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We wish to inform you that Rwanda is open for business

The next great place for multinational corporations to invest may be a landlocked African country best known for its 1994 genocide. Rwanda’s sprightly president is trying to recast his country’s image as a business-friendly nation that seeks to become the paragon of private-sector development in Africa. On a recent trip to the United States, Rwandan ...

The next great place for multinational corporations to invest may be a landlocked African country best known for its 1994 genocide. Rwanda’s sprightly president is trying to recast his country’s image as a business-friendly nation that seeks to become the paragon of private-sector development in Africa.

On a recent trip to the United States, Rwandan President Paul Kagame met with Starbucks’ chief executive and Costco’s CEO to discuss deals about specialty coffee. Rwandan officials have also met with senior executives at Alltel, Bechtel, and Columbia Sportswear. And Google is making its Web-based software available ad-free and free-of-charge to government ministries, with each ministry getting its own domain name.

Kagame, who has been president since 2000, is viewed as an honest, business-savvy man opposed to corruption, unlike many other African leaders. Consequently, American businessman Dan Cooper, who has been pitching Rwanda to U.S. corporations, describes the Maryland-sized country as “the most undervalued ‘stock’ on the continent and maybe in the world.”

The human rights group Freedom House still lists Rwanda as “not free” in its latest annual “Freedom in the World” report. But since when did lack of freedom get in the way of China’s economic development? I just hope this interest on the part of major corporations ends up benefiting a citizenry that’s trying to heal from the wounds of genocide.

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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