Remember Hotel Rwanda? That movie depicts the true story of a man fighting impossible odds to save everyone he could during the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. Hotel Rwanda was a symbol of desperate hope for survival. Almost two decades later, by contrast, Rwanda has many symbols of hope for a brighter future.
As a matter of fact, those hopes for the future have already been transformed into the reality of greater prosperity and opportunity for many Rwandans. Indeed, recent years’ economic reforms have made Rwanda one of the notable economies in the world. According to a just published World Bank study, Doing Business in the East African Community 2010, the Rwandan economy shines with a global ranking of 11th in opening a new business. Early this year, the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom told a similar story. Rwanda improved on half of the ten indicators of economic freedom, achieving the fourth largest score gain among 179 countries.
Volumes of economic research have shown that the entrepreneurship encouraged by greater economic freedom leads to innovation, economic expansion, and overall human development. It is not coincidental that Rwanda’s GDP per capita increased to over $1,000 in 2008 from less than $350 in 1994. Social indicators are rising fast, too. Life expectancy in Rwanda has increased by 23 years, and the country’s primary school enrolment has risen by 50 percent.
Indeed, “entrepreneurship is the most sure way of development.” These are words from Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame, a summation of his country’s real experience, not a political sound bite. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, president Kagame noted, “”We believe in private enterprise, free market, and competition. . . . So we have to make sure there is a conducive environment for people to be creative and innovative.”
That’s a good recipe for any country. Progressives here might want to take note.