The United States has praised the government of Rwanda for its tremendous strides in improving the lives of Rwandans by increasing the rate of life expectancy for its citizens and reducing the maternal mortality.
Speaking at the Africa Health Forum in Washington DC on Friday, the US Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns said that the country is on track to meet many of the Millenium Development goals despite challenges the country faced after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.
In his key note address, the Deputy Secretary of state said that: “Rwanda, a country devastated by genocide less than two decades ago, is today on track to meet many of the Millennium Development Goals – life expectancy has doubled, maternal mortality and annual child deaths more than halved, and deaths from HIV, TB, and malaria have dropped by 80percent.”
The US diplomat went on to thank the current African leadership for the dramatic transformation of the continent.
“We gather here today amidst a dramatic transformation of the African continent from a region once defined largely by its problems, to a region defined increasingly by its possibilities… from a region afflicted by conflict, crisis, and impoverishment to a region known more and more for its economic growth, expanding democratic governance, and enhanced health and human development,” said William J. Burns.
He emphasized that as the continent evolves, and as governments take on greater leadership and responsibility for their own future, the nature of assistance and cooperation from the international community should evolve as well – from a donor-recipient relationship to more of a partnership.
“This partnership – based on principles of country ownership, shared responsibility, and mutual respect – allows donors and partner countries to better meet the needs of the country’s population. Where transparency, good governance, and accountability are enshrined in law and in practice – our joint investments will yield more effective, more efficient, and ultimately more sustainable outcomes.
This is why sustainability and shared responsibility are two foundational principles of President Obama’s Policy Directive on Global Development and our global health diplomacy strategy.”
The US Deputy secretary of State told delegates that United States commitment to global health is strong, citing President Obama’s budget request for a $1.65 billion contribution to the Global Fund in fiscal year 2014 as US’s historically high level of support.
The Forum was attended by Ministers and representatives of Ministries of Finance and Health over two dozen African countries.
Rwanda is globally hailed for presenting a unique case in development and in the progress towards attaining the MDGs.
Rwanda’s debut in the Eurobond market will offer investors the rare opportunity to buy into one of the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa – but don’t expect the country to get carried away.
The sub-benchmark size of the trade, combined with the country’s strong dependence on foreign aid and volatile sectors of the economy, will see some buyers take a step back and demand a reasonable premium to get involved.
The East African sovereign, rated B/B, will wrap up investor meetings for its planned US$400m 10-year bond sale next Wednesday, after conducting a one-week roadshow in Asia, Europe and the US through BNP Paribas and Citigroup.
The last Eurobond issue from the continent, Zambia’s 5.375% US$750m 10-year note offering, generated an order book of US$12bn when it was issued in September, pricing through the curves of the country’s regional peers.
While Rwanda is unlikely to replicate that success, a shortage of African paper in the market will generate strong interest among yield-starved investors.
Despite a US$50m increase from the originally targeted US$350m, Rwanda’s transaction will fall short of the US$500m minimum required for inclusion in global emerging market indices, reducing the notes’ potential buyer base and limiting their liquidity in the secondary market.
“The sub-benchmark size is a problem because it means there is no automatic demand from index followers,” said Graham Stock, chief strategist at Insparo Asset Management. “It is a market distortion created by the importance of the index, but it can’t be ignored.”
Borrowing more for the sole purpose of joining the index league, however, would make little sense for a country with annual GDP of US$6.4bn. “It would be risky for the government of a small economy to borrow more than it needs and thereby increase debt service costs and refinancing risks just to qualify for the benchmark,” said Stock.
While Rwanda’s growth story is compelling – real GDP growth averaged 7.4% between 2003 and 2011 – the country relies on foreign aid to finance almost 40% of its budget. Subsistence agriculture accounts for one-third of annual GDP, employing 73% of the labour force.
Eyeing a 7% yield
In light of these challenges, a syndicate official away from the deal reckons investors are likely to demand a yield of around 7% to buy the new notes. “I see a definite floor of 6%, on top of which you need to add a new issue premium and [an additional concession for] non-index eligibility,” said the banker.
“I think the premium for the size will be significant. A pricing [of] circa 7% is not far-fetched,” said a London-based portfolio manager who specialises in African markets.
He suggested, however, that the rarity value of the name could push the yield even lower. “I would go tighter, between 6.5% and 6.75%, mainly because of the appetite for Eurobonds from the region and current yield levels for SSA names,” he added.
Proceeds from the sale will be used to repay outstanding loans and finance the completion of the Kigali Convention Centre and the Nyabarongo hydro power plant.
The Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Youth and ICT aimed at enhancing Information and Communication Technology.
Under the agreement, KOICA will construct an ICT innovation centre in Kicukiro , Kigali. The centre will be a major step in the Information Technology front in the entire East African Region, according to officials.
The agreement was signed on Wednesday by Rosemary Mbabazi, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and ICT, and Sang Chul Kim, the resident representative of KOICA.
The centre, which will be constructed late next year over a period of 24 months and will cost $5.6 million, will be under Rwanda Development Board’s IT department.
Speaking at the ceremony Kim said, “This agreement is another significant step for the friendship between Rwanda and South Korea. This is the 50th year of our friendship. So we had to move it a step further by starting this important journey as well as helping Rwanda move further towards its Vision 2020.”
KOICA affirmed to continue its support of the ICT development in the country with a plan to put up other IT centres around the country to help rural youth access information.
“This signed document represents another milestone for ICT in our country,” Mbabazi said.
Upon completion, the centre which is targeting 78 per cent per cent youth will be a major leap for the ICT industry.
“It will also help in job creation and give more exposure for the youth in the country. Not only will it be good for the urban youth which is our main target but also for the rural youth,” Mbabazi asserted.
The ceremony was a culmination of a six months survey by a Basic Design Survey Team (BDST) that consisted of members from KOICA and officials from RDB who took a Kigali-wide research to determine the essential tools and strategies which were necessary for the commencement of construction of the centre.
KIGALI, April 16 (Reuters) – Rwanda will issue a debut $400 million debut Eurobond in the days ahead to raise funds for the retirement of short-term debt and complete strategic investments, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday.
Investors have lapped up sovereign bonds by African countries in recent years, thanks to fairly attractive yields and robust economic growth prospects at a time European economies struggle to shake off a persistent debt crisis.
Rwanda will be the first country in east Africa to issue a Eurobond. Kenya planned to borrow from the international market but postponed it repeatedly due to worries over the prospects of violence in polls held last month.
Officials in Nairobi say the government will issue the $1 billion bond this year after the election passed peacefully in contrast with last election five years ago that resulted in deadly post-election violence.
Rwanda had initially indicated that it would borrow $350 million.
The country’s ministry of finance confirmed on Twitter that it had mandated BNP Paribas and Citi to arrange the issue, with road shows set to start on April 18.
Fitch Ratings assigned the issue ‘B(EXP)’ rating in line with the country’s ‘B’ Long-term foreign currency Issuer Default rating with a stable outlook.
“Rwanda’s rating is supported by solid economic policies and a track record of structural reforms, macroeconomic stability and low government debt,” the ratings agency said.
“Rwanda will continue to attract significant budget support flows, reflecting its strong track record in poverty reduction and control of corruption.”
The country had a debt to GDP ratio of 23.3 percent last year, Fitch said. The IMF said in a statement it expected the economy to expand 7.5 percent this year, barely changed from its previous forecast of 7.6 percent.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame said Thursday his country will aim for average annual economic growth of 11.5 percent for the next five years.
“We have set ourselves a target of promoting this country’s economic development. We want economic growth to average 11.5 percent” for the period 2013-2017, Kagame told a government retreat.
“It’s a feasible target,” he went on, saying that the fact that Rwanda managed 8 percent growth in 2012 despite suspensions of foreign budget support was “a miracle”.
The 8 percent growth figure is according to the government. The International Monetary Fund put Rwanda’s 2012 growth at 7.7%.
In 2012 several donor countries suspended their budget support to Rwanda following accusations from the United Nations that Kigali was backing rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rwanda has always denied the claims.
Nearly two decades after the 1994 genocide, 40% of Rwanda’s budget still comes from aid.
In February Germany unfroze some 7 million euros of aid and reallocated it for professional training.
The visiting UK Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State, William Hague, has commended Rwanda’s cooperation with regional countries in efforts to bring security in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Hague addressed reporters yesterday shortly after meeting President Paul Kagame and Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo at Village Urugwiro, where the leaders discussed the need for a lasting solution to the conflict in Eastern DRC, as well as other bilateral issues. The UK diplomat described the efforts of regional states in the Great Lakes region to bring back peace in the DRC as “positive” in addition to commending Rwanda’s role.
Hague met Rwandan leaders as part of a trip that he is conducting in the region along with UNHCR Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie, to highlight the terrible human cost of warzone rape, and to call on Governments worldwide to address this issue. Rape is rampant in eastern DRC, where armed groups including the FDLR, made up of elements who committed the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, have been using it as a weapon of war against local communities.
In 1998, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) became the first international court to find an accused person guilty of rape as a crime of Genocide. The judgement against Jean Paul Akayesu a former mayor, ruled that rape and sexual assault constituted acts of Genocide as they were committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part, the Tutsi In Rwanda, between 100,000 and 250,000 women were raped during the 1994 Genocide.
Rwanda has been cooperating on regional efforts to improve security in eastern DRC through working with other regional countries under the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and it has also signed the UN-brokered Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC and the region. The cooperation framework was signed last month in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, and it binds the DRC along with ten other countries of the region: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Namibia, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Strong Partnership with the UK:
Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo noted that the UK diplomat’s trip is likely to boost relations between the two countries in the next few months. While Hague was critical of Rwanda after a highly controversial UN Group of experts report alleging support to M23 appeared, Mushikiwabo described Rwanda and the UK as strong partners.
“Friends sometimes agree, sometimes disagree. Disagreements have been less than our agreements. So, I have no reason to believe that the partnership and the relationship between Rwanda and the UK have changed dramatically, not at all,” she said. “I think the relationship between our two countries is solid.”
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.
Akagera Park management launched a new Day Visitor Centre complete with a tented boarding facility. Launched on Tuesday, the new 14-bed Rusizi Tented Lodge is located right at the heart of the Akagera National Park.
The accommodation facility will supplement the Akagera Game Lodge, the main hotel inside the Eastern Province-based park. The centre, on the other hand, incorporates the park reception, a café souvenir shop and education centre. The infrastructure was set up with financial support of the US based Walton Family Foundation.
The Foundation has disbursed $500,000 per annum, from 2010, to finance the construction of the facilities under a five-year financial assistance programme that will total $2.5 million upon completion.
Rob Walton, the chairman of the foundation, and his wife, Melani Walton, attended the ceremony. Walton Family Foundation is a philanthropic organisation with a strong focus on conservation and biodiversity protection.
According to the park’s officials, the new infrastructure is part of an integrated tourism development plan aimed at increasing revenues for the park’s long-term sustainability. The Minister of Trade and Industry, Francois Kanimba, who presided over the function, said new infrastructure was an important step towards the park’s achievement of self-reliance.
“The Park has been performing well in the last three years or so…we expect it to do more, so that it can stop relying on aid. I also commend the support of Walton Foundation; local investors should borrow a leaf,” he said.
Kanimba noted that revenue from the industry is progressively increasing. “Tourism will remain number one for many years. It earns the country over $280m per year. This explains why we are committed to supporting the industry,” said Kanimba.
Jes Gruner, the Manager of Akagera Park, the largest in the country, noted that proper management and infrastructure development drastically increased the number of tourists. “In 2011, we had 20,000 tourists. In 2012 they increased to 23,000. The park has seen 40 per cent increase in visitor numbers and 73 per cent increase in revenue over the last three years,” he said.
Akagera Park, African Parks and Rwanda Development Board partnered to form the Akagera Management Company (AMC). This is a 20-year joint management agreement with a vision to restore, develop and manage the park to international standards.
Rica Rwigamba, Head of Rwanda Tourism and Conservation, RDB, said that tourism industry would increase its revenue by a large margin at the end of the year 2014. “We want our revenues to increase to $317million by next year,” she said.
Akagera National Park was founded in 1934.
The growth of information communication technologies will increase employment and boost the country’s competitiveness and economic growth overtime,” Jean Philbert Nsengimana, the youth and ICT minister, has said.
Nsengimana added that this would also ensure provision of quality services and products. He was speaking at the launch of Techno Brain, an international software development company, at Umubano Hotel in Kacyiru, Kigali on Tuesday.
A modern IT laboratory, with fully-equipped ICT infrastructure, was also unveiled during the event.
Yvette Uwineza, the Techno Brain country manager, said the facility was one of the efforts by the firm to contribute to the country’s growing ICT sector.
The firm, which started operations in June last year, employs 20 Rwandans and is expected to recruit over 100 more in the coming months. It recently won a tender to train the Rwanda Development Board staff in ICT use.
Rwanda’s ICT landscape has evolved greatly in the last 10 years, especially after the laying of the fibre optic cable and the introduction the National Data Centre and e-governance services, as well as the rise in mobile telephony penetration.
The International Telecommunication Union 2012 report ranked Rwanda as one of the developing nations with vibrant ICT markets, along with Bahrain, Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia.
Insight into Rwanda’s business environment.