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Improving aid delivery and development strategy in East Africa
November 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Aid & International Development Forum Africa Summit 2016 will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia [caption id="attachment_22258" align="alignleft" width="300"]Nardos Bekele-Thomas, Resident Representative, UNDP Kenya, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations system in Kenya Nardos Bekele-Thomas, Resident Representative, UNDP Kenya, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations system in Kenya[/caption] More than 250 senior representatives and advisors from regional governments, UN agencies, international and regional NGOs, CBOs, investors and donors, research institutes and the private sector are going to meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the Aid & International Development Forum Africa Summit 2016 The Summit set for 2-3 February at the United Nations Conference Centre will focus on technological innovations and best practice to improve aid delivery and development strategy in East Africa. The Aid & International Development Forum has been building long-lasting partnerships between key actors in the humanitarian and development sector for over 13 years. The agenda has been developed in consultation with key organisations, such as WFP, IRFC, World Vision, USAID, UNICEF, World Bank, Save the Children, UN Habitat, CRS, FHI360, Oxfam, Habitat for Humanity International, IRD and will include case studies, panel discussions, workshops, and interactive roundtable sessions. AIDF Africa Summit 2016 will provide comprehensive overview of the latest trends around humanitarian logistics, community health, WASH, security of aid workers and communities, camp management, mobile for development, financing, communication with communities and among aid agencies. The unique event format combines high level strategic information with multiple specialist topic tracks and structured networking as well as peer-to peer round table discussions enabling full and frank sharing of views, experience and vital feedback within the community. Key speakers include:

  • Nardos Bekele-Thomas, Resident Representative, UNDP Kenya, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations system in Kenya
  • Dr Chukwudozie Ezigbalike, Chief of the Data Technology Section at the Africa Centre for Statistics, UN Economic Commission for Africa
  • Dr Sharad Sapra, Director of Global Innovation Centre, UNICEF
  • Christopher Hoffman, Regional Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs Director (RHEAD), World Vision (Kenya)
  • Rishi Ramrakha, Head of Zone Logistics Unit, Africa, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
  • *APO
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Rwanda: What Is France 24 Agenda On Rwanda?
November 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Alain Billen*

Constitutional changes pave the way for President Kagame to seek additional terms

Constitutional changes pave the way for President Kagame to seek additional terms

In a clear effort to discredit Rwanda France 24 – a French media outlet, through its website, manipulates its readers and in the process, undermines its credibility.

France 24 manipulates its readers and one of the glaring examples is a photo of Goma, the city in eastern DRC, which was used to illustrate poverty in Rwanda!

France 24, which wants to focus on poverty in Rwanda, uses a photo of Congolese traders carrying their goods on wooden carts, in the city of Goma, located in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).

This photo is no longer available online alongside the story; it was later changed and replaced by another one which shows a beggar, in an unidentified city. If the intent was not to manipulate readers, how else would you illustrate the poverty of a country using a photo from another country?

To find beggars, one would have to look for them because, apart from some specific neighborhoods, they are not many in the streets of Kigali.

This is all the more surprising because Kigali, Rwanda’s capital is the most secure and cleanest city in Africa, with paved and lit streets, comparable to any European city.

One has just to look across the Rwanda-DRC border to immediately grasp the considerable gap between “modernity and wealth” of a country such as Rwanda and the “the endemic poverty” of the DRC, without even crossing to the other side.

Leave us alone!

“According to information obtained by France 24, the Rwandan authorities have manipulated the latest official statistics on poverty” is the title of the article published on November 2 on “France 24” website.

It is to this that many Rwandans would like to respond: ‘Leave us alone!’, a title of a nice article written a few days ago by a Rwandan blogger, Kevin Gatete.

France is arrogant and oftentimes positions herself as a lesson-giver.

However, when it comes to Rwanda, one would expect France to be more discrete; having trained, supported and armed the genocidal government.

Also worth recalling is the ambiguous role played by France in Rwanda to maintain its interests and positions in this part of Africa, especially in its former colonies.

If you dissect the publication of this French government media outlet, one is inclined to question the credibility of the sources used in this rather disgraceful article.

The primary sources are “anonymous”, which confirms the suspicious and sneaky nature of this article.

The only person named as “a leading expert on Rwanda,” is a Belgian citizen Filip Reyntjens, who hasn’t set foot in Rwanda for over fifteen years. And for good reasons.

Indeed, for several years, Filip Reyntjens was advisor to former President Habyarimana and other senior officials, who would later become perpetrators of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

The Belgian ‘expert’ participated in the drafting of the constitution in force at the time of the tragedy, which entrenched inclusion of “ethnic groups” in Rwandan identity cards. It is this particular stipulation that helped génocidaire to identify children, men and women as targets for slaughter.

At no time, while the genocide in Rwanda was being perpetrated, did Filip Reyntjens speak out to dissociate himself from politicians of the time, or at least their action of exterminating the Tutsi.

Being close to the former regime, one can understand his frustrations today.

However, it is incomprehensible that a respectable media organisation like France 24 is unable to discern a reliable and impartial source from a compromised one, yet is common knowledge that Reyntjens is an outspoken opponent of the current government in Kigali.

The best one can deduce is that this is either mediocrity or a calculated move to disseminate harmful and unverified information to undermine the reputation of Rwanda.

Then one is compelled to question; why is France 24 and France in general, desperate to paint a negative image of a country that serves as an example for other nations?

According to the report “World Economic Forum – 2015”, Rwanda is the 7th best-governed country in the world, ahead of nations like Belgium, France and even Germany.

Interestingly, Laure Redifer a senior official of the International Monitory Fund (IMF), an institution that has, for years, closely watched Rwanda’s economic trajectory, recently categorically refuted the narrative advanced by France 24 in the article.

“I saw with my own eyes, and the transformation of Rwanda in recent years confirms what the numbers on poverty show. We have no reason to doubt these figures. From my personal experience, those figures are easily confirmed on the ground.”

Redifer went on to categorically refute the article by “France 24” and its sources, adding that the IMF is impressed with the quality and reliability of Rwandan statistics.

*Source The New Times/Allafrica

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A Conversation with Herman Cohen: Former Reagan and Bush Snr Aide on Africa shares his experiences in New Book
November 2, 2015 | 0 Comments

Herman Cohen Herman Cohen[/caption] Few American Diplomats can match Herman Cohen when it comes to experiences in Africa. In his 38 year career in the US Foreign service, Ambassador Cohen’s area of specialization was Africa. In addition to posts in five countries, Cohen served as Ambassador to Senegal, served as Special Assistant for African Affairs to President Ronald Reagan and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President George .H.W.Bush. Now in retirement Ambassador Cohen is out with a new book titled “The Mind of The African Strongman: Conversations with Dictators, Statesmen and Father Figures.” The book chronicles experiences and conversations that Cohen had interacting with a rich and diverse cast of leaders across Africa. From Mobutu of D.R.Congo (Zaire), Bongo of Gabon, Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Arap Moi of Kenya, Muarmar Ghadafi of Libya, Kaunda of Zambia, to Babangida of Nigeria Cohen has a story to tell. Cohen did not only interact with leaders in power, the book has experiences with emblematic opposition figures like Nelson Mandela of South Africa. He also shares experiences trying to get Jonas Savimbi of UNITA to the negotiating table with President Dos Santos of Angola. In a recent interview to talk about the book,  Ambassador Cohen strongly defended  US Foreign policy in Africa, but admitted that Angola was the exception where cold war logic may have prompted the US to side with Jonas Savimbi. While he equally had strong criticisms for the way Ghadafi ran Libya, he concedes that his ouster without planning on the aftermath was a strategic error. Cohen thinks that President Obama has spoken the hard truth to Africa like no other US leader before him and expresses optimism on the future of the continent with more democracies emerging and a new generation of leaders breaking away from the old order. https://soundcloud.com/multimedia-podcast/herman-cohen-interview]]>

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Rwandan parliament agrees to extend Kagame's rule
October 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Clement Uwiringiyimana* [caption id="attachment_21997" align="alignleft" width="300"]Rwandan President Paul Kagame takes his place for a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, October 2, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly Rwandan President Paul Kagame takes his place for a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, October 2, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly[/caption]

KIGALI (Reuters) – Rwanda’s lower house of parliament voted on Thursday to allow President Paul Kagame to extend his rule beyond a second term that ends in 2017 and possibly stay on until 2034, a move opposed by the United States and other aid donors.

Draft amendments to the constitution approved by the lower house still have to be backed by the upper house and also put to a referendum, but are not expected to stumble at either stage.

After debates on Wednesday and Thursday, lawmakers agreed that presidential terms be cut to five years from seven with a limit of two terms, but an exception has been made for Kagame.

Parliament, dominated by Kagame’s allies and supporters, debated the issue after a petition calling for changes was signed by 3.7 million supporters of the rebel-turned-president who is credited with rebuilding Rwanda after the 1994 genocide.

Rwanda’s main but tiny opposition, the Democratic Green Party, tried to block the amendment to extend Kagame’s term, but a court rejected the bid. Critics say the government stifles opposition politicians and media, a charge officials deny. Speaker of the 80-seat lower house, Donatille Mukabalisa, said Article 172 of the amended constitution was supported by all 75 lawmakers present and meant Kagame could stay on until 2034. “No law stops him,” she told a news conference. Kagame has not said explicitly he wants to run again but has said he is open to persuasion.

Article 172 allows Kagame to serve out his seven-year term that ends in 2017 and also to seek a third seven-year term after that. Even beyond that he could seek two more five-year terms, a lawmaker said, explaining the amendment.

The debate about term limits has flared across Africa.

In Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza sparked months of protests and a failed coup when he decided in April to run for a third term. Opponents said it violated the constitution and deal that ended a civil war there. A court ruled he could run again.

In Congo Republic, voters backed a change to allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to run for a third consecutive term. The opposition had called for a boycott of that vote.

Kagame won international and domestic praise for rebuilding Rwanda after the chaos of the 1990s. Some 800,000 people, most of them Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were massacred before rebel forces led by Kagame ended the genocide.

*Source Reuters/Yahoo]]>

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Standard Bank consolidates its East African presence with official opening of Ethiopian representative office
October 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

Ben Kruger, Standard Bank Chief Executive Ben Kruger, Standard Bank Chief Executive[/caption] Standard Bank Group has expanded its already extensive East African footprint with the official opening of a representative office in Ethiopia. This means that Standard Bank, which is Africa’s largest bank by assets, has a continent-wide footprint in 20 African countries. The representative office, which is based in Addis Ababa, was opened by Standard Bank Chief Executive, Ben Kruger. It will act as an entry point for clients seeking to invest in Ethiopia and will be administered by Standard Bank’s head office in South Africa. The growth potential for the East African region continues to attract significant investment. With an established presence across four of the key markets in the region, namely Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, the opening of the Ethiopian representative office is indicative of the group’s commitment to the region. “As a bank rooted in Africa, our vision is to build a leading financial institution that delivers superior products and services for all our customers. We are able to leverage our strong position on the continent, our strategic partnership with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), and our sector expertise in natural resources, to facilitate capital investment in support of growth and to connect African markets to each other,” says Mr. Kruger. Ethiopia’s remarkable growth has been underpinned by high public investment and a growing consumer base. The country boasts the second largest population on the continent, behind Nigeria, at around 90 million. GDP growth has averaged about 10.0% over the past 5 years. Heavy public investment in agriculture, energy and transport are likely to continue to support growth in the medium term as the government ramps up its productive sectors. The energy sector is also set to boom with power projects at various stages of development, and with Ethiopia emerging as a major power hub in the region, energy exports will likely become a major foreign exchange earner in the near future. Industry and manufacturing, a top priority for Ethiopia, are likely to start making a more significant contribution in the country’s GDP going forward which will largely be facilitated by the increase electricity supply. “As such, establishing a presence in Ethiopia is in recognition of the increasing interest by investors and our clients, in the country’s economic growth. Standard Bank will be well-positioned to take advantage of the cross-sectorial investment opportunities both in Ethiopia and the region as a whole.  Our experience in East African markets will benefit all our clients by providing them with insights into how best to capitalise on their investments in the region,” said Mr Kruger. “We believe that we are uniquely positioned to support the government’s plans in attracting more investments into the country through our client base on the continent and facilitating the financing on their behalf,” said Ms Taitu Wondwosen, Head of Coverage Ethiopia. *Source APO]]>

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African Groupings Urged to Block Leaders from Changing Constitution
October 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

NEPAD CEO, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki. NEPAD CEO, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki.[/caption] The head of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) says it is the responsibility of African regional blocs to prevent heads of state in their respective regions from changing the constitution that paves way for them to seek new terms after their terms expire. NEPAD is an economic development program of the African Union, which aims to provide the vision and policy framework for accelerating economic co-operation and integration among African countries. In an interview with VOA, Dr. Ibrahim Hassane Mayaki says the African Peer Review Mechanism is not to blame for the lack of action on strengthening democratic institutions on the African continent. Several African countries including Rwanda and Congo Republic plan to change the constitution that would enable their presidents to seek new terms after their two terms expire. Mayaki says the regional groups should learn from the stance taken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). ECOWAS suspended Niger’s membership and put pressure on former president Mamadou Tandja after he attempted to change the constitution to seek another term when it was set to expire in 2009. Tandja was subsequently ousted by the military in February 2010. “That action… in the context of what the African Union calls the subsidiarity principle, which means that events that occur in a regional space are first tackled by that regional space, in order to find the necessary solutions,” said Mayaki. “It is the responsibility of each regional economic community really to tackle this issue, and the African Union is supporting the regional communities, when they tackle these issues.” Critics say NEPAD’s Africa Peer Review Mechanism, which reports on the performance of African governments on governance issues, has failed to carry out its mandate. They also said the APRM has not been proactive enough to sensitize Africans about the need to push back attempts by their leaders to change the constitution to seek another mandate. Mayaki disagreed. “You cannot blame the APRM of not acting… Because the APRM has always drawn the attention on these types of issues within the reports… Then the report is presented and a discussion is engaged with the head of state of a country in order to ask him on the clarification on the challenges that were mentioned in the report,” said Mayaki. “The APRM is doing its job of really tackling taboo, controversial, difficult issues like these ones and mentioning them. The APRM is not a political institution in terms of taking a public stance. But it is a mechanism that has proven through the conclusions of its reports that it tackles the hard issues like amendment of constitutions, xenophobia, rigging elections, [and] lack of women participation in public life.” Civil society and opposition groups have often rejected outcomes of elections in Africa where an incumbent president has comfortably won. They accuse ruling parties of voter irregularities including multiple voting, intimidation and harassment of opposition supporters, which they say undermine the credibility of elections. But Mayaki says the quality of elections has significantly improved in Africa. He also cited instances where incumbent leaders have lost elections and have peacefully handed over to their opponents. “If you look at the quality of elections that take place, the existence of free speech, the existence of opposition political parties, multipartism and we compare with many countries in the Middle East, we are far ahead,” said Mayaki. “Nigeria was a big success story, when President Goodluck Jonathan accepted his defeat and handed over to President [Muhammadu] Buhari, and it did contradict all those who were thinking the elections were going to be rigged or manipulated,” said Mayaki. “It is the beginning of a huge change because, given the role that Nigeria is playing in the regional integration process in West Africa, given the role that Nigeria is playing on the continent as a leader, this experience will have a direct consequence on all the elections that will take place. *Source VOA]]>

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The world’s first airport for drones will be built in Rwanda
October 12, 2015 | 0 Comments

drone-port-rwandaRwanda is on track to build what’s being billed as the world’s first airport for drones next year. This week, Rwanda’s Civil Aviation Authority said it is drafting regulations on unmanned aerial vehicles to be submitted to the government’s cabinet. Officials hope regulations will be in place by 2016, when a pilot project for cargo drones is set to break ground.

Transportation is difficult in the small, landlocked East African country otherwise known as the “land of a thousand hills.” That’s part of the reason why the architectural firm Foster + Partners last month proposed plans for a three-building “drone port” for aircraft carrying emergency medical supplies to rural areas.

Few details have been given about the drones except that they will have three-meter-wingspans and be able to carry 10 kg (22 lb) across 100 km (about 62 miles). Almost half the country should be accessible by the drones, which will also courier electronics, spare parts, and other commercial goods. (While the US military has bases for drones, the Rwanda project appears to be the first airport for civilian or commercial use.)

Near the airport will be a health clinic, a center for making more drones, and a kind of post office. If successful, 40 other drone ports could be built across the country and perhaps elsewhere in the region, according to the proposal.

So far, Rwanda stands in sharp contrast to its peers South Africa and Kenya, where officials have installed strict regulations on the use of drones. The nation’s tech-friendly policies are likely another reason why Rwanda is the site of the project. From electronic business registration—enabling companies to set up within three days, compared to the 30 days required in neighboring Uganda—to a program giving all children laptops, technology has played a large role in the country’s economic turnaround since a genocide in 1994 brought the economy to a standstill.

*Source QUARTZ

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No limits? Rwandan ruling shows how African leaders can stay in power
October 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

Rwanda’s high court ruled Thursday in favor of a drive to change the constitution so that President Paul Kagame can run for a third term. Critics say African leaders are too ready to dismantle checks on their powers.

Rumors that Rwandan President Paul Kagame may seek a third term in office first started in 2013.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 29, 2015.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, September 29, 2015.

Before then, Mr. Kagame had openly and routinely discussed his retirement in 2017, when his second, seven-year term ends. Then the state-controlled media began to talk up the prospects of a third term, praising Kagame’s transformation of post-genocide Rwanda. And Kagame slowly began to drop his own hints.

“I think at some point we need to leave countries and people to decide their own affairs,” he said in 2014. “Why I’m saying that is because I’m asked when and whether I plan to leave office – right from the start of my first political term in office. It is as if I am here just to leave. I’m here to do business on behalf of Rwandans.”

On Thursday, Rwanda’s high court ruled that it was legal for the parliament to amend the constitution to remove the two-term presidential limit. By doing so, Rwanda joins a clutch of other African democracies where leaders have tried recently to sidestep term limits and stay in power, often against a backdrop of popular dissent. Not all have succeeded.

In Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza triggered weeks of violent protests and a failed coup attempt by running for a third term. In Burkina Faso, former President Blaise Compaore was ousted amid mass street protests at his attempts to extend his 27-year rule. Then there’s Uganda and Congo: both Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Joseph Kabila are gearing up to stand again for president in 2016, after 29 and 14 years in office, respectively. Mr. Kabila is already facing periodic protests and violent clashes between youth and the police.

Leaders in “Burundi, Burkina Faso, and Congo have tried to extend their terms, but there has been enough political space to rise up and protest,” says Timothy Longman, a political science professor at Boston University.

That is not the case in Rwanda, where years of repressions have stamped out a strong opposition and civil society. And despite the main opposition Democratic Green Party (DGP) challenging the proposed constitutional amendment, the checks and balances on presidential power appear not be working, allowing Kagame to manipulate the democratic process.

Amid mounting international criticism, Kagame and the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front have gone through the official routes necessary to get around term limits. The Rwanda parliament backed the amendment in July after 3.8 million people – in a country of 12 million – signed an official petition demanding that Kagame be allowed to stand again.

“The irony is that you go through the trappings of the rule of law,” Mr. Longman says. “You make it look like you are changing the rule of law, when really you are changing the constitution, at will, to serve your own interests.”

Check and Balances

Kagame may feel that he is the only person who can effectively rule Rwanda. Since he took power in 2000 the country has become an international aid darling for its rapid economic growth and steady poverty reduction.

But Kagame has also concentrated power in his hands, and stamped out any form of dissent. Many activists remain in exile; some fear being killed or attacked. Others are serving long prison sentences. There are almost no civil groups, and the opposition DGP was not even allowed on the ballot in the last election.

“Rwanda has made impressive progress in economic and social development since the 1994 genocide, but the government imposes severe restrictions on freedom of expression and does not tolerate dissent,” Human Rights Watch says in its latest country profile. “Despite legal reforms, the judiciary lacks independence in political or sensitive cases.”

It is in this context that the high court made its decision to allow Kagame to run for another term.

“There are no checks and balances in Rwanda,” Longman says. “Kagame can simply steamroll this through because there is no one who can challenge him.”

International accountability

Compared to other elected African leaders, Kagame can probably count on little or no pushback from the international community, even though his government depends heavily on international aid. In 2013, for example, international aid accounted for more than 40 percent of the national budget.

Many donors have been deeply reluctant to stop or reduce aid, despite the country’s dubious human rights record, and its recurring role in the conflict in eastern Congo. This reluctance, experts say, comes from the guilt surrounding the genocide two decades ago.

The international community condemned Mr. Nkurunziza’s actions in Burundi. And President Barack Obama publicly reprimanded African leaders attempting to stay in power when he visited the continent this past summer.

“When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife, as we’ve seen in Burundi,” he told the African Union during his stop in Ethiopia. “And this is often just a first step down a perilous path.”

Rwanda has taken its first step towards that path today. The question now is how the rest of the world responds.

“I think there is an arrogance of power that is dangerous,” Longman says. “You get into power and think you live in a little bubble and tend to think you are the only person that can solve a country’s problems. I think that has happened with Kagame.”

*Source Christian Science Monitor

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VISA Goes For The African Market
October 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

Morocco and Francophone Africa Mohamed Touhami El Ouazzani talks about the growth of electronic payments and the expansion of Visa services in Africa. Can you tell us about the operations of Visa in Africa, in how many countries do you operate? [caption id="attachment_21219" align="alignleft" width="586"]Touhami El Ouazzani Touhami El Ouazzani[/caption] Africa is the continent that is currently witnessing a considerable growth in the adoption of electronic payments due to mobile penetration and the inclination of a number of African countries to use mobile as an effective tool of financial inclusion.  According to the Financial Inclusion Index, the global Findex database, globally, nearly all adults who reported owning an account said that they have an account at a financial institution: 60 percent reported having a financial institution account only, 1 percent having both a financial institution account and a mobile money account, and 1 percent a mobile money account only. Sub-Saharan Africa is an exception to this global picture. There, almost a third of account holders—or 12 percent of all adults—reported having a mobile money account. Within this group, about half reported having both a mobile money account and an account at a financial institution, and half having a mobile money account only. The figures released by the Findex suggest that Kenya has the highest share of adults with a mobile money account, at 58 percent, followed by Somalia, Tanzania, and Uganda with about 35 percent. In southern Africa, penetration of mobile money accounts is also relatively high, at 14 percent, but just 2 percent of adults reported having a mobile money account only. This clearly indicates how technology is being used to make strides in financial inclusion efforts. Visa is quite aware of this fact and our products and services do aim at reaching unbanked segments, through our financial partners, while utilizing innovation and technology. Earlier this year, United Bank of Africa Cameroon, a Visa client, won the innovation award for a cobranded Student ID Visa Prepaid concept that aims to provide students with a multi-function Visa card. The card, which serves as an ID for student, contains vital information such as the department, university year and can be used internationally. During the past three months, we ran a promotional campaign in Senegal, DRC, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon to increase awareness of electronic payments. Towards the goal of achieving universal financial access, Visa will work toward providing electronic payment accounts to another 500 million underserved people by end of 2020. We operate in more than 200 countries and territories and we do have a strong presence in Africa. What does Africa gain from using your product and why should it be preferred over other competitors like Master card? Africa represents great potential. When you look at Senegal, DRC, Ivory Coast, and Cameroon, you find countries that are picking up in terms of adoption and awareness in addition to efforts to create communities that are aware of the benefits of electronic payment. As a global payments technology company, we see one of the most valuable contributions we can make is helping to bring more people into the formal financial system. We do so by creating pathways to financial inclusion for the financially underserved through our products, services, technology, payments expertise; financial literacy tools and resources; and our strategic partnerships. Through our continuous cooperation with banks in Africa, we aim to help our clients avail innovative products and services to cardholders. Visa applies 50 years of experience and investments to ensure consumers, businesses and governments in more than 200 countries can engage in commerce with absolute peace-of-mind. They expect Visa to work securely, everywhere – every time. Today, more than 22 percent of global consumer spend is enabled by Visa products. As payments migrate to smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, VisaNet – our global network – is the ideal foundation for innovation and growth. Our technology investments are aimed at making commerce safer, easier and smarter, enabling new ways to pay, while providing merchants and financial institutions with deeper and more accurate insights. VisaNet provides secure, reliable payments for more than 2.3 billion Visa account holders, 40 million merchants and 15,000 financial institutions around the globe while the intelligence and speed of our network allows Visa to authenticate sellers and buyers with 97 percent accuracy – in less than 300 milliseconds. Africa can sometimes be very challenging, what has the experience been like doing business in Africa? Brands-VisaVisa is working closely with financial institutions in Africa to ensure that we target the segment of the unbanked aiming at achieving our goal to reach 500 million unbanked people by 2020. We anticipate that Africa will be one of the focus areas in the coming months and years especially with more people depending on mobile technologies and adapting to it. Numerous studies, including our own expectations, suggest that Africa will be hot spot for electronic payments in the near future and we are making sure that we will avail the technologies, products, and services that would facilitate this transition. As we anticipate this, we engage in financial literacy efforts like the financial literacy road shows we implemented in South Africa to deliver educational lessons in an entertaining forum. In Rwanda, we launched a localized financial literacy program in partnership with the Government of Rwanda. If you had recommendations that could help good business thrive, what will there be? We believe that the widespread use of electronic payments resulted in the expansion of sales volume of goods and services. Electronic payments play an important role in easing geographic barriers to trade. Small and medium business account for a large portion of any economy and the resorting to electronic payments can make a difference and have a positive impact on small and medium businesses. It can help them grow their sales, expand to different geographies, and better manage their financials. According to a research by payment service provider Sage Pay, the average cost of handling cash for UK SMBs has reached more than £17.8bn a year, or £3,638.57 per retailer. The study said, “Businesses are not investing enough in new payment technologies, despite consumer demand. Thirty six per cent of consumers say they are more likely to shop at places that offer a range of payment methods or innovative payment types.  And more than half of businesses agree that offering a range of payment options drives loyalty.” Besides business what is it that global businesses like Visa do to give back to the community? Our sense of global mission and purpose is driven by our concern for the economic and social well-being of people around the globe. We group our initiatives into three areas:

  • Financial Inclusion Using our products, services, payments expertise, financial literacy resources, and philanthropic investments to bring more people into the formal financial system as a key step in lifting themselves out of poverty.
  • Humanitarian Aid and Community Support Giving back to the communities in which we live and work by supporting global humanitarian aid as well as local community organizations through both corporate donations and employee involvement.
  • Responsible Business Practices upholding the highest ethical business practices and operations through governance, fair employee and supplier policies and practices, and an understanding of our environmental impact.
In 2003 the Dominican Republic experienced an economic crisis that left 1 million people in poverty. Aid distribution to the population was not transparent, disorganized, and inefficient. In the years to follow, Visa was asked to support the Government in developing a program, using its expertise in the payments industry, to develop the Solidaridad Visa prepaid, reloadable cards. Over US$1.3 billion has been distributed to over 990,000 beneficiaries on Visa Solidaridad cards. In Nigeria, as in most countries, women require financial tools that are convenient, safe, and reliable. With support from Visa and Enhancing Financial Innovation & Access (EFInA), Women’s World Banking (WWB) worked with Diamond Bank in Nigeria in 2012 to develop a commercially-viable savings product tailored to the needs of low-income women. The savings account can be accessed via a bank branch, ATM, bank agents or mobile money agents.  Over 100,000 accounts have been opened since the program began. In Morocco, Visa worked with a local theatre group, Daba Teatre, to develop and produce the play “Lalla Kheira.” Visa Morocco, commissioned the play in 2013 to illustrate the trials and tribulations of not having financial education and how being financially literate can improve one’s life, targeting youth primarily from the ages of 12 – 25. The play went on a road show in three key cities in Morocco (Tanger, Rabat, and Casablanca) in 2013 reaching 1000 students directly and 3 million through the media. Bank Banque Populaire, which has joined the goal of raising financial literacy awareness in Morocco, equally endorsed the play. timthumbIn Rwanda, the World Food Programme (WFP) collaborated with Visa, MIDIMAR, and UNHCR to deploy an electronic cash transfer pilot program using a mobile Visa solution. Each month, refugees receive a text message when their disbursement is available and recipients can immediately purchase items at merchants and withdraw cash at any registered agent. Mobile e-transfer solution has reduced aid disbursement time and costs for WFP as well as provided new market opportunities, including increased merchant sales within the local community. The Visa solution has now expanded to a second camp and is supporting over 28,000 refugees. Over 80% of the money transferred to beneficiaries was used to make purchases electronically at mVISA merchants (as of January 2015). Africa is one of the biggest markets, what strategy does Visa have in place to exploit the opportunities that the African market offers? Visa realizes the potential in Africa and works closely with clients in African markets to raise awareness of electronic payments and avail products and solutions that would help in the financial inclusion of Africans. It is very important for us to partner with governments, clients, and mobile operators in order to capitalize on the widespread use of mobile technology in order to reach unbanked segments. Our innovations will empower clients to reach such segments and play a role in providing them with secure, convenient, reliable, and relevant products and solutions.        ]]>

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11th AFRICAN GAMES – BRAZZAVILLE, REPUBLIC OF CONGO, 04-19 September, 2015
August 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

newsletter-special-brazzaville-2015-englishThe 11th Edition of the African Games is scheduled to take place on 4th to 19th September, 2015, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. This edition will mark the 50th Anniversary of the African Games, since the 1st edition in 1965 that was also hosted by the Republic of Congo. Approximately 7000 athletes from 50 African countries will converge back to the birth place of the African Games in Brazzaville to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the African Union in the spirit of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance.

This edition is also a milestone for the AU as it is the first one under the auspices of the African Union as the owner of the Games, following the dissolution of the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA) as well as the integration of the functions of the SCSA into the AU. The integrated functions of the SCSA include the ownership, coordination and organization of the African Games.

The opening ceremony will take place on 4th September, 2015, and will be presided over by H.E. Denis Sassou Nguesso, President of the Republic of Congo, and attended by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, H.E. Dr Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, Commissioner for Social Affairs and H.E. Martial de Paul Ikounga, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology. The African Games will be preceded by the Bureau Meeting of the Specialized Technical Committees on Youth, Culture and Sport and a Sub-Committee of the STC Ministers of Sport on 3th September, 2015.

During the games, the AU will rally the continent around the spirit of Pan-Africanism through its key message i.e. “I am African, I am the African Union” and through its 50 year Agenda 2063 development framework. Agenda 2063″ is an approach to how the continent should effectively learn from the lessons of the past, build on the progress now underway and strategically exploit all possible opportunities available in the immediate and medium term, so as to ensure positive socioeconomic transformation within the next 50 years. The agenda will assist the continent achieve its vision, i.e. an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.

“Because of the power of sport, we see this event as an important milestone on the road to achieving the objectives of our continental vision and action plan, which Africa has christened Agenda 2063: the Africa We Want”, said AU Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

SOURCE African Union Commission (AUC)

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Rwanda Spy Chief Freed After U.K Refuses Extradition to Spain
August 12, 2015 | 0 Comments

Saul Butera* [caption id="attachment_19809" align="alignleft" width="234"]General Karenzi Karake General Karenzi Karake[/caption] The U.K. has rejected a request by Spain to extradite Rwanda’s intelligence chief on allegations he committed war crimes following the Rwandan genocide 20 years ago, according to the African government. General Karenzi Karake, director of the nation’s National Intelligence and Security Service, had been on bail awaiting an extradition hearing since he was arrested at Heathrow Airport in London on June 20. Karake was one of 40 senior officials in the Rwandan government indicted by a Spanish judge in 2008 for alleged war crimes in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The government condemned the arrest of Karake, who had been in the U.K. on an official visit, and President Paul Kagame characterized it as a show of contempt for Africa. Karake’s “arrest was an abuse of law and violation of his diplomatic immunity,” Rwandan Justice Minister Johnston Busingye said in a text message on Monday.

Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said she was “delighted” by the ruling and that Karake was on his way back to the East African nation. “This was an unnecessary and abusive process,” she said on her Twitter account. “He’s now free. Should never have happened.” About 800,000 people were killed between April and June 1994 when Hutu extremists massacred Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Kagame led a Tutsi force known as the Rwanda Patriotic Front, which Karake was part of, that helped end the killings before taking power. As the country’s ruler, Kagame has earned praise for his economic agenda and criticism for quashing dissent. *Source Bloomberg]]>

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Rwanda launches consultations on Kagame third term
July 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

Rwandan lawmakers begin a national tour consulting people on possible constitutional changes to allow strongman Paul Kagame, pictured, a third term in power (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker) Rwandan lawmakers begin a national tour consulting people on possible constitutional changes to allow strongman Paul Kagame, pictured, a third term in power (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)[/caption]

Kigali (AFP) – Rwandan lawmakers began a national tour Monday consulting people on possible constitutional changes to allow strongman Paul Kagame a third term in power, parliament speaker Donatilla Mukabalisa said.

Last week both houses in parliament voted in support of a constitutional change, backing a petition signed by millions of citizens.

“All lawmakers will go to consult with the population… to ask them their opinion about the amendment – what they expect from this reform,” Mukabalisa told AFP.

Over 3.7 million people — well over half of the voters — signed a petition calling for a change to Article 101 of the constitution, which limits the president to two terms, according to Rwandan media.

The consultations, which end on August 11, will guide lawmakers as they draft proposed changes.

Any change to the constitution would require a vote in support by at least three-quarters of both parliamentary houses, followed by a national referendum.

Kagame, 57, has been at the helm of Rwandan politics since 1994, when an offensive by his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels put an end to a genocide by Hutu extremists that left an estimated 800,000 people dead, most of whom were Tutsis.

As minister of defence and then vice president, Kagame was widely seen as the power behind the throne even before he took the presidency only in 2003, winning 95 percent of the vote. He was re-elected in 2010 with a similarly resounding mandate. The next elections are due in 2017.

From the trauma of genocide, he has been painted as a guarantor of stability and economic development, earning praise from donors — and his supporters say many in Rwanda view the prospect of his departure as a step into the unknown.

Critics say however that he has silenced the opposition and the media.

Kagame says the decision is for the “Rwandan people”.

The move comes amid a wider controversy in Africa over efforts by leaders to change constitutions in order to stay in office.

Neighbouring Burundi has been in turmoil since April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid to stand for a third term in polls, a move branded by opponents as unconstitutional and a violation of a peace deal that paved the way to end civil war in 2006.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Rwanda parliament votes in support of Kagame third term
July 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Stephanie Aglietti*

Kigali (AFP) – Rwandan lawmakers voted Tuesday in support of a constitutional change to allow strongman Paul Kagame a third term in power as president, backing a petition signed by millions of citizens.

[caption id="attachment_19226" align="alignleft" width="300"]Rwandan President Paul Kagame has been in power since 2003 (AFP Photo/) Rwandan President Paul Kagame has been in power since 2003 (AFP Photo/)[/caption]

The crowded parliament, packed with members of the public who had come to watch, cheered and chanted Kagame’s name after all lawmakers present in both the lower and upper houses voted in the first step of the process for constitutional change.

“I want to thank all members of parliament for showing support to the people’s wishes,” parliament speaker Donatilla Mukabalisa said.

Any change must be also passed by a national referendum.

Over 3.7 million people — well over half of the voters — signed a petition calling for a change to Article 101 of the constitution, which limits the president to two terms, according to Rwandan media.

“There was a request that we engage the people and consult them about the amendment of 101, and other articles,” Mukabalisa added. “I promise you we are going to fast track the process as requested.”

Parliament was crammed to capacity Tuesday with both lawmakers and the public, with the two chambers holding separate, parallel debates.

Nkusi Juvenal, a member of parliament from the Social Democratic Party (PSD), said that “3.7 million Rwandans from different constituencies and walks of life have spoken, we are their representatives here, we have no option but to… listen to their pleas.”

At one point, lawmakers and the public chanted slogans of support for Kagame.

“Paul Kagame, oyee! (oh yes),” they shouted.

The public were invited to watch the debate.

“I wanted to participate, so that is why I am here — I am very proud,” Alpha Mundendke said, a 23-year old student in parliament for the first time.

– Elections in 2017 –

But Jean-Claude Ntezimana, from Rwanda’s tiny but main opposition group, the Green Party, had complained that parliament should not vote on a decision to press ahead with any constitutional changes until their challenge opposing it had been heard in court.

Kagame, 57, has been at the top of Rwandan politics since 1994, when an offensive by his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels put an end to a genocide by Hutu extremists that left an estimated 800,000 people dead, most of whom were Tutsis.

As minister of defence and then vice president, Kagame was widely seen as the power behind the throne even before he took the presidency in 2003, winning 95 percent of the vote. He was re-elected in 2010 with a similarly resounding mandate. The next elections are due in 2017. From the trauma of genocide, he has been painted as a guarantor of stability and economic development, earning praise from donors — and his supporters say many in Rwanda view the prospect of his departure as a step into the unknown. Critics say he has silenced opposition and the media. Kagame says the decision is for the “Rwandan people”. “I have not asked anyone to change the constitution and I have not told anybody how or what to think about 2017,” Kagame said in April. Any change to the constitution would require a vote in support by at least three-quarters of both parliamentary houses, followed by a national referendum.

The move comes amid a wider controversy in Africa over efforts by leaders to change constitutions in order to stay in office.

Neighbouring Burundi has been in turmoil since April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid to stand for a third term in polls, a move branded by opponents as unconstitutional and a violation of a peace deal that paved the way to end civil war in 2006.

*AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Rwanda's Kagame eyes 3rd term as voters call for law change
June 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

By Stephanie Aglietti*

Kigali (AFP) – The list of supporters is long: more than two-fifths of Rwanda’s voters have signed a petition calling for constitutional reform to allow strongman Paul Kagame a third term in power.

The authorities speak of a popular mass movement, critics of a manipulation of power.

[caption id="attachment_18716" align="alignleft" width="300"]Over two-fifths of Rwanda's voters have signed a petition calling for constitutional reform to allow President Paul Kagame a third term in power (AFP Photo/Stephanie Aglietti) Over two-fifths of Rwanda’s voters have signed a petition calling for constitutional reform to allow President Paul Kagame a third term in power (AFP Photo/Stephanie Aglietti)[/caption]

As the second and final seven-year mandate of Rwanda’s president draws to a close, there are increasing indications he may join other African leaders in changing the rules to stay put in elections due in 2017.

Kagame is a “gift from God,” said Aimable Ngendahayo, one of the 2.5 million people who have signed the petition calling for a change of Article 101 of the constitution, which limits the president to two terms.

The move comes amid a wider controversy in Africa over efforts by leaders to change constitutions in order to stay in office.

Kagame, 57, has been at the top of Rwandan politics since 1994, when an offensive by his ethnic Tutsi rebel force, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), put an end to a genocide by Hutu extremists that left an estimated 800,000 mostly Tutsis dead.

As minister of defence and then vice president, Kagame was widely seen as the power behind the throne even before he took the presidency in 2003, winning 95 percent of the vote. He was re-elected in 2010 with a similarly resounding mandate.

-Popular movement?

From the trauma of genocide, he has been painted as a guarantor of stability and economic development, earning praise from donors — and his supporters say many in Rwanda view the prospect of his departure as a step into the unknown.

Kagame says the decision is for the “Rwandan people”.

“I have not asked anyone to change the constitution and I have not told anybody how or what to think about 2017,” Kagame said in April.

Weeks of political unrest in neighbouring Burundi began in April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid to stand for a third term in polls next month, a move branded by opponents as unconstitutional and a violation of a 2006 peace deal that ended 13 years of civil war.

Since late April in Rwanda, crowds of Kagame fans have signed the petition asking parliament to amend the constitution to “convince” their president to stand again.

“Kagame is a special man,” Ngendahayo said. “This is not the time to let him go,” said the 35-year old businessman. “Kagame loves his people, so if we the people ask him, he will accept.”

Kagame himself has said he is “open to going or not going depending on the interest and future” of Rwanda.

Rwanda watchers however question the spontaneity of the petition, in a country where the political debate is tightly controlled.

Unlike Burkina Faso’s former president Blaise Compaore, who was chased out last year after he tried to stay for a third term, Kagame can be confident of few headaches in a country with no real opposition.

– ‘Strong institutions, not strong men’ –

Yet Washington, once among Kagame’s closest supporters, has spoken against the third term, saying it supports “a new leader” in 2017 and saying democracy requires “strong institutions, not strong men”.

Several people said they were encouraged into signing the petition.

One person, who declined to be named, said the local neighbourhood security chief, “told me it was a paper to sign”.

Without the door-to-door campaign the person would not have signed.

“Of course I signed… I am known in the neighbourhood… I do not know what might have happened (otherwise),” the person added.

One Rwandan journalist, who also requested anonymity, said that “there are people who sign in good faith, but many also who do so for fear of being labelled as enemies of the state,” while others who are illiterate in rural areas sign without even knowing what it is.

Rwandan media has reported that prisoners in one jail, Rubavu in western Rwanda, where many are serving long sentences for their role in the genocide, had also signed the petition.

The government denies any pressure has been applied.

[caption id="attachment_18717" align="alignright" width="300"]Supporters of Rwandan President Paul Kagame gather during a rally near the offices of UNESCO in Paris on February 27, 2015, where the president was attending a meeting (AFP Photo/Francois Guillot) Supporters of Rwandan President Paul Kagame gather during a rally near the offices of UNESCO in Paris on February 27, 2015, where the president was attending a meeting (AFP Photo/Francois Guillot)[/caption]

Ministry of Local Government spokesman Ladislas Ngendahimana said he “categorically denies that people have signed petitions under the instigation of the government”, adding that all door-to-door canvassing was banned so as not to “influence” the people.

“The RPF never gave any instructions to local officials” to collect signatures, he said, adding that all who signed “did so of their own will… we do not need to force them.”

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Rwandans Back President for 3rd Term, Finance Minister Says
June 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

by * [caption id="attachment_18562" align="alignleft" width="586"]Rwanda's president Paul Kagame. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg[/caption] Rwandan voters want President Paul Kagame to serve a third term and have the power to change the constitution to make this happen, Finance Minister Claver Gatete said. “The president has not said he wanted a third term, the president has made it very clear that he will follow the law,” Gatete said Thursday in an interview at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town. “But the people of Rwanda have a say in whoever has to be the leader and also what the constitution should look like.” Kagame has been in power since 2000 after he led a rebel army that ended the 1994 Rwandan genocide of about 800,000 people. The country’s parliament said last month it received 2 million signatures calling for a constitutional amendment that would allow Kagame to extend his rule for another seven-year term at elections scheduled for 2017.

Rwanda has a $7.5 billion economy that relies on exports of crops including coffee for most of its foreign-exchange revenue. Starbucks Corp., the world’s largest coffee-shop operator, plans to double its purchases of the country’s output. The East African nation sold $400 million of Eurobonds for the first time in April 2013. In neighboring Burundi, the ruling party’s nomination in April of President Pierre Nkurunziza to seek a third term in office sparked violent protests that left at least 21 people dead and more than 550 injured.

Investor Sentiment

“In Burundi it’s the opposite, the leader is saying we want a third term, but some of the people are saying we don’t see it that way,” Gatete said. “Here for us it’s not the president who is saying anything, it’s ordinary people.” Human rights activists have accused Kagame’s administration of clamping down on dissent and stifling the media, a criticism the government denies. The European Union on Friday criticized Rwanda’s decision to suspend the British Broadcasting Corp.’s local-language Kinyarwanda service after it aired a documentary on the 1994 genocide, saying the move restricted free speech. Rwanda’s regulator said it suspended the service in October after receiving complaints about the program that it needed to investigate. Rwanda and Burundi are part of the East African Community, which together with Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania form a five-nation trade bloc with a $110 billion economy. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled Africa’s biggest coffee exporter since 1986, has yet to say whether he will seek another term. In Tanzania, President Jakaya Kikwete is stepping down at the end of his second mandate after October elections.

Doing Right

The unrest in Burundi won’t undermine investor sentiment in the region or harm economic growth in Rwanda, where as many as 27,000 refugees have fled, Gatete said. “This is happening in Burundi, it’s another country,” he said. “What Rwanda is doing can be seen by everyone, in terms of making sure that we do the right things, in terms of promoting the investment.” Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s vice president for Africa, is less sanguine. He said the conflict in Burundi may damage investors’ perceptions of the whole continent. “Situations like the one in Burundi and other countries facing a bit of instability show that progress made in a decade can be offset in a year,” Diop said in an interview in Cape Town on Friday. “This stop-and-go is a most detrimental element to sustainable growth.” *Source Bloomberg]]>

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Cost of Living rises in Rwanda as Inflation go up
May 31, 2015 | 0 Comments

kigali-rwanda In recent months the cost of living has risen as reflected in the last Consumer Price Index released   National Institute of Statistics. According to Rwanda’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), main measure of inflation; prices have risen to 0.9 percent year on year in April 2015, up from 0.8 percent in March 2015. The publican focuses on urban Consumer price Index calculated based on approximately 1022 products in twelve urban centers from Rwanda. The CPI is released in the wake of an increase of oil prices announced by Ministry of Trade and Industry. The urban CPI increased by 0, 9 percent on annual basis and increase by 0,8 percent on a monthly basis. The annual average rate between April 2015 and April 2014 is 1.1 percent. According to Minicom, statement the current price of oil is Frw 840 per litre.Minicom says the increase is attributed to global oil prices increase observed since February.Minicom adds that since then the prices have increased 40%. Jean-Baptiste Habyarimana,an economist analyst and authors of publications on price volatility and market analysis says ,the CPI increase is somehow strong and will likely go up as fuel prices have increased again. According to National Institute of Statistics, the price increase is mainly attributed to rising prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages 2,5 percent , housing ,water ,electricity  and other fuel prices 2,9 percent. The biggest negative contribution to CPI increase came from ‘Transport’0,7 percent.Habyarimana says the slight change on global oil prices will likely affect price of imported fuel. “The transport cost increase caused by global oil prices fluctuations affect many others product prices since our economy depend on imports,” explain Habyarimana As Rwandan economy depends largely on import,Habyarimana says prices will continue to go  up since local currency is weak against US Dollars. “The BNR can’t intervene on exchange rates.” Jean-Christian Hahirwa, a resident of Kigali, says if prices continue to rise, life will become hard and will seek others ways of generating income in addition to his monthly salary. According to Habyarimana, CPI rise will impact national economy negatively on saving reduction as more consumers will reduce saving, thus will reduce local investment. The increase of food prices in recent months was attributed to bad weather. One of monetary policies BNR adopt to curb inflation is raising interests’ rates to commercial banks so as to reduce the quantity of money in circulation. Urban CPI is very useful to measure cost of living and inflation since most products are consumed in urban areas. The weakening Rwandese franc against US Dollars also explains CPI increases since national economy depends largely on imports. Explained Habyarimana “My purchasing power will reduce as my salary will remain constant despite price increases of commodities and products I consume.” added Hahirwa“I will change my spending habit by reducing expenses but there are still certain needs I have to satisfy “. The urban CPI increased by 0.9 percent in April 2015 compared to the same month previous year. “I may also work extra hours to increase my income.” the Kigali resident said CPI  reads in April 2015, ‘Food and non-alcoholic beverages’ 2.5 percent and ‘Housing water, electricity, gas and other fuels’ 2.9 percent while transport decreased by 3.8 percent. Figures also show the “local goods” increased by 1.5 percent on annual change and increased by 1.0 percent on a monthly basis, while prices of the “imported products” decreased by 0.3 percent on annual basis and was stable on a monthly basis. The monthly change in CPI is 0,8 percent  compared to March 2015.’Food and non- alcoholic beverages increased by 2.8 percent. The prices of the “fresh products” decreased by 0.1 percent between April 2015 and April 2014. While the overall Rwanda CPI increased by 1.2 on annual bases, and increased by 2.0 percent on a monthly basis. “The consumer bears all costs, for instance policymakers can’t intervene on salaries of consumers by increasing them when prices go up,” commented the economic analyst told Rwanda            ]]>

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Dynamic US-Africa Partnership Lauded at African Day Celebrations in Washington,DC.
May 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

Rev Jackson and Ambassador Teitelbaum in a group photo with African Ambassadors in Washington,DC. Rev Jackson and Ambassador Teitelbaum in a group photo with African Ambassadors in Washington,DC.[/caption] In celebrations to mark the 2015 African Day  in Washington, DC,  dynamic ties between the USA –Africa hailed by the Ambassador of Egypt Mohamed Tawfik. Speaking as co-Chair of the celebrations organized by the African Ambassador’s group, the Egyptian Envoy cited the last US-Africa’s Leaders’ Summit and the support that Africa continues to receive from the US in multiple forms. “The celebration is about Africa’s success”, said Ambassador Tawfik as he enumerated a litany of positive developments taking place in the continent. Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world he said, with life expectancy ticking up, and more children in school than at any other time. The continent is increasingly taking charge of its own security challenges and Egypt will be hosting a historic summit soon geared towards the creation of a broader Pan African free trade zone ,said Tawfik. In addition to Women serving as Presidents, and in parliament, Tawfik also cited the example of AU Chair Dlamini Zuma to highlight the progress made by women in the continent. Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs delivered the keynote speech in which he highlighted the important role women have always played in the history of Africa. [caption id="attachment_18381" align="alignright" width="586"]Rev Jackson poses with members of the Ivorian dance troupe that animated the celebration Rev Jackson poses with members of the Ivorian dance troupe that animated the celebration[/caption] Celebrated under the theme “Women Empowerment & Development towards Achieving Africa Agenda 2063”, Ambassador Teitelbaum saluted the strides that have been made by the African Union and African countries. Africa’s biggest resource is its people Ambassador Teitelbaum and no country can get ahead if half of its population is left behind. Africa represents a growing a growing market and just this year alone, there have been some 316 million new cell phone subscribers reported ,Teitelbaum said. Programs like the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, have been helpful in alleviating the health plight of women and children, said. Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana of Rwanda who heads the African Ambassadors Group in Washington, DC, also spoke on the importance of placing women at the center of development. With Maureen Umeh of Fox TV as MC, the celebration had as special Guest the Rev Jesse Jackson ,Founder and President of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.  Other guests from the African American Community included Melvin Foote from the Constituency for Africa, and Denise Rolark Barnes, Publisher of the Washington Informer. Sponsored by Chevron, Coca Cola, and Exxon Mobile, guests were treated to an art exhibition and entertainment performance of folk dances from Egypt, Rwanda and Ivory Coast.      ]]>

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US Congress to Hold Hearing on Rwanda's Troubling Human Rights Record
May 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

Witness David Himbara: Hearing to Shine Light on President Kagame’s Repressive Regime

ob_4f037e_himbara-davidThe House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations announced today that it will hold a hearing on May 20 to examine Rwanda’s deteriorating human rights record under President Paul Kagame.

The hearing, “Developments in Rwanda,” will feature testimony from several experts on Rwanda including David Himbara, a former top economic aide to President Kagame and coordinator of the North American branch of Democracy in Rwanda Now (DIRN); Robert Higiro, a former Rwandan army major who fled the country when he was ordered to assassinate Rwandan dissidents living in South Africa; and Robert Jackson, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the US Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs.

“I highly commend Chairman Christopher Smith (R-NJ) and Ranking Member Karen Bass (D-CA) for holding this very important hearing, which will shine a brighter spotlight on Rwanda’s troubling and worsening human rights record,” said Mr. Himbara.

“I sincerely hope that this hearing, in addition to raising awareness among members of Congress and the American people about President Kagame’s repressive regime, serves as a critical step toward ending the troubling, long-established authoritarian governance of Rwanda. The Rwandan people deserve to live in a country of opportunity and freedom, not one of tyranny and fear.”

In recent years, President Kagame has taken deliberate steps to control Rwandan media, silence all opposition and quiet those who criticize his regime, as evidenced in Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2015. The US State Department has condemned these actions, with spokesperson Jen Psaki noting in a Jan. 16, 2014, press briefing that the United States is “troubled by the succession of what appear to be politically motivated murders of prominent Rwandan exiles.”

Many Rwandan opposition activists have disappeared or died under mysterious circumstances; the State Department’s 2013 Country Report on Human Rights Practices states that Rwanda has “major human rights problems,” including “arbitrary or unlawful killings both inside and outside of the country, disappearances, torture, harsh conditions in prisons and detention centers, arbitrary arrests, prolonged pretrial detentions and government infringement on citizens’ privacy rights.”

Democracy in Rwanda Now (DIRN) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that promotes democracy, free speech and human rights for Rwandans.

*Source PR Newswire

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Rwandan Petition May Help Kagame Extend Rule to Third Decade
May 8, 2015 | 0 Comments

by * [caption id="attachment_17989" align="alignleft" width="300"]Rwandan President Paul Kagame, “like all heads of state who change term limits, wants to give the impression that he would prefer to leave but is reluctantly staying on for the good of his people.” Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg Rwandan President Paul Kagame, “like all heads of state who change term limits, wants to give the impression that he would prefer to leave but is reluctantly staying on for the good of his people.” Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg[/caption] Rwandan President Paul Kagame may be able to extend his rule in 2017 elections after parliament received 2 million signatures calling for a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for a third term. The East African nation’s president is restricted to two, seven-year mandates under the current charter. Kagame, who’s been in power since 2000, said last month that he was open to either staying on or leaving the position “depending on the interest and future” of the country. He said he doesn’t support changing the constitution to remove the cap on terms. Kagame may want “to give the impression that he would prefer to leave but is reluctantly staying on for the good of his people,” Francois Conradie, political analyst at NKC Independent Economists in South Africa, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The possibility of Kagame, 57, running for an extra term with the backing of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front bears similarities to the political situation in two of Rwanda’s neighbors. In Burundi, the ruling party’s nomination of Pierre Nkurunziza to seek a third term in June elections has sparked more than a week of violent protests. Four people died in Thursday’s unrest, including one person killed by a grenade, raising the death toll since protests began to at least 17, Agence France-Presse reported.

‘Important Differences’

Rwanda, a nation of about 12 million people, has seen economic growth averaging 7.8 percent over the past decade as it recovered from a genocide that saw as many as 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed in three months of attacks by Hutu militias in 1994. Starbucks Corp. this week said it plans to double its purchases of Rwandan coffee, while Kigali-based brewer Bralirwa SA is a unit of Amsterdam-based Heineken NV. The nation sold $400 million of Eurobonds for the first time in April 2013. Neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo saw demonstrations in January when lawmakers sought to change laws that would have delayed elections and extended President Joseph Kabila’s 14-year rule. Parliament eventually approved a revised law that allows the 2016 vote to take place as planned. The African Union on Thursday said holding elections in Burundi would be impossible in the current environment. In an interview with CCTV Africa, AU Commission Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the country’s constitution is clear that “really there shouldn’t be a third term.” The continental body can’t send election observers until there is peace, she said. Burundi’s Constitutional Court has cleared the way for Nkurunziza to run for a final time. “There are important differences with Burundi and the DRC -– most notably the fact that the RPF can very easily change the constitution with relatively little opposition from political parties or civil society,” Conradie said. *Source Bloomberg]]>

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Rwanda to export Irish potatoes to Zambia, South Sudan
April 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

Dealers wait for a vehicle to transport Irish potatoes. A wholesale market for Irish potato will be set up in Kigali. Dealers wait for a vehicle to transport Irish potatoes. A wholesale market for Irish potato will be set up in Kigali.[/caption] A number of countries, including Zambia and South Sudan, have expressed interest in Rwanda’s Irish potatoes, a development that could turn around the fortunes of farmers and expand the country’s exports base and revenue. Francois Kanimba, the Minister for Trade and Industry, said farmers must now double their efforts to satisfy the growing local and regional demand for Irish potatoes, and ensure quality along the value chain. Kanimba was addressing farmers and traders during a breakfast meeting organised by Private Sector Federation’s (PSF) Chamber of Agriculture. He, however, did not say whether any export deals had been reached with the two countries. “It is critical for farmers to focus on producing for the export market because that’s when you will benefit more from your efforts,” he said. Kanimba also revealed that the government and PSF will soon set up a wholesale market for Irish potatoes in Kigali to ease market access for farmers. “This will help remove middlemen, who have been exploiting farmers,” the minister said. Kanimba was optimistic the market will raise morale among farmers since they will be assured of a ready market. The market, to be built in Gisozi sector, will serve as a selling point for Irish potatoes in the City of Kigali. It is also one of the initiatives geared at promoting export trade, the minister added. Christine Murebwayire, the Association of Rwanda Farmers chairperson, said the market will organise both farmers and traders, noting that it will also help promote Irish potato export trade. Murebwayire, also the Chamber of Agriculture chairperson, however, noted that farmers still lack access to quality seeds, fertilisers and finance, besides being exploited by middlemen. Yvette Mukarwema, the chief operations officer at PSF, said the wholesale market will tackle challenges, like price uncertainty, which farmers have endured for years. She added that PSF’s partnership with government will improve the industry. Other initiatives Collection centres will be created at cell and sector levels, while selling points will be set up in the major Irish potato producing areas to ensure proper linkages between farmers and buyers, according to Kanimba. The minister added that there will also be committees at all levels of the value chain, which will file weekly reports for given collection and selling centres and monitor quality. Last year, both government and the Federation of Irish Potatoes Traders in Kigali signed an agreement to harmonise the Irish potatoes trading practices in the country. The deal aimed at regulating potato trade to reduce losses that were faced by farmers. Irish potatoes are one of the country’s staple food crops, with the Northern and Western province as main producers of the crop.   It is one of the priority crops that have been identified by the Ministry of Agriculture for value-addition. *Source NewTimes]]>

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Is Rwanda making the most of growing investments in ICT?
April 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

Primary school pupils using computers. (File) Primary school pupils using computers. (File)[/caption] The 2015 World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology report was released this week, with Rwanda topping the world in the cluster ‘Government success in ICT promotion.’ Indeed, the government has invested heavily in building IT infrastructure and is encouraging both private and public enterprises to tap into the potential of technology to improve the welfare of Rwandans and help accelerate the country’s development. But are the players doing enough to transform people’s lives? According to the Clement Uwajeneza, the chief executive of Rwanda Online Platform Limited, there has been impact, but it is not yet adequate, “With heavy investments in ICT infrastructure, we are witnessing a change in people’s lives,” Uwajeneza says. “However, we still need to do more.” Rwanda Online is a platform currently under construction and, upon completion, it is expected to serve as the central station for delivery of government services. The platform is expected to offer more than 100 services. “Lately, we are seeing an increasing trend in the use of online services, but there is still lack of understanding of the potential of ICT businesses,” Uwajeneza added. Under the cluster of ‘Government success in ICT promotion’, Rwanda is followed by United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Luxembourg and Qatar while the next African country is Kenya ranked number 21. The WEF report assessed 143 countries based on their capacities in information and communication technology sectors. The classification is based on 52 individual indicators categorised under 10 different clusters, including political and regulatory environment, business and innovation, infrastructure, affordability, skills, individual usage, business usage, government usage, as well as economic and social impacts. On the extent to which governments have a clear implementation plan for utilising ICTs to improve their overall competitiveness, the report placed Rwanda fourth after United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Qatar. The power of ICT The particular assessment is under the pillar of importance of ICTs to government vision of the future, which addresses the level of services delivered to the public. Jean Paul Uwayezu, a marketing consultant with the Service Mag, said ICT has enhanced service delivery through the ability it gives ordinary people to demand feedback from public offices, that were traditionally known for delays. “The beauty of technology today is that you don’t need to go through a lot of bureaucracy to get a feedback from public offices; some officials have made it easier to the extent that they respond to queries on social media directly… we, however, need to sensitise the public so that they exploit these initiatives,” said Uwayezu. The report assessed how ICTs enable all citizens to access basic services, including health, education, and financial services, among others. Globally, Rwanda was ranked 20, but topped the continent. ‘More to be done’ One of the projects that are designed to help deliver quality education in Rwanda is the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) . The project director, Eric N. Kimenyi, says the gadgets have not only increased the interest of learners and their teachers, but also enabled remote schools get access to quality content. “After training teachers in OLPC, we built in content related to the subjects children study. This has given impressive results; this time it’s not just about programming, the computers are facilitating in class work which has made children more innovative and creative with the machines,” Kimenyi said. “We have witnessed an increase in class attendance and also a high demand among children to go to schools. We are drawing an ICT in Education Master Plan, which, when completed, will give us a clear parameter to measure the impact of such initiatives.” Didier Nkurikiyimfura, the director-general of ICT in the Ministry of Youth and ICT, said there is still a lot more to be done if Rwanda is to sustain and build on the achievements registered so far. “The report is a good sign of recognition of our efforts in advancing IT in the country although we are still faced with challenges. We emerged the best in one sub-index out of 14 which gives us a reason to strategise on how we can perform better in other sub-indexes,” Nkurikiyimfura said. One area that Rwanda did not feature prominently in the report is the private sector and individual usage of ICT. But Nkurikiyimfura said the reason could be that it is too soon to measure the impact in these two areas. “Private sector investment in ICT is impressive, we are still on the right path and soon the results will be felt. An example, 45 per cent of Foreign Direct Investments in the past five years were directed to the ICT sector, the 4G LTE project attracted investments worth $140 million in one year, yet we are supposed to measure the final attraction in two years, so we are on track,” he said. *Source NewTimes ]]>

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Rwanda’s Kagame Succession Dilemma Clouds Local Debt Prospects
April 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

Rwandan President Paul Kagame said he’s “open to going or not going depending on the interest and future” of the country. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg Rwandan President Paul Kagame said he’s “open to going or not going depending on the interest and future” of the country. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg[/caption] Rwanda’s economic positives of growth beating the average in sub-Saharan Africa, low inflation and business confidence have spurred a rally in local debt. The cloud on the horizon is the political future of the man credited with driving reforms: President Paul Kagame. With his second term ending in 2017, the 57-year-old president’s intentions about whether he will seek to extend the already 15 years he’s been in office aren’t clear. Kagame, who faced aid cuts after United Nations claims he backed rebels in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, said on April 2 he doesn’t support changing the constitution, which allows for two presidential terms. The leader told reporters in the capital, Kigali, he’s “open to going or not going depending on the interest and future” of the country. “The general sentiment is bullish. But as we advance towards 2016-2017 the issue becomes the Kagame succession and how investors respond to that,” Julians Amboko, a research analyst at StratLink Africa Ltd., said from Nairobi on April 9. “There’s a bit of uncertainty as to whether he will run for office again or not and investors will assume guarded and cautious positions.”

Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front fought Hutu extremists into Congo in 1994 after they had slaughtered 800,000 mainly ethnic-Tutsi Rwandans. The U.S. cut military aid to Rwanda on accusation by the Congolese government and the UN’s independent Group of Experts on Congo that Rwanda was backing militias in Congo, an allegation denied by Kagame.

Stifling Opposition

The East African nation’s economy expanded as renewed foreign aid opened up new sources of funding for the government, which was reliant on the domestic debt market. Growth averaged 7.8 percent in the decade to last year, according to the International Monetary Fund, better than the sub-Saharan African average over the period of 6 percent. While championing the economy, Kagame has been criticized by groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for stifling opposition. His government has denied accusations it backed Congolese insurgents. Yields on 91-day Treasury bills reached a record high of 12.76 percent in January 2013 amid foreign pressure on Rwanda.

‘Attractive Entry’

Three-month borrowing costs dropped 97 basis points, or almost 1 percentage point, this year, to 3.44 percent at the latest auction on April 9. The spread between Rwanda’s $400 million of debt due May 2023 and similarly dated Treasuries narrowed to 442.8 on April 10, the lowest in a month. Yields on the Eurobonds dropped nine basis points this year to 6.31 percent on Monday. Rwanda was ranked 46th in the world this year by the World Bank’s Doing Businesssurvey, the third-best in sub-Saharan Africa and ahead of Kenya and Nigeria. Inflation was 0.8 percent in March, little changed from a month earlier, as lower oil prices reduced the import bill, a quarter of which is taken up of fuel costs. “The country’s business-friendly policies and favorable regulatory environment make Rwanda an attractive entry point” into East Africa, Jacques Nel, an economist at NKC Independent Economists, based in Paarl, South Africa, said by e-mail on April 10. “The government’s current economic strategy has the clear priority of removing impediments to private-sector development.”

Jail Sentence

While Kagame has been credited with putting pro-investor policies in place, he’s been criticized for silencing dissent. Last year, South Africa expelled four of Rwanda’s diplomats over an alleged attempt to kill an exiled former army general, after the country’s former head of intelligence was found dead in a hotel room in Johannesburg. Opposition leader Victoire Ingabire had her jail sentence extended to 15 years in December 2013 after being found guilty of conspiring against the government, threatening state security and inciting people against the state. Parties that have tried to challenge the RPF “have been got rid of one-by-one,” Carina Tertsakian, a London-based senior researcher for Rwanda and Burundi at Human Rights Watch, said by phone on April 10. “It’s actually very, very difficult for opposition parties to function in a meaningful way,” she said. “In reality, the situation in Rwanda cannot be described as democracy in the true sense of the term.”   Still, with an election two years away, the prospect of changing the country’s constitution to allow for a third Kagame term may be “a good thing” for the stability it offers to the coffee-producing country, according to NKC’s Nel. NKC sees possible replacements for Kagame are Defense Minister James Kabarebe and Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo, he said. “Both have Mr Kagame’s authoritarian instincts without his constructive vision,” Nel said. “We see another five years with him at the helm as a positive thing.” *Source Bloomberg]]>

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A Pan-African investment bank eyes Rwanda market
April 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

Rwanda's capital, Kigali. According to a World Bank report, Rwanda is the most business-friendly country in East Africa. Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. According to a World Bank report, Rwanda is the most business-friendly country in East Africa.[/caption] Nexus Capital Markets a New York headquartered bank is looking to expand its business financing operations into local market to lead transactions with companies in raising capitals. The company operates in over 25 countries in Africa, the bank says it brings complete menu of services that include debt and equity capital raising, M&A execution and advisory services, and divestitures. ” It is expected that the majority of the transactions in Rwanda will be debt and equity related capital-raises based on our experience in other similar markets.” Said David S. Levin, the managing partner of Nexus Capital Markets,LLC in an interview. The pan African Bank entry in Rwanda could boost private sector as some local established companies that want to grow their businesses will find an alternative financing option, in addition commercial banks which interest rates which are sometimes higher for them. Nexus operates in a variety of industries including food/agriculture, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, transportation, oil & gas, financial services, infrastructure among others. Investment banks mobilize long- term funds mainly by investing in long term assets or equity financing. Currently there is no investment bank in the country. Robert Mathu CEO of Rwanda Capital Markets Authority told the media that if the company enters local market it will be positive news for businesses as it will attract other investments in the country and will help local companies to mobilize long- term funds. Analysts say the entry of an investment bank could be good news for local companies as commercial banks mobilize small and medium term deposits that are not possible to transform into long term financing-a gap that can be filled by investment banks. Levin said the frequent challenge they face in emerging markets is lack of exposure for companies on “cross-border” capital raise previously. Nexus primarily raises capital with its institutional partners in the U.S. and Europe. The bank has started recruiting local business development managers.” We’re just beginning to move forward in the country as we speak.” the managing partner said recently. However the bank says it will be selective in dealing with local businesses.” You can’t have a company with $20 million in revenue trying to raise $300 million.” Explained the managing partner. According to Nexus, the largest deal it closed in Africa was $161 million for one of Nigeria banks and the smallest is an $8 million for a small housing transaction in South Africa. Central Bank says on the financing opportunity for the economy “we consider it [an investment bank] as key in mobilizing long term resources which are currently needed for sustainable development.”]]>

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Rwanda's Kagame looks set to join Africa's stay-put leaders
March 7, 2015 | 1 Comments

*

[caption id="attachment_16946" align="alignleft" width="300"]Rwanda's President Paul Kagame appears set to bend the rules to extend his mandate (AFP Photo/Tiziana Fabi) Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame appears set to bend the rules to extend his mandate (AFP Photo/Tiziana Fabi)[/caption] Kigali (AFP) – As the second and final mandate of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame draws to a close, there are increasing indications he may join other African leaders in bending the rules and staying put.

Through radio and newspapers, commentators appear to be lining up to sing the praises of an “active and efficient” leader who should not step down in 2017.

Rwanda watchers say that in a country where the political debate is tightly controlled, campaigning for a third term has essentially begun in earnest.

Kagame, 57, has been at the top of Rwandan politics since 1994, when an offensive by his ethnic Tutsi rebel force, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), put an end to a genocide by Hutu extremists that left an estimated 800,000 of his community dead.

He first served as minister of defence and vice president, and then took the presidency in 2003, winning 95 percent of the vote. He was re-elected in 2010 with a similarly resounding mandate.

From the trauma of genocide, he has been painted as a guarantor of stability and economic development, earning praise from donors — and his supporters insist many in Rwanda view the prospect of his departure as a step into the unknown.

“The majority of the Rwandan community have anxiety, fear and uncertainty of what may happen after 2017,” wrote civil servant Fred Mufulukye in a newspaper commentary.

“Rwandans recognise President Kagame as their source of security, comfort and the father of Rwanda.”

Former finance minister Manasseh Nshuti has hailed Kagame as a defender of the nation against its “sworn enemies” — such as the FDLR, Rwandan Hutu rebels who include the perpetrators of the genocide in their ranks and who are based in the forests of neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

“It is irrational to change exemplary leadership and more so in our context even in the name of constitutionalism,” he said.

“So is it time for Paul Kagame to leave office come 2017? The answer is no,” asked Joseph Karemera, a senior RPF official. “We cannot afford to mess around with achievements we have made under Kagame’s leadership.”

– Referendum? –

Rwanda’s constitution, however, does not allow for a third term so it would need to be modified. Other African leaders, including Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza and DR Congo’s Joseph Kabila, look set to do the same in their respective nations.

[caption id="attachment_16947" align="alignright" width="300"]Supporters of the Rwandan president gather during a rally near the offices of UNESCO in Paris on February 27, 2015 (AFP Photo/Francis Guillot) Supporters of the Rwandan president gather during a rally near the offices of UNESCO in Paris on February 27, 2015 (AFP Photo/Francis Guillot)[/caption]

And unlike Burkina Faso’s former president Blaise Compaore, who was chased out last year after he tried to do the same, Kagame can be confident of few headaches in a country with no real opposition.

According to Albert Rudatsimburwa, head of Radio Contact FM, the RPF’s political office gave the green light for public debate on the issue to start in December.

In rural areas, the RPF’s network is at work delivering the message that the constitution can be changed if the request comes from the people.

“They are testing the waters,” said Rwandan journalist Robert Mugabe. “They are trying to make people comfortable with the idea of a third term.”

The Rwandan government, meanwhile, denies it is trying to sew up a third term. According to a close aide to Kagame, the “popular demand” for him to stay is real, “and who is the president to refuse the wishes of his people?”

According to Rene Mugenzi, a Rwandan rights activist, a “very well designed, cleverly implemented strategy” is in full swing — the aim being to shield Kagame from allegations that he is is just another African dictator.

“This game is not for the Rwandan audience. The Rwandan audience will do what RPF want because they want peace. This exercise is for the international audience, because they don’t want the same pressure Kabila or Nkurunziza are getting from the international community.”

*Source AFP/Yahoo
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Rwanda urged to take criminal action over BBC genocide film
March 3, 2015 | 0 Comments

Paul Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has been in power since the genocide ended Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has been in power since the genocide ended[/caption]

An inquiry in Rwanda has recommended that the government initiate criminal and civil proceedings against the BBC over a documentary which questioned official accounts of the 1994 genocide.

Inquiry head Martin Ngoga found that the documentary failed to meet the BBC’s own editorial standards. The BBC says it is “extremely disappointed” by the findings. Rwanda suspended broadcasts by the BBC’s Kinyarwanda language service after the TV documentary was aired. “We stand by our right to produce the independent journalism which has made us the world’s most trusted news source,” the BBC said in a statement. It said the programme was still going through its editorial complaints process. “This process has not yet concluded but the provisional findings are that the documentary does not breach the BBC’s editorial standards,” the BBC said. At least 800,000 people died in the genocide over a 100-day period in 1994. Those killed are generally believed to be mostly members of the minority ethnic Tutsi group, and Hutus opposed to the mass slaughter. The BBC programme Rwanda, The Untold Story, included interviews with US-based researchers who say most of those killed may have been Hutus, killed by members of the then-rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which has been in power since 1994. The programme also included interviews with former aides of RPF leader President Paul Kagame, accusing him of plotting to shoot down the presidential plane – the act seen as triggering the slaughter. He has strenuously denied previous such accusations.

BBC news reports recall how the genocide unfolded

Critics in Rwanda say that the documentary was an attempt to revise the history and facts of the genocide, and disrespected the memory of those who had died. The BBC “strongly rejects any suggestion that any part of this documentary constitutes genocide denial”. Rwandan genocide:
  • 6 April 1994: President Juvenal Habyarimana is killed when his plane was shot down on returning from peace talks with Tutsi RPF rebels
  • 7 April: It is not clear who is behind the shooting but it sparks the systematic mass killing of mainly Tutsis by extremist Hutu militia and military elements
  • April-July: An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus are slaughtered
  • RPF denies accusations they killed thousands of Hutus as they marched through the country
  • July: RPF captures the capital, Kigali
  • July: Two million Hutus flee to Zaire, now DR Congo
  A parliamentary resolution in October said the programme’s producer and presenter, as well as those interviewed for the documentary, should be charged with genocide denial – a punishable crime in Rwanda. The BBC argued around the same time that it had a duty to investigate difficult and challenging subjects and believed the programme was a valuable contribution to the understanding of the tragic history of the country and the region. The BBC also said several attempts to get the Rwandan government to respond to the allegations for the programme had not been taken up. *Source BBC]]>

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Rwandan singer jailed for plot to kill president
February 27, 2015 | 0 Comments

KIGALI (Reuters) – A popular singer in Rwanda known for his renditions of the national anthem was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday after being found guilty of plotting to kill Rwandan President Paul Kagame and other senior officials.

[caption id="attachment_16726" align="alignleft" width="300"]Rwanda's President Paul Kagame attends the opening ceremony of the 24th Ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri (ETHIOPIA - Tags: POLITICS) Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame attends the opening ceremony of the 24th Ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) at the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2015. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri (ETHIOPIA – Tags: POLITICS)[/caption]

Two others were also found guilty and jailed. The prosecution said the accused had worked with the South Africa-based opposition group, the Rwanda National Congress.

Singer Kizito Mihigo was ordered jailed for 10 years, while Cassien Ntamuhanga, a journalist for Rwanda’s Amazing Christian Radio in Kigali, was sentenced to 25 years, and Jean Paul Dukuzumuremyi, a former soldier, was sentenced to 30 years.

Mihigo and Ntamuhanga were accused by the prosecution of plotting with the Congress on social media.

Former soldier Dukuzumuremyi was allegedly given money to carry out grenade attacks in Kigali, while Niyibizi was accused of facilitating a cash transfer to him, the prosecution said.

Mihigo, a Tutsi survivor of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, was well-known for singing the national anthem at official ceremonies, including some attended by the president.

This year, he released a song called “Meaning of Death” that was banned by the authorities, apparently for touching on sensitive issues about the genocide, when 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderates from the Hutu majority were killed by Hutus.

Kagame is a Tutsi who led a guerrilla force which halted the killings. Critics accuse the president of concentrating too much power in his own hands and stamping out dissent.

[caption id="attachment_16738" align="alignright" width="300"]Kizito Mihigo's arrest in April 2014 came as a shock to many Rwandans.(Photo BBC) Kizito Mihigo’s arrest in April 2014 came as a shock to many Rwandans.(Photo BBC)[/caption]

“It’s a shame, it’s not justice. This is ridiculous,” Ntamuhanga told reporters as prison guards pulled him from the courtroom. “No matter how long the night is, the sun appears.” He said he planned to appeal immediately.

The case has also drawn criticism from rights group Reporters Without Borders.

Agnes Niyibizi, an accountant who was also charged in the case, was acquitted.

*Source Reuters/Yahoo]]>

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Lengthy Battle Seen Against Rwandan Rebels in DRC
January 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

UNITED NATIONS— [caption id="attachment_15827" align="alignleft" width="300"]FILE - Herve Ladsous, head of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations, speaks to Security Council representatives in New York, Oct.14, 2014. FILE – Herve Ladsous, head of the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations, speaks to Security Council representatives in New York, Oct.14, 2014.[/caption] U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous warned Thursday that it would take time to defeat Rwandan rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, given that the group lived among civilians and that the United Nations wanted to avoid a repeat of a 2009 humanitarian crisis. The U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has finished preparatory operations ahead of a planned military offensive to dislodge the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a group at the heart of years of conflict in Central Africa’s Great Lakes region. Ladsous said he thought Congolese President Joseph Kabila would imminently sign off on the joint Congolese-MONUSCO plan to tackle the FDLR, which includes former soldiers and Hutu militiamen responsible for carrying out Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. The FDLR failed to meet a Jan. 2 deadline to surrender. “We need to recognize that achieving tangible results against the FDLR, this will require both resources and time,” Ladsous told the U.N. Security Council. “The nature of this armed group is that it’s very dispersed, it’s immersed within the local population, so it will take time. “We also need to do everything to avoid the repetition of what happened in 2009 when the FARDC [Congolese troops] had undertaken military operations against the FDLR, which led to absolutely devastating humanitarian consequences.” During the U.N.-backed offensive against the FDLR in 2009, Congolese soldiers were accused by rights groups of massacring hundreds of civilians and committing wide-ranging abuses. The Congolese army denied the scale of the alleged abuses. “The protection of civilians remains MONUSCO’s core mandated task,” Ladsous said. The U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned this month that tens of thousands of civilians were likely to be forced to flee their homes during the planned offensive against the FDLR. Martin Kobler, head of the U.N. peacekeeping operation, told reporters after the Security Council briefing: “Our preparations are done, we are ready to go, our troops are pre-deployed, and this is also the case for the FARDC.” He said there were an estimated 1,400 to 2,000 FDLR rebels and that 18 temporary assembly areas had been established for those who wanted to surrender. Kabila told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon this month that his army was ready to help peacekeepers fight the FDLR. *Source Reuters/VOA]]>

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Kagame: Rwanda a Resilient Nation
January 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Kagame (2nd Right) and Blair at the conference in Davos on Wednesday Kagame (2nd Right) and Blair at the conference in Davos on Wednesday[/caption] “Rwanda stands for something,” said Kagame while answering a question on the legacy Rwanda will leave for the next generations at the Wednesday breakfast roundtable discussion held on sidelines of World Economic Forum in Davos. “It is a nation that has been built from nothing. This is what we have done for ourselves with partnerships, to become prosperous, free and integrated with the world,” he added. “We invite you to be part of Rwanda’s story.” President Kagame continues to enjoy worldwide recognition for turning around the economy and infrastructure of a nation destroyed by genocide in 1994 when the RPF guerrillas seized power. Speaking at the same function, former UK Premier, Tony Blair said Rwanda “offers a model for Africa,” citing the example of lifting one million people out of poverty over the last few years. President Kagame said, “We are not looking at Rwanda as an island but as a country that benefits from working with its neighbours;” emphasising the advantages of regional relations and cross-border trade and infrastructural investments. Business leaders gathered in Davos for the 45th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting called for structural reforms to the global economy to encourage growth. More than 2,500 participants are taking part in the Annual Meeting, held from 21 to 24 January, under the theme, The New Global Context. Participants in a session on The New Growth Context were told that monetary policy was not enough to encourage growth. “Policy-makers shouldn’t kid themselves,” Axel A. Weber, Chairman of the Board of Directors, UBS, Switzerland, said. “They need to deliver policy reforms, not just loose monetary policy.” Weber listed labour market and pension reform as especially important, and cited Germany’s reforms under the Schröder government as an example for the rest of Europe to follow. “Right now structural reforms are the only game in town. We need politicians to act,” Min Zhu, Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Washington DC; World Economic Forum Foundation Board Member, said. Zhu added that “worldwide, the whole banking sector is much stronger than a few years ago” but that “the risks have moved into the shadow banking sector.” John Rice, Vice-Chairman, GE, Hong Kong SAR, emphasized the importance of infrastructure to global growth. “You don’t have sustainable, inclusive growth unless you have jobs, and you don’t create jobs unless you have good basic infrastructure,” he said. David M. Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Carlyle Group, USA, said that since governments and banks are no longer funding infrastructure investments as much as they did in the past, more and more infrastructure projects will be funded by private equity. “Right now the US seems the greatest place in the world in which to invest,” he said. However, he cautioned that economic growth there is leaving many behind, especially in middle- and lower-income groups. Zhang Xin, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, SOHO China, People’s Republic of China; Young Global Leader Alumnus, noted that China, unlike Europe, is suffering from too much investment and not enough consumption. “How do we grow consumption? We need tax reform,” she said. Although pro-consumption reforms in China are proceeding more slowly than she would like, Xin said that “the anticorruption campaign is working very well.” *Source chimpreports.]]>

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Rwanda: New UN Report Pins Tanzania On FDLR Militia
January 21, 2015 | 0 Comments

By James Karuhanga* [caption id="attachment_15718" align="alignleft" width="285"]Photo: Radio Okapi Rwandan FDLR rebels (file photo). Photo: Radio Okapi
Rwandan FDLR rebels (file photo).[/caption] The leaders of the genocidal FDLR militia and its political supporters in Europe have held several meetings in Tanzania since at least 2013, a new UN report has said. The final report of the UN Group of Experts on the DR Congo, dated January 12, a copy of which he New Times has seen, indicates that a staffer of the UN Mission in DR Congo (Monusco) reported how a senior FDLR commander and a Rwandan opposition politician, “Colonel” Hamada Habimana, FDLR’s sector commander for South Kivu, travelled to Tanzania at the end of December 2013. “Paulin Murayi arrived in Dar es Salaam on December 31, 2013, and returned again on March 23, 2014. Twagiramungu told the Group he visited the United Republic of Tanzania in January 2014 and met with two FDLR commanders,” the report reads in part in apparent reference to the self-exiled former Rwandan premier Faustin Twagiramungu. Murayi is a son-in-law of Felicien Kabuga, the most wanted African fugitive, who infamously bankrolled the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which claimed more than a million lives. The authors of the new report say that they “met with a senior FDLR commander that same day” in Tanzania and they are concerned that the Government of that country is “not investigating activities by and in support of FDLR on its territory.” “Ahead of the issuance of the report, the Group shared with the Government some of the evidence it had obtained and asked for further details, but did not receive an answer as of late November.” FDLR is a blacklisted terrorist organisation whose leaders are wanted for genocide and crimes against humanity, with some of them already on trial in a German court for leading an outlawed and criminal group.

According to the report, when, in a meeting with Tanzanian authorities on October 31, the UN Group of Experts asked about these visits and meetings in the neighbouring country, Tanzanian authorities said, “there is no hosting of any rebels and our military has no communication with any rebels.” The UN experts documented money transfers from Tanzania to a woman who the investigators believe to be the wife of FDLR “Colonel” Hamada. In January and February 2014, the woman, “Marie Furaha” received $1,594 in Kampala (Ugandan capital) from “Hamisi Hasani Kajembe”, who sent the money from Dar es Salaam while Hamada was in Tanzania. “The Government of Rwanda told the Group that Hamada’s wife is named Marie and that she lives in Kampala. The phone number provided to the Group by Rwandan authorities for Marie also matches the phone number listed in data on the money transfers provided to the Group by Western Union. The Group further notes that Paulin Murayi sent money in February to Kajembe, who received it in Dar es Salaam,” the report explains. The UN Group of Experts says it continues to investigate money transfers to and from known and suspected FDLR agents and supporters in Tanzania. *Source Allafrica/The New Times]]>

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Why Rwanda is your ‘MUST VISIT’ destination for 2015
January 19, 2015 | 0 Comments

Rwanda has been picked among the most favourite 15 travel destinations for 2015. [caption id="attachment_15656" align="alignleft" width="600"]Clean Kigali Street. Condé Nast Traveler a UK based luxury and lifestyle travel magazine has included Rwanda among the top 15 picks for where to go in 2015. The magazine says Rwanda is the place to travel due to beautiful high-altitude forests, its lakes, and Kigali, its capital city. Clean Kigali Street. Condé Nast Traveler a UK based luxury and lifestyle travel magazine has included Rwanda among the top 15 picks for where to go in 2015. The magazine says Rwanda is the place to travel due to beautiful high-altitude forests, its lakes, and Kigali, its capital city.[/caption] Condé Nast Traveler, a UK luxury and lifestyle travel magazine says despite the horrific 1994 genocide Rwanda’s effective leadership has managed to turn around the nation. Travel enthusiasts will have to see mountain gorillas in their beautiful high-altitude forests, its lakes, and Kigali, its capital city. Joselyne Murekatete, 40, remembers her first day in school when she was punished by her teacher because she wore shoes. Shoes had been banned. “The following days, I could remove them miles away to avoid rebuke,”She says. She says that her teacher claimed only few students could afford shoes and banning them aimed at avoiding jealousness among classmates. However, after class every pupil could be seen wearing shoes. Souzanne Uwimana, 50, a veteran teacher in Kigali admits, “Teachers could join pupils in a campaign to mock a girl pupil who, by accident sullied her school dress during menstrual period. Instead of covering her up, we could take her for a prostitute.” Outside school, passers-by would litter food leftovers, plastic bags and water bottles even behind bins. Today Murekatete works as a street cleaner and resident of Kimihurura a suburb of Kigali city. She has vivid memories of how city dwellers, including “literates” used to disregard hygiene, until 1990s. Open defecation would not exempt city attractions while domestic waste were dumped in water channels or in idle plots, to be carried downhill and pollute water reservoirs. New country, new people In all Rwandan schools today, Hygiene and sanitation and wearing shoes are compulsory. Hygiene and sanitation have become a priority in Kigali and countrywide. After halting the Genocide against Tutsi in 1994,the Rwanda Patriotic Front-Inkotanyi worked on society positive thinking while involving citizen in deciding own fate. Cleaning Day “Umuganda”, a traditional practice that was being dodged would be strengthened and then enacted. Today every last Saturday of the month, weddings, meetings and social activities are halted as village mates meet and clean say a health center, a street or a public garden.  Public officials and visitors also get involved. After two hours of cleaning, they sit and discuss; hygiene good practice and cleaning activity for the following month. Omar Khalfan, a political analyst says “when citizen are involved in a program, they own it, without being coerced.” Who cleans Kigali? Besides Umuganda, Kigali adopted a comprehensive hygiene system that collects trash from households and public places. Kigali city relies on a-1 year old sweeping machine for the 15 km long city-airport road. For the rest, 200 km, the city contracted 15 cleaning cooperatives which earn about $ 44,000 to pay about 400 workers, essentially women. Each cleaner earns $ 44 monthly, which barely pays house rent in Kigali, yet they are highly motivated. “We hardly make ends meet. We just feel proud to be part of a city all nations find beautiful. It is part of patriotism,” said Jeanine Mukashema, a cleaner.  Patriotism is part of Rwandan motto beside Unity and Work. Cleaners helped Kigali collect polythene bags from neighbourhoods in 2005 when environment law banned them and recommended biodegradable bags. Regional countries tried to emulate in vain. “In less than ten years we have no more plastic bags in our landscape; Rwandans are very responsive,” observed Dr. Charles Kabwete, a political analyst. Dustbins have been established along pedestrian paths which reduce disorder on roads. Dustbins have been installed by Private companies which place advertisements in return. Different businesses, offices, markets and schools also hire cleaning companies. Cleaning companies since 2010 charge a monthly $7 to collect garbage from house to house and dumped in a-3ha city landfill. 600 tons of garbage is collected daily. “In Western countries, waste collection is a State business. Residents pay through tax, a burden for many,” said Jean Paul Ngenzi, the owner of Agruni, a cleaning Company. Do’s and Don’ts  Dropping liter in Kigali is nearly a sin even children know. The city Mayor last year pleaded with children to keep their cookies’ sachets until they find a dustbin. Illegally crossing through a garden and urinating on the road attracts $ 7 fine. Knocking down a palm tree on city roads attracts a fine worth $ 700. Corridors in commercial buildings should also have colorful flower pots. Is Kigali Cleanest city? Looking at city decoration, visitors have given Kigali an alias of “African Cleanest City.” “It’s as clean as Paris and it is very safe for the mzungu (white person) to live,” said Caroline Anne, English volunteer. “If my queen moves from Kigali airport to Serena Hotel in the city hub, she will not believe that she is in a developing country, but a rich country,” she said. Kerry Gill a volunteer says was surprised to see an “African city where you find no littering and any dog or cat cadavers along city roads.” Rwanda has designed a strategy that will help to earn over $150m annually from international conferences by 2015, up from $49m presently. The government is training citizens on the best conduct as reflected among king’s warriors “Intore”-they were highly disciplined warriors that fought and annexed many regions from neighboring countries. Even diaspora youth come home every year; spend a-three week period learning the spirit which features hygiene, self-reliance. Source: Source * newsofrwanda/ KT Press]]>

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