Rwanda: Competing for the world An ordinary African visitor to Rwanda gets immediately overwhelmed. Driving from the airport to downtown Kigali one can see properly paved roads that are kept crisp clean, the streetlights work and the boulevards have neatly mowed lawns and carefully maintained palm trees. The road crossings are clearly marked. On either side of the road are meticulously constructed pedestrian sidewalks to rival those in any rich neighbourhood in the USA. The roundabouts in the city are picturesque with properly pruned fl ower gardens. But few visitors from North America and Europe notice anything unusual because these are ordinary public goods. Africans from elsewhere easily see Rwandas unique public goods because they live in nations where roads are dirty, potholed, lack sidewalks, manholes are open and public parks are sprawling bushes; the streetlights do not work and garbage is strewn all over city streets. In Africa, public institutions no longer embody a collective vision; instead they reinforce a pattern of private advantage for elites at the expense of the majority of ordinary citizens. Across most of our continent, there is a big gulf between public policy rhetoric and the actual outcomes of the policy process. However, post genocide Rwanda is reconstructing this collective vision. The army as a source of innovation Look at the Rwanda army: In 1996, it began the Credit and Savings Scheme (CSS) for soldiers. At the time, President Paul Kagame was vice president and minister of defence. Because of strict accountability and performance requirements, CSS grew impressively. By 2003, it had accumulated such a large amount of financial resources that the central bank of Rwanda advised the army to convert it into a bank. CSS is a soldiers-own and professionally managed bank. But what does CSS do? The Rwandan army has a construction arm. Any soldier from a private to a general is entitled to an investment loan from CSS for a car or house. If a soldier wants to build his own home, the government has provided land where officers and men can get free plots. The construction arm builds a house at a price consistent with a soldiers official income. The soldier then goes to CSS and gets a 15-20 years mortgage at affordable, below market interest rates. Instead of in a barracks or a rented house, the soldier begins to live in his own house all their life.