The fifth edition of Tour of Rwanda will be broadcast live on Supersport everyday from November 17-24.
Rwanda Cycling Federation (Ferwacy) president Aimable Bayingana said in a press statement that, “South African based sports television Supersport, TV5 and French television Canal Plus have agreed to broadcast the tour live.”
“From the time we started organizing the Tour of Rwanda, it has been our goal to broadcast it to the world. This means that the cycling competition will be viewed by people in many countries across the world,” added Bayingana.
The seven-stage race will cover a total distance of 819km and three new routes have been introduced including Kigali – Kirehe, Rwamagana – Musanze and Rubavu – Kinigi.
Meanwhile, the race is expected to have 16 teams from different countries like South Africa, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Algeria and Gabon.
UCI Continental Center, Eritrea’s AS BE CO, AVAIA Crebbe from Belgium, Novo Nordisk from USA, Algeria’s Sovac, Samsung MTN Qhubeka from South Africa and Rhone Alpes from France are the foreign teams that have confirmed participation.
Rwanda will be represented by three teams including Karisimbi, Akagera and Muhabura. These teams are currently training at the national cycling camp in Musanze.
The two Rwandan riders from UCI Continental Center, Janvier Hadi and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana have also joined camp to prepare for the annual competition.
Rwandan Olympian Adrien Niyonshuti is expected to participate with his team Samsung MTN Qhubeka.
Team Samsung MTN Qhubeka is the first African team to join the second division of world cycling, the highest level from any team on the continent after the International Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed its status as a professional continental team for 2013.
Team MTN-Qhubeka is determined to compete on the international arena in the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
Professional cyclists like Niyonshuti alongside Africa’s best cyclists including Daniel Teklehaymanot and this year’s African Cycling Champion Natnael Berhane will be in Rwanda to represent the team has a roster of 15 African and 6 international riders.
About twenty years after the tragedy of 1994, about 1,500 elderly genocide survivors from around the country are still either homeless or living in poor, unsatisfactory conditions. The government, through the Genocide survivors fund (FARG), says it is ready to build houses for the homeless and to rehabilitate those which are in critical conditions.
The program groups elders together, in order to facilitate their supervision regarding their living conditions, their health, and their assistance in general for a better, less lonely living style.
In order to make this feasible, Theophile Ruberangeyo, the executive secretary of FARG, says they are thinking of constructing and rehabilitating shared, group.
“These elders suffer from loneliness and lack of care, but if they are somehow together, they will interact each other and it is very easy to be aware of their neighbors’ problems”, he said. Apart from being old aged, some of these widows have other health problems like disabilities, and these should also get special care.
Local leaders, through a video-conference last week, expressed worries that the given budget is not enough to make sure that the houses are sustainable.
For instance, 944 houses slated for rehabilitation were allocated Frw 300 million, a small amount for so many houses. However, Ruberangeyo assured that there is a plan to have the budget increased in the upcoming budget revision.
Some districts, like Gisagara, have already adopted the plan. Leandre Karekezi, the mayor of Gisagara district, says that once the elders were living close to one another, it was easy to protect and care for them.
“There even some activities that they can do if they are together. They feel somehow not alone as they could feel if everyone is in his or her own house”, he said.
Inkeragutabara will build the houses, and most of districts have already signed contracts with them. Districts that have not yet signed contracts are requested to do it as soon as possible in order to have all activities starting in all districts.
James Musoni, the Minister of Local Government, appreciated the initiative, arguing that it will help in making sure that these elders are well assisted. He suggested that there be a social worker hired to supervise these elders, providing services like counseling, among others.
According to suggestions from local leaders, each house will accommodate four or five widows. The Minister requested that the FARG establish an overall design of these houses in order to start the construction.
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are considering building a superhighway from Mombasa to Kigali, parallel to the planned railway.
According to regional trade lobby organization Trademark East Africa, which will be facilitating the project, it is expected to have a six-lane road, with construction beginning in 2016.
Inspired by the N1 highway that runs from Cape Town in South Africa to Harare in Zimbabwe, the proposed road is intended to ease the movement of cargo, thereby reducing the cost of doing business and increasing intra-regional trade.
Expenditure on transport in the EAC countries accounts for 45% of the total cost of goods. This is 30% higher than in Southern Africa, making commodities produced in the region uncompetitive.
John Byabagambi, Uganda’s Junior Minister for Works who is chairing the Standard Gauge Railway Committee, said that Trademark was doing feasibility studies for a dual carriage highway that forms part of plans to expand the Northern Corridor, as the current single carriage system is too narrow and fraught with inefficiencies.
Allen Asiimwe of Trademark East Africa said the superhighway would have no weighbridges or roadblocks.
This means that once the goods are loaded onto a truck at the Port of Mombasa, there will be no stops until the final destination. Weighbridges and roadblocks are among major hindrances to trade in the region.
As the cost of doing business in the region drops, intra-EAC trade, which currently stands at over $3.8 million, or just 13% of the total trade volumes in the region, is expected to increase.
Asiimwe added that the road, the ability of the revenue authorities of Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya to acquire the latest software known as Automated Systems for Customs Data (Asycuda), plus a $50 million investment in the port of Mombasa, will ensure that cargo moves fast and that it is constantly monitored.
“Investment in a regional asset like the Mombasa port will reduce the time for clearing goods from 18 to five days,” she said.
The software enables Customs officials from the three countries to use the electronic tracking system to monitor the trucks.
The software will also boost the EAC Customs Union since revenue authorities will be able to assess and collect taxes at the first point of entry. This means that once a trader has paid his taxes for goods bound for Uganda, there will be no need to pay a refundable bond to Kenya. This has been the practice, due to the fear that goods could be dumped in Kenya.
As the cost of doing business in the region drops, intra-EAC trade, which currently stands at over $3.8 million, or just 13% of the total trade volumes in the region, is expected to increase.
Experts warn that intra-EAC trade is well below the standards of any functional common market.
“Intra-regional trade should account for at least 25% of the total trade volumes in any functional common market,” said Rashid Kibowa, Commissioner for Economic Affairs in Uganda’s Ministry of East African Community Affairs.
In the European Union, intra-regional trade accounts for 55% of total trade while it stands at 40% in the US.
Rwanda’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.
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.
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.
The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) Board yesterday approved $39.44 million to help in developing the Skills, Employability and Entrepreneurship Programme (SEEP) in Rwanda.
The initiative created to support specific sectors in the country’s budget of 2012/13 was mapped out in partnership with Rwanda and her development partners, according to AfDB.
The continental bank was among development partners that had frozen or cut aid to Rwanda over allegations that the latter was supporting a rebel group in DRC – which Kigali vehemently denied. Most of these donors have since released their financial support.
The SEEP aims to boost Rwanda’s policy reforms for inclusive growth and poverty eradication programmes.
Negatu Makonnen, the AfDB Rwanda resident representative, said “the SEEP beneficiaries will include youth, women and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Reducing critical gaps skills:
“The bank’s plan is to directly contribute to inclusive growth and reduction of the Balance of Payments and fiscal deficits that will lead to a reduction in Rwanda’s high dependence on foreign aid over the medium term,” he noted.
Makonnen observed that young people and women comprise 40 per cent and 52 per cent of the population respectively while SMEs account for over 90 per cent of private sector establishments and employ the majority of the population.
According to SEEP, the programme targets to reduce critical skills gaps and improve the relevance of education in relation to the labour market.
Recently AfDB gave Development Bank of Rwanda with US$8 million Line of Credit (LoC) to support BRD lending to the agriculture, agro-processing, telecommunication, education and tourism infrastructure sectors in Rwanda.
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.”
When Agnes Binagwaho began her career as a doctor in the slums of Kigali, Rwanda, in 1996, she worked in one of the most precarious health environments in the world.
“We could do nothing for them,” she remembers. “We didn’t have drugs even for ordinary diseases.”
19 years later, however, Rwanda is on pace to become the only country in sub-Saharan Africa to meet all of its health-related Millennium Development Goals, and the tiny pocket of Central Africa has posted some of the world’s most staggering health gains in the past decade, outpacing nations that spend far more per capita on healthcare.
And Dr. Binagwaho, who once stuffed her suitcases full of basic medicinal supplies to take home to Kigali whenever she traveled abroad, is now leading that charge as minister of health.
In an article published earlier this year in the British Medical Journal (BMI), a team of doctors and researchers working in Rwanda laid out the country’s swift rise.
Between 1994 and 2012, they wrote, the country’s life expectancy climbed from 28 years to 56 and the percentage of the population living in poverty dropped from 77.8 percent to 44.9 percent.
In the past decade, deaths from HIV have fallen 78 percent – the single largest decline in the world during that time frame – while tuberculosis mortality has dropped 77 percent, the most significant decrease in Africa.
Of course, the starting point in Rwanda’s climb was a harrowing one: In 1994, between 500,000 and 1 million people — up to 20 percent of its total population — were killed in an ethnic genocide, and some 2 million more fled. Many doctors were among the dead and exiled, and the country, including its healthcare system, was left in tatters.
That year, less than a quarter of Rwandan children received immunizations and more than 1 in 4 children were dead by their fifth birthday.
But in the years that followed, Rwanda became the darling of the international development community, a case study for how a country could use a trans-formative post-conflict period to effectively rebuild its core institutions.
As aid poured in, Rwanda’s new government channeled it into a wide variety of social programs, including healthcare. It rolled out a system of universal health insurance, doled out vaccinations and mosquito nets, and put nearly every AIDS patient on antiretrovirals.
And it did all of this in a place that still faces what the BMI article called “one of the greatest shortages of human resources for health in the world.”
Indeed, the country of 11 million has only 625 doctors in its public hospitals nationwide. But there are also now more than 45,000 “community health workers,” trained to treat basic health issues and help ensure adherence to drug regimens in rural areas far from hospitals and clinics.
As a result of these efforts, the probability that a child will die before the age of five has fallen by 70 percent and is now half the regional average. Some 108,000 people now receive antiretroviral treatment for AIDS – a figure approaching universal access.
But as the healthcare system has lurched forward, it has also come under attack for its heavy reliance on foreign aid: Nearly half of the government’s health budget comes from external funders.
Unlike many other countries, however, Rwanda has used these cash infusions to build institutions, not merely fund programs, says Peter Drobac, the Rwanda director for Partners in Health, a public health nonprofit, and one of the authors of the BMI paper.
Indeed, Rwanda spends no more on health than many of its neighbors, ranking 22nd among 49 sub-Saharan African countries in per capita health spending. That comes to about $55.50 per person each year, which Drobac says is a “tremendous value for money.”
But Rwanda’s government has ambitiously called for the country to be aid-free by 2020, an undertaking that would require a massive pivot away from its current healthcare funding model. In reality, that goal may be decades off, but in the meantime, officials have built the scaffolding for a sturdy healthcare system, Drobac says.
“The lesson we have learned is that you cannot solve every [health] problem at once,” Binagwaho says. “So you do the best with what you have, and you don’t leave anyone out.”
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.