Dissertation submitted on 22 October 2001

for the Candidate Degree in Political Science

at the University of Copenhagen

Posted at willum.com



Foreign Aid to Rwanda: Purely Beneficial or Contributing to War?




By Bjørn Willum

The dissertation documents how precious commodities are plundered by the Rwandan Army under cover of the Congo War, first and foremost a mineral known as 'coltan' that is used throughout the western IT industry and the price of which peaked at more than US$ 600 per kilogram in January 2001.

The Rwandan Government has constantly denied that Congolese resources are being plundered, but a letter from the National Bank of Rwanda sent to the author shows that Rwanda last year exported seven times more coltan than it produced. The same is true for diamonds and gold, and the author estimates that Rwandan forces last year earned at least US$ billion from the exploitation of Congolese minerals.

Moreover, the author argues that a clan-based mafia called the Akazu systematically dominates all important aspects of political, military, and business life in Rwanda as well as all aspects of the war campaign in the Congo. It is argued that there is in fact no Rwandan state; that the 'Government of Rwanda' is not a government but rather a euphemism meant to attract foreign aid to the benefit of the Akazu; and that the Army to a great extent wages its campaign in the Congo with a view to the financial gain of the Akazu, of which the Army forms a central part.

As most criminal networks, the Akazu is however not a coherent force. Infighting and struggles between different factions of the Akazu occur frequently and show that the only one thing keeps the Akazu afloat: access to wealth.

These findings have profound consequences for the impact of aid provided to the 'Government of Rwanda' and the private sector in Rwanda. I argue that the Akazu so pervades political and business life in Rwanda that the aid flows directly benefit Akazu members and thereby help stabilize the Akazu; a stability that is crucial to the Rwandan war effort in the Congo. In reverse, this means that by keeping the aid flowing, donors ensure the stability of the Akazu and thereby also the continuation of the war.


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'Foreign Aid to Rwanda: Purely Beneficial or Contributing to War?'








Abstract, Table of Contents, Introduction, Methodology (pp. 1-5)
Rwanda in the Congo (pp. 6-23)
The RPA and Military Commercialism in Eastern Congo (pp. 24-60)
Rwanda: State or Network? (pp. 61-87)
Rwandan Economy and Foreign Aid (pp. 88-105)
Foreign Aid and the War Effort (pp. 106-121)
Conclusion and Epilogue (pp. 122-129)
References (pp. 130-148)
For easy access to the online documents that I refer to, try this HTML version of the 'References' section