ECA head praises Rwanda for “sailing through stormy weather” to attain transformation

Kigali, 19 December 2014 (ECA) - The Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa has said that countries that show resilience in transforming their economies cannot wait for “favourable winds”.  

Speaking during the 12th National Dialogue, best known locally as “Umushyikirano” Mr. Carlos Lopes said that often, nations that developed had to generate their own winds to sail through, sometimes, stormy weather, in order to change the course of their economic and social history.

Mr. Lopes noted that every country has to discover its path to development by identifying the most valuable asset in each moment of its transformation. “Predictability can be more valuable at a point, inclusivity on another, safety yet on another. Many ingredients make a successful development experiment, but it is not a zero sum game. It is complex. It is unique. Rwanda has been demonstrating it knows its way” he said.

Citing experiences from Finland, Singapore and Uruguay, he said that success is both an individual and a collective responsibility.

“Policies such as those implemented in Finland could see Rwandan minerals follow a transformation path as the forestry sector did in Finland. Singapore shows adversity is the beginning of a journey, not its end. Uruguay shows that small can indeed be beautiful in many unsuspected ways” he said.

Mr. Lopes highlighted that courage and faith are required, as the expected results may not materialize in expected time. “It can take generations to achieve structural transformation. To withstand the test of time and to stay the course, it requires a solid social compact between the governed and the governor,” he said.

He further said that the relationships between “the Governor” (The Government) and “the Governed” (The people of a country) share many similarities with those in our families. “Healthy personal relationships are built essentially on mutual respect, trust, openness, compromise, and willingness to listen to what each other has to say”, he said.

President Paul Kagame said that Umushyikirano is significant to Rwandans because it provides a forum where people from all walks of life exchange different ideas about what affects their lives and country and seek solutions together.

Umushyikirano is one of Rwandan homegrown initiatives. It is chaired by the President and brings together representatives of Local Councils, Civil Society and other members of the Rwandan community to debate on issues relating to the state of the nation, the state of local government and the national unity.  

The word Umushyikirano translates to a meeting where participants are able to exchange ideas, share experiences and question each other.

Statement by Mr. Carlos Lopes, UN Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of UNECA

Issued by:

ECA External Communications and Media Relations Section
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