Rwanda’s Lessons for Nigeria’s Future
By Ndubuisi Ekekwe
In the realm of governance and development, there are few tales as compelling as that of Rwanda, whose journey from the abyss of genocide to becoming a beacon of progress has inspired people across the African continent and beyond. As the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently convened in Kigali, Rwanda, from August 24–26, 2023, it is worth reflecting on the factors that make Rwanda’s journey remarkable and how these lessons could help reshape the course of governance in Nigerian states.
Unyielding commitment to eradicating corruption has been a nagging spectre haunting Nigeria’s progress for decades. It corrodes institutions, siphons resources, and erodes the trust of citizens in their government. Rwanda, on the other hand, has embarked on a relentless mission to eliminate the cancer of corruption that was once plaguing the country. Central to this transformative journey is the meticulous construction of robust institutions designed to function independently, with an unwavering focus on serving the greater good over personal interests.
The Rwanda Development Board, an entity that mirrors the standards set by renowned international financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, is but one testament to this commitment. As someone who has had the privilege of contributing to Rwanda’s technology roadmap, I can attest to their unwavering dedication to eradicating corruption. Rwanda’s playbook for making corruption an inconsequential factor in governance serves as a blueprint for Nigerian states that are ready to prioritize the elimination of corruption by fostering institutions that stand as bastions of integrity and accountability.
Strategic Engagement with the Diaspora Rwanda’s approach to harnessing the potential of its diaspora is nothing short of remarkable. Each Rwandan studying abroad is not just a statistic but a valuable human resource with a well-defined role upon graduation. This strategic engagement has resulted in a significant number of young Rwandans actively shaping their government, allured by the government’s innovative plans for their contribution to the nation.
For Nigerian governors, this prompts a pressing question: What concrete plans exist for the youth of your respective states? Rwanda’s approach underscores the significance of intelligently tapping into the potential of our diaspora. By cultivating a network of skilled individuals abroad and providing them with opportunities to contribute to the development of our states upon their return, we can expedite progress and tap into a vast reservoir of talent and expertise. Accumulation of capabilities
Rwanda’s unique approach to accumulating capabilities from around the world sets it apart on the African continent. The nation actively seeks out and attracts talented individuals, irrespective of nationality, to participate in its development endeavors. Consider the involvement of experts from prestigious institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda’s development initiatives. This strategy underscores the fact that capable individuals are a global resource, and every Nigerian has the potential to be a driving force in their respective state’s development.
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A Lesser-Known Triumph: Rwanda’s Universal Healthcare System Beyond its remarkable strides in governance and anti-corruption efforts, Rwanda has achieved near-universal healthcare coverage—an accomplishment that deserves attention and emulation in Nigeria—by adopting a comprehensive healthcare system that ensures access to quality medical services for all its citizens, regardless of their socio-economic status. Nigeria, with its vast population, faces a considerable healthcare challenge. Embracing Rwanda’s commitment to universal healthcare could provide a potential solution.
By adopting a system that prioritizes access to quality medical care for all citizens, Nigerian states could make significant strides in improving the health and well-being of their populations. In conclusion, the recent retreat in Rwanda offers an unparalleled opportunity for Nigerian governors to translate the lessons learned into tangible strategies for transformative governance and development within our states.
As they return from this enlightening retreat, let us collectively work toward building corruption-free institutions, intelligently engaging our diaspora, harnessing the capabilities of our people, and prioritizing universal healthcare coverage. By doing so, we can ensure the prosperity and progress of our beloved Nigeria and make our states truly remarkable places for all citizens.
***Ndubuisi Ekekwe, PhD, Chairman of FASMICRO Group, is the Lead Faculty in the Tekedia Mini-MBA. He writes regularly for the Harvard Business Review.
Rwanda’s Lessons for Nigeria’s Future