How One Program is Helping Female Farmers in Rwanda Become Self-Sufficient
October 6, 2014 | 0 Comments
“You can’t even compare the opportunities as an individual to those of being in a group,” said graduate Donata Nukabayiza. “It is very difficult as an individual farmer to get subsidies or even resources like fertilizer. But there is power in a group. It is much easier because the land is consolidated, and you can obtain advice, agricultural services or loans. You can organize and develop a business plan as a group or cooperative.” Farmer Field Schools make agricultural education practical and easy. They focus on participants’ own observations, discussions and practical field exercises. Courses are tailored by agricultural zone, ecosystem, rainfall and length of crop season. Weekly sessions then help participants make informed decisions on things like pest control and how to manage their crops throughout the season. This particular program is run by the Imbaraga Federation, a local farmers’ non-governmental organization, with financial and technical support from UN Women/One UN in Rwanda and funding from the Governments of Korea, Spain and Norway. Poor and vulnerable farmers were selected in two districts (Nyaruguru and Kirehe), of all ages and educational levels. Ninety percent are women. Non-members also take part in weekly course discussions, increasing overall community awareness.
Ghosts of the genocide remain potent obstacle to peace
October 1, 2014 | 0 Comments
An ambitious U.N. effort to weaken Rwandan militia faces difficult challenges By Sudarsan Raghavan* IHULA, Congo — Gervain Ndayizeye is too young to remember Rwanda’s genocide, but 20 years later he’s filled with the hatred it unleashed. Last year, an ethnic militia linked to Tutsi rebels hacked to death his ethnic Hutu parents, two younger brothers and sister with machetes. That pushed Ndayizeye to join the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, the Rwandan Hutu militia known by its French acronym FDLR, whose founding leaders helped spearhead the genocide. Over the past few months, driven by a thirst for revenge, Ndayizeye has learned to wield a Kalashnikov rifle and other weapons. He’s also learned to despise Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, a Tutsi. Above: Members of the FDLR, a Rwandan Hutu militia whose founding leaders helped coordinate Rwanda’s genocide, sing patriotic songs on a hilltop base near the village of Ihula, eastern Congo. “Tutsis are people who follow Kagame’s ideology. They are not good people,” declared Ndayizeye, now 20, whose hair was buzz-cut like a rap star and wore a T-shirt emblazoned with President Obama’s visage. Of all the militias that have plagued the Congo, none has nourished Africa’s deadliest war like the FDLR. They are a key reason, some say a pretext, for Rwanda’s backing of Congolese rebel groups. Many eastern Congolese believe the conflict in their country will end only when the Rwandan Hutu exiles leave. But over the years, various military and diplomatic efforts have failed to defuse the FDLR. Now, in the U.N.’s most aggressive effort in years, a combat brigade is backing the Congolese army to take down the FDLR. The obstacles to this endeavor, though, became clear during visits with FDLR commanders, political officials and Rwandan Hutu refugees in the hills of eastern Congo. RELATED: In Congo, trapped in violence and forgotten. When fighting flares in Congo, ‘the school shuts down.’ The turns in a warlord’s life, and in Congo’s war. Last year, U.N. and Congolese forces defeated the Tutsi-led M23 rebels, who fought a mostly conventional war. But the approximately 2,000 FDLR fighters have been more difficult to quell because they wage a guerrilla struggle, where wearing civilian clothes and living among and marrying locals are strategic weapons. Their leaders make no pretense that they use civilians as human shields. “Our philosophy, and our secret, is to hide ourselves,” said Enock Dusabe, 63, a top FDLR political operative. “When they go after us, they will go after the Congolese population.” More than 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, died at the hands of Hutu extremists during Rwanda’s genocide in 1994. As the carnage was ending, hundreds of thousands of Hutus fled into neighboring Congo fearing revenge attacks, including Ndayizeye’s family and the “genocidaires” who later formed the FDLR. Members of the FDLR, who wear civilian clothing and often live among locals as part of their guerrilla-style technique, train at the group’s base in Ihula, eastern Congo. In the hierarchy of Congo’s warring groups, the militia is considered among the most brutal. Its fighters have slaughtered and raped, torched countless villages and forced children to fight, according to victims and human rights groups. Several top leaders are either wanted by the International Criminal Court at the Hague, under arrest or on a U.N. sanctions list. Today, FDLR fighters keep a low profile in Kivuye and surrounding villages, moving in small groups and mixing with locals. It has helped them to avoid capture by government forces or the Tutsi armed groups, and Kivuye’s warlords have been careful not to antagonize them. On a recent day, Dusabe and two other senior FDLR officials arrived in Bweru, the next village south of Kivuye. Scores of Hutu residents, including many FDLR members, came out to greet them. Dusabe and his colleagues were not worried about the U.N. peacekeepers and Congolese soldiers nearby. When the Tutsi-led rebels controlled the area, the FDLR fought alongside the Congolese army. In this area, that alliance still counts. “We pass where they are. And they pass where we are,” said Theoneste Maisha, 42, another senior FDLR official. “Nobody attacks each other.” Moments earlier, before the conversation began, Dusabe led a prayer thanking God for giving the militia “strength and intelligence.” A few minutes later, he delivered a message from the militia’s top leadership: After 20 years on the run, they are ready for a political settlement. They would disarm if they could return to Rwanda with all rights and freedoms. Was the militia tired of fighting, or was this a tactic to stop the U.N. from hunting for them? Either way, the ghosts of the genocide remain a powerful barrier to peace in eastern Congo. Kagame has said publicly that he will not negotiate with the FDLR. At the militia’s defense post in Ihula, a village half a day’s walk from Kivuye, 138 Rwandan Hutu families live in an encampment on a hill. They follow the militia wherever they move, seeking their protection, but also unwittingly serving as human shields. Most expect to live out their lives in Congo. “Returning to Rwanda is like committing suicide,” said Edouard Irambona, 39, a Rwandan Hutu community leader. “We fled Kagame killing us. He followed us into Congo to kill us.” Below in the village, uniformed national policemen nod in respect at FDLR fighters. When a journalist arrived, Congolese elders angrily demanded to speak first, as per tradition. They were quickly hushed up by the Rwandans. None of the militiamen carried weapons on this day. But they said they were prepared for a possible attack by the U.N. and Congolese government forces. “Evil will never prevail over what is good,” said Lt. Col Bob Morane, the militia’s regional commander, who uses a nom de guerre. “We will survive.” *Source Washington Post]]>
U.S. urges probe over corpses found in Rwanda-Burundi border lake
September 27, 2014 | 0 Comments
The United States on Thursday called on Rwanda and Burundi to investigate the discovery of up to 40 dead bodies, including some wrapped in plastic, in a lake on the border between the two African countries. Local media said the corpses were discovered by Burundian fisherman in Lake Rweru in July and August. The identity of the bodies and the circumstances surrounding their deaths remain unclear. Both Rwanda and Burundi have said there are no indications the corpses were from their countries. The two countries occupy a sometimes unstable part of the world. Since the genocide of 1994 in Rwanda, President Paul Kagame has won Western praise for rebuilding the country but he has also been criticized for intolerance of political opposition. Kigali has also denied accusations that it supported the M23 group that had been fighting in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo until last year. Politically troubled Burundi has endured decades of ethnic massacres that worsened during a 12-year civil war that ended in 2005. “We firmly believe that these victims deserve to be identified. Their families deserve to know their fate, and those responsible should be brought to justice,” Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said in a statement. The United States called on the two countries to conduct a “prompt, thorough, and impartial and concerted investigation” into the deaths with the assistance of “independent, international forensic experts,” she said. Burundian authorities say there are no indications the bodies are of Burundian citizens. They say they have asked families living in the area but have not had reports of any missing individuals. The head of the criminal investigation department division of the Rwandan police, Theos Badege, repeated previous statements that the bodies were not Rwandan nationals. “Both the appearance of the bodies and the burial scenes are on the Burundian territory so it is their primary responsibility to conduct investigation,” he told Reuters. *Source Reuters]]>
PHOTOS: Rwanda Day Celebrated in Style
September 21, 2014 | 0 Comments
President Kagame poses for a selfie with one of the particiapants at Rwanda Day celebrations in Atlanta, U.S. on Saturday[/caption] It was all fun Saturday as Rwandans in the Diaspora met in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., for the annual Rwanda Day celebrations. Kids were seen taking selfies with President Kagame as cultural dancers entertained the huge crowd. Kagame told Rwandans gathered for the 6th edition of Rwanda Day that “being deprived of self worth for so long taught us the full meaning of Agaciro.” He said Agaciro is about creating self worth. “Self worth is only achieved if all of us together value one another. Unity, standing together and holding one another accountable, means we are fulfilling the responsibility of Agaciro,” advised Kagame. “Think big, think beyond yourself and contribute to the well being of your neighbor the same way he or she contributes to yours.” [caption id="attachment_12230" align="alignleft" width="640"] Some of the Rwandans in Diaspora enjoying the celebrations[/caption] Credited for turning around the country’s economy, infrastructure and human resource after the 1994 genocide, Kagame said the best way to bring the best out of people is to allow them to participate in decision that affects their lives. He elaborated on the sticky issue of donor aid, saying, “when building your country, you welcome outside help but you cannot be disrespected in your home.” He is thought to have been referring to western donors who slash aid at their will especially basing on disputed reports by human rights groups. Kagame said problems will always be there, “you cannot run away from them, you have to confront them.” He also used the same platform to blast divisive politics, saying, “Our politics are about building through unity not destroying through division.” Ambassador Andrew Young appreciated “the true leadership that we have been blessed with in President Kagame,” adding, “Rwanda is one of the few countries where I could live happily, invest, raise my children and enjoy peace and prosperity.” [caption id="attachment_12232" align="alignleft" width="640"] The function attracted hundreds of Rwandans from the diaspora[/caption] The event was aimed at celebrating 20 years of liberation (Kwibohora) and the progress Rwanda has made, as well as a chance to discuss solutions to the country’s solutions. *Source chimpreports]]>
Kagame Meets AU, UN Envoys over FDLR
September 5, 2014 | 0 Comments
President Kagame meeting AU and IN envoys at his office in Kigali, Rwanda on Thursday[/caption] Rwanda President Paul Kagame has held talks with the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Amb. Smaїl Chergui and Amb. Said Djinnit, the new UNSG Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region over security in the region particularly the threat posed by FDLR to stability in the Great Lakes. According to the presidency, the Thursday discussions mainly focused on ways of dealing with FDLR, a major negative and genocidaire force that has terrorized the region for decades. Leaders from International Conference on the Great Lakes Region recently met in Angola to review the political and security situation in Eastern DRC regarding the continued repatriation to Rwanda of FDLR for those willing to disarm and return voluntarily; and engage urgently military action against those unwilling to disarm. While FDLR this year announced intentions to surrender, officials said it simply handed over sick and young combatants and outdated guns. Rwanda’s United Nations representative, Richard Gasana recently told the SecurityCouncil that the neutralization of the 1994 Genocidal Movement is “another area of extreme importance, which unfortunately has not seen progress.” Joint efforts Speaking to the press after meeting President Kagame, Amb. Djinnit said his core responsibility in the region would be to work together with regional organizations and countries including Rwanda especially in the implementation of the Peace andSecurity Framework. “There has been some significant progress over the last decade but there also some outstanding issues like the FDLR,” said the envoy. “I will be working in transparency and respect of all countries and will seek the goodwill and support of the stakeholders and demand that they take their obligations at all levels.” On the issue of the FDLR, said Djinnit, “we will be guided by the decisions of theSecurity Council and the region which have taken a very clear position on the issue.” The UN Envoy reiterated that the military option was still on the table, should FDLR fail to comply with the decisions of the UN Security Council and regional stakeholders. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louis Mushikiwabo said despite the progress in resolving issues of the region peacefully, there have been invisible hands that tend to frustrate these efforts. “We Rwandans need peace and we have worked for decades for peace and this will not stop. We will continue as a country to contribute to peace in the region and for ourselves,” said Mushikiwabo. The Minister pointed out that FDLR is not a difficult force to deal with, saying what is needed is political will. “And we are happy to receive Ambassador Djinnit who has taken over from the very able Mary Robinson and we are happy that he is a man who knows the region’s history and has been part of the African Union from the beginning,” said the Minister. The discussions also touched on the East African Standby Force (EASF) and the situation in the Central African Republic. East Africa Member States have committed 5,000 military and police forces. Burundi contributed an Infantry Battalion, Kenya a Mechanized Battalion while Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda contributed a Motorized Battalion each. Other Combat Support and Combat Support Services pledged include Two Level Two Hospitals, CIS, Combat Engineers and Special Forces. The Member States also pledged four Formed Up Police Units, Military Observers and Individual Police Officers. The Pledged Forces are to be on Standby to deploy in a period of 14 days whenever called upon to maintain peace and stability in the region. The regional Ministers of Defence and Security in August signed an MOU of pledged Forces as directed by Assembly of Heads of State and Government. The FDLR have up to February 2, 2014 to surrender or face fire. The Angola meeting demanded “FDLR to fully surrender within a given timeframe and also making them aware of military consequences of failure to comply with the agreed timeframe.” *Source chimpreports]]>
Rwanda arrests army officers in crackdown, reports
August 28, 2014 | 0 Comments
Kigali (AFP) – Authorities in Rwanda have arrested several senior and former top military figures, an official said Monday, in an apparent crackdown against internal critics of the country’s strongman and president, Paul Kagame.[caption id="attachment_11462" align="alignleft" width="960"] Rwanda President Paul Kagame and daughter arrive at the White House for a group dinner during the US Africa Leaders Summit August 5, 2014 in Washington, DC (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)[/caption]
Army spokesman General Joseph Nzabamwita refused to say why three prominent military figures had been held, and referred queries to reports carried by the pro-government New Times newspaper.
According to the paper, former presidential guard chief and serving colonel Tom Byabagamba was arrested on Saturday “over suspected involvement in crimes against state security”.
“Byabagamba was arrested on Saturday as part of investigations into the case involving two retired army officers who were arrested earlier in the week,” the paper added, quoting the army spokesman.
Last week security forces arrested former brigadier-general Frank Rusagara, who had previously served as a senior official in the defence ministry and as defence attache to London.Also arrested was retired captain David Kabuye. Rwandan authorities have not released any further details of the accusations, although according to a Rwandan political expert, the arrests do not appear to be linked to the activities of banned, exiled opposition groups. “The arrests essentially target those who have a reputation of being loose cannons who are sometimes critical and without necessarily being seen as traitors in the real sense of the term,” said the source, who spoke on condition he not be named.
“The objective is to keep discipline in the party,” he added, referring to the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) — led by President Kagame and which has dominated the country since its then-rebel army ended the 1994 genocide.
Kagame has been credited with overseeing dramatic economic advances while in office, although he has also come in for mounting criticism for suppressing dissent, including the alleged assassinations of exiled opposition figures.*Source Yahoo/AP]]>
Enterprising Genocide survivors bag Rwf5 million unsecured loans
August 25, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Emmanuel Ntirenganya and Michel Nkurunziza* [caption id="attachment_11377" align="alignleft" width="400"] Umutoni (second right) poses with judges after the competition on Thursday. Emmanuel Ntirenganya.[/caption] Five young enterprising graduate Genocide survivors have won a total of Rwf5 million unsecured loans from Duterimbere microfinance after pitching the best business ideas during an entreneurship competition organised by Survivors Fund (Surf) and the Association of Student Survivors of Genocide (Aerg). Japhet Ntakirutimana, who presented a business plan on furniture making and interior design, was the overall winner. The first runners-up was Faina Musanabera. She pitched a business idea on a restaurant with takeaway services. Other winners are Joselyne Mukankusi, Jean Bosco Mutungana Muvara and Marie Josée Mutoni. Of the 10 finalists six were girls, with three of them emerging among the top five. Over 150 contenders participated in the competition and training. The contestants pitched business plans ranging from poultry farming to film production, carpentry workshop, catering services and packaging projects. The competition was the climax of a four-month entrepreneurship and work readiness (Akazi Kanoze) training conducted under the Youth Entrepreneurship Training Programme. “I chose this business idea after realising that many of the workers in Gakiriro, Gisozi sector, including bank employees, were going without lunch due to tight work schedules. With my catering services I hope to serve them in their workplace and offer them good, secure and pocket-friendly catering services, depending on their tastes and income,” Musanabera told the panel composed of business experts and entrepreneurs. Ntakirutimana said Gasanze, an emerging centre in Nduba Sector, Gasabo District where he hopes to set up the furniture and interior design enterprise, is undergoing rapid development, with many of the residents building new houses. “I am sure they need furniture for their homes and commercial buildings,” he said. “I hope to create jobs for more than three workers to be able to satisfy customer needs… I am targeting an annual income of over Rwf10 million when the project starts.” The judges considered the feasibility of projects, profitability, innovation, market research and potential to generate employment. Kelsey Finnegan, a Survivors Fund project officer, said the training aims to equip the participants to run viable and profitable enterprises. “We collaborate with financial institutions to make more young graduates access affordable loans to develop their business ideas.” Jean de Dieu Mirindi, the Aerg national co-ordinator, said the biggest hurdle facing Genocide survivor students is lack of capital to start businesses. He added that the winners would be supported for three months to refine their projects. The youth entrepreneurship training programme has benefitted 450 young Genocide survivors, 270 of whom are girls, since its inception in 2012. It aims at reducing youth unemployment, particularly among university graduates and technical school leavers. “By providing entrepreneurship training and work readiness skills, youth are empowered to access quality employment and start entrepreneurial ventures,” Mirindi said. Those who are not supported to start new businesses will be linked with internships in prominent companies and NGOs. The effort is a major lift to the government’s drive to have knowledgeable business operators and ensure sustainable entrepreneurship and economic growth. *Source newtimes]]>
This new Rwanda is synonymous with hard work – Pastor Warren
August 19, 2014 | 0 Comments
By Collins Mwai* [caption id="attachment_11177" align="alignleft" width="300"] Pastor Warren says Rwandans have a lot to thank God for, noting that the country is the safest to live in in the continent and that every time he comes, he finds socio-economic development at a higher level. (T. Kisambira)[/caption] Yesterday, the third Rwanda Shima Imana convention brought together Christians and top clerics from over 34 countries, including, Russia, the US, India and China. The highlight of the day was Pastor Rick Warren, the founder of Saddleback Ministries, US. The celebrated author has been involved in several activities in Rwanda’s development in the past 10 years through an initiative called Peace Plan. The acronym stands for ‘Promote reconciliation, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation.’ The initiative has been involved in activities like HIV/Aids fight, community integration and poverty and hunger eradication, among other areas. In an interview with The New Times’ Collins Mwai, Pastor Warren gives insights into his ministry’s activities in Rwanda, the planned Christian leaders’ continental congress, and the country’s development path. Excerpts;- You have been closely involved with Rwanda for about 10 years now, what are some of the major achievements you might have noticed? As a member of the President’s Advisory Council, I get to see the progress and development firsthand and upclose. Over the last few years, more than a million Rwandans have come out of poverty. There are a couple of reasons for this but the primary one is the creation of more jobs in the city and the use of better farming practices in the rural areas which has created more jobs. For Shima Imana, I have brought leaders from 31 African countries and Russia, United States, China and India, one of the things they all notice and agree on is that this is the cleanest country they have seen in the world. That is progress too. When I first heard of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, this was the only thing I knew about the country, a place of genocide. Before coming here (for the first time) I wondered what kind of people I would meet, but when I got here I realised that they were no different from everybody else. Rwanda’s reputation is changing fast, the Old Rwanda was known for the Genocide, the New Rwanda is known for hard work, growth, order, prosperity, freedom, security, among other traits. This is how much the country has changed even in terms of image. You announced that next year, Rwanda will host the first All-Africa Purpose-Driven Leadership Congress; why was Rwanda chosen and what is the goal of this conference? I have been asked by more than five African presidents to take the Rwandan Peace Plan model to their countries, I have been asked by Christian leaders to do the same in their countries to foster peace in their countries. I have often answered that I will send Rwandans since they know how the model works best, they are the initiators and they did it on their own; I only helped get it started. The heroes of Peace Plan are the local churches. In Rwanda, more than 3,000 churches have taken part in the purpose-driven training. That is a lot of people. Next year’s conference is a chance for Rwanda to become a role model for the rest of the continent. Rather than me go across the continent, we decided to bring all those countries to Kigali for the guests to see it firsthand. Next year, from August 6 to 10, we will bring together all the 54 African countries for purpose driven church leadership congress, it will bring together about 2,000 people or more. We are hoping we can hold it at the new Kigali Convention Centre. But we have plans that go beyond reaching out to other African countries, we plan to put a big screen in every province and stream the five-day conference live to pastors and Christian leaders all over the country, those who cannot make it to the conference. I hope that as it grows, more countries can embrace the Rwanda Shima Imana (Thanksgiving) model. You also said recently that Rwanda should consider having an annual Thanksgiving holiday, why do you think this is important? Rwanda has a lot to be grateful for because in the last three years, it has been named as the safest country to live in in Africa. I have been coming to Rwanda for the last 10 years and every year, I see a lot of socio-economic and spiritual development. For instance, the number of orphans has dropped drastically; we are down to about 1,500 children in orphanages compared to about a million (orphaned) children immediately after the Genocide. Many nations have kept a tradition of Thanksgiving, I think it is time we also began having one. Your ministry brings together a number of churches to support the Peace Plan, what are the reasons for this approach? Peace Plan brought together many churches because they all wanted to be part of a common cause, but the value of unity is even greater than Peace Plan. One church by itself cannot make a lot of difference but various churches coming together can achieve anything. During the launch of Peace Plan, the President said that the nation could develop much faster if we mobilised churches because the majority of Rwandans are church going Christians; it is easy to influence them towards development as a congregation. With that the nation can achieve prosperity together and much faster. Peace Plan has had a lot of impact in various aspects in the country since inception, what will be the priority areas in the coming years? There are five priorities of Peace Plan in the coming years; they are all tied to the initiative’s goals right from inception. We will keep promoting reconciliation in the nation; and equip ethical leaders to ensure there are no vices like corruption. We will keep assisting the poor, not with handouts but with a hand-up and seeing to it that they are empowered. We plan to go on with our health care programmes all across the country, so far, there have been a lot of achievements with healthcare programmes in the past few years; we plan on building on that. Lastly. we will go on with our education programmes, we are trying to encourage more and more churches to establish pre-schools to ensure all across the country children have an early introduction to education. What are your thoughts on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi? . [caption id="attachment_11057" align="alignright" width="300"] President of Rwanda, His Excellency Paul Kagame,(R) joined Pastor Rick Warren Saturday evening for Kwibuka 20, a special service at Saddleback Church to honor the victims of the Rwandan genocide 20 years later and celebrate the partnership and efforts of The PEACE Plan in Rwanda over the past 10 years, April 26, 2014.[/caption] The Genocide was evil. Anyone who doesn’t believe in evil should look at the Genocide against the Tutsi. The worst part of this genocide was not only the atrocities committed but also when the world chose to watch and do nothing. When the world turned its back on Rwanda and let evil prevail, that was a dark moment. Do you think there are lessons that nations in conflict like Central Africa Republic can draw from Rwanda? Whenever there is a conflict, over ideas, the right place to begin is by finding avenues that will bring you together to do a common thing together. We can disagree about religion, politics, but it is always good to do things together that will bring you together. With that, the two parties in disagreement get to learn about the other and try to see things from the other people’s point of view. The key is getting people to get together, they will understand where the others are coming from and the reasons for their view point. Regarding your involvement in Rwanda, how much influence do you have on policies and development matters? I have no influence on Rwandan policies or politics. I am not a policy-maker; I am a pastor. When I deal with government leaders, I never talk to them about politics. I only talk to them about their personal needs, how to handle stress as a leader, how to handle family, how are they dealing with management of their time. I have no roles in advising or influencing in areas of policies. I have friends in government and business, it is like three legs of a stool; for a society to be stable, it requires a public sector, private sector and a faith sector. There has to be government, businesses and churches. None can do what the others do. What areas would you advise investors to consider when putting their money in Rwanda? There are numerous sectors that are profitable to invest in. if I had a choice out of many, I would probably put money in transport and logistics. Rwanda is in the middle of several countries and is landlocked, so currently there are developments to open it up through air, rail and roads, soon it will become a hub for all the countries around it as they do business. Often times Rwanda receives the flacks from various international bodies and individuals, what do you make of such critics? The criticisms against Rwanda are coming from four sources. They are all biased sources. The first group of critics is the genocidaires who are still alive, the Interahawe. They are in various places around the world and will do anything they can to depose the government. It is expected that they will criticise and speak ill of the country. The second group is of certain countries like France that supported and protected the wrong group during the Genocide. They allowed the genocidaires to escape through and into DR Congo. There was a break down in relations with France as Rwanda chose a path of its own that some people in France were not very happy with and hence the criticism. The third group is the United Nations; they have blood on their hands, they did nothing when they could have stopped the Genocide. The UN has a guilty consciensce. There is conflict on why is the nation least dependent on the United Nations is among the most successful. So their reports may be biased. The last group is people who served in this government in the past and got caught in corruption and other vices. They were friends of Rwanda, but when they lost their jobs, they became bitter and go around writing articles full of criticisms. All these four groups are biased and are in no position to provide balanced opinion about the country. *Source newtimes]]>
20 staggering facts about tourism in sub-Saharan Africa, including some real star performers
August 15, 2014 | 0 Comments
LEE MWITI* Aviation costs and bribe-happy authorities are a real deal killer, but some countries such as Rwanda and Cape Verde are playing to their strengths. GLOBAL tourism is a $3 billion a day business and accounts for close to 9% of the world’s jobs (263 million), yet Africa’s share of industry receipts remains on the periphery – at only 5.2%. When North Africa is taken out of the equation, this drops to 3.3% for the rest of the continent, according to World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) data. This is despite the industry showing resilience to major shocks such as the global economic crisis, and having potential to transform sub-Saharan Africa economic fortunes. The region is the second-fastest growing destination after Asia Pacific, and could count up to 3.8 million direct and indirect jobs by 2020, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). In 2010, some 935 million tourists spent $339 billion directly in emerging economies, with total global export income from tourism valued at over $1 trillion, and total impact on global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) an estimated $6.3 trillion. Yet surprisingly many African governments do not think too much of tourism, despite having a raft of success stories from Mozambique to Cape Verde to convince them of the goldmine they are sitting on. An authoritative World Bank report – the most definitive yet about tourism in Africa – outlines the economic and social benefits the region can expect to glean by concentrating on tourism, and presents some success stories of how countries have become big players despite small beginnings The report, written mainly for scholarly types and policy makers, also throws up some startling numbers pulled from various good sources. We thumbed through it and picked 20 of the lower-hanging industry tid bits to highlight here: 1: In 2011 tourism and travel directly generated 2.7% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP and directly and indirectly accounted for more than 1 in 20 jobs—12.8 million according to WTTC data. Direct tourism receipts are estimated at $33.5 billion—the amount the US plans to invest in Africa. 2: In 2010, the region attracted 30.7 million visitors, an increase from only 6.4 million in 1990. During the 2008-2009 global crisis years, arrivals in sub-Saharan Africa actually increased 4.4%, as worldwide numbers fell 3.8%. This was the only region where tourism actually grew during that crisis. The UNWTO predicts the region will receive 77 million arrivals by 2020; with 50 million of these being intra-regional visitors. 3: In Egypt, before the Arab Spring upheaval, visitor arrivals from 1990 to 2005 grew from 2.9 million to 8.6 million, and by 2010 were just short of 15 million, with their expenditure estimated at $12.5 billion. In 1970 Egypt drew fewer than 400,000 tourists and set about revamping its policies including on crucial areas such as land, leading to the surge. 4: International tourist arrivals grew 284% between 2005 and 2010 in Mozambique, with the post-conflict country now projecting 4 million tourists a year by 2025. This has been due to legislative reform, development of a strategic plan and elimination of visas for sub-regional visitors. (Read: You are an African and want to travel in Africa? Try later) 5: Receipts from Cape Verde touched $432 million in 2008—15% of its GDP and 21% of its workforce. This was due to market-oriented policies, political and banking reforms such as pegging the local escudo currency to the euro, and investment incentives, with the result it now has world-class infrastructure facilities. Another island, Zanzibar, predicts that 50% of its population will be involved in tourism by 2020. 6: More than 10 million people travel internationally within sub-Saharan Africa, for leisure to medical and business reasons. South Africa continues to be the most popular destination, and contrary to perception, is quite receptive to visitors from its north. (Read: Despite what others say, South Africans actually love Africans) 7: Tourism is a job-intensive industry, the report notes, quoting a study by the Natural Resources Consultative Forum that found a $250,000 investment in Zambia generates 182 full-time formal jobs—nearly 40% more than the same investment in agriculture, and 50% more than in mining. 8: Despite the need to develop tourism, Africa can also be guilty of overregulation. In Namibia more than 50 permits and certificates are required for lodging owners who want to register or renew registration. In South African compliance costs in 2007 were three times higher than those in other sectors, while high taxation remains a real concern for the industry as governments perceive it as a cash-cow. 9: Tours and Safaris to sub-Saharan Africa cost 25-25% more than trips to other parts of the world, another cited study notes, and flights, including charters, to the region are nearly 50% more expensive. Reasons for this include a lack of competition in the aviation industry (despite having 15% of world population, sub-Saharan Africa has only 4% of the world’s scheduled air service seats), the need for imported goods and services, and high import duties. 10: The region’s competitiveness is also affected by the high cost of developing hotels and debt financing: In much of the world the median cost of developing hotels for a full-service hotel are $200,000, a widely-cited report showed. In Nigeria for a mid-market hotel you would cough up above $400,000, and $250,000 in Ghana. 11. Low education levels also are a big challenge: Ethiopia can only accommodate 32 students in its catering institute from 300 applications, despite a blossoming hospitality industry. Local value share in many countries is also a problem: most hotel furniture in Tanzania is imported from China. In contrast the Dominican Republic, a global star performer, produces more than 90% of its tourism supplies locally. 12: Rwanda’s great leaps in ease of doing business reforms receive global recognition, but few would know that the desire to increase gorilla tourism and conservation has played a big role in this, also helping rehabiliate its image. In 2013 the country banked $294 million in tourism receipts, from $62 million dollars in 2000. 13: Globally, tourism is one of the few economic activities where women outnumber men in certain positions, and are paid the same. A 2010 UN study found that 31% of employers in the hotel and restaurant sector were women, compared to other sectors, providing an outlet for many women who would otherwise be disadvantaged or out of work. 14: According to the 2013 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Lesotho and Mauritania are in the bottom seven least competitive tour destinations, while Seychelles is the only African country in the top 50. Burundi is awakening to the potential, it has increased hotel bed capacities from under 800 three years ago, to 2,000 today, and attracted the heavy hitters such as the Hilton. 15: Tourism ministries in Africa are often underfunded, leading to donors stepping in. Their efforts can be game-changing. In Tunisia, the government identified several sites for tourism development and invited donors to help. An “anchor development” site was identified and given initial stimulus, leading to the growth of the entire destination. The country now attracts up to seven million tourists annually and accounts for 7.5% of GDP. 16: Eastern and southern Africa attract more tourists and revenues than West and Central Africa, with Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and Ghana the visitor magnets in sub-Saharan Africa. Europe and the US remain the primary source markets for all these countries, despite their best “Look East” efforts. 17: Average regional figures do not highlight the entire picture of dependence on tourism: the industry accounts for 44% of Seychelles’ GDP and 16% in Mauritius. Both islands are sub-Saharan Africa’s most competitive destinations. East Africa (5%) and southern Africa (3.4%) benefit most, while West Africa and Central Africa lag at 2% and 1.7% respectively. 18: FDI in Africa remains poorly understood and in some countries controversial, with a prevailing argument being that the poor are often disadvantaged. Yet in Tanzania a UN survey found that export earnings from tourism exceed those of gold or agriculture. South Africa utterly dominates tourism FDI with $6.1 billion in 2011. Ghana ($270 million), Kenya ($404 million) and Uganda ($165 million) also received significant FDI in that base year. 19: UN data aggregating 40 of 47 sub-Saharan Africa countries suggests there are 390,000 hotel rooms, but only 10% of these meet international standards. Half of these are in South Africa. Twenty three international hotel chains operate in Africa, the biggest being Accor, Hilton, Intercontinental and Starwood. There are also nine regional brands, with Laico, Protea and Serena the largest. 20: Bribes and corruption can dramatically reverse tourism gains—in the DR Congo spontaneous “fees” can increase aircraft landing fees from $1,000 to more than $12,000 for some flights. The Central African Republic’s “development fee” pre-civil war also doubled the cost—a common way of raising funds by fragile countries, 20 of which are listed on Africa lists. But even mature markets struggle with the problem—up to 75% of Kenyan businesses have reported having to make “informal payments” to get things done. *Source M&G]]>
Rick Warren in Rwanda Announces Plans to Host All 54 African Nations at Purpose Driven Church Congress
August 14, 2014 | 0 Comments
[caption id="attachment_11057" align="alignleft" width="300"] President of Rwanda, His Excellency Paul Kagame,(R) joined Pastor Rick Warren Saturday evening for Kwibuka 20, a special service at Saddleback Church to honor the victims of the Rwandan genocide 20 years later and celebrate the partnership and efforts of The PEACE Plan in Rwanda over the past 10 years, April 26, 2014.[/caption]
Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and author of The Purpose Driven Life, announced plans earlier this week at a press conference in Kigali, Rwanda, to host an unprecedented gathering of pastors and church leaders from all 54 African nations in conjunction with a national day of Thanksgiving next year.
The All Africa Purpose Driven Church Congress, which is planned for August 6-10, 2015, will be held during Rwanda Shima Imana, a relatively new celebration in Rwanda, a “Day of Thanksgiving” to celebrate reconciliation and gratitude on the anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.
The conference will be the first of five annual continent-wide conferences to take place by 2020, with the second planned to be held in Latin America in 2016, organizers said.
“I have been to Rwanda many times but this is by far my most important trip,” said Warren. “This week I am bringing over 100 leaders from 30 African nations as well as Russia, China, India and the U.S. I want them to see what is happening in this country and to see the growth, development and progress that has been made in both this nation and its churches as we prepare for the 2015 gathering.”
Warren explained how the idea for The PEACE Plan was birthed in 2003 while he was speaking in South Africa, but two years later following a call from His Excellency Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda, it became a reality as the country became the first Purpose Driven nation.
“I have been working with and watching the churches of Rwanda for nearly 10 years, and I believe now is the time for them to be a model to the world,” Warren said. “It would be just like God to take a small nation like Rwanda on which the world turned its back 20 years ago in its greatest need and use it for God and for good.”
Warren emphasized that as leadership training begins this week in Rwanda and continues in 2015 with the continent-wide gathering, it will emphasize reconciliation, with Rwandan leaders sharing their stories of forgiveness and healing following the 1994 genocide, which took the lives of 1 million Rwandans and left 1 million children orphaned over the course of 100 days.
“I believe the secret to Middle East peace is in Rwanda,” said Warren. “World leaders should be studying Rwanda. This should be the model.”
The 12 pastors who serve on the Rwanda PEACE Plan Board of Directors joined Warren for today’s press conference along with eight of more than 25 leaders that serve as Master Trainers for PEACE.
“These men, whether you realize it or not, are world leaders,” Warren said. “What they are doing with churches in Rwanda is being watched by churches all around the world.”
The PEACE Plan works worldwide to Promote reconciliation, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick and Educate the next generation, through a massive effort to mobilize millions of Christians to combat the five global evil giants of spiritual emptiness, self-centered leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease and illiteracy/education, according to church officials. Since its founding, Saddleback has sent over 23,000 members to implement The PEACE Plan in all 197 nations of the world.
“Most nations are validated by their strength in exports; Rwanda can become famous for exporting leadership,” Warren said. “Rwanda should be the leadership and innovation capital of the continent of Africa. That is why I am calling leaders from across the continent to come to Rwanda next year to learn. The strength of Rwanda is not in the ground; it’s in the people.”
Through The PEACE Plan in Rwanda, Saddleback Church has worked together with the public, private and faith sectors of the nation – what it calls the three-legged stool of churches, government and businesses – to help lower the poverty rate, empty orphanages, provide healthcare, train pastors and provide education.
“What makes The PEACE Plan unique is that it is done by local churches, in local churches, in the community,” said Warren. “I could take you to 10 million villages around the world where the only thing there is the church. The church is the biggest organization on the planet and has most potential to do good if mobilized.”
Over 3,200 pastors have completed a three-year intensive training in the purpose-driven PEACE Plan. These churches now offer everything from micro-savings clubs to preschools to programs training farmers how to double their crops on the same amount of land.
[caption id="attachment_11058" align="alignright" width="300"] PHOTO: SADDLEBACK CHURCH/SCOTT TOKAR)
Pastor Rick Warren announces plans for the All Africa Purpose Driven Church Congress to be held Aug. 6-10, 2015. Warren made the announcement during a press conference held in Kigali, Rwanda, Aug. 11, 2014.[/caption] The media site AllAfrica.com reports that Rwanda Shima Imana is a national Christian Thanksgiving Day and was “inaugurated in 2012, by Peace Plan, a brainchild of Pastor Warren, with a presence in most Christian churches in Rwanda.” “It is a day when believers come together to thank God for the progress made in the country and the Church so far,” according to AllAfrica. The 3rd annual Thanksgiving crusade is this Sunday (Aug. 17), at the Amahoro stadium. Warren is a member of the Rwanda Presidential Advisory Council and would like to see Rwanda Shima Imana a public holiday, “just as [Thanksgiving] is in some other countries, including the US, Japan, and the Netherlands,” reports AllAfrica. “It is my prayer that this day becomes a national holiday just as it is in some parts of the world,” Warren said. “Twenty years after the Genocide, we are now a new Rwanda. We have seen the country develop and have nothing to hold against God, other than celebrating what He has done for our country.” *Source christianpost For more information about Saddleback’s work in Rwanda or The PEACE Plan, visit http://www.saddleback.com or http://www.thepeaceplan.com. For additional information about Rwanda Shima Imana, visit http://www.shimaimana.rw.]]>
Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda has confirmed his presence at the 2nd Africa Global Business Forum, taking place on October 1st and 2nd in Atlantis The Palm, Dubai.
August 12, 2014 | 0 Comments
Mr. Kagame will join H.E. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman of DP World, Donald Kaberuka, President of African Development Bank Group, Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer of Air Asia, in discussion on how best to accelerate the Africa infrastructure build-out. They will explore how to attract more private-sector financing into Africa’s infrastructure and what governments can learn from Dubai’s experience in rapidly developing infrastructure. It is estimated that countries in sub-Saharan Africa would need to invest $93 billion every year in order to meet development goals, according to UNCTAD. Actual investment on the subcontinent is $45bn, implying a funding gap of about $50bn per year. Organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the forum will explore new business partnerships and opportunities arising between Africa and Dubai. In its strategy of expanding into the African continent, Dubai has become a major trading partner for the region as the emirate’s non-oil trade with the continent increased by 141%, up from AED 37.9 billion in 2008 to AED 91.3 billion in 2013. H.E. Hamad Buamim, President & CEO, Dubai Chamber, said: “The participation of prominent speakers from Africa reflects on the importance of the forum being held in Dubai. This will lead to enhanced bilateral relationship between the emirate and leading countries of the African continent.” He further said that the participation of Paul Kagame will enrich the discussion with his experience and ideas for the benefit of all the participants of this important forum. According to a Dubai Chamber statistics, African companies operating in Dubai have seen a percentage growth of 171% from the period from 2008 to mid-2014. The sectors under which African companies operate in Dubai included Trade (60%); Construction (14.8%); Logistics (8.2%); Real Estate (8.1%); Manufacturing (2.5%); Agriculture (0.2%) and Tourism and hospitality (0.9%). At present there are ten companies from Rwanda registered with Dubai Chamber and operate in Dubai. Supporting Dubai and Africa’s trade and connectivity is Emirates airline serving 21 major African destinations in addition to four cargo destinations while flydubai serves six destinations across major African countries. The 2nd Africa Global Business Forum 2014 is by invitation only and will assemble high-level decision makers on the global business scene, including African Heads of State, Ministers, prominent CEOs operating globally, heads of private banks, sovereign wealth funds and private equity firms. International speakers include: H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda; H.E. Armando Guebuza, President of Republic of Mozambique; H.E. Amama Mbabazi, Prime Minister of Uganda; Donald Kaberuka, President, African Development Bank Group; Stephen Schwarzman, Chairman & CEO, The Blackstone Group; Tony Fernandes, Group CEO, Air Asia. Emirati speakers include H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and CEO, Emirates Airline and Group; H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State and Managing Director, Dubai Expo 2020; H.E. Sultan Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy ,H.E. Mohammed I. Al Shaibani, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), H.E Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman, DP and many more. The forum is organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry with content developed by The Economist Events. The forum title partner is Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), Julphar as strategic partner with Dubai Islamic Bank and Nakheel as gold sponsors; Dubai Investments as silver sponsor; and Standard Bank and ECOWAS as official partners. Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the Africa Global Business Forum]]>
Rwanda Awards 50MW Methane Gas-to-Electricity Project on Lake Kivu to U.S. Symbion Power
August 10, 2014 | 0 Comments
(L to R) Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, Symbion Power CEO, Paul Hinks at the White House Africa Heads of State Dinner[/caption] During the U.S. Africa Head of State Summit this week in Washington, D.C., the Government of Rwanda’s Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) awarded Symbion Power a 50 megawatt Independent Power Production (IPP) project using methane gas from Lake Kivu, it was announced today by Paul Hinks, Chief Executive Officer, Symbion Power. Symbion will build, own and operate a 50 MW power station by constructing gas extraction facilities to lift, separate, and process methane gas, which is dissolved in the deep waters of Lake Kivu, and then deliver it to an on-shore generating facility located at Cape of Busororo in the Nyamyumba area of Rwanda. Lake Kivu contains 300 km3 of dissolved carbon dioxide and 55 to 60 km3 of methane gas accumulated and trapped at significant depth in the lake. “We’re very excited that with President Obama’s recent announcement of tripling Power Africa’s goals to now add 30,000 megawatts to sub-Saharan Africa, partners such as Symbion Power are exploring new opportunities in countries like Rwanda where they have never worked before,” said USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. “Through this new model of public-private partnership, we can expand opportunity for millions and drive growth at home and abroad.” In a meeting with Symbion’s Mr. Hinks and USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah during the African leaders summit, Rwanda’s President Kagame expressed his enthusiasm for the Lake Kivu project and also acknowledged the successful developments that President Obama’s Power Africa initiative has already realized. Symbion Power is an American company in the electricity generation, transmission and distribution industry with an established presence in Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa and operations throughout Africa; this is the company’s first project in Rwanda. Paul Hinks, Rwanda Awards Power Project to Symbion Power/page 2 Symbion CEO said, “Rwanda is an amazing investment destination. What President Kagame and his government have achieved over the past 20 years must represent the most incredible example of nation building in recent history. We have worked towards investing in Rwanda for the past three years and we are delighted by this new development. We hope other US companies will follow us.” “Symbion’s IPP project will use Lake Kivu’s methane resources for a commercial benefit for the people of Rwanda, but it will also reduce the risk of an environmental disaster,” said Hinks. “Without the removal of methane and carbon dioxide, there is a risk of a sudden release of large quantities of these gases with a potentially catastrophic result.” Rather than just vent the 50-60 km3 of methane, Symbion will use the produced methane for power generation. The methane gas production will be used to power reciprocating gas engine generator sets producing 50MW in a phased approach. ABOUT SYMBION POWER Symbion Power is an American company in the electricity generation, transmission and distribution industry with operations throughout Africa. Symbion builds, owns and operates electrical power infrastructure. Our power plants supply electricity to some of the world’s most critically underserved regions. Symbion also undertakes Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) work in the electricity supply sector and has worked on large-scale generation, transmission, and distribution projects in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. With a deep commitment to empowering local communities Symbion brings together the knowledge and operational know-how to succeed in the world’s most challenging environments. Symbion Power is based in Washington DC, USA. For more information : symbion-power.com #PowerAfrica Contact: Symbion Power Julie Foster – Media Contact firstname.lastname@example.org +1 917-282-9310]]>