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.
Kigali — Rwandas midsize companies are looking at Burundi and Uganda as potential investment destinations in the region. According to the Top 100 Mid Sized Companies survey, over 69% out 205 companies surveyed indicated that Burundi would be their potential target for investment in the region while 48 percent saw Uganda.
“It is very interesting to see Rwandan companies beginning to pick interest in investing in the region,” Robert Onyango Senior Manager, Mid Markets at KPMG said during the launch of the survey in Kigali.
The Rwanda Top 100 midsize companies Survey is an initiative of KPMG to identify and recognize Rwanda’s fastest growing medium sized companies in order to showcase business excellence and highlight the country’s most successful entrepreneurial stories.
Conducted last year for a period of three months, the survey targeted around 205 midsize companies with a turnover of between Rwf 50 million up to Rwf 5 billion in different sectors with 175 submitting financial ratios in order to qualify for the ranking.
“By giving recognition to these companies, we are investing in the multinationals of tomorrow and meeting one of the national goals of Rwanda which is to move from poverty reduction to wealth creation,” John Ndunyu, Director KPMG Rwanda said.
The survey reported that the past 6 months credit extended to businesses has increased with most businesses accessing bank overdrafts, credit lines or credit card overdrafts and bank loans which indicated 41 percent and 40 percent respectively.
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.
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.
Despite being an ideal tourist destination, many Rwandans have continued to ignore the beauty of their country while foreigners remain the best story tellers of the country’s beauty and wonders.
When Joe McDonald and Mary Ann, an American couple landed in Rwanda in 2003 for the first time, their main destination was the home to the rare mountain gorillas, the Volcanoes National Park.
On January 5, they celebrated their 75th visit to the gorillas.
“We decided to come very often and our 75th visit is not the last. We will keep coming until we reach hundred times and more,” Mary Ann disclosed adding that every year they make up to three visits to the country and five rounds in the park.
The couple has spent around US$ 1m in the visits with the friends they brought on board.
“There is no other place in the world where you can be so close to large wild animals and be safe,” McDonald told The New Times shortly after completing their record breaking visit on January 5.
Officials in the tourism department in the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) say they have never registered such a record from any Rwandan. Not even for ‘smaller’ wonderful packages such as the canopy walk in Nyungwe and the game safari in Akagera that are sold by various tour operators.
But although the number of tourists in general increased from 18,865 in 2009 to 27,000 tourists in 2011, according to statistics from RDB, Rwandans always lag behind their foreign counterparts in visiting parks, except in the Akagera National Park where about 10,362 Rwandans were registered to have visited the park, compared to 8,649 foreign tourists, in 2011.
There are also fewer Rwandans visiting the six museums and 80 historical sites in the country.
Statistics from the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda (IMNR) indicate that by June 2012, of the 151,000 visitors to the six museums, 100,666 were Rwandans, an insignificant number considering their target is 600,000 local and foreign visitors.
Despite a steady increase in the number of park activities bought by Rwandans – 10,263 and 13,172 in 2010 and 2011- RDB believes they are still very few.
The explanations offered by Rwandans for not visiting the various tourist sites are diverse, including the most common one that prices are very high.
Most people The New Times talked to said they visit some of these sites only when the companies or institutions they work for plan to visit the parks, usually once a year. Otherwise, a family can barely plan a visit to a tourist site.
According to Innocent Bahati, a civil society activist, many costs involved such as transport, entry fees, picnic and sometimes accommodation make visiting tourist sites expensive.
“I feel that Rwandans, like most Africans, would rather visit places outside their own country,” observed Darla Rudakubana who visited Rubavu Beach once, adding that she has only started thinking of Rwanda as a tourist attraction recently.
To visit a park, a Rwandan resident pays about Rwf 5,000 and Rwf 30,000 against US$ 60 and US$750 for foreigners in Nyungwe National Park and Volcano National Park respectively.
In museums, the entry fee for locals is Rwf 1,000 against Rwf 6,000 for foreigners. Unfortunately, there is no fee set for the historical sites, regrets Alphonse B. Umulisa, the Director General of IMNR in charge of cultural tourism. And yet, most Rwandans don’t visit these either.
But Rica Rwigamba, the Director General of tourism and conservation at RDB, says the issue of price is an excuse because someone can spend much more on a night out with friends and family.
“We are conscious to make it accessible for Rwandans when it comes to price so I don’t think it is the impediment. More awareness, education and change of culture that tourism is for foreigners is what is needed. That’s our priority and we trust it will improve further and bring more local tourists.”
Working with schools for study trips and marketing destinations are some of measures that Rwigamba thinks will increase the number of local tourists.
Her views were echoed by Paulline Uwera who works with a telecom company in Kigali.
“The only problem we are facing here is the mindset. People think tourism belongs to the wealthy that have time to waste and money to spend,” she says. This should be the case. Rwandans need to be proud of Rwanda. And what better way than to know the country’s most beautiful and historical sites.
SOME OF RWANDA’S ATTRACTIONS
*Gisozi Genocide Memorial site
*Murambi Genocide Memorial site
*Rukari Kings Palace
*Huye Ethnographic Museum
*Natural History Museum
Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi recently told parliament that studies done so far have shown that there are very high prospects of oil deposits in East Kivu Graben region of Rwanda.
This is the first ever solid confirmation from government on the stretched exploration activity by the Canadaian exploration firm, Vanoil Energy Limited.
Habumuremyi said: “Exploratory studies will continue. The first phase showed that there are many signs indicating that it is there. The second phase which will begin at the start of 2013 will be able to show the quantity and nature of the oil Rwanda has.”
The area covers parts of Nyungwe and Gishwati forests, and Lake Kivu.
Vanoil Energy Ltd, which was previously known as Vangold Resources Ltd, has explored for oil in the area for over five years.
Earlier this year, government entered into an agreement with Vanoil to embark on airborne magnetic and gravity survey as an initial step.
Requests for details were not fully answered as the Premier did not appear inclined to elaborate further. But he promised that the House will be kept in the know, as more findings come out.
The announcement comes on the back of an article published in the Arabic Oil and Gas Journal that indicated that, Vanoil saw Sudan-like features on Rwandan seismic, indicating the possibility of oil discovery in Rwanda.
Jacqueline Mukakanyamugenge said: “I wish to know more about this pleasing development relating to findings from studies indicating that in Rwanda, we have oil. When will these studies wrap up so that we know, conclusively, the amount of oil in Rwanda and when it starts getting exploited so that it benefits Rwandans?”
“I don’t want to go into theoretical details which are technical, but I am assuring lawmakers that the second phase which will follow, of digging deeply, in depth and width begins soon; the contractor is here and as studies reveal new findings, we shall update you,” he said.
On April 18, 2008, the explorer [then called Vangold Resources Ltd] had announced the completion of the first exploration phase which involved the use of satellite imagery.
At the time, images showed “signs of seepage” but this did not “really tell much,” Vangold’s Country Manager, Joseph Katarebe, told The New Times, confirming that other thorough phases would then commence.
Vangold started exploration in February 2007. Officials have in the past told The New Times that government is taking precautions, to get a good deal.
When contacted for the latest, on Friday, Katarebe said the line ministry is best placed to give an update or any other comments.
In 2010, the oil exploration programme was transferred from the Ministry of Infrastructure to the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Minister Stanislas Kamanzi could not be reached, for comment, by press time.
Whereas oil exploration in Rwanda began later, Uganda, Rwanda’s neighbour to the north, began exploring oil as early as 1920s and it was not until 2006 that the first oil discovery was made in the Albertine Graben, a region on the Uganda-DRC border.
Fireworks lit the sky above Gikondo Expo Ground on friday to signal the launch of the Prosperity Expo in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Rwanda Patriotic Front-Inkotanyi.
The exciting event was attended by high government officials, RPF members and private sector representatives among others. Participants were excited by renowned entertainers such as Jean Paul Samputu.
According to officials of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), the expo has attracted about 500 exhibitors that will be showcasing different achievements attained under the leadership of the RPF.
The expo reflects different achievements in many sectors such as in ICT, financial institutions, agro processing, SME promotion, governance, health and education among others.
Faustin Mbundu, the chairman of PSF, explained that the Expo is an event that brings together the business community to celebrate what they have achieved under the good leadership of RPF that created for them a favorable business environment.
“This is special in that people are celebrating 18 years of success attributed to 25 years since the creation of RPF which leads the government here,” he told The Rwanda Focus. “RPF created a favorable business environment to flourish. Business people can now run their businesses in any part of the country in security.”
He mentioned that there has been the establishment of the Public Private Dialogue where both public officials and private sector meet to discuss different issues in order to get harmony for sustainable development.
Prior the Expo, different activities where youth have been helping vulnerable people to improve their lives were organized. Other activities such as football games and entertainment events continue across the country. All these activities will be closed on December 20 while celebrating RFF’s silver jubilee, according to François Ngarambe, the Secretary General of RPF.
Ngarambe, who officially opened the expo, said that they opened the ground to business people so that they can showcase their achievements as they are committed to make private sector an engine of the national economic growth.
“RPF believes that private sector is the basis of the national wealth growth,” Ngarambe pointed out. “That is why we have always been encouraging business people and RPF members in particular to strive for excellence so that we can increase our production.”
The expo, which is scheduled to close on December 18, is held under the theme “Governance, Prosperity and Dignity to Our People” reflects the broad line of RPF leadership.
“Good leadership is a key pillar to progress,” Ngarambe said. “You can’t get any progress without good leadership. We have got great development over the years thanks to good leadership of RPF since its creation 25 years ago.”
He noted that the idea behind is to become self-reliant in order to uphold Rwanda’s dignity as it is envisaged in the RPF manifesto.
Rwanda has risen two places in the overall ranking of the latest Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG) to 23rd.
Rwanda has been part of seven countries that have significantly improved in their overall governance score since 2000 to 2011, according to the Index. The others are Liberia, Angola, Sierra Leone, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.
This is the sixth year in which governance outcomes in Africa have been measured, looking at both country and regional performances across four major categories -Safety and Rule of Law, Participation and Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development – and 88 component indicators.
According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Mauritius came top in the overall index, followed by Cape Verde, Botswana and the Seychelles, continuing the same pattern as last year. Somalia was last, a position it has occupied since the index was first published. The country came last in each of the four category rankings. Somalia’s overall score has declined since 2006. Tanzania moved into the top 10 for the first time this year, while Liberia, Sierra Leone and Angola registered significant improvements. Sudan and South Sudan were not included this year.
Speaking ahead of the index launch on Monday, the Sudanese-born philanthropist Mo Ibrahim told the Guardian that what Africa needs is a balanced development.
“Economic success cannot be a replacement for human rights or participation, or democracy … it doesn’t work,” he said. “It worries us a lot when we don’t see the trickle-through factor, when gain goes to the top 1per cent or 2 per cent, leaving the rest behind.”
Ibrahim also advised the governments in Kigali and Kinshasa together with their friends to sit down and talk to find a lasting solution to the chaos in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Its not in anybody’s interest to leave the eastern part of Congo in chaos. Rwanda and Congo need to sit down an find a solution,” he said. “Move away from name calling and finger pointing. Its time for the parties to sit together with the help of their friends and find a solution to the chronic problem of Congo.”
The biggest announcement of the night however was that there is no winner of the 2012 Mo Ibrahim Prize for African leadership.
The $5-million prize, which is awarded each year to a democratically elected president who showed excellent leadership and a commitment to good governance, serves to encourage leaders of African countries to leave office after their terms expire instead of clinging onto power.
There have been only three winners – former presidents Festus Mogae (Botswana), Joaquim Chissano (Mozambique) and Pedro Verona Pires (Cape Verde) – since the prize was set up six years ago.
According to the prize committee, no candidate had met all of the tough criteria this year.
“If we say, ‘we’re going to have a prize for exceptional leadership,’ we have to stick to that. We are not going to compromise,” Ibrahim said. “We’re not saying, every year we have to find somebody.”
The $5-million award is given over 10 years followed by $200,000 a year for life.