How modern is the infrastructure of Rwanda

Research trip to Rwanda

Rwanda is a special partner for the United Nations. The Hutu genocide of the Tutsi has left the country and its society deeply traumatized and shaped. Around a million people died and the infrastructure was almost completely destroyed. However, especially in economic terms, the East African state has recovered quickly over the past 24 years. In an international context, there is often talk of a prime example and the success story of Rwanda.

The United Nations has actively supported the country's reconstruction process and, in close cooperation with the government, is promoting economic growth that reduces poverty, is environmentally friendly and inclusive. Nonetheless, the historical failure in the international community in the face of the 1994 genocide will not be forgotten in Rwanda either.

On our trip we met representatives from various UN organizations as well as experts from the field of development cooperation, civil society actors and entrepreneurs. The United Nations is implementing the “Delivering as One” strategy in Rwanda as one of eight pilot states. The aim of this is to increase the effectiveness of the UN system through more coherent programs and closer coordination among the organizations. Resident Coordinator Mr Fodé Ndiaye as well as those responsible for the UN development program UNDP and UN Women explained the challenges, results and goals of the UN on site to us in exciting discussions. They made the self-confident role of the Rwandan government in development cooperation and its ambitious implementation of programs particularly clear. A major challenge, however, is still to make positive development results accessible to the broader population. The United Nations is therefore promoting a number of projects in rural, marginalized parts of the country. Among other things, we were able to visit so-called Green Villages. Particularly needy people are settled there, are given land and animals for communal cultivation, as well as agricultural training measures. In addition, the UN organizations focus particularly on empowering women in rural areas - for example through training, technology and the formation of cooperatives. In the eastern part of the country we were able to visit such a women's cooperative and learn a lot about the successes of their greenhouse.

At meetings with entrepreneurs, we also gained insights into the specific stories behind the much-invoked economic boom. We got to know young start-up founders who would like to make traffic in Kigalis safe and modern with their mobility app. Women who promote the local marketing of Rwandan coffee with a hip café and young students who present technical inventions in self-organized TalentHubs. We visited a Chinese textile factory and learned more about China's investment boom in East Africa. We were able to inspect the first Rwandan VW car in a Volkswagen assembly hall.

Rwanda held a multitude of exciting but also contradicting impressions in store. Conversations and visits gave us a picture of a country on the move; the image of a highly motivated young generation who want to bring Rwanda forward. On the other hand, it has become clear again and again that open, critical confrontation with the autocratic Kagame government and alleged human rights violations is largely taboo in Rwanda.