The Rise of Rwanda

January 8, 2011 · Print This Article

Muraho from Kigali, Rwanda!

I’m on my way back to the USA today after eight days in Rwanda.

Below are some photos from Kigali, Rwanda taken this week. While here I had a chance to explore Kigali, meet with entrepreneurs, trek with the gorillas in the Virunga National Park, hike on the mountains overlooking Lake Kivu in Gisenyi, and see the future campus of the Akilah Institute for Women in Bugesera District. Kigali is probably the cleanest city in East Africa with lots and lots of paved streets and sidewalks.

The World Bank in its 2011 Doing Business Report named Rwanda as the most improved country in Africa and 2nd most improved globally for ease of conducting business. The Rwanda Development Board (RBD) is working hard to streamline business and investment regulations to make doing business in Rwanda attractive. Take a look at this Powerpoint slide deck from the RBD detailing business reforms and this news article “Rwanda is Now Open for Business.”

The Kagame Administration is halfway into executing on their “Vision 2020″ to build Rwanda into a middle-income country by focusing on economic development from the IT and tourism industries. You must read this Vision 2020 PDF if you are at all interested in economic development or solutions to ending poverty.

Interestingly, President Paul Kagame is perhaps the most active Twitter user among African Heads of State, connecting globally with the IT-savvy world.

Carnegie Mellon will be setting up a computer science school in Kigali in 2011 to train the next generation of East African programmers. And the Marriott, Hilton, and Radisson are all building hotels here to open in 2012 along with the new Kigali Convention Center.

There is so much activity going on here!

Rwanda is not only ready for entrepreneurs, it’s ready for tourists too.

If you have a chance, you must come to Rwanda at some point in your life. It’s a beautiful, dynamic, and friendly country full of “a thousand hills and a million smiles.”

I’m about to board flight one for the trek home from Kigali –> Entebbe –> Istanbul –> New York –> Raleigh. I love long flights as I can read, focus, and plan! I’m back to iContact on Monday morning.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Did you know this was happening in Africa? Why do you think the media so rarely tells this side of the story about what is happening in Africa?

Tell me your thoughts in the comments.


10 Responses to “The Rise of Rwanda”

  1. Paul House on January 8th, 2011 12:27 pm

    Wow, thanks for posting such interesting photos, it is nice to see Rwanda so modern.

    I have a lot of mixed reactions to your photos, part of me wants to see Africa modernize, but part of me also does not want to see it just copy the West. That is what I like about the micro loan program, it just gives the financing, and lets the people create on their own.

    I do think that Africa can have a very high return on investment, and I think a lot of investors are looking there. But of course, high return comes with high risk. And given the political history of Africa, it is difficult not to ignore the risks.

    In regards to your photos, while they are a refreshing view of Africa I have two reactions. The first is the observation that in the first photo of the sky scraper several windows are wide open. I think that is quite something! I have not seen open windows on any other tall building anywhere else in the world. Isn’t that a hazard? When I was in China I heard that air pressure changes in tall buildings can suck people right out! :o

    The other reaction is that I feel I also have to call you out on bias with your photos. It would be good to mix in more of the developing side of what is around you. In my experience every big city of every country in the world looks quite modern, but when you get out to the rural areas, or even out of the city center, things disintegrate rapidly. I guess this is why the media does not cover the fairly modern down towns of Africa, it is not news really, most every big city in every country is quite modern, what is sad is that fact is news to most Americans. :/

    That said it would be a good business to promote and cover more of what is going on in Africa to the rest of the world in a positive way. And I commend you for that.

  2. mary schmidt on January 8th, 2011 2:16 pm

    Do you have any pictures of the future campus of the Akilah Institute in Bugesera? The curriculum provided for the young women enrolled in this postgraduate institute, which feeds directly into the burgeoning industries of tourism and hospitality, is absolutely astounding.

  3. Grace on January 10th, 2011 9:50 am

    On Carnegie Mellon in Rwanda, and now that you have seen Rwanda plus your gut feeling.. do you think the CM development will attract IT companies in Rwanda? Will CM have a spill over effect to IT industry in Rwanda? On the are of business process outsourcing can Rwanda get some BPO into the country? If so, what kind of BPOs should it target? Thanks

  4. Ruki on January 11th, 2011 10:21 am

    I’m chris from kigali,rwanda.I just want to ask for your permission to use your photo for a video i’m doing about “the rise of rwanda” and i will put it on youtube later this week or next week.(i’m just doing it for fun in my room,not commercial).
    I’ve taken some pictures but they do not look as great as yours.

  5. Dr.Mwesiga on January 12th, 2011 3:33 am

    Great article Ryan!

    Its amazing when as an African entrepreneur i see the great developments in one of the African countries that was once a chaotic country!
    Although he is not doing it all by himself…but a wuld say President Kagame is a Visionary leader….and its inspiring to have such leaders in an underdeveloped continent!

    Am very much impressed by your view of Africa…..i wish we Africans shared the same view about our continent! The RICHEST continent in terms of Natural Resources but THE LEAST DEVELOPED!
    A typical example is our country Tanzania that from my view as an entreprenuer….we shouldn be relying on aids to date….we have everything….from lakes…to minerals….to fertile land….to big rivers….to the 7th Wonder (Serengeti National Park)….but its a real pitty that we are still beggers!!

    I see a lot of opportunities that could completely change our economy only if we had a shift in mind set!

    Your achievements at i-contact inspire me a lot….and most important is your positive view about Africa!!

  6. Doug A on January 19th, 2011 11:57 am

    Are you a student with a business idea rooted in conscious capitalism? Sign up for the Tulane Business Plan Competition. $70,000 in cash prizes!!! More info here:

  7. francis waweru on January 21st, 2011 1:19 pm

    if i want to open business in rwanda while am here in usa what do they requires me to have

  8. Scott Korbin on February 1st, 2011 10:38 pm

    Welcome back Ryan. Glad you made it back safely.

  9. Uling on March 8th, 2011 12:19 am

    From the horrendous peak of genocide in, 1994, to successfully developing nation in African; I’m thrilled to see Rwanda gaining a momentum to recover and rebuild a once torn City into a new structure.
    I hope peace and tranquility should inspire this nation and see Rwandan citizens claiming true and equal democratic voice.

  10. JOHN on March 11th, 2011 2:28 am


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