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 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.
“Rwanda, our beautiful and dear country / Adorned of hills, lakes and volcanoes / Motherland, would be always filled of happiness…”
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.
The Ministry of Finance, which is the custodian of the money contributed towards the Agaciro Development Fund (AgDF), has announced the contributions for the fund are now above Rwf10 billion.
Residents of the Eastern Province, which concluded the fundraising in all districts constituting the region on Wednesday, gathered in excess of Rwf3 billion.
The last drive in the east was held in Nyagatare district where residents raised Rwf 880 million in support of the Fund, which was established with an aim of financing development projects that will be determined by Rwandans at a later stage.
Kayonza district that contributed over Rwf 565 million.
The Governor of the Eastern Province, Odette Uwamariya, said the fundraising would continue, even after the official launch was completed.
“As we announce the figures now, money is still trickling in…I am really humbled by people’s commitment. I thank every individual who supported the programme,” she said.
Senator Joseph Karemera, who presided over the event in Nyagatare, said the people of Rwanda were primarily responsible for developing their country.
He said that gone are the days when people sat back waiting for others to feed them, adding that Agaciro Fund was a way of ensuring that Rwandans play a central role in their country’s development.
“We managed to eradicate thatched houses (Nyakatsi), we promoted agriculture and farming…let’s not tire. We have to build our country, and I am sure with the maturity you are exhibiting, we shall,” he said.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, staff members of the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC) of Kigali contributed Rwf 100 million towards the Fund.
Each of the employees contributed a month’s salary.
Engineer Diogene Mulindahabi, the Principal, applauded his staff for understanding the value of the Agaciro Fund.
“This money will be channeled into the national treasury. Thanks to all those who are contributing with enthusiasm to the country’s development,” said the official.
Agaciro Development Fund is an initiative that was set up to raise more domestic resources to help accelerate economic development.