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Punching above its weight: Small Nation, Big Thinking Rwanda

It is often said that execution eats strategy for lunch. For Rwanda, it has shown that it can both plan and execute with much ease, and in so doing has separated themselves from other countries that have failed to. This has made them stand out, shoulders above their bigger neighbours and other countries in Africa that have far more financial and natural resources than Rwanda.

Since 1994 Rwanda has come full circle, in every sense of the phrase. The last twenty-four years have seen the small landlocked country in east-central Africa recover from a mammoth ethnic strife to become a scion of success, development, and progress in the region. This has not come by accident.

Rwanda is ranked as the second easiest place to do business in Africa by the World Bank and has been awarded for its leadership in tourism and competitiveness by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the World Economic Forum respectively.

Just last year, RwandAir started their direct flights to London. Previously the journey that used to take nearly two days, traversing two or more countries depending on which route one took, now just takes eight hours. The direct flight is set to facilitate faster movement and trade (imports and exports) not only between the UK and Rwanda but also the rest of Africa.

In January this year, Rwanda pulled another first when Germany’s Volkswagen AG announced that they would start assembling three vehicle models at a new plant in Rwanda in June for local sale and use in its own new ride-sharing service.

The investment, which is said to be worth $20 million which will go towards the development of the assembly plant and ride-hailing service, will be located at the Special Economic Zone in Kigali and will focus on producing at least 1,000 vehicles in its first year of operation.

Now, in case you forgot, Kigali still has the moniker for the cleanest City in Africa. Early this week, about three hundred people drawn from matatus, boda-boda, hawkers and jua-kali sectors left Nairobi for Kigali for a benchmarking trip on how to keep Kenya’s biggest city clean.

The group will spend four days in Kigali conducting symposiums with various sectors, including participating in the monthly general cleanup which takes place the last Sunday of every month. A report will be produced after the trip recommending how Nairobi can learn from Kigali in keeping a real city clean and organized.

A zip carrying blood to Gakoma Hospital takes off from Zipline headquarters on July 22, 2017. In the zip is the 2,000th unit delivery since Zipline started operating in Rwanda. Esther Mbabazi

Rwanda is the same country that has seen drone company Zipline assist hospitals in the country make over 5,000 successful drone missions resulting in 7,000 units of lifesaving blood being aerially delivered to patients in dire need of plasma and platelets (The Drive, 2018).

In Rwanda, the words ‘impossible’, ‘never’ and ‘cannot’ seem to be struck off their execution dictionary. This can only be the truth after seeing what they did early this week when they notched yet another victory in their continued efforts to secure continuous economic and tourism development in the country.

The Rwanda Development Board, through their subsidiary, the Rwandan Convention Bureau, became Arsenal’s first official sleeve partner as part of the country’s drive to become a leading global tourist destination. The three-year partnership with Arsenal is aimed at increasing tourism, encouraging investment and facilitating football development.

As part of the three-year deal, the ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo will feature on the left sleeve of all teams starting with the 2018/19 season. Arsenal players from the men’s and women’s teams will also visit Rwanda and club coaches to conduct coaching camps to support the development of the game for boys and girls.

‘Visit Rwanda’ is set to gain global exposure through branding on match day LED boards at Emirates Stadium, all the interview backdrops and a broad range of other marketing rights. If you have ever watched an English Premier League game, you will see that all branding, no matter how large or small, is always visible. It is reported that the Arsenal shirt is seen about 35 million times a day globally, making them one of the most viewed teams around the world. Therefore this IS a big commercial deal!

As I type this article, my mind is lost in a mix of excitement, curiosity and sheer amazement about this ‘small brother’ Rwanda. How does it keep getting it right, over and over and over again? So much so that they put many African countries to shame – thanks to their meticulous planning, strategy, and execution.

Mark Twain famously quipped that “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”. Looking at this Rwanda, this holds true.

By Paul Mwirigi
PR Director – MTN Uganda at TBWA

The Express News

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