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30 Years on, Rwanda continues to inspire

Kizito Okechukwu

Kizito Okechukwu | April 10, 2024

2023 was my third time in Rwanda. It’s a country that many will remember for the genocide that befell the country 30 years ago, where close to a million Rwandans were killed in a civil war, sparked by tensions between the Hutus and Tutsis tribe.

Fast forward to 2024, the country commemorates the 1994 massacre that left a huge dent in the country. Yet Rwanda is bold, brave and forging ahead by re-writing its history through various means.

Tourism: Known as the land of a thousand hills, mountains, and beautiful scenery, it attracts a multitude of tourists that travel from far and wide, boosting its tourism sector from a mere 500 000 visits in 2021, to around one million visitors in 2022. With a free visa for all, Rwanda has managed to use tourism as a key sector to boost its economy and is now also an important driver for the country, employing close to 200 000 people.

Financial Sector Hub: The country, via the Kigali International Finance Centre (KIFC), has positioned itself as a preferred financial centre for international investment in Africa. KIFC enables the structuring and domiciliation of investment funds, including alternative investment vehicles, such as private equity funds to catalyse Rwandan and Africa economic growth. My last visit, which was in June last year for the Inclusive Fintech forum in Kigali, where various key financial players from across the globe convened to look at financial inclusion and collaborations to foster and facilitate international investment and cross-border transactions.

The Entrepreneurship Community: The establishment of one of the largest entrepreneurial hubs in Africa, Rwanda’s Norrsken hub, opened up to support dozens of entrepreneurs in the country and across the continent. I visited the hub and was amazed with the atmosphere and the strong can-do do attitude of the entrepreneurs I met. The hub fosters collaboration, peer-to-peer learning and networking that supports entrepreneurs to launch and scale.

The People: The aspect I admire most about this country is its people. It’s always been said that your people can make or break you, whether in business or in various aspects of our lives. All the Rwandans I’ve met are decent, friendly and honest. Their cultural values of unity, patriotism, social cohesion, resilience and a hard-work ethic are clearly evident if one spends some time in the country. They are a people of believers who are confident that they can turn around the events of the past 30 years, which will lead to a better, brighter future.

Hello Rwanda, as you commemorate the 30th anniversary of the genocide that changed the course your country, I encourage you to continue the fight to rebuild your beautiful country. I can fully attest that your people are your greatest asset. Your hard work over the past few years pays testament to the growth your country has been witnessing. You are a motivation to many of us to be hopeful, resilient and continue to work tirelessly for what we believe in.

To close with the powerful words of President Kagame, “The Rwanda of the next thirty years should be three, four or five times better than what you see now. We are not coming from our graves, we are coming from a place of progress.”

Kizito Okechukwu is the Executive Head of 22 On Sloane and co-Chair of Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa

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