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“Welcome to Rwanda!”

Something brought a startled smile to my face yesterday. A big, broad smile. I sent a tweet to a Head of State, and got a response.

Background: At the suggestion of a someone who works for one of the world’s major credit card companies I am going to Rwanda. He told me that our Marketplace project could possibly be very useful in Rwanda. Normally we have only entertained ideas of the project in conflict and disaster affected economies. However, as our work has progressed we see it being equally applicable, if not more so, in some of the worlds fast growing emerging markets. So its off to Rwanda I go.

Problem is this: I do not know anyone in Rwanda. I have never visited Rwanda. The closest I ever got was being in the room when a leading Canadian politician called UNAMIR‘s Major General Romeo Dallaire in 1994 during the height of the genocide to congratulate him on winning a Canadian medal. Needless to say, Dallaire was not impressed.

But I digress. I have some friends helping me establish contacts in Rwanda. But two days ago I decided to employ the services of the 21st century social network.  Twitter. I sent a tweet directly to Paul Kagame the President of Rwanda via @PaulKagame.

Tweet to President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame 8 November 2011

To my great surprise @UrugwiroVillage, the official twitter account of @PaulKagame‘s Office actually replied.

Responsive Government

Then, very shortly after that, the Chief Operating Officer of the Rwandan Development Board was touching base.

The Rwandan Development Board - service oriented.

What can I say?  The rhetoric about Rwanda being open for business is not just rhetoric, its seemingly very real. No wonder Rwanda is cruising up the rankings of the World Bank’s Doing Business Report.

Critical of many foreign aid efforts, President Kagame routinely advocates “trade not aid.” Another country pulling itself out of conflict is Timor-Leste – and there they are increasingly fond of the term. In April I poached the term for a presentation to Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, and his Council of Ministers.  It went down very well.

Presentation to Council of Ministers, Dili Timor-Leste, 20 April 2011.

Rwanda, cannot wait to get there, on 20 November.

Now just imagine, how the things might have turned out differently if Kagame and Dallaire would have had Twitter in 1994.

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