Thursday, 28 February 2013

Engineers urged to join regulation council

The engineers council, the body which regulates engineers in the country, elected new leaders during the General Assembly of the Institute of Engineers in Rwanda.

The seven-member council and 13 board members were elected on Tuesday.

Speaking after the election, Eng. Dismas Arinaitwe Nkubana, the newly elected head of the Engineer’s Council appealed to government institutions and the private sector not to hire engineers who are not members of the institute for the sustainability, good working conditions and for good service deliverance.

According to the law, adopted last year, establishing the Institute of Engineers in Rwanda, all engineers must be enrolled in this institute to make sure they fulfil the requirements to deliver a good professional service.

Nkubana says some people may abuse the profession.

“We are sensitising people to be aware of the new law governing the profession of engineering and establishing the institute of engineers in the country to understand that no engineer is allowed to be hired without getting certification from the Institute,” Nkubana said.

Membership stance

He warned that those who were hired but are not members of the institute may lose their jobs.

According to Nkubana, some engineers come from outside the country claiming to be engineers without credible evidence.

He said having a degree is not enough to deliver a good service in engineering, adding that interships and examinations should be used to ascertain the ability of fresh engineers.

The Institute of Engineers is made up of Rwandan engineers and foreigners working in Rwanda.

These engineers are registered upon presentation of at least a  Bachelor’s degree in engineering and sound background activities in the domain.

It was created in 2008.

The law governing the profession of engineering and establishing the Institute of Engineers Rwanda was passed in 2012.

With more than 140 members, the institute offers certificates to engineering professionals, who pay Rwf250,000 annual membership fee.

Prepare for rainy season, meteorology agency says

Motorists negotiate their way past a street half-blocked by trees that were felled by last weekend’s hailstorm.
Regular rainfall that may increase or decrease should be expected from March through May, the Rwanda Meteorological Agency (RMA) warned on Tuesday.

Antony Twahirwa, the in-charge of Weather  Forecasting and Early Warning at RMA, said due to the data from countrywide meteorological stations, the rainfall will be temperate,  adding that some changes may  occur.

Kirehe, Ngoma, Kayonza, Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Rwamagana, Bugesera, Gisagara, Nyanza, Ruhango, Huye and Nyaruguru districts will experience minimal rain, which may decrease during the period.

Districts expected to experience heavy rain, which may increase to 400mm include Gicumbi, Burera, Musanze, Rulindo, Gasabo, Kicukiro, Nyarugenge, Kamonyi, Muhanga, Nyamagabe, Rusizi, Nyamasheke, Karongi, Rutsiro, Ngororero, Nyabihu, Rubavu and Gakenke.

Twahirwa advised people in these areas to seek advice on how to handle certain weather-related hindrances. He said the heat under Pacific Ocean keeps on reducing, which mostly causes the decrease of rain in some of the Great Lakes Region states.

RMA said they will keep on monitoring changes and provide updates.

“We have equipment that enable us to notice any weather changes every 15 minutes, unfortunately we have not reached the level of alerting people in time like developed countries do,” Twahirwa noted.

He said they could have alerted people about the last weekend’s downpour that left three people dead, but failed due to communication challenges.

Twahirwa said the downpour, that also caused heavy destruction of property, was a result of the air mass from DR Congo that increased as it was headed eastwards.

RMA usually communicates weather updates via e-mails, phones, the social media, webs, and the broadcast media.

On the measures to reach lay people, Twahirwa said they work with the Disaster Preparedness Ministry and Red Cross.

However, Edouard Munyamaliza, the chairperson of the Rwanda Civil Society Platform, said while radio and television are good communication tools, they are no longer suitable means of sending alerts since not every citizen owns these. 

He advised RMA to consider using the Ministry of Agriculture centres across the country since they are based at the grassroots.

“Forecasts by the Rwanda Meteorological Agency have not been accurate to enable people relate their activities to weather conditions. Many times, their forecasts on TV and Radio Rwanda have been changing,” Munyamaliza said.

He urged RMA to work closely with weather stakeholdersrs by sharing the information and communicate it on time.

Kagame clarifies transition debate

President Kagame during yesterday’s news conference.
President Paul Kagame has said that he is not interested in a third term and that he will do what the constitution says or what the Rwandan people will decide in the interest of continued progress and stability in the country after 2017.

A journalist asks President Kagame a question during yesterday’s media briefing.
The debate on whether the President will again run for office has been rife within and out of Rwanda alike, drawing lots of speculation.

Addressing a news conference at Village Urugwiro yesterday, Kagame explained that his priority is to ensure the wellbeing of the citizens considering Rwanda’s complex history.

“I am thinking about the future of this country, I am not thinking about third term.” Kagame said, adding that he has been asked over and again about third term, and whatever response he gives, the same question keeps coming.

“If there is trust that I will do what I have said I will do relating to what is there, meaning the Constitution and so on and so forth, why then would people continue asking this question? Why don’t people just keep the trust and wait?” he said.

The President urged mostly journalists and other political analysts to stop trivializing the issue of third term because it creates confusion among citizens who get lost in the debate of whether the president is leaving or staying instead of focusing on building their country.

However, the President noted that even if he isn’t interested in another term in office, he still leaves it to the Rwandan people to choose what they want for a better future of their country.

“This debate is welcome, let’s go on for as long as we want with it but at the end of the day let’s remember that it is Rwandans who have to decide,” he told the reporters.

During recent citizen outreach programmes, Rwandans especially in rural areas gave testimonies of how their lives have improved remarkably and openly pleaded with the President to continue leading the country after 2017 so that their progress is maintained.

Earlier this month, the President tasked senior cadres of his ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front to come up with a formula that would deliver the change entailed in the constitution while ensuring the continuity with the progress the country has registered as well as guarantee stability.

 Opposition welcome to Rwanda

Meanwhile, the President has welcomed members of opposition groups who might want to come back home and operate from Rwanda

“They are welcome in any form or shape,” President Kagame said as he reacted to a journalist’s question on whether he would like to see more opposition parties registered ahead of parliamentary elections this year. “I even always wonder why they have to live outside. They need to come and live here and face the challenges that other Rwandans face.”

He, however, added that having numerous opposition parties is no sign of democracy as there are countries with many parties and no democracy, yet those that advocate for more opposition have only a couple of parties.

The President took questions on a wide range of issues ranging from sharing Rwanda best practices in areas such as forestry to International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) archives which he emphasized are a part of the country’s history and should be kept in Rwanda.

Rwanda has faced resistance in the quest to host the archives. This has happened amidst reluctance to bring to justice Genocide perpetrators. Of recent there have been cases of masterminds being released.

The President observed that the same way there are forces that will not tire to do wrong against Rwanda or its people, is the same way those doing right should keep doing so.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Access to information hampers youth contribution to development

A lad at work in a furniture workshop in Gikinjiro. Youth in the country still face many challenges in contributing to nation building.
The role of the youth in development and self-sustainability might be vital, but with the challenges they face, their contribution remains minimal.

A survey by the Youth Association for Human Rights Promotion and Development (YAHRPD) revealed a series of challenges impacting negatively on the lives and actions of young Rwandans.

Some 1,500 young men and women aged 14 to 35 were drawn from the 30 districts in the country to partake in the survey, according to officials.

The survey undertook to identify the issues affecting the youth in justice, finance, education, health, ICT and agriculture sectors. 

Researchers concluded that Rwandan youth face many challenges that variously impact on their contribution to nation building.

Among them are lack of access to finance or to information on good initiatives and opportunities that exist, unemployment, lack of financial capacity, drug abuse, and health issues.

The survey, carried out late last year, used both questionnaires and group discussions. The findings are set to be presented to public institutions and other stakeholders in youth issues.

Solutions at hand

The youth are considered vital to national development as they form the major part of the country’s workforce. This means the country’s success depends directly on the achievements and innovations of its young people.

The YAHRPD Executive Secretary, Enock Nkurunziza, stressed the need for the public to remain committed to solving issues affecting the youth as a way of contributing to their socio-economic development and that of the country in general.

He called upon the youth to form cooperatives and clubs that can enable them collectively seek solutions to their problems.

While presenting the findings to youth representatives from across Huye district, last weekend, Jean Baptiste Hategekimana, an official from Never Again Rwanda, said the youth have the capacity to overcome their challenges.

“The youth need to jointly work together to find solutions to the existing challenges,” Hategekimana said.

Constantin Kayitare, the in-charge of youth in Huye district, said identifying and recognising the existing challenges is one step towards addressing them.

“Such surveys give a clear picture of what really affects the youth and we get to know where to focus,” he said.

It is a growth-oriented reshuffle

The incoming Infrastructure Minister Prof. Lwakabamba (R), chats with Prime Minister Dr. Pierre Damien Habumuremyi at Parliament yesterday.
President Paul Kagame, on Monday, shook up his cabinet, with changes that directly affected seven ministries, including Education, Infrastructure, Finance, Natural Resources and Health.

The reshuffle saw six entrants, including four ministers, namely, Prof. Silas Lwakabamba (Infrastructure), Oda Gasinzigwa (Gender and Family Promotion), Séraphine Mukantabana (Refugees and Disaster Management) and Claver Gatete of Finance and Economic Planning.

Three crucial portfolios of Minister of State were also created, namely Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), Public Health and Primary Healthcare, and Mining.

The President named Albert Nsengiyumva (formerly Minister of Infrastructure), Dr. Anita Asiimwe (formerly deputy director general, Rwanda Biomedical Center), and Evode Imena, until recently a geologist with Rwanda Natural Resources Authority, as state ministers in the newly created posts, respectively.

And former Minister of Finance, John Rwangombwa, was appointed the new Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda.

The changes saw the cabinet soar to 29 members, including 10 women, equivalent to 35 per cent – well over the constitutional minimum requirement of 30 per cent.

Whereas the vast majority of the cabinet members remain unchanged, the reshuffle is significant in many ways. The changes affected some of the most important ministries.

Take, for example, Infrastructure. The Infrastructure Ministry oversees the country’s investments in energy, perhaps the single most important resource for socio-economic development; transport of all kinds, among others.

As the country aspires for middle-income status come 2020, there is need to mobilise resources necessary to implement key infrastructural projects to help bring to fruition this aspiration.

The mega project of an international airport in Bugesera, the long-talked-about Isaka-Kigali railway line and a badly needed oil pipeline are some of the clearly laid out assignments to tackle. 

From academics to politics

These are very expensive ventures, which need a versatile, innovative leader, capable of conceiving and selling ideas to strategic partners.

Prof. Lwakabamba has largely led an academic life. But he has demonstrated high levels of performance in his previous postings, particularly as rector of the National University of Rwanda (UNR), and previously, Kist, where he’s credited for mobilising resources from within and outside the country. 

During Lwakabamba’s days at Kist, the institution improved in global university rankings, at one time overtaking UNR as Rwanda’s top ranked varsity, but the latter has since regained its position under Lwakabamba’s leadership.

We can only hope he replicates his success both at Kist and UNR at Mininfra, one of the ministries which have probably had the lowest stability (in terms of personnel) at the top level in recent years.

Lwakabamba replaces the youthful, soft-spoken Albert Nsengiyumva, who rose to the helm of Mininfra from the Workforce Development Authority (WDA) where he was the director-general. 

Nsengiyumva’s redeployment to the education sector is a strategic move that could help change Rwanda’s education setup forever. It’s a demonstration of the government’s commitment to TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) as a major growth vehicle. 

Nsengiyumva, who has now held three senior positions, including two ministerial posts, in just over three years, is a hard worker and skilled performer. When he was appointed WDA director-general in January 2010, be brought a sense of purpose and urgency to the institution, and set the tone for what WDA has hitherto achieved.

TVET is a new phenomenon to Rwanda as it is with many developing countries. Nsengiyumva has a rich understanding of TVET and what it means to the country’s development.

The government wants at least 60 per cent of all A’level students to take TVET courses by 2017.

The idea is to produce graduates who are empowered with the hands-on skills that are needed on the labour market. Yet it would be difficult to realise all this without deliberate efforts at the highest level, with a clear structure and policy orientation, to shake things up and help shape a new mindset. 

New portifolios

With a new ministerial portfolio dedicated to this form of learning, coupled with the right policy decisions and investments, TVET will soon emerge out of the shadows.

Also significant is the creation of the position of a state minister for mining. Traditionally, Rwanda is known as a resource-poor country, with negligible resources underground. Nonetheless, this perception has been increasingly fading in recent years, with the mining sector emerging from near obscurity to a major foreign exchange earner, alongside tourism.

With new mineral discoveries, and several ongoing prospecting activities, most of which already showing positive signals, it is important that adequate attention be given to this sector, especially in the areas of regulatory framework, licensing, research, monitoring and contract management.

And, Imena, as a respected geologist should be in position to steer this sector, which has fetched well over US$100m annually in recent past, to greater heights.

Furthermore, the creation of the Minister of State in charge of Public Health and Primary Healthcare portfolio – under the Health docket – could not be more relevant in a country reputable for a functioning universal healthcare system. 

One would expect to see a marked improvement in the provision of quality healthcare, including through the Mutuelle de Sante scheme. 

Needless to say Dr Anita Asiimwe is no stranger to this sector and with her elevation to the new position, we can only expect her to maximise her potential and inspire a new generation of public health workers.

The changes at the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees (Midimar) are no less significant either. 

General Marcel Gatsinzi, one of the longest serving cabinet ministers, having previously served as Defence minister for many years, was relieved of his duties at Midimar, and replaced with Séraphine Mukantabana. The latter might not be as widely known as her predecessor, but she is by no means a newcomer in refugee matters and the ministry itself.

She was herself a refugee until August 2011, when she finally decided to return home. With just about three months to the time when the countries hosting Rwandan refugees are expected to invoke the Cessation Clause, adding impetus to the campaign to encourage voluntary repatriation could not have come at a better time.

As for the changes at both the Finance ministry and the central bank, the men that have swapped portfolios are each experienced and well versed with the operations of the respective institutions, having both worked at the top level in the country’s macro-economic setting for more than a decade.

I don’t see either the new Finance minister Claver Gatete or central bank Governor John Rwangombwa introducing drastic policy shifts, but rather continuity with a few adjustments here and there. Besides, their tasks compel them to complement each other.

And it is expected that the former chief gender monitor, Oda Gasinzigwa, now the Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, will carry forward the good work of her predecessor, the late Aloisea Inyumba. Rwanda may have made significant strides in gender equality, but if there is one person who understands the true intricacies of the remaining challenges and how to get them fixed, then it is the former chief gender monitor.

I’m Thinking About The Future Of Rwanda, Not The Third Term- Kagame

m_I’m thinking about the future of Rwanda, not the third term
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has told local and international media that the issue of his succession is in Rwandans hands and that he is very concerned of the country’s future other than the third term that is repeatedly and unnecessarily brought up.
The president was responding to questions from Journalists during a press conference held in Kigali this Wednesday 27th February 2013.
The President asserted that Rwandans are the ones concerned with the succession after 2017, saying the rest of the World that seems to worry is actually less concerned.
Kagame challenged some media where he referred to some article he read recently advising him not to be bothered with the justification that the constitution stipulates everything.
He told journalists that any president that is not bothered is out of the place. “I’m bothered of citizens rights, I’m bothered of what has happened, what is happening, what will happen and I’m bothered of where we have come from, where we are and where we are going” Kagame clarified 
Explaining why people mistake and confuse some statements he makes with what they already have in mind, the President said Rwandans should not have a president who is not bothered; arguing that it would be a worst deal in their life ever.
“You may have different views but I believe the country has been making progress” He remarked while emphasising on the country progress as the best thing to look at and find ways to consolidate it, empower the society with more vibrant means to promote development from the grassroots instead of focusing on what he referred to as “  a confused situation”
When the question to whether Kagame would leave the office in 2017 was repeated by the newsmen to him, the President reminded them that Rwanda’s situation is very complex, unique, and special with complicated history.
“The debate is welcome.  But at the end of the time, let’s remember that Rwandans will decide. These interrogators keep forget that it is Rwandans with prime right, power and decision. It is Rwandans who put the constitution in place people do not know how I’m dying to leave this office so that I can freely say anything, and have peace of mind”.
Some journalists  among whom were from the British Broadcasting corporation (BBC)  brought in the question of a recent signed peace accord in Addis Ababa over Congo issue, asking if the recently reported conflict among M23 rebels will not affect it.
“This Rwanda that has suffered so much need be treated with respect for our people” He noted.
“I’m not responsible for Congo. When such deals are signed, every country benefits and Rwanda expects to benefit from peace.
Other matters on the press conference table were about opposition parties and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) among others.
While responding to the question posed by a journalist from Reuters on if Kagame would like to see more opposition parties registering, He said: “They may create as many as they want”. He criticised western countries saying “It is even strange that these advocates of oppositions have only two or three opposition parties and most of the time they do not have beyond two but when it comes to Africa they want us to have so many claiming it is the sign of Democracy”.
 Kagame even wondered why some countries in Africa which have a good number of political parties have not yet been considered the most democratic countries while on the other hand, those developed ones with only two political parties are said to be the most democratic ones.
He noted that the justice institutions in Rwanda are capable but these International justice institutions like the ICTR might have  hidden institutions and agendas, stating that  it might be the reason why cases of murderers are handled poorly, partially tried, sentenced and later  released.
There are many requests by Rwandans from across the country both in urban and rural who write, speak through media and express their interests during some presidents visits begging President Paul Kagame to consider contesting for the third term.
 Kagame has repeatedly said he is not interested in the extension of his time nor does he want to alter the constitution for any reason close to that.
“I do not do this job to be paid or please anybody. I do not want the third term but I’m doing this business…. and  when I’m done I’m done. I can serve the country in the deferent way, I’m thinking about the future of Rwanda but not the third term.” Kagame stated

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

President Kagame reshuffles Cabinet

President Paul Kagame, yesterday, reshuffled his Cabinet bringing on new entrants, as well as creating new portfolios.

Amb. Claver Gatete and John Rwangombwa switched positions with the former taking over as Minister of Finance and the latter appointed head of the Central Bank. 

Other new faces on Cabinet include Prof. Silas Lwakabamba (Infrastructure), Séraphine Mukantabana (Refugees and Disaster Management), and Oda Gasinzigwa as Minister of Family and Gender Promotion in the Office of the Prime Minister.

Lwakabamba was the rector of the National University of Rwanda, while Gasinzigwa has been the Chief Gender Monitor.

Three new Ministers of State portfolios have been created, with Dr Anita Asiimwe as Health State minister in-charge of Public Health and Primary Healthcare. 

Former Infrastructure minister Albert Nsengiyumva reverts to State in the Ministry of Education (Technical and Vocational Education and Training), while Evode Imena is now the Minister of State in the Ministry of Natural Resources in-charge of Mining.

Fuel reserves increased ahead of Kenya polls

Trucks deliver fuel to the National Reserve in Gatsata.
The government has increased fuel reserves that can last over one and ahalf months  ahead of the upcoming Kenyan elections, Francois Kanimba, Trade and Industry minister has said. 

Kenya, which also serves as the main route for most of landlocked countries in East Africa, including Rwanda, is set to go for general elections on March 4. 

Some countries have already shown fears of potential import interuption in case violence mars the elections just like it did in 2007.

According to analysts, if violence occurs, then petroleum products could be scarce, leading to high prices and shortages which will negatively impact the region.

But Minister Kanimba assured Rwandans that the country’s fuel reserves are currently filled with about 29 million litres that can sustain the country for a month and a half. 

“We want to assure all Rwandans that they should not be afraid of potential fuel shortage,” the minister said.

He, however, mentioned that though 50 per cent of Rwandan imports come through Mombasa port, it was not the case with the fuel, noting that 94 per cent of imported fuel enters through Dar-es-Salaam port in Tanzania.

For other imports, Kanimba siad government hopes there is no outbreak of violence in the region’s powerhouse. 


“Other imports come through the Mombasa port and if there is violence, we have nothing much we can do,” he said.

Rwanda mainly relies on the Northern Corridor, that also serves other countries like Uganda, (Northern) Tanzania, DR Congo and South Sudan, which highlights Kenya’s significance in regional trade.

Petroleum products sold at the Rwandan market include white fuels (gasoline, diesel, kerosene, various industrial & auto lubricants, etc.); black fuels (bitumen, black oil, etc.) and other petroleum products such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

The outgoing Kenyan High Commissioner to Rwanda, Makena Muchiri, recently said in an interview that though the country experienced violence after the 2007 presidential elections this time, the elections, will be peaceful.

“We want to assure all the people that there is nothing to worry about since the government has put in place different measures to ensure that the elections are free and fair.” “The business community should carry on with their work and they should not expect any trouble.”

The 2007 post election violence left 1,200 people dead and 600,000 more displaced in weeks of unrest. The violence began after clashes between supporters of then rival presidential candidates – Raila Odinga, the current Prime Minister, and Mwai Kibaki, the incumbent.

During the fighting a dozen Rwandan and Ugandan traders lost their goods worth $47.5 million and up to now they’re still awaiting compensation despite Kibaki’s order to reimburse them.

On the compensation, minister Kanimba said he did not have any updates.

President Kibaki, who has led the country since 2002, will step down after the March 4,  general election.

Britain to release Aid to Rwanda government

m_Britain to release Aid to Rwanda government
KIGALI-RWANDA- Britain will unblock the suspended Aid to Rwanda due to what UK called ‘Kigali’s willingness, commitment and effort to bring peace in DRC. A credible source has told Great Lakes Voice
Britain had stopped funding one of its closest African allies, cancelling £21 million for Rwanda’s government because of what UK says, President Paul Kagame’s supported rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, had said that “credible and compelling reports” showed that Rwanda was fuelling civil war in neighbouring Congo by arming the “M23″ insurgents, who had captured the city of Goma by then.”
£21 support to Rwanda’s budget which was withheld last November 2012 is seen to be released not later than March 2013. Sources with knowledge of the situation said.
Government of Rwanda have revised the budget and cut some spending to adopt the situation caused by suspended Aid.

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