(Week 5) Rwanda and Kenya: Cheetahs and Democracy

Kenya

James Shikwati, executive director of the Inter Regional Network, talked to Kenyan farmers about a spring (source: New York Times)

James Shikwati, executive director of the Inter Regional Network, talked to Kenyan farmers about a spring (source: New York Times)

James Shikwati is the executive director of Inter Regional Economic Network (IREN) and a libertarian economist.  His main incentive is promoting freedom of trade as the driving solution to poverty in Africa.  In the past he has argued that aid towards Africa has done more harm than good to the people overall.  He argues that aid does more harm than good on the basis that it is mainly used by politicians to manipulate people and influence votes.  He also argues that aid can be costly to the African farmer.  He says aid can be a mechanism for dumping subsidized foreign agricultural products onto local markets at low costs which can make it extremely hard for local farmers to compete against the low prices (New York Times).

Rwanda

President of Rwanda Paul Kagame  (source: wikipedia.org)

President of Rwanda Paul Kagame (source: wikipedia.org)

I had a lot of trouble finding a Rwandan “Cheetah”  especially one with enough results and information to write about.  I considered writing about President Paul Kagame, but in the last couple of years he seems to have more characteristics of the hippo generation.  Especially when one considers Rwandan’s status as a democratic state, which I will discuss further, I decided that Kagame is not currently  part of the Cheetah generation in a way he might once have been.

There are many obstacles in raising Sub-Saharan African countries out of poverty, the following are just a few that Jeffery Sachs mentions in his book The End of Poverty: 

The End of Poverty book cover (source: amazon.com)

The End of Poverty book cover (source: amazon.com)

Physical Geography:  landlocked countries are impacted economically by potential lack of trade and commerce, tropical and coastal regions are plagued by diseases, such as Malaria.

HIV/AIDS:  HIV/AIDS has had wreaked havoc on the economy of Africa.  This pandemic has impacted labor supply, and increased mortality and morbidity.  The effect that the pandemic has caused in losing skilled labor has set generations back in potential advancements.

Low Human Capital: people stuck in extreme poverty cycle have low and decreasing access to education and healthcare, which can lead to further issues.

Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa (source: Harvestchoice.org)

Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa (source: Harvestchoice.org)

Malaria: Because of factors that include climate, geographical isolation, and colonial history poverty and malaria are interlinked. Malaria has the possibility of becoming a lethal protozoan disease, but it is treatable with the right medicine and resources, which are often lacking in Sub-Saharan African countries

Cultural Barriers: Barriers prevents women and ethnic minorities from having the same access to economic livelihood and society

Poor Rural Villages: Lacking infrastructure and stable economies poor rural villages struggle to advance. 

According to Radelet’s Emerging Africa the establishment of public institutions that are accountable to the citizens they serve, the protection of civil rights and liberties, human rights are elemental to the definition of democracy and how they are ranked and defined.

Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way Book Cover (source: cgdev.org)

Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way Book Cover (source: cgdev.org)

In Sub-Saharan Africa with third wave democracy we see a shift towards democracy as countries move away from Big Man governments and towards the institutionalization of power.  Improvements to political rights and civil liberties have been first steps towards growth and stabilization of many Sub-Saharan African countries.  This combined with higher accountability and improved transparency makes development in many Sub-Saharan African countries more attainable.

Democracy Ranking of Rwanda and Kenya by Freedom House

Freedom House logo (source: freedomhouse.org)

Freedom House logo (source: freedomhouse.org)

Rwanda: Freedom House labels Rwanda “Not Free”. On their freedom rating, civil liberties, and political rights scale 1-7 (1= Best 7=worst) Rwanda scores a 6 in all categories.   These rankings are from 2013.  The ratings have declined in the past couple years, specifically Rwanda’s civil liberties have had more violations causing the rank to increase from 5 to 6 in 2013. The increased documented cases concerning civil liberties range from unlawful detention to torture of citizens by military intelligence agents in secret locations (Freedom House).

Amnesty International  Freedom of Expression Restrictions in Rwanda banner (source: rwandinfo.com)

Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Restrictions in Rwanda banner (source: rwandinfo.com)

Kenya: According to Freedom House ranks Kenya as “Partly Free” for its 2013 scores.  In all three categories: civil liberties, political rights, and freedom rating Kenya received a score of 4 on the 1-7 scale. Kenya’s ranking  declined in the civil liberties category from 3 to 4.  “This is due to increased ethnic and religious tensions and incidents of violence throughout the country in advance of the 2013 elections” .  This was in part because of heavy-handed counter-terrorism efforts of the police and security services (Freedom House).

Kenya Human Rights Commission (Source: vancecenter.org)

Kenya Human Rights Commission (Source: vancecenter.org)

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