Call Us Now: (240) 429 2177

countries

From Rwandan Garbage Dump To Harvard: Knowing When To Tell The 'Taxi' To Stop
May 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

T.P. Allen* slide_350225_3756777_freeLife — indeed, survival — was always difficult for 8-year-old Justus Uwayesu, but Sundays were particularly difficult. The garbage trucks did not run on Sundays, which meant his food would not be “delivered” to the Kigali City Dump where Justus lived as a double orphan. During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, Justus’ father was executed for being born into a family whose identity cards had the Tutsi box arbitrarily checked. His mother vanished shortly thereafter and no doubt met the same fate, for she never would have willingly abandoned her 2-year-old child, Justus. By the time Justus was 8, he had meandered more than 100 kilometers, ending up in the garbage dump for Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. Amid that stench was the buffet he ate from every day. His home was a stripped out, tireless car, in which he slept on and under pieces of cardboard. The car had no windows, but provided some protection from the rain and the equatorial sun, and the pigs — those damn pigs which competed with Justus for food! They all preferred the waste from restaurants and hotels, from which Justus separated out bottle caps, toothpicks, soiled napkins, and more disgusting things, before dining on the remaining scraps of food. Then one Sunday, the traditional day of disappointment and hunger, down the dusty road rattled a taxi transporting Clare Effiong, a visitor from the U.S. and the type of “do-gooder” that seasoned development workers are quick to disparage. She was on a mission, “letting the Spirit lead” in a way that causes many to feel very uncomfortable and even suspicious. But the Spirit had led Clare to Rwanda, and on that particular day into that taxi and onto that dirt road. And when Clare saw a particular group of children (for there were many groups of OVCs — orphans and vulnerable children), she told the taxi driver, “Stop!” Through an interpreter Clare engaged the children in conversation, asking “what do you want,” and hearing the usual responses of money, clothes, etc. But when she asked little Justus, he said, “I want to go to school.” Of all the OVCs in that crowd, Justus was told to get in the taxi. Like the Good Samaritan who took the beaten and battered traveler to the inn for treatment and rest, Clare drove Justus to a friend’s home in Gikondo and told him, “Educate this boy and I will send money to pay for school fees, school materials, uniform, shoes — whatever.” From his first day of school, Justus’ most distinctive attribute has been (and remains) his ever-present conviction that it is a precious privilege to learn and study his way out of poverty. When Clare pulled Justus from the city garbage dump, he spoke only Kinyarwanda. When he graduated from high school, he spoke five languages. But languages were not his focus. He had become a brilliant math and chemistry student and was selected to join 30 students (out of 1,200+ applicants) in the Bridge2Rwanda (www.Bridge2Rwanda.org) Scholars Program that prepares Rwanda’s most gifted and promising students to successfully compete for international scholarships. Justus obsessively studied SAT and TOEFL test prep, English, research and writing, leadership, entrepreneurship, and discipleship, and received B2R’s guidance in applying to colleges and universities in the United States. As all college applicants (and their parents) know, March Madness is not about basketball, but rather college admission decisions. On “decision day,” at 11 PM Rwandan time (5 PM EST), Justus came to my home to use the Internet. He fumbled and struggled at first to get into the secure admissions site (while I felt my own anxiousness, knowing it would be on me to comfort and counsel Justus if the outcome was disappointment). Then the letter began to load, and Justus read the first word: “CONGRATULATIONS!” Justus screamed with joy and fell to the floor. When he composed himself, he borrowed my phone to call Clare in the U.S. “Mom, MOM!” he yelled. “I’m going to Harvard!” Reflecting on this highly improbable story, I think of the “butterfly effect” (small cause one place, a bigger effect somewhere else) and Clare and the many good folks who are the bookends of Justus’ journey, giving him a hand up along the way from garbage dump to Harvard. Too often, we are seduced into taking great comfort in the self-deception that the problems are too big and too many, and we cannot make a difference. But these good folks in Justus’ life knew that they could and should make a contribution from whatever they had; as a result, Justus is going to Harvard. (Another B2R classmate of Justus’ is also going to Harvard, and still others were admitted to U Penn, Dartmouth, Brown, University of Chicago, Northwestern, U.C. Berkeley, Claremont Colleges [Pitzer], Vanderbilt, Emory, Michigan State, Babson, Bates, and other highly selective schools.) slide_350225_3756767_freeJustus believes, passionately and emphatically, that unmerited favor has been lavished upon him. What has been done for him, he must now do for others. If he denies the poor, he denies himself. Self-affirmation requires him to pay it forward. As I continue on my own wandering journey, I want to be like Clare and know when to tell the taxi driver “Stop!” I want the necessary discernment and courage to respond to the opportunity before me — and to act. I’m often asked, “Why are you in Rwanda?” I have many deeply embraced answers, but after spending these recent days with Justus and other Bridge2Rwanda Scholars, I will offer this: Living in Rwanda is more thrilling than watching the best, most powerful, most emotionally rich and raw movies imaginable, and I actually get to have unvarnished, intimate conversations with the great actors as they are performing. Sometimes those conversations may even color and sharpen the performance. But whether or not I influence the performance, the performance always impacts and transforms me. I can hardly believe that I get to do this. Each day I arise with joy and wonder of yet another day. *Source huffingtonpost.  T.P. Allen  is Former L.A. attorney, now Country Director of Bridge2Rwanda]]>

0
Read More
East African leaders look to fast-track integration
May 5, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Eugene Kwibuka* [caption id="attachment_9224" align="alignleft" width="150"]President Kagame logs in to the Kenya National Electronic Window System (Kenya TradeNet) during 5th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit in Nairobi yesterday. Village Urugwiro. President Kagame logs in to the Kenya National Electronic Window System (Kenya TradeNet) during 5th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit in Nairobi yesterday. Village Urugwiro.[/caption] President Paul Kagame yesterday launched Kenya National Electronic Single Window System seen as a major boost for regional trade since it will simplify clearance processes of goods. The launch was part of the activities of the 5th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit held in Nairobi, and was attended by Presidents Kagame, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Yoweri Kaguta of Uganda, as well as the second vice president of Burundi and Tanzania’s prime minister. Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya – which heavily rely on the Kenyan port of Mombasa – are spearheading a series of joint projects aimed at fast tracking regional development through joint infrastructure, trade and political and economic integration. The use of Electronic Single Window System is expected to centralise trade services such as tracking of goods, custom clearance, and electronic payment including through mobile money. The system will also integrate with Kenya Revenue Authority, making the clearance at Kenyan ports a lot faster and easier. “I just want to reiterate how this is one of many important projects that the East African Community partner states have undertaken to deepen integration that we have been seeking, make business more efficient, and lower the cost of  doing business as we move forward,” Kagame said at the launch. Making tech tick He reiterated Rwanda’s “continued active participation towards making integration a reality.” President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto described the Single Window System as yet another building bloc in the EAC integration process. “Our ultimate vision should be to implement an EAC Regional Single Window platform. The benefits from this initiative may not be fully realised unless all of us in the region adopt National Single Window Systems. “Our brothers in Rwanda are already implementing a Single Window System and similar efforts are underway in Tanzania and Uganda,” Kenyatta said. He added: “I truly believe that completion of these projects will make our region a world leader in terms of trade facilitation.” The Kenyan leader said the technology will make it possible for traders to submit information about their goods to multiple government agencies in multiple locations, making business faster and more efficient. After the launch of the Kenya National Electronic Single Window System, also known as Kenya TradeNet, the Heads of State and Government discussed the progress of several other projects under the Northern Corridor initiative. South Sudan on board In the meeting, the EAC leaders were joined by South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit, whose country officially joined the Northern Corridor Integration Projects framework during the third summit in Kigali in October 2013. President Kenyatta said he was happy with the progress made in implementing the projects so far since the Principals’ inaugural meeting in June last year. Key areas discussed include power generation and interconnectivity, oil pipeline development, capacity building, establishment of commodity exchange, fast-tracking of political federation, construction of the railway, and defence, security and peace cooperation. The summit agreed to fast track the establishment of the commodities exchange, and committed to establishing a centre of excellence in respective countries and to ensure all citizens of partner states, including South Sudan, are able to attend institutions of higher learning for the same fee as nationals. Rwanda was designated as the one to take the lead in establishing a centre of excellence for GIS related training. The partner states also agreed to urgently address the issue of use of national ID with all member states national airlines, remove immigration barriers to labour and service provision and operationalise one common border post. Rwanda will take the lead on e-visa issuance for partner states, while member states also committed to developing strategies to reduce air travel cost between partner states. The leaders also agreed that construction of the gauge railway should begin no later than October 2014. In the field of ICT, the partner states agreed to implement a one area network by December 31, 2014 and incorporate fiber optic access on all Northern Corridor Integration Projects. Meanwhile, Burundi, which was represented by its Second Vice-President, Gervais Rufyikiri, confirmed its full participation in the integration projects. The projects were inaugurated at the summit of the countries that are served by the Northern Corridor held in Entebbe, Uganda, in June last year, bringing together Presidents Kagame, Kenyatta and Museveni. At the Nairobi summit yesterday, Tanzania was represented by its Prime Minister Mizengo Kayanda Peter Pinda. The leaders resolved to meet for their 6th summit in June in Kigali. * Source www.The New Times]]>

0
Read More
Controversial former Barclays UK head set to acquire Rwandan bank
April 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Paul Redfern and Alex Ngarambe* brdAtlas Mara, the banking venture set up by controversial UK banker Bob Diamond and African billionaire Ashish Thakkar, has signed a deal to acquire the commercial arm of Rwanda’s state-controlled Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD).

Atlas Mara is buying 77 per cent stake in BRD.
“This partnership is in line with Atlas Mara’s vision of building a leading African financial services group. Rwanda is a model economy that will continue to benefit from the engagement of the private sector,” said Mr Diamond.
Mr Diamond is one of the most controversial bankers to emerge from the financial crisis in the UK, and is the man ousted as boss of Barclays after a direct intervention by the Bank of England.
The 32-year-old Mr Thakkar is the chief executive of Mara Group, a conglomerate of IT, real estate and manufacturing companies with operations in 26 countries, 19 of which are in Africa, employing more than 7,000 people.
The two financiers are understood to have approached investors to raise the $250 million necessary to set up the company Atlas Mara, which plans to buy stakes in existing African banks.
Rwanda and the investors have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to pursue a privatisation of BRD.
“Rwanda is a country that holds a very special place in my heart. It is remarkable that today we signed this MoU with BRD, a great bank, with even greater potential. I am proud to have this opportunity to play a role in creating access to capital for the millions of young Rwandan entrepreneurs like me,” Ashish Thakkar was quoted by Britain’s Daily Telegraph as saying recently.
The BRD deal comes less than a week after Atlas Mara announced a deal to buy a major stake in Botswana-based BancABC for $265m. Mr Thakkar said that further deals are likely to be announced in the near future.
Atlas Mara’s objective is to establish an African financial services group. The company said that BRD is an opportunity for Atlas Mara to create a privately run financial services group in Rwanda, which will serve as a platform for the firm to expand into the East African market.
Virgin market
Rwanda’s financial sector is relatively virgin with limited banking services and products, thus a small banked population.
The country’s financial inclusion is currently below 25 per cent, but with more financial institutions entering the market, government targets over 70 per cent by 2020.
Analysts are upbeat that the Atlas Mara Group will revamp the operations of BRD. The government privatised BRD to revamp its operations which were suffering due to inefficiencies. “The Development Bank in Rwanda, like in the region, has functioned like parastatals with a lot of inefficiencies and with the commercial operations. We expect to see more loans to the private sector with improved conditions,” said Prof Herman Musahara, an economist and lecturer at the University of Rwanda.
According to the Monetary Policy and Financial Stability statement for the first quarter of this year, credit to private sector rose by 13 per cent, from $1 billion by the end of 2012 to $1.2 billion last year.
With Atlas Mara going into commercial operations after the takeover, the private sector will have more options for relatively affordable credit.
Rwanda’s private sector, especially agriculture, which employs over 80 per cent of the population, is suffering from limited affordable loans.
The BRD deal is the latest of a number of bids by foreign banking institutions that are eyeing Rwanda’s lenders. AB Bank Rwanda Ltd, a member of international network of microfinance banks launched its operations in Rwanda last year.
In 2012, I&M bank Ltd, a Kenyan bank, bought a stake in Rwanda Commercial Bank (BCR) where it acquired 80 per cent equity from private equity firm ACTIS, which was the majority shareholder from 2004.
Analysts said with more players in the market, Rwandans could enjoy favourable interest rates. Currently, the average lending interest rate is 17 per cent. Kenya too has been awash with acquisitions and share deals involving financial institutions.
Last week, Old Mutual announced it has bought a 67 per cent controlling stake in Faulu Kenya — the second largest deposit-taking microfinance institution — for Ksh3.6 billion ($42.4 million).
Late last year, Nigeria’s Guaranty Trust Bank acquired the majority stake in Fina Bank through a share purchase from current shareholders and direct investment in a deal valued at $100 million (Ksh8.54 billion). *Source The East African
]]>

0
Read More
Rwanda genocide: UN ashamed, says Ban Ki-moon
April 8, 2014 | 1 Comments

President Paul Kagame and UN chief Ban Ki-moon lit the torch President Paul Kagame and UN chief Ban Ki-moon lit the torch[/caption]

The UN is still ashamed over its failure to prevent the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said.

He was addressing thousands of people in the capital, Kigali, as Rwanda began a week of official mourning to mark the 20th anniversary of the genocide. Many people were overcome by emotion during the ceremony, with some suffering fits. At least 800,000 people – mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus – died at the hands of Hutu extremists. The killings ended ended in July 1994 when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi-led rebel movement, marched into Kigali and seized control of the country. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and Mr Ban lit a torch which will burn for 100 days – the length of time the genocide lasted. A diplomatic row has prompted Rwanda to bar France’s ambassador, Michel Flesch, from attending the event, AFP news agency reports.

The week of mourning began with a wreath-laying ceremony at the national genocide memorial, followed by the lighting of a flame at the Amahoro Stadium in Kigali, where UN peacekeepers protected thousands of people during the genocide.

The torch has been carried across the country for the past three months, visiting 30 districts and passing from village to village. Thousands of people packed the stadium, having queued for hours through the fog, reports the BBC’s Charlotte Attwood from the scene. Many of them reacted with uncontrollable emotion to the stories, speeches and performances recalling the genocide, our correspondent says. Some of them had to be led out of the stadium while others had fits, she adds. [caption id="attachment_9087" align="alignright" width="300"]Thousands attended the ceremonies in the Amahoro Stadium, where UN peacekeepers saved many lives Thousands attended the ceremonies in the Amahoro Stadium, where UN peacekeepers saved many lives[/caption] Traditional mourning songs were broadcast over the sound systems. There was also a dramatisation of Rwanda’s recent history, which our correspondent says was a clear depiction of the government’s interpretation of events. In the play, a jeep carrying “colonialists” arrives, who swap their straw hats for UN blue helmets. They then desert the people, who are saved by the governing RPF. ‘Completely broken’ UN personnel in Rwanda during the genocide showed “remarkable bravery”, Mr Ban told the crowd, according to AP. “But we could have done much more. We should have done much more,” he said. “In Rwanda, troops were withdrawn when they were most needed,” he added. “One year later in Srebrenica, areas proclaimed ‘safe’ by the United Nations were filled with danger, and innocents were abandoned to slaughter. The shame still clings, a generation after the events,” Mr Ban said.

Mr Kagame said Rwanda was “completely broken” after the genocide, but it had managed to unite itself.

“It [the genocide] simply should never have happened,” he added. Other international leaders present include Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, former South African President Thabo Mbeki and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, now an advisor to the Rwandan government. On Sunday, hundreds of people attended a Mass at Sainte-Famille Catholic church in Kigali to remember those who died in the church itself and elsewhere. A spokesman for the Rwandan government said France would not be represented at the events to mark the genocide. Mr Flesch told AFP that he had received a telephone call from the Rwandan foreign ministry to “inform me that I was no longer accredited for the ceremonies”. Earlier, the French foreign ministry said Mr Flesch would represent France at the events after Justice Minister Christiane Taubira cancelled plans to attend following an accusation by Mr Kagame that France had participated in the mass killings. France was a close ally of Mr Habyarimana’s government. In an interview with the French-language weekly news magazine Jeune Afrique, Mr Kagame denounced the “direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation for the genocide”. He also said that French troops had taken an “active” part in the killings. [caption id="attachment_9088" align="alignleft" width="300"]Tony Blair and Thabo Mbeki were among the foreign guests Tony Blair and Thabo Mbeki were among the foreign guests[/caption] France has rejected this charge, with Edouard Balladur, who was French prime minister in 1994, telling Europe 1 radio: “France is in no way complicit in the genocide. “On the contrary, it of all countries in the world was the only one that took the initiative to organise a humanitarian operation to prevent widespread massacres.” France did send troops who set up “safe zones” in Rwanda. It says they saved thousands of lives but Rwanda’s government has long said they did not do enough to stop the killing – and now says they worked with the Hutu militias carrying out the slaughter. *Source BBC]]>

0
Read More
Rwanda’s Twitter-Gate – the Disinformation Campaign of Africa’s Digital President
March 18, 2014 | 2 Comments

BY SUSAN THOMSON*

download (5)As Rwanda prepares to mark the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 genocide, it has found itself in an unprecedented diplomatic crisis. The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front has all but claimed responsibility for the murder of its former Spy Chief Patrick Karegeya in Johannesburg in January.

More recently, the South African government has accused Rwandan diplomats of a third bungled attempt on the life of the country’s former army chief Kayumba Nyamwasa.

The State Department scolded the government of President Paul Kagame for the attempt. The South African government then expelled three Rwandan diplomats, and is considering ending formal diplomatic ties with Rwanda.

Foreign journalists reporting on the attack on Nyamwasa raised the ire of President Kagame. On March 7, Radio France International journalist Sonia Rolley was subject to misogynistic harassment from the account of @RichardGoldston. American freelancer Steve Terrill came to Rolley’s defense, resulting in a series of mocking tweets from the account of Rwanda president @PaulKagame himself, not the @RichardGoldston to which Terrill (@steveinafrica) had directed his Tweets.

A week later, on March 15, Terrill was denied entry into Rwanda. The denial appears politically-motivated as Terrill broke the story that someone in the office of the Rwandan president also had access to the @RichardGoldston account.

The @RichardGoldston account trolled Twitter for any sign of criticism of Kagame or the RPF, and regularly harassed and demeaned Twitter users that criticized the government.

On March 8, the official Twitter account of the Office of the Rwandan President (@UrugwiroVillage) tweeted that the @RichardGoldston account had been deleted and the staff member responsible for the account had been “reprimanded”.

Rwanda’s Twitter-gate raises questions about the central role of RPF Twitter-trolls in calling out foreign journalists who seek to hold it to account for its excesses at home and abroad.

President Kagame’s reactionary tweets provide insight into the political reality behind his government’s carefully crafted narrative that Rwanda is a nation rehabilitated from the ruin of the 1994 genocide. Twitter-gate is also illustrative of the harassment and intimidation to which critics of the RPF regime regularly experience.

Twitter-gate is the first crack in the armor of the RPF’s longstanding disinformation campaign that has relied on Western exchange students, public relations firms, commemorative events, and a whole host of other techniques to craft an idealized and often invented version of what Rwanda was like before the onset of colonialism and what it has become since the 1994 genocide.

Since 2009, the RPF has worked with American and British PR specialists whose primary task is to drown out the voices of foreign critics and bury evidence of the RPF’s human rights abuses under rosy language about political stability, economic growth, and the stated intention of helping the poor.

imagesIn January, Rwanda launched the Kwibuka20 campaign, from inside Kagame’s office of course, for the same instrumental reason: to substitute the trope of genocide for the trope of authoritarianism in narratives about Rwanda.

The disinformation strategy is simple: ensure maximum international sympathy and donor dollars and a minimum of international inquiry into the government’s denial of liberties and human rights abuses.

The Kagame-led regime has a penchant for U.S. visits and visitors, and until recently successive U.S. administrations turned a blind eye to massive human rights violations for which the Kagame-led regime, according to the United Nations, is responsible in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Americans in particular have been taken in by the rhetoric of reconstruction, development, and reconciliation that invariably accompanies most public events in the country.

The RPF frames itself for Western audiences as the political party best able to move Rwanda towards a Western-style democracy because it has regularly held presidential and parliamentary elections.

The RPF handily won the most recent round of parliamentary elections, in September 2013, with 76% of the vote. In theory, it was contending with nine other parties. In practice, Rwanda’s nearly six million voters had little choice on the ballot. A total of 98% of the votes went to the RPF and its four coalition parties.

The continued dominance of the RPF in the electoral realm projects a semblance of political pluralism while masking the fact that all parties are expected to acquiesce to the ruling party. Two actual opposition parties have been banned and their leaders jailed.

Another pillar of Rwanda’s disinformation campaign is that the government promotes gender-equality. 64% percent of parliamentarians in Rwanda’s lower house are women, but this number masks reality. Although women are very visible in Rwanda politics, their ability to shape the future of women, ironically, is circumscribed. Rwanda’s parliament has limited influence.

Parliamentarians – be they male or female – actually have little power to legislate on behalf of their constituents. They have little room to develop policy or even to debate openly; space for free and open political expression is limited. Put differently, an assessment of political realities shows that women parliamentarians in Rwanda are mere accessories of power; they do not actually wield any of it.

Though the genocide has not repeated itself, growing socio-political and economic inequalities – notably the exclusion of youth – under an increasingly authoritarian and repressive government have meant that post-genocide Rwanda is still deeply entangled in its violent past. Rwandans deserve better from their American friends.

Rwanda’s Twitter-gate also reminds us that, on this 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, we should not allow our generally rosy perception of Rwanda as a stable and free country under the visionary leadership of President Kagame to mask long-standing political tensions, unresolved resentments, and the rise of an authoritarian regime.

*Susan Thomson is Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Colgate University in the United States. She is author of Whispering Truth to Power: Everyday Resistance to Reconciliation in Postgenocide Rwanda (Wisconsin University Press, 2013).Culled from allAfrica.com

0
Read More
Rwanda's Twitter-Gate – the Disinformation Campaign of Africa's Digital President
March 18, 2014 | 2 Comments

download (5)As Rwanda prepares to mark the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 genocide, it has found itself in an unprecedented diplomatic crisis. The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front has all but claimed responsibility for the murder of its former Spy Chief Patrick Karegeya in Johannesburg in January. More recently, the South African government has accused Rwandan diplomats of a third bungled attempt on the life of the country’s former army chief Kayumba Nyamwasa. The State Department scolded the government of President Paul Kagame for the attempt. The South African government then expelled three Rwandan diplomats, and is considering ending formal diplomatic ties with Rwanda. Foreign journalists reporting on the attack on Nyamwasa raised the ire of President Kagame. On March 7, Radio France International journalist Sonia Rolley was subject to misogynistic harassment from the account of @RichardGoldston. American freelancer Steve Terrill came to Rolley’s defense, resulting in a series of mocking tweets from the account of Rwanda president @PaulKagame himself, not the @RichardGoldston to which Terrill (@steveinafrica) had directed his Tweets. A week later, on March 15, Terrill was denied entry into Rwanda. The denial appears politically-motivated as Terrill broke the story that someone in the office of the Rwandan president also had access to the @RichardGoldston account. The @RichardGoldston account trolled Twitter for any sign of criticism of Kagame or the RPF, and regularly harassed and demeaned Twitter users that criticized the government. On March 8, the official Twitter account of the Office of the Rwandan President (@UrugwiroVillage) tweeted that the @RichardGoldston account had been deleted and the staff member responsible for the account had been “reprimanded”. Rwanda’s Twitter-gate raises questions about the central role of RPF Twitter-trolls in calling out foreign journalists who seek to hold it to account for its excesses at home and abroad. President Kagame’s reactionary tweets provide insight into the political reality behind his government’s carefully crafted narrative that Rwanda is a nation rehabilitated from the ruin of the 1994 genocide. Twitter-gate is also illustrative of the harassment and intimidation to which critics of the RPF regime regularly experience. Twitter-gate is the first crack in the armor of the RPF’s longstanding disinformation campaign that has relied on Western exchange students, public relations firms, commemorative events, and a whole host of other techniques to craft an idealized and often invented version of what Rwanda was like before the onset of colonialism and what it has become since the 1994 genocide. Since 2009, the RPF has worked with American and British PR specialists whose primary task is to drown out the voices of foreign critics and bury evidence of the RPF’s human rights abuses under rosy language about political stability, economic growth, and the stated intention of helping the poor. imagesIn January, Rwanda launched the Kwibuka20 campaign, from inside Kagame’s office of course, for the same instrumental reason: to substitute the trope of genocide for the trope of authoritarianism in narratives about Rwanda. The disinformation strategy is simple: ensure maximum international sympathy and donor dollars and a minimum of international inquiry into the government’s denial of liberties and human rights abuses. The Kagame-led regime has a penchant for U.S. visits and visitors, and until recently successive U.S. administrations turned a blind eye to massive human rights violations for which the Kagame-led regime, according to the United Nations, is responsible in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Americans in particular have been taken in by the rhetoric of reconstruction, development, and reconciliation that invariably accompanies most public events in the country. The RPF frames itself for Western audiences as the political party best able to move Rwanda towards a Western-style democracy because it has regularly held presidential and parliamentary elections. The RPF handily won the most recent round of parliamentary elections, in September 2013, with 76% of the vote. In theory, it was contending with nine other parties. In practice, Rwanda’s nearly six million voters had little choice on the ballot. A total of 98% of the votes went to the RPF and its four coalition parties. The continued dominance of the RPF in the electoral realm projects a semblance of political pluralism while masking the fact that all parties are expected to acquiesce to the ruling party. Two actual opposition parties have been banned and their leaders jailed. Another pillar of Rwanda’s disinformation campaign is that the government promotes gender-equality. 64% percent of parliamentarians in Rwanda’s lower house are women, but this number masks reality. Although women are very visible in Rwanda politics, their ability to shape the future of women, ironically, is circumscribed. Rwanda’s parliament has limited influence. Parliamentarians – be they male or female – actually have little power to legislate on behalf of their constituents. They have little room to develop policy or even to debate openly; space for free and open political expression is limited. Put differently, an assessment of political realities shows that women parliamentarians in Rwanda are mere accessories of power; they do not actually wield any of it. Though the genocide has not repeated itself, growing socio-political and economic inequalities – notably the exclusion of youth – under an increasingly authoritarian and repressive government have meant that post-genocide Rwanda is still deeply entangled in its violent past. Rwandans deserve better from their American friends. Rwanda’s Twitter-gate also reminds us that, on this 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, we should not allow our generally rosy perception of Rwanda as a stable and free country under the visionary leadership of President Kagame to mask long-standing political tensions, unresolved resentments, and the rise of an authoritarian regime. *Susan Thomson is Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Colgate University in the United States. She is author of Whispering Truth to Power: Everyday Resistance to Reconciliation in Postgenocide Rwanda (Wisconsin University Press, 2013).Culled from allAfrica.com]]>

0
Read More
Rwanda Tops First African Retail Development Index
March 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

Ground breaking Report Sheds Light on Retail in Africa atkearneyRwanda, Nigeria, Namibia, Tanzania and Gabon occupy the top five places of the inaugural A.T. Kearney African Retail Development Index (ARDI). South Africa ranks seventh due to the developed nature of its retail market. The ARDI is a useful framework for retailers because it not only identifies the markets in Africa most attractive for retail expansion today, but those that offer the most potential for the future. Africa is brimming with opportunities, not only for local and regional players, but also for large global brands and retailers. South African brands and retailers have been at the forefront of African expansion but may soon see global competition coming in. For South African players to keep their competitive advantage, sound strategies and investment plans will be required. With a billion people and growing economies, seven of the top 10 ARDI countries are among the 10 fastest growing ecomomies in the world. “Formal” retail, which takes place in malls, shopping centres, and other defined trade areas, remains in the early stages in most Sub-Saharan Africa countries, with the exception of South Africa, and is limited primarily to a handful of urban areas. Low rates of formal retail coupled with increasing urbanization and the relative stability of many African economies represent massive room for retail growth. Mirko Warschun, A.T. Kearney partner and ARDI co-author says, “The top 10 countries in the Index are diverse in terms of scale and growth potential.” “It is essential that retailers understand where African countries are in the evolution of the retail landscape and the stages of market development to craft their expansion strategies for Africa.” ARDI Results The ARDI is based on four elements: Market Size, Market Saturation, Country Risk and Time Pressure and ranks the potential and urgency of moving into each country accordingly. The top 10 markets in the Index are segmented into three high level approaches: Start with the Basics, Move Quickly and Differentiate. Start with the Basics: The vast majority of Africa, including Rwanda, Tanzania, Gabon and Ethiopia, has limited market saturation, but also low maturity. While these markets are promising because of favorable demographics and recent growth trends, the major retail markets remain small, scattered and informal. The largest opportunities available in these markets revolve around offering basic consumer packaged products at low prices. Move Quickly: The countries in this group – currently only Nigeria and Gabon from the Top 10 – have rapidly evolving retail dynamics and demographics, with some established retail players and many other global retailers planning entries. According to A.T. Kearney, there is no time to spare entering these markets before these first movers gain an advantage as they establish their brands early and secure loyal customer bases. Differentiate: These markets, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, have Africa’s most advanced retail sectors as well as an existing presence of international retailers. These markets offer opportunities for retailers that can offer differentiated products or formats that are hard to find and appeal to a growing middle class and globally minded citizens. Bart van Dijk, A.T. Kearney partner and ARDI co-author says, “There are wide differences in infrastructure and supply chain development across African countries. Understanding the opportunities and limitations from country to country is a critical element of the retail expansion decision.” By 2020, nearly half of all Africans will be living in cities. As disposable incomes rise, consumer spending will grow to almost $1 trillion. Even with the challenges of entering and succeeding in Africa, the opportunity is impossible to ignore. “Although there are many challenges, Africa has reached a point in its economic development where global retailers must evaluate the significant potential for growth in this market,” says A.T. Kearney partner and ARDI co-author Mike Moriarty. The 2014 Africa Retail Development Index Ranking and Recommended Approach (http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/table.png): Index Rank: 1 Rwanda How to approach: Start with the basics Index Rank: 2 Nigeria How to approach: Move quickly Index Rank: 3 Namibia How to approach: Differentiate Index Rank: 4 Tanzania How to approach: Start with the basics Index Rank: 5 Gabon How to approach: Move quickly Index Rank: 6 Ghana How to approach: Start with the basics Index Rank: 7 South Africa How to approach: Differentiate Index Rank: 8 Botswana How to approach: Differentiate Index Rank: 9 Mozambique How to approach: Start with the basics Index Rank: 10 Ethiopia How to approach: Start with the basics Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of A.T. Kearney (Pty) Ltd. To read the full 2014 Africa Retail Development Index, please go to:http://www.atkearney.com/consumer-products-retail/african-retail-development-index Issued by HWB Communications on behalf of: A.T. Kearney (Pty) Ltd Press Contacts: Katie Horne / Olivia Whittaker Tel: 021 421 0430 / Cell: 084 311 0197 / 074 114 7103 Authors A.T. Kearney (Pty) Ltd Bart van Dijk             Partner, Johannesburg Marieke Witjes                      Consultant, Johannesburg Patience Kikoni                     Consultant, Johannesburg Mike Moriarty                       Partner, Chicago Mirko Warschun        Partner, Munich Matti Rucker              Principal, Munich About the Study The Africa Retail Development Index ranks Sub-Saharan Africa countries on a 0-to-100 point scale: the higher the ranking, the higher the potential and urgency to enter the country. The countries considered for the rankings were pre-selected based on three criteria – a country risk of 35 or higher in the Euro money country-risk score, population size greater than 1.5 million, GDP PPP per capita of more than $1,000. The ARDI scores are based on Country and Business Risk (25 percent), Market Size (25 percent), Market Saturation 25 percent), and Time Pressure (25 percent). A.T. Kearney (http://www.atkearney.com) is a global team of forward-thinking partners that delivers immediate impact and growing advantage for its clients. They are passionate problem solvers who excel in collaborating across borders to co-create and realise elegantly simple, practical and sustainable results. Since 1926, they have been trusted advisors on the most mission-critical issues to the world’s leading organisations across all major industries and service sectors. A.T. Kearney has 58 offices located in major business centres across 40 countries.http://www.atkearney.com *Source A.T. Kearney/APO]]>

0
Read More
South Africa links Rwanda diplomats to attacks
March 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

South Africa's Justice Minister Jeff Radebe says the Rwandans violated their diplomatic status South Africa’s Justice Minister Jeff Radebe says the Rwandans violated their diplomatic status[/caption] South Africa has accused three expelled Rwandan diplomats of links to the murder and attempted murder of Rwandan dissidents living in South Africa. Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said South Africa had evidence linking them to “illegal activities”. The diplomats were expelled on Friday following an attack on the home of exiled Rwandan dissident Kayumba Nyamwasa in Johannesburg. Rwanda denies involvement in such attacks in South Africa. It retaliated to the expulsions by ordering out six South African diplomats. ‘Strangled’

Mr Radebe’s spokesman, Mthunzi Mhaga, told BBC Focus on Africa that investigations “revealed direct links between the expelled diplomats and the criminal networks that relate to the recent attacks on Rwandan officials who are under protection in South Africa”.

Armed men raided the home of Lt Gen Nyamwasa, the Rwandan army’s former chief of staff, last week, but he was not there at the time. The attackers ransacked the property, and left with a computer and some documents. Gen Nyamwasa has survived two previous assassination attempts, including a shooting in Johannesburg in 2010 after fleeing Rwanda. He sought asylum in South Africa after falling out with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. In January this year, the body of a Rwandan former intelligence chief turned dissident, Patrick Karegeya, was found strangled at a hotel in Johannesburg. He had apparently been murdered. “As the South African government, we want to send a very stern warning to anybody, anywhere in the world, that our country will not be used as a springboard to do illegal activities,” Mr Radebe said at a press conference, Reuters news agency reports. The expelled officials had violated their diplomatic status by being associated with “illegal activities that have taken place where there were attempted murders, including a murder”, he added. Rwandan High Commissioner to Pretoria, Vincent Karega told Reuters that South Africa had not produced any evidence linking the diplomats to the attack on Gen Nyamwasa’s home. [caption id="attachment_8861" align="alignright" width="300"]Kayumba Nyamwasa fell out with Rwanda's President Paul Kagame Kayumba Nyamwasa fell out with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame[/caption] “If there is any proof of Rwanda doing such a thing, we can react, but as far as we are concerned we haven’t seen any proof,” he is quoted as saying. Gen Nyamwasa and Mr Karegeya were co-founders of the opposition Rwanda National Congress. Both were part of Mr Kagame’s rebel forces that came to power in 1994, ending the genocide of their fellow ethnic Tutsis. Rwandan dissidents in several Western countries, including the UK and US, say local security agents have warned them of plots to kill them. Shortly after Mr Karegeya’s death, Mr Kagame warned that those who betrayed Rwanda would face “consequences”. South Africa was once a staunch ally of Mr Kagame’s government, and had sold weapons to it. However, relations have become strained in recent years following the attacks on the dissidents, and differences over the conflict in the Great Lakes region. *Source BBC]]>

0
Read More
A Resurgent Rwanda Stilling The Screams of 20 Years Ago
March 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

 

It has been 20 years since the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocents soaked the soil of Rwanda. Twenty years since the fires raged and the screams rang in the night. In 100 days of horror, 800,000 people were murdered in the most intense genocide in history. The rest of the world largely stood back and watched as Tutsis and Hutus tore the throats out of each other.

After 10 elite Belgian paratroopers were tortured and massacred protecting the prime minister, Belgium pulled all its troops out of its former colony. The world turned its back and Canadian general Romeo Dallaire saw his 5,000-strong peacekeeping force reduced by a criminally uncaring UN leadership to a pitiful 270.

The years since the Arusha Accords ended the slaughter have been trying, as Rwanda made a difficult transition to democracy. Paul Kagame was elected president in the country’s first-ever democratically contested multi-party elections in August 2003. Kagame was re-elected in a landslide in 2010. He is such an effective leader because he hasn’t lost touch with his people.

Kagame criticizes those African leaders who “detach themselves from their own people,” saying such selfish leaders rest on their laurels assuming everything is fine since they lack nothing themselves. Kagame mandated that one seat in Parliament be reserved for a disabled person and that 30 per cent of the government be female.

In the last election, women won a full 64 percent of seats. Health Minister Dr. Anita Asiimwe earned a Masters degree in Scotland and is a research scientist who led Rwanda’s HIV/AIDS program. This nascent democracy has spawned a new generation of young politically active leaders who are poised to continue the country’s rejuvenation.

The capital, Kigali, is alive with grandiose new construction projects like a new national museum of Rwanda, an enormous convention centre and dozens of skyscrapers adorn the skyline. The government has invested in over $100 million worth of world-class fibre optic infrastructure that will make the country, the eighth smallest in Africa, one of the most connected nations on Earth. Though still widespread, poverty rates in Rwanda have dropped 12 per cent over the past five years.

A Transparency International report last year rated Rwanda the least corrupt country in Africa and ranked it in the top 50 best performing countries of 177 surveyed. A 2013 World Bank report rated Rwanda as the best place to do business in east and central Africa. It is impressive that Rwanda is using its own funds instead of donor money to launch itself into the 21st century. President Kagame said of donor funding, “I am never comfortable with it…that we sit and expect to live on other people’s generosity. That (attitude) is pathetic and even more pathetic when you find it among the so-called politicians and intellectuals,” he said.

Ikirezi Natural Products personifies the empowerment that has helped heal the horrors of the genocide.

Their main product is geranium oil. Ikirezi, which means “precious pearl” in the local dialect, employs mainly widows and orphans to produce high-quality essential oils for local and international markets. The work restores their dignity, improves their standard of living and helps to rebuild their communities. There is an unprecedented opportunity for businesses to invest in a resurging Rwanda and help it still the screams that have been ringing for 20 years.

*Source Huffington Post

0
Read More
Obama’s dilemma in 2015 budget proposals for East African countries
March 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Kevin Kelley and Mwaura Kimani* [caption id="attachment_8783" align="alignleft" width="300"]In Kenya, the ICC cases remain key as Uganda and Rwanda refuse to blink. Tanzania seen as Washington’s footprint. TEA Graphic/Photos/FILE In Kenya, the ICC cases remain key as Uganda and Rwanda refuse to blink. Tanzania seen as Washington’s footprint. TEA Graphic/Photos/FILE[/caption] US President Barack Obama’s administration is grappling with difficult decisions in balancing abuse of human rights concerns against other priorities in its relationship with East Africa.

These include a shared desire to counter terrorism, ongoing development and humanitarian priorities, and other foreign policy goals.
The latest budget proposals unveiled last week by President Obama show that the US government intends to maintain or slightly increase most forms of assistance to East African countries, a development analysts say highlights Washington’s dilemma.
The proposals came as the fallout between Uganda and donors deepened, two weeks after President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality law.
The US delegation to Uganda has announced it has begun an internal review of its relationship with Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of their engagement, including assistance programmes, uphold anti-discrimination policies and principles that reflect their values.
Other factors affecting the relationship between the US and East Africa include the conflict in South Sudan and security threats posed by the Al Shabaab terror group.
Analysts say the status quo in US-EA relations would be hard to sustain should the Congress approve President Obama’s recommendations as submitted; aid would rise sharply in a few instances and decrease moderately in others.
For example, the US president is seeking a reduction in development aid to both Rwanda and Uganda.
The proposed cuts for the coming fiscal year — from $62 million to $48 million for Rwanda, and from $68 million to $56 million for Uganda — may be intended to give concrete form to the Obama administration’s criticism of policies in both countries that it views as repressive.
The US has roundly and repeatedly condemned the Anti-Homosexuality law in Uganda, and has disapproved what it terms as stifling dissent by the Rwanda government.
At the same time, however, President Obama is seeking small increases in military assistance to both Rwanda and Uganda, suggesting that the US does not intend to distance itself from the two countries it views as key allies in the region.
Development assistance would also be marginally reduced for Kenya — from $97 million to $91 million. It is not clear whether the reduction is linked to relations between the two countries.
Analysts say the election last year of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto continues to present donor governments, including the US, with diplomatic challenges. They say the pair’s continued compliance with the International Criminal Court holds the key to future engagements between Nairobi and global powers. The US federal budget section for the State Department envisions a slight drop in military training funding for Kenya, but an increase for a separate military aid programme. The White House also plans to expand HIV/Aids treatment and prevention in Kenya, along with other health programmes.
The dilemma for Obama and other donors is what to do about leaders who may want assistance but will not agree to be told what to do or how to behave, like Western powers used to do during the Cold War, said a political analyst who did not wish to be named due to his engagements with governments in the region.
He added: “Ever since Uganda discovered oil and as progress towards commercial exploitation advances, donors have become nervous. President Museveni has never been the easiest of ‘clients’ to manage in terms of getting him to behave in particular ways or do certain things. So ‘managing’ him has always been difficult. Donors are now asking how they will ‘manage’ an independent-minded President Museveni with less need for aid and plenty of oil dollars.”
According to the analyst, President Museveni’s decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill amid clear signs of fallouts with donors had confirmed the Wests worst fears.
“In Rwanda, donors also have a problem in the form of a president who is not prepared to toe the line on anything. He has a mind of his own and leads a government full of people with similar instincts. When they cut aid, of course Rwanda’s economy suffered. But the country has responded by trying to diversify its sources,” he added.
Tanzania is considered an important country for US business interests and foreign policy, given the risk of terrorism on the coast of East Africa and the ongoing efforts to find peace in the Great Lakes region.
President Obama’s visit to Tanzania in July 2013 was seen as a re-assertion of the US footprint in the region, particularly in the context of securing future energy supplies.
It also underscored Tanzania¹s rising importance in the region, largely thanks to its recent massive hydrocarbon discoveries.
Tanzania’s natural gas reserves are estimated at 41.7 trillion cubic feet, and US oil and gas giant Exxon has already laid claim to a large natural gas deposit off the coast.
The country’s booming extractive industry makes it attractive to many investors, not just the US — Obama’s visit came just months after China’s new president Xi Jinping had finished a tour of the resource-rich country.
But extremism is on the rise in Tanzania, and hardline Islamist groups such as Uamsho — whose ideology is similar to the strict Wahhabi brand of Islam — are increasingly compromising Tanzania’s image as the bedrock of stability in the region.
In its proposals, President Obama’s administration wants to provide more than $80 million to the Democratic Republic of Congo for efforts to avert human rights violations, treat victims of sexual violence and reform the DRC army.
Mr Obama is further urging Congress to provide millions of dollars in additional aid to South Sudan’s army and government. The President’s request for large-scale assistance to South Sudan follows the February 26 announcement by a US special envoy that some military aid for Juba was being withheld. Mr Obama is asking for $36 million in the next fiscal year for South Sudan’s army as well as $225 million in economic support for a variety of initiatives by the government headed by President Salva Kiir.
According to the budget documents, the $36 million outlay would go to “support the rebuilding of a fractured military and support the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) continuing efforts to transform from an oversized, disintegrated rebel force to an appropriately-sized professional military.”
At the same time, President Obama’s proposed budget calls for a modest reduction in US military-training funds for the SPLA.
The envisioned cut — from $759,000 this year to $650,000 next year — may reflect the Obama administration’s recently revealed decision to withhold an unspecified amount of aid for the SPLA and transfer it to the ceasefire verification efforts of East African monitors deployed in South Sudan.
Ambassador Donald Booth, the US special envoy for both South Sudan and Sudan, criticised the Juba-based government while informing Congress of the plan to suspend a portion of the aid given to the SPLA.
President Kiir’s administration has failed to fully address the causes of the violence ravaging South Sudan, Ambassador Booth said two weeks ago.
The US president is also asking for an additional $20 million to enhance South Sudan’s capacity to provide “civilian security and basic justice services.”
In a move by Washington to thaw relations with Khartoum, the budget proposals include $9.5 million in aid for Sudan’s government. These funds would be spent to help resolve disputes between Khartoum and Juba, to improve conditions in Darfur, and to promote peace in “marginalised areas” of the country.
Somalia’s government, said by UN monitors to be guilty of egregious corruption, is slated to receive $79 million in US aid.
Djibouti, the host of a large US military base, is in line for a sharp increase in development aid from $1.9 million to $10 million.
President Obama will invite 47 leaders to a US-Africa summit in August. The summit, together with Obama’s trip to Africa last year, and a promised future visit before he leaves office, may assuage disappointment that he did not pay the continent more attention in his first term. *Source East African   
]]>

0
Read More
Facebook reveals online education app for Rwanda
February 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

Irene Chapple* Facebook is helping to roll out a pilot online education program in Rwanda, as part of its pitch to bring internet to the unconnected world. Dubbed SocialEDU, the new initiative was revealed at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Monday and comes the same day as the social media giant’s founder Mark Zuckerberg gives a keynote speech at the event. As part of the SocialEDU pilot program, EdX will work with Facebook to create an educational app to provide localized education. This Facebook integrated app is being released under the umbrella of Internet.org, the partnership between Facebook and mobile companies to bring internet to those without access. The deal, which will initially be offered to university students, has been done in partnership with telecommunications giant Airtel, which is providing free educational data for a year to those who sign up and Nokia, which is offering discounted smartphones to those participating. The Rwanda government is also set to expand its free wifi in campuses and will adapt edX course materials locally. SocialEDU students will receive access to education from universities such as Harvard, MIT, Berkeley and others. The program allows users to interact with each other and with teachers. Facebook’s Chris Weasler, director of global connectivity, said the partnerships were able to “create a new type of educational experience that’s affordable and social.” It is hoped the pilot, if successful, will be expanded beyond Rwanda. The deal is revealed as focus at the huge mobile trade fair turns to Zuckerberg, who is making his first appearance at the event and is due to take the stage at 1800 CET/1300 ET. The famously reticent speaker’s appearance at the congress is being seen as a signal Facebook is set to put mobile first — as witnessed by the $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging service, last week. Facebook paid 19 times more for WhatsApp than it did for Instagram, despite the app’s low profile in the United States. Zuckerberg said WhatsApp would continue to operate independently of Facebook, saying at the time: “The product roadmap will remain unchanged and the team is going to stay in Mountain View,” the suburban California city where it’s based. Days after the deal, WhatsApp suffered an outage, going down for more than three hours on Saturday. On Monday Zuckerberg is expected to face embarrassing questions over the glitch. *Source CNN]]>

0
Read More
EAC launches common market scorecard
February 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

The East African Community has launched a scorecard to monitor the implementation of the Common Market among its five member states. Dr. Richard SeziberaEntitled, “East African Common Market Scorecard 2014: Tracking EAC compliance in the movement of capital, services and goods,” the report was prepared with the support of the World Bank Group. The scorecard examines selected commitments made by the partner states, outlines progress in removing legislative and regulatory restrictions to the protocol, and recommends reform measures. Addressing delegates at the launch of the report in Arusha on Tuesday, EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera said that all partner states were expected to remove internal tariffs, implement a common external tariff, and remove non-tariff barriers to trade, among other commitments. “If implemented, these measures will have a profound and positive impact on the economies of the partner states.” East African countries, Dr Sezibera said, had committed themselves not to introduce new restrictions, and to eliminate existing ones. The scorecard, he said, would assist in these efforts by keeping track of progress on commitments to the protocol. “It is about identifying those areas where we are doing well and strengthening them. And also about identifying those areas where reforms are required to meet the expectations of deepened integration.” In her closing remarks, the chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, Mrs Phyllis Kandie, said that the region’s citizens were eager to exploit the vast potential of a well-functioning Common Market. “They would like to enjoy the benefits that come along with market integration. Due to slow pace of implementing the protocol, the optimism among East Africans during the launch of the protocol is slowly fading away and being replaced by some level of despair.” The East African Business Council executive director Andrew Luzze pointed out that an important criterion for cross-border investment and foreign direct investment is a facilitative and predictable business environment across the EAC Common Market. “An important aspect of this is that rules, regulations and other administrative actions governing the movement of capital, services, and goods, should exist only to ensure public safety and fair competition – never to stifle legitimate businesses. Catherine Masinde, the head of investment climate for East and Southern Africa at the International Finance Corporation, said that some of the measures that have worked against the aims of the Common Market include the application of charges equivalent to tariffs, technical barriers to trade, non-recognition of rules-of-origin certificates, nationality and residency requirements before offering services, restrictions in ownership of firms, and discriminatory tax treatment for investors from other partner states. “The scorecard identifies such restrictions, and recommends their removal, so that the common market can operate as a single destination.” The scorecard report makes four key recommendations: Complete elimination of tariffs and equivalent measures; elimination of non-tariff barriers; greater effective implementation of the common external tariff; and continuation of the process of harmonization and mutual recognition of sanitary and phytosanitary standards as well as standards preventing technical barriers to trade. East African News Agency/New Vision]]>

0
Read More
1 175 176 177 178 179 186