After a tough few months, Rwanda closes the year not with just a sigh of relief but on a note of optimism.
The shortages that haunted a significant part of the country fortuitously came to a welcome end when the early harvest started to come on to the market at the beginning of December.
Although one may say that was just in time, that one event overcast an otherwise good year for Rwanda. Key investments in infrastructure whose sluggish progress at one point tested everybody’s patience, were finally delivered to a rapturous welcome.
The twin Radisson Blue Hotel and the Kigali Convention Centre opened doors mid-year firmly placing Kigali on the Meetings and Incentives circuit. Equally, the Marriot Hotel launched operations, for the moment putting the seal on Kigali’s claim to a high end business and leisure destination.
In the skies, RwandAir entered the consolidation phase of its operations by receiving the equipment that will furnish its long-haul ambitions. And finally construction of the new airport at Bugesera gained traction this year with the securing of a Private Public Partnership with a Turkish contractor.
The trade balance, strained by the burden of these capital imports had begun to recover by the National Bank of Rwanda reporting some narrowing in the trade deficit.
Significantly, this gain was not just on account of a reduction if the appetite for imports but actual growth in formal exports. According to BNR, the trade balance improved by 5.1 per cent during the first 11 months of 2016.
This was achieved through a combination of a 6.1 increase in formal exports against 2.4 decrease in the value of imports. This translated into exports covering 26.2 per cent of imports over the period in contrast to 24.1 per cent for the comparable period in 2015.
These results attest to the astuteness of our country’s managers but they would not have been possible without the faith and patience of each and every Rwandan. They also demonstrate how important it is to sometimes give policy makers the breathing space to make those decisions that take us through a trying period.
With elections in August and uncertainty on both the regional and global fronts, Rwandans will need to be more united than ever to rise above whatever turbulence may spill-over from without. Unity and personal sacrifice which have brought Rwanda this far will always bring rewards to those that are patient.
Complacency however, is the enemy of progress. Despite the progress made, there is a need to up the bar when it comes to quality of service.
While the quality of service in the bigger establishments is largely addressed through natural selection, visitors don’t just visit 5 star hotels and need to have a uniform experience across the country.