China: friend or foe?
The recent surge in Chinese investment in the economies of east Africa made this issue a particularly hot potato. We did see the occasional deployment of cultural stereotypes and wanton factual inaccuracies, but there were more than a few nuanced thought provoking arguments too, including:
- The East African Community has become too dependent on Chinese investment in infrastructure and technology, which is causing unemployment to rise. East African governments should focus on subsidising home-grown industries to boost exports.
- East African industry cannot survive without Chinese investment in vital infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, and telecommunications networks, while local labour forces do not yet have the skills and expertise to take their place.
Is the International Criminal Court (ICC) biased against African countries?
The prosecution of African leaders for crimes against their own people is a particularly sensitive issue in Rwanda owing to the inaction of the international community during the 1994 genocide. We tasked our students with debating this issue for the semi-final of the competition and here are a few of the arguments they produced:
- The fact that the majority of leaders indicted by the ICC are African, combined with the absence of western leaders responsible for the deaths of millions of civilians in the Middle East, proves that the court is biased.
- The majority of cases involving African leaders have been self-referred by the countries in question themselves proving that the ICC has the legitimacy to prosecute their leaders and in turn deliver justice to their victims.
Is the East African Common Market a realistic ambition?
Integration with its East African neighbours is the cornerstone of the Rwanda government's development plan, known as Vision 2020. In a debate contested by teams from both Rwanda and Kenya, we posed the question of whether the goal of deeper economic integration within the East African Community is truly achievable.
- A common market in East Africa is unworkable without tax harmonisation and currency union, which would lead to some member states developing faster than others and at their expense.
- The common market will create new employment opportunities as workers will have the freedom to go where their skills are needed most. This will in turn boost government tax revenues and facilitate the growth of industry on which each member's continuing economic development depends.
And on performance related pay for teachers?
iDebate regularly challenges its students to propose the bold education reforms that they feel would best equip them to lead their generation in realising the government's vision of turning Rwanda into a prosperous knowledge economy. Improving the quality of teacher training was one of the most popular reforms of the many proposed, so we felt this would be a fitting motion for the Grand Final.