Rwandan President Paul Kagame says his government sees broadband as a means to address its development challenges. He was addressing a session at the World Economic Forum in Davos, on the question: “why broadband should be prioritized in the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.”
The Rwandan government reports that President Kagame outlinedd Rwanda’s commitment to the use of ICT for transformation: “People used to think that broadband is meant for a few people and cannot be accessed by the majority. We have found that with the right investments, we can make it accessible and affordable. People are now able to use ICT for health, education and to access markets for their agricultural products. The results speak for themselves in every part of Africa.”
As co-chair of the Broadband Commission, President Kagame also thanked the broadband commissioners for their dedication to increasing broadband accessibility.
ITU Secretary General, Ahmadou Toure explained the goals of the Broadband Commission as essential to sustainable development. “Our goal is to put broadband at the centre of every national agenda. We want to use broadband to achieve millenium development goals and address global challenges including youth unemployment, climate change, and environmental sustainability. We are part of the solution and not part of the problem.”
Reminding those present that ICT must be part of a wider context that includes good governance, President Kagame emphasized the role of ICT in ensuring that citizens have access to information: “My hope is built on one thing. Giving the majority of our people ICT tools means they will be able to face their challenges.”
President Kagame added that broadband is an opportunity to share knowledge in a mutually beneficial manner:“It is important to understand that there is no part of the world that has monopoly of knowledge or best practices. That is the beauty of the globalized society we live in.”
China is committed to strengthening the cordial relationship with Rwanda, the Chinese Ambassador to Rwanda, Shen Yongxiang, has said.
Yongxiang was speaking at a function organised by the Chinese Community in Rwanda to celebrate the Chinese New Year on Monday.
The event was held at the Chinese Embassy in Kigali.
“As we mark the Chinese New Year, I want to inform you that we are grateful as China to have a good relationship with this country,” the envoy said. He also hailed government’s support which he said has enabled China to effectively implement its development projects in the country.
The Chinese government has for long been supporting Rwanda in various sectors, including agriculture, health and construction sectors, among others.
Monday’s event also saw best photographers in a photography contest awarded.
The Chinese embassy organised a photography competition dubbed ‘China in the eyes of Rwanda’ that aimed at promoting and exchanging culture between the two countries.
Omar Khalfan, a lecturer at the University of Rwanda’s Huye campus, emerged the best in the contest and received a laptop. The second best, Philomena Lindagato, went home with a mobile phone while Timothy Kisambira of The New Times and Faustine Niyigena of Izuba Rirashe, The New Times sister paper, received a camera and an Mp3, respectively.
“I am so happy that I emerged the second best photographer. The secret is that I submitted photos in line with culture, the theme of the contest,” Niyigena said.
Ambassador Yongxiang appreciated everyone who participated in the contest, adding that each one’s role contributed to the success of the contest.
Rwandans who were evicted from Tanzanian will be moved to their permanent homes by March, the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Affairs Permanent Secretary Antoine Ruvebana, said on Monday.
Ruvebana said the ministry is providing construction materials while districts are identifying land where to construct the housing units.
Over 5,830 evictees were last month temporarily moved from Kiyanzi and Rukara transit centre in the Eastern Province where they had been sheltered after they were banished from Kagera region in neighbouring Tanzania.
They are temporarily hosted in various districts in the country.
About 14,253 crossed into Rwanda following their controversial expulsion from Tanzania in August. A total of 8,361 have since reunited with their families in various parts of the country.
“The next phase is to relocate them from the current temporary residences to permanent homes,” Ruvebana said.
He said they had started distributing some scholastic materials to children and were considering providing them with health insurance (Mituelles de santé).
Some districts have already commenced the construction of houses for the evictees.
All districts were given a three-month period to reintegrate the evictees.
Rubavu District mayor Sheikh Hassan Bahame said the process will be completed within two months.
“We have already hired a contractor who will work alongside the district,” Bahame said.
He said his district will put up 32 houses for the 60 people who were relocated there.
Gideon Ruboneza, Ngororero District mayor, said they had identified land in various sectors, including Kavumu, Ngororero and Muhororo where 35 houses for 101 people, currently living in former school buildings in Kavumu sector will be built.
He said he is optimistic all the evictees will be resettled in the next two months.
Ruboneza said the district is employing the evictees in VUP programmes, a national anti-poverty scheme through which the poor receive support from the government.
UN agencies such as World Food Programme, Unicef and United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) are providing the evictees with basic necessities.
Nyarugenge mayor Solange Mukasonga said those relocated to her district will be resettled in Kanyinya, Mageragere and Nyarugenge sectors.
She said 27 houses will be constructed, starting next month.
Mukasonga said they held a meeting with stakeholders, including religious leaders, and agreed to monitor and follow up on the evictees on a daily basis to ensure they access basic needs.
The European Investment Bank and the I&M bank on Tuesday signed a deal that will see Rwandan small businesses benefit from EUR8 million under the new lending programme for Small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s).
This is the second new small business lending programme between the European Investment Bank and I&M Bank Rwanda in seven years. Previously the EIB floated $3 billion.
The agreement was signed by Sanjeev Anand, Managing Director of I&M Bank Rwanda and Kurt Simonsen, Head of the European Investment Bank’s regional representation for East and Central Africa.
Simonsen said that the I&M bank has proved to be a good and trusted partner over the years and the European Investment Bank (EIB) is confident that the funding will enable Rwandans to attain their economic development strategies.
“We are very proud to work with I&M, who have been using the funding appropriately to facilitate economic development in this country. We are very sure that this money will reach the rightful owners and be used well” he said.
Managing Director, Sanjeev Anand explained that the SME and corporate sector forms the most important part of I&M Bank’s strategy in Rwanda and that the long-term financing lines provided by EIB will go a long way in facilitating efforts to provide investment support to SMEs.
Over the years, the European Investment Bank has extended five small business focused credit lines for a total amount of EUR 31 million to Banque Rwandaise de Développement, Bank of Kigali, and I&M Bank Rwanda Ltd.
The funds have helped to develop more than 100 SMEs and created more than 1, 250 jobs in the private sector in Rwanda. In addition to supporting small and medium sized companies in the country.
The European Investment Bank has signed a credit line with Kenya Commercial Bank to support microfinance and intends to broaden support for private sector investment in Rwanda in the future.
A group of investors from the Czech Republic are set to invest in a range of businesses in the country.
The 30-member delegation led by Jan Kohout, the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs, was in the country last week as they explored potential areas of investment in the country.
During their visit, the group visited Rwanda Development Board (RDB) where they were assured of an enabling business environment in Rwanda.
The group, which also had a business meeting last Tuesday with several government officials and the Rwanda business community, is interested in investing in the a variety of areas, including: agriculture, services, manufacturing, energy, import and export promotion, and aviation.
“We have chosen Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Ghana as our economic missions in Africa and I am optimistic that our business community will find various investment opportunities in these countries,” said Kohout in the meeting.
He added that the objective of coming to explore potential areas of investment in the country is due to the fact that Rwanda offers potential business opportunities since the country has continued to perform well in World Bank ‘Doing Business’ reports.
Borivoj Minar, a member of the Czech Chamber of Commerce, said that although it was their first time in Rwanda, they have developed a strong feeling of establishing businesses in Rwanda after holding meetings with government officials about various business opportunities.
“We are looking forward to partner with Rwanda towards promoting trade, innovation and entrepreneurship between the two countries,” Minar said.
RDB Chief Operations Officer (COO), Claire Akamanzi, said that Czech investors are looking to African markets where growth is high, and Rwanda was chosen as one of their destinations.
“Many countries are choosing our country as a potential area of investment and this shows that Rwanda is one of the fastest growing economies on the continent. We are happy about that and ready to offer them a conducive environment that will enable them to efficiently and effectively do their respective businesses in Rwanda,” Akamanzi said.
She said that RDB will continue working together with the Czech chamber of commerce in order allow many investors from the Czech Republic to come and invest in Rwanda.
“Although we haven’t done much with Czech Republic in terms of investments, the coming of such investors shows the beginning of their business journey with Rwanda,” Akamanzi said.
The group also toured Kigali Special Economic Zone (KSEZ) which the government put aside as place for industrial zone for the national and foreign investors.
Statistics indicate that RDB registered investments worth $1.2 billion (about Frw 800 billion) between January and June this year.
The investments represent 58 domestic projects, worth $ 509.1 million, 22 foreign projects, worth $406.9m, and nine joint ventures worth $338.1 million.
While talking to the visiting delegation, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba said: “Our economy has responded considerably well to business reforms, we have grown at an average rate of about 8 per cent over the last decade and we welcome you to Rwanda to explore areas of your business interests,”
According to 2013 Baseline Profitability Index by the Foreign Policy Magazine, Rwanda was ranked fifth-best destination for investment in the world out of 102 countries surveyed. The global study indicated that high returns of investment are accessible and to a great degree, retrievable to investors in Rwanda.
The 2013World Bank Doing Business Report also ranked Rwanda the third easiest place to do business in Sub-Saharan Africa, after Mauritius and South Africa.
The fifth edition of Tour of Rwanda will be broadcast live on Supersport everyday from November 17-24.
Rwanda Cycling Federation (Ferwacy) president Aimable Bayingana said in a press statement that, “South African based sports television Supersport, TV5 and French television Canal Plus have agreed to broadcast the tour live.”
“From the time we started organizing the Tour of Rwanda, it has been our goal to broadcast it to the world. This means that the cycling competition will be viewed by people in many countries across the world,” added Bayingana.
The seven-stage race will cover a total distance of 819km and three new routes have been introduced including Kigali – Kirehe, Rwamagana – Musanze and Rubavu – Kinigi.
Meanwhile, the race is expected to have 16 teams from different countries like South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Algeria and Gabon.
UCI Continental Center, Eritrea’s AS BE CO, AVAIA Crebbe from Belgium, Novo Nordisk from USA, Algeria’s Sovac, Samsung MTN Qhubeka from South Africa and Rhone Alpes from France are the foreign teams that have confirmed participation.
Rwanda will be represented by three teams including Karisimbi, Akagera and Muhabura. These teams are currently training at the national cycling camp in Musanze.
The two Rwandan riders from UCI Continental Center, Janvier Hadi and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana have also joined camp to prepare for the annual competition.
Rwandan Olympian Adrien Niyonshuti is expected to participate with his team Samsung MTN Qhubeka.
Team Samsung MTN Qhubeka is the first African team to join the second division of world cycling, the highest level from any team on the continent after the International Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed its status as a professional continental team for 2013.
Team MTN-Qhubeka is determined to compete on the international arena in the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
Professional cyclists like Niyonshuti alongside Africa’s best cyclists including Daniel Teklehaymanot and this year’s African Cycling Champion Natnael Berhane will be in Rwanda to represent the team has a roster of 15 African and 6 international riders.
About twenty years after the tragedy of 1994, about 1,500 elderly genocide survivors from around the country are still either homeless or living in poor, unsatisfactory conditions. The government, through the Genocide survivors fund (FARG), says it is ready to build houses for the homeless and to rehabilitate those which are in critical conditions.
The program groups elders together, in order to facilitate their supervision regarding their living conditions, their health, and their assistance in general for a better, less lonely living style.
In order to make this feasible, Theophile Ruberangeyo, the executive secretary of FARG, says they are thinking of constructing and rehabilitating shared, group.
“These elders suffer from loneliness and lack of care, but if they are somehow together, they will interact each other and it is very easy to be aware of their neighbors’ problems”, he said. Apart from being old aged, some of these widows have other health problems like disabilities, and these should also get special care.
Local leaders, through a video-conference last week, expressed worries that the given budget is not enough to make sure that the houses are sustainable.
For instance, 944 houses slated for rehabilitation were allocated Frw 300 million, a small amount for so many houses. However, Ruberangeyo assured that there is a plan to have the budget increased in the upcoming budget revision.
Some districts, like Gisagara, have already adopted the plan. Leandre Karekezi, the mayor of Gisagara district, says that once the elders were living close to one another, it was easy to protect and care for them.
“There even some activities that they can do if they are together. They feel somehow not alone as they could feel if everyone is in his or her own house”, he said.
Inkeragutabara will build the houses, and most of districts have already signed contracts with them. Districts that have not yet signed contracts are requested to do it as soon as possible in order to have all activities starting in all districts.
James Musoni, the Minister of Local Government, appreciated the initiative, arguing that it will help in making sure that these elders are well assisted. He suggested that there be a social worker hired to supervise these elders, providing services like counseling, among others.
According to suggestions from local leaders, each house will accommodate four or five widows. The Minister requested that the FARG establish an overall design of these houses in order to start the construction.
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are considering building a superhighway from Mombasa to Kigali, parallel to the planned railway.
According to regional trade lobby organization Trademark East Africa, which will be facilitating the project, it is expected to have a six-lane road, with construction beginning in 2016.
Inspired by the N1 highway that runs from Cape Town in South Africa to Harare in Zimbabwe, the proposed road is intended to ease the movement of cargo, thereby reducing the cost of doing business and increasing intra-regional trade.
Expenditure on transport in the EAC countries accounts for 45% of the total cost of goods. This is 30% higher than in Southern Africa, making commodities produced in the region uncompetitive.
John Byabagambi, Uganda’s Junior Minister for Works who is chairing the Standard Gauge Railway Committee, said that Trademark was doing feasibility studies for a dual carriage highway that forms part of plans to expand the Northern Corridor, as the current single carriage system is too narrow and fraught with inefficiencies.
Allen Asiimwe of Trademark East Africa said the superhighway would have no weighbridges or roadblocks.
This means that once the goods are loaded onto a truck at the Port of Mombasa, there will be no stops until the final destination. Weighbridges and roadblocks are among major hindrances to trade in the region.
As the cost of doing business in the region drops, intra-EAC trade, which currently stands at over $3.8 million, or just 13% of the total trade volumes in the region, is expected to increase.
Asiimwe added that the road, the ability of the revenue authorities of Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya to acquire the latest software known as Automated Systems for Customs Data (Asycuda), plus a $50 million investment in the port of Mombasa, will ensure that cargo moves fast and that it is constantly monitored.
“Investment in a regional asset like the Mombasa port will reduce the time for clearing goods from 18 to five days,” she said.
The software enables Customs officials from the three countries to use the electronic tracking system to monitor the trucks.
The software will also boost the EAC Customs Union since revenue authorities will be able to assess and collect taxes at the first point of entry. This means that once a trader has paid his taxes for goods bound for Uganda, there will be no need to pay a refundable bond to Kenya. This has been the practice, due to the fear that goods could be dumped in Kenya.
As the cost of doing business in the region drops, intra-EAC trade, which currently stands at over $3.8 million, or just 13% of the total trade volumes in the region, is expected to increase.
Experts warn that intra-EAC trade is well below the standards of any functional common market.
“Intra-regional trade should account for at least 25% of the total trade volumes in any functional common market,” said Rashid Kibowa, Commissioner for Economic Affairs in Uganda’s Ministry of East African Community Affairs.
In the European Union, intra-regional trade accounts for 55% of total trade while it stands at 40% in the US.
Rwanda will soon be among the few African countries to link every corner of the country when it rolls out the first ever 4G LTE broadband network in the region.
LTE (Long Term Evolution) is a wireless broadband technology designed to support roaming Internet access via cellphones and handheld devices.
The $140 million project, to be rolled out over the next three years by the government in partnership with KT Corporation, South Korea’s biggest telecommunications provider, will see the whole country linked to a fiber optic cable.
Its launch coincides with Transform Africa, a continental ICT and innovation summit that takes place in Kigali from October 28 to 31.
Seven African presidents and more than 1,500 delegates from all over the world are expected at the summit to discuss how Africa can overcome its connectivity and ICT challenges.
The presidents who are expected to attend include Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda — who will also be in Kigali for their countries’ Infrastructure Summit on October 28.
According to Rwanda’s Minister for ICT Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the country is today ranked among the “most connected” countries in Africa.
The 4G LTE network will be the final phase to deliver the “last mile” of connectivity after putting in place all the other infrastructures needed, including linking the whole country to the fiber optic backbone. The project will connect 95 per cent of Rwandans.
“Six years ago, African leaders met in Kigali for the connect Africa summit to find means of addressing the digital divide the continent was facing. At the time, only five per cent of the population had mobiles but today 65 per cent of Rwandans own mobile phones,” Mr Nsengimana said.
Connecting all citizens
“Today, when we meet in Kigali for Transform Africa, the question will not be how Africa will be connected but rather how this infrastructure can reach the final person,” he added.
Africa’s biggest challenge remains linking population to available ICT infrastructures as well as the high cost of making phone calls.
Rwanda and other EAC member states are among the countries where making a single phone call is more expensive than in any other part of the world.
The issue of affordability of telecoms and data will be one of the key issues to discussed at the Kigali summit this week.