President Paul Kagame denied Wednesday that government data on dropping poverty in the country was being “faked” to paint picture different from reality.
Global business newspaper Financial Times, in a length article published Tuesday reported that data from the National Institute of Statistics was designed to fit within Kagame’s narrative to hoodwink foreigners. Poverty had instead increased over the years, said the paper.
Government data shows that by 2017, extreme poverty in Rwanda had dropped to 34% of the population, down from over 60% in less than 10 years.
“First of all, I wish I could make any data [tow] tow my line, because my line am convinced is a good one,” said Kagame at a youth conference, amid repeated applause.
“…I’ll bet with anyone that there is nothing fake or fabricated or doctored about the progress we are making. No question about it.”
“If anyone is saying we still have problems to deal with, then he is right, because we have many problems we have to deal with. There is no question about that. There are many challenges we have to deal with…”
Kagame said the paper “wanted to be humorous, with a tinge of sarcasm”, adding that the headline was “very negative”.
Kagame said that in the same week, ratings agency Standards and Poor’s (S&P) had also issued its own report upgrading Rwanda’s economy ‘from B to B+ with positive outlook’.
The FT story also claims that a group of World Bank officials had written to the institution’s former President Jim Yong Kim raising alarm at official efforts in Rwanda to fabricate statistics.
Describing the FT story as “western propaganda”, Kagame said that “many stories based on facts” from World Bank, IMF, World Economic Forum have reported differently.
Kagame said the FT story was published as an act of solidarity with France24 televison journalist whom he had dismissed during an interview back in June alongside former EU Development Commissioner Neven Mimica.
In that interview, Kagame angrily lambasted at the journalist’s reference to EU rights report on Rwanda, famously saying: “Who are you”, which was even later turned into a social media hashtag.
Speaking today, Kagame said: “Its like the fraternity out there is trying to rally and defend somebody.”
“To tell you what; that is my right place to be. I honestly enjoy these fights,”, he said, going on that the fight concerned Rwandans and Africans.
Kagame said Africans were the ones making themselves subject to ridicule. “Africans are good at tearing each other apart, quarreling”, instead of fighting for their dignity.