda by showcasing our track record of our success and our ambitious visions for the future. Some of the sectors that we are particularly looking for growth are in (Information Communication Technology), innovation and tourism, which will be our valuable engines for prosperity in our future, and for the improvement of the lives and livelihoods of our people.”
Mutavu explained that with the Vision 2050, the aspiration is for the nation to be an upper-middle income- economy (UMIE) by 2035 and among the First World or high income economies (HIEs) by 2050 in all areas of development that include education, health and welfare, infrastructure and agriculture. Based on WB measurements, the gross national income per capita of UMIEs are over $41,125.00 and less than $12,736.00. Those of HIEs are a minimum of $12,696.00.
Mutavu said the Rwandan Francs (RF) had been classified as a “stable currency with with $1.00 equivalent to RF900.00.”
She quoted the “WB Doing Business Report 2020” which had recently categorized Rwanda as the second in ease of doing business in the African continent and 38th globally: “Rwanda works for investors. This has been one of our government’s greatest priorities in recent years. The government has worked on creating a sound policy environment which offers multiple incentives for investors while ensuring that partnerships with foreign partners benefit the Rwandan people. The Kigali International Finance Centre has just been accredited on the Global Financial Centres Index which represents a landmark achievement and reflects the successes of the Rwanda Finance Ltd. and the government in creating a friendly environment for investors and committing to establishing Kigali as a financial hub not just for Rwanda but for the entire region.”
Post-Novel Coronavirus pandemic, Mutavu said investor-friendly Rwanda and the Rwandans have the following to offer as stimulants to their national and global economic recovery: The Gabiro Agri-Business Hub Project aimed at guaranteeing 4,000 jobs created, food security to Rwanda through cutting-edge technology and best practices as well as increase in the export of high-value crops and value-added agricultural products; the Gako Beef Project for the production of 50,000 tonnes per day of high quality meat products for local and international consumption; the development of the popular family-oriented tourism destinations specifically beach and golf haven Karongi District as well as the waterfront town of Rubavu; and the Rwanda Green Fund that, at the very least, aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 38 per cent in the next decade and reaching net zero by 2050.