Category: Economics

Rwanda fastest growing economy in ten years


REPORT

THE NEW TIMES

 

Mothers display their Mutuelle de Sante cards. Experts attribute Rwanda’s performance to provision of health care to all citizens. File.

By Ben GASORE & Athan TASHOBYA

26. July 2014

Rwanda recorded the fastest growth in Africa between the years 2000 and 2013, according to the latest UN Human Development Report (HDR).

Compiled annually by the United Nations Development Programme, the 2014 report was launched on Thursday in Tokyo, Japan. It is entitled; ‘Sustaining human progress: reducing vulnerabilities and building resilience.’

It says  that between 2000 and 2013, Sub Saharan Africa was the second sub-region in as far as achieving high progress in human development is concerned. Human development, according to UNDP, has a combination of three factors; income, health and education.

“Rwanda and Ethiopia achieved the fastest growth, followed by Angola, Burundi, Mali, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia, the report reads in part.

For sustainability, the UN urges countries to transition from agriculture-based economies to industry and services, while supporting investments in infrastructure and education so that more people can get jobs in the formal sector.

“Africa is enjoying higher levels of economic growth and well-being, but insecurity, as well as natural or human-induced disasters, persist in some parts of the region,” Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, the Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa, is quoted saying in a statement.

He said countries in Sub-Saharan Africa need to intensify their battle against deprivation and prevent crises from ruining recent development gains.

“Withstanding crises and protecting the most vulnerable, who are the most affected, are key to sustainable development,” he said.

“The eradication of poverty is not just about ‘getting to zero’—it is also about staying there,” the Administrator of UNDP, Helen Clark, points out in the Foreword, adding that the report’s focus on resilience is highly relevant to the current discussions on the post-2015 global development agenda.

Social protection

Furthermore, social protection schemes such as unemployment insurance and pensions, universal health coverage and cash transfers can help individuals and communities weather difficult times and invest in the future, says the report.

Under the social protection initiatives in the just concluded 2013/2014 national budget, government continued to support the needy, including Genocide survivors, by giving them health care, education, monthly stipends and fostering income generating activities.

Expert’s take 

In an interview with The New Times, Andrew Mold, a senior economist with the UN Economic Commission for Africa based in Kigali, attributed Rwanda’s performance to provision of health care to the citizenry.

“The report singles out China, Rwanda and Vietnam for having achieved the transition from very low health care coverage to nearly universal coverage within just a decade,” said Mold, who heads the Eastern Africa Data Centre for UNECA.

He said this was reflected in the country’s rapidly growing life expectancy.

“Back in 2000, it was just 47 years but it is now close to 64 years which is impressive by any standards,” he said.

On the financial component, he said the steady economic growth was another attribute that led to the country’s commendation in the report, saying that much as the country’s ambitious 11.5 per cent growth rate set out in EDPRS II has not yet been achieved, income per capita has grown steadily over the past decade.

EDPRS II is the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, a blueprint adopted to steer the country’s development for a five-year period, starting 2013.

“The performance has still been good, at over 7 per cent per annum. Moreover, despite the global economic recession in 2008-9, the Rwandan economy proved to be quite resilient,” Mold said.

Contact email: Ben.gasore[at]newtimes.co.rw

 

 

Source: www.newtimes.co.rw

We Must Choose Actions Over Words, Says Kagame


 

by  Ivan R. MUGISHA,

21.1.204

Photo: President Kagame addresses participants at the Kenya Governors’ Summit organised by the Nation Media Group in Naivasha, Kenya, yesterday. Kagame urged African leaders to do more for the common citizens than to talk. ((Source: The New Times/ Village Urugwiro)

President Paul Kagame has said Africans and their leaders need to work hard to ensure the continent’s rightful place on the global stage.

He was speaking yesterday in Naivasha, Kenya at an event dubbed the ‘Governors’ Summit’ organised by the Nation Media Group-an occasion that gave the country’s governors an opportunity to take stock of the last eight months they have been in power under a devolved governance system.

The President said for Africans to claim their rightful place on matters that concern the continent and the world at large, they need to spend more time on actions than words.

“People speak of the African renaissance or Africa Rising – all these mean a lot and I want to believe them. But I ask myself hard questions, like why wasn’t the previous one Africa’s century? What stopped Africa from claiming its rightful place during past periods?” he posed.

The Rwandan leader added: “There are more meaningful things to be done than to be said. We need to do more; be honest with ourselves, and have the courage to face our challenges upfront.

“We have to make sure we fulfill the hope Africans have for our continent.”

Kagame hailed the East African Community (EAC), for placing the interests of its citizens right at the heart of the regional integration agenda.

But he urged regional leaders to do more.

“The overwhelming positive reaction from our citizens in this framework of cooperation is proof that we have common aspirations that transcend our individual countries. The people of East Africa want to trade together and to get opportunities that come with strengthening regional collaboration. It is up to the leaders to find ways to deliver on these expectations.”

Kagame said that leaders in the region had a duty to be accountable to individuals beyond their respective borders in order to enhance EAC integration process.

Kagame shared Rwanda’s governance and decentralisation experience following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and encouraged Kenya’s county government to place more emphasis on homegrown solutions that prioritise the wellbeing and aspirations of the people of Kenya.

He said interventions that respond to the unique situations of a country and the needs of its people deliver development visions faster.

Kagame also took questions in an interactive question-and-answer session which touched on his personal journey into top leadership positions and how Rwanda managed to forge ahead after suffering from the most brutal genocide in recorded history – the infamous 100 days of slaughter that claimed the lives of more than a million people.

“Together with the rest of East Africa, Rwanda stands with Kenya as you embark on the important work of implementing a governance framework that will deliver to your citizens,” Kagame told the governors and other participants.

Kagame added: “This new beginning should be a unique opportunity to use your own homegrown solutions to achieve and sustain the goals of your respective counties and ultimately to attain your national vision.”

The President said although each country is unique in its own way, African governments shared common aspirations and challenges, which provide an opportunity to learn from each other.

“We can adopt and adapt beneficial practices and sidestep pitfalls to guarantee the wellbeing of our people and build successful nations. To begin with, it is up to us to put in place a leadership and governance that is based on local needs and is people centered. This is the first step in fostering community prosperity, which in turn will create confident and self-reliant nations,” he explained.

Drawing from Rwanda’s home-based initiatives like Umuganda (monthly community service), the Rwandan leader urged Kenyan governors to devise cost effective schemes that involve citizens in nation building.

For example, he said, if you don’t need donors to keep a clean house then you don’t need any to keep a clean country. “In the business of government, there isn’t anything that doesn’t involve citizens. We continue to learn that sustained frank dialogue between leaders and citizens at all levels, is the only way national goals can be achieved, even with limited material resources.”

“Failure to respond to the needs of our people will inevitably result in stagnation, instability and, eventually, jeopardise sovereignty – but we have the ability to prevent such outcomes.”

Other speakers at the forum included Isaac Ruto, Governor of Bomet and Chair of the Kenya Governors’ Council, Philip Kinisu, Chairman Governance Board, PwC Africa, Linus Gitahi, Group CEO, Nation Media Group, and Prof. Olive Mugenda, Vice Chancellor, Kenyatta University.

Kenya swore in 47 elected county governors in a new government structure in March last year. The structure is provided for under the new 2010 constitution.

The county governments are expected to decentralise service provision and resource distribution and to involve citizens’ participation in government affairs.

 

Source: The New Times

Related articles:

Work With the People, Kagame Tells Leaders

by Francis MUREITHI, 21.1.2014, The Star

Rwanda President Paul Kagame has asked governors from the 47 counties to involve locals in deciding on new policies. Kagame told the governors to embrace consultations with the locals and involve them in any measure taken to address the challenges facing the counties… read more

Rwanda values ties that support local priorities – Kagame


THE NEW TIMES

by James MUNYANEZA

12/12/13

Photo: President Kagame and Howard Buffett share a light moment during the International Quality of Life Award held at the UN Headquarters in New York on Tuesday. The New Times/Village Urugwiro

Rwanda values organisations and individuals that do not seek to impose their will but rather align their support with the priorities of the recipient countries, President Kagame has said.

The President was on Tuesday speaking in New York where he delivered a keynote speech on the occasion to honor Howard G. Buffett, an American philanthropist, for his significant contributions to the improvement of the quality of life in developing countries, including Rwanda.

“As we, in Rwanda, look back on our journey of recovery and nation building and as we reflect on the core values of dignity and self-determination that guide our efforts, there are organisations and individuals whose partnership and support stand out. Howard’s is one of them,” he said.

For his work in making significant and lasting contributions to individual, family and community well-being locally and around the world, Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences honoured Howard with the International Quality of Life Award.

Buffett is chair and chief executive of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, a private charitable foundation working to improve the standard of living and quality of life for the world’s most impoverished and marginalised populations.

‘Unique partner’

Describing him as a unique partner, the President said the IQLA laureate was different from many visitors from foreign governments, academic institutions and NGOs, who arrive in Africa with “preconceived ideas based upon where they come from, what they have heard or read”

Some of these partners, Kagame said, while they often come to the region with good intentions, tend to believe that they understand the situation better than those they seek to help, thereby making the mistake of being overly prescriptive.

“However, Howard [Buffett] has been different. He came to our region with an open mind, ready to listen, learn and share; and not to dictate – and he genuinely used what he learned to inform his actions and investments,” the Head of State told the audience.

“Howard [Buffett] has been a friend to many, including the people of Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa for more than fifteen years. He has made significant contributions to the improvement of the quality of life that should be recognised and respected,” the President said of the laureate.

In the case of Rwanda, Kagame said, Howard [Buffett] has “sought to understand the country and brought in support and perspective that have helped address our particular challenges.”


Photo: A busy Rwanda-DR Congo border post. The country’s capacity building could grow through leaps and bounds with partners such as Howard Buffett who give unconditionally. The New Times/ File

Approach to partnerships

Sharing Rwanda’s approach to partnerships, President Kagame explained that in order to achieve the country’s national vision and overcome adversity, Rwanda has continued to challenge conventional wisdom.

“Our situation has taught us to value and appreciate people of conviction who have the courage to do the right thing even when it is considered controversial by others. Howard [Buffett] is one of those people,” he added.

President Kagame said when he met Buffett in August, the American philanthropist committed to two things: partnering to modernise and develop DRC-Rwanda border post; and supporting Rwanda’s Strategic Capacity Building Initiative to strengthen government institutions.

In a statement released yesterday, the Howard Buffett Foundation announced a US$3.7 million grant for the Government of Rwanda Strategic Capacity Building Initiative (SCBI).

“Rwanda’s development successes can be attributed to its aid effectiveness and its investments in governments and institutions,” Buffett said.

“If Western donors truly want to support African-led development, and bring an end to Africa’s reliance on outside aid, it’s critical they support important efforts like SCBI.”

President Kagame also lauded the American for his Africa Great Lakes Peace Initiative which seeks to fund specific development projects in eastern DR Congo, with the President saying this “will play a significant part in lasting peace and stability that is sought in the DRC and beyond”

“Howard’s work should serve as an example to those who want to build meaningful partnerships that make an actual difference in the lives of those who need it the most,” the President said of the recipient of the IQLA.

Howard, the eldest son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, also operates a 1,500-acre family farm in central Illinois, and is involved with improving production practices for smallholder farmers in developing countries in Africa and Latin America.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, received a lifetime achievement award. Other notable attendees were UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson and actress Eva Longoria.

Contact email: james.munyaneza[at]newtimes.co.rw

 

Source: The New Times

Experts call for more research to ensure food security


THE NEW TIMES by Eric KABEERA, 22. August 2013

Photo: Dr. Kalibata (L) and other officials examine bottles of banana juice during the conference in Kigali yesterday. The New Times/John Mbanda

African countries could face food shortages by 2050 due to a rapidly growing population, agricultural experts have warned.

 

“Hunger is widespread in Africa and the problem cannot be addressed unless there is partnership between governments and the private sector. This means there is a need to increase the level of education, ensure access to family planning methods and apply research in the agriculture sector,” [Dr Timothy D. Searchinger.]

 

He was yesterday addressing a meeting of scientists from several continents during a three-day conference on agricultural research and extension in Kigali.

It was organised under the theme; “Confronting challenges of food insecurity and poverty in the era of climate change and variability.”

To avoid food insecurity there is need for more research, education and increase of family planning services, participants said.

The experts called for public-private partnership in population control campaigns and strategies for food security.

Searchinger warned that unless African countries apply various mechanisms like agricultural intensification to double food production, the continent will continue to face food insecurity.

“Africa must primarily produce food for Africans not for export,” he said.

The Growing Africa: Unlocking the Potential of Agribusiness report released early this year shows that Africa holds almost 50 per cent of the world’s uncultivated land which is suited for growing food crops.

Africa’s harvests is said to routinely yield far less than its potential and, for food crops such as maize the yield gap is as wide as 60 to 80 per cent.

The report further indicates post-harvest losses run 15 to 20 per cent for cereals and are higher for perishable products due to poor storage and other farm infrastructure.

Speaking at the same conference, Dr Agnes Kalibata, the Agriculture minister cited inadequate private investments in agriculture among the challenges that need to be addressed.

She also called for more investments in agricultural technology to help enhance food security.

“What can we do to produce more by using less; it will be done by scientists. The productivity is still low and it’s worrying. However, we need to work closely with other partners, including the private sector, not to leave everything to the government,” [Dr Agnes Kalibata]

She stressed the need to link farmers to markets so as to avoid post-harvest losses.

Positive results 

Dr Gadi Gumisiriza, an expert in plant breeding from Uganda, noted that research and technology has been applied in crop husbandry with positive results and it is thus time to extend it to animal husbandry.

More countries need to invest in domestic animals like cows, goats and sheep and produce quality products for domestic consumption as well as exports, he suggested.

Martin Ngirimana, a farmer from Bugesera District who showcased food crops at the sideline of the conference, also noted that access to market was vital in farming business.

Government allocated Rwf164 billion, worth 10 per cent of the total 2013/2014 Budget, to agricultural sector.

Closure of the American embassy in Rwanda and Burundi


on the 12. of August

Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Why Did U.S. Embassy in Rwanda Close?

O. A. GASHUGI

Photo: by yellaprakash

The recent closure of the American embassy in Rwanda and Burundi – among others in the Middle East and Africa – allegedly as a precautionary measure against possible terror attacks has raised a lot of eyebrows, considering that neither of the two countries has any experience with extremist Muslims, nor has there ever been an attack against American interests (or those of other Western countries).

The US state department, in a communiqué announcing the closure of 19 of its embassies and consulates including the one in Kigali, simply called it a ‘precautionary step’ following a worldwide terror alert. The embassy itself said on its website that it would be closed from August 5 to August 9 and announced the cancellation of all US citizen and visa appointments.

The measure also came as a shock to most Americans living in Rwanda. One of them, who did not want to give his name, said he has always felt very secure in Rwanda and was surprised that the embassies in Rwanda and Burundi would be closed and while the ones in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda remained open.VIEW ALL

Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Will Rwanda Extradite M23 Officials?

O. A. GASHUGI

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General Johnston Busingye says that the extradition of four M23 officials to Congo will be done legally and not politically after confirming that Rwanda had responded to the DRC government’s request for extradition of the four officials.

The four wanted officials are former M23 chairman M23 Jean-Marie Runiga and military commanders Baudouin Ngaruye, Eric Badege and Innocent Zimurinda.

Busingye told The Rwanda Focus that the Rwandan embassy in the DRC received the papers towards the end of July and immediately sent them to Kigali, where they were studied and a response was sent last week.

“Extradition is a legal issue and this matter will be handled in a legal process. We have responded to the DRC government asking them to furnish us with more details,” Busingye said.

The details that Rwanda is seeking from DRC are the nature of the charges against the four officials and evidence against them. DRC’s Information minister Lambert Mende told media recently that his government enjoys good relations with Rwanda in spite of the recent diplomatic challenges between the two neighboring countries. VIEW ALL

How a Single Visit Led to a Million Dollar Investment in Rwanda


RWANDA FOCUS

06. August 2013

by Kenneth AGUTAMBA

One of the company’s elaborate tents. (photo Bruno Birakwate)

The story of JKK Holdings and how it came to invest in Rwanda reads like a fairytale, a tribute to Rwanda’s attractive investment environment. JKK Holdings Rwanda is a subsidiary of Dubai based JKK International, specialists in events and Interior Design. Although you may not have heard of them, if you have been to this year’s PSF 16th expo at Gikondo, then you have seen their beautiful work on display.

On the immediate left when walking into the Expo, JKK has constructed more than just a tent; they have built a house on fair grounds. The first floor has a wide room fully designed like a living room complete with side drawers, a working water sink, and a huge flat screen TV on the wall.

At the far side of the expansive room, comfortable leather sofa chairs are arranged and the floor fitted with sparkling silver tiles. Upstairs, the bungalow has a single bedroom complete with all the features found in a five-star hotel, including wide windows with a small balcony.

JKK puts all this work into a temporary structure, one that will be disassembled after the Expo. “As you can see, this is what we do, it’s what we are exhibiting, our expertise is events and interior design and what you see here is what you get, the best,” said a middle aged easy looking gentleman.

This man was John Koshy, the managing director of JKK Holdings himself. It is rare to find Rwandan MDs manning their exhibition stalls; most feel they are too important for that, and entrust the task of meeting clients and explaining their businesses to volunteers with very limited knowledge. “Our motto is ‘trust who knows’ and that says it all about our approach to business,” says Koshy, a Dubai citizen.

Finding Rwanda:

Koshy says prior to coming to Rwanda, he had always wanted to work in Africa, specifically in a young economy, one that offered great potential to grow. “So I read and researched a lot about the continent and economies here.” It was not his research, but a visit to a friend in Kigali that finally provided an answer to Koshy’s questions. In Rwanda, he had finally found the country to invest his fortune.

“It happened in 2010 when a friend of mine invited me here for a four day visit. After just one day here, I already liked the place – the geography, the weather, safety and the cleanliness of the city,” recalls Koshy. That was the turning point and he expressed his feelings to his friend, who quickly told him about RDB’s easy process to register a business.

“So I used my four days here to register JKK international Africa Ltd and the journey began,” tells Koshy. Today, he employs 11 Rwandans, 1 Ugandan and 3 Indians and he has invested over $1million. He is also considering to open an amusement park in Kigali.

JKK’s first deal in Rwanda:

During his four-day visit, Koshy was introduced to a PSF official who told him about the annual expo, an event directly in line with JKK’s expertise. He submitted a proposal that PSF liked and was told to compete in the 2010 tendering process to design and construct that year’s expo. He did, and he won.

He designed PSF’s exhibition center and four other stalls including Orinfor, Bank of Kigali, Mineac and Minicom. His impressive work on these stalls caught attention of many other corporate firms. JKK’s popularity took off, and it went on to design and organize the 2012 Guma-Guma finals venue as well as the RPF’s 25th anniversary.

This year, JKK designed stalls for over fifteen corporate firms including PSF’s own exhibition center. “Our experience and expertise is priceless. We guarantee quality work on time, regardless of challenges,” he says. It is no surprise that this professionalism comes from a man who has practiced for over 30 years in Dubai, the world’s shopping centre and home to thousands of exhibitions in a year. In Dubai, competition ensures that companies adhere to higher standards of quality and timeliness.

“For instance, we didn’t make any profit in our first assignments in 2010; we had to import everything, paid a lot in taxes, lost a lot in theft but we delivered nonetheless because that’s paramount to us,” he recalls.

Today, Koshy says the situation has improved. JKK can now find 50% of their supplies locally. But still, lack of proper skills remains a huge problem. For three years he has trained his local staff, but poor attitude stands in the way of learning. Currently, he would like to hire at least two Indians from Dubai to enforce his team here, but he has struggled with emigration rules that limit investors on the number of foreigners they can bring into the country. He feels this prevents him from growing his business.

Nonetheless, JKK has confidence in Rwanda and is ready to invest more money here. He only wishes for more cooperation from the authorities.

16th Annual Rwanda International Trade Fair (Expo 2013) open – Expo 2014 promise to be biggest ever


THE NEW TIMES

by Seraphine HABIMANA

The Expo attracted more than 100,000 visitors per week last year. The Rwanda Focus (file photo)

The 16th Annual Rwanda International Trade Fair (Expo 2013) that started on Wednesday officially yesterday by the Prime Minister, Pierre Damien Habumuremyi.

However, by about 3:30pm yesterday some exhibitors were still setting up their stalls.

Cyprien Habiryayo, an exhibitor from tea producer, Sorwathe, said people were still few, but was hopeful the numbers would go up since yesterday was the first day.

Ephrem Karangwa, the Expo 2013 co-ordinator, said this year there are many changes regarding quality and organisation. The ‘business corner’ for exhibitors to exchange ideas and network is one of the changes, he added.

The expo is running under the theme, “Linking businesses to market”.

Karangwa noted that manufacturers from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) were attending the fair for the first time, which he said will help Rwandan business people make contacts with suppliers of products that are not produced in East Africa.

At least 345 exhibitors, both local and foreign, are participating in the annual event that is aimed at showcasing new products and networking. Last year, 491 exhibitors participated.

The expo has attracted companies from the Comesa region, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.

Related article:

Expo 2014 promises to be biggest ever

Private Sector Federation boss Hannington Namara says the 16th edition of the Rwanda In­ternational Trade fair, which starts on Wednesday, will be bigger and more exciting than ever.

He explained that they have re­duced on the number of tents to cre­ate more space for exhibitors as this was the main concern raised by par­ticipants last year, so there will be slightly over 700 stands for 330 local and foreign companies. [read all…]

Sources: allafrica.com, The Rwanda Focus

National Dialogue – Be a Part of Our Democracy


EDITORIAL

13.12.12

The 2012 annual National Dialogue, otherwise known as the Umushyikirano, is opens this morning at the Parliamentary Buildings in Kimihurura. The meeting, which will bring together central and local government leaders, the private sector, members of the Diaspora and ordinary citizens, is a great opportunity for all of us to be an integral part of our own democratic process.

The two-day meeting will allow us to take stock of our progress as a nation, while uncovering the things that are not going so well.

Rwanda is criticized by some in the international community for being undemocratic; however, the fact that each and every Rwandan can have their voice heard and hold their leaders to account in real time, is in fact, a challenge to other, supposedly more mature democracies. We have lessons that we can teach them.

This year’s Umushyikirano is especially exciting because of Agaciro Fund. The billions of Francs that we have contributed will be spent depending on what we choose. Therefore, we must all make sure that our thoughts on how best to utilise these funds are heard by our leaders.

It is both our right and responsibility to make sure that we participate in this important occasion, either through text messaging, social media or by making phone calls. This occasion is a celebration of our nationhood, and the all-inclusiveness of our governance. Therefore, let us make sure that we don’t waste this great opportunity to have our voices heard.

 

 

Source: The New Times

National Bank Governor Gatete says: Aid Cuts Will Not Stop Rwanda Economy


Rwanda’s economy is expected to grow faster than initial projections for 2012, the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) Governor, Claver Gatete, has said.

Photo: Steve Terrill (file photo)

Gatete said although recent donor aid cuts cannot go unnoticed; they are not potent enough damage the healthy Rwandan economy.

“We are going to maintain our macroeconomic regulations to ensure that the Rwandan economy continues to flourish and attract more investments,” he said.

The BNR is basing its optimism on current positive trends in some sectors of the economy, especially in the financial sector which is mainly dominated by the banking industry, and continuing private foreign capital inflows.

Gatete explained that even as donors withheld aid, private foreign capital continued to flow into Rwanda.

“Since a lot of capital has been coming into the country even during the hard global economic crisis, this is what will yield the expected high growth,” he said.

Clare Akamanzi, the Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the institution charged with speeding up investments in the country, says Rwanda may register over US$1billion in investments this year surpassing the initial target of around US$800 million.

Last year, investments registered hit US$626 million.

Stability factor:

Over the same period, Rwanda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanded by 9.4% beating the initial projection of less than 9%. The growth was mainly fueled by good performance in all sectors coupled with low inflation.

While inflation in some neighboring economies went as high as 30%, Rwanda managed to maintain it at 8.3% by December 2011, which was the lowest in the five member bloc of the East African Community (EAC) bringing together Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi.

The reason for increased investments this time–both domestic and foreign–is the stable economic growth and business environment. Rwanda makes it easier to start a business, pay taxes and register property which helps to attract more investors.

Rwanda also has attractive investment opportunities in various sectors with energy especially in electricity generation, construction especially commercial and residential houses and agro processing topping the list. Others include financial sector mainly investment banking, Information Technology Communications (ICTs) especially software development and skills development especially in higher learning education.

The central bank says the increase in investments has resulted in increased imports mainly of capital goods and resulted in a 4% depreciation of the Rwandan Franc against the US dollar. But the Central bank says the depreciation is not “alarming”.

Banking boom:

The banking industry, according to the regulator, BNR, continues to register increases in the amount of loans to the businesses which are further assurance that the economy is expanding with high demand for of capital.

BNR statistics indicate that the total loans this year have increased to Rwf839.574billion from Rwf631.267billion by end of December in 2011, representing an increase of about 32%. Banks have even exceeded the highest loan to deposit ratio which, at 94%, stands slightly above the standard measure of 80%.

The increase in loans, says Anand Sanjeev, the Managing Director of Banque Commerciale du Rwanda (BCR) which was recently bought by Kenya’s I&M Bank, is attributed to low lending rates which are currently between 15.9% and 17%, according to the latest BNR statistics.

Sanjeev says that commercial banks are increasingly lending to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which comprise over 80% of the taxpayers in Rwanda, and are considered the next movers of the economy.

Gatete said the central bank will propose to the government to limit public spending and prioritise its expenditures.

“Government spending now is what we will have to deal with in order to ensure that it is done within the limits of available funds while long term solutions are being pushed to politically to ease the case.”

Gatete says the fine performance of the financial sector may help prop-up growth in the entire economy which is largely dependent on the agriculture sector.

“Judging from what we have witnessed in the financial sector in the recent three quarters, there is more enthusiasm that the little money that donor countries have delayed to disburse will not deter our country’s growth,” Gatete said recently during a press conference in Kigali.

Many western donors have suspended aid to Kigali following allegations that the Rwandan government was backing Congolese rebel group M23.

The EU, Germany, Sweden and Holland have all delayed aid disbursements to Rwanda, increasing fears that a deficit in the development budget may hinder growth which was projected at 7.7% this year.

Belgium also recently suspended military aid and the U.S government froze US$200,000 meant to support the newly opened senior army officers’ college.

However, UK government which had equally suspended its aid to Rwanda later unfroze part of it and recently opened a debate on whether the remaining portion should be released.

 

 

Source: MATTHEW RWAHIGI, 12 DECEMBER 2012, The Independent (Kampala)

 

More Efforts Needed to Meet Water and Sanitation MDG


Experts on water and sanitation have asked African governments to get more committed on issues of water if the continent is to meet the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015.

Minister Stanislas Kamanzi (R) greets the Secretary General, African Water Association, Sylvain Usher, as Elphas Were, from Kenya, looks on at the Young Water Professionals forum yesterday. The New Times/ John Mbanda

The call was made at the start of the second East African Young Water Professionals forum that kicked off in Kigali yesterday. According to water professionals, forecasts for the water situation in Africa are still quite distasteful. The conference has brought together participants from 20 African countries across the globe.

Experts say many African nations will fail to achieve the Millennium Development Goal’s target to reduce by half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015, and that many more will miss the sanitation target.

According to Nelson Gomonda from Action Aid, Africa loses five per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to poor coverage of water and sanitation, two per cent to power outages, between five to twenty five to droughts and floods in affected countries, and a further five per cent to the future impact of climate change.

“In Africa where young people are over 50 percent of the population, only seven per cent of hydropower has been developed.

Africa’s agricultural water management is woefully deficient, with a food import bill of over US$17 billion,” Gomonda noted.

Stanislas Kamanzi, the Minister of Natural Resources, while officiating at the opening of the forum, noted that there is need to forge strong political will, supported at all levels of decentralisation.

“Translating national policies and strategies into results on the ground is critical to improving access. However, these gains are only possible at the national level if the political leadership actively supports and drives progress towards the targets,” Kamanzi explained

He added that in Rwanda, this support has come from the very top. The President identified sanitation as a key approach to reducing poverty under national poverty reduction strategies and other policies.

Kamanzi said the meeting is an opportunity to discuss various aspects of water including integrated water resource management, innovations in appropriate technology, Water governance and financing, youth empowerment and gender, climate change, sanitation and hygiene.

“Water scarcity is one of the leading problems affecting more than 1.1 billion people globally. The struggle for access to clean drinking water in Africa contributes daily to the stalling and reversal of human progress on the continent,” said one of the participants.

The Young Water Professionals is a forum comprised of water professionals and students below the age of 35 and the main focus of the YWP is to engage the youth in the water sector to prepare them to become the future leaders of the water sector.

The theme of the three-day conference is focusing on “Water for the future: A contribution of the Youth”. It brings together the East African young water professionals, senior water professionals and other various stakeholders to support the continuous development of a workforce adequate in size, capable in skills and strong in leadership to make a valuable contribution in addressing the issue of water for the present and the future.

 

Source: EVALINE NAMUWAYA, 11 DECEMBER 2012, The New Times