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The Financial Times says Rwanda has manipulated its economic data

Yasuyoshi Chiba/ AFP A picture taken on April 29, 2018 shows a view of city center from the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Kigali, Rwanda.

On Tuesday, in a lengthy investigation using data journalists, the Financial Times said Rwanda has manipulated its poverty statistics. In 2015, France 24 had already reported that Kigali had fiddled with its economic statistics.

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Four years ago credible insider sources told France 24 that Rwanda had manipulated its poverty statistics. Now, the Financial Times, using data journalists, has reached the same conclusion. The manipulation took place just before a referendum in 2015 that allowed President Paul Kagame to extend his then 15-year rule for up to another two decades. Within this context, Kagame could not accept statistics which would show that poverty had risen.

The FT writes that its “analysis of the survey’s more than 14,000 data points and interviews with academics shows that rising prices for Rwandan families meant poverty most likely increased between 2010 and 2014”. The English daily adds that “there has been a consistent attempt since 2015 to misrepresent the results” regarding poverty.

Rwanda has rejected the newspaper’s findings, as has the World Bank – at least officially, for the FT also published Tuesday for the first time an internal letter that five World Bank staff members wrote to the institution’s leaders in 2015. The authors voiced their concern over what they called “the manipulation of official statistics and failure to provide reliable data openly”.

“Recent developments point to potentially serious reputational risks for the Bank if its Rwanda operations continue in the current trajectory,” the letter said.

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