Rwanda shows Chinese model of assisting African growth
Published: Mar 20, 2017 12:33 AM

The horrific Rwandan genocide in 1994 shocked the world, but later, the country has taken on an entirely new path, becoming one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.

China has intensified cooperation with Rwanda in various fields to help the country's development. On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with visiting Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Both leaders have agreed to upgrade bilateral strategic cooperation.

Rwanda has a tragic past, but it did not fall into the abyss of civil strife as did some other African countries, such as Somalia and the Central African Republic. For over two decades, the Rwandan government has committed to policies of ethnic reconciliation and worked hard to develop the economy, tackle the root causes of corruption and ensure there is a strong case for attracting investment. The country was rated the world's fastest reformer in the World Bank's Doing Business 2014 report.  

China was one of the first to support Rwanda's reconstruction efforts. It has cooperated with the country in a wide range of fields, including agriculture, health, education and infrastructure.

In the West's prevailing narrative, China is a country that is only interested in African nations for their mineral resources, abundant arable land, and market potential for Chinese-made products. However, the fact that Rwanda is a landlocked country with almost no natural resources proves the fallacy of the narrative. Instead, a large number of Chinese enterprises, both private and State-owned ones, are investing in Rwanda's property, telecoms, manufacturing, tourism and infrastructure.  

These Chinese investments have created considerable employment opportunities and provided more products and services to local as well as to regional markets, thus contributing to the economic development of Rwanda and being welcomed by the locals. At the same time, Chinese firms have also engaged in training locals. For instance, Chinese garment manufacturers have taught Rwandan workers factory skills.

Rwanda aims to build itself into a center attractive to foreign investment. This corresponds to China's strategy of expanding investment in Africa, providing vast potential for China-Rwanda cooperation. Besides, there are more and more educational exchanges between the two countries. Five hundred Rwandan university students are currently studying in China. Rwanda is a good example illustrating that China has assisted in Africa's development in more diverse ways.

Different from Western countries, China has been trying new methods to help African countries with development. As a rapidly rising developing country, China has employed its own experiences in the process while adjusting its aid strategies based on the changing demands of the African continent. It's still to be seen whether China can succeed. But so far, China's strategy has been proven acceptable and suitable to the development of Africa. 

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