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August 2012

Leveraging Regional Integration for Rwanda

Birgit Hansl's picture

For Rwanda to become an emerging middle-income economy, it will need to unleash its export potential. The country has a natural comparative advantage in services, including tourism, and can serve as a gateway between Anglophone East Africa and Francophone Central Africa. But Rwanda can only reap these benefits if it integrates with its neighbors.

Regional integration can bring substantive benefits to all EAC members. But will progress affect all countries in a similar fashion? The answer is no.

Three countries are landlocked (Burundi, Rwanda, and Uganda), and two are coastal (Kenya and Tanzania). Kenya’s GDP (PPP) is similar to Tanzania’s, but 5 times that of Rwanda and almost 20 times that of Burundi. 

Why are Kenyans still brilliant runners but disappointing footballers?

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

 When Churchill was asked for the secret of his long and healthy life, he famously quipped: “No sport!” (that was Winston, not Kenya’s beloved entertainer). The British PM would have been a poor ambassador for the London Olympics, which just ended in great fanfare.

Today, many would challenge his perspective. Obesity is a massive problem in rich societies and rapidly becoming one in emerging economies too. As a result, heart disease and diabetes are also on the rise.

But for me, sport means so much more than just personal fitness. I practiced Judo competitively as a child, which helped me to stay focused, taught me important life skills –especially teamwork— and formed friendships that have lasted until this day. My passion for sport has been reenergized in Kenya, where you can be outdoors all day long and all year round… much better than sitting in front of the TV (football games excepted).

But at the macro level, is sport also contributing to national development? Does it help or hurt in building a nation and growing an economy?