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Ivan Kagame & Co Shouldn’t Look Elsewhere But Focus On Agriculture

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Rwanda badly needs to get back on her feet after suffering a knockout by the unforgiving #COVID-19 pandemic that has pulled down every economy, globally.

One of the main first steps taken by Rwanda is the recent reconstitution of the board of directors at Rwanda Development Board (RDB).

The team of nine well-polished individuals has to steer Rwanda through 3-5 years of recovery by mobilising a solid investment strategy.

By elimination method; tourism, mining, investment attractions, and the signature MICE are less viable at the moment.

Under #COVID-19, the construction boom that has been lubricating Rwanda’s economy was hit hard.

And for more months or even 3 years to come, Rwanda will not see Clare Akamanzi of RDB flying abroad to entice investors to bring money to Rwanda. They are in hibernation like she told Taarifa a few weeks ago.

At the moment, agriculture offers quick hope that RDB could consider carefully to trigger an economic revival. From the farmer who buries the seed into the soil to the exporter or processor of produce. An entire value chain is a fantastic option, much as it isn’t the proverbial silver bullet.

The new RDB board needs to rethink Rwanda’s agriculture sector.

It should be moved from subsistence production to a more modern, one that is attuned to the needs of a more competitive market locally, regionally, and internationally.

For starters, Rwanda’s agricultural sector needs a massive financial and technical plan to change into a key driver of growth.

Current statistics indicate that the entire financial sector in Rwanda contributes less than 5% of the national GDP, with banking claiming 66%. Not that the whole service sector, where the financial sector belongs, grew by 8% in 2019 and contributed only 3.7% points to overall GDP growth. This is not an impressive result, but it is not as bad as agriculture.

Rwanda’s GDP is mainly agricultural-based; thus a major structural weakness in the economy, considering that it is underfunded and poorly developed. In 2019, the agriculture sector increased by 6% and contributed only 1.6% points to the overall GDP growth.

A careful audit on the new RDB board team indicates it is assuring to have a trailblazer like Dr. Dianne Karusisi, Bank of Kigali CEO. She is fully aware that Rwanda’s financial system is in terrible need of a total overhaul to realities of supporting a vast majority of Rwandans estimated at more than 80% of the total population whose main activity is agricultural production.

For the last two years, there has been talk of re-engineering the local commercial banking sector with a view of enabling it to play a pivotal role in the economy.

We all know that commercial bankers in Rwanda are very conservative and traditional in their approach to business and also when it comes to serving the needs of poor farmers in the country.

The time is right to re-engineer a radical change in the national financial system with a major objective of making millions of citizens to access financial and technical support in a more sustainable manner. Forgive the banks, that has not been their main worry.

A totally reformatted local financial sector is better placed to facilitate millions of citizens to escape from a vicious circle of subsistence production through real financial and technical inclusion. Textbook templates have not delivered pleasant results. it out there for everyone to see.

What comes to mind is that Rwanda’s only development finance institution; the Rwanda Development Bank (BRD) needs the most urgent and immediate attention. Newly appointed BRD CEO, Pichette Kampeta, is expected to be the biggest turnaround artist in the local banking sector.

But we all know that she cannot undertake this task alone. She needs a multi-stakeholder “dream team” to support her and that is how the new team at RDB comes in.

Along with the need to have a turnaround artist, BRD is in dire need of massive financing. As a pure development finance institution (DFI) BRD is at the moment a minor player in terms of financial muscle compared to the industry leader Bank of Kigali (BK).

BRD’s total assets are worth over US$200 million compared to BK’s whopping US$1 billion. However, BRD is expected to be way ahead of BK if at all Rwanda’s aspirations of lifting millions from poverty into real prosperity are to be met through meaningful and substantial financial inclusion.

In terms of re-engineering of BRD by the new team at RDB, this is something very possible to execute. Rwanda has a ready template in place with the story of BK’s turn around into a billion-dollar enterprise.

At RDB board level, the massive injection of financial resources into BRD by the government of Rwanda as its major shareholder and instituting a sustainable management system, may require two radical solutions.

One is political will at the very highest levels. The other is a sound management.

Bananas in Rwanda have become a common item in the food basket. Banana production is gradually increasing household incomes. These men are transporting banana bunches to the market

When one closely looks at the new team in addition to Dr. Karusisi, by stroke of luck or by design, RDB has Ivan Kagame as its member who has just returned from Wall Street, the world’s most complex financial district.

According to his profile posted on RDB website, the younger Kagame practiced equity financing at a very sophisticated and massive level in New York, muscling deals in the energy sector among other tasks.

Ivan Kagame is also young and hence technically attuned to Rwanda’s huge ambitions in the ICT sector that has potential to link millions of poor farmers with BRD’s new forms of financial and technical resources once put in place.

Being the First Son, Ivan Kagame is in full possession of unique qualities of political relevancy among others.

Therefore, he should offer his Wall Street business acumen, negotiations and other skills in his arsenal to make agriculture cool for the millions of unemployed Rwandan youth.

With financing sorted out, the next critical thing on the table is to make farming “a cool profession” throughout the country especially for the Rwandan youth.

Farming in Rwanda should be packaged and promoted by RDB in the same way RDB promotes Rwanda abroad as one of the best destinations for the global investing community.

“A million-hectare scheme” type of investment promotion should be developed quickly and vigorously promoted by RDB working closely with the ministry of agriculture ( MINAGRI) and other stakeholders.

We are talking about horticulture farming, poultry farming, bee farming, and many others. This also includes preprocessing and other opportunities that fill the whole value chain.

The development of the new farming scheme in Rwanda can readily be overseen by new appointees at RDB board of directors such as Eric Kacou, Liban Soleman Abdi and Dr. Solange Uwituze.

Eric Kacou is a veteran of Rwanda’s recent economic history while Liban Soleman Abdi brings in much-needed experiences from other African countries.

Dr. Solange Uwituze on the other hand is a daughter of the soil and is without doubt one of the top minds in the local agribusiness sector.

The retention of the Israeli as Chairman of the Board at RDB, Itzhak Fisher completes the possibility of having in place a youth-focused new farming scheme in Rwanda, considering the fact that he comes from a country that has one of the most advanced technologies and innovations in agriculture.

We all know that Israel is a global powerhouse in matters of agribusiness. Rwanda can, therefore, benefit tremendously from linkages that Fisher can bring to the new farming scheme if it is developed and operated by RDB. The new scheme could target high-value sectors in the local economy such as fisheries, horticulture, beef as well as poultry growing at both smallholder and mid-sized levels.

This is where the bulk of Rwanda’s population is currently eking out a living and is well known as an area that has previously received scanty attention.

The idea is to address entire value chains of these sectors from farm to the table of consumers locally, regionally, and internationally.

If Rwanda developed and sourced over US$1 billion into the local tourism sector over the last couple of years, the same template can be used to channel the same level of resources into the local agricultural sector.

The only difference is that the financial resources ought to come mostly from the Rwandan state and RDB should take leadership in that regard.

A Rwandan farmer checks passion fruits. More youth need to be sensitized to embrace Agriculture and create jobs

In terms of target markets and related linkages all ingredients of success are there.

Branded as “Made in Rwanda” organic and wellness products, Rwanda can easily sell the final products coming from the new youth-focused million-hectare farming scheme into the readily available regional markets of East and Central Africa.

Some of the critical missing links are connecting the target markets to the new farming scheme, something that the new team can address with minimal hustle.

In conclusion RDB’s new team does not have to look very far for credible solutions needed to lift Rwanda out of a looming recession. The agricultural sector offers a suitable route out for Rwanda.

No economy has gone wrong on anything that goes into the stomach. History tells us so.

Kagame Appoints His Son As Board Member Of Rwanda’s Development Board

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Gaselle Impala

    May 24, 2020 at 9:22 pm

    That’s a great topic & thinking 👍👍

  2. Bahizi Arthur Biraro

    June 1, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    It’s a great topic if your contributions/examples are shared with persons you mentioned above!! They will not apply miracles by their own without our share (Rwandans) pinpointing avenues/opinions of the latter.
    What is to be grown?
    What are the methods?
    Where is the market?
    How is it funded?
    Are you/we dedicated?

  3. ปั้มไลค์

    June 15, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    Like!! Thank you for publishing this awesome article.

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Rwanda Police Chief Briefs 240 Officers Ahead Of S. Sudan Deployment

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The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dan Munyuza, on Tuesday, March 9, briefed 240 police officers set to be deployed for peacekeeping duties under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The pre-deployment briefing of the hybrid Formed Police Unit-One (FPU-1) contingent was held at the Rwanda National Police (RNP) General Headquarters in Kacyiru.

The contingent commanded by Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Faustin Kalimba, will replaced the same number in Malakal, Upper Nile State where they will be largely charged with protection of civilians in internally displaced camps, UN personnel, security of key installations and humanitarian assistance, among others.

IGP Munyuza urged the officers to use their experience and the high level of training acquired to execute their peacekeeping mandate effectively.

He further reminded them that they will work with other peacekeepers from different countries and they will have to exercise respect of diversity.

“Learning will be continuous throughout your tour-of-duty, use your experience to build on what your predecessors achieved, cooperative with other peacekeepers in the mission area and respect the people under your protection as well as their culture,” IGP Munyuza emphasized.

He urged them to keep up the good conduct and protect the image set by previous contingents adding that ” you are representing your country, be at the best of your performance.”

“Your country and Rwanda National Police in particular, have full trust in you, resilience and sacrifice are key. Remember, your conduct and professionalism will depict the image and values of Rwandans, ensure your performance is exceptionally good and maintain the same spirit to the end of your mission,” said IGP Munyuza.

The Police Chief reminded them that Rwandan peacekeepers are defined by their professionalism, discipline, teamwork, integrity, values and alertness, and urged them to keep the momentum to “maintain and protect the image and reputation.”

He emphasized that respecting each other and their superiors in particular, discipline, hard work, teamwork, dignity and respect for diversity are strong guiding values and principles which will help them towards mission excellence.

IGP Munyuza appealed to the officers to maintain the spirit of supporting others and to engage in human security activities with the local people they are mandated to serve.

‘’Participating in human security activities is our culture as Rwandans, you should not only conduct peacekeeping duties just to maintain peace and security. It goes beyond that as our tradition to work towards the overall wellbeing of the people,” IGP Munyuza said.

As the wolrd is still faced with the pandemic of COVID-19, the Police Chief reminded them to always observe all health guidelines including wearing face masks, avoiding shaking hands, washing hands and practicing social distancing, among others.

This will be the sixth rotation of FPU-1 hybrid since the first one was deployed in South Sudan in 2015.

It is also one of the three Rwandan FPU contingents currently deployed in South Sudan.

Currently, RNP maintains over 1000 police peacekeepers in various UN missions, including six contingents serving in UNMISS and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

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Chinese Companies Win Tender to Construct Railway From Mwanza to Isaka 

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The Standard Gauge Railway from Mwanza to Isaka in neighbouring Tanzania will be constructed by two Chinese Companies that have won a lucrative tender for this job.

Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi Tanzania’s foreign minister said on Thursday during a presser on the eve of the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s two-day visit to Tanzania.

The Mwanza-Isaka railway stretch will cover a distance of 341 kilometres and construction is estimated to cost TShs3 trillion will be handled by China Civil Engineering Construction (CCEC) and China Railway Construction Company (CRCC).

The Tanzanian government through the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) is constructing a 2,561Km SGR network that links Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Kigoma, Katavi and neighboring countries of Rwanda, Burundi Uganda and DRC.

The over Sh7 trillion project is being implemented in phases with the first round covering 202km between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, was initially scheduled to be ready by November 2020 but heavy rains disrupted construction works.

Construction of the first and the second phase is being undertaken by Turkish construction company, Yapi Markez.

The first phase will have six main stations at Dar es Salaam, Pugu, Soga, Ruvu, Ngerengere and Morogoro, with the Dar es Salaam and Morogoro stations being the largest.

The second phase which is under implementation involves 422km between Morogoro and Makutupora in Singida with the project set to be completed within 36 months at a cost of $1,924 billion.

The railway is East Africa’s fastest and will use electricity to move trains will travel at 160km per hour and transport 10,000 tonnes of freight which is equivalent to 500 cargo trucks.

Upon completion, the SGR project is expected to payback the investment value after 15 years.

In October 2020, Tanzania government signed $60 million (about Sh138 billion) contract with a South Korean firm to supply trains for the standard gauge railway (SGR).

 

The Citizen

 

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Trump Attacks Election Integrity As Biden Nears 270 Electoral College Votes

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President Donald Trump is testing how far he can go in using the trappings of presidential power to undermine confidence in this week’s election against Joe Biden, as the Democrat contender gained ground in tight contests in some key battleground states.

With his pathway to re-election appearing to shrink, Trump has advanced unsupported accusations of voter fraud to falsely argue that his rival was trying to seize power. Thursday’s moves amounted to an extraordinary effort by a sitting American president to sow doubt about the democratic process.

“This is a case when they are trying to steal an election, they are trying to rig an election,” Trump said from the podium of the White House briefing room.

The president’s remarks deepened a sense of anxiety in the U.S. as Americans enter their third full day after the election without knowing who would serve as president for the next four years.

His statements also prompted a rebuke from some Republicans, particularly those looking to steer the party in a different direction in a post-Trump era.

Electoral college magic number

Neither candidate has reached the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. But Biden eclipsed Trump in Wisconsin and Michigan, two crucial Midwestern battleground states, and has been inching closer to overtaking the president in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where votes are still being counted. It remains unclear when a national winner will be declared after a long, bitter campaign dominated by the coronavirus and its effects on Americans and the national economy.

On Wednesday, The U.S.set another record for daily confirmed cases as several states posted all-time highs. The pandemic has killed more than 233,000 people in the United States.

Rising tensions

Biden spent Thursday trying to ease tensions and project a more traditional image of presidential leadership. After participating in a coronavirus briefing, he declared that “each ballot must be counted.”

“I ask everyone to stay calm. The process is working,” Biden said. “It is the will of the voters. No one, not anyone else who chooses the president of the United States of America.”

 

Biden’s victories in the upper Midwest put him in a strong position, but Trump showed no sign of giving up. It could take several more days for the vote count to conclude and a clear winner to emerge. With millions of ballots yet to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 73 million votes, the most in history.

Trump’s erroneous claims about the integrity of the election challenged Republicans now faced with the choice of whether to break with a president who, though his grip on his office grew tenuous, commanded sky-high approval ratings from rank-and-file members of the GOP.

Lawsuits and late mail-in ballots

Trump’s campaign engaged in a flurry of legal activity to try to improve the Republican president’s chances, requesting a recount in Wisconsin and filing lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. Judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly dismissed Trump campaign lawsuits there on Thursday.

Trump has held a small edge in Georgia, though Biden has been gaining on him as votes continue to be counted. The same is true in Pennsylvania, where Trump’s lead had slipped to about 22,000 votes — and the race is destined to get tighter.

One reason is because elections officials were not allowed to process mail-in ballots until Election Day under state law. It’s a form of voting that has skewed heavily in Biden’s favour after Trump spent months claiming without proof that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.

Mail ballots from across the state were overwhelmingly breaking in Biden’s direction. A final vote total may not be clear for days because the use of mail-in ballots, which take more time to process, has surged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump campaign said it was confident the president would ultimately pull out a victory in Arizona, where votes were also still being counted, including in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous area.

The AP has declared Biden the winner in Arizona and said Thursday that it was monitoring the vote count as it proceeded.

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