Copyright : StarAfrica
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.
IT started like any other day. Maina woke up and headed to class. The then senior four student concluded the day with a jog at the school’s play ground. As she went through the drills, she was summoned by the school cricket coach to join the rest of the team. Efforts to explain her self that she had never held a bat or played cricket fell on deaf ears.
“I was exercising in the school field; the girl’s cricket team coach mistook me for a cricket player. He called me to join the team, when I tried to explain to him that I was not a player he insisted and that is how I became a cricketer,” Mary Maina narrates.
This is how one of Rwanda’s best female cricketers ended up building a passionate bond with the game of cricket. Mary Maina represents the cream of female cricketers who hold the future of women cricket in Rwanda.
With the upcoming ‘UAE Exchange Money Express’ Women Cricket Tournament, it will be yet another opportunity for the female cricketers to showcase talent. Women Today’s Doreen Umutesi talked to Maina, who plays for the ‘White Clouds Cricket Club’ and Cathia Uwamahoro, a member of Charity Club, to talk about the sport, how it has gained popularity in Rwanda, their inspirations and the challenges they have faced.
Born on September 17, 1992 in Kenya, Maina started playing cricket in 2010 while at APRED Ndera Secondary School.
She says she has strong love for the sport. “I treasure this game and always reflect on the circumstances under which I joined the sport. I actually trained for three days with the school team and was instantly picked to be the captain of the team during the inter-schools competition. I encountered several challenges because I started playing the sport without knowing all the rules of the game. In other words, I learnt most of the rules of the game in the field during the inter-schools tournament.”
She says that at first she was also scared of the cricket ball given the fact that it’s very hard.
“I didn’t even know the history of the game as the captain of the team but it’s the cricket ball that always freaked me out. I always thought that if it hit me, it would cause great injury and it’s funny because in a few moments it hit me but I got minor injuries and that didn’t make me quit the sport,” Maina reveals.
She adds that being part of the U19 National Team that represented the country in Tanzania in 2011 inspired her into embracing the sport even more.
“I was happy about the trip and the game and I got to learn a lot from the 2011 tournament. But I am grateful to the local companies that have empowered us and introduced local tournaments for the women cricketers. This has greatly improved our skills in the sport,” Maina acknowledges.
Besides the inter-schools competitions that are held annually, the first female tournament was held in February 2013 under the name VR Naidu because it was sponsored by an Indian family known as Naidu. The White Clouds Club are the defending champions.
In September 2013, Maina is enrolling at the National University of Rwanda to pursue a Bachelor’s course in Pharmacy.
“As a child I always wanted to be a doctor to closely work with people and impact on their lives. Although I’m not going to offer medicine, I will ably serve people as a pharmacist. I will also continue playing cricket at university. I would also wish to encourage more girls to join cricket. It’s a gentle game and it’s the only game in sports where your opponent is your friend, even though you’re competing. Respect is encouraged all the time,” Maina reveals.
She continues, “The girls should not be scared of the bat because it is made of hard wood or that the ball is hard too. Cricket is very exciting.”
Currently there are about ten schools in Rwanda that have fully established the female cricket teams and six of these schools are based in Kigali.
Uwamahoro was also introduced to the sport in 2008 at the age of fifteen.
“I used to watch cricket on television and I didn’t understand what it was but one day I got to see people training at our school in Gikondo and I sat down and watched. I did this often and one day the coach asked me if I wanted to join and I accepted although I was a basketball player at the time,” Uwamahoro narrates.
She adds that she quit basketball to play cricket.
“Because of the love I gradually attained for cricket, I learnt the rules of the game pretty fast and I was able to play for the U19 National Team in Kenya in 2008. I was also able to play in 2010 and 2011 in Tanzania and I learnt a lot and gained more skills in all these region tournaments,” Uwamahoro explains.
She adds, “At first I didn’t like fielding because I was afraid of the ball hitting me but with time, I over came my fears and I can now field, bat and ball because it’s required as a team player.”
She reveals that her favourite local player is Andre Kayitera and internationally, she is inspired by the cricket legend Brian Lala.
Charles Haba, the President of the Rwanda Cricket Association, says that in Rwanda, cricket was first embraced in December 1999.
“We aggressively embarked on training female cricket players in 2006 and several women development programmes in the sport were embraced. We have taken on these programmes mainly through schools but also additionally we have started a women’s league. There are not many countries that have a structured women’s league,” Haba reveals.
Rwanda Cricket Association, the official cricket governing body in Rwanda, is a representative at the International Cricket Council and is an affiliate member. It attained its membership in 2003.
“Something else that is a bit unique is that every tournament that we have held, we have played a double-header for the girls. Basically what it means is that parallel to the boys competition, we have the women’s tournament and that applies even when we are going to seek sponsorship or during corporate events. This has had a positive impact on the women cricket teams.”
He adds that before, girls would go for the regional cricket women competitions and play well but as a result of lack of exposure, lose to different teams.
“Our biggest challenge is the lack of facilities because we have one main ground therefore we have to use it for both the women and men’s tournaments. The other challenges are not really big and we are happy that the girls love cricket,” Haba discloses.
He continues, “There is need to encourage women and girls to embrace cricket. Something I have learnt in cricket is that girls are not as demanding as the boys, yet the levels of output and levels of success come out quicker than the boys. I will give you practical examples of the fantastic experiences we have encountered with the girls. The boys tend to ask for so much because they are so hungry for overnight success and want to be professionals in the shortest time but the girls will just want to pick up the bat and the ball to go and play. They are always happy to wait for their opportunity to play, without letting the little challenges affect them.”
There are currently four established women cricket teams/clubs in Rwanda; Queens of Victory, Kigali Angels, Charity and White Clouds.
Eric Hirwa, the Cricket Female National Team coach, says that in the earlier days, the girls’ main challenge was their parents granting them permission to play cricket. But that is gradually changing.
“With the development of the sport and the popularity it has gained, we now encounter a few situations or no situations at all where a parent has refused a player to come for training. When the girls master the game, after a few months they make it a point to come for regular training. However transport from their home to the training grounds is the main challenge they currently face,” Hirwa explains.
He encourages parents to let their girls come for training since it helps them improve their skills.
“We currently have about 30-60 girls that can actually attend regional competitions. They are about 15-20 years old and most of them are students. It’s also amazing how the girls learn the game so fast and become very passionate about it. It’s always important for someone to first love the game to actually perfect their skills in the sport,” Hirwa reveals.
According to Hirwa, female cricket teams train every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 3pm in Kicukiro.
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.
Kigali — The World bank has approved a grant of $50m aimed at bolstering Rwanda’s poverty eradication efforts.
It fund will also see Rwandans cushioned from the full impact of shocks, from unemployment or illness to sudden natural disasters.Carolyn Turk, World Bank Country Manager for Rwanda said that while Rwanda has pushed back poverty dramatically in the past decade, it is still one of the world’s poorest countries.
“We are happy to continue supporting Rwanda’s efforts to manage its social safety net programs more efficiently, so that poor people can withstand economic and climatic shocks better and benefit more from economic growth,” she said
Rwanda has recently seen a record decline in poverty, from 57 percent in 2006 to 45% in 2011. The government has partly attributed this success to its social safety net programs.
The national Athletics head coach Eric Karasira has lauded the determination and hard work displayed by the national team which is currently undergoing intensive preparations in Northern Province district of Gicumbi.
The team is preparing for the 40th IAAF World Cross-Country Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on March 24.
The six-member team, alongside two officials, assembled in Gicumbi since the month started to prepare effectively ahead of the event.
“The athletes are training very well, no injuries and they have easily adapted to the weather. I believe this camp will be of much use to our objective of performing well in Poland.”
“The athletes have potential to shine at the World event. They will be keen to reaffirm their prowess and win Rwanda a medal. Our target is to be on the medal podium but we have to be cautious because the other countries have strong teams. But after four weeks of training in Gicumbi, I believe these athletes will be ready for the assignment,” said Karasira.
The team in Gicumbi is comprised of Kajuga Robert, Eric Sebahire, Cyriaque Ndayikengurukiye, Jean Marie Uwajeneza, Jean Baptista Simukeka, Felix Simuceka and Alexis Nizeyimana.
Last year, Rwanda missed out on the world event due to visa hitches. In 2011, Rwandan athletics displayed poor show in the IAAF 39th World Cross Country Championship in Punta Umbria, Spain.
Gervais Hakizimana emerged as Rwanda’s best performer after finishing 33rd in the men’s 12km race.
The team is expected to participate in the East Africa Cross-country championship which will be held in Uganda on March 3.
The Workforce Development Authority (WDA) has earmarked Rwf500m to promote and professionalise art in the country.
Jerome Gasana, the WDA director-general, revealed this at a symposium on arts and craft organised by the Authority and the Rwanda Arts Initiative.
It drew artists, teachers, government and private institutions to discuss the way forward to develop arts and craft.
According to the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Mathias Harebamungu, the first step is to expand the arts school of Nyundo (Ecole d’Arts de Nyundo) in Rubavu district, Western Province, to train more students.
The school will later have branches countrywide to nurture talent.
“Artists can’t be professionals unless they sacrifice and put more effort. The appealing arts products should market artists and the country,” said Harebamungu.
WDA has toured the country to meet talented people and gather their views on what can be done to equip them with skills to generate income like other paying professions.
The Education Ministry has set a curricula to cover arts and craft in primary and secondary schools.
The minister urged artists to define arts, be original, innovative and critical thinkers before seeking government support.
According to Gasana, the drive targets not only students, but other persons whose talents have not been tapped.
He said expanding schools of arts and craft will be done in Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centers (IPRC) are spread country wide.
“Promoting arts and craft is our priority. We want every artist to be competitive at international level,” Gasana said.
He said WDA is looking for qualified teachers in arts and crafts.
Michel Saba, an expert and staff from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Burkina Faso, who was invited to participate in the symposium, said arts and craft has in his country to the extent that artists earn a lot from it and contribute significantly to national development.
Saba said his country has been developing the arts industry since 1969.
Florence Boivin Roumestan, a Canadian consultant, said she has seen a lot of potential among Rwandan artists.
“Artists should work as a team, organise themselves and do lobbying so that the government supports them,” she said, stressing the need for arts schools and individuals to inculcate respect of copy right law of other artist.
Every year, on February 1, Rwandans celebrate the National Heroes’ Day. It is the day on which we reflect on acts by national heroes and heroines and the values for which they are remembered. Heroes are classified into three categories; Imanzi, Imena and Ingenzi.
Imanzi are supreme heroes who demonstrated outstanding achievements occasioned by supreme sacrifice, outstanding importance and example. This category, which only has the late Maj Gen Fred Rwigema and the Unknown Soldier, can only be awarded posthumously.
Heroes in the Imena category are reputed for their extraordinary acts for the country marked by sacrifice, high importance and example.
The Ingenzi category comprises heroes who are still alive.
The Unknown Soldier (‘Imanzi’)
The Unknown Soldier represents all the fallen soldiers of the liberation struggle. The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is at the National Heroes’ Mausoleum in Remera, next to Amahoro National Stadium. The tomb is a way of commemorating the soldiers whose remains could not be identified after the Liberation war.
Maj Gen. Fred Gisa Rwigema (‘Imanzi’)
Born on April 10, 1957 in Mukiranze village, Kamonyi District (former Gitarama) in the Southern Province, Maj Gen. Fred Gisa Rwigema died on October 2, 1990, on the second day of the Rwanda Patriotic Army liberation war. His parents were Anastasie Kimonyo and Gatarina Mukandilima. The young Rwigema and his family fled to Uganda and settled in Nshungerezi Refugee Camp in the 1960’s following the 1959 pogroms.
On June 20, 1987, he married Janet Urujeni and they were blessed with two children: Junior Gisa and Teta Gisa. In 1974, he went to Tanzania and joined the Front for National Salvation (FRONASA), a rebel group led by Yoweri Museveni. Later in 1976, he travelled to Mozambique and joined the FRELIMO rebels who were fighting for the Mozambican liberation against the Portuguese colonial power. In 1981, 27 soldiers including Rwigema and his childhood friend and current President Paul Kagame, and Museveni, started a liberation struggle against the then regime of Uganda president Milton Obote. Rwigema helped the National Resistance Army (NRA) capture state power in 1986 and was appointed the Ugandan Deputy Minister of Defence.
He was regularly at the front line in northern Uganda during the government’s offensive against remnants of the ousted regime. He attained several positions in the Ugandan army, including Deputy Army Commander and Overall Operations Commander. But despite holding all the above posts, he always held Rwanda at heart. Rwigema is remembered for being among those who greatly inspired the Rwandan refugees to liberate their country, and on October 1, 1990, he spearheaded Rwanda’s liberation struggle. He was shot at the front line on the second day of the attack.
Umwami Mutara III Rudahigwa Charles Léon Pierre (‘Imena’)
He was the son of King Yuhi IV Musinga and Nyiramavugo Kankazi Redegonde. He became King on November 16, 1931 after the abdication of his father on November 13, 1931. During his rule, King Rudahigwa advocated for the welfare of Rwandans, independence, democracy and fought against injustice through the King’s Court. He married Nyiramakomali on October 15, 1933 but separated in 1940. He then married Rosalie Gicanda on January 18, 1942. He worked hard to educate Rwandans through the establishment of the Mutara Fund and requested Jesuits to establish a college in Gitarama but, instead, the college was built in Bujumbura, Burundi. Rudahigwa later set up the Islamic college in Nyamirambo, a Kigali , suburb and another school in Kanyanza and offered scholarships to many Rwandans to study in Europe. Under his reign, he eliminated all forms of slavery and advocated for unity and reconciliation among Rwandans. King Mutara III Rudahigwa died under mysterious circumstances on July 25, 1959 in what many consider to have been an assassination.
Michel Rwagasana (‘Imena’)
Michel Rwagasana was born in 1927, in Gitisi, Nyamagana of Ruhango District in the Southern Province. He attended Groupe Scolaire Astrida, attaining a Diploma in Administration. He married Suzana Nzayire in 1957 and the two were blessed with four children, but he never got a chance to see his last born because he died when his wife was three months pregnant. Rwagasana attained several distinctive positions due to his integrity; he later became the Personal Secretary of King Mutara III Rudahigwa from 1954. His unvarying advocacy for unity, independence and denouncing ethnic differences. He was killed during the regime of Gregory Kayibanda for declining to embrace ethnic segregation.
Agathe Uwilingiyimana (‘Imena’)
Agatha Uwilingiyimana was born on June 23, 1953, in Gitore, Gisagara District of the Southern Province. She was the daughter of Yuvenali Ntibashirakandi and Saverina Nyirantibangwa. She got married to Ignace Barahira in 1976 and was blessed with five children. Uwilingiyimana became the first woman to hold the position of Prime Minister in Rwanda’s history from July 17, 1993 to April 1994. Prior to that, she served as the Minister of Education where she advocated for equal rights among students. During her time in office, she advocated for the rights of women and spearheaded the fight against divisionism. She was assassinated on April 7, 1994 by the Genocida; machinery.
Félicité Niyitegeka (‘Imena’)
Born in 1934, Félicité Niyitegeka was the daughter of Simon Sekabwa and Angelina Nyirampabuka. She was killed on April 21, 1994 during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Niyitegeka is remembered for refusing to part ways with the people who found refuge at Centre Saint Pierre in Gisenyi (currently Rubavu District).
She was just a casual worker when her brother asked her to separate from the Tutsis since the military was aware of her activities, but she declined. When the Interahamwe militias came to her house, she already had over 30 Tutsi refugees in her house. The Interahamwe informed her that she would be spared but her charges would have to be killed, but opted to die alongside them.
Nyange SSS students (‘Imena’)
The Senior Five and Senior Six students of Nyange Secondary School were on March 18 1997, attacked by remnants of the genocidal machinery (during the insurgency days) who forced them to separate themselves along ethnic lines. They refused and the attackers killed six of them, including four girls. Those that were killed are Sylvestre Bizimana, Chantal Mujawamahoro, Beatrice Mukambaraga, Seraphine Mukarutwaza, Helene Benimana, and Valens Ndemeye. The Nyange heroes are among millions of victims of the decades of bad leadership that attempted to erase our characteristic values that were historically built around our common identity since the days of our forefathers.
Understandably, events that commemorate these fallen students and all other celebrated national heroes evoke bitter memories. February 1 is also a reminder that there are exemplary men, women and children, who laid down their lives for this nation and whose love for this country should inspire us all to work hard to advance the same values they strived for.
Rwanda will be one of the top 10 fastest-growing economies in the world this year even as it braves challenges presented by aid cuts.
Last year, Germany, the US, Britain and the EU suspended part of their budget support for this year over allegation that the country was helping M23 rebels in the DR Congo
The Economist, in its latest report on global economic trends for 2013, indicated that Rwanda’s economy would grow at 7.8 per cent this year, making the country the ninth fastest-growing economy in the world and the second-best in sub-Saharan Africa.
In the global ranking of what it terms as ‘the top growers’, the paper has Mongolia, with a projected growth rate of 18.1 per cent, on top of the list followed by Macau at 13.5 per cent. Libya leads in Africa at 12.2 per cent. In sub-Saharan Africa, Mozambique is projected to register the highest growth at 8.2 per cent, with Rwanda, which is seen growing; at 7.8 per cent, on its heels.
This projection echoes that of the economic planners at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
The Economist termed Rwanda’s ranking, along with other star performers of the world, as part of a ‘more cheerful segment’ of an otherwise gloomy global economic outlook.
The newspaper also lauded Rwanda as one of the countries that have made tremendous progress over the last 10 years, enabling it to transform its economy towards a service-oriented one.
While reacting to the report, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) acting chief executive officer, Clare Akamanzi, affirmed that the country would this year achieve or even surpass its medium-term plan economic objectives.
“Rwanda’s economy has been on track, growing at over 7 per cent annually; therefore, the fundamentals for achieving this target are already in place. That is why analysts at The Economist and others rank Rwanda highly,” Akamanzi said.
The RDB Chief added: “What is most important for us is to increasingly build our economy’s competitiveness to attract more private sector investments. This is a key input for economic growth. ”
A Ministry of Trade and Industry 2012 preliminary economic performance review shows that the country’s investment rate (the per cent of investment to the gross domestic product – GDP) reached 25 per cent, surpassing the 21 per cent target set earlier.
Another key fundamental was the growth of exports that reached $429m, higher than the $344m targeted. The robust growth of the tourism sector was another factor.
The sector raked-in $263m in the 2011/12 period, exceeding the earlier target of $244m. This was also reflected on strong growth of Rwanda’s services sector.
Although the Central Bank had pegged the inflation rate at 7.5 per cent, it was contained at a commendable 4.6 per cent. Rwanda, The economist noted, achieved a “hat-trick” of rapid growth, sharp poverty reduction and lessened income inequality.
“Because of this, many donors were reluctant to stop or reduce aid, whatever the arguments that came up over the eastern DR Congo saga,” the publications added.
This performance is a good indicator that the suspension of aid would most likely not hurt the country as it continues guiding its economy towards its chosen path of transformation.
“Rwanda, our beautiful and dear country / Adorned of hills, lakes and volcanoes / Motherland, would be always filled of happiness…”
Team Rwanda has started preparations ahead of the 2013 La Tropicale Amissa Bongo international cycling tour scheduled for January 14-20 in Gabon.
According to the national cycling federation Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Murenzi the six-man team entered residential camp in Musanze last week.
The team includes; Nathan Byukusenge, 33, Hassan Rukundo, 23, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, 20, Jean Bosco Nsengiyumva, 20, Valens Ndayisenga, 19, and Jérémie Karegeya, 20.
“We have changed strategy and decided to give the young riders a chance to compete in big competitions. I believe the team will be competitive in the tournament.
It’s a very tough competition as it attracts the best riders on the continent and beyond but we hope our team will do better this time round,” said Murenzi.
Team captain Byukusenge is the most senior rider on the team.
This year’s La Tropicale Amissa Bongo competition will bring together 15 teams, including nine African countries; Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Morocco and Rwanda.
Professional teams Europcar (France), Cofidis (France), Lampre-Merida (Italy), Lotto-Belisol (Belgium), Groupement Sportif Oil (Algeria) and Adrien Niyonshuti’s MTN-Qhubeka (South Africa) will take part.
Last year, Team Rwanda finished on 7th position out of 15 teams and secured 3rd position in Africa countries behind Eritrea and Morocco.