Category Archives: Rwanda good governance

Rwanda ‘committed to ICT for development’

Rwanda ‘committed to ICTs for development’

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.”

Rwanda’s Stock Exchange Market Is Promising

THE RWANDA Stock Exchange’s (RSE) central depository was recently inter-linked with other regional stock markets’ depositories; a move many sector players say will boost activity at the local stock market. In fact the switch was long overdue considering that three out of the five companies trading on the local stock market are cross-listed.

The development therefore gives them more opportunities to transact business compared to the previous situation, when they could spend months without trading a single share. It will now be easy to transfer shares across the Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania stock exchange markets. According to RSE officials, transactions involving regional firms will now take less than two hours compared to over three months previously. Things can only get better.

However, this development should not be seen as the magic bullet that will solve the challenge of low volumes at the local market, or why companies are reluctant to list on it. The RSE issues need new approaches and innovation so that more investors, especially Rwandans, can get involved and invest in shares of different companies listed on the stock market.

Remember, the majority of would-be investors do not understand how the stock market operates. This, therefore, calls for massive sensitisation drives to educate the public, especially business people, the benefits of investing in shares. Last year, when the Capital Markets Authority officials were appearing before Parliament they said they would start massive sensitisation campaigns, but nothing seems to be taking place.

Also, CMA had said they were working with local authorities to start issuing Municipal Bonds by end of last year; the public is still waiting. If this initiative kicks off, it would do a lot in creating awareness as more people get involved.

I&M bank signs EU funding deal

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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.

DRC, Rwanda Senators Dialogue Good for Diplomacy

The recent discussions between Rwandan and DRC senators have been hailed as good progress in often fractious relationship between the DRC and Rwanda.

A group of senators led by Senate President Jean Damascène Nkawukuliryayo were in Congo for three days to discuss security, peace and economic activity of the two countries.

According to Senator Jean Damascene Bizimana, chairman of the Foreign Affairs commission, the basis for the 3-day trip was to examine matters pertaining to the implementation of the African Union peace framework signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, early this year.

The framework aims at finding ways of bringing peace to eastern DRC. The DRC, according to the Addis accord, has the primary responsibility of pacifying its volatile east, particularly by talking to rebel groups fighting the government. Neighboring states, including Rwanda, are required to help by not getting involved to stir up trouble in the already wrecked region.

“We agreed on some things but disagreed on others. The DRC senators accused our government of supporting the M23 based on various reports by the UN Group of experts and other human rights organizations but we have sent detailed rebuttals on those reports, which we showed them,” Sen.Bizimana said, adding that despite such disagreements, the dialogue helped a lot in pacifying relations.

The meeting also underscored the importance of neighboring countries reviving their routine discussions at border regions to help get rid of the harmful suspicions and falsehoods propagated by lack of a forum to discuss any issues.

In the past few weeks, some heavily armed Congolese soldiers have been arrested after being caught on Rwandan territory and sent back to the DRC. The soldiers claimed that they did not know that they had crossed the border and were on Rwandan territory.

President Kagame said during a press briefing that he did not think that the soldiers had crossed the border with knowledge or approval of their government, and that he assumed it was a simple mistake on the soldiers’ part.

Refugees

Among other things, the Congolese Senate has agreed to set up a committee to look into matters pertaining to the welfare and possible homecoming of hundreds of Congolese refugees hosted by Rwanda, “a very positive development and crucial step forward,” according to Sen. Bizimana.

During the Kinshasa session, both parties agreed to resume parliamentary diplomacy meetings – alternating in either countries – at once every semester or more if necessary. The Rwandan delegation requested that the next meeting be held in Rubavu, where the Economic Community of Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL) headquarters are based, in December.

The meeting in Rubavu, it is hoped, will allow the lawmakers to better examine challenges and possible solutions to the two countries’ joint cross-border development projects including hydro-power generation on Rusizi falls, and the Burundi-DRC-Rwanda road network.

Rwandan and Congolese Senators paid attention to, among others, three important but stalled CEPGL projects: the Great Lakes Development Bank (Banque de Développement des Etats des Grands Lacs, BDGL); the agronomical and zootechnical research institute (IRAZ); and the energy development arm of the bloc (CINELAC).

The implementation of mutual projects has stalled as there has been no momentum from the three countries, due to political divergences and poor coordination.

Most of the blame for the projects failure is currently put on President Joseph Kabila, the current CEPGL Chairperson, who has failed to organize the habitual sessions of Heads of State that guide and direct project execution. Therefore the Rwandan Senators requested their Congolese counterparts to help advocate for such a higher level meeting to be arranged.

However, what Sen. Bizimana calls another added advantage, is the fact that Dr. Nkawukuliryayo met with President Kabila for a one-on-one chat. This paper tried raising the Senate President on what they discussed but he did not answer his known phone by press time.

“When there are high-level meetings, like this, it is a sign that there is a good chance for resolving issues. It is usually a critical step towards finding solutions,” Sen. Bizimana said.

During the May visit, DRC senate president Leon Kengo wa Dondo agreed with his Rwandan counterpart to ensure constant dialogue on matters of mutual interest so as to spur parliamentary ties and help resolve regional conflicts.

New Houses for 1,500 Elderly Genocide Widows

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.

Gisagara experience

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.

Butaro Cancer Centre opens new wing

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Health Minister Agnes Binagwaho is joined by Dr Paul Farmer, one of the founding directors of Partners in Health (2R) and Bill and Joyce Cummings (Friends of Rwanda), as well as Burera Mayor Samuel Sembagare (L) to commission the Butaro Ambulatory Cancer Centre on Tuesday. The New Times/Irene Nayebare

Butaro Cancer Centre has opened a new wing to address the increasing demand for medical services at the facility.

The new facility, a brainchild of joint efforts between government and Partners in Health, among other stakeholders, has been named the Butaro Ambulatory Cancer Centre (BACC).

BACC has been constructed to supplement the centre that has taken on more than 1,000 new patients on its oncology programme during its one-year existence.

Addressing officials who graced the opening of the centre, Dr Paul Farmer, a co-founder of Partners in Health, said the only way to reduce cancer deaths is to integrate prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

The Butaro District-based centre is the first to be established in a rural area across East Africa, and according to officials, some of the patients who have been treated there are from other EAC countries.

“Eighty-four per cent of cancer falls more heavily on the poor, especially in low and middle income countries,” Dr Farmer said, defending the decision to set up the facility upcountry.

The Minister for Health, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, said Rwanda has a plan of having a medical campus at Butaro.

“We avail services to our people and that’s what we are supposed to do but the people also have a task: to use the services given to them; for cancer screening, it’s free of charge,” Dr Binagwaho said.

Saved by cancer centre

Delphine Musabeyezu, a 39-year-old cancer survivor from Rusizi District, said she is grateful to be alive and for having completed her chemotherapy treatment.

“I am grateful to have received my treatment at Butaro Cancer Centre. I encourage other women to opt for early detection as it is the best way treatment can have desired outcome,” Musabeyezu said.

The new centre will have outpatient clinic for oncology consultations for new and existing patients, modern chemotherapy mixing facility for both inpatient oncology unit and outpatient, patient support groups and outpatient IV chemotherapy, among other services.

The cancer ward, a 24-bed facility, regularly has more than 100 per cent bed occupancy.

Observers say the establishment of BACC comes in handy to help ease pressure on the facility.

BACC will decongest the cancer ward and restrict hospitalisation to those patients who require complex or more than one day IV chemotherapy infusions or those who are severely ill.

Rwanda to benefit with a state of the art sports Academy

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A Turkish construction firm-Babil Group of Companies, is set to start a football academy in Rwanda.

The Academy is meant to  help nurture a generation of talented players. According to Mustafa Cem, who is  the company’s head of international development, he wants to  nurture a young and exciting generation of football stars, who have the right exposure to the soccer world . “Because of my love and passion for the game,he added, I have decided to set up an academy because I don’t want  to see the  youth being idle. By setting such an Academy, would make a huge impact as far as development of Rwandan football is concerned.”

He said his main desire  is  to see Rwandan players among top cream on the African continent adding that he believes Rwanda is capable of producing top-level footballers.

He added that their target is to play a part in the development of Rwandan football and sports in general.

Recently, Babil Group of Companies and Rwanda Football Federation reached an agreement to sponsor the inaugural Super Cup.

The inaugural Super Cup match will pit Primus league champions Rayon Sports and Peace Cup winners AS Kigali on September 1 at Amahoro national stadium in Kigali.

Fitch Lifts Outlook on Rwanda on Economic Growth

Fitch Ratings revised Rwanda’s Outlook to ‘Positive’ from ‘Stable’ while simultaneously affirming Rwanda’s long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘B’ and short-term foreign currency IDR at ‘B’. Fitch has also affirmed Rwanda’s Country Ceiling at ‘B’.

According to Fitch ratings, the revision of the outlook from stable to positive reflects continuing rapid and inclusive GDP growth in the future, high governance standards relative to regional peers, marked improvements in poverty reduction that attracted high levels of international support, and low public and external debt.

A sovereign rating indicates the rating agency’s opinion of a country’s credit worthiness, or in other words ability and willingness to meet its financial obligations in timely manner. Credit ratings, as opinions on vulnerability to default, do not necessarily imply a specific likelihood of a country’s defaulting on its payment.

This year’s rating is the fourth following the first in 2006, the second in 2010 and the third in 2011. At ‘B’, Rwanda’s rating is within the range of regional countries. A ‘Positive” outlook may imply to a certain extent possibility of rating upgrade provided continued positive trends in factors that triggered the upgrade in the outlook.

Rwanda’s Eurobond Oversubscribed

Rwanda’s debut US$400Million Eurobond has been over subscribed, a lead banker has revealed saying, “its well over subscribed as you can imagine”.

An investor source told media that the order book was $3 billion, or 7.5 times the issue size.

The 10-year dollar bond was issued on Thursday with a 6.875% yield, a lead banker said. That was at the tighter end of Rwanda’s final guidance of 6.875-7 %.

Investors were attracted by Rwanda’s strongly growing economy, low debt and recent political stability.

President Paul Kagame has been commended for presiding over Rwanda’s recovery after the 1994 genocide against the tutsi that claimed over a million lives.

Economic growth averaged 8.2% from 2006 to 2012 and the International Monetary Fund projects growth of 7.6% this year.

Rwanda’s debt levels are equivalent to 23.3 % of gross domestic product in 2012 and Inflation is in single digits.

Rwanda: Awareness Campaign Lowers New HIV Infections

Several HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns by the government and other stakeholders have recorded significant improvement in the reduction of new HIV infections in the country.

Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the Coordinator of HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) Care and Treatment Department at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, who disclosed this at a meeting in Kigali on Wednesday, said the campaigns have been effective that the rate of new infections has gone down compared to the previous years meaning that more Rwandans are aware of the dangers of HIV/Aids.

“The rate of new infections was at 25,000 people every year in Rwanda five years ago, but now it has gone down. We have laid a number of strategies to increase awareness and other protective measures against new HIV infections so we are positive that this rate will go down further,” Dr Nsanzimana said. Every hour, two people get infected with HIV in Rwanda, according to Dr Nsanzimana. This is equivalent to 15,000 new HIV Infections every year, according to the doctor, who called upon those already infected to adhere to the instructions of their anti-retroviral treatment.

Functional HIV cure:

An infant was reportedly cured of HIV as announced recently at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta, while French researchers published in the journal PLOS Pathogens that they had been studying 14 people that have been “functionally cured” of HIV.

But Professor Andrew Zolopa, from Stanford University School of Medicine, said those people who got cured had started on their ARVs at least a month after infection and so they started treatment early enough.