The hotel I’m staying at is amazing. Kigali does not have an abundance of good hotels and, unless you go out of your way to find a deal, you’ll end up staying at the Serena. The Serena itself is nice enough. You could hunker down here for days and never see the poverty just across the street. This is, in fact, what I’ve been doing the past couple of days as I work on customizing the software we’re delivering. This is why I haven’t written much. But as nice as the hotel is, that is not what makes it amazing. Instead, the regular stream of interesting characters that congregate in the lobby of the hotel make it so amazing. As I watch the people and listen to the conversations, I feel like I can get a good sense of where this tiny little country is headed economically. The first weekend we were here, we shared the hotel with Tony Blair and saw President Kagame making his way through the lobby.. There were the various UNICEF conferences, aid workers, and similar activities throughout the week, but when we got back from our weekend trip, we started to seeing Paul Wolfowitz skulking about the lobby. Evidently, he has been working on economic development in Sub-Saharan African. At the same time there were several Pentecostal leaders (President Kagame seems to be courting the Pentecostals while shunning the Catholics) here talking to Americans and natives about economic development projects. I heard conversations that ranged from farming and using the proceeds to fund Rwandan School Lunch programs to Beauty School programs for a small number of students. The groups shared the patio with Wolfowitz, and while I suspect the programs they were discussing had something to do with is visit, I didn’t really see any hard proof of that. Beyond the observing, here at the hotel, on the street, and in the offices of the Capacity Project and the Ministry of Health, I have been reading the local English language paper, the New Times. One front-page article that caught my eye was on the amount of money that the country spends on consultancies. Rwanda is the beneficiary of a lot of aid from Western countries. But, not all of it is well-spent and, as Confessions of an Economic Hit Man hints, a lot of that economic aid seems to be directed at the donor country’s private companies rather than the direct recipient. Just this week, the New Times printed an article about the $80 million dollars that is being spent every year on consultancies (registration may be required for that link). These are, for example, software developers performing maintenance tasks on software that was “given” to Rwanda. I’m still struggling to figure out exactly how I feel about working with an organization spending aid money — my fiscally conservative libertarian tendencies are uncomfortable with it — but, as I said before, I’m extremely pleased to be to work on software that the country will be able to own and maintain itself.