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Rwandan government’s $50,000-a-month PR strategy revealed

with 37 comments

Racepoint Group worked to promote “Rwanda’s visionary leader”

A detailed PR strategy prepared by lobbyists for the Rwandan government has been published by the US authorities. Under US law, lobby firms working on behalf of other governments are required to register their activities publicly.

The memo, which was prepared by “Racepoint Group” in 2009, is addressed to the Rwandan Information Minister from company bigwigs Larry Weber and Peter Prodromou – whose previous experience includes “working with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Libya to positively impact global public perception and support negotiating positions with key allies”.

The strategy aims: to “build a strong and sustained Image campaign communicating the successes of Rwanda with key stakeholders in the political and financial elite communities” and “Offset the negative and factually incorrect information of those parties with vested interests in mis-portraying Rwanda’s advancements”.

Campaign themes include “Rwanda’s Visionary Leader… highlighting President Kagame and his visionary leadership” and “The Rwandan Miracle: Healing of a Nation”. The company’s fees are listed as $50,000 per month plus $2,500 – £3,500 per month for “out of pocket expenses”. The average Rwandan has an income of $510 per year.

Racepoint suggests that Rwanda has a “significant image problem”, in part because “Certain NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch, continue to advance a story of an unstable Rwanda” . Racepoint seems dismissive of this picture, alleging that Human Rights Watch and others are presenting it merely “as a means of continuing to attract donors and wield influence in the region”.

The PR firm then outlines “a consolidated set of tactics to publicize both Rwanda and President Kagame“. This will initially involve “leveraging top print and broadcast outlets to communicate the Rwanda success story… and, in the process, validate it based on their credibility”, together with “a proactive campaign that leverages the web to seed stories favorable to Rwanda”.

Racepoint singles out  the Huffington Post as a particular online media target, together with “careful seeding across the blogosphere” to “initiate an offensive to control the organic search on Rwanda and set the agenda in print and broadcast”.

“At the same time, we will blunt the online impact of our opposition by initiating a wall of defense debunking their accusations… we will identify and selectively respond to the most egregious… we will erect, on free social networks, ‘walls’ of pro-Rwandan data that debunks myths and links to Rwanda’s national web site. This will enable us to establish captive audiences on the web…”

Further elements mooted include a “Celebrity Visitor Program” a “Global College Tour” for President Kagame, and “challenging heads of NGOs that are the country’s largest detractors to public, televised debates on networks like CNN, BBC and al-Jazeera. This will provide Rwandan officials with the opportunity to debunk mythology being propagated by hostile NGOs and other detractors.”

The Guardian last year profiled Racepoint’s PR work for the Rwandan government, and highlighted critical comments by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative:

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, in a report last year, found that Rwanda has “excellent public relations machinery” which has succeeded in “persuading the key members of the international community that it has an exemplary constitution emphasising democracy, power-sharing, and human rights which it fully respects”. It concluded: “The truth is, however, the opposite.”

Rwanda’s constitution, the report said, was “a facade which hides the exclusionary and repressive nature of the regime”, “basic human rights are in an unsatisfactory state”, “censorship is prevalent” and there are “serious concerns about the level of political freedom”.

Written by Richard Wilson

September 4, 2011 at 8:16 pm

37 Responses

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  1. I think that it is in every Nation’s right to promote their country, just like the UK and US do it for their industries. Going back to 1994 Rwanda Genocide against Tutsi, UK and US voted against intervention at the UN Security council, this is why I think it would be wise for the UK and the US to contribute more to supporting Rwandans to rebuild their nation, it is the moral thing to do.

    As for those who still dream about inciting hatred or reviving ethnic tension or ethnic violence, I’d say that they’re just as evil as those who committed genocide in 1994.

    By the way, this was not a piece of PR I’m doing for Rwanda, but rather show my support for Rwanda to rebuild, no one was there for Rwanda in 1994, why should anyone stir up trouble or demonise Rwanda when they’re rebuilding lives?


    September 4, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    • Thanks DK for seeing good in Racepoint PR agreement of publicity with PK government. Unfortunately, it would seem us that Racepoint is more interested in money than the good cause you just stated. Imagine that their work went also into fighting the Mapping report on despicable Human rights violations in RDC between 1993-2003 in which UN experts excuse Kagame’s army to have engaged in atrocities that are tantamount to genocide! See this link to UNHRHC:

      There is a French expression I am not going to translate in English “Maquiller le cadavre”…that is what Racepoint is doing to the inveterate mass murderer Kagame. It won’t stick. Remember that they took money from Gaddafi as well! SP


      September 5, 2011 at 4:14 pm

      • Thanks for your comment,SP.I am not a fan of UN or UN Experts, their record in the African Great Lakes are extremely contradictory. Take the example of Burundi, currently led by individuals who committed serious crimes, including crimes committed outside Burundi, DRC included. What did the UN suggest? Using your French, Maquiller le cadavre, UN lobbied for amnesty for all crimes committed in Burundi, numerous Human rights reports were published, but yet, groups and individuals mentioned in the reports, have been allowed to lead Burundi.What DRC has endured, going back to the crimes against humanity committed by Belgian King Leopold II, to the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, to the looting of DRC and mass rapes, are all events I strongly condemn, I support DRC just as much as I support Burundi,Rwanda victims of ethnic violence.


        September 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    • DK, The only reason the international community did not intervene in Rwanda in 1994 is that RPF misinformed it on what was going on. Do your own research on what RPF envoys told the UN in May 1994. RPF was against any international community intervention which could have stopped interahamwe from continuing the genocide. The only entities which should be guilty here are RPF and Interahamwe. UK and US have put a long time in discovering RPF’s lie but in the end once they find another replacement for Kagame he will go bye bye. RPF elites who are wasting resources for their clean international image should take a lesson from what’s happening to Gadaffi

      Deep Fikira

      September 5, 2011 at 5:56 pm

      • Good for you if you’re pro regime change,Deep Fikira.I am pro Africa taking its own destiny in hand, and not be controlled by any other outside forces, certainly not Leaders imposed by the US or UK as you’re suggesting it.


        September 5, 2011 at 6:51 pm

        • I think RPF Leadership is a direct Washington and UK leadership. From the time RPF attacked a soveriegn nation and up to now RPK is US and UK proxy criminal organisation. They use Kigali to destabilize the region and I cant stop laughing at your pro Afrikan slogan, when in reality Rwanadan leadership was imposed by the US and UK. They will continue use RPF and once they are done with them or when they don’t need them anymore, they will trash them.

          Manny Bikorimana

          January 22, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    • DK, really, this money you are paid from Kagame regime is smeared with blood whatever explanation you give. Better to give it back to Charities like did some American stars after discovering that the money got from Gadafi was smeared with blood and I can ensure you that you will get suprised and embarrassed to know the man you are working for after being naked in all corners. You will find that he is incomparable to anyone in this so called modern time after Hitler tragedies. On my side, I do not know how to describe yr boss but i think he is not a human being, may be an evil having a human being shape.


      September 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

      • whoah,MR, just because I expressed myself, does this mean I am employed by H.E President of Rwanda? You’re truly amusing.I guess you’re employed by someone to attack me or make those allegations against me,right?


        September 7, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    • DK you seem to be totally misguided to assume there was no one who supported Rwanda. Why don’t you ask Rwandans who were there to tell who supported the country before and after RPF. But now, mistreated or eliminated day by day and now deserting him because of dictatorship. I even wonder how you can claim to care more than nationals, if it was not your personal gain.

      Henry Settimba

      December 22, 2016 at 6:47 pm

  2. […] Today’s find is from that not-so-long-ago moment when publicly associating with Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi wasn’t quite as toxic as it is today – and it makes an interesting compare-and-contrast with yesterday’s entry. […]

  3. i don’t see any problem with is the right for any country to do what is good for it’s citizen and to promote it’s policies.Kagame is wise and we appreciate what he is doing for Rwandans.

    aboti mbeyi

    September 6, 2011 at 6:36 am

  4. I would like to know which U.S. authorities published Racepoint’s detailed strategy.


    September 6, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    • Hi Ann – it was the Department of Justice, under the authority of the Foreign Agents Registration Act – As I understand it this basically treats all lobbyists for foreign governments as agents of a foreign power, and requires them to register their activities.

      The act seems to be somewhat selectively enforced, but following the controversy around Libya and Monitor Group, both Monitor and Racepoint seem to have been gently reminded of their obligations under the act. Interestingly Racepoint submitted their files on Rwanda the same day (August 12th) that they disclosed their documents on Libya.

      Richard Wilson

      September 6, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      • “Interestingly Racepoint submitted their files on Rwanda the same day (August 12th) that they disclosed their documents on Libya.” What do you find interesting about this? Kagame supported the NATO invasion of Libya despite the African Union’s opposition.


        September 8, 2011 at 3:17 pm

  5. […] var mydate=new Date() var year=mydate.getYear() if (year < 1000) year+=1900 var day=mydate.getDay() var month=mydate.getMonth() var daym=mydate.getDate() if (daym This submission was emailed to us by a reader from Richard Wilson’s blog. The original post can be found here. […]

  6. Rwanda has long needed PR help since it gets a disproportionate amount of media coverage. The reasons for this might include the 1994 Genocide, Rwanda’s rejection of all the NGOs who think they know what is best for Rwanda and the exiles who wish to take power (and this means both those who have an ethnic agenda for whom Ingabire was intended to be a “trojan horse” and also the likes of Nyamwasa and Rudasingwa who feel that Rwanda should be developed for their benefit rather than all Rwandans).
    What Rwanda has achieved since 1994 is also threatening for many e.g. other African countries whose leaders see filling their own pockets as more important than development, western countries who like to tell Africans what to do, ditto for international NGOs.
    Correcting misinformation takes time and as long as Racepoint do their job well I have no problem. Rwanda is in the business of attracting inward investment since it does not have natural resources. It also has a population of 11m which is rising. It is important that potential investors have the facts rather than lies. $50,000 per month is anyway about 32RWF pa for each Rwandan. Peanuts.


    September 7, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    • hahahahah!!!!!!!!!!!!!Dear Alex, yr song is really funy, hahahah!!!!!!!How can other african doctators get jalous to your visionary leader? May be they can get jalous because they don’t have two expensive private jets like yr boss. When you call other doctators corrupt, I feel sorry for you bcs yr hero is the most corrupt president I have ever seen. Instead of closing yr eyes and ears, put an aye on recent american cables from the American Embassy in Kigali leaked by Weakleaks and there you will find what evils your visionary leader is planing.


      September 7, 2011 at 6:44 pm

      • MR,you sound like you might have solutions to all issues you mentioned,what would you be your priority if you took over from H.E President of Rwanda? What would you different? How would you make sure that Rwanda does not descend into ethnic killings? How would you support the economy? Are you sure that you wouldn’t face similar biased international critics from some corners?


        September 7, 2011 at 7:02 pm

  7. I think that the end of the world is on the corner… Because it does not make sense how people can’t anymore differenciate a good thing from a bad one. My humble point is that we were “unpowerfully” witnessing in 1994 one of the most horrible things that have ever happened on earth(the Rwandan genocide) and this was unacceptable from every human beeing at that period of time, as we were comfortably sitted in our living rooms watching innocent Rwandan people perish. And today, instead of supporting that country that lived those massacres and have done so far more than enough to resurrect from 1994 ” Rwandan hell “,, you dare criticising them??? . Why don’t you do that once they are back on their feet?? Why don’t you encourage to rebuild themselves if you really have a human heart? Why don’t you volunteer in their favour to make a difference?? Why would you feel bad if they were advirtising their beloved country dispite all their losses in 1994 when you could not even come to their rescue?? I have recently been in that tiny African country, i can assure you that what is happening there today is just amazing and so inspiring. So i don’t at all buy your evil articles completely baseless. Please don’t rush to judge! Go on the field and witness what is going on there. If you are doing that to feed your stomach, then you will never be blessed.


    September 8, 2011 at 12:31 am

    • Andrew, as an outsider I may agree with you because what you get about Rwanda is only this horrible tragedy (the Tutsi genocide 1994) and then publicities from these PR machineries. The language you are using here is the same that Kigali has been using to silence any voice trying to ask any accountability: “Where were in 1994”? Rwanda went to Congo 2 times and made there atrocities voire crimes of genocide to Hutu refugees and congolese and tangible evidences are there. A country like Rwanda, justice should have been done before anything but unfortunately Rwandans didn’t get any justice: genocidaires are the ones who are judging people and calling for justice. Instead, PR machines are happy to get money from hands with blood to help fabricate myths of what have never been on the Rwandan soil. An evil can never become an angel whatever things you should do. The probleme with Rwanda, no one don’t want to say the truth because many of them are involved on one way or another in the Rwandan tragedy but am very optimstic that one day the truth will triumph: there are some indicators. You said you have been in Rwanda and noticed that what is happening there is amazing and inspiring (Rwandan miracle), hahahah!!!! Sincirely speaking, what inspiration did you get from Rwanda? Really, give me one tangible example and from there we sould discuss!!

      Long live!!


      September 8, 2011 at 10:21 am

  8. You are responding as though Rwanda were united in its attempt to rise from the ashes. It is not. The inequality index has greatly risen, not fallen, since Kagame took power. Recent Wikileaks cables say that even the U.S. government, which makes most use of its proxy army, knows that it is a perilous Tutsi dictatorship. Many Rwandans tell me that tensions are so extreme that something like the Rwanda Genocide could easily start again, and could perhaps even be worse. I hope not, but Rwanda, and neighboring Burundi, ate more of a bi-polar society than anything I’ve ever come into contact with.


    September 8, 2011 at 5:51 am

    • “more of a bi-polar society than anything I’ve ever come into contact with”

      So what contact have you had Ann? Ever been to Rwanda? When?


      September 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm

  9. Really every government in the world pays for PR and $50,000 isn’t that much money all things considered.

    However the release of Racepoint’s agreement with the Rwandan gov is fascinating and allows us to look back and see where they succeeded. For example, remember the sycophantic articles which were appearing weekly on Huffingtonpost back just before the elections? That appears to be the work of Racepoint. Makes you wonder about their editorial standards if a PR company can so easily push an agenda like that.


    September 8, 2011 at 8:56 am

  10. Yes.


    September 8, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    • On the question of the documents all being submitted by Racepoint on the same day, what seems striking is that for about 2 years Racepoint were able to keep details of their work for both Rwanda and Libya off the public register. Then suddenly in August 2011 they disclose their files on Rwanda, Libya and (so far as I can see) just one other country – Jordan. So I’m wondering why do they disclose this information now, and why those particular files? And given that it took them two years to disclose these details, could there be other interesting stuff – either on Rwanda or on other countries – that they’re still holding back? My very, very rough guess is that the DOJ had been somewhat lackadaisical about scrutinising Racepoint until Gaddafi’s political fortunes suddenly changed earlier this year. When Monitor Group suddenly found themselves under the political spotlight as never before over Libya and were forced to comply with FORA, Racepoint found themselves exposed too because of their relationship with Monitor and prior work for Gaddafi. So maybe they then decided to make something approximating to a full disclosure of all info to which FORA was applicable to try to draw a line under the whole episode… So then the Rwanda info emerges as a kind of by-product of the firestorm around Libya. This is just a total guess – but it seems to me one plausible explanation of the otherwise-a-bit-puzzling timeline.

      Richard Wilson

      September 8, 2011 at 7:53 pm

  11. Read, studied, talked to a lot of people. Read The New Times most every day for almost two years now, among other publications. I was planning to apply for some funds to travel to Rwanda when Kagame arrested Peter Erlinder and said that should be a warning to him and “his gang.”


    September 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm

  12. Sept 94 – Sept 2011

    Seventeen years..

    In Sept 94 people had zombie like sight..

    We beat all odds as a team…

    Rwanda is in the news day in, day out..

    When you rub your shoulders with big players, having a costly, effective coach who delivers is a smart move….

    All those so called breaking news is a testimony to which length the leadership was ready to go in order to turn the table.

    Nothing new under the sun

    Lol. Gbu. Lukiza


    September 8, 2011 at 8:42 pm

  13. Who ordered the assassination of Patrice Lumumba (Congo independence Leader)? Belgian Agents involved in the crimes were interviewed,they showed no remorse,as a matter of fact, they justified why they dissolved him in acid, they said:”He had insulted our King…” Next door to Congo, Burundi independence Leader Prince Louis Rwagasore, a Man still admired and respected by all Burundians (Hutu,Tutsi) was assassinated just 13th october 1961, who ordered his assassination? 20-21st October 1993, Melchior Ndadaye, first democratically elected President of Burundi, is assassinated, in the same night, Members of his Government, President and Vice President of Parliament were all brutally killed, rumours claimed that Major Pierre Buyoya (allegedly a Hutu,but often presented as a Tutsi) who lost elections,had apparently organised the Military Coup, allegations he strongly denied.In July 1996, the same Man comes back to power, Major Pierre Buyoya overthrows Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, the interim President who replaced Cyprien Ntaryamira, the tragedy is that Sylvestre Ntibantunganya, formerly Foreign Minister in 1993 Ndadaye’s Government, survived the assassination, his Wife was killed by Military Coup plotters. Where is Justice? Major Pierre Buyoya got enough PR including from US special Adviser on the Great Lakes, Howard Wolpe.Just after 1996 Military coup, Howard Wolpe had no shame in justifying the Coup, my question is, why do they protect Major Pierre Buyoya, a Man who came to power in September 1987, a Man feared by all Burundians (Hutu,Tutsi).These are questions I don’t have answers for, but what is clear is that Millions of citizens who were born in the African Great Lakes, were deeply traumatised by these series of events,that includes me.


    September 9, 2011 at 9:58 am

  14. […] the Racepoint Group, a British PR consulting firm, $50,000/mo., plus some thousands in incidentals Racepoint Group’s Republic of Rwanda Public Relations Strategic Plan was, in accordance with […]

  15. […] year I blogged about the Rwandan government’s $50,000  deal with the US PR firm Racepoint, whose aims  include promoting “Rwanda’s Visionary Leader… highlighting President Kagame […]

  16. […] year I blogged about the Rwandan government’s $50,000 deal with the US PR firm Racepoint, whose strategy includes […]

  17. Well, we knew there was a PR campaign. The amount of US college students visiting the president office cannot be because Rwanda is that much interesting. Someone somewhere pays.

    Rwanda is a lie in pretty much all it does. Examples. These Rwanda days which are gathering of all Rwandan diaspora meeting the Kigali leadership. In these meeting,even question and answer sessions are staged. Asked questions are selected and distributed to a certain number of people who will ask them.

    I am a proud Rwandan but all you are being told is at 80% lie! Most Rwandana know it but prefer to shut up because our government is so good at killing us when we speak up!

    Em K

    January 23, 2014 at 3:05 pm

  18. I take a very pragmatic view on this one! Any public business (and governing a country is a prime example) needs efficient PR. The Rwandan Gov and RPF just happen to know that if you want the best you must pay. Ball is in the camp of those who disagree and they have to find alternative and cheaper lobbying strategies. The playground is open and virtual resources are available to everyone. No one ever said that efficient PR= true PR. The economy of truth in politics is …well, convoluted. PR strategists like Racepoint are not hired to TELL THE TRUTH but TO MAKE BELIEVERS! and believing is a matter of personal choice and judgement .

    Dr B

    January 23, 2014 at 7:26 pm

  19. […] Source: […]

  20. […] For the United States, Rwanda is a great interest in the Great Lakes region of the world, however it does not have the most favourable public relations image. It is reported that Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, hired a public relations firm to improve their global image . When one searched for Rwanda under google images, they would be presented with images of the genocide. However, there is more to the country. Hence why, they began the process of image management. As it has been investigated, in quite the undercover manner. […]

  21. Soooo WHAT?!?????

    Marie- Grace R.

    March 27, 2021 at 8:24 pm

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