The President made the critics yesterday in a conversation dubbed ‘Meet The President’ held at Intare Conference Arena in Rusororo where he affirmed that nothing is fabricated about the progress Rwanda is making.
The conversation which involved the youth from different levels of employment, students, and nationals from the diaspora among others revolved around different national development programs.
The comments followed an article published by Financial Times, which reported that Rwanda manipulates its economic data to hide its poverty.
The Financial Times claimed to have conducted an analysis of the survey’s more than 14,000 data points and interviews with academics show that rising prices for Rwandan families meant poverty most likely increased between 2010 and 2014.
The analysis of the National Institute of Statistics (NISR) on findings of the 4th Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV4) and (EICV3) indicated that poverty reduced by 6.9% between 2011 and 2014.
The FT analysis of the same data contradicts that finding, suggesting there has been a consistent attempt to misrepresent the results.
According to the Financial Times (FT) calculations, it is only possible to show a poverty decline of 6.9 percentage points if the mean value of the NISR’s cost of living index was 4.7 percent.
The Financial Times explained that poverty could only have fallen by such a large margin if average prices for the poorest 40 percent of households increased by 4.7 percent or less between January 2011 and January 2014.
The magazine consulted Diane Rwigara, David Himbara, a dissident who fled the country, a Belgian Fillip Reyntjens among others.
Sam Desiere, a senior researcher at Belgium’s University of Leuven who has studied Rwanda’s poverty statistics, says average prices probably increased by at least 30 percent between 2011 and 2014 based on his analysis of price data included in Rwanda’s household survey.
That conclusion would imply that poverty increased by about 6.6 percentage points, according to the FT analysis. “The higher the inflation rate,” said Mr. Desiere, “the more poverty increases.”
Rwanda denied that it has misrepresented the results. “The claim that poverty in Rwanda increased between 2011 and 2014 is wrong,” said Mr. Yusuf Murangwa, the Director-General of NISR.
The NISR later added that it was “inappropriate” to use a mean of the cost of living index to understand how it adjusted prices between the two surveys but declined to provide any further details about the rates it used.
Commenting On the report yesterday, Kagame said: “I will bet with anyone that there is actually nothing fake or fabricated or doctored about the progress we are making. If anyone is saying we still have problems to deal with, then they are right because there are still many challenges we have to deal with. We are dealing with them and we will deal with them. There is nothing new about Rwanda having problems, and all of us working together to make a difference for ourselves.”
Claiming the report false, the President also referred to the reports of the World Bank report, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Economic Forum and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) which recently upgraded Rwanda’s economy from “B” to "B+".
“The S&P agency rated Rwanda from B to B+, the same week Rwanda is said to fake data about poverty levels. There is such a thing as western propaganda. That is why I really want us to be together in this fight because it is a fight for who we are and who we want to be. It is a fight about ourselves, about Rwandans, about Africans,” he said.
“We have been downtrodden largely because of ourselves. Because we have not addressed some of the things that people build on to look down upon us. When you don’t solve your problems, and these are the problems that are going to create a ground for people to look down upon you, I think you are largely to blame. We should first take this blame,” added Kagame.
The President advised the youth to develop the mindset of doing things right other than striving to impress anybody.