After 9am it’s already hot. About an hour earlier we experienced a shower of tropical rain that stopped as suddenly as it started. The ground is already dry and it’s a still day. I’m sweating in my shirt and suit jacket but the wind from riding in the back of a motorbike taxi helps a bit. I learn that my driver’s name is Polo and he’s only been to elementary school. “There’s my home, I was born nearby and I’ve always lived in Kigali”, he says, pointing down into a valley some ten meters below us. Despite his limited education he speaks perfect English and we have a discussion about development studies and sociology. Everybody in Kigali speaks English. I grasp tightly to a handle behind me while Polo keeps pointing at the scenery and driving faster and faster. “I’m starting to understand why they call Rwanda the land of a thousand hills”, I yell over the sound of traffick. “Yeah, wait ’till you see the provinces”, laughs Polo. I have no idea what to expect from the provinces.
We arrive at the World Bank Group’s office. A sign at the reception says that bringing guns in the office is not allowed. Armed soldiers patrol outside. Judging by the gear they’re wearing they must be sweating more than me. WBG’s local chief of communications welcomes us and leads us to a conference room. We talk about development aid, Millennium Development Goals, and Rwanda’s national Vision 2020 program that set a goal for Rwanda to become a middle income country by the year 2020. We learn that most of the development aid that is channeled to Rwanda through the WB goes to agricultural development – after all, most of the people in Rwanda live off agriculture. After the meeting we head for a lunch in a restaurant hidden at the end f a bazaar. We have a Rwandan ex-lundastudent with us who tells us about the culture of accountability in Rwanda. People elected into political positions have to once a year attend a public meeting and publicly explain why they have or have not kept their election promises. We also learn that the current President of Rwanda is an active Twitter user, has his own hashtag and holds “ask me anything” type of events online.
After lunch we head to the Swedish embassy in Kigali, and barely manage to escape another shower of rain. We met the chargé d’affaires Maria Håkansson and the head of development cooperation, Joakim Molander. We had a long discussion about the embassys responsibilities and operations in Rwanda and the region, and the staff added new, European perspectives to the discussions we had had earlier today. Needless to say, a lot of group pictures were taken both at the World Bank office and the embassy. Once again, a big thank you to Rogers Kayihura, Maria Håkansson and Joakim Molander for making the visits possible and teaching us so much!
After the visit to the embassy it was time to go for an adventure. We took motos to the city district of Remera where the rooftops were guarded by majestics hawks and beer and cheese was served by friendly and helpful staff at a restaurant. We also found a driving school cooperative and were invited to drive. Since most of us already have a license we politely declined. Maybe next time! We took a bus and motos back to the hostel and had dinner at the exactly right time. I’m finishing this blog post in darkness. Power was cut off by a thunderstorm. The sound of a heavy rain against the roof is pleasing to the ear. We have a torch, cards and a hammock.