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Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Good News Chronicle Day 7



Today is the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. While that is probably a terrible way to begin a 'Good News' post, there are two reasons I mentioned it:
1. While I do not believe in focussing on tragedy, I do believe in deliberately shaping the present and the future by keeping in mind injustices committed in the past and ensuring that catastrophes of this magnitude do not occur again. Also, I think these people deserve a prayer and a moment of silence, if only to remind ourselves of the power of human resilience and persistence in the face of horrific circumstances, which leads me to my second point:
2. 20 years on, things have improved. Grace Hightower and Coffees of Rwanda employs over 500,000 coffee farmers in Rwanda. This vast venture is helping people rebuild their economy and regain their livelihoods. Costco buys 20% of Rwanda's premium crop. Starbucks is another major buyer. Rwandan president Paul Kagame believes in 'trade, not aid' and under him, the Rwandan economy is growing at about 6% annually. President Kagame's goals for 2020 are: 'to boost GDP sevenfold, find paying jobs for half of Rwanda's subsistence farmers, nearly quadruple per capita income to $900, and turn his country into an African center for technology' (fastcompany.com). More than half the population is under 18, which means that Rwanda has a huge human capital opportunity. Kagame is actively recruiting investors and brainpower: The Presidential Advisory Council consists of experts in sectors ranging from 'life sciences to telecom to economic-development consulting'.  There is still a large population in dire poverty, and Rwanda has a long way to go, but things are definitely hopeful. In Kagame's words:
"We will not forget the genocide, but we will not be defined by it, either."

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